EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 255 - January 24, 2010 - ISSN 1528-6703     12 of 17

Seller's Choice Marketplace Ratings: Etsy

By Ina & David Steiner

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In January 2010, AuctionBytes surveyed over 1,400 online sellers and asked them to rate the marketplaces on which they had experience selling. An introduction to the survey along with a summary of the overall ratings can be found here, with a link to the results of each of the 15 online marketplaces included in the survey.


Profitability:

Customer Service:

Communication:

Ease of Use:

Would you recommend:

Etsy
Year Established: 2005
Description: Fixed Price. Handmade, Vintage, and Crafting Supplies
More Info

Summary:
Etsy ranked above average in Communication, Customer Service and Profitability, and ranked high in Ease of Use. A marketplace known for its handmade goods, crafts and supplies, Etsy also offers a home for vintage goods, though some sellers stated in the comments that they would prefer the site separate the two. Many respondents found that Etsy brought them consistent traffic and sales, and enjoyed the site's active community. Common responses stated that Etsy needed to add and improve some basic features to make it easier to sell. Other sellers said that junk listings often overwhelmed quality listings. Etsy rated third out of fifteen as a recommended selling venue.

Reader Comments - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly:
You need to spend time promoting your store, but when I do, I am profitable. Etsy is so easy, my teenage daughter lists stuff there!
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Etsy is the best of the best...lots of style and a cooperative atmosphere. I make the most profit on Etsy on my vintage jewelry.
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Overall, best site I have used. Yes, there are improvements they could make with the listing process, policy and their lack of promotion for vintage sellers. However, I am hopeful many of these things will improve. There is traffic - not like eBay but enough natural traffic that with a moderate amount of self promotion you can do well. I really like this venue. About 3 major improvements and I would be just about blissful.
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Seller and buyer for over a year. Very low cost listing, final fees also low, easy to use. Etsy allows us to solve our problems with buyers. Need to add other payment options rather than just Paypal. Have not needed customer service. Love the simple clean format on most pages.
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Fees reasonable, service excellent, good traffic.
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I love etsy, I am selling a lot, quick responses from customer service, low fees, improvements coming to site in 2010!!
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I am VERY happy selling on Etsy! It is an affordable selling venue that offers me the option to price my items fairly. I enjoy the green, creative personality of Etsy. People going to Etsy are not so much bargain-hunters (as on Ebay), rather they are looking for unique, quality products and are willing to pay a reasonable price for them. Etsy customers appreciate handcrafted items and the concept of living green through reusing, recycling, upcycling, etc.
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Etsy charges a flat listing fee with no additional charges until item sells. Etsy takes only a small percentage of each sale. Etsy customer service is staffed by live people, working in the US, and using the site daily. Etsy is very interactive with its Sellers and encourages 2-way communication in regards to site policies and business practices. Etsy advertises heavily and frequently in offline venues. Etsy provides a lot of information and support for new small businesses. I could go on and on. Bottom line, Etsy values its Sellers and fosters a very favorable environment for small businesses.
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The workings of the site are a bit clunky, but good traffic and Etsy is FOR the seller. Fees are returned with in an hour or two when sale canceled.
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I've made greater profit (for one of the types of products I sell-craft supplies) on Esty than on any other venue. Esty is "a crafter's marketplace" many of the customers are crafters that also sell finished products on Esty. Once items are listed and you are "set-up", this can be a profitable venture. There are problems and issues with this site, however. Although listing fees are small (.20 per item regardless of value or price) and FVF are only 3.5% (cheap!), you can't list multiple items under one fee. You pay the same fee (.20) for each and every item, even those in the same listing. If you have 5 widgets, you can list them all at the same time ($1.00) or list as you sell each ( still $1.00) but it becomes difficult when trying to sell multiple items as you have relist each individually as they sell. Two buyers can't purchase same item at same time unless you are constantly there to relist as each item is purchased. If not there all the time (24 hours a day) you run the risk of the second buyer having "moved on" to another seller. To list all available inventory at once can get expensive. Listing 1000 items at .20 each can run into some money! Promotions are expensive too, to "promote" an item is $7-15.00 for 24 hours depending on which promo tool you select. Their choice of advertising venue ( print) is the cheapest they can find and least likely to bring sales (although you pay top dollar for inclusion in the ad). The