Warc, 4 August 2014
NEW YORK: Etsy, the e-commerce site focused on handmade and vintage goods, believes looking beyond the established retail model can fuel growth and help it fight the growing "commodification of authenticity".
Chad Dickerson, the organisation's chief executive, discussed this theme at the Northside Festival, an annual event in Brooklyn, New York, based around innovation, music and film.
With over a million individuals offering self-made and vintage items, works of art or related supplies on its site, Etsy has been at the forefront of the "maker movement". (For more, including how the company actively engages its sellers, read Warc's exclusive report: Etsy and the battle for authenticity.)
But the number of firms now making claims concerning authenticity, Dickerson asserted, is both an issue that the company monitors and a trend that threatens to confuse consumers.
"It's what I would call the 'commodification of authenticity'," he said. "Everybody's trying to get this one-to-one relationship, a very personal relationship.
"I think Etsy's the real deal, but I think it could – and is – becoming challenging for the larger culture to understand what's really authentic and what's not authentic. That's something that we keep an eye on."
Etsy has pursued various strategies – like making content to guide traders through different aspects of the sales process and partnering with retailers – to show its commitment to the individuals selling goods on its pages.
While many retailers have built business models on "squeezing cost out of every step of the supply chain", ensuring vendors receive a fair price and shoppers get unique products may allow Etsy to differentiate itself.
"For the long term, what's Etsy is doing is building kind of a new supply chain," he continued. "I kind of see Etsy, over time, becoming this alternate economy."
In keeping with this objective, the firm does not believe radically shifting its focus to chase growth is a sound strategy – rather, it "would be like the proverbial goose that killed the golden egg," Dickerson suggested.
"It doesn't mean that Etsy's never going to change, but we think that Etsy has done well because it's stuck to what we've been doing, and we don't want to mess with that," he added.
Data sourced from Warc