Thinking About Etsy In The San Telmo Markets
The streets of the San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires turn into a big outdoor market on sundays. Our family spent sunday afternoon there this past weekend.
As I strolled around, I could not help but think of Etsy, what it has become and what more it needs to do to realize its potential.
But first a little backdrop. This decade we are now ending will be remembered as the time when the web became social. It took us almost a decade once the web became commercial, but we figured out how to make people the atomic element of the web. And now we get to build social gathering places on the web.
My friend Mark Pincus told me when he was first starting Zynga that social networks had to become like cocktail parties. You needed things for people to do in them so they would stick around and engage. Mark accomplished that goal with social gaming and experiences like Farmville show that people will indeed 'hang out' with their friends on the social web.
Now back to San Telmo. People do come to the markets on sunday to shop. The artists, entertainers, and merchants who set up shop there do make money. For some it is a hobby, for others it is supplemental income, and for some its their full time business.
But the main thing that is going down in San Telmo on sundays is a social experience. It is seeing and being seen. It is bumping into friends and meeting new ones. It is getting out of the home and into the streets.
People stroll, they chit chat, they sing, they dance, they eat, and they buy and sell.
Etsy is the closest thing to San Telmo on the web. But it doesn't come close in terms of social experience today.
Etsy has done a good job of bringing people (real people) together to buy and sell. There are over 500,000 people who have opened a shop on Etsy and millions who have registered and bought something from a seller on Etsy. Over ten million people visit Etsy every month.
Etsy has mostly focused on handmade goods along with supplies for making things and vintage items. These are things that are made and sold by real people and so Etsy has created the largest marketplace on the web where real people buy and sell things with each other.
There is also a very lively community on Etsy. The chat rooms are full of people talking, listening, and learning all day and all night. There are over 50,000 forum posts on Etsy every day.
But Etsy is not yet as vibrant and diverse an experience as San Telmo. Most people don't go to Etsy to 'stroll" or 'hang out'. Some do and the things they like to do other than shop are favoriting items and curating lists and treasuries.
The people that do use Etsy in this way are starting to have a San Telmo like experience.
What Etsy needs to do next is make this kind of 'strolling' experience work for everyone. We need to bump into our friends on Etsy and we need to make new ones there.
It would be great if we could sing and dance and eat and drink on Etsy too. But somethings don't make it onto the web as easy as others. Etsy will have to find experiences, like Zynga did with Farmville and its other games, that can replace eating, drinking, singing, and dancing. And I am confident they will.
While the web will never replace the real world experience of strolling through a bustling marketplace on sunday afternoon, it offers something else: scale.
There are more tractors sold in Farmville every day than are sold in the US every year. And so the artists and merchants who camp out in San Telmo on sundays can set up a shop on Etsy and be in business 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. These artists and merchants can sell to tens of millions, maybe hundreds of millions of people someday.
And getting to that kind of scale, as Facebook has shown us, requires putting people front and center in the experience. Rob Kalin, founder and now CEO of Etsy, prefers the words 'social commerce' over e-commerce for a reason. The emphasis is on social. Commerce is the result. An afternoon in San Telmo makes that point crystal clear.
This is a well-written post, but the Internet also has more clutter and scams than an Argentine street fair, and that makes it more difficult for legitimate small businesses to cut through that clutter. As I recall from strolling through a few blocks of Calle Florida in Buenos Aires a few years ago, Argentine street fairs can have their own form of unsolicited commercial communications — flyers handed out for local businesses — but those tended to be more relevant and targeted than typical analogs on the Web. For example, it wasn’t unreasonable, IMO, for the proprietor of an Argentine leather store to have someone hand out flyers to tourists — a lot of tourists like to buy leather down there.I had a discussion about the Internet version of this a few days ago with a prominent securities attorney/blogger. I had contacted him initially about him becoming an affiliate for a product of mine and, in the context of his reputational risk, he brought up the number of scams that use affiliate marketing. I agreed, but noted that it was unrivaled in terms of cost-effectiveness, and that there were legitimate businesses as well that marketed their products that way. Playing devil’s advocate, he asked what separated a legitimate affiliate from a shill, and I told him my opinion was that it depended on the answers to three questions: – Would you use the product or service yourself? – Do you respect and trust the person or organization that produces it? – Is it relevant to your audience? If you can answer yes to all three of those questions, I told him I’d think you were legit. For example, I’ve been telling my girlfriend she should become an affiliate of Vita-Mix, since she loves the blender she bought from them recently, and has written blog posts about recipes she has made with it already and linked to them on a popular cooking forum.
that is one role of markets like etsy where sellers can establishcredibility
It looks like someone is trying to do something similar with financial products, with a site called Investimonials. Just found out about that one yesterday.
Don’t forget the Churros at La Giralda http://www.concierge.com/cn…
Thanks for the tip
Your pic brought back memories – we did that Sunday ritual a few years back, but it was just before their financial collapse and the activity was a bit scant. You pic looks like it’s way more lively now.
It seems like you are making a case for putting at least a version of Etsy inside of facebook…which could be very interesting with the right tools (ie. make it easy to point out, share, and buy Etsy items for your facebook friends)…imagine a (virtual) world where you can earn credits playing FarmVille with your friends, then use those credits to buy Etsy items for those friends or sell your own items via Etsy to friends and use the currency you earn to play games like FishVille…I don’t think it’s actually what you were thinking when writing this post, but it would be kind of cool and mimic a bit more of the real world…But one of the biggest hurdles that I think the web in general still struggles to get over is the fact that no purchase can give you an immediate physical good…and that hurts a lot in trying to mimic the feel and action of a local street fair (it all but kills the impulse buy in my opinion)…maybe doing something more along the lines of virtual goods that ‘mimic’ the physical good you just bought would help? Within a world like facebook it would almost be key (ie. post to my wall or some other section a badge, picture, or whatever that let’s me show off my cool new handmade item I just bought from Etsy! — this could probably even happen via Etsy today if people wanted and might help make Etsy even more viral).
rather than etsy inside of facebook, i’d prefer to see etsy clone facebook elements and incorporate them into etsy. but, probably an opportunity to do both.
Kid’s comment reminds me: his Informed Trades site had the testimonial idea before Investimonials did.
Cloning Facebook is becoming the new trend. Salesforce is trying to do it in Chatter to drive socialization inside the firewall and making it part of CRM. http://bit.ly/5iFAZj
yup. that is why i think facebook (or someone else who knows how to build soc nets) should really be helping these companies accomplish their social objectives, IMHO that would be a more exciting and valuable opportunity.clicked on your link, reminded me to get some wine for new years eve — another potential social commerce opportunity!
Whether it’s in FB’s DNA to help other communities that drive traffic out is doubtful but there is a play for a shareable social framework that can be licensed or extended.Communities and wine are my big interests. Enjoy 😉
agreed, probably not in FB’s DNA, which is why i’m a bit skeptical of FB over the long-termas for shareable social frameworks, i think open source content management systems will prove to fulfill that function
Agree open is the bigger solution and the future.FB is the sandbox that is proving the viability of a social economic model, albeit a closed one. Whether they can or will open it will I think depend on how they grow their advertising engine which is based on volunteer demographics feeding an advertising network ( http://bit.ly/6Ms6Hh)
Funny of you guys (Kid and Arnold) to comment along the same lines as my thinking about networks. It’s Kevin Kelly’s New Rules, it’s makes plain the forces that best serve developing net businesses.It’s freshmen physics meets the bible for the web.
You are the master phrasemaker Mark. Re: the three of us on the same thinking seems perfectly natural although we come at these conclusions from what appears to be vastly diverse roots. Forward thinking demands no common background;)
I think you have the master phrase on that one
Heck why not Arnold, they cloned friendfeed (likes) and twitter statuses.
