Online marketplace Etsy appears to be branching out of the e-commerce world and making strides into the face-to-face retail space.
Etsy, an online marketplace where consumers can browse and purchase creative items by artists from around the world, has been experimenting with a variety of projects this year that bring merchandise off of the website and into bricks and mortar stores and markets.
Later this month, Etsy will host a cross-country event called Made in Canada, in which pop-up markets will appear across the country. The one-day event, on Sept. 27th, will take place in more than 20 cities across the country, allowing vendors the opportunity to sell their merchandise to shoppers face-to-face.
In Toronto, the event will take over the atrium of the MaRs Centre, showcasing one-of-a-kind goods from 100 local sellers.
The Made in Canada initiative follows #EtsyRoadTrip – a road show in which a 30-foot custom AirStream trailer brought Etsy merchandise to shoppers Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston and Toronto during the first week of August.
Beyond these pop-up marketplaces, Etsy has established a longer term strategy around the concept of bringing Etsy merchandise into the real world.
The initiative, called Etsy Wholesale, connects the artists and designers within its marketplace with retailers who are interested in carrying their products. The initiative provides artists with a new channel on which to sell their products, and it gives retailers access to unique new items to feature on their shelves.
Earlier this year, the company announced that Indigo Books & Music Inc. has signed on as one of the participating retailers, and Indigo began selling a selection of Etsy merchandise in certain stores, including the Toronto Eaton Centre location.
The steady growth of online shopping shows no signs of slowing down, and most bricks and mortar retailers have responded to that in recent years by establishing comprehensive websites and e-commerce capabilities alongside the physical stores that they operate.
Against that backdrop, it’s interesting to see some retailers moving in the opposite direction by first establishing themselves online, and then shifting into the physical retail space.
It’s a sign that despite the digital times in which we live, innovation in the retail industry is not a one-way street. Although the internet has opened up a variety of new sales options, marketing practices and alternative ways of connecting with consumers, there continue to be opportunities to innovate in the traditional retail world.
Bricks and mortar stores, it turns out, serve an important function that cannot necessarily be fulfilled online.