While 2020 will be a year to forget for most companies, some businesses have thrived under the special circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Etsy, an online platform for crafts and handmade products, is such an example. While most e-commerce businesses have done well this year, Etsy managed to leverage its large seller community to help cope with the crisis and grow its business.
After the CDC had officially put out a recommendation for people to wear “cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain” on April 3, Etsy encouraged its community to help supply such masks to the public during this unprecedented crisis. “We hope that increasing the availability of fabric, non-medical grade face masks from Etsy sellers will allow more medical and surgical masks to reach the people who need them most: front-line healthcare workers,” the company said in a blog post on April 7, while also reporting that hundreds of thousands of face masks per day were already being sold on the platform. In April alone, more than 12 million masks were sold on Etsy’s marketplace, while more than 110,000 sellers sold at least one mask between April and June.
By the end of September, gross merchandise sales of masks sold on Etsy amounted to more $600 million, contributing more than 10 percent of total GMS in both the second and third quarter of 2020. As the following chart shows, Etsy’s blockbuster growth in platform sales this year cannot be traced back to masks alone, however. Not counting mask sales, Etsy’s gross merchandise sales would still have doubled between April and September when compared to the same period of 2019.