In FB’s case, the money is following them. One description I read somewhere when they announced the $1B revenue number was that, and I paraphrase, that ‘their demographics were crack to the advertisers’. But I think the Kid is correct, the experience is flattening on FB and long-term the traffic will migrate unless the experience is continually renewed which is a daunting task in a somewhat closed network.
I agree kid
But here’s my thing…I like to think I’m a good potential consumer at Etsy…but, just like I don’t go to the mall to hang out, I think it would be VERY rare that I would go to Etsy to hang out…but if there’s a mall near the movie theatre, or a mall attached to a sports venue…there’s a strong chance I’m going to wander around and kill some time before/after an event…and when I do that, it’s also pretty likely I’ll find something to buy…If Etsy goes to the places I’m already hanging out (ie. blogs, facebook, and twitter) it would massively increase the chances and frequency that I buy Etsy stuff…trying to be another place for me to hang out just doesn’t seem like a core talent of Etsy and would probably have a lot of trouble actually attracting me in the first place…But they def. should build out social tools for the makers and sellers…but I think they need to realize that’s more akin to a trade show or a club…and is really a niche (but of course EXTREMELY important) group of people/users)…Just my random thoughts…(btw, I would have responded earlier but Disqus doesn’t want to send me any alerts today for some reason) 😉
Great point. Markets/social commerce need to find a way to connect to existing social hubs perhaps kicking back some action to the social hubs?
I wasn’t thinking of etsy inside of facebook but connections to facebook and twitter (which they have but need more building out) will be helpful to turning etsy into a social gathering place in its own right
You have to study how people socialize and shop together. See the sock story. Much like twitter, is it necessary to be on Etsy as long as we share Etsy? I just really wanted to share socks, ideally brightly colored ones (I’m a big believer in fun socks for cold nights)
Pretty much at an early stage, Etsy sellers and even some “buyer” users have begged Etsy to publish more marketing tools such as the Etsy mini. They have asked to have a profile page that would be more customizable to reflect their business. They have asked for applications, simple but handy, that would allow them to share their Etsy finds and products all over the web. All Etsy has so far come up with was the Etsy mini, which has a lot of limitations.Much effort has been put on driving people onto Etsy through press articles and an elaborate newsletter system, but (IMHO) you seemed to have ignored the very vital subcommunities that have built around Etsy for these past three years: blogs, forums, marketing coaching sites. All this happened, because Etsy was not fully able to provide the right (social) tools to its users and allow them more freedom to express themselves right on the marketplace itself. As another example, take the Polyvore trouble some time back – tools like Polyvore are very popular among online shoppers, and Polyvore users would flock to Etsy to incorporate their Etsy favourites in their shopping and style collages. Quite some Etsy sellers were upset about this (copyrights etc.), but back then I thought that an Etsy-internal tool would be a great feature, especially among fashion bloggers as well as blogging Etsy sellers (showing off their products paired with favourite picks from fellow sellers).I’m wondering: how are you going to close that gap now? It’s not exactly small.
these are exactly the kinds of things Etsy is working on addressing
Etsy is on Facebook, but it just leads you out (I’m friends with its page.) I actually kind of find that annoying…I was talking with a friend of mine since umm she was 6 months old. She said she had cold feet on facebook, and I thought it would be funny to send her socks on Etsy through facebook, because I just got this awesome bag from this seller, Moop. Not doable yet.
Etsy is a great place for men to get unique gifts. I am a man in my mid 30s and before I knew about Etsy it was a huge pain to find decent gifts. Now, if you know someone likes a particular part of the world Etsy makes it very simple to get a unique handmade gift from a specific country whereas previously it was impossible.Buying for small children and babies is also much easier. There is a huge range of soft toys and clothes which you know will not be duplicated by another person. Because I am a tech entrepreneur I read this blog and know about Etsy. However most men my age do not know Etsy exists even though it would solve a lot of their headaches over presents. I love the site and give it the big boost to my friends because it is so useful, I think the site could prosper by showing men how useful it is to them. It seems to me that thus far the focus has been on attracting women to the site.
Great point. Etsy certainly needs to attract more men. I find it to be an excellent place to buy gifts as well
Fred, what about tying Etsy in with some sort of microfinance business? Seems like there would be some synergies there??
Its been discussed. Its a good idea. Not sure its the most pressing idea though
yup IMHO social commerce, virtual currencies, microfinance, social gaming, and blog stars all run parallel
I can’t wait to see this ecosystem develop
Etsy + Kiva.
Ok, why do you shop there, the only other guy I’ve ever met who shops there is because he found good quality cufflinks for cheap that matches his style.This to me is this big issue. I never hear guys shopping together- meanwhile I’ll not only send links to shopping sites about stuff like sweaters at random, but I’ve actually been sat down to look at etsy with a friend when she got her first apartment (she ended up not getting anything due to size constraints, we were looking at vinyl sticky wall things) I never hear of men doing this.What causes men to share information about how they shop? How did you hear about Etsy, and how did you make it useful for you
in social commerce, community comes before commerce, like kevin kelly told us a decade ago. i think those that work to build a community before introducing commercial elements will be better positioned for this environment.as for etsy and their quest to become a social commerce destination, i have two words: blog stars. if i were to add two more words, it would be: game play.
good stuff kid
Game + Commerce = Homerun
A provoking post Fred, thanks. The dynamics of place where socialization drives friendship, trust systems and commerce is cerrtainly the next big step. I question whether this will happen in one spot, one place rather than within the connections between places that friends inhabit and travel through. Disqus today is becoming such a dynamic thread.’Places’ like your blog community Fred, are one of the few spots on the web where during a great string, I feel the desire to show up and see what’s happening and if my buddies have stopped by. Although there is not commerce per se, our thoughts and reputations are the currency which drives back traffic to our own URLs and places. There may not be a transaction there but there could be if that was the intent.BTW–your thought a while back about creating a discussion around urban space including city planning, architecture, and physical art ties into this beautifully,
I’m still working on that one arnold. I’ve found an architect/educator/web entrepreneur who is interested in the topic so we may work on some kind of meetup on the topic
I’m interested in this one and depending on my schedule might be able to lend a hand.
Great. I’ll keep you posted
I’ve got some architectural ties, too. I’d be interested in the discussion.
Well now I’ve got to make it happen
i’m working on a follow up doc. i’ll send it along this week, Fred. exciting stuff…
I’m not a techie, but I work in architecture (marketing the services) and I grasp social media. I would be interested in the discussion.
Well we have a quorum. Maybe even a minion (sp?)
I’ve got no ties related to architecture, but if you Arnold and Reece are there I’m interested. The more specific the target the better.
I’m in. It’s the kind of thing I wish my advisor for my BA would do, but it isn’t his field, even though he is also a computer guy. I wonder if he knows anyone though.
Hmm. This thing is gaining momentum
You all just lost me. I would like to go back to Etsy.:-)
I would love to help out on this one. The way technology will transform the physical city is one of my favorite topics.
Having built high rise office buildings in CBD locations and having renovated former “sky scrapers” (a more exacting business by far) from early in the last century, I can assure you that the street scape of where the public meets the building and its occupants is the place from whence the living energy of any building is generated.I love looking at a skyline but the life is at the streetscape. This is where the people, the design, the materials, the colors, the temperature, the scent, the art and the soul of the building all come together. The tenants on the ground floor are vitally important.The most successful buildings I ever developed all had great restaurants on the ground floor and they dramatically added to the energy of the building. Banks and bank lobbies are pretty sterile spaces.I had an opportunity to work with some of the very best architects in the world (IM Pei, Philip Johnson, Gene Aubry, John Smart) and while they all were fabulous designers, they still did not quite get the “living” element of the ground floors.Feng shui, baby!
Streetscape is a great term and what defines urban neighborhoods. In NYC, we are fortunate to inhabit this incredible sense of place defined by the intersection of street and people and art. Thnx for surfacing that!.Moving that idea online is provoking. i’ll ponder that over dinner.
