EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 387 - February 14, 2016 - ISSN 1528-6703     4 of 0

Sellers Choice 2016 Marketplace Ratings: Etsy

By Ina & David Steiner

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In January 2016, 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
More Info

Summary:
Etsy came in second place in the 2016 Sellers Choice Awards for Online Marketplaces, after coming in first place in 2015. This is the fifth consecutive year of making it into the top-three position, and Etsy earned the highest score of all marketplaces for Ease of Use.

Sellers say what makes Etsy appealing is the type of shopper the marketplace attracts. "Etsy seems to have the most shoppers looking for all kinds of handcrafted items, this makes it very fun and worthwhile," wrote one seller.

"They attract an intelligent, polite and enthusiastic group of buyers," wrote another seller. And there were mentions of a collegial selling environment - "the large base of experienced sellers are very helpful in trying to answer questions and give help," wrote one seller; "love the teams," said another.

Along with success comes greater competition, however. "The venue is becoming very competitive with saturation of some categories." Another seller wrote, "I love Etsy as a sales venue in general. But the amount of self promotion that you as a seller have to do is almost overwhelming."

There were comments about reasonable fees, but a need for a greater amount of sales. And referring to a brand new capability, a seller wrote, "I especially like that sellers can now print (postage) labels on the Etsy website at a discounted rate." Another seller said they liked the calculated shipping functionality that was added to the site.

Again this year there were sellers who said they didn't like Etsy's policy on manufactured goods being allowed on the site (allowed under certain circumstances). "Buyers have to wade through all the thousands of pieces of junk to get to real handcrafted items," wrote one seller.

There were only a few mentions of Etsy's recent changes to Direct Checkout with regard to the PayPal requirement, and none were in favor of those changes.

On sellers' list of improvements they'd like to see Etsy implement: the ability to add more photographs to their listings. "Etsy is easy to use but only has space for 5 pictures and needs to have at least 12," wrote one seller.

And one seller wrote, "Bulk editor is better but still lacks good price management tools."

There was also a desire for less testing, which one seller characterized as "tiresome."

There were mixed reviews about how well Etsy is for sellers of vintage goods - "I sell vintage and Etsy treats the category like a step-child," said a seller. "Categories for antiques and vintage are terrible and there are not enough sections available in our stores," wrote another.

"They abolished the antiques category which left me and all the other antiques sellers without a category to list our items in," said one - "they refused to listen or engage with us."

But one seller wrote, "I joined very recently to sell vintage books and I'm glad I did. Easy to use and understand. Lots of orders. No-problem customers. High value items sell there. I love it. It's my favorite site."

Etsy received a 6.23 in Profitability; a 6.01 in Customer Service; a 6.02 in Communication; and a 6.48 in Ease of Use. It received a 6.59 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

Etsy is the most user-friendly marketplace I have ever sold on. Having been on several venues in the last 17 years, I really appreciate the thought that went into many of Etsy's features. There are many nice little touches that improve seller efficiency in listing, managing inventory, buying shipping labels, bookkeeping and communicating with customers. Etsy also still has a very strong and friendly community. Their discussion forums are full of helpful users and a wealth of information. Like all things, Etsy isn't perfect, but I really can't think of anything about the venue that bothers me enough to complain.

Because Easy has such a narrow target market, it makes it very easy to sell and attracts the right kind of shoppers.

I have 2 shops on Etsy, if you are talented and have skills to create quality items, this is the place to be. I have encouraged friends to try Etsy, some people just aren't motivated or interested even though they have talent. Etsy seems to have the most shoppers looking for all kinds of handcrafted items, this makes it very fun and worthwhile.

Etsy is the big dog any more as far as we are concerned. We do over 95% of our business on Etsy. That is where the traffic is. We use their promoted listings with a low bid of 10cents per click and a daily budget of $1.00, and it is costing us about $.50 for every $10.00 of sales, or about 5%. So far, it is doing OK. If they would just stop fiddling with the search, we would be fine. Etsy has a lot of good features, they have a good in house communication system than makes it easy to contact customers, and the website is very easy to use. We like it.

I move merchandise, and I think the key to this is that they get your product found on search engines. You pay for this but it's a good investment. Also considering that the items are sometimes made to order they allow a margin for when the seller has to ship the item out. In other words, these are not mass produced products. The customers drawn to this site, are not necessarily looking for the cheapest, but either something that is unique, out of production, or as a luxury item.

