EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 375 - February 08, 2015 - ISSN 1528-6703     3 of 14

Sellers Choice 2015 Marketplace Ratings: Etsy

By Ina & David Steiner

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In January 2015, EcommerceBytes surveyed over 12,000 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 12 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
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Summary:
Etsy came in first place in the 2015 Sellers Choice Awards for Online Marketplaces, the fourth consecutive year of making it into the top-three position (it also earned first place in 2013). Etsy earned the highest score of all marketplaces for Customer Service and Ease of Use. And it also earned the highest marks from sellers when asked how likely they were to recommend Etsy as a selling venue to a friend or colleague.

There were many happy Etsy sellers taking the Sellers Choice survey, but there were also many suggestions for improvements as well. Sellers complained about a large number mass-produced items, and some were unhappy with the new policy rolled out in 2014 that expanded the definition of handmade.

Some said Etsy favored large sellers. There were also complaints about Etsy's search engine and category saturation. Some sellers who looked for greater exposure by paying for ads ("Promoted Listings") said the ads didn't work for them.

Another problem cited: reports of Etsy canceling listings or closing shops with no way to make a case or appeal the decision, something some respondents said made them very nervous.

Numerous sellers mentioned Etsy's practice of running tests on the live site and of making changes right before the holiday shopping season, two practices of which they disapproved. A number of European sellers said they were upset with the way Etsy has handled new EU legislation around VAT (value added tax).

On respondents' wish lists: a shipping calculator; more attention paid to the vintage side of the business; more pictures; an importer; and improved listing tools. (Etsy launched new listing tools last week, after the survey was closed.)

There was much praise for Etsy's "better class of buyers," though some sellers said the buyers they encountered were looking only for bargain prices or were younger with less disposable income to spend.

Etsy received a 6.31 in Profitability; a 6.6 in Customer Service; a 6.19 in Communication; and a 7.4 in Ease of Use. It received a 6.92 from sellers when asked, "How likely are you to recommend Etsy as a selling venue to a friend or colleague?"

Reader Comments:The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I love Etsy. As long as what you are selling fits into their criteria, they are the best market place.

My ONLY complaint about this site is that I didn't start listing there sooner. I've been VERY surprised at the number of sales I get. AND I get better prices here. They stay in touch with their sellers and they're not at ALL hostile like eBay. It's VERY easy to list too. Again, I just wish I'd listened to the "buzz" and started listing there sooner!

Love Etsy too. I make great sales over there. People that truly appreciate the hard work it takes to hand craft something buy on that site & will actually pay you what you want unlike a flea market where everyone expects a handmade box that cost $15.00 to make to be given to them for $1.00. Only thing I dislike is it costs 20 cents to list an item for sale, even if that item never sells, you still pay 20 cents just for having it on their site. I make great profit on my handmade items which generally makes up for the 20 cent listing fees i have to pay but, I still end up paying around $6.00 a month to list new items.

Best site I sell on. It's all about the traffic and Etsy has more than any other for the items I sell

Like the Teams. Like the Treasuries.

Etsy is a great site to sell on and we have tried many others. Wish they would improve variations to include quantities.

Etsy is by far my most successful selling venue. Their built in stats, built in convos with customers, high quality site is just classy. Thumbs wayyyy up!

I usually do well on Etsy in the Vintage and Craft Supply categories. Sales are steady, and their commission isn't too expensive. You can print your shipping labels directly on Etsy, at no cost whatsoever (I'm looking at YOU, Bonanza!). When there is a tech issue with the site, they absolutely own it - letting users know what is going on, and what they intend to do to fix it. They let you know publicly about the completed fixes too. If you write for help, they are quick to reply with a personal response that is compassionate and helpful. I've had good experiences with Etsy, and can recommend them.

Traffic is great. Sales are there. Search is not the best, but if you take the time to test and study how it works you can get found and you can do very well. No interference from admin with your sales. You are in charge of your own shop. My best venue this year.

