Etsy to Eliminate Categories as It Focuses on Browse
By Ina Steiner
Etsy's Marc Hedlund said the company would eventually remove category pages as it continues to focus on the browse experience on the Etsy marketplace. The revelation about the fate of categories came in a weekly question-and-answer session on the Etsy discussion boards where administrators answers questions from community members.
Hedlund is the Senior Vice President of Product Development at Etsy. His answer was in response to a question from a seller who asked, "Is there any chance that "Categories" could be given an equal position as the "Browse" link?"
Hedlund responded, "Sorry, but no, we're not going to do that. Overall the Browse pages are much more in line with what we want the Etsy experience to be. While I agree there are things we can and will improve about them, we won't be continuing work on Categories and we no longer consider them to be a core feature. They'll remain on the site for now but over time we expect those pages to be removed. I know this isn't what you wanted to hear, but those are our plans based on how we see the different pages on the site used."
Etsy sellers were probably not surprised that Browse took priority over Categories given that the marketplace had redesigned its homepage last year, but it did appear to be a surprise that Etsy would do away with categories altogether. "I am shocked they are getting rid of categories," wrote one seller. "I don't know how a site can be serious about being a commerce site and not have categories for the shoppers,...Search ads don't work for many people."
In October, there was a hue and cry from sellers when Etsy redesigned its home page to de-emphasize categories and place new Browse buttons prominently on the page. At the time, Etsy said only 6% of visits that included a purchase had viewed a category.
So what are these "browse" pages introduced in October that will eventually replace categories? Art, Home & Living, Jewelry, Women, Men, Kids, Vintage, Weddings and Craft Supplies. Clicking on each one allows shoppers to drill into more specific areas with a focus on visual representations of those areas.
For now, shoppers who prefer to browse using categories can still find them in a link under More Ways to Shop, located at the bottom of the left nav bar underneath the fold. Shoppers who click on the Category hyperlink are taken to a textual page containing categories and subcategories.
Many sellers feel their items don't fit under top level Browse pages and want the categories to remain. "Tags and Title is all we would have," wrote one seller. "Browse is certainly not a high volume view option."
Another seller told EcommerceBytes that Etsy Browse feature favors large shops that have multiple quantities of similar items. "By default that favors less unique work and also things made in factories," according to the seller.
Etsy introduced a new Browse page called Fine Jewelry in January but retired the browse page in late March, writing, "We've observed that Fine Jewelry is less popular as an individual browse section, and shoppers who visit it are less likely to purchase than those who visit other browse sections."
About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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