Most people think of Etsy Inc. as an e-commerce crafty web site, but it sees itself as a tech company.
The acquisition of Blackbird Technologies, a Silicon Valley-based search firm, is an example of how Etsy is focused on delivering the best possible shopping experience for its sellers and buyers. In order to do this, it takes a lot of behind-the-scenes technology.
“Buyers come to Etsy.com for items they can’t find anywhere else and our goal is to help them discover exactly what they want among our 40 million unique listings. Leveraging Blackbird’s technology, we believe we can enhance the buyer experience by making search quicker and easier and by surfacing even more relevant, tailored product recommendations,” said Chad Dickerson, Etsy’s chief executive officer.
Roughly a third of Etsy’s employees are engineers that work to create a simple-looking online marketplace for thousands of small entrepreneurs. That simplicity masks the plumbing that interfaces with thousands of sellers in hundreds of countries using various languages and currencies. These sellers often use different and varied descriptions for their products, which complicates the search effort for shoppers.
The idea is to prevent any possible breakage in the shopping experience that would cause the consumer to get frustrated during the hunt and leave. This high-tech personal shopper will sift through all the products and sellers to bring the buyer the best match.
Etsy can also use this technology to spot fashion trends in shopper searches. Apparently, mermaid crowns are a thing. Search trends showed that these shell-covered headpieces are hot on the festival circuit. Vintage trends include bolo ties, Eighties punk, turquoise jewelry and jumpsuits. Etsy can see the trends and its sellers can respond before the big apparel brands even know what is happening.
In addition to the acquisition, Etsy last week launched its first-ever global brand campaign, Difference Makes Us, as an effort to raise awareness of the web site as a go-to shopping destination. Etsy wants shoppers to consider their sellers for every day items and not just special occasion gifts.
“For this campaign, we are focusing on everyday, relatable items, specifically mugs and bedside tables, to highlight how Etsy fits into the daily routines of people around the world,” said Andre Rickerby, senior director of global marketing. “From the time you wake up to the time you go to bed. Everyone has a favorite mug, and there are no items more intimate and private than the tables that sit beside our beds.”
The company is engaging its sellers in the campaign and suggesting they make a video clip of their product that could potentially be used in the campaign. Rickerby said, “The videos have already had nearly a million views across Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.”
One third of the Etsy company is dedicated to serving this community of 1.7 million sellers. So, even though it sees itself as a tech company, it’s also very committed to keeping its sellers happy.