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EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 328 - February 03, 2013 - ISSN 1528-6703     3 of 18

Sellers Choice 2013 Marketplace Ratings: Etsy


By Ina & David Steiner
EcommerceBytes.com

February 03, 2013
 



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In January 2013, EcommerceBytes surveyed over 11,500 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 became a first-time overall Sellers Choice Award winner in 2013, up from number three in 2012. Etsy ranked first in profitability (6.85), and the world "profitable" came up many times in comments left for Etsy, and is clearly the reason why Etsy was the most highly-ranked site among the top 16 Sellers Choice marketplaces.

"Sales there began quite quickly after I first began listing. They are not what I hope they will become but it has also been profitable since the first month." However, the site is not necessarily profitable for low-priced items due to listing fees and sell-through rates, and some sellers commented that fees were high.

Etsy restricts what types of items can be sold on its site, and sellers say this site is good for handmade, vintage and craft supplies. "Etsy has a somewhat upscale feel, which is nice for attracting buyers of artwork and fine quality items." However, it needs to "make vintage sellers feel as important as crafters."

"They are learning how to support the vintage seller, as the site was originally for handmade items only. They still have to work on making the site compatible for vintage sellers, as the number is growing with sellers joining Etsy from other venues. We are all networking on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Ning network, etc. and spreading the word about Etsy!"

There were some complaints about search and visibility. "I love Etsy but find it a bit more time consuming than Ebay. I dislike the circling, the treasuries and etc that you have to do if you really want to sell anything. That said, sales of vintage are really picking up and some of my higher priced sales lately have been at Etsy."

"Etsy needs to restructure their search...browse is okay and serves a purpose but the categories and sub-catergories (sic) need much improvement. Buyer's wonder in a maze looking for what they want. The site is planned out to keep a buyer wandering around which means longer time onsite-good for Etsy but not the buyer or seller. Buyers have a hard time find a direct route to what they are searching for. Etsy also favors curated sellers, given lots of exposure to certain sellers and leaving many others out."

"Etsy has gotten too big! As a seller you are lost in the shuffle! Sales are few and far between, and do a search and page after page of items comes up. You are just one of millions and unless you already have a following, you are a mere speck on their windshield!"

There were also some negative comments about commercial sellers and resellers again this year. "Unfortunately, Etsy seems to be moving towards favoring large sellers/resellers over the small crafters that made them what they are. They keep introducing new ways to get customers that you worked to get on your page to leave your page. Seller concerns seem to usually be "swept under the rug". Etsy has had higher scores from me in the past. Unfortunately they're still the best game out there."

There were positive comments about certain features, including Direct Checkout and tagging and photos. "Their image uploader works, and it is easy to rearrange pictures."

However, Etsy needs a shipping calculator, some said. "If I have complaints it is that there are no shipping profiles to create so all listings have to be edited individually every time there is a postal increase. I have many weights and sizes to consider."

Some complaints about customer service and communication, especially not notifying sellers of changes to the site. "Etsy doesn't provide phone service which is a huge complaint by sellers." Several complaints that Etsy management does not care about sellers or sellers concerns. "People regularly have their shops closed and are booted off for minor and often un-intentional infractions."

"Arrogant; Etsy continues to editorially promote only 1% of personal favorite sellers and they are the same sellers and same product types for 7 long years; their lack of marketing has failed to capture new traffic to the site. Their communication with sellers is below standard and they are patronizing and openly hostile towards sellers as a group."

Etsy came in second for customer service (6.88), communication (6.91) and ease of use (7.25). When asked "How likely are you to recommend Etsy as a selling venue to a friend or colleague," Etsy came in number one (6.88).

Reader Comments - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly:
This is the latest selling venue I have tried and I feel they are tops in the search engines. My sales are better than any of the others I use, fees are low, extremely low listing fee, your items are visible for 4 months for the low listing fee and I get very high traffic. Site is easy to use and you can interact with other sellers and your customers with no restrictions. It is a great site and easy to use. I highly recommend for crafters especially.

No problems! I actually feel like I have my own business there as they let me sell and leave me alone without all the manipulation and excessive rules. Everyone's friendly and get along. Easy to sell & buy format. Could use a few more conveniences but I'm happy. I also like that I am not feed to death or over charged for billing.

Been selling on Etsy for 5 years. The addition of direct checkout was a huge improvement this year. Sales in both my shops are very good.

Has done very well for me, I am quite happy with the venue. BUT...they need an automatic shipping calculator.

I had the best selling season ever on Etsy this past holiday season. I feel they are still growing but they are not listening to the sellers concerns an take too long to answer questions emails etc!!

Nice site on which to sell. Wonderful buyers. Good atmosphere. Becoming increasingly well-known.

