Etsy DECODED: The Craft of Creating an Ecommerce Platform

Mario Žderić

Hand-coded with love.

It’s hard to tell if Etsy is a B2B or P2P business. At its core, it’s a place where people who make craft products sell to people who love craft products, but small businesses have thrived on this platform, and Etsy has thrived on them as well.

The offer is pretty wide and it ranges from art, clothing, jewelry, food, beauty products, quilts, knick-knacks, toys and craft supplies, and it all works as a digital version of the olden craft fairs, where the sellers can list their merchandize for a fee of $0.20 per item, and an additional fee of 3.5% of sale value.

As the story usually goes, the founders of Etsy sort of stumbled onto the idea of building a peer to peer ecommerce site. Fresh out of college, they started work on a community forum GetCrafty, where one of the common topics was, apparently, how eBay sucks — at least when selling crafts.

So they built Etsy, which eventually became the eBay for crafts, without the high fees for small sellers and sans the hate from the crafting community.

Not a little community forum anymore

Don’t let the cutesy story fool you, Etsy is know anything but a newbie ecommerce project. The platform is quite large and complex, as platforms serving 1 500 000 sellers and even more buyers tend to be.

Here are all the technical knick-knacks that go into building the front end and the back end.

Why have one app when you can have four?

Of course, Etsy comes with an app. Or two. Or four.

To be precise, there are two apps for iOS and two for Andorid, two for sellers and two for buyers. Apparently, Etsy didn’t fuss with making two separate modes within the same app, like Airbnb did.

Since having a single app is too mainstream, let’s see what it takes to build all four of them:

Here is your 5-piece hand-coded Etsy

Note that the estimates are in man-days, or how many days a single developer will spend on a feature or a product.

Our Android team had their hands full with decoding the 2 Etsy apps.

So if we were to develop a platform like Etsy, we’d put 2 iOS, 2 Android, 2 back end and 3 front end engineers on the project to lovingly crafting the code, you could have it in 100 work days, or around 5 months.

During that time, you receive different deliverables like wireframes and modules, so you’re up to date and involved in the development process every step of the way.

With our daily rate of €400 per man-day, the total tab goes something like this:

Take note that Etsy now also has a sort of advertising feature, where you can pay for the better placement of your product. We didn’t take this into account, but if you’re really aching to know, drop us a line, and we’ll do that estimate as well.