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The Meaning of Making: Mixing Craft and Industrial Processes in Social E-commerce

Presentation for #ir13

Gordon Fletcher

on 20 October 2012

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Transcript of The Meaning of Making: Mixing Craft and Industrial Processes in Social E-commerce

The Meaning of Making:
Mixing Craft and Industrial Processes
in Social E-commerce Frances Bell @francesbell and Gordon Fletcher @gordonfletcher
University of Salford E-commerce Social E-commerce Social E-commerce Etsy canonical structure is systematic and visible
Transactions, sellers, items, likes, favourites
Key gap in this transparency of data - buyers
But some hints are evident Examination of 10,000 transactions Custom items defined for specific buyers
e.g. "Custom order for jeanie005 - Christmas Tree Skirt in Burlap with Red Accent - 63"
Or for Blythe - a carousel dress
Tagging also proves revealing for the type of item and the materials used A tentative hypothesis for social E-commerce Tagging and materials "supplies" used as a tag in 1/3 of the 10,000 transactions
"cotton" and "fabric" also popular but context varies
No reference to "labour", "labor", "work" or "hours" Labour, work and hours The missing element in transactions
Cannot be identified within prices
Some items are for specific recipient
Some items appear to be display only
How to understand this invisible element of social e-commerce? Value chains and supply chains Blurring of customer and suppliers
Blurring of personal value and organisational value
Market value approaches an arbitrary value
Identification of what customer needs are being met
Customer is the source of value
Display and comment may already satisfy some of these needs Etsy represents an attempt at bringing together of the
integrative demands of efficient supply chains with the
need to create value in the eye of the customer
Etsy (from Etsy's perspective) is an efficient supply chain (as the cost of supply and labour is borne elsewhere - although the position as an intermediary should be considered) and a effective value chain as multiple needs are satisfied (the social of social e-commerce) An effective supply chain is an integrative attempt to
create efficiency from the supplier to the customer (and hence maximise benefits to customer and supplier)
An effective value chain satisfies the needs of a customer and brings financial benefit to the supplier look for
actual stitches 5+7= (cc) image by anemoneprojectors on Flickr "Handmade items must be created by the seller operating the Etsy shop (or a member of that shop). "

Quote from RHLS founders
"RHLS started in Olympia WA in 2005 with Sarah and myself sewing each piece ourselves! We have been steadily growing year by year. By 2008 we relocated to Brooklyn NY and in 2010, we were able to step back from sewing everything ourselves and hired local manufacturers to take over production."
http://smallknot.com/rhls Etsy's definition Ravelry showcases Etsy shops Humphreys(2009) cites yarn manufacturer 'presence' on Ravelry (http://eprints.qut.edu.au/26455/1/26455.pdf).

This contrasts with knitted items and resellers of manufactured items not manufacturers present on Etsy.com

Acknowledged that difficult for crafters to make money on Etsy.com since Etsy tends to drive down prices - posited as "low-cost entry point into the marketplace" http://p2pfoundation.net/Etsy_-_Business_Model

But contrast with Ruffeo Hearts Lil Snotty Etsy's reintermediation atypical of Ecommerce ?????
ads only to other Etsy shops, all transactions within Etsy
Ostensibly a social marketplace but relatively closed and socialisation features limited but benefits from links to Facebook and Pinterest
Has 38 million monthly visitors http://www.internetretailer.com/2012/03/01/pinterest-pins-business-etsy-and-kate-spade
Good for buyers but what about sellers?
Implies meaning of making is business BUT business is in supplies (external) and Etsy's sale of marketplace services Hand-knitted garments Etsy Home Page Ravelry community:
focused on knitting and crochet
not focused on commerce Ebay - a (practically) universal market place Last Words Baby sets in particular are normally made of
bamboo wool and other natural fibres.
These don't come cheap, I charge pennies per hour for my time so when someone let's me down it always costs me money!
http://www.facebook.com/Lollytops What is Etsy? A business hub - an electronic mall?
An anti-showroom?
An intermediary?
An aggregator of exploited labour?
An advertising network?
The company as product?
A gift network?
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