Etsy is fairly automated and anonymous feeling, but listing, selling, paying fees all goes smoothly. They send out periodic emails with articles of interest to sellers, that I find valuable. However, the fee structure feels too high, the site is overrun with mass produced products, and I feel like a small fish in a big pond there.

I started selling on Etsy 6 months ago. I found my new home. Profits are better than eBay. It is easy to navigate and ask questions, which are answered instantly. It is so quick and easy to list items. I would like to see more categories for vintage items.

Easy. Quick. Profitable. Customers know when item is shipping. Easy to search orders/items. Ability to create a private listing from a conversation. Easy to create personalized items that are very customized.

Right now for vintage and handmade I feel this is the best site to sell on. I have had really good sales and this is the site for small items I depend on most.

One of the better selling venues. They seem to keep the focus on their sellers first. I also like the way they implement changes quickly in regards to the marketplace.

Etsy is a selling venue and keeps the feel of individuality in the various shops. It is a marketplace with vendors independently selling their wares. Here one can post and discuss payment options, feel free to chit-chat with customers, barter on price, and cancel orders if the item is no longer available without clearance from Etsy or the buyer not letting one cancel or threatening negative feedback. Etsy allows the freedoms found with a real brick and mortar store.

Extremely seller friendly. They just need more exposure but they have the right idea. I hope in time they grow. They know how to treat sellers.

Very easy to use as a seller and buyer, although search functions are weighted unfairly for larger sellers. Lots of internal traffic and good results in organic searches for my items as well. Ease of listing and many excellent seller features outweigh all the negatives otherwise. Too many non-handmade items in handmade categories but Etsy no longer cares about that after making significant changes to the way the site operates in 2013. So as long as you don't mind that Etsy does not follow its own Terms of Use. The size of the company precludes it from feeling like the small sellers matter anymore but as long as I can navigate the site easily, find what I am looking for easily, and sell my items easily, that's okay. The selling features and tools are amazing and make selling so much easier. No other online selling venue offers as many positive and useful selling features.

Etsy has the best platform of any venue out there as far as ease of use and access to an enormous customer base. They have the WORST customer service to sellers and their policies are borderline unethical. Their decision to "redefine handmade" and allow factory-made products to be sold under the guise of handmade items is, I believe, the beginning of the end of Etsy's reign as the juggernaut of the crafts industry. I just hope another company steps in soon to take over.

Despite having some really cool reasonably price antiques I have had stuff listed but I haven't sold anything Fees high.

Good site, but my items were taken off because I did not make them myself, then I see there are so many other sellers selling the same thing. I would definitely buy on this site, and it has been ok (but low volume) for my antiques and collectibles.

I sell there without their promotions which waste a seller's money. Their fees are high at 10%, but the name Etsy has built up a reputation for quality handmade and vintage. The now have Direct Shop which processes credit cards without a 6 month "rental program" that PayPal recently implemented. They accept PayPal, but I'd like more options as a seller. Fees are too high.

I love having a Shop on Etsy, their fees are reasonable, the Team format is very helpful. The Changes they seem to make on things that work fine is aggravating. They do not have a shipping calculator which is ridiculous. As a vintage seller I feel out of the loop. I have never been able to talk to anyone, I email a problem (which is a nightmare in itself) then I receive a form email back referring me to the Seller Handbook. If you can get found in the searches, list consistently, take beautiful pictures and work hours on end promoting you can make it work eventually. Their "Top Sellers" sell manufactured items and the playing field is anything but, level.

I've been selling vintage on Etsy for one year and 5 months. I have found the process to be easy and reliable. The customers have been fun and excited which is quite refreshing. My sales on Etsy will not support me but since I opened my store to supplement falling sales on Ruby Lane, I am quite pleased. The site has been very dependable. I have not experienced an outage and I am on the site regularly everyday. Pages load quickly and are easy to access both on my desktop computer and on my phone.