I mostly sell things on Etsy that I don't list elsewhere so it is difficult for me to compare to other sites. That said, I would happily put Etsy on my excellent list with both eBid and Bonanza.

Etsy is my second source of sales especially for vintage unique, vintage jewelry, vintage handmade, and handmade. The last communication was a bit slow to get a response but was helpful. Etsy is easy to use but only has space for 5 pictures and needs to have at least 12. Great resource center! I have recommended Etsy especially to those who hand make items.

Etsy saved my handmade clothing business. It's not perfect, but it's so much better than any other online marketplaces. Lots of traffic, low fees, easy to use website, and customers that are generally much more pleasant then eBay customers.

A great online marketplace, both buyer and seller friendly. Their fees are reasonable. Selling is very good at times but it can be slow at other times. The majority of buyers pay through Etsy self check out which is a plus to both buyers and sellers, as from experience, PayPal will always side with the buyer even when the buyer is fraudulent. Etsy is a keeper!

Love Etsy. Easy to list. Expense is relative to sales. Easy communication with customers and Etsy staff. Profitable.

I love selling on Etsy and it is my favorite site to sell on. The fees are reasonable and the customer service is great. It is easy to open up a shop and I love the one page lister. I can see everything on one page and preview my listing before it goes live. I also like the calculated shipping that was recently added which makes figuring out shipping cost much easier. I highly recommend this site.

Quality customers. Very reasonable commission fees.

Really like Etsy...works with sellers and doesn't charge too high of a fee.

Love ETSY! More sales here than anywhere else & profit goes directly to my bank account automatically.

Easy to use, lots of communication and helpful suggestions for sellers and marketing. Etsy overall is a good site, just wish I had more sales!

I really appreciate selling on this venue, the clientele is intelligent, relaxed, and there is more of a community feeling to this site then the others I sell on. It is a quick and easy selling platform (though it would be nice to be able to add 2-3 more photos to a listing). My Etsy sales have more than doubled from last year (yes, selling the same type of inventory at the same if not higher price tag). Personally, Etsy just keeps getting better across the board for me as a shop owner. I have yet to meet an individual who has not heard of Etsy. Most reply "I love shopping on Etsy" and with a smile. Please keep up the good work Etsy team. Keep advertising for us sellers on google etc. Let's work hard to make Etsy the premier venue for all fabulous things handcrafted, vintage, and antique!

I love Etsy. I have sold around 100 items and everything has gone very smoothly. Don't have to worry about a bunch of eBay-like BS rules.

Reasonable fees, good customer exposure. Great place to sell hand-made or vintage items. LOVE IT.

I find it very easy to list items on Etsy. I am glad that they allow seller's to sell collectibles as well as handcrafted items. I plan to increase my volume of listings on this website in 2016. I especially like that sellers can now print labels on the Etsy website at a discounted rate.

Etsy gets better for us all the time. Yes, we have to stay on top of internal Etsy changes and outside fashion trends, and constantly tweak the Etsy sites and add fresh inventory, but selling there is virtually hassle free and very affordable, with reasonable fees.

I have been selling on Etsy almost from their beginning. While they occasionally have lapses in judgment regarding "tweaks" to the site, most changes made, make my life as a seller much easier.

I love Etsy as a sales venue in general. But the amount of self promotion that you as a seller have to do is almost overwhelming. I have found customer service to be okay. There have been a few bugs here and there but I have had great success here.

Etsy makes sense. Especially when it comes to SEO. The rules are clear, we can use "tags" (aka keywords or key-phrases), and the results show up on Google.

LOVE Etsy. Love the teams. Love the lower fees. The constant testing can be tiresome. I sell vintage and Etsy treats the category like a step-child. The venue is becoming very competitive with saturation of some categories. Tweaking and promotion can be time-consuming.

Tried Etsy, not a good match for our product (antiques).

Excellent site, however sometimes difficult to get answers to questions, site is complex to negotiate, should be simplified.

Listings are economical but sales few, I wish Etsy could import listings in bulk, it takes too long to list items one by one with so many repetitive and irrelevant (to my merchandise) fields to fill. Item age options are difficult to fill, some spans too narrow, others too broad. One rarely know an item's age which such specificity.

I use Etsy the most and love the site, the fees for relisting can kick your butt though.

Better than many...but not for my unique items. Geared more towards jewelry and "crafts".

I use Etsy for handmade stuff and things it allows. It's been mostly hassle free tho the listing fees put pressure on the seller to advertise more.