On applying principles of urban planning and architecture to social software design I highly recommend checking out Christopher Alexander’s 1977 book A Pattern Language in this light. Erin Malone had a great post on this recently: http://bit.ly/83zMV5
Thnx much Sean. I’ll check them out.
On my (really long) book list.
The other great thing is urban neighborhood parks — the big parks and squares in NYC are fabulous. They make NYC into a city you WANT to walk in.
That’s why the gotham gal and I have been so involved in park restorations over the years
I thank you both for this. I”m the beneficiary of your energy daily!
So true. The remarkable thing about great cities is that they incite energy both physical and intellectual and then provide respite from it within their parks and squares. NY and Paris both have this to the Nth degree.This subject of urban design and its intersection with online space seems to have alot of energy in it.Thnx again.
I wonder if it would be fair to say that the Paris parks belong to the government and the NYC parks belong to the people?In some ways that is the difference between our countries and people. Ours is a more egalitarian appreciation of the good outdoor life. Plus our vendors are more free and wild.Great parks (of all kinds) and public beaches are why one doesn’t have to be rich to really enjoy life.
So true JLM. I don’t know abt the Paris park ownership but what you say is so true about the core city pleasures being classless and bringing a broad spectrum of community into the color and enjoyment of life in the cities. Take a slice of Central Park on a warm sunny day. It’s for everyone. The planning of Central Park was an experiment in Democratic thinking taking this huge chunk of land in the center of the city and making it public and free for all. A great concept that doesn’t often work as well as this one does.
Without its parks, this city would go insane.
That is a great observation JLM.
Places such as streetscapes are what we design all day long at my firm (www.crja.com). We work with architects of the caliber you describe (and some much more humble) and find that the best long-term relationships are with those who ‘get’ the importance of the green spaces, streetscapes, campus quads, etc. In other words, the architects have to get out of the way and let us do what we do best: design hardscape terraces and/or landscapes that complement the building design AND create opportunities for social interaction. Perhaps we can help you sometime, JLM.
How to create an unsterile online environment that appeals to a wide variety of demographics is difficult. Very difficult. It’s how do you replicate nuances of human culture, which need to be touched and felt and smelled, in an environment that doesn’t have them (yet)
“The most successful buildings I ever developed all had great restaurants on the ground floor and they dramatically added to the energy of the building. Banks and bank lobbies are pretty sterile spaces.”This statement has major implications for the social web.
I think this idea is somewhat connected to Kid Mercury’s idea on virtual currencies around things that are really interesting and vibrant on the web.
when I was raised funding for a social gaming business part of the pitch was. “games are the honey, community is the glue.”the concept was taken straight from “object orientated social network theory” and the essays of jyri engestrom founder of jaiku which sold to google (and dissapeared ever since) and hugh macleod – http://gapingvoid.com/2007/…commerce adheres really well to social object principles.Moreover – the market is huge and wide open…watch this space.
“While the web will never replace the real world experience of strolling through a bustling marketplace on sunday afternoon, it offers something else: scale.”The web offers scale for distribution, but that doesn’t mean the artists can/want to/are willing to keep up. The beauty of these small, authentic markets is their authenticity in craftsmanship (specifically not mass produced). I actually think one of Etsy’s strengths is providing artisans with a distribution channel, but keeping them in control of their art – creating scarcity and thus increasing value.
Handmade is scarce usually
You are not confronted with scarcity when you look at Etsy. If you look for a basic pair of silver hoop earrings, you end up inundated. Which is why we have this below $50 cost thing going on- there has been a drive down of prices from too many similar items in a marketplace and an overabundance.
Flea markets and garage sales are still around over a decade after ebay.It hit me: For some people, there is fun and enjoyment in looking through a bunch of crap in order to find the diamond in the rough. And by “some people”, I mean “women”.So, maybe Etsy could do something like that. “Rummage Bin” Saturday mornings, where you go to a section of Etsy and it has a bunch of stuff that everyone on the site is browsing through, “moving” etc at the same time, and several very limited-quantity really good deals inside that once they’re gone, they’re gone. Try to recreate the value of “getting there early”, having a “nose for a deal” and then, of course, make it easy to proclaim to friends, family and strangers how great of a deal you got there.
As kid said ‘game play’
from comment above.so fred i would argue that etsy doesn’t need to have a richer online experience, they need to connect the offline with online with an online/offline inventory system, UI offline for the user and vendor and meetup module overlay online to drive people offline….because for these vendors it’s all about face to face so you can tell your story of how you knitted that scarf/hood/broach majiggy with pure alpaca wool that you raise on your farm in Vermont….
Unnecessary generalization to say that “women” enjoy “looking through a bunch of crap”. I’m sure we all know men who love to rummage, and women who can’t abide it. I think of my friend Tom who often starts his Saturdays by taking the kids to garage sales, looking for brand-name cast-offs. His wife Joanne gets the house to herself – that’s one perk. Later in the week, one evening, he’ll sell his finds on eBay. He takes the pocket money he earns to Vegas once a year with his guy-pals. He has a good thing going but I can’t stand that sort of thing, myself!
There are certainly exceptions that prove the rule. However, I’m stickingby my unnecessary generalization.I hold the trump card. You see, I’ve been herehttp://images.topix.com/gal…:)
Actually, I don’t think you do, or not quite. One of the best books on shopping I am reading is a book called “Why We Buy” which was written by a sociologist? who likes to run after people in stores. And while there are gender differences, among the many many profound things he notices is:Women now shop more like men, and men now shop more like women, and this makes marketing, merchandising, and staffing harder. And he explains (parts) of his datapoints to prove it. It also explains the demise of “Joe’s Hardware” for “Restoration Hardware” -women now fix stuff as often as men.So yeah, gender roles are sort of switching. Or Melding as women go to work in big office buildings, the same ones that men do. Creates different pressures. (Though they do note that women will buy more if they bring a friend…so…)
My wife, at this moment, is out shopping with an out of town friend. I will bet the amex bill that the words “she found”and “saved” will be in the initial summary. :)That said, I do agree that many men have trended “metrosexual” in the last decade. Despite this, I’m willing to stand behind my stereotype….for the cowboys that read this thread decades out. 🙂
Thats right. The ability to conceive spending as a saving is a real achievement, completely hidden for centuries from the poor guys who wrote the economy books (all men, i think)
Paul Samuelson, who actually recently died, really brought the idea of Keynesian Economics to the public. He work with both Kennedy and Johnson, as well as published the first “modern” undergraduate textbook on Economics.
I read that book for pleasure before I ever became a college student. It was gripping and read like a novel. But then I also read War And Peace what would be my freshman year of high school in the American system.
Andy. I am siding with the two women here. 🙂
Gonna have to go w/ Andy on this one with the exception of Lowes, Home Depot, gun shops and fly fishing stores. OK, rock quarries on any continent also.The e-bay guy is just sourcing product for his Vegas trips.
Umm, Lowes and Home Depot changed the way they do their displays within the past decade. They had to, they were getting more women shoppers.I happen to love Ace personally. I just like walking around and wondering what you can do with all the stuff…some very interesting materials there…like lamps.Edit: I should mention for posterity that I think lamps should be scanned on large scanners. And then have their colors blown out strangely. The idea is a good one…
“The e-bay guy is just sourcing product for his Vegas trips.”LOL
“His wife Joanne gets the house to herself – that’s one perk.”I like it when women come out making these small counter points to, well, smallish points.LOL
I think even knowing that someone else is “browsing” a unique item that you’re looking at could precipitate action. Great idea Andy.
well there are a lot of local etsy groups and events in person. my girlfriend goes to etsy events and craft mafia events and all of the vendors sell their stuff on etsy. The problem isn’t that they need a flea market like experience. They need a connection between etsy and the physical flea market. Like iphone apps that can scan a table id and allow people to purchase at the physical flea market table using etsy’s merchant account and inventory system.so fred i would argue that etsy doesn’t need to have a richer online experience, they need to connect the offline with online with an online/offline inventory system, UI offline for the user and vendor and meetup module overlay online to drive people offline….because for these vendors it’s all about face to face so you can tell your story of how you knitted that scarf/hood/broach majiggy with pure alpaca wool that you raise on your farm in Vermont….
