The internet has an amazing ability to connect you to similar people anywhere in the world. This aspect has immensely helped the world of eCommerce, especially when you sell something that is not your average run-of-the-mill product or service. It’s also easier than ever to open your own online store, as there are many different kinds of platforms (both for small and large scale businesses) that make it effortless to set up shop (eg. Shopify, eBay, Magento, Xcommerce, Taobao etc).
One of my new favourite niche channels is Etsy, which helps small artisan individuals set up an online store and sell to people all over the world. They aim to “allow very-very small businesses to have more sway in shaping the economy where they bring heart to commerce and making the world more fair, more sustainable and more fun”.
Here are 6 reasons why Etsy is my latest eCommerce obsession:
1. Buying Handmade Items
Nowadays, having a one-of-a-kind handmade product is almost a breath of fresh air. Through online channels like Etsy I am able to buy unique items that I normally would never have the opportunity to do so. This is a great platform for artisans all over the world to share and showcase their talent (easily and economically), one of the many reasons I love the power of the internet. This special and powerful connection to buy handcrafted items is one way to get all your friends asking “where did you get that?!”.
2. Buy Locally
I love to support local businesses, whether it is checking out the new independent coffee shop that opened down the street from my apartment, or purchasing a beautifully hand made item from an individual here in Toronto. I think my happiness increases just a little bit more than a regular in-store purchase, because I know I’m helping to support someone in my area, a fellow local Canadian. It’s a feel-good-thing.
3. Easy Navigation
A key to any successful eCommerce site is good design and navigation. If your consumer can’t easily guide themselves through your site or has to think about what is clickable, then you’re doing it wrong. Design should be intuitive. It should lead the consumer exactly where they want to go, and giving helpful suggestions along the way doesn’t hurt! This is something I love about Etsy. The site is like Amazon meets Facebook for craft people. There’s an activity feed, which shows you updates from your favourite stores, or items that you’ve “favourited”. There are also social media links to share the items you found and/or bought with your friends, especially on the coveted, Pinterest.
There are also so many different ways to shop: categories, colours, searches, locally, sellers, treasuries (member curated lists) etc. The list goes on! Having this variety allows me to constantly and consistently find new unique items. So much so, I find I’m never able to find the same thing twice (this is where the ‘favourite’ button comes in handy).
4. Ease of Back-and-Forth Communication
Alright, I’ll admit it. I’m not the most confident buyer online. I’m one of those shoppers who needs the instant satisfaction of a purchase (eg. receiving it right away). I don’t like waiting, and I don’t have faith in our postal system, so I’m always worried something will go wrong and I might never receive my product. 🙁 So naturally the first time I ordered something from Etsy it came from the States – and I was a little worried on when and how it would arrive. But thankfully, Etsy facilitates easy communication between the buyer and seller. I was able to directly contact the maker of the necklace I was ordering, and volia! She responded… almost immediately. She let me know when she’d be shipping the product, and roughly when it should arrive. To both our surprises, it showed up about 3-4 days before it was suppose to! I was very happy with my product, the buying process as well as the service. So I ended up giving her a stellar review, which of course will help future buyers and hopefully increase her business. Win-win situation all around.
5. Multiple Payment Options
Sometimes smaller businesses or artisans don’t give much choice when it comes to payment options. And since I’m not a fan of using Paypal (not really sure why…), it’s always a roadblock for me when that’s the only option. Although it does depend on the seller, most Etsy artisans offer everything from Paypal, to Visa, Mastercard, Discovery, American Express, money orders and even cheques! A payment offer for any type of customer. I love it.
6. Marketing Done Right
Email marketing is a tough gig. It’s hard enough to get the recipient to open the email let alone click on the links within. I think we are almost immune to email marketing / spam, so much so, that anything spam-esk (yes, I just made up that word), we immediately ignore or tune out. But for one thing, when email marketing is done right. Man, it’s good. Etsy, does exactly that with “Etsy Finds: Your Daily Etsy Shopping Guide“. I pretty much look forward to getting this everyday, where it is a different creative collection, of new or random items at your finger tips, waiting to be bought. These emails aren’t only entertaining to view, but they also continuously encourage you to explore, discover, and buy! Sometimes they organize products by colours, themes, or even for major events like their appropriately timed London Summer Olympics theme. Check it out below:
Whether it’s supporting your local artist, or finding unique items to buy through this new niche channel, sites like Etsy are definitely helping to change the landscape of eCommerce, and make even the smallest online shop, a successful one!