Since its inception in India in 2018, Etsy India, an e-commerce company, has fostered a grassroots movement, engaging with artisans crafting handmade goods and innovative creators. Its digital platform has become a global stage, empowering these talented individuals by providing them with an avenue to showcase their crafts.
With a steadily growing number of Indian sellers, the brand is now hosting tens of thousands of active creators on its platform. Their offerings encompass a rich tapestry of handcrafted and distinctive items. What sets Etsy apart is the opportunity it provides for these artisans to share their creations with a worldwide audience. In fact, with Etsy's expansive community of over 90 million buyers spanning the globe, Indian sellers have found a robust marketplace to present their creations.
“The response has been truly heartening from the Indian market, as both sellers and buyers have embraced our core principles of supporting independent artisans. In essence, our journey in India has been about more than just commerce—it's been about nurturing a haven for originality, connecting artisans with appreciative audiences worldwide,” said Pankaj Jathar, VP and Country Head - India, Etsy.
India holds a position of paramount importance for Etsy, and this is underscored by its steadfast commitment to the market for the long haul. Its entry in 2018 marked the inception of its journey, initially focused on fostering a robust seller community. Building upon this foundation, the brand’s current endeavor involves cultivating a burgeoning buyer community as well.
Etsy envisions a singular, all-encompassing platform where both Indian and global sellers converge to offer their creations, while Indian buyers gain access to a diverse international market. This global marketplace concept encapsulates the core of Etsy's identity. “Through this approach, we're striving to create an environment where entrepreneurs and sellers thrive, empowered by an expansive global buyer base. Moreover, our guiding principle is keeping commerce human, which translates to placing people and the planet at the heart of our operations. This ethos is actualized through direct communication channels between sellers and buyers, a hallmark that permits the personalization and customization of products to cater to individual preferences,” he stated.
Its categories emerge based on the unique offerings of its sellers. Consumers can find an array of intriguing options, from unconventional concrete jewelry that challenges traditional notions, to cherished traditional arts and crafts. In India, popular choices include jewelry, where individuals can create their adornments using gemstones, and home decor that spans furnishings, keepsakes, and decorative pieces like custom wall clocks and mirrors. The allure of slow fashion is also gaining traction, with buyers drawn to products crafted with care and intention. Sellers even connect directly with buyers, sharing videos of their creative process.
“It's essential to note that we steer clear of mass-produced goods like electronics, focusing instead on one-of-a-kind, handmade items that defy easy categorization, making each piece truly special,” noted Jathar.
Navigating the Indian landscape presents the brand with several key challenges. One of these hurdles revolves around the technological aspect, where many sellers require assistance in adopting and utilizing digital tools effectively. The initial unfamiliarity with technology can be a stumbling block, yet it's heartening to observe their growing proficiency once they grasp its potential. This learning curve, while demanding initially, is a testament to their determination to tap into a genuine opportunity. “Our challenge lies in upskilling these sellers, guiding them through the digital realm's possibilities, and empowering them to capitalize on these avenues,” explained Jathar.
In order to overcome this challenge, Etsy has established on-ground teams that physically engage with these artisans. This localized presence serves a dual purpose – not only does it demonstrate the potential of its platform, but it also enables it to establish direct connections. Its teams work closely with artisans, showcasing how the platform functions, assisting in the listing process and offering guidance on order fulfillment, packaging, and more. This hands-on approach has proven effective in nurturing sellers through their initial stages on the platform.
Another key challenge is that the Indian e-commerce landscape is fiercely competitive and perpetually evolving. As a result, the brand’s strategy must be agile and dynamic, adapting to the ever-changing demands and trends in the market.
At the core of its operational tools lies the significance of the search and recommendation engines. The brand combines results from multiple search engines and employs its proprietary logic, known as "crosswalk," to enhance the buyer experience by presenting the most pertinent outcomes.
Etsy’s trajectory is forward-looking, with a shift from keywords to conversational interaction. Through cutting-edge technologies like generative AI, extreme multi-label learning, and graph neural networks, it aims to decipher latent buyer intentions – even when expressed vaguely. “This empowers us to curate relevant suggestions for buyers who might not precisely articulate their needs. Our technological endeavors are predominantly directed towards enhancing the buyer journey, chiefly in the realms of discovery and ensuring seamless alignment between buyer preferences and product offerings,” he asserted.
The brand is crafting instructional tutorials for sellers, accessible within their Etsy seller panels upon registration. In India, the brand has also established a dedicated team to provide remote support, available for sellers to raise queries through tickets or phone calls. This proactive team also initiates contact, notifying sellers about orders and guiding them through fulfillment processes.
It is further building a supportive ecosystem by collaborating with partners like Shiprocket. This partnership streamlines logistics, enabling sellers to simply process orders on Etsy while Shiprocket manages order pickup and delivery, eliminating logistical worries.
Moreover, the brand is extending its impact through collaborations with third-party organizations. For instance, its partnership with Samita aids women entrepreneurs by assisting them in joining Etsy and training them on how to run an e-commerce shop.
In India, the brand needs to address specific compliance requirements. This involves adapting content to align with Indian norms and regulations. Additionally, it has made changes related to currency, enabling shopping using Indian rupees regardless of the seller's location. Technologically, it has ensured this functionality.
From a content perspective, Etsy focuses on displaying content that resonates with Indian buyers and adheres to Indian laws. Practical adjustments include implementing filters and categories that make sense within the Indian context. For instance, it has added categories like "lehenga" to its portfolio.
Etsy’s core belief in fostering genuine connections in commerce drives its approach. This means creating seller and buyer communities that interact naturally. Its main goal is to become a behind-the-scenes facilitator, letting sellers and buyers communicate directly.
Over the past four years, the brand’s emphasis has been on forming seller communities. This approach has yielded positive outcomes, with vibrant groups of sellers across various locations. It has maintained consistent communication, both virtually and in-person, to cultivate these relationships. “Our strategy is gradual and steady, prioritizing the long-term journey of community building. We consider our success tied to our sellers' triumphs. Our role is to support sellers in establishing and thriving in their online businesses,” said Jathar.
“Looking ahead, our plans involve nurturing this business in India for the long haul, driven by investments in technology and people. While we do have performance targets, our ultimate focus remains on building seller communities, continuously recruiting new sellers, and facilitating global businesses while fostering connections among various seller groups,” he concluded.