Hand-Made/craft Market/Retail

Nov13'2006 - going through big upgrade

  • here are some notes I'd just made, without knowing this was coming, based on a couple short browsings of the site: (notes in italics are from Rob Kalin, co-founder)

  • challenge: how to give good browsing experience (outcome = purchase)?

    • people shop with their eyes above all else, so give them good pictures

    • a buyer needs to know a seller can be trusted, so evidence if successful transactions helps

    • will browsers have any particular product type in mind, or are they just looking for "birthday gift"?

    • use Tagsonomy (I don't find the current tag-set that helpful)?

      • if items turn over and don't get re-produced, tagging effort gets thrown away

        • a seller can build up their own tagging vocabulary, which will influence other sellers; the influence remains after the items sell
      • probabably need way to relate tags to each other (clusters, heirarchy?)

        • yes, and also need disambuguation for variant spellings and pluralizations
      • need Critical Mass of taggers

        • not really, this is a marketplace and tagging is done only be the sellers, so they have a financial incentive to tag well

        • non-buying taggers?

          • why would they do that?

            • pay them (discount toward purchases)?

              • every seller would have to agree with such a discount, and that's unfeasible
            • becomes a tagging-blog like would anyone really want that shared? or maybe more for one's own purposes for later reference (again, that gets undercut if items disappear).

        • sellers as also buyers? (most attendees of off-off-BroadWay productions are other actors going to see their friends)

          • discount?
      • or maybe this doesn't work because everything's One Of A Kind so tags don't have ongoing value (would be like trying to scale up when every uri disappeared after a month)

        • the ongoing value rests in the collective consciousness of the crowd of sellers
    • have Free Text Search Engine on descriptions of products (and tags, combined)

      • report back common search terms, make those tags

        • worried this would lead to sellers looking at popular search terms and making only that stuff, but it could work
    • will sellers do Game Playing with any of these systems to try to get their items seen more widely?

  • Reputation Management

    • item might look good, but previous purchaser of similar goods from same person report that quality stinks, etc.

      • this is reported in the textual element of feedback left by the buyer
  • reading their v2-vs-v1 doc

    • lots of design changes, store organization stuff

    • a buyer can now have a single shopping cart combining multiple sellers (though you still end up with multiple transactions, shipping charges, etc.) (though they handle combined shipping costs for when you buy multiple items from the same seller at the same time)

    • categories and tags/subcategories (an item can only be tagged by its seller, to avoid Game Playing)

    • some clear annotation of discussions disputing Reputation Management ratings, so the shopper can evaluate.

  • they had some Roll Out problems, but their community has been very supportive.

  • post-upgrade growing

    • they really need to emphasize browse-by-tags more, I think. Whenever you show a selection of items (e.g. from a tag search), you need a Tag-Cloud generated for that selection, so you can drill down.

    • I wonder how much of this stuff is 1-of-a-kind. Obviously the silkscreen stuff isn't, so you see multiple units available (which gives tagging a longer life). But most of the other stuff says "1 in stock", so I suppose that's 1-off.

      • I wonder if seller can hold an item in a stock-out list, and re-stock that item as she makes more, making it easier to re-list and re-tag. (I wonder whether they re-charge for that listing, if the original listing hasn't expired yet.)

      • hmm, I wonder whether buyers would like an "items about to be de-listed" list - would that create urgency? Or does it just say "stuff that nobody wants"?

Key competition (or potential acquirers): EBay, Google

ReadyMade interview: The site went live last June, and Etsy now receives a million page views a day. "Our ultimate goal is to become a content distribution platform for everything that is not mass-produced," Kalin says, "from art to furniture to music."... Kalin and Co. are continually introducing new services. The latest, dubbed Alchemy, is a tool that allows buyers to commission and take bids on pieces they want custom-made.

Their tech platform includes PHP, Python, PostgreSQL, Open B S D and Gentoo Linux.


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