EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 304 - February 05, 2012 - ISSN 1528-6703     5 of 18

Sellers Choice 2012 Marketplace Ratings: Etsy

By Ina & David Steiner

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In January 2012, EcommerceBytes surveyed over 7,200 online sellers and asked them to rate the marketplaces on which they had experience selling. An introduction to the Sellers Choice survey along with a summary of the overall ratings can be found here, along with links to results for each of the 16 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 shot up to the number three spot in this year's EcommerceBytes Seller's Choice Awards with an overall rating of 6.8, up from tenth place in 2011. Etsy was listed by 28% of the respondents as a marketplace where they sell or have sold.

Many sellers were happy with the site in general and with traffic and sales specifically. There was also general satisfaction with fees noted in the comments.

But plenty of sellers had suggestions for improvement, such as better listing tools. Among the suggestions for features they would like to see added were: a global editor, bulk listing, calculated shipping, support for combined shipping, sold-item search, ability to include more photos in listings, and the ability to block buyers.

Some sellers also said Etsy's search could be improved. "With a better search I would improve my sales up to 25%." A number of sellers said they want more choice in payment methods beyond PayPal, with some specifically mentioning their desire for Google Wallet.

Many respondents complained about the problem of resellers (Etsy requires all sellers in the handmade category to be the original creators of the items they sell). This could help explain in part the problem of over-saturation that respondents reported in certain categories, such as hand crafted jewelry. Another issue was that of copycat sellers and copyright issues.

There were some requests for the site to do more advertising. One seller said she was concerned about there being "far too many "exit ramps" that sneak potential customers out of the individual shops," and wrote, "The site has decent traffic, but siphons the individual seller's marketing efforts back into the main site."

Respondents rated Etsy a 6.4 in profitability on a 10-point scale, a 7.05 in ease of use, 6.7 in customer service, and 6.9 in communication.

