I discovered something this week that I have never seen before in my life! The secret website I never knew existed!
How I missed this, I have absolutely no idea.
I don’t recall it being promoted online. I don’t remember receiving an email about it. I certainly don’t think I saw a pop-up message in my account at any time.
What am I talking about? It’s called Amazon Handmade.
Anyone heard of this? Anyone using it? If you are then you’re definitely one step ahead of me!
Weirdly, Amazon Handmade is simply a separate category on the usual Amazon site and rather difficult to find! It’s where sellers’ products appear with other handmade items and customers can browse and shop. See for yourself here.
Should you start using Amazon Handmade?
It seems that Amazon launched Amazon Handmade back in 2015, so basically, I had no idea it existed for three whole years. It was launched (very quietly obviously) as a new online store selling products from ‘invite only’ artisans and makers. Think personalised products, handmade jewellery, cards and so on.
After browsing the site, I could immediately see that it is indeed full of creative, one-off, bespoke type products that are made with love and care by independent artisans. Potentially a great place to find gifts!
But wait – isn’t that what the king of crafts site Etsy is for?
Yes of course, but Amazon is huge, attracting over 250 million active users worldwide which makes it an enticing prospect for makers, artisans and designers.
Obviously, it’s nothing new for Amazon to offer a platform to small businesses. Their ‘marketplace’ for third party sellers has been around for years and enables the man on the street to sell pretty much any product he may chose.
So, looking deeper, is Amazon Handmade worth using if you offer personalised or handmade goods? And more importantly, why would Amazon want to set up a separate marketplace just for handmade products?
The answer to this, in my opinion, lies with the fact that when you list products on Amazon you are selling to Amazon’s customers – not your own customers. So, you will always be building your business using someone else’s platform. Amazon have access to your sales data – i.e. they can see what you’re selling, exactly how many you are selling and how regularly you are selling. That’s invaluable data when it comes to spotting emerging and best-selling products.
As you know, Amazon has thousands of products that they themselves sell, so, what’s stopping Amazon from using this data from handmade sellers to actively track trending products by emerging artisans and designers and then offering copies or similar products at lower prices?
This may sound cynical but at the end of the day, Amazon is a business. They are not going to sit on that data – they are going to use it to their advantage. Any business would do the same given the opportunity.
So, my impression of this site is that whilst it could be great for budding designers, a degree of caution is required if your handmade products can be easily copied.
This could help you to scale your business
The other issue is that you must be ‘invited’ or ‘apply’ to be accepted as a seller on the platform. You can do that here.
Whilst this may make it feel exclusive, in reality it’s simply so that Amazon can check you are really selling genuine handmade ‘factory-free’ items. This is advantageous though as it will ensure that you are not competing with mass produced products that are being passed off as handmade.
A definite advantage of Amazon Handmade for artisans is the fact that you may take advantage of FBA, Amazon’s fulfilment service. You can potentially scale up in a way that traditionally you wouldn’t be able to otherwise – and your customers can take advantage of free shipping and Prime options too.
On the flip side, the disadvantage is that Amazon’s audience are not really used to seeing handmade items and so may use Etsy or Not on the High Street instead. So, how many buyers will see your products is not easy to predict.
Overall, in my opinion, Amazon Handmade may be a significant addition to your existing revenue streams – but it’s important to keep your options open and use eBay, Etsy and create your own website too.