Going to reference the same book as above, and the post- what we’re missing is the physicalness of shopping. One of the reasons apparently the Gap is successful is that they allow me to touch sweaters (actually I don’t shop at the Gap, I don’t fit into their clothing, after a few years of experimenting and trying, but I do like going in to have a look see)What you are asking to replicate in the online experience is for the physical presence, or something as similar as possible. Especially with craft goods (and there is overwhelming choice, so overwhelming that when my schoolbag broke I got @Etsy on twitter to choose a bag for me…good thing too, I was using a small purse and that got stolen under my nose a ~ week later) What makes the physical presence powerful is in part touch/smell/look, but it is also the people and “place” as described above. We can easily give look right now. The real question is can we deliver people and place, and what that should look like, and how do we engage people without annoying them.
when u say people, u mean bizzies. there are no males registered for etsy
Not true. I use it a lot
human interaction is evolving, permanentlytwitter and facebook and farmville and etsy and avc are the new singing and dancing and eating and drinkingthe new modes of interaction can be almost as good as singing and dancing and eating and drinking together IRL. etsy will spawn networks of telmo-like local meetup communities, everywhere these communities will fuse old & new in ways we can’t imagine, and there will be singing and dancing and eating and drinking in ways we can imagineandrew bird:if we can call them friends then we can call them on their telephonesand they won’t pretend that they’re too busy or that they’re not aloneand if we can call them friends then we can callholler at them down these hallowed hallsjust don’t let the human factor fail to be a factorat alldon’t, don’t you worry, about the atmosphere or any sudden pressure changecause i knowthat it’s starting to get warm in hereand things are starting to get strangeand did you, did you see how all of our friends were thereand they’re drinking roses from the can?and how, how i wish i, i had talked to them, and i wish they fit into the planand we were tired of being mildwe were so tired of being mildand we were tired…i know we’re going to meet some day in the crumbled financial institutions of this landthere will be tables and chairsthere’ll be pony rides and dancing bearsthere’ll even be a bandcause listen, after the fall there will be no more countriesno currencies at all, we’re gonna live on our witswe’re gonna throw away survival kits, trade butterfly-knives for adderaland that’s not allooh-ooh, there will be snacks there willthere will be snacks, there will be snacks.and we were tired of being mild,we were so tired of being mild
That’s the plan for sure scott
what a fruitcake – have a drink – oh u can’t
“fruitcake”? the discussion here is supposed to be civilized and usually is. calling someone a fruitcake doesn’t lead to good conversations
Just seeing your Twitter post, my thinking went down a different path before clicking through. Having been to San Telmo a number of times and so many wonderful street fairs like it across the world, I immediately thought of the potential for all of those street vendors (content creators) to expand their reach and harness the Fedex/UPS network to sell their wares to a much broader audience that is seeking unique or scarce objects. I wonder if Etsy wouldn’t find value in becoming the global platform? It is also nice that it would be a social positive for buyers/sellers.Having read your post, I would point out that I continue thinking that I’ve become more appreciative of physical act of socializing now that most of my work time is spent on the web/email. I think we will see our online/electronic interactions become more seamless and with less friction among networks, but I also think that we will see people realize that they are innately social and a personal touch will become more powerful.
I agree that spending time online makes me want to spend more time socializing offlineAnd yes, etsy wants to be a global platform and I hope it will achieve that goal in 2010Already more than 25pcnt of etsy transactions are cross border
The web is not supposed to replace the offline, the in person. The web is supposed to enrich them.
There is definitely room for innovation in the e-commerce world. Creating a social experience is one step, but another important step is the actual user interface. One of the greatest aspects about places like San Telmo is the physical environment. You can’t bring the sights, sounds and smells online, but you can open the shopping platform to more customization and individual expression. One of the next big innovations coming to e-commerce will be a departure from your standard row and column box photos. I know we’re having a blast exploring ways to upgrade the experience.
As for the UX part of an online ecommerce experience – we are good at search, but horrible at browse. Unfortunately, workflows are optimized where to the user knows what they want. Open up any site and you are presented with some category navigation and that big blank search box. We expect/demand that the user has a preconceived desire when they enter, which at times is obviously wrong. Everything is product detail page focused.This is totally opposite the experience you are talking about. Strolling and browsing, seeing a spread or collection of items, stopping to interact, all of that is a reversal of current ecommerce workflow. What makes your experience more immersive are the sights, sounds, liveliness of it all – and yes those are hard things to incorporate. But creating a UI where there is an option to wander, that is interesting and groundbreaking.
Tom I think you are right on here. On Etsy shoppers often don’t know what what they want until they stumble across it. It’s a marketplace of unique, one-of-a-kind, “unknown” items. Traditional search engines and ecommerce sites are optimized for lookup of known items, often items with wide brand recognition. Search doesn’t work very well (yet) when you don’t know what you want — you get out what you put in. So the best way to find amazing stuff on Etsy is through people, I think for the same reason the best way to discover new music is through people — whether it’s through a friend, a music collector’s blog, music blog aggregation on Hype Machine or the musicologist-powered Music Genome Project. When I’m looking for new music, a keyword search for a music genre is no fun and not likely to introduce me to music that resonates with me (even with PageRank, which is powered by people in a sense — I haven’t given enough information to expect otherwise). Discovery of uniquely people-driven things like music, art, crafts happens naturally through people.
Yup. That’s exactly right
I have an Etsy shop and buy on Etsy all the time. You are exactly right about discovery being part of the Etsy experience. Without a doubt, most of my buying on Etsy is the result of a spur-of-the-moment decision about some item I just stumbled upon. I would guess the same is true about the majority of the men and women who have purchased items from my shop.Part of the attraction of Etsy for me is that much of what is sold is unusual and in limited supply or its completely one of a kind. I often tell people I know that the process of finding items on Etsy to be a bit like how Pier One Imports visually merchandises their brick-and-mortar stores. You walk in and you are presented with a wide variety of objects in different sizes/colors/textures from all over the world. There are things in plain view, but they lay out lots of other items for you to discover on the way to your intended buy. Soaps and candles and other objects waiting to be found are tucked away in baskets on the end caps and floors. So, while you might walk into the store with the intent to check out a dining table or just to browse, its pretty likely that because of their visual merchandising, you will end up leaving with some different or exotic looking candleholder that you hadn’t even intended to buy.Interacting with users on forums or reading about a seller is how I sometimes discover items, but I also think visual features like the Gift Guides (apparently those will be going away in January), Treasuries, and plugging in locations using the Buy Local features are also what makes discovering items on Etsy more interesting. However, I do think that as a buyer, it would be nice to make the site more visually rich and brows-able without crowding it with features that are annoying, disruptive, and complicated.As a seller, I’m pretty happy with Etsy overall. There could be seller-related improvements for setting up individual customization, shipping options and the like. However for me, the social commerce direction of Etsy is ideal because I’d much rather be enjoying life with my family and friends (or even vacationing in San Telmo!) than sitting in some overheated booth during them middle of a hot summer trying to sell my wares at a craft show.
i am so pleased that a few sellers stopped in and joined this discussion. you know what’s going on a lot better than investors and the occasional buyer (that’s me).
If you knew that websites are hampered by a really awful box model (so everything is box on top of box), how would you like to have things visually engaged so you get lost on an adventure in these boxes for the sake of discovery?
Turn shopping into a gaming experience. Get help from the Farmville people.
