|Mon Aug 26 2013 10:47:02|
Etsy Sellers Make Noise, Is CEO Chad Dickerson Listening?
By: Ina Steiner
Managers of online marketplaces just can't help tinkering with policies, features and technology as they feel pressure from investors and shareholders to maintain high growth rates. We see it with eBay, and we see it with its smaller rival Etsy, and sellers often chafe against frequent changes to which they must adapt.
For anyone who doesn't get the "noise" reference in the headline, it refers to comments made by eBay CEO John Donahoe that many longtime sellers felt was dismissive of their outspoken concerns about the many changes he foisted upon them after he took over from Meg Whitman in 2008.
At the time, eBay sellers took to the comments section of articles about the company and spoke to any reporters who would listen to explain the conditions they faced as Donahoe implemented a series of moves as part of his campaign of "disruptive innovation."
Etsy sellers are going through a similar experience as the marketplace deals with growing pains. In a Friday article in which GigaOm praised Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson to the high heavens - "Dickerson is an unlikely success story in the razzle-dazzle world of ecommerce" - Etsy sellers took to the comments section to weigh in.
Sellers bemoaned the problem of resellers on the site and the difficulty of competing with mass manufacturers posing as artisans and crafters and objected to what they characterized as censorship on the Etsy boards when sellers discussed that and other problems.
Sellers report that Etsy is testing changes to its feedback systems and reviews process and worry it will eliminate PayPal in favor of its own payment processing system (see this article from today, "Etsy Suppresses PayPal - Test or Glitch?").
Before Dickerson replaced Etsy founder Rob Kalin as CEO, Etsy had been rolling out a series of "disruptive" changes in an effort to capitalize on social networking features. Dickerson brought some stability back to the site.
But he faces the challenge of taking a marketplace in which sellers must make every product themselves with no aid (in the handmade category for which it is best known) and making it scalable. One way is through international growth (only about 20% of Etsy's sales volume is from international buyers and sellers, Dickerson told GigaOm). Another is through fostering wholesalers, a slippery strategy given Etsy's handmade culture.
Will Etsy ultimately turn to larger sellers as eBay has done, or will it be able to maintain its core group of small sellers? Let us know what you think - and please indicate if you've sold on Etsy or not when commenting.