I wish Etsy sent more emails about site changes. They are usually very responsive to my questions, but I think they should send out more informative emails to their sellers. I cannot otherwise fault them. The only change they ever made that I did not support was the ability to use search with a "go to page #" which makes me crazy. Not having the ability to put in a page number but having to skip through 3 or 6 or whatever pages instead of 1,000 or 10,000 pages is really sending me away on some of my searches.

Beautiful site with a decent amount of traffic and reasonable fees. Good only for handmade, vintage, and handmade supplies. Customer service and communication are poor, as is policing for site integrity. Otherwise, Etsy is a viable site for handmade, vintage, and handmade supplies.

I like that Etsy's volume of internal traffic makes it a relatively low maintenance online shop. I get a low volume of sales there, which is actually preferable to me, as the FVF can get pretty hefty for high volume sellers, I prefer my flat monthly rate shop for volume sales.

I am new to Etsy and every month I ask myself why I waited for so long to sign up. I didn't even shop there. I think it is because I listened to dissatisfied sellers talking about the nasty admin and cat fights in the forum. The admin has been nothing but helpful and I have stayed away from the forum. This site is the easiest to list on of any site I have ever sold on by far. The site is really well planned and photos load quickly and are nice sized. If I have complaints it is that there are no shipping profiles to create so all listings have to be edited individually every time there is a postal increase. I have many weights and sizes to consider. The other issue is that the listing categories are limited for vintage items. The terminology seems more geared to handmade. Sales there began quite quickly after I first began listing. They are not what I hope they will become but it has also been profitable since the first month.

Etsy is growing very quickly. Lots of sales, fees are fairly high. Shipping is easy with direct checkout, wish they would change insurance provide and let seller decide when to deposit funds into checking like PayPal. I would also like to see shipping fees come from customer payments, and not billed separately. We need more pictures and front shop page design. Real time needs to improve with refreshing options. Social media choices need to be better, and make vintage sellers feel as important as crafters. Etsy needs to keep sellers informed of changes and not do them around holidays. Include more shops in tests to make sure they really work.

Etsy is not for everyone. You can't just put your merch in your shop and expect it to sell. You have to actively join groups and make or be in treasuries for higher visibility.

I love Etsy but find it a bit more time consuming than Ebay. I dislike the circling, the treasuries and etc that you have to do if you really want to sell anything. That said, sales of vintage are really picking up and some of my higher priced sales lately have been at Etsy.

Been on Etsy since 2006 and it has come a very long way. Many complain about support issues but I have always gotten the answers I needed within a day when directly sending a convo to the appropriate admin regarding my issue or questions.

I have cherry-picked from my own 700+ listing inventory on other marketplaces, and put 100 or so ads on Etsy. It is a constant money-maker for me, sending sales to me on an almost daily basis. I find them to be the most profitable, easy to use, and rewarding marketplace.

I have 2 stores on Etsy. They both do well as far as sales. Etsy's listing page is my favorite of all of them. Their image uploader works, and it is easy to rearrange pictures. They allow minimal html, so I'm not spending an hour coding an ad, and the pages load fast. I like their "tag" system. I like that they accept credit cards on-site. I have never had to use their customer service so I can't speak to that.

Etsy is great for us! We have two web shops there now, and the listing fees are minimal. There is lots of traffic, the buyers are nice, it's easy to list. If I could change anything about Etsy, it would only be to request more than 10 shop categories, and more than 5 pictures in a listing. Etsy is turning into our most profitable vintage selling site, and has replaced both eBay and our former brick and mortar store, in terms of where we are focusing our business energy.

Would definitely recommend Etsy for any who handcraft their items, or provide supplies for the crafting world. Good folks there. Their forums could use a few less "whiners" posting all the time. That gets annoying. I'd like to see them allow postings of items we have on sale or special within the forums. They could also beef up their off-site advertising a bit more. I get pretty good sales on there and their item form is quite straight forward and easy to use. You can only sell handcrafted, supplies and vintage there which is nice. Not cluttered up with yard-sale types of items.

I am fairly new to ETSY. Based on my minimal experience, it seems to be a good place if your products are handmade. The infrastructure seems to work well and listing small numbers of listings is smooth. You will do better if you can drive your own outside traffic although there is some decent internal traffic. Then again, you should consider your own website and drive traffic it there, but that should probably wait until you have some decent experience with online sales. The fees are reasonable as is customer service and communications. I need more time and experience to have a firm feeling for the site, but early stages are positive and I am quite willing to give it a go this year.

My little shop does quite well on Etsy considering it is a one person ran shop. It does well because of my hard work, but at least on Etsy it is possible to sell. That being said, Etsy lacks a lot in the customer service and communication department. And in general don't really seem to care about their sellers.. but this is nothing new. That being said it is still the best selling venue for handmade items and supplies. The site runs pretty well, even with the occasional glitches, and is pretty easy to maneuver, relativity speaking. Etsy is Etsy it has always lacked in these area's, but as long as people can sell, they'll stay.

The problem with Etsy for me, is that as an antiques and collectibles seller I don't get the "eyes" I need to maintain a good selling experience. The few sales I've had though have been very successful and the site is wonderful to it's sellers. My hopes are that they will invest in advertising, especially in the antiques and collectibles market - they have a huge potential for big growth. Hope to see it happen soon!

Etsy is an excellent venue for sellers of handmade and antique goods. I've had only positive experiences with the site. It seems to be honestly run, and the fees are reasonable. The restriction on types of goods that can be sold can be a little limiting, but I understand why it's being done. Etsy has a somewhat upscale feel, which is nice for attracting buyers of artwork and fine quality items.

Etsy is my most profitable selling venue. Love the layout and interaction among sellers, Always the resellers that are prevalent, but I sell vintage, so it really doesn't affect me much. I absolutely love that I can print postage directly from the site, a real time saver.

I love Etsy but they are a bit stiff on how you can put items up. Especially with the one type face, one size, etc. I've sold pretty well. Nice people on the site. Communication with owner/managers is "0". But, I think it will come along and I will stay selling on it.

I sell a lot of items on Etsy. I usually average about 40 to 50 sales per month and my profit margin is excellent. Their fees and the commissions they make are very reasonable. they are great to deal with and the buyers I sell to are very friendly. The Etsy team does every thing possible to protect the seller and the buyer. Very few problems arise but when one does both the buyer and seller are happy when the problem is solved. There is no pressure on the buyer or seller and both the buyer and seller are happy to deal with the Etsy team. I say again. the profit margin.

Etsy has been great for me as a seller. The downside is that commercial sellers have taken over making it very difficult to sell handmade items. I find a lot of sellers are opting for their own websites instead. Etsy is also not well known to the general public. Everyone has heard of Ebay, not many have heard of ArtFire, Ecrater, Bonanza or Etsy. I've had more success selling directly on Facebook.

Etsy is very profitable to me with selling vintage. You have to learn what things are selling, keywords for searches, marketing, and networking, to sell anywhere. I think Etsy's forums are great. They are trying Google Products right now, which is helping. Also their Etsy direct cart is great! They are learning how to support the vintage seller, as the site was originally for handmade items only. They still have to work on making the site compatible for vintage sellers, as the number is growing with sellers joining Etsy from other venues. We are all networking on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Ning network, etc. and spreading the word about Etsy! :O)

ETSY rocks!! When I was putting my birdhouses in on the same day I was entering them I sold one before I could get 5 on the site. I sell on there better than my website on 3dcart.

The built in traffic is great, as usual. They are now allowing multiples within a listing for only $.20. I love the variation drop box, the tax fields that I can populate myself, and that shipping options only show for where a person is, not a huge long list of possible shipping destinations. I am also able to let customers know when I will ship out their order as part of the shipping profile.

While Etsy can be profitable as on online venue, the overall community is dysfunctional. Resellers continue to maintain a prominent presence, despite the reporting system. The feedback system is wide open to abuse, and leaves sellers very vulnerable to "feedback extortion." The "Report this Seller" feature is easily misunderstood by buyers and has unfairly inconvenienced many sellers. Legitimate questions and concerns expressed in the forums are ignored and dismissed by Admin, and a small cadre of "cupcakes" lie in wait to squash those who question how things are done. There is still the high volume of inbound traffic that can generate sales, but those selling on Etsy would be wise to also establish a presence on other venues, since there is little or no recourse available should their shops get shut down.

I use this as a secondary site to my standalone site and without promoting, I'm doing nicely. I had my shop closed on Etsy in 2009 and couldn't shop there, except by opening quickie accounts. This past March, I emailed service to request to have my account opened. I explained the situation and had the ok for a buyers account. Things have changed - they reopened my original account from 2006, last November I was able to get that shop reopened. I don't believe this would have happened a year ago but they seemed responsive and willing to help. I know shops can get shut down without warning - I was one of them but I am someone who learned to work with the team and with all the added tools, Etsy is much easier to use.

The only downfall to Etsy - I would like to be able to edit my prices the same way we can edit our quantities offered so I can more easily edit without having to open each item. I would like to be able to print more than one shipping label because some people order so many items they don't fit in one package. I would like to be able to "save to draft" without a photo to give me time to take one, and so I can begin to list before an order with new items arrives. There is an issue with partial refunds - there is proof an item was refunded via PayPal - however - Etsy support claims "there is no proof" and will not refund listing fees / FVF's for an item that was refunded - they claim we have to cancel the entire order and start over - this is WRONG!!! The PayPal invoice contains the invoice / transaction numbers assigned by Etsy so they ARE tied together and a partial refund (I accidentally sent one item instead of two) was issued. PayPal refunded my FVF's but Etsy support REFUSED!! This is theft by deception and theft by taking for failure to refund a fee when the PayPal refund information was sent to Etsy support.

No differentiation between buyer and seller accounts; overloaded with sellers - results in exaggerated "visits" stats; creation of shop was tedious and is constantly changing, features affecting shop appearance added without communication, appears founders are inexperienced in website development and marketing, and are learning as they go; home page focused on pictures with matching color schemes, rather than quality, new arrivals, featured mediums, etc., very poor buyer payment options; Etsy withholds seller's funds for 3+ business days after sale for no apparent reason

Etsy needs to restructure their search...browse is okay and serves a purpose but the categories and sub-catergories need much improvement. Buyer's wonder in a maze looking for what they want. The site is planned out to keep a buyer wandering around which means longer time onsite-good for Etsy but not the buyer or seller. Buyers have a hard time find a direct route to what they are searching for. Etsy also favors curated sellers, given lots of exposure to certain sellers and leaving many others out. Better ways to get traffic to a shop is poorly instituted on Etsy. Etsy is focused on the bottom line and Etsy the "Brand" and not on its individual seller's shops.

I rated Etsy low on customer service to sellers because they do not offer live online or phone support. To their credit, they do respond fairly promptly to email requests for assistance. As for profitability, my shops (I have 3) have all seen an increase in sales in the past couple of years, so I'm optimistic. I've always been able to cover my fees from sales. Like anything else, you get back what you put in. Ease of use? A+++

Depending on what you are selling, Etsy has the best sell through rate for my categories. I feel that they have made movement toward addressing the obscene customer service gaffs towards sellers since they got rid of crazy Rob, though they are not there yet completely. I hold much hope for this site and feel you can actually earn a living here, just be careful.

This is my main selling site and I have been there since 2006 seeing the big changes. Some of the big changes have knocked my sales so far down but for my handmade unique items there is not another site around.

Etsy doesn't provide phone service which is a huge complaint by sellers. They close shops for any reason that they can think of. They charge a listing and a final value fee. Their forums were better about 3 years ago. Now their forums are all segregated and the moderators close the threads for whatever reason they choose or no reason at all. They don't seem to care about their customers which are their sellers, all they really care about is making money. They are also paying for their sellers products to be in Google Shopping.

Etsy has NO customer support for their sellers. Their fees make profitability low for low priced items because their listing fee plus final value fee adds up to a large percentage of the sales price when you sell low priced items in high volumes. I much prefer a monthly fee set up, saves hundreds of dollars every month.

Lots of internal traffic. Management notoriously uncaring about sellers or sellers concerns. People regularly have their shops closed and are booted off for minor and often un-intentional infractions. Listing fee and % fee can really mount up. Questions asked on Forums often met with NO replies and the atmosphere there is often not cordial. I sell do sell there fairly well.

Unfortunately, Etsy seems to be moving towards favoring large sellers/resellers over the small crafters that made them what they are. They keep introducing new ways to get customers that you worked to get on your page to leave your page. Seller concerns seem to usually be "swept under the rug". Etsy has had higher scores from me in the past. Unfortunately they're still the best game out there.

The only drawback I see at Etsy is the "favouriting" system which becomes so addictive for Buyers that they never buy anything....just favourite. Suggest Etsy gets a grip on this time consuming, addictive and completely unprofitable aspect. Counter-intuitive to encouraging to BUY.

Etsy has gotten too big! As a seller you are lost in the shuffle! Sales are few and far between, and do a search and page after page of items comes up. You are just one of millions and unless you already have a following, you are a mere speck on their windshield!

Changes to Etsy search, along with the changes on Google search, have made it very difficult for small Sellers. My income from Etsy has shrunk to almost nothing this past year. Etsy offers NO customer service to Sellers beyond open Forum postings. Admin does not communicate well with Sellers. The site does not run well on Mobile Devices. Another site that I will be abandoning in 2013, as both a Seller and a Buyer.

Can't use pictures stored on web...I like to look at 200 items per page..can only look at 25? on Etsy...pics are small..see a lot if non-vintage/handmade on there.

Arrogant; Etsy continues to editorially promote only 1% of personal favorite sellers and they are the same sellers and same product types for 7 long years; their lack of marketing has failed to capture new traffic to the site. Their communication with sellers is below standard and they are patronizing and openly hostile towards sellers as a group.

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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