Gilt.com is one example of turning shopping into a game. It is shopping as sport — the anti Etsy, really, but still an interesting model.
Sort of. You have a vague idea, and then you get sidetracked in choices. It’s a very “natural” roundabout way of shopping, but the traditional search methodologies are not going to present it very well at all. If you are going to get lost in a bazaar, the last thing you want your bazaar to look like is a list, you want it to look like some sort of twisty-turny thing which has “a bag section” near “pins” and when you are near the street edges of said place, interesting things are found…
Shana, I am not sure what the solution is either, but as you indicate the lists and search paradigm is not going to solve it. I have been thinking that ecommerce UI/UX today is built on the notion of solo – someone sitting on their couch and purchasing. Recommendations, discussion boards and chat rooms are just a collection of these solo experiences. While all valuable, not the bazaar experience.My hope is that mobile will solve some of this, allowing people to gather and experience as a group. How all this plays out, I haven’t a clue – but when I have watched video of groups or kids interacting with touchscreen tables or panels there is a whole different vibe. Having my mobile device, loaded with my preferences, interacting with a physical location/gather place is compelling. The place being the hub and acting as the entry point…A bunch of people sitting at home wandering through a digital landscape turns into Second Life – and for me that is a hollow and unfulfilling experience.
I agree partially. I don’t find quite yet, once you are on these newer digital devices (Iphone, Android and even RIM) that they are one to many or many to many in UX. Fred’s site is very typical: It has a bar on top for navigation, it’s strips away a lot of the widgets (they don’t fit) and pictures (again, don’t fit). It’s kind of a boxy, length oriented page that doesn’t make you do much beyond read. (Ok so it’s a blog, you don’t do much beyond read and write here)But that’s not an “interesting mobile experience to be shared for more than 5 seconds” And I am not sure what will solve it: I see all sorts of funny problems with this. It seems like such an obvious problem to be solved, but it feels like try to put Nude Descending or Fountain on the Internet. Somehow the paradigm has to be broken for people to be happy. I just wish I knew how. Not the original plan of Tim Burners Lee, let me assure you…
I totally agree that context is the key. There is a time where I want to just sit and consume written word, and for that a larger screen is important. I can say I hardly ever actually read anything on my iPhone except emails and twitter. Reading this post or keeping up with comments would kinda suck in that little window. And of course a collection of people with their heads looking down would be hollow as well.But to get small bursts of info, something that can immerse me in an experience a bit more is what I was thinking when I used the “mobile” term. Someone below wrote about the building lobby, another wrote about video – I just think that I would love to be able to be more interactive with it all.Would it be an odd experience to be able to point my mobile device at a display screen – be it in that coffee shop, the TV in living room, or the laptop on my lap? I see a handheld as more of a key, one that unlocks info on my terms. And if somehow it could guide me to an etsy/bazaar experience, that would be cool.
There is a lively discussion going on on the top post of the day about “Whatdoes Fred want to invest in?” I suggest hopping over there.
Mobile is best suited to mesh the online with the offline. You are right.
I think that there is a mobile solution to this and that involves video for which I have a platform. email me at [email protected].
San Telmo = warm, lots of emotional interaction. Social networking website = cold, factual, data-driven (which makes it very good for the worlds biggest bookstore, but less so for selling perfume)Imagine people could travel instantaneously, and shop (or sell at) San Telmo and the Union Square Greenmarket at the same time. That’s what people do in an online community, which makes it a lot harder to build that kind of enduring social commitment, in addition to the limitations of the medium.Human societies evolve around public goods/activities that need to be shared/managed for the common good, and hierarchies evolve to enforce values and norms to manage those activities/public goods.San Telmo and online communities are complementary, in fact I would be very surprised if San Telmo did not have one or more associated online communities. The real community is the one exists in the minds of the people who share that public resource, values, and respect the community’s norms and hierarchies and invest in maintaining and building them. The online site is similar to the architecture of the market, it provides a locus whose design also shapes the way the community interacts.
I perceive of a growing conflict of interest between centralized and web distributed services. Real value is in network replication, in creating new platforms that promote interconnectivity. The way of AOL like portals is obsolescence.Facebook is a social centralized service, their bottom line is based on marketing products and ads to their users. But I don’t need to visit their site to share up to date information with friends (nor does anyone else).Google wins by being the default search portal and getting users to tell them what they’re interested in.The value and strength of a network has never been owning the destination, but in strengthening the connectivity between nodes by giving them a reason to interact. And of course the addition of new nodes, which in the case of social amongst other web networks, is new users. It’s why I love to keep coming back to your blog so often Fred. I have a great reason to chat with other commenters here, as we share some strong passions for helping to shape the future.How is Etsy is moving towards being more distributed as a service? Is there an Etsy like API or protocol any crafts person can easily integrate their store/goods into? This is the way to win. As they build infrastructure we can talk to and work within other web domains. I assume Etsy is moving in this direction, I’m just not aware of the details.
Yes there is an etsy api and a big priority is making it better
Thanks Fred, BmoreWire pointed me to it
“….why I love to keep coming back to your blog so often Fred. I have a great reason to chat with other commenters here…..”This blog has the best comments section of any blog I know. Maybe I don’t know enough blogs, but this comments section is really something. The crowd that it attracts. Impressive.
Right on Paramendra. Fred has created a wonderful arena for us to dig into a topic. I get a ton out of the disagreements
I’m someone who looks at etsy from the inside out. I have a shop there and make a very good living from my craft. Etsy is a big part of that.People shop on etsy for a variety of reasons. One is the trust factor of a known site as opposed to a stand alone website. The other is the site, as Fred says, to engage artists and buyers in an experience that is far more than a monetary transaction. Cyberspace, or not, I’ve gotten to know my customers, their needs and wants, and they get to know a little about me.I was fortunate to have my work in People magazine this fall, so I also know that etsy has hit mainstream commerce. The blending of the two is an unstoppable force. I think there are improvements to be made, but we are headed in the right direction.
Thanks for stopping by and joining the discussion sherry. Your perspective is very valuable
Another place where the analogy breaks down is that there are no pickpockets and few scam artists on Etsy; in the current social-network world, the successful scam artists are much more likely to be well-funded companies like Zynga.http://www.techcrunch.com/2…
Citing techcrunch on the zynga stuff is a joke
I agree with Ryan below. Social commerce vs ecommerce is something to behold.
I’m trying to figure out if this comment is spam. Hard to tell. Could be very legit. But could be spam
What an inspiring post: this should nail down the place of social web in our lives. The problem is that we only have the old terminology: “social” “community” “friend” “commerce”. These terms make us think of the social web as a pale clone of a real social engagement. It’s not, didn’t intend to, and will never be.It’s like when i watch the National Geographic channel, the alternative is not to really visit all these places (always better), but to not see them at all! The social web is similar, it give additional social opportunities, and will never replace watching a game in the local bar. And with less time and more distance in today big cities, social web actually increase social interaction. Having said that, there is a huge difference between Farmville and Etsy. Etsy is real, creative, inspiring. Farmville… well.
I told you I was working on a big one
Personally, the best way to think of this one is by working backwards from the community, and their personal aspirations beyond discovering/buying stuff.What are the logical adjacencies, or affinities, that Etsy users share, and what additional “jobs” might Etsy enable them to get done, relative to their desired outcomes and the constraints that they face.For some, that might mean virtual sheds to showcase products of interest or expertise. For others, it might be better ways to aggregate knowledge/information around specific products. And of course, there are all sorts of logical tie-ins between online, and local events for purveyors that want to expand their distribution or connect with their constituency more deeply (ala Whole Foods’ Meet the Producer marketing in some stores).One analog that might provide some kindling is the synergistic relationship between blogging, micro-blogging (Posterous, Tumblr) and Tweets.