Etsy has taken the "eBay position" on "feedback issues" to the detriment of sellers. I believe Etsy has lost its ability to be a good venue for small hand crafters and especially for sellers of "vintage". Etsy has become a great venue to buy craft supplies! The top 20 shops (in quantity of items and sales) are ALL craft supply vendors! I think Etsy is one of the easiest venues to navigate as a seller once you get "the hang of the listing process", but the search relevancy is terrible, the possibility that items will ever be found by buyers (or sold) is a real problem. Etsy USED to be a great place to sell "handmade". I now only sell "de-stash" items with marginal success and primarily use my account to buy supplies! I would only recommend the venue if a friend had some unique items not already in a "saturated market" or able to be copied and manufactured by others.

Very unprofitable due to Chinese mass produced items marketed as handmade. Cannot compete with the low prices and barrage of these type of items in the search.

Etsy's interface is stodgy, but their customer base rocks. Customers read the descriptions (unlike many eBay customers), ask intelligent questions before buying, and don't expect immediate delivery.

The bad thing about selling Etsy is their administrative department and other sellers. Etsy can close sellers account for no apparent reason. Example, if Etsy don't think item is vintage, they just close sellers account without contacting seller first to see if they have receipt or proof of age of item. Also sellers who sell similar items tend to be quite mean and antagonistic toward each other, trying to thwart competition.

Although they have the PR and market share, I have not been happy with how they make changes at crucial times, ie right before holidays and their overall business ethics.

This is the most profitable site that also easy very easy to use and navigate. Customers who use Etsy know what they want and are willing to pay more for it.

Etsy has a simple and very user friendly listing format. What I dislike about Etsy's listings? Five pictures aren't always enough and this amount is low comparison to other venues. Their fees are fair and the buying/selling/shipping process works well. There are improvements to be made: a shipping calculator is desperately needed and their review system leaves too much open to interpretation (ultimately making it unfair to sellers). There is a friendliness to the site and an overall fun atmosphere. Unfortunately this is starting to slip with so many resellers now present and new customers arriving who don't understand (or appreciate) how Etsy is different from other venues. Many of Etsy's categories are saturated and it's not so easy to make sales there. They also have an unfortunate tendency to use their members as beta testers on the live site. This causes confusion when there are a few different versions of Etsy at any given time. That said, I wouldn't hesitate recommend Etsy. It's just a fun site to buy and sell on. For me the positives have always outweighed the negatives there.

I'm a little confused with some of the recent changes. But it's probably more my fault because I haven't taken the time to go through things. But, I love Etsy, it is my favorite selling venue!

I like selling on Etsy but find it difficult to get information about questions. There is no way to call Etsy and actually talk to a person.

I've never had much luck selling there, have been there since 2009 and have only sold about 500 items altogether. I know it works for some sellers but it has not been a great venue for me. The only reason I stay is that from time to time an items sells and the cost is very low to have items sit there.

Etsy has made selling online very easy. I love that they are community oriented. They are always giving tips on selling, improving your sales, etc. I think they are a great place to sell.

Etsy will cancel your listings with just one complaint from another seller and will not give you a chance to reply.

Etsy's fees when added up are very high. I also do not like the attitude they have towards sellers. They are now allowing manufactured goods which is the opposite of what they advertise themselves to be (handmade selling venue). They also don't back their sellers in disputes. Not seller friendly at all.

No phone support, as well as unnecessarily unstable sales due to constant testing and bugs.

Etsy has too many sellers selling the same thing which either makes sales very sporadic or profit margins diminish. It was not worth our time, effort or investment. (Paying for listings on this site is adding insult to injury.)

One of my favorite sites. Only complaint is the Etsy app isn't very good for sellers. No way to upload listings, mark things shipped.

Etsy is great. That said, they still don't have a strong enough household name recognition to drive enough traffic. I would love to do more with them, but I just don't make enough, not because of fees but because not enough sales.

Etsy store it more profit than my another online store, with that handmade items, that more profit I can take than another store.

I listed some beautiful crochet work that my wife spent a lot of time and care on. They were listed for very cheap but nothing sold. It's a joke. Buyers want to spend pennies on handwork that's taken weeks to finish.

