Etsy mulls potential for permanent store in future as it preps first UK pop-up

Etsy has revealed interest in potentially opening a permanent high street shop in the future and will be trialing different stores over the coming year to gauge UK interest - the first of which will open in Covent Garden in the coming weeks.

The pop-up will act as its main driver of brand awareness, as it eshews traditional above-the-line activity in favour of a bricks and mortar experience.

The online marketplace is a hub for handmade and vintage items and has attracted almost one million sellers since it was established ten years ago.

Over the past two years it has been taking its proposition offline and testing a variety of pop-up shops around the world, the first of which sprung up in New York for Christmas 2012.

In New York, selected sellers – as well as designers and performers – all participated in the 10-day retail event and over 20,000 people came through its temporary door in SoHo. Lauding it a success, Etsy claimed that over 50 per cent of buyers had never purchased via the site before.

Since then, Etsy pop-up shops have appeared in the likes of Sydney and Winnipeg, and London is next on the agenda as it looks to drive brand awareness in the UK.

Jonathan Zatland, Etsy’s international multi-channel manager said that the move was “a big step forward for Etsy” and will help bring its seller community into a physical retail environment.

Dubbed ‘Etsy House’, it will open for three days on 5 December offering a curated selection of goods from sellers across the UK.

Etsy counts the likes of eBay, Notonthehighstreet.com and Amazon among some of its major competitors in the UK and asked if, like Amazon, it has considered opening a permanent store, a spokesperson for the retailer said is a potential opportunity.

“We’ve been testing different things and it’s not something that we know that we’re doing but it’s not something that we’ve completely ruled out.

“It’s a case of trying different stores over the next 12 months and [seeing] what works and what the interest is in the UK,” she said.

Etsy has built a "powerful" community of sellers, according to Andre Rickerby, global director of digital marketing, although it is yet to reveal exact UK figures.

“They are amazing,” Rickerby told The Drum, adding: “We have a team build around how to make our sellers more successful; like how they can improve their onsite SEO, or use social to leverage the communities they build themselves. We give our sellers as many tools, assets and education as we can.”

To aid growth in the UK, Etsy has just employed its first social media manager for the region – Natalie Wall – a key hire if it's looking to boost brand awareness as Rickerby describes social as a vital marketing channel for the retailer.

However, despite running its first ever TV campaign in the UK earlier this year, Rickerby said that it has not planned any above-the-line activity for Christmas.

“The TV campaign was a bit of a test for us. But we used it for learning and now we want to sense check how we fit [TV] into all the other channels. I think in the future we’re using it as a good roadmap for the way we can integrate campaigns,” he added.

Instead Etsy will focus on driving traffic through digital marketing.

In a feature published for The Drum's 3 September issue, we looked at the power of the pop-up store after the British Retail Consortium estimated they would add £2.1bn to the economy by 2015.

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