Right. Etsy’s done a good job of building a few synergistic services but they need to build more
I’ve enjoyed markets for as long as I can remember as much for the social experience as for the opportunity to discover, to be thrilled and to experience the local flavor markets provide for all the senses. It’s one of the things that led my husband and me to create a weekend market in Williamsburg, Brooklyn devoted to independent artists, designers, vintage collectors and DIYers – Artists & Fleas (www.artistsandfleas.com). This was back in 2003, before ETSY and other online marketplaces existed or had much scale to them. What I’ve discovered in the 7 years of having a market and seeing thousands of entrepreneurs – whether emerging or seasoned – set up and sell for the day or the weekend or the season is that nothing beats the in-person experience. It’s a chance to interact, to observe, to get a reaction — all of that is immediate, often unfiltered and in real-time. I have the good fortune of having developed long-lasting relationships with many of the people that have come through Artists & Fleas. Many of them have made their hobby intotheir profession. In some cases, selling online was critical to their success. But over the past year, many have actually shut down their ETSY stores or pulled back on their online retailing efforts.Some of it was spoken to in a recent New York Times article “That Hobby Looks Like A Lot of Work”. Some have expressed that the proliferation of online venues, the intensity of competition online and the lack of human interaction had made the work unfulfilling to them on online venues. I certainly can appreciate their sentiments. But I’d like to believe that both can work and that there is a better way for them to work together – sort of the way MeetUp is premised on in-person gatherings that are facilitated through online meetings. And yet another thing that has been a recurrent theme throughout all of my conversations both with my vendors as well as with my current members in my full-time weekday role running a flexible workspace & community place for women business owners called In Good Company – is the issue that you pointedly raise as being a key benefit to the web: scale.So many independent creative types – designers, artists, handmade mavens, etc – and small business entrepreneurs often find the challenge of scale to be the biggest obstacle to their success. Some go online and get inundated by orders and demand that they become slaves to their business. Others don’t even have to go online in order to find such success – an order from a big retailer such as Barneys or Anthropologie will put so much pressure on a small, handmade business that they may find themselves staffing up to meet an order only to eventually realize that that order put them in the red. The issue of scale seems to transcend venue and marketplace – real or virtual. The question is whether there is a way to bring the best of both possible worlds together to feed all needs and satisfy the original drivers that motivated creators & collectors to go into business as well as what inspires consumers to go and discover the “locals.”I know that I am looking forward with enthusiasm to see what Rob Kalin will do now that he is back at ETSY. It’s a huge market and a big world. And a lot of people like cool stuff especially when it comes with the opportunity to experience the thrill of the find and the art of the deal.
What a great comment. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts amyYour point about scale and the challenges it creates for individual artists is particulalry important and largely unsolved
Another issue that artists face on ETSY is the price point that is most successful. Most ETSY stores only sell their small items that are priced $50 or less. Many artists don’t want to scale to produce hundreds/thousands of $20 items. These artists put blood, sweat and tears into their work and to them attempting to scale isn’t appealing. However, if they want to make a living selling online that’s exactly what they have to do to be successful.If ETSY can develop a specific area for higher price point items to be successful it will begin to kill traditional galleries and open a lucrative door.
that is something Etsy has heard many times from sellers. it’s an interesting idea.
Perhapses Etsy next step is to open a secondary marketplace for materials to the artists, let them do their “social commerce” for their purchases
Exactly. This is the core of this post. I’ll try to repeat it (in a much more boring terms).We must elaborate it, because It’s a VERY deep insight.For a a century+, since the industrial revolution, we are ruled by one queen: the “Economy of scale”. It meant one thing: a large organization that produces more and more units. This single economic phenomenon rules our life more than we want to admit: a decline (extinction?) of individual-small manufacturing, urbanization, a mad increase in productivity over time and community, mass media, mass marketing, branding. And (this is for kid mercury) shift of political and social power to the huge global corporates. The larger is better.Now the web didn’t really changed that so far as for goods and services. But when you look at Etsy in the eyes of this post, you see something new: while ndividual artist and manual craft can never be scaled by definition, Etsy now allows a Group of them to scale WITHOUT CREATING ONE BIG ORGANIZATION. .So the idea is NOT to scale an individual artist or an individual gourmet sheff but to aggregate them and produce a new way to achieve economy of scale.Will we have demand for it? Off course. When people can allow it, they like special designs, hot coutur, a unique boulangerie. We prefer the personal touch, the better fit to out taste. Andy Wilson writes here that flees market are still here: and the need for special, personal selection is an important aspect of a flee market. You don’t have to settle for the standard-always-looking-the-same items of mass production. More people will be able to make a living working in small shops, and we will have richer humman fabric. Much more interesting than a flat-mass-mass lower denominator. This process already happens in content, but only begins with services and goods. Etsy, in a way, is the blogging of crafts. It serve them as Blogger served early bloggers, although it should meet much more complicated logistic. After so many years, we have found a new way to achieve economy of scale. Now that’s remarkable (you did worked on a big one, Fred).
You see some of the same problems though as in fine arts. Once you scale, you need to resolve problems of craft (vis a vis price point or uniqueness). It’s not usually practical for someone like me to hire a nude model – it’s better to do so in a group setting (cheaper). But then you run risks about what you can discover through the nude -which is one of the reasons it is so hard to break through that model of idealized 2d-3d form (though a good chunk of people with formal training will have taken nude drawing or anatomy, it teaches you a lot)Scale and you lose uniqueness to a degree. It’s why I feel like I learned a huge amount from drawing people and places, but in the end, I had to break form and material. I couldn’t get anywhere -and now my life may be more difficult for it, but at least there is territory that is unique to discover.
A site that allows the listings of all the existing flea markets and yard sales of the world? MeetUp meet Etsy.
So how do you people watch when you shop online? That’s a big part of wandering.We did an e-commerce sunglasses site some years ago. As I watched the owner interact with customers,I kept thinking how do we translate that touch online. It’s all the human one on one things that need to be figured out.
Nice post, Fred. My fiancée and I have had a vintage store on Etsy for about 6 months (http://vintagesuits.us). I love the site, and am happy with our sales, but it is definitely not the San Telmo market (which we had an awesome time visiting last year, btw).Etsy is social commerce in the sense that it encourages personality: in the banners, photos, products and descriptions. It has enabled sellers to differentiate their products from others in a way that Ebay really hasn’t. Most of the sellers are the models themselves or use friends and the savings show in the prices. At Etsy, you aren’t so much selling a product as you are selling yourself, a lifestyle. In that sense, it makes the seller – buyer experience that much more personal. I can’t speak to the handmade side, but is it any coincidence that the biggest vintage sellers on Etsy are young, cute pin-uppy looking girls (jessjamesjake, for example)?Nevertheless, there are a lot of ways social interaction on Etsy could be improved. Yes, there is a community tab, but it is separate from the actual stores where commerce takes place – linking the “social” and the “commerce” more would be great. Basic things like setting up blogs/conversations within the stores (most stores like ours just link to an external blog), letting people sign up to receive emails about sales or new items in their size (there are simple RSS subscriptions but that’s it) seem like really low hanging fruit to encourage interaction between buyers and sellers. I would love a way to encourage repeat sales besides sending email or convo spam as I’m sure some of our customers would appreciate it. Connecting people who have viewed or searched for similar items would also be interesting… these are just a few simple ideas off the top of my head.Re comments about men on etsy: About half our sales are men’s items, mainly vintage suits & sport coats. Sometimes, the wife or girlfriend appears to be the buyer but usually it is the man himself. Our women’s items tend to get A LOT more views, but men definitely are buying.Re scale: One of the reasons why people buy handmade, not just from Etsy but from holiday and craft fairs, is that there is a limited supply – because one person can only make so many. The idea of scale for the individual conflicts with one of the primary benefits of handmade: OOAK (one-of-a-kind) or OOAF (one-of-a-few). The site could have scale in that it has millions of sellers and sales, but no Etsy seller will ever sell a million “tractors” or whatever…
great comment. i’ll make sure the Etsy team sees your suggestions Eric
Right on target …. “Connecting people who have viewed or searched for similar items would be VERY powerful.”
