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Amazon takes on Etsy with ‘Handmade’ storefront for artisan goods

We heard back in May that Amazon was quietly planning the launch of an Etsy rival, and on Thursday those preparations emerged in the form of Handmade.

Like Etsy, Handmade is an online marketplace where artisans can sell their hand-crafted goods. The new site features a range of product categories such as jewelry, artwork, stationery, kitchen and dining, and furniture.

“All products available on Handmade at Amazon are factory-free and must be made by hand,” Amazon said in a release announcing the new marketplace, which is attached to its main e-commerce site.

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Visitors to Handmade can shop by U.S. state or country to find goods from more than 60 different nations, and can learn more about the artisan and their work by clicking on their profile photo.

Commenting on the launch, Amazon’s Peter Faricy said, “Knowing an item has a unique story behind it creates a personal experience that customers have told us makes owning handmade items special.”

The Amazon Marketplace VP added that Handmade offers shoppers more than 80,000 hand-crafted items from around the world, with more than 30 percent of products able to be personalized by artisans according to customer requests.

A quick rummage through the site reveals not only a reasonably well-stocked store at launch, but also a decent variety of goods, with some of the more unusual offerings including a splatter-painted leather keychain, superhero belts for kids’ birthday parties, and a smiling dog wine stopper.

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According to reports earlier in the year, the e-commerce giant’s preparations for Handmade included contacting existing Etsy members to gauge interest and encourage participation. With Amazon’s well-established user base thought to be pushing 250 million people globally, the company’s invitation to artisans to come aboard may have been hard to resist for many.

New York-based Etsy, which launched in 2005 and went public in April this year, will be watching carefully to see what kind of impact, if any, Amazon’s rival service has on its own business.

In a bid to reassure Etsy investors, CEO Chad Dickerson said Wednesday his company has “a decade of experience understanding the needs of artists and sellers and supporting them in ways that no other marketplace can.”