Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Palatable Consumption

Ah, the dilemma of the American consumer: you hate those ugly box stores taking over  your town and kicking out small business, but then where else are you supposed to buy things like socks and laundry detergent?

And if you're that endangered species, the American craftsmen, where do you sell your wares to the masses without quitting your day job to haul an awning and a folding table around the festival circuit?

Well solves both those problem. Etsy is an online marketplace for people to both buy and sell handmade goods.

For shoppers, the attractive interface makes it a pleasure to browse through their huge selection of available goods which includes everything from independent music and publications to toilet paper holders, furniture, and clothes. You can use a more traditional by-category-search (or just use the search box, duh) but you can also use one of their many tools for alternate browsing. Their color browser let's you select any color using a fun interface and then shows you all products available that incorporate that color. Choose as many colors at a time as you like and move items around as you browse. Time Machine enables you to browse through the most recently listed items by clicking and dragging through images on an interactive page. Treasury lets you browse through user-selected "top items". Come across a user who seems to share your tastes? Connections creates a diagram of items they've purchased. When you click an item, it shows you what other users have purchased it and all the other things those customers have purchased (and on and on). By far the coolest option is the Geolocator, which lets you browse the most recently added items by location, using an awesome interactive globe.

For sellers, sign up and creation of your own store (with the address is free. You can customize your page with a banner and bio (think Blogger customization). Listing an item costs 20 cents per quantity, includes 5
 images, and stays up for 4 months. The shops are an attractive and easy-to use (both for you and the shopper) way to present your goods. Check out Hearts and Laser Beams' shop to get an idea of navigation, look, and feel. The Etsy blog, The Storque, as well as the Forums section provide useful tips and ideas.

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