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Thu Apr 20 2017 23:01:06

Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?

By: Ina Steiner

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Imagine getting into your car and finding out that overnight, the manufacturer had switched the position of the windshield wiper and directional signal without warning. That's how it can feel for sellers when marketplaces make changes, especially those who need consistency and reliability in order to run their businesses.

In a blog post this week written by Etsy's Seller Handbook editor Taylor Combs, Etsy opened up about its approach to making changes on its marketplace. Like eBay, Etsy often runs tests (which it calls "experiments") before implementing a change.

"Experiments are one way we gather data about how Etsy buyers and sellers interact with a new feature and measure how changes to that page or tool affect an end result. By testing new features with a small percentage of Etsy users, we gather valuable data that helps us ensure that the changes we make will have a positive impact for the majority of Etsy sellers."

Etsy acknowledged the tests can be disconcerting to sellers: 

"We know it can be frustrating to be surprised by a change in your shop when you're part of a test, but announcing experiments before they happen can bias the results. If you knew we were testing a new tool in Shop Stats, for example, you might use the tool differently, impacting the results of the experiment."

As Etsy wrote, testing can be frustrating, but it's good to see the company communicate with sellers about its approach - though some may fear it's a sign of many more changes on the way.

What do you think of the pace of testing and changes at marketplaces like Etsy, eBay, and Amazon? What feedback do you have for marketplaces - and any ideas for improvements in how they implement such testing?




Comments (13) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?   Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Fri Apr 21 13:30:58 2017

Yet another example of corporate arrogance and the contempt these e commerce sites have for their paying customers.

Sellers are running businesses to make a living and shouldn't be treated as unwilling
guinea pigs for experiments that can adversely effect their businesses, their income, and their families.

Sellers should always have a choice whether to opt in to these experiments and opt out.

If these sites can't work around that, then some management changes should be made.

Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?   Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 21 16:16:43 2017

Corporate monkeys are the ruin of business

Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?   Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?

by: Kt5510 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 21 18:53:22 2017

As an Etsy seller since 2008,I can say from personal experience that the experiments Etsy runs every year can literally ruin a business. All improvements are to be rolled out for Christmas. Every other selling market or season is totally ignored. Weddings are probably the second biggest market on there and yet every year they start the experiments in January, ratchet it up in April and finish off late November. If you sell wedding stuff, your potential business can literally be halved by these endless experiments and all that follows: the bugs, rollouts, small changes and ''improvements'' that are later removed. When sales suddenly stop when you should be getting most of your sales, it is because of these experiments. Most of the time, they just mean lost sales - no improvements. If it's a bad experiment, it can also mean the release of private data so sellers than need to spend precious time in the forums to bring it to Etsy staff's attention to get it fixed. Bugs mean dropped sales, confused buyers, and sellers forced to spend hours making changes that they will need to undo a little while later, in an effort to be found and seen. In the  8 years I've been on Etsy, I can literally count on one hand the actual improvements that helped my shop. Most of the time it is an ''improvement'' I have no use for, like the drop down Categories that give precedence to categories that have 500 listings over other categories with over 300,000. Or the recent Patterns, and now Etsy studio. Most of the time the changes disappear or stay unfinished, kind of semi-functional. Most of the time, the ''improvements' are for Etsy's bottom line, and at the expense of the sellers. Etsy would do well to heed the voice of long time established shops who notice the most the extreme fluctuations. Sellers are there to make an income, they are not there to be unwilling guinea pigs for this supposed tech company to play around endlessly with their accounts. If one reads the forums, it becomes quite apparent that scores of successful sellers are giving up on Etsy and finding it easier to sell somewhere else. And who would etsy have to experiment on if all the sellers left?

Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?   Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?

by: RibbonDr This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 24 00:14:27 2017

Etsy not only doesn't warn us about tests, they went & changed how the buyers use their shopping carts to purchase. They did this with no warning to the buyers & without any instructions.

Many buyers used their carts to hold items that they wanted to purchase at a later time. They could still purchase other items as they wished while keeping up to 99 items in their cart. From what I understand, Etsy had given buyers this feature a long time ago. About 2 months ago they started rolling out the multi-shop checkout system stating that buyers had asked to be able to check out from every shop all at once. If this was ever asked for in the forums, I never saw it.

Then all of a sudden all the shopping carts were changed, the only way to check out was to put the items that you wanted to purchase later in a file called "Save for Later".That's all fine & dandy except that the file didn't separate the items by shop nor did they show what the shipping charges would be if you ordered the items.