good things are: once a listing is made its on the site for four months and same listings can be renewed (the only other way of promotion) ; the store is free and you can put up to five pictures with each listing for free. The staff communicates with the general populace via forum posts and as far as I can tell never actually answers individual requests for info. The site has some excellent articles in Storque, and many forums & locations for you to find out info from other sellers, but as with Ebay, some sellers do buy from others and then give bad feedback to thwart other sellers. Also alot of Asian Sellers of supplies as on Ebay and the site is less controlled against fraud. Also many of the sellers are part-time "hobby-sellers" who sell their work for next to nothing just to make a few sales. There are many very high quality items, and also many very low quality items. Big "Buyer Beware", which hurts all sellers and Esty doesn't seem to address this. There is an overload of certain types of products (jewelry-baby stuff), but all in all its a great site if you are just starting out, or making a small number of handcrafted items or custom made items to order. As with all venues you must folow the rules, this one is imperiative you only sell within their structure and only item made by you or supplies.
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They didn't get a 10 because of the manual shipping every seller has to put in - very time consuming especially when USPS changes rates so often. Also would like Google Checkout integrated. It's also a pain to go through the process with non-payers. Nothing should be considered sold until payment is received.
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I'd love to have a storefront on Etsy, but since I don't sell hand crafted products, I'm not permitted to sell at etsy.
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the convo needs to dissappear and let people email each otherwithought signing in, commission could be lower, categories need to be better defined (too much junk mixed in with good items)
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disadvantage- etsy only allows 5 pictures of items, if you do not list daily your items drop in searches. vintage clothing is relatively new and un-researched, supported or monitored. tons of junk from china flooding the site. Seller fees not refunded if item is returned, listing completely lost once item is sold, hit counts are displayed. Hits are not re set if item is re listed. no way to delete items from your shop, particularly in the "expiried" area, which is difficult and confusing to manage; mistakes easily made when re listing."heart " system is ridiculous both for seller and item. Buyers don't pay. seems to be a younger demographic that like to buy and not follow thru with payment.a seller has to actively work their shop daily to be seen in searches as well as alot of socialization, both too time consuming for a full time seller who uses on line sales for their entire income. do not like the convo system at all. would prefer direct emails from buyers. "cute & fun" for artsy people or crafters, not a very good venue for vintage. Fees very reasonable. customer support lacking.
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As a jewelry designer this site is extremely difficult to sell at. The sheer number of people selling makes it very hard to be seen by the public. The price point is so low on so much of the jewelry that profitability is a serious issue for me there.
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I do really enjoy Etsy, but it seems to be targeted more to a younger, artsy generation. The rate at which others renew items, eat up the front pages at an alarming rate. To keep items any where close to being seen, can get very expensive at .20 a pop- it is a very reasonable price as long as you don't go crazy renewing your items, however, when you don't do so, you quickly lose the advantage. There seems to be a bit more of a clique on etsy than any where else and it is mainly those who get put into the majority of hand picked list, front pages, etc... Once I got use to that, and quit trying to keep up, I'm much happier and spend much less.
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Overall Etsy is a disappointment. They don't communicate well, they don't even have standard ecommerce tools, the tagging system makes searching nearly impossible and for what you pay you don't get much back.
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Etsy needs to get its act together! There is so much potential that just isn't being applied properly. The site NEEDS to put a much higher standard on getting their end done properly and in a timely manner. There are too many little stupid things that are continually allowed to slip through the cracks. The sellers desparately need functionality and to see the site accept responsibility and some accountability in the continual snafus. They need to check their work and raise the standards bar. They seem to approach their business as if it were an excercise in Junior Achievement and NOT an International business. They need ot blend some hardcore quality control and a professional demeanor into their mix.

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Sellers Choice
We thank all readers who took the time to rate the marketplaces. If you have comments about the survey results or the survey itself, please feel free to post them in the AuctionBytes Blog.

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About the author:

Ina and David Steiner are publishers of EcommerceBytes.com and have been writing about ecommerce since 1999.


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