I just discovered this post about an hour ago and have been thinking about it. I live in Boulder CO. We have a very successful twice-weekly Farmer’s Market during the warmer months. The core of the city is an outdoor pedestrian-only collection of shops, restaurants, and offices where people stroll, eat, enjoy street performers, sit and people-watch, etc. There are also fun shopping stores like Whole Foods.So I have lots of places to go visit when I want to get out and about. It isn’t really about the shopping. It isn’t even about the social experience because I usually go by myself. It’s about the sensory experience, which can’t be duplicated online. I feel the weather. I see the colors. I hear the street performers playing music. I walk. I sample food.There’s just no way an online experience can duplicate it.
The idea is not duplication. The idea is enrichment. The online is supposed to enrich the offline experience.
I can understand that. But then we don’t need to be talking about how to create an online marketplace similar to street markets. Let’s talk, (as some have been), about how to create more street markets and how to get more people to them.On the other hand, if the conversation is how to make Etsy more like a street market, then I am pointing out all of the aspects that cannot be achieved online because they must be experienced physically.
Exactly …. a symbiotic relationship between what happens online and in the real-world. Discovery is core to this notion. When you walk into a brick n’ mortar experience you see what people are looking at, who they are talking with, and what the topics are about. This chasm has yet to be crossed.
I just had a “special connection” with another etsy seller today and felt so exhilarated by it that I had to write a blog post!http://threepeats.blogspot….It can happen online…and the fact that it doesn’t happen as often in the virtual world makes it sweeter when it does!
i left you a comment on your post
I’m going to tip in a few random points that I believe are new to the discussion:–People are talking a lot about the limitations of e-commerce–missing smells and textures. That’s true. BUT I am surprised no one is bring up the topic of how video advances that cause. I built a social commerce experience in which video is central. VIdeo delivery has a few enormous community and commerce benefits. First, it enhances the act of discovery tremendously because it enables rich story telling. People THANK us every day for those stories… they don’t feel “sold to,” as much as engaged and informed. Second, it creates that “real person” connection Fred emphasizes. Third, it has virtually eliminated merchandise returns. People know what they are getting and are less likely to be surprised or disappointed.–The chat focuses a lot on handmade and scarcity. But I am seeing a very interesting long tail phenomenon in product development, in general. I am an industrial designer, by training, and know my way around the subject of creating products. The game has changed tremendously in the last ten years due to the democratization of innovation. This means much cheaper and easier access to product, design/engineering knowledge, manufacturing sources and prototyping tools. It’s nothing like it was when I got going as an industrial designer and you had to be a big company to hire a “me” and the resources I needed. Today, I know a college kid with a CNC machine in his dorm room, for God’s sake! And in my company, every week we receive dozens to hundreds of product submissions and I am both stunned and delighted by the sources of the products. In times of real economic turmoil, it is so encouraging to see people like etsy producers, and these consumer products innovators, taking matters into their own hands and building products and enterprises. Being small is a huge competitive advantage, and a new one.–I think the point about connecting to real people cannot be over emphasized. This is why we buy too much kale at the farmer’s market. It’s why we can’t leave the winery or the artist’s studio without an artifact. The people and their stories make those purchases so much more meaningful.–I built a social commerce experience where I expected our purchasers to reflect the norm in consumer products: 85% female. Instead I got 30% male…because men do appreciate a more social experience, discovery, and also they are more impulsive/trusting purchasers who appreciate a fast and effective site. But I did not see that coming before we launched. Etsy can really tap that (although I would never call etsy fast…but the trust factor is terrific.)Anyway, some random thoughts that I think fill in the cracks.
The video is a good idea. I don’t think it duplicates an in-person experience, but it does offer some useful alternatives:1. Good when you don’t have time to get in the car and go somewhere, but you want at least a few minutes of feeling connected.2. Good when there are places to for you to go, but parking is a hassle (which can happen at our local Farmer’s Market, but a lot of people live close enough to walk to it and they do, which is part of the success of an experience like this).3. Good when you don’t have a cool shopping experience nearby. I’m blessed to live in Boulder, but there are a lot of communities that don’t offer a fun, in-person shopping experience.
Suzanne, I’m so glad you brought up the third point. I live in Boston and I forget that so much of the country has been stripped down to a WalMart retail experience. I am not simply being jaded or a Lorax when I say that. (That is a different blog post!) Our customers actually remind me of their different circumstances a lot…that they don’t have access to the types of products and retail experiences you and I can take for granted. But they DO want to support real innovation, craft, and companies that amplify green and social enterprise good.
Etsy is the unWalmart, you are right. Etsy is unleashing the masses.
Personally I LOVE betting on unleashing the masses.
thanks for this commentone of the challenges of video for selling is that it takes time to watchthe video and you don’t know upfront if its going to be worth it
True….we aren’t used to having commerce sites do this reliably yet. It does help when you do one everyday, like we do. People know what to expect. Zappos has 10,000 videos on its site now and the bulk of them are very low-fi reliable shoe demos by employees. They say they are going to have 50,000 by EOY.
Completely agree that video is an important ingredient in any modern/social shopping experience. Any tool that enhances story telling and creates “atmosphere” will be successful. Environment, story telling, scarcity etc were employed by legendary old-school retailers like Stanley Marcus and Geraldine Stutz http://www.nytimes.com/2005… back in the day. The concepts haven’t changed just the tools we use.
The storytelling model seems to be a better one to me than a street market model because it lends itself better to an online approach.
I agree Suzanne. A street market is its own special animal…and long may it live. We are actually figuring out a way to help bricks and mortar retail benefit from our product discoveries. It matters a lot to me to preserve great “real life” specialist commerce too, not just online.
How about Etsy “outsourcing” that social part to Zynga? You, Fred, could make that happen.I just left a comment on Mark Pincus’ latest blog post saying what Farmville needs is a farmers’ market, an Etsy so to speak.Synergies.
The challenge is that you can be socially engaged in the San Telmo market without being actively social at all – just being there gives you a passive social experience. No such parallel exists on Etsy and I’m short that they will figure out how to create a passive social experience. In the Etsy forums, either you actively engage in the forums (I’d guess that like most other verticals where forums are active, most of their customers don’t participate) or for the most part you don’t have a social experience. It’s bimodal – either you actively engage in the social dynamic or you don’t.Online social experiences typically require activity (typing is the main one). What would be the user interface paradigm for the online world that approximates what you do when you walk around the market listening and watching or in the case of the US, walk around the mall enjoying the presence of other people in an experience that is almost – if not entirely – passive in nature.Because of the constraints of the human computer interface, I’m short the idea that the web is going to be effective at emulating the offline social dynamic. In each vertical – particularly around areas of passion – there will be a small subset of folks who actively engage in a social dynamic but most won’t. Even reading forums without participating is not akin to walking around the San Telmo market because reading is work in a way that walking around a nice market is not.This does not mean that I don’t believe that the social web is an important development but I just don’t think that commerce is where it is going to apply.
Great way to advertisehttp://www.youtube.com/watc…
What makes up a lot of the ambience in a place like San Telmo (or the Rambla Catalunya in Barcelona, the markets in Peru etc.) are the people and the music/ sounds in addition to the merchants. That may be achieved by adding better personalization (Avatars, more interesting profiles, Facebook connect) or giving more “tone” to the site – someone who does that very well is Woot which has fantastic copywriting. Will be interesting to see how Rob evolves Etsy now that he’s back at the helm.
