Editors Note: A lot of talk lately about Etsy and the online selling sites recent changes. Some food for thought if you are considering opening an online shop with an established selling site, have an existing shop or are thinking of going out on your own. Sarah has written a great article on why she is tempted to branch out on her own in the very near future.
I’ve been thinking recently about my brand and how well it really stands up to Etsy’s. Right now, I mostly sell on the handmade marketplace Etsy. While I love the site and its many features, I wonder if a business can really ever grow to even half of its potential while staying solely under that banner.
A few weeks back, I had a package go missing. When the customer wanted to alert me about it, they looked for ways to alert Etsy about it. When we talked later, it was very clear to me that this person thought the best route wasn’t to get in touch directly with me, the seller (and shipper), but rather the venue I sell with. To me, this seemed like seeking help from the Mall staff regarding where to find coats in JCPenney’s, but to the customer, this was merely recognizing the superior brand.
|“Tuckoo and Moo Cow”|
When my family and friends mention my business, they often leave off the name “TuckooandMooCow” in favor of the more familiar name “Etsy.” While this technically correct, I do run my business on Etsy, I am not “Etsy.” Who I am is TuckooandMooCow, but how can my brand hope to compete in the shadow of the giant that is Etsy?
The answer is simple: it can’t. This is why a bad experience with a seller I’ve never even heard of can put someone on their guard when purchasing with me. Many shoppers, rather than seeing the experience they had as with the specific seller, see the experience as one they had with “Etsy.” No matter how well I build my brand, so long as I am building it only within this one marketplace, I am a subheading of that marketplace (Etsy–>shops–>TuckooandMooCow). This isn’t just true of Etsy–it’s true of any marketplace one sells in.
So how can I make my brand stand apart? That answer is simple as well: by actually standing apart. By having my own website, blog, facebook I am standing separate of the marketplace. This means that in order to realize my business’s full potential I’ll have to branch away from the marketplace and launch out on my own. While this might be daunting, it is vital to the establishment of a solid brand. My goal is to be reaching towards this independence more and more in the upcoming months and looking to have my own website by the beginning of February 2012.
Does this mean I dislike Etsy or plan to leave it? Absolutely not! What it means is that I don’t feel my business has reached it’s full potential yet and that if I want to ever reach that potential I need to strike out on my own. I firmly plan to continue to sell on Etsy, I just hope to be able to soon offer more to my customers (and also for myself) by becoming a fully independent seller and not one who is subject on the brand of the marketplace I sell on.
Cross post with permission from Sarah-Lambert Cook From Tuckoo and Moo Cow