Six months after Etsy completed an IPO that valued it at $3.5 billion, the craft marketplace is expanding. The company is introducing Etsy Manufacturing, a new service that will link Etsy sellers — who often make items by hand — with small manufacturing companies. The operation is designed to help both sellers who've found success but have little time to fulfill larger orders, and smaller manufacturers, some of whom have lost business to huge manufacturers in countries where labor is cheaper.
Starting Monday, manufacturers will be able to create a profile on Etsy, part of a beta program for the new service during which the company will collate their details. Sellers will eventually be able to search through these manufacturers by criteria such as price, location, and the manufacturing services they offer. Etsy will review the applications of manufacturers, checking up on their size, their commitment to transparency, and how much work they themselves outsource, but the marketplace won't actively visit or vet the successful applicants. Instead, it demands that manufacturers featured commit to providing a safe work space and are transparent about their manufacturing processes.
The service is designed to connect Etsy sellers with small manufacturers
Etsy's rules state that people aren't allowed to buy wholesale stock and sell it through the marketplace, but some of the site's most successful sellers have previously relied on manufacturers, much to the chagrin of other users. Stores such as the now-defunct ThreeBirdNest sold items bought wholesale from huge online retailers like Alibaba, reselling them with minor or no alterations on the craft-centric platform — an operation that reportedly made its operator almost a million dollars a year.
But the company says this new service is not intended to get all Etsy sellers mass-producing their items. Chad Dickerson, Etsy's CEO, told The New York Times that the new service intended to match the craftspeople and designers that have called Etsy home during its 10-year existence with local and small-scale manufacturers who held a similar ethos. "Manufacturing is such a huge industry, a faceless industry," Dickerson said. "But manufacturing can be very different from what people think of it to be. It can be everything from a seamstress or a caster or a single woodworker."
The company has expanded its stable of services in recent months, introducing its own crowdfunding platform, simplifying its shipping options, and connecting sellers with traditional retail channels through Etsy Wholesale. Etsy Manufacturing is the latest facet of these improvements, helping to justify its impressive public offering earlier this year, in which it raised $287 million, and received a valuation to rival that of Silicon Valley's biggest online players.