The things I sell on Etsy are different from what I sell on eBay. My craft, 18 inch doll clothes, is very saturated on Etsy and admittedly I don't spend as much time on the listings and photography as I should. I am working to change that.

Etsy's communication is excellent, and we have seen good sales there in the past few years. My main complaint is their bulk editing features. Large volume sellers like myself had always used a program called Betsi, which made editing products very quick and easy. Etsy has revoked access to that program, and it has made things very slow and difficult when we have any sort of major product update.

Etsy is good but they also have some bad points, they remove listings without telling you or without much explanation why and it's very complicated but other than that high marks

My items sell quickly here and Etsy is EXTREMELY easy to use. The buyers are SUPER nice and have a whole different vibe than those on eBay. The buyers are warm and friendly, so nice! The only thing I don't like about Etsy is they seem to do a lot of testing and they seem to want to fix things that aren't broken, things that are working beautifully. I love the look of my storefront. Last year they said they were going to change it around to a horrible look, but I never heard back about this. No changes so far to the storefront but I don't know if it's on the back burner there or not. If this change goes through, it would force me to sell more on eBay as I really HATED the look and workings of the proposed storefront changes from last year.

Etsy has its shortcomings but overall it is a breath of fresh air. My fear is now it will change for the worse since it went public. Management may begin to squeeze the sellers in favor of the stockholders.

Site is becoming more complicated to use each year but is still one of the better sites to use if you have the right items and are good at promotion.

Shipping is easy when using the "print a label" app, long titles are accepted and encouraged, item listing page is easy to read. Cons: not enough store categories allowed, not enough key words allowed, Etsy categories are not geared toward vintage sellers.

Whatever else they may be saying, Etsy's true following is for the "artsy-craftsy" crowd... whereas they now allow 3rd party produced items and "vintage" stuff, that's just not their strength.

Etsy is great. Very easy to navigate. The only problem is you should be able to talk to someone if there is a problem with a phone number to call.

An enjoyable site - easy to list Lack of customer service is a definite negative for this site. Service is too slow when you develop a problem. Their forums are excellent though and many sellers come to the forums when they have questions or problems. The large base of experienced sellers are very helpful in trying to answer questions and give help. Etsy also has a forum for socializing and many sellers do enjoy this forum . The Etsy forums are monitored by Etsy staff. I really do enjoy being a seller on Etsy (vintage division) and I keep hoping that I can build up my sales enough to make it a profitable experience for me.

Etsy is currently my favorite place to sell. It is easy to list and curate a shop. Etsy could do better with their customer service for sellers. It's very difficult to get a response from them. Etsy's almost constant "testing" often has a direct adverse effect on sales. The "kids" (my nickname for the hipsters who run the show) behind the scenes often appear to not have a clue or a care about how their tweaking and decisions adversely affects sales. They often make major changes before major selling periods, like the Christmas holidays. They should bear in mind that happy sellers with quality shops drive sales. I am on a number of teams and have watched as many high-end quality sellers have jumped from the Etsy ship because of Etsy's management.

Etsy is flooded with jewelry, so it's hard to get noticed. I like the seller resources (seller education, forum, boot camps, videos, etc.). Friendly community. I just wish they would think from the seller's perspective before they roll out changes (e.g., categories).

Too much fake handcrafted items manufactured in China. Because of this and their very low prices, handcrafters can't compete. Also, buyers have to wade through all the thousands of pieces of junk to get to real handcrafted items.

Etsy offers the best hope for the small seller trying to run an online shop. It's far from perfect, but things actually do sell. The management treats shopkeepers like their own personal corporate peons, rather than dealers who pay to keep their site profitable. The constant site tests and changes are enough to make anyone crazy.

Etsy's lack of seller protection and complete lack of controlling buyer fraud is very troubling. The customer service is poor. It was profitable but now that Etsy charges you to promote items in their program it is not very profitable now

No answer to questions sent thru email. Help function is not at all helpful. Time consuming and answers not readily found. Like the long exposure time for my items.

I have been in the Antiques business for over 50 years. I sell Antiques, Vintage Items, and Collectibles. When I first started with Etsy they did quite well for me but they have made changes which do not favor Antiques Dealers. Etsy allows too many new items and seems to prefer them over Real Antiques, Real Vintage or Collectibles. Etsy does not do a good job on classifying items sold. Antiques are 100 years or more old, Vintage Items are 50 to 100 years old, Collectibles and Discontinued items are up to 50 years old. Their adjectives used for description need to be improved. They should hire an older person who really knows and has studied the Antiques business.