Reader Comments - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly:
Of the venues I currently use this is the least difficult and most profitable. It has significant issues but has improved since the last time I did this survey
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Etsy has made some improvements in the last year with their new CEO, and some of the features that I initially disliked I now see as useful tools toward getting my products seen by more shoppers. It has a ways to go in terms of customer service and communication, but, all things considered, given their size, I would imagine that they'll see improvements in those areas in the near future. And for now, being there since 2006, I have to say it's probably the best venue overall I've been a part of.
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Bottom line traffic, sales, profits, syndication, features. They have their quirks, but they get traffic. They are known and it works. You have to do your promoting and work, but their fees are higher than artfire or others, but I will pay them if I get sales. I get info daily for ways to better ourselves and our shops. I also shop there first for supplies. I didn't in the past and considered closing the shop there, but they definitely made some changes for the seller for the better. When we died with Google changes on other sites, we made sales on Etsy. So, whatever they are doing, it is the place to be.
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The traffic is awesome...millions. Selling is cheap at $.20 per listing and no monthly fee.
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Etsy has worked out VERY well for me; fees are reasonable, visibility is high, lots of great seller features and information, listings are easy, little to no interference from etsy as long as one follows the common sense rules; listing software could use a few more seller friendly features.
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I have to say that of all the sites I've sold on, Etsy has been the best for me. I sell quite regularly and the fees are such that I can still make a profit without gouging the customer. I am perfectly happy with the customer service, communication and ease of use on Etsy and would and have recommended it to friends and colleagues!
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Etsy is a great site for those of us who sell handcrafted items. It's user-friendly with low fees, nice perks. Definitely would recommend this venue.
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Etsy is a great place to sell one-of-a-kind, handmade items. Etsy needs to improve in one area, and that is listening to suggestions from current shop operations. Also, they need to advertise Etsy more.
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My favorite. Have been selling on this site for 3 months. Traffic is great, buyers are wonderful, easy to use. Very profitable. I think this site will surpass Ebay. I wish I knew about this site a year ago.
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Love it. Love it. Love it. Able to load pictures all at once. One page listing. They only downside is that I can't easily save a half done listing (there is a draft mode - but they want it all filled out).
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I enjoy Etsy's service very much. They do have an issue with not allowing buyer feedback to be publicly viewed, only integrating Paypal as a payment option, and very limited shop sections. But overall, it's a great platform.
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I am an artist and it is a good place to sell art and also antique types of items. It sends a daily email with pics of interesting items and it's fun to see them. The sellers seem to be very respectful. It is simple to navigate and not filled up with so many distracting signs and advertisements, which makes it a more pleasant shopping experience. It has a home atmosphere and they have videos about an artists business and how he/she makes their product. It seems more like things SHOULD be and not so overly commercialized. The focus seems more on the art and less about money and business.
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My favorite venue to sell - easy to list, easy to talk to people, easy all around - need to get help on ability to advertise on their site - some items you never can buy a spot to advertise - always room for improvement.
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Etsy has become my bread and butter site. Ebay used to be, but last year Etsy far exceeded them, to the extent that I do not have any active Ebay listings. I even had to deactivate some of my items on Etsy to be able to keep up with demand for others. I have orders for one item that is only listed on Etsy that I won't be able to deliver until April, and folks are still purchasing that item. Etsy has become the big dog for me, kicking Ebay to the curb in a big way.
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If you sell vintage this is an excellent market! Customers on Etsy understand the value in vintage and will not nickle and dime you over price. Everyone is friendly and promotes each other and the venue. It reminds me of the way Ebay was back in the 90's. So refreshing!
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You get higher prices here than you do elsewhere which even with the listing fees makes this profitable. It is hard to get eyes on the page with the new way they are doing featured searches. I do not use this for my primary shop as I don't sell enough to justify it. A much better alternative in this niche than Artfire.
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I like Etsy for the most part. I wish there were an invoice system so I can adjust shipping before the buyer pays. I spend too much time refunding shipping. I can ship one of my widgets for $2, but 3-7 of my widgets fit in a flat rate envelope for $5. Hard to set that up properly with their flat rate shipping option. I do like their new keywords and search engine, I'm selling a lot more since they put in that enhancement.
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I've had no problem making money on etsy, especially for the kind of item I sell. However, it takes forever to make a single change to all listings because etsy has no ability to make bulk changes. Also, the invoicing process for offering a break to a buyer without changing the listings they are interested in is convoluted and time consuming.
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Etsy is pretty good overall, but it is missing some functionality. Such as being able to duplicate a listing. I also don't like that they charge a listing fee for each quantity of the same item in the same listing. For example, if I list an item with a quantity of 5 available, I get charged 5 listing fees.
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There is no distinct way to shop for vintage verses craft, and no shop index. The site seems to be more geared for the latter, which I am not.
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Seems to be a good place for selling unusual or crafty items. Not so good for the types of items I sell which is mostly vintage items and vintage jewelry.
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Love Etsy, easy to use, very high traffic in my shops, just wish they would translate into sales! Revenues have increased in the past year with my new shops, starting 2012 building my inventories and hoping Etsy will be my main income this year and in the future.
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I have referred to Etsy because it has a large user base. It is fairly easy to set up but sometimes navigation can be difficult. Wish it had a chat feature in addition to convos. It often feels cliquey among the company itself in front page promo's. But, I do get sales from it.
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I had good luck selling craft supplies on Etsy, but next to no sales on handmade jewelry and other finished products. There's far too much competition in some categories (jewelry especially), and with their search the way it's set up, it's impossible to find what you want. I ended up spending more on listing fees (20-cents per item) than I was selling. It's also an inconvenience to have to go through and relist (and re-pay) every few months. When you can use a site like Bonanza and list all you want for free - and it never has to be relisted.... Why bother with Etsy anymore?
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I use Etsy for my personalized stationery business & have mixed feelings about it. First, there are too many wannabe artists who are selling copycat designs for dirt cheap prices. This drives prices down & often one can't make even a small profit. Second, theft of designs has become a problem on Etsy. I know designers who have had entire listings copied and reused on Etsy. Unfortunately, Etsy does not seem to care.
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I would like to list my vintage on etsy - but I hate their search engine so much, it's even worse than ebay's - so I don't bother with them. They have no completed search and the search results for currently listed items are even worst than ebay's "best match". I'd have better luck finding things there if I threw darts at the web page.
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Etsy has a tendency to roll out changes without sufficient testing, then has to roll them back in again. Etsy does not communicate well with sellers, little to no warning when changes are made. Sales were adequate and it was reasonably easy to use but that's just not enough to compensate for the deficits.
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Even though, for reasons I cannot figure out, my sales volume is no better on Etsy than it has been on any other sales site I have tried, (less than 1 sale per quarter), their policies are much more fair and seller-friendly. They charge only a very affordable 20 cents per listing, no monthly fees at all; listings stay up for 4 months; they respond to questions via e-mail in a reasonable time, and actually answer the question. I do regret that they have discontinued their chats and lab sessions, but even so, this is still the best site I have found to date.
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Don't like their new search set up. No check out function for a merchant account. Need to add another form of online payment instead of just offering paypal. No check out function for a merchant account. Tags section is redundant, listing form is too long and time consuming.
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Etsy, was a good venue at one time. When it changed was when they allowed items listed that were not handmade. Most of the sellers here import and say they hand make.
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Etsy has been very good for me but also very costly. When they changed the search function in August it effected my business dramatically and my business went down 40%. It picked up a bit but they have no sense of customer service or empathy. They are a bunch of young people with no background on how to treat a customer. They dictate how to take pictures and are very opinionated and selective about who they allow on the front page. I get emails complimenting my photos and have sold 14,000+ items yet I am not good enough to get on their front page. Etsy seems to want to present themselves as a specified business model far from the Hand Crafted venue they started out to be.

Sellers Choice Awards
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 EcommerceBytes Blog.


About the author:

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


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