Attention hand-stitched pillow fans: Etsy is no longer your only online shopping source. On Thursday, Amazon debuted a whole new marketplace exclusively dedicated to handmade items sold directly from artisans.
"Handmade at Amazon" features 80,000 factory-free items from over 60 countries in categories such as jewelry, home décor, artwork, stationery and party supplies, kitchen and dining, and furniture. Currently, more than 600 items are Prime eligible. And just like on Etsy, each seller has a profile page with an image, their location and as much information as they want to include about their materials and production, as well as the option to contact them with questions directly.
Brooklyn-based Etsy proves there is a huge demand for handmade products. It was valued at $3.88 billion in April and as of June had 1.5 million sellers and 21.7 million buyers. It made $1 billion in gross merchandise sales in the first half of 2015. (That's small change for Amazon, which saw net sales of $23.18 billion in just the second fiscal quarter of 2015.)
Over the last couple of years though, Etsy has relaxed its definition of handmade; in 2014, it changed its rules to allow sellers to outsource production of their goods as long as the seller is the creative source of the product. The strict rule against factory production at "Handmade at Amazon" is significant in comparison. According to The New York Times, Amazon encourages sellers who do not fit the guidelines to sell on Amazon Marketplace instead, providing small-scale designers with multiple avenues as they respond to increased to demand for their products — something Etsy has struggled to offer as its community has grown.