Sellers need better tools to help manage inventory on Etsy. And they have to decide what they want to be when the grow up ..... It is confusing when they bother a seller for listing that do not meet their policies but then allow another seller to list the same product described the same way ??

Etsy started out as a go to place for vintage and handmade items which gave it its niche. It has however, allowed to be overtaken by mass produced items mostly from overseas, even though they may claim "hand made". Much of the "vintage" now is just cast off garage sale finds that are not vintage even by Etsy's loose definition of the word. They choose not to do anything about much of this. The other thing that is a turn off is how they allow people to use designer images and names to sell their product, even though it is illegal to do so

Pros: Easy to list. Calculated shipping recently improved. Shipping and labels easy to use. Payments easy to use. Fees tolerable. Bulk editing better. Still learning that part. Cons: sales poorer in the last 2 years. My items not found in search. No way to call any customer services. Email questions could possibly be answered adequately.

Some of the changes Etsy has made are good but their new algorithms to determine placement on search is not very good. I'm considering a second site to possibly change my luck.

Very difficult to set international shipping and it involves a lot of time to do social media promoting.

Very long listing process compared to other marketplaces.

I would love to see a listing tool (like eBay's Turbolister) at Etsy ... as well as a way to import listings from other sites.

Need to have more options in the listing details field. Etsy needs to be more available when sellers have questions, not just when there is a problem with a buyer.

Etsy can be a profitable site to sell on if you stick closely to the rules. But there are some real caveats. The "rules" are often applied in an arbitrary manner by staff who frankly need to grow up! For example shops have been closed because the goods were considered not "sufficiently handmade" even when the owner provides strong evidence that they were. Yet other people can purchase a commercial chain and a commercial pendant, marry them, and legally sell the goods as "handmade". What's all that about? Many sellers on Etsy now feel betrayed that the site has moved too far from the core idea of "handmade" to allow factory manufactured goods by the back door - so long as the shop owner "designed" the items they can now be made in a sweatshop somewhere in the third world. What's all that about? Sellers are scared to utter any dissent or criticism of Etsy in the forums in case they get muted by some half educated mod. If you get permanently muted then some of the essential site facilities are unavailable.

Etsy is filled with resellers and manufactured goods from overseas. It has become impossible to sell handmade on etsy and be seen and make any money

Profits drop when you invest in a lot of time listing items that are not seen.

Etsy has been good for sales but management doesn't seem to listen to their sellers. Categories for antiques & vintage are terrible and there are not enough sections available in our stores. The listing form is awkward.

I sell vintage items. Etsy does not seem to really care about the vintage portion of its sellers. No number to call and ask questions or seek assistance and emails take days to be answered after having to really search and dig to find a link to contact them. Search is really odd - usually returns what you are looking for but also a whole lot of unrelated items - example: search vintage pitchers and you will get pitchers, lamps and blankets. I have found the sense of community to be great. Experienced sellers are wonderful tutors on how to grow your business. A lot of work but turning into a profitable business.

Etsy only permits a seller to have 5 photos for each item. This is 10 photos less than every other ecommerce site. Very unhappy they've been resorting to eBay's tricks with the Direct Checkout and PayPal decisions they recently made to increase their bottom line. The categories are horrible and keep getting worse, the search engine is in the dark ages. The site has not kept up with the technology and continues to become more and more out of touch with the technical needs of the sellers. Sales are on a downward spiral.

Etsy is completely inconsistent in applying rules and policies. They definitely tend to favor certain sellers over most (i.e., top search results, home page exposure, etc.) - if Etsy didn't either boot people for posting such comments or erase them from the forums, you could see for yourself. A decent amount of traffic, but management just can't seem to get out of their own way. If Amazon truly ramps up its handmade marketplace, Etsy could be in trouble.

Community help stinks; petty people giving poor and inaccurate advise; self-centered and snotty. Help from Etsy is all in their written help section; cannot get a real person. Listing fees like eBay; Direct Checkout: Etsy pushes to merge all sales with PayPal - I want my options separate.

Though ETSY's fees are lower than many other sites, they do charge a small listing fee as well as the % when an item sells. These can add up very quickly if an item sits in there over a longer period of time. I do find the site very easy to use, especially with recent improvements and upgrades they have made. However, they have also greatly reduced the ability to give or receive feedback with past changes made, making it almost impossible to do either one. Feedback is very valuable to me, both as a buