Etsy Explores 3D-Printed Goods and Brick-and-Mortar ‘Shops’

Etsy, the online marketplace of handmade and vintage goods that drove $895 million in sales in 2012, is looking to expand by include the sale of items made with emerging technologies such as 3D printers and CNC routers and supporting individual showcases in major retailers, CEO Chad Dickerson said today at the LeWeb conference in London.

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etsy, sharing economy, collaborative economy, e-tail, e-commerce, social networks, social mediaEtsy, the online marketplace of handmade and vintage goods that drove $895 million in sales in 2012, is looking to expand by include the sale of items made with emerging technologies such as 3D printers and CNC routers and supporting individual showcases in major retailers, CEO Chad Dickerson said today at the LeWeb conference in London.

Makers Faire, a festival for “makers who are exploring new forms and new technologies,” has emerged powerfully onto the scene, bringing a very different demographic than Etsy has with its rules limiting goods sold on its platform to hand-made and vintage goods. In order to hold its place as a market leader for peer-to-peer sales, Etsy is likely to expand sales of goods made with the industrial technology embraced by Makers Faire beyond the anomalies they now are.

Dickerson explained that when sewing machines were first introduced, haberdashers didn’t see clothing produced on them as handmade.

“They may not look handmade today,” Dickerson said of Makers Faire-style items, but since this technology is moving so quickly, we really have to look at that.”

Dickerson also said Etsy was looking into supporting its sellers selling their goods in retail locations, rather than creating its own pop-up stores. Because just a fraction of sales take place online, it makes more sense to push Etsy’s digital platform into brick-and-mortar stores than to rely on its online brand to bring sales into a physical location. Retailers can discover hand-crafters through its Wholesale pilot program.

Dickerson argued that aligning Etsy’s interests with those of its sellers was also a key part of building the positive brand reputation that Etsy enjoys.

“We built an environment where our sellers feel very comfortable selling on Etsy. Etsy does well when they do well,” he said.

Last year, when Etsy raised its latest round of venture funding, investors pushed the company to raise the fees it charges sellers up from 3.5 percent. But, Dickerson said, Etsy saw the low barrier to entry as a key selling point as Etsy continues to grow.

The company expects to exceed $1 billion in sales in 2013.

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