Etsy CEO squares up to Amazon as revenue doubles in wake of coronavirus

Online marketplace Etsy saw its revenue more than double since last year, as the vintage and hand-made specialist begins to style itself as an “alternative” to Amazon.

In an interview with The Telegraph at the weekend, Etsy chief executive Josh Silverman said the coronavirus pandemic created “something of a Dunkirk moment for Etsy, where cottage industry could come to the rescue”, referring to the large numbers of people using the site for the first time to source fabric in order to buy face masks.

Silverman told The Telegraph that more than 54 million masks have been sold on Etsy since April, with the platform seeing its revenue more than double on last year, rising to $1.1 billion in the first nine months of 2020.

READ MORE: Etsy’s chief executive slams Amazon for “working back channels” to “wipe out its competitors”

In that time income has quadrupled to $201 million for the Brooklyn-based firm.

It’s not just masks that are coaxing customers over to Etsy. In the second and third quarters of 2020, global sales of non-mask items were up 92 per cent, with purchases up 250 per cent year-on-year in the UK.

“Etsy has really become a household name in the UK during this time, and we’re investing heavily here,” Silverman told the paper.

“More generally, though, I’d say this is really the year the world has come to see the potential we’ve felt in Etsy for a long time.

“People are buying more things from fewer and fewer online mass logistics providers, commoditised stuff that arrives quickly and cheaply, but then ends up in a landfill – and I think people are yearning for an alternative… Etsy sellers provide a really compelling alternative”.

While both Etsy and Amazon operate as online marketplaces that take a cut of the sales from smaller businesses trading on their platform, Silverman pointed out that Etsy takes 5 per cent, while Amazon’s cut is an estimated 30 per cent.

A crucial difference between the two is also that Etsy only allows sales of hand made or vintage and secondhand items.

“We’re giving micro businesses a fair chance against the big guys, which is critical. What we’re trying to do is level the playing field and give them a fair chance,” Silverman added.

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