Etsy first gained success for being an online marketplace for small business owners to sell their one-of-a-kind goods to anyone at any time; location was never an issue, so long as the post office was running.
Now, it appears that Etsy has made a complete 180 and is now operating exactly opposite of its original goal: instead of giving small businesses a digital platform to sell items — thereby making brick-and-mortar stores unnecessary — Etsy is now making it simpler than ever for customers to do business with local merchants.
On August 25, the company announced that it would release an Etsy Local app feature on iOS and Android devices. Etsy Local makes it simple for buyers to locate sellers who have actual store locations in the nearby vicinity, and it also provides information about events, like festivals, where local Etsy sellers set up shop.
According to Venture Beat, Etsy Local also provides basic information like hours of operation and phone number — i.e., the info that local searches on Google will provide.
Etsy Local has been a part of the company’s website since 2013, Business News Daily reported, but the feature was only available on the company’s desktop website.
The new Etsy Local update will apply to mobile devices, according to The Next Web, and will be available through the company’s mobile website as well as its mobile app.
This expansion may not seem like a big deal, but it’s actually indicative of a larger trend wherein consumers rely more on their smartphones and tablets for researching and purchasing items, whether the actual transaction occurs in-store or online. Recent data shows that 50% of all search engine queries are made to find local results, and over 60% of queries result in a purchase. Considering that smartphone users overwhelmingly use their mobile devices to find local results, it’s not hard to see how a small mobile website and app expansion could have a significant impact on a business’s success.
The Etsy Local expansion is just one part of the company’s bigger plan of connecting individual buyers to sellers, Venture Beat said. Etsy has also released a plan for connecting independent merchants with Etsy sellers, as well as a mobile credit card reader for purchases made on the Etsy marketplace.