I think ultimately you are going to need a different model than a physical marketplace. Even if you can find a way to duplicate the sights, sounds, and social interaction, you don’t have the tastes, the touch/feel, and the walking that go with a real market.
you are soooo right
A lot of times I have thought that at least the front page of Etsy should give up its blog-like template. After all, it still reminds me of the WordPress template the very first Etsy version was built on. I think it’s time to move on and adapt a design that reflects more of what Etsy really is.In regards to the amount of available customization of Etsy stores: one (quite good) reason for why HTML cannot be used was to avoid the irritating looks that sites such as eBay have allowed for individual shops. But eventually, taste is subjective and not debatable, and Etsy draws in a multitude of seller (and buyer!) personas. The question is whether Etsy wants to answer the wants and needs of the greatest possible number of its users (which I know many think would be a truly social and democratic thing) or whether the interests are of another kind. So far, the limited text options have ensured an overall clean look all around Etsy, but I still think some good ways for extended customization/personalization should be found and applied, preferably such that also allow for more interactivity on and off Etsy (some might require an opt-in function, because of privacy issues).Also, I have talked to quite some people who, because of the overall site layout, thought that Etsy wasn’t a marketplace made up of hundreds of individually-run shops, but that it was a huge retailing site or an artisanal distro at best.
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Farmville doesn’t sell a single real tractor to anyone. Nor does anyone design or build a single real tractor. It’s a complete waste of time.
Farmville hasn’t sold a single, real tractor. No one has designed it, built it, distributed it or fueled it. Farmville is a complete waste of time.
Your vision is almost identical with mine. That’s what I want to do with my online art venture. Whenever I go to Insa-dong, an art-centric place in Seoul, Korea, I think “we need to bring this experience online.”
This might be of interest. People barter or trade rather than pay cash. Certainly not a new concept, but this one is done like a street market, so groups of people are connecting face-to-face.Turin’s No Money Marketplace: http://bit.ly/75KiFz
i think this is going to happen in a big way on the webbarter is a natural for the web
I work with musicians and I think it makes sense for many of them. That’s how people used to do it: go from city to city performing music in exchange for some food and a place to stay. For musicians who aren’t making much money anyway, they might be better off playing in exchange for goods and services rather than cash. My guess it would be more lucrative in many cases.
Kickstarter.com uses some barter concepts to help musicians raise funds torecord and market their music
I am aware of Kickstarter for fundraising. I didn’t know people were also using it to barter. I haven’t looked to see how that would work via Kickstarter’s set-up.
i should have been more clear. when you fundraise on kickstarter, you giveback something to the donor. so that’s basically barter
If there is money involved, I guess I would call that a donation or an advance purchase. The Turin barter market involves no money. And that was what I was thinking in terms of musicians. In today’s economy, not everyone has the money to hire a band, but they might be able to give them some food and a place to stay in exchange for a performance.
right. but if you get a copy of the CD for contributing to the cost ofmaking one, isn’t that barter of a sort?
Not the way the most people would think of it. If you give the artist $15 and get a CD when it’s finished, that’s considered a presale. If you give $100 and get a CD, that would be considered a donation or small sponsorship. A more substantial sponsorship would be giving the artist thousands of dollars.A sponsorship can also include giving an artist $2000 in free recording time. What the recording studio would receive in return would be some public credit for having done so.If, on the other hand, you give the artist $500 in plumbing services and the artist plays a concert in your house that he would normally charge $500, then that would be a barter arrangement. It would be a fair exchange of goods and services not involving any money.Here are some definitions of barter. They all involve the concept of “no money.”http://tinyurl.com/yk737n9
It would be really interesting to know how much barter is already happening via Craigslist.
I work with wineries and one my challenges is exactly to try to give people online the same kind of social experience they get when visiting the winery, tasting the wine at the cellar and buying a few cases to take home.What I’ve found so far is that people don’t want to replicate the offline experience online. What they want online is to enhance the winery experience by telling you for example what your friends think of the wines, if they have been there at the winery, did they like it, did they buy the wine, etc.Same goes for Etsy. If you can somehow show other people what their friends have been viewing, selecting and buying (considering privacy issues) that might enhance the marketplace experience.
I’m way late commenting on this since went dark over holidays with the kids.My husband and I called this year the “Etsy Christmas”. We together bought 6+ items, for each other. For years he and I have enjoyed finding each other handmade, unique gifts in markets and while travelling. Etsy is a natural extension of that, for us.But now I’m having a hard time relating to the ‘hang out’ idea. No time. I need to dip in and out FAST. If i don’t buy here, it’s Amazon or Target.I sometimes buy ‘the perfect birthday gift’ 5x and put in the gift closet so I can pluck one out for each party (some weekends we have 1-2x a weekend). Screening by dollar level is important; before recession I spent $40/gift. Now it’s $20. But I hear this feature is going away? On kids gifts I seriously don’t have time to meander.Hubby and I each (independently) went to Etsy for 9th Anniversary gifts (ceramic! leather! Etsy!). But had to tunnel in and search. Why isn’t there a his-and-her buying guide for anniversaries, by year? If there already is, I couldn’t find it fast enough.I love the curated guides I get by email. Savor them. I would like more available for these other frequent event-driven purchase entry points. How about if you’re a Etsy customer your profile includes anniversary date, so you get pushed some personal suggestions 2 weeks in advance? Again if this exists it’s buried and missed my radar.Help me, Etsy! I want to support you and your peeps but you need to spoon feed me.
One thing that could be really interesting is to allow people on Etsy to curate their own guides.This could as simple as adding items as favorites (it exists already) but also allowing tagging them. For example my girlfriend is a crafter that makes and sells her stuff but she spends most of her time marking and tagging other people’s items on Flick and Tumblr (see: http://batixa.tumblr.com/ ).
Interesting. If that curation is done by someone that’s not me, but to my needs, then I am a happy customer.I’d like to throw out a request (“gift for a 7-yr-old girl who loves music and soccer, for $20”). If I rapidly get quality answers back, then i am sold. For example, the existing Etsy search structure doesn’t account for age-appropriateness of toys. The good toy websites do.If I search on kids, it’s a hodgepodge of price points, ages, etc. and prevents me from getting my job done. I’m not in the market for a $599 ‘Bling Bling Pink Scooster Crystallize Car’, so on this task-driven search I don’t want to see it.I don’t care if the recommendations are generated by a person, a crowd, or an algorithm, as long as it’s reasonably on-point for my objective.But I must say that the curators/editors from Etsy do a beautiful job, when pointed toward a particular theme…and they have earned my trust.
I am sure my perception is colored by my current work (Motionbox) but could the Etsy buying experience be enriched with a clean video integration. Make it really easy for a seller to leave a few minutes of video from a webcam or iphone or one of the thousand other ways to easily capture video. Explain your process and thinking that went into the item. I would think this would lead to a much richer experience for browsers and more meaningful buying experiences to get a feel for the person who made it and why…
i think video is too time consuming for many, including me
Fred, 30-sec videos of a winemaker describing his own the wine are easier to consume than several hundred tasting notes (even if there’s an average rating). Don’t you think ?
but the way people use etsy is they scan images
I think they are not exclusive. It’s true that usability wise images are good for scanning so that people can jump from item to item quickly until they find the one they want. Videos are good for when you’ve chosen an item and want to know more about it. However once you do that you have a connection that an image cannot provide.
Need some help with Esty?
in what way?
I would appreciate the opportunity to answer your question offline. Thank you for the consideration.
great post. We are launching a new platform for the corporate learning market come June and it has some social features that we hope will encourage this type of environment.
Great post. We are launching a new platform for the corporate learning market in June that we hope will stimulate this type of environment within the enterprise.
The two terms eCommerce and social commerce also capture the history of the we so far. We started with e. We are now strong on social. What’s next? Some of the answer is in Fred’s most recent blog post. The word mobile is a big one. For the short run that is our best bet at bringing most of humanity onto the web. And that is the next big push.