Etsy Wholesale: The Growing Trend of Bringing Online Offline

As recorded in yesterday’s weekly industry round up, Etsy officially launched its wholesale business. Coming out of beta, the program enables small boutiques to purchase Etsy products to sell in their brick-and-mortar businesses.

According to Etsy’s official announcement post, if accepted into the program the makers (called “sellers”) pay a $100 fee at start followed by a 3.5% transaction fee paid to Etsy for all future purchase orders. For makers having trouble getting in front of the right independent shops, this is an amazing opportunity.  Etsy will essentially do all of the heavy lifting of marketing, PR, and tech systems that facilitate the order.  Similarly, small boutiques and shops can now easily find curated marketplace selections without having to attend trade shows or tirelessly search for that one gem that will delight customers.

My take:  First, the one thing the program doesn’t address (yet) is the big brand partnerships such as West Elm and Nordstrom. I’ve even seen Etsy products show up at Anthropologie stores.  I assume some iteration of this will become part of the program’s roadmap, if not its own program entirely.

Second, Etsy is joining the ranks of other successful online pureplays that are providing an offline experience (Birchbox, NastyGal, Warby Parker) as a complement to their core business. It speaks loudly to the current customer demand for tangible, IRL (in real life) experiences that engage more than just the sense of vision.  Online can (currently) only go so far and while pureplays have cried “old school” in the face of traditional retail, they are now returning to the basics of what it means to provide customers with more than just a transaction. This doesn’t mean throwing innovation in the garbage, it is just the same thing retailers had to do when customers went online: adapt or die.

Etsy is right to adapt.

Some coverage from around the web:

Etsy Launches ‘Etsy Wholesale,’ a Platform for Retailers (VentureBeat)

Etsy Wholesale Launches Out of Beta (Etsy Blog)

Etsy Wants to Get More Sellers’ Goods in Brick-and-Mortar Stores (Fashionista)



@WalMartLabs Acquires Luvocracy

…or acqui-hires Luvocracy.  According to TechCrunch, @WalmartLabs acquired a solid roster of talented peeps with pedigrees including Yahoo, Blurb, and eBay.  They reportedly plan to use this talent to improve their own site’s product discovery, building off of Luvocracy’s past as a sort of cross between social recommendations, wish lists, and Pinterest. Sort of like Wanelo or Svpply.

Walmart has been on the prowl lately, with this acquisition marking the R&D arm’s14th startup purchase. Recently, they’ve been clearly focused on ecommerce and mobile innovation.  Still fresh is the June  acquisition of fashion commerce and discovery app Stylr.

I don’t hate it as a strategy. In fact, there was just a Mobile Marketer article published on this topic exactly. Big brands are putting their financial resources to good use by acquiring top talent who have innovative ideas and technical skills.  It has become increasingly apparent that the expertise needed is in mobile and social, two areas where perhaps traditional retailers are struggling to keep up. The traditional retailers may not have the culture, perks, location, or thought leadership to attract top talent in these areas but are able to adapt in the shorter term via acquisitions.

It will be interesting to see how smaller brands or brands with fewer resources work around and compete with the likes of WalmartLabs and Nordstrom, which I wrote about recently.

One thing is for sure: mobile and social aren’t going anywhere. I think this was a solid acquisition.

Here is some coverage so far:

WalmartLabs Acquires Kleiner Perkins-backed Luvocracy, a Pinterest-like Marketplace for Product Recommendations (TechCrunch)

Walmart Buys Shopping App Luvocracy (InvestorPlace)

Wal-Mart buys another tech start-up, Luvocracy – only to shut it down (WSJ MarketWatch)

Wal-Mart on the Prowl to Boost Web Expertise (Women’s Wear Daily)

Banana Republic’s ‘Startup Guy’ Look

Banana Republic is getting buzz this week for its latest look called the ‘Startup Guy.’  I imagine there was a meeting in which they decided that a strategic target market for this collection would be the typical ‘Startup Guy’ and it just sort of stuck.  I know that happens a lot with an internal reference to “the girl” or ” the guy,” but most companies keep those sorts of descriptions within the walls of the office and then try to express it through styling, marketing, photos, etc.  Banana, however, will be very explicit, with head-to-toe looks for the Corporate, Creative, and Startup Guy. So get out there, cuff your pants, un-tuck half of your shirt, roll up your sleeves just a little and get cracking on that start up (that I’ll hopefully be writing about later).

Hey, maybe there’s something to be said about being direct with dudes.

 Banana Republic Startup Guy  Banana Republic StartUp Guy Banana Republic Startup Guy 3

Images from Banana Republic

Some coverage around the web:

The Annotated Guide to Banana Republic’s “StartUp Gu” Look (Fast Company)

Banana Republic Thinks Startup Guys Dress Like This (Business Insider)

TechCrunch’s 2014 Startup Fashion Collection (TechCrunch)

‘Startup Guy’ is Literally a Style in Banana Republic’s Summer Line. (VentureBeat)