Boutiques: Here’s How to Beat Amazon Handmade and Etsy

The question of how Etsy will fare with the launch of Amazon’s new Handmade store is the only question that should worry Etsy shareholders and employees. The makers contributing their products to these sites will likely either choose to list their items on both platforms in order to maximize their audience or select the marketplace that best fits their margins. Ultimately, this empowers the artisans and crafty types.

It does raise a concern for the those quaint neighborhood boutiques that are normally so adept at discovering and curating those rare finds for window shoppers to peruse.

If you live in Seattle and you see the constantly changing skyline with the explosion of Amazon’s new offices, it’s hard to look at those towers going up without having the thought in the back of your mind that each story in each new building represents the demise of a dozen (or more) retail stores somewhere in the world.  

Those who believe in small businesses hope that market share would rather be taken away from a Target and or a Macy’s than a locally-owned boutique like our neighbors down the street Stuhlbergs and Three Birds.

So what can boutiques like these do to stay alive since they’re barred from selling on these Amazon Handmade and Etsy? Simply put, the best chance they have to survive is to make use of the tools provided by the Internet in the following ways:

  1. Blog about your newest products on a weekly basis. Make it personal – your store is an extension of your tastes and style. Offer something the big guys can’t.
  2. Use Instagram several times a day (and connect it with Facebook) and make your happy customers feel loved. Share and engage in the conversation that’s happening in the industry. The more relevant you are online, the more relevant you’ll be to the Etsy and Amazon generation.
  3. Build relationships in the community with Facebook groups, Next Door, and help people out using apps like Townsquared and MyNeighbor. The more you integrate your store with the community, the more loyal your local customers will be.
  4. Brand yourself as a local tastemaker by taking videos of yourself on buying trips, telling the stories of the artists, and explaining trends from your perspective. Help your customers understand where you’re coming from and why you operate your boutique the way you do.

The one advantage a boutique has over Etsy and Amazon Handmade is the the discovery relationship. People can spend hours curating people to follow on Pinterest, but while communities will continue to develop online based on interest, the one thing that people will continue to identify with is their neighborhoods. In the face of overwhelming odds and globalized online retailers, the only thing to do is leverage your goodwill on the competition’s turf.

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