I LOVE Etsy but wish they offered an importer like Bonanza does, to easily import eBay listings.

Etsy is profitable place to sell but your account can be suspended easily without you knowing what is your fault.

Etsy is easy to use, but it would be nice if more attention were paid to those who sell vintage items there (like myself) and also would be nice if they eliminated the listing fees there.

Highest quality of communication with CUSTOMERS, who tend to be better educated and value handmade work.

Very friendly site, but their rates have increased too high. Not for small sellers. But very very friendly site.

Has built in payment which is plus BUT no protection for sellers against chargeback-allows buyers to defraud sellers-no protection for sellers

Etsy is great for the unique, handcrafted, vintage, or antique items. I do well selling unique vintage items on Etsy but I don't get sales everyday from Etsy like I do from eBay. Etsy needs offer 8-12 picture options for sellers and I'd like a way to import items. Shipping can be a hassle if it is over 13 oz as browser function has been an issue. Customer service was helpful but can come across as being bothered.

Etsy's search engines are a disaster...cumbersome, too few fields to narrow a search and too many non-relevant results. I found it difficult to find my own listings! Therefore, traffic was low and sales poor. Their backdoor fees made it a losing proposition. I closed that shop.

It takes a lot of time to list if you want to be seen, filling out add search information. I sell vintage and the site clearly caters to the other side. Now they are in serious trouble with current dealers leaving because of poor decisions. I can only imagine this will get worse after they go public.

Don't like that vintage clothing is the red headed step child with no attention, promotion. If they wanted to stay crafts, they shouldn't have expanded; since they did, they should promote the vintage field more. Super easy and fast to list. Like everything these days, requires constant work, promotion and re listing to keep your items at the top of their category. ... Customers seem to be younger and often convo for discount. LOVE the direct checkout!!! Love Etsy processing payments and LOVE the shipping label option. Would love to see PayPal completely eliminated! FVF reasonable but not cheap. listing fees very reasonable. 6 yrs there and so far so good, with good changes for the sellers!

Their categories are very limited and simplistic in nature. Seller is billed for shipping fees rather than taking it directly out of the payment, seller has to wait 3 days for the money to become available. I use the site to put my unsold items on, prior to tossing them out. Sales are fairly strong considering the little effort I put into it, and their fees are less than anyone else. I wouldn't be so apathetic about the site if they'd at least add a shipping calculator, because without it, I must add inflated shipping costs in case someone across the country buys, and then if the postage is less, I have to spend time refunding them. I believe a lot of potential buyers are lost when they see the shipping cost, even though I add a disclaimer that they will be refunded for any overages. I myself would not purchase an item in this manner.

I sell antiques, not as many categories as there should be for ease of listing.

Etsy is a very small niche selling venue geared to a younger DIY organic generation that seems to have a limited disposable income. Well suited for hand crafted items of which I do not sell. I sell antiques and collectibles. The listing fees are very low so I use this website as well as other venues. If the fees here were higher, I would not bother and would close my shop. On a positive note the shoppers are quite friendly.

Overall I am very happy selling on Etsy. Thing the Etsy management is known for is shutting down shops without warning if the shop happens to violate any of the TOS. Even if the shop owner had no idea they were doing so. It happened to some acquaintances of mine who had shops on there. Management would not talk to them or tell them what they did wrong. It kind of scares me that in one second, your livelihood could be snatched away from you like that. That is my only issue with Etsy.

Etsy made changes in late 2014 before the holidays. It drastically affected our sales which had been a steady 50% higher than the previous year. We went to a 75% loss in sales from the previous year. I've contacted Etsy about our problem and their answer was advising shops that lost sales to change their tags. Something happened to sales in countless shops, and we only get silence from Etsy. Very upsetting to say the least.

With all the recent changes Etsy has made to the site my jewelry is not being found in searches, even though I've done everything I can to make my items searchable. My sales are minimal at best.

I would only recommend this site if the person has genuinely handmade items or collectibles. It's cut throat. You really have to have a good client list. And at .20 a listing, you would hope to sell that item. It think that's a rip off. I rarely sell anything on it. They need a decent shipping calculator. That's my #1 complaint for this site.

