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Etsy is investing in search and branding to compete with Amazon



josh silverman etsy
Josh Silverman, CEO of


  • 18 months since becoming Etsy’s CEO, Josh Silverman has
    turned Etsy’s stock around by restructuring the company and
    cutting departments like Etsy Studio, a 150-person team that
    focused on craft supplies.
  • Silverman outlined search technology, shipping cost and
    delivery times as priorities for 2019.
  • But the brand still has work to do to catch up with
    Amazon, including creating a solid brand identity.

Etsy was in rough shape when Josh Silverman took over the reigns
as CEO in 2017. At the time, the company was going
through leadership changes
and layoffs and reportedly
exploring a sale while Amazon’s clout loomed.

Eighteen months later, Silverman is getting the company back on
track (the company has reported growth for five quarters) by
restructuring teams and cutting resources like
its wholesale market.
For example, Silverman knocked out 50%
of projects on Etsy’s product and market roadmap and
shut down Etsy Studio,
a marketplace for craft supplies that
was staffed by 150 people.

“We made a lot of very painful decisions,” Silverman said while
speaking with Jessi Hempel, LinkedIn’s senior editor at large, at
Business Insider’s Ignition conference on Tuesday. “We decided
that there were just four things we needed to do very well.”

Those four things were:

  • Better search and discovery tools
  • Improve consumer trust with payments
  • New marketing capabilities for sellers
  • New tools for sellers.

Silverman said search and discovery will be a focus of 2019.

“We still need to make search and discovery much better, the
visual merchandising of our search results,” Silverman said. “I
still think there’s a lot of opportunity to do better.”

Etsy also needs to clarify its shipping costs and delivery times
to customers, he said.

Etsy plans to pump up its marketing

Silverman acknowledged that Etsy needs to do a better job of
explaining its brand to consumers.

“You’ve got to do something unique and different, and that has to
be important enough for people to actually prioritize it,”
Silverman said. “When people want something special, something
that expresses their sense of identity, something that shows they
care about someone else … those are not things that Amazon can
or ever will be able to do. That’s Etsy.”

He said that Etsy is focused on selling unique goods — a feature
he believes that Amazon cannot fulfill, even though Amazon has
slowly but steadily
inched into handmade goods
with its Handmade site since 2015.

To help with that, the brand is currently running a holiday TV
campaign to raise brand awareness.

“When you roll the clock forward 10 years from now, I don’t think
we’re going to have two million places you can buy online,”
Silverman said. “I think there’s going to be a couple of the big
ones, and then there’s a few places that have really earned the
right to stand as a company. I think Etsy is going to be one of

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