Designer marketplace Etsy has been a late bloomer when it comes to mobile, only releasing an iPhone app last year, taking a cue from sellers on the site who had already begun to optimize their pages for mobile web access.
But its brand strength online — and perhaps the fact that design-led mobile apps like Pinterest and Fab have been a big hit with consumers — have helped Etsy pick up a strong following anyway, with 3.5 million downloads to date, and 1 in 3 visitors shopping on Etsy from mobile devices over the recent Thanksgiving weekend (normal figures, it says, are 1 in 4 visitors). Now it is looking to capitalize on that with a new iPad app.
Etsy has loaded its new the iPad app with a number of features new to the mobile experience.
In addition to the obvious focus on bigger and better pictures, it now includes content from Etsy’s blog, which highlights different sellers and other trends on the site; and it now also features Etsy’s collection of how-to videos and design documentaries. The aim, Vanderbilt says, is “a much richer, lifestyle shopping experience.”
This is not to say that this is the first time that Etsy has been available on tablets. A number of third parties have used the site’s APIs to create their own versions of the site for devices that include the iPad and Android phones and tablets, another platform that Etsy has yet to touch.
But in a move to get better, official control of how it gets presented, now it’s Etsy’s turn.
The iPad has been noted time and again for being a great device for shopping and browsing — the size of the screen, and the touchscreen aspect both make a tablet particularly suited to visual, design-led sites. For that reason, it’s a surprise that Etsy has waited this long to launch its own native app for the platform.
Etsy wouldn’t answer the “why so late?” question when I asked, but part of the answer may lie in a statistic that Nicole Vanderbilt, head of Etsy UK, shared with me: Etsy, she says, has seen 100,000 items “favorited and shopped for” from mobile devices. That implies that it’s possibly used as much for, or more for, browsing than for buying.
“Favouriting is a big part of the Etsy experience,” Vanderbilt says. “It allows consumers to use Etsy easily across devices, favouriting something on mobile for purchase later on their computers, but equally favouriting on their computers for easy purchase later on a mobile device.” Creating a better tablet experience, therefore, could be one way to improve the number of favorites resulting in conversions among the site’s 20 million members.
Etsy earlier this month said it has so far processed $700 million in payments for items, and is on track to sell 100 million items by the end of this year.
Unfounded or not, the company has seen some controversy over whether its growth will mean gradually de-emphasizing the small-seller in favor of larger producers that mimic the homespun qualities that gave the site its name.
This seems to be something that Etsy is still battling to some extent, and an image it’s hoping to dispel in part with some of the enhanced features of the iPad app. “Seeing these stories woven into the shopping experience allows us to better represent the provenance of these products and puts a much-needed face on commerce,” says Vanderbilt.