Hundreds of buyers started threads & commented in the forums how long it would take them to make a purchase & how this was not going to work for them.

I spoke to 3 reps at Etsy that all told me the same thing, they said that many tests & much research goes into these kinds of things before they are changed & that they had found buyers were much happier with a multi-shop check out system than the buy from 1 shop at a time cart.

I don't know what kind of people they asked, nor do I know in what way they manipulated the question to get the answers that they wanted. Apparently our buyers were not a part of this extensive testing or research because many of them said they were just going to go to another site that didn't make it hard to purchase from.

What kind of company changes the way their buyers spend money without warning or instruction on how to work with these changes?

Etsy has also gone & made supply sellers categorize their items 1 at a time into categories that don't make sense (I have over 600 listings myself). They actually have a category called "jewelry & beauty"... excuse me? Ribbon is only found under "Fabric & Notions". Wired ribbon is used for home decor it should not be anywhere near a sewing machine where is where fabric & notions should be (Under Sewing). But they do have a sub category called "Haberdashery" (what is that exactly).

Many buyers & sellers have not only left comments in the forums, but contacted Etsy directly. None of these complaints have been properly addressed or replied to from Etsy, they are simply ignored.

Etsy calls themselves a tech company... well I guess that's what they must be , because they have no idea how the general public uses on line purchasing platforms nor do they seem to care enough to listen to the people that ultimately pay their bills & write their checks.  

Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?   Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?

This user has validated their user name. by: tanzi

Mon Apr 24 00:37:02 2017

Etsy is as dead as ebay. I dont sell on either any longer.  

Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?   Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?

by: AntiquesEtCetera13 This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Apr 24 00:40:02 2017

Over the years I have helped several websites make improvements and what they did to test new ideas was have a beta test for selected sellers to try and give feedback on  before releasing it to everyone else, that way one was aware what were the likely changes and if they actually worked.

Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?   Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?

by: rover This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 24 03:52:12 2017

Larger and more powerful companies than Etsy have found to their cost what it is to ignore the wishes of their paying customers. Etsy will only sit up and take notice when their bottom line is impacted.

Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?   Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?

by: Transferware Odds and Ends This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Apr 24 07:00:42 2017

THIS IS JUST BS-!!!!!!!!
MY SUGGESTION: test the employees shops you have working their for you, they get a weekly pay check, STOP MESSING WITH OURS !!!!
AND LASTLY CHANGE THE CART BACK TO THE WAY IT WAS! WERE LOSING THE LITTLE CUSTOMERS WE HAVE AS IT IS NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?   Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?

by: felyne This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 24 07:27:00 2017

I was in this test round. I still revert to the old seller tools. Hate it. What ever happened with KISS? Not only with Etsy, but with all app and OS changes? Etsy's new look takes up more space on my device than the simple drop down menu they had at the top of the page. You no longer have an indication of how many people liked your item. The list is there, but you don't know who the new ones are. I miss KISS.  

Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?   Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?

This user has validated their user name. by: MainelyVintage
Web Site

Mon Apr 24 07:55:06 2017

Etsy has certainly outdone itself this year with site changes.

Wow, I'm breathless...and not finished with adding attributes either.

{Sigh.} Etsy's venue, Etsy's rules.

Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?   Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?

by: Flying Childers This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 24 07:55:26 2017

Thank you all for the EXCELLENT comments!  You have said it all.  The people who run Etsy are not as smart as they think they are.  

They say that Etsy is a tech site.  The geniuses still haven't figured out it's an E-commerce site.  You know, a place where people buy and sell things.

TRUTH:  they never stop testing.  EVER.  Some they admit to, most are not mentioned until some seller discovers it and spreads the word.

Etsy does not own any of the merchandise it sells.  What will they do when all the best sellers leave taking their handmade and vintage merch with them?

This shell game can't last.  If the tech geniuses are so smart, HOW COME THEY CAN'T FIX THE SEARCH FUNCTION??

Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?   Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Mon Apr 24 21:17:29 2017

Honestly, I make more money at my real world job. I'm considering going to 40 hours a week there, and canning Etsy. Oh, Etsy's a Fire Storm during the holidays, can't keep up with the orders. But for a steady income, Etsy ain't it.

Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?   Should Etsy Warn Sellers Before Running Tests?

by: funkygrrl This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 25 11:02:35 2017

LOL. I still remember the test where they took away Paypal. Sellers didn't know until they started getting convos from buyers asking why they couldn't pay. Chad Dickerson is as big of a douche as Donahoe was.



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