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Etsy Connects 35 Million Buyers To 2 Million Entrepreneurs Worldwide

MSMEs in India are playing a vital role in increasing the country's economy. A marketplace created by Etsy has connected buyers and entrepreneurs on one platform giving scope to other creative businesses.

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In an interview with BW Businessworld, Himanshu Wardhan, MD (India), Etsy, discusses the importance of market growth in creative goods and services. Etsy with a reach of 2 million entrepreneurs of the MSMEs globally and a customer base of 35 million buyers discusses it's expansion plans in India.

1. What are Etsy’s story behind their global presence and its growth over the years? Could you describe the goals you want to achieve in India?

Etsy is the global marketplace for unique and creative goods. We were founded in 2005 in Brooklyn, (New York) and today we connect 2 million creative entrepreneurs around the world with more than 35 million buyers. 87% of our sellers are women and 53% sold their first goods on Etsy. 

We have buyers and sellers in nearly every country in the world and are always exploring new global growth opportunities. India is a prime example of that - we have such a wealth of vibrant textiles, eclectic jewellery, and intricate prints.

We greatly admire the spirit of entrepreneurship amongst small creative sellers in India and the quality of craftsmanship. We are seeking to bring the country’s rich and diverse artisanship to a global audience. As big businesses move into India, we believe Etsy can stand out as a destination for small business and creative entrepreneurs.

We view India, a market with great potential and we know that that buyer around the world is interested in unique items from Indian artisans. India is a booming e-commerce market with a population of 300 mn smartphone users and 65% of population below the age of 35.

Our vision is to make Etsy the default platform for any creative individual from different categories across India. We’re excited to onboard new sellers in the region to share their goods with the world. We currently have more 750,000 items listed from sellers in India.

We are focussed on the growth of the Etsy community and will strive to reach out to the smallest of creative micro entrepreneurs. We are looking to onboard all kinds of creative micro entrepreneurs - right from an artisan making a traditional art form, a housewife in a middle-class household looking to supplement family income to a professional designer and artist aspiring to sell to over 35.8 mn buyers, not just from India but globally.

2. How does Etsy aim to change the dynamics of the SME and MSME sector in India? What does keeping commerce human mean to you?

In India, micro-entrepreneurship is quite commonplace, in fact, it is the only way to eke out a living for nearly 40 per cent of the self-employed population. But we live in a world of increasing automation and commoditization, situations which are not exactly very conducive for creativity and the human connection.

At Etsy, keeping commerce human is at the heart of everything we do. This mission is rooted in our belief that, although automation and mass production are parts of modern life, creativity can’t be automated and human connection can’t be commoditized. This is what makes Etsy and our marketplace distinct from mass retailers. We exist as a business in order to Keep Commerce Human.

Our goal is that every unique seller with their distinctive creative hand-crafted products is able to directly reach out to their buyers. Moreover, we provide a platform where they can interact freely and hence the products can be customised as per the specific needs of the buyer.

3. Keeping marketing strategies in mind, how are you tapping into the Indian market?

We have a team in India now to help and support our seller community, enabling them to share their unique and handcrafted goods with the world. We are taking a hyper-local, grassroots approach in India in order to introduce new sellers to our platform. Our team has been going door to door, talking to artisans and craftsmen about Etsy and getting them up and running on the platform.

The team is travelling to different parts of the country to directly interact with the local creative community and educate them on the opportunity that exists if they bring their businesses online. In line with the digital enablement of the artisans, Etsy has also developed the Seller Success team which is offering step-by-step guidance on how to start their shop, add product listings and write descriptions.

There are so many people making things, over years and generations, who don’t know there’s a platform to sell what they make. It’s not just about money, it’s about engaging with your product, and having the pleasure of somebody else using and appreciating it. We have about 750,000 listings from India and the number is growing.

4. What are the ways in which the multinational company contribute to society?

Glad you asked this question because driving a positive impact is at the heart of our business. We have an impact strategy that is focussed on the following three pillars that guide our approach to driving positive change while nurturing and growing our marketplace:

* Making creative entrepreneurship a path to economic security and personal empowerment by ensuring opportunities for our sellers, making charitable and in-kind donations, and advancing public policies that affect our community

* Enabling equitable access to the opportunities we create through the increasing representation of underrepresented groups and ensuring equity in our workforce, building a sustainable supply chain, and increasing underrepresented populations within our seller community

* Building long-term resilience by eliminating our carbon impacts and fostering responsible resource use with specific goals and targets in place.

Each element of this strategy reflects the impact we want to have on our community and our world while advancing and complementing our business strategy. We know that today’s consumers are holding businesses to higher standards for good corporate citizenship. We want to best position Etsy to succeed by offering unique solutions that are good for people, the planet, and profit. There are millions of small creative micro-entrepreneurs in India. If we can provide an opportunity to these creative sellers to sell their products to buyers globally then the social and economic impact that we will have will be significant.

5. With many players dominating the e-commerce industry, how is Etsy different from its competitors?

Etsy is really unique - 50 million special items that don’t map to a catalogue, are made by hand by 2 million sellers - you just can’t find this anywhere else. Etsy is the place to go when you want to feel special.

E-commerce in India till now has largely been associated with discounted mass-produced goods sold by few large resellers. Etsy is a platform for unique products sold by small creative entrepreneurs who are involved in making or designing of the product. Etsy is not a platform for a reseller. The human connection is an integral part of the Etsy ethos. Sellers and buyers form a meaningful connection as they work on personalized and customized items.

6. Where do you see Etsy after 5 years in India and globally?

Etsy’s vision for the near-term and long-term future is to mobilize a community of creative entrepreneurs who want to demonstrate their talent and sell their art and craft to our millions of active buyers across 80 countries.

It's not a two or five-year vision, but Etsy is the place you go when you want something to feel or be special. There are times when you want to buy something that has a story, that's personalized or customized to you when you have a real interaction with the person who made it. I think that the opportunity for it is greater than ever, more relevant than ever. The world has become more commoditized. We need to make substantial progress on making it even more obvious, all the moments when you can inject special into your life.

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