Have You Met Etsy?

Who is Etsy? Why are we writing today about Etsy?  Quite simply, because Etsy offers some great lessons to all start-ups and small businesses in word of mouth marketing. Etsy recently received funding from Union Square Ventures.   

Who is Etsy?
Etsy is an online marketplace not unlike eBay that sells handcrafted goods – "Your place to buy and sell all things handmade."  They have not been around all that long, and in less than one year are one of the top 4,000 sites online according to Alexa, and also accomplished the following:

  • 40,000 artist sellers
  • 100,000 listings
  • 70,000 items sold


What are the secrets to their success?
We believe Etsy is successful for a variety of reasons.  One – They found a niche that was under served and overlooked in ecommerce.  Sure you can find some this stuff on other auction sites like Ebay, but those listings are displayed in marketplace with billions of listings and are showcased and merchandised just like any other product selling online like a computer or digital camera.  Two – They appealed to sellers by offering a compelling and unique selling experience for their artist goods.  Three and maybe the most important – there is just simply nothing out there even remotely close to pushing the envelope as a creative experience to purchase goods online.

Word of Mouth Marketing – Multiple Perspectives
Etsy offers a great case study of how to do creative word of mouth marketing.  Build something unique, and compelling and people will talk.  Etsy did something very savvy they got developers talking because what they did using Flash technology has not been accomplished before and really pushed the envelope.  So, net results buzz happening from the development community.

Then, their selling community started to display their artistic goods on the site.  Catering to the artistic and creative side, Etsy offered sellers an amazing and unique experience to showcase their artistic goods.  Artists started talking and more buzz.

Finally, Etsy offered buyers a very creative and unique buying experience with unique merchandising presentations of the product.  For example, buyers can find goods in a fun way by using the Shop By Color feature, for example, I am looking for something cool in yellow.   Try that on the site.  Buyers can also using the Sampler feature, to showcase random items sold recently, top sellers, and top items sold.  How about shopping using the Geolocator – to find sellers close to your home.  You get the point. 


Try those features and then compare it to your basic boring ecommerce experience of today, where all sites showcase the same goods the same way.  Here is a top seller list, blah blah blah. 

In sum, Etsy created something interesting and different, and got their key constituents talking about their product and site.  Lessons learned – be bold, be different, be like Etsy and aim for an Alexa ranking like that with little money spent on marketing.

Congrats to Etsy on their funding.


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