Hands On with the Etsy app

Unlike standard marketplaces, Etsy only sells handmade goods, vintage items or craft supplies. So it's no wonder that it's often referred to as an online flea market. We tested out its smartphone app.

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Etsy

WHAT IS IT?

Etsy is a unique online marketplace with over 1.4 million active independent sellers and more than 10 million products.

Unlike standard marketplaces, Etsy only sells handmade goods, vintage items or craft supplies. It’s little wonder Etsy is often referred to as an online flea market.

It is one of the only mainstream shopping apps where you can find one-of-a-kind pieces you’ll be unable to find anywhere else.

There is a strong focus on community and encouraging growth of its independent businesses, with chief executive Chad Dickerson calling it a “platform that provides meaning to people, and an opportunity to validate their art, their craft”.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

There are two apps available globally on both iOS and Android operating systems, one for buying and one for selling. This review is looking at the former.

Once you’ve downloaded the app you’ll need to register which you can do via your Facebook or Google accounts to avoid filling out lengthy forms.

You’re then presented with a sleek and simple user interface which lists various categories from art to electronics accessories.

Once you have view a few items, it will collate a “for you” selection offering you “recently viewed” and similar items whenever you open the app.

The main navigation bar also offers “Etsy Picks” which include more suggest items from popular shops and the editors picks.

Interestingly, there is an “Etsy Local” option, which uses your location to suggest local sellers and events outside of the app. These include things like pop-up shops and markets, where it will list Etsy traders in attendance.

Once you have found an item you like, you can contact the seller to request more information, add it to your cart for purchase later on or simply buy it now. Payment can be made simply through entering card details, Paypal or Google Wallet.

HOW WELL DOES IT WORK?

In terms of user experience, Etsy is excellent. The app is intuitive and simple and doesn’t bombard the user with deals and bargains.

As with all marketplaces the user experience will depend heavily on the seller, however due to the uniqueness of its items and focus on community Etsy carries far less risk than its rivals.

For one there are some fairly strict criteria sellers must meet in order to sell on the platform. All vintage items must be at least 20 years old and are the only items which are allowed to be resold.

All handmade items must be designed and created by the seller, and all the partners involved in the process must be listed, and no stock imagery is permitted.

Due to this the vetting process is far more in-depth than other platforms, meaning any scammers or unreliable sellers will be almost entirely weeded out before any problems can occur.

Although the items range in price, you often pay for the fact they are handmade and unique. However, Etsy works hard to reduce this by only charging 3.5 per cent of any item sold, alongside a 20p fee for each item listed. This compares to Depop and Ebay’s 10 per cent.

Furthermore, it creates an attractive shop for its sellers, and displays their number of sales, where they’re selling from and their user rating very prominently on their page, giving the buyer confidence in their purchase.

This ethos is developed into a social media-esque system where you can follow sellers, as well as other users being able to see their purchases and favourite shops.

Alongside its Etsy local system which encourages users offline to support Etsy sellers, the community aspect feels genuine, unlike many other apps which fall short despite offering similar features.

SHOULD I TRY IT?

Though the Etsy app is fantastic at what it does, it is not be for everyone.

If you frequent local markets and get a buzz from knowing no one else will have what you just bought, Etsy is the place for you.

However if you’re looking for a cheap deal on an item you don’t want to buy full price, stick to Ebay or Gumtree.

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