An easy to use friendly site. Fees are cheaper than eBay, sales not as many, do not charge fees on postage. Only downside is they do not do auctions and do not have the range of categories that other sites have. but I have been pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to sell there

I loved Etsy until it redefined handmade and let in all the factory made crap that is now taking over the site. They still claim to be a site for vintage, handmade and supplies, but that hasn't been true for over a year and a half now. As the saying goes, they talk the talk, but they sure don't walk the walk. My sales and profits have been going slowly, but steadily, down since handmade was redefined, PayPal keeps disappearing from the site, shipping costs are now hidden, buyers are shown competitors' items during checkout, customers who know me can't always find me, if you Google one of my items it links to Etsy marketplace now instead of the item the buyer found and wanted, search is broken and has been for a very long time yet Etsy has little to say about this problem...I could go on and on, but there's just no point.

Needs to allow more photos than 5, a shipping calculator, and a more visible home page advertising for vintage merchandise. (Although I'm grateful that they include vintage merchandise to begin with).

Etsy shops are great. Found it very easy to set up and do seem to get a bit more exposure on Etsy than anywhere else. Sales, however, have been few, in spite of very low prices and promoting. Trying to get one-on-one help is difficult. They also allow items with vile language that I find most reprehensible. Then if you tell someone they have a potty mouth they treat you like a five year old and suspend your forum privileges for a week. That I found to be way over the top and quite gestapo-like. Overall I was drawn to Etsy for the unique items and what seem to be many wonderful, honest sellers but I was truly shocked at some of the items allowed for sale and the double standard when it comes to free speech. I have only been on there since November, so I am still testing the waters. Perhaps more experience with Etsy will alter my sentiments one way or another.

Etsy brings in a ton of traffic and sales for me, but at the same time, their lack of true customer support (still no phone number!) and their refusal to take responsibility regarding the new EU VAT regulations for digital sales speak to their mediocre customer support.

Etsy needs to stop running tests in "real" time on the seller accounts, it does not give a professional feel to the site, that it was Beta testing is for. During 2014 I doubt if I had been new to Etsy I would have bought anything... the site was too confusing with no conformity

I have been selling on Etsy for 5 years. Every year I have to work harder and harder to succeed - not because there is more competition but because Etsy constantly changes everything from the search algorithm to the location of things on the menu. They start testing in February on the LIVE site, and don't stop until September when they decide to implement some of the tests and muck everything up for a couple of months, then they stop for the "Holiday Rush". I'm a wedding seller. They test during my entire selling season, and I can tell by looking at my stats exactly when they were messing around on the live site. When they changed the search algorithm AGAIN I had to take extra time to update all of my titles and tags AGAIN, and I'm still not back to where I was before in terms of stats before the last change. It's worth it, but it's tiring. I don't feel like it's very reliable and even though I feel successful I would never quit my day job to only sell on Etsy.

Etsy's customer service is practically non existent. You cannot call to sort out an issue, you can however, request that they call you, but considering this takes anything up to a week, is unacceptable. They treat their sellers worse than children. They speak a kind of babble that seems to be their own language (that nobody can understand) when answering questions in the forum.

I am EXTREMELY frustrated and disappointment over Etsy's total lack of response on helping digital content sellers comply with the new EU VAT legislation which took effect 1 Jan 15.

Overall, I like Etsy. Low cost to list items, easy to use, interesting statistics to track, supportive environment, great tips & ideas to help sell more. The downsides: items expire after 4 months; too much competition in my segment (jewelry).

If Etsy offered free listings (or some listings for free), it would make it a bit more desirable as a venue. When Etsy started, it was primarily crafters buying from other crafters. As that market slowed, it was clear that Etsy was not bringing in a significant number of buyers. It is not worth the up-front fees to list there.

I love everything about Etsy EXCEPT they have no importer to bring in eBay listings. There is no listing tool, either. This makes creating listings one by one very slow and time consuming.

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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