A new marketplace for customized, handmade products has hit the cyber space.
Online retail giant Amazon has rolled out a marketplace for handmade items just in time for the holiday season.
The store, called “Handmade at Amazon,” allows crafters to peddle jewelry, stationery and party supplies, home decor, artwork, kitchenware, and furniture to the site's millions of customers.
The new online store which bills itself as "the home for artisans" has over 80,000 items from about 5,000 sellers in 60 countries, according to The New York Times.
The press release announcing the move said that with Handmade, Amazon “customers can discover artisans from around the world, and shop local from artisans based in their community with the familiar Amazon experience they know and trust.”
Maybe you’re interested in a porcelain cereal or soup bowl, hand thrown and hand painted in cherry blossom design made by Sarah Bak Pottery. Or a solid-walnut arrow-shaped cuffinks packaged in a hessian bag. Or an original painting from an artist in another part of the world.
Much like the Brooklyn-based Etsy, Handmade Amazon has set out to connect makers with customers worldwide.
Business has been booming for the 10-year-old Etsy. There were 1.4 million active sellers on Etsy last year, and their goods were purchased by almost 20 million active buyers according to its initial public offering prospectus. But Amazon's size dwarfs that of Etsy, with over 285 million active customer accounts.
So what's the appeal of handmade goods?
The arts and crafts reflect a yearning for more authenticity and uniqueness in a world filed with mass-produced products, the BBC reported.
"In an era where everyone is walking around with Kindles and PCs and the same MP3 player and Superdry clothes, handmade and niche items are a real opportunity to express personality," Richard Cope, director of insight at Mintel Inspire, told the BBC.
Another reason why people are congregating on these online handmade stores is because there's a movement of crafters who want to cultivate more art and self expression and people are supporting this subculture.
"A lot of people are finding their day jobs pretty empty, whereas learning a craft provides a real satisfaction. It's a skill – things like carpentry and weaving are mentally and physically stimulating, and people get inherent pleasure out of that kind of work," author Richard Sennett told the BBC.
Amazon's entry into the artisan space may set up a showdown with Etsy.
“Amazon has all the capabilities they need to make their program a big success. They have all the marketing power in the world, and they’re already so global,” Dani Marie, chief executive of Handmade Seller magazine, told the Times.