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Etsy Reinvents Its Marketplace with New Product Categories

July 11, 2024

1 min 54 sec read
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Etsy, the beloved marketplace for unique handmade and vintage treasures, is shaking things up. Today, they announced a major policy change that will redefine how items are classified on the platform. For years, Etsy has been a haven for those seeking handmade and vintage items. Now, they are broadening their scope with four new product classifications: "made by," "designed by," "handpicked by," and "sourced by." To be listed on Etsy, every product must fit into one of these categories.

Illustration of Person Sitting in Desk With Etsy Logo
So, what do these new labels mean for your next Etsy shopping spree? Vintage items, which have always been a staple on Etsy, will now fall under "handpicked by." These items will also carry a "vintage" label to make them easily identifiable. Craft supplies, like beads and clay, will be categorized as "sourced by." If you're looking for a vase crafted by a ceramics artist, it will be labeled "made by." Digital creations, such as a graphic designer's illustrations, will fall into the "designed by" category. These categories will be prominently displayed on product listings, giving shoppers more insight into how each item was created and the role the seller played.

CEO Josh Silverman emphasized that these changes are designed to preserve what makes Etsy special: the human touch. "The consistent theme here is that items are infused with a human touch, because that's what makes Etsy, well, Etsy," he said in a video message. Etsy's aim with these new categories is to give shoppers more detailed information about the origins of the products they're buying and the involvement of the sellers in the creation process.

Etsy has always stood out from other online marketplaces like Amazon and Temu by focusing on unique, artisan-made products. Over the years, however, Etsy has had to adapt its definition of "handmade." In 2013, Etsy allowed sellers to use external production help, which opened the doors to a broader range of creatives but also led to concerns about mass-produced items flooding the platform. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, sellers could outsource the sewing of cloth masks to garment factories, and graphic designers could use print-on-demand services for their artwork on T-shirts.

This flexibility has attracted more creators to Etsy but also led to frustrations among long-time shop owners who feel that mass-produced items and drop shippers are diluting the marketplace. This issue was a key grievance during the 2022 Etsy seller strike, where sellers argued that Etsy wasn't doing enough to enforce its handmade policy.

As Etsy tries to fend off competition from ultra-cheap online retailers like Temu, these new categories are a step towards reassuring both buyers and genuine artisans. By emphasizing the human element and ensuring products are genuinely handmade or curated, Etsy hopes to maintain its unique appeal, and guarantee that when you buy something, it's not just a product, but a piece of someone's creativity and effort.

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