In autumn ’07 Etsy.com displayed its features at the Future of Wep App’s Show in London to an audience of geeks – who, it seemed, were relatively dismissive about it as ‘just another Ebay’. They found it difficult to believe that its exponential growth figures really were due primarily to word of mouth or that there was anything unique about it. It seemed to me that they just didn’t quite ‘get it’ – probably because it just wasn’t their scene – but I was completely transfixed, immediately saw the appeal and ran home ready to spend a good few hours searching and exploring it – not necessarily because of what it sold but because of its design, look and feel. Why the difference of opinion?
Etsy.com it transpires is used primarily by women. Here is a true shopping experience to be appreciated by those who love rummaging round small boutiques searching for that ‘must have’ unique item. The principle here goes completely against the traditional online shopping philosophy of ‘get in, click and purchase in under 60 seconds’ – rather you’re invited to hang, chill, join the community and purchase products as part of the overall experience. It’s a gallery in which you can play and create, converse with the artists, choose items by colour as well as type. A happy hour or 2 can quickly disappear and can be just as social and absorbing an event as a trip to your nearest off line boutique. And it’s that which makes the difference. A shopping experience in a Social Media space – now how cool is that?
For those who are into figures, according to Wikipedia: ‘On July 29, Etsy had its one-millionth sale and anticipated its two-millionth sale would occur mid-December 2007. In November 2007, buyers spent $4.3 million purchasing 300,000 items for sale on Etsy, an increase of 43 percent from October 2007’.
Ebay may well have lost its footing slightly – perhaps now it’s their turn to look for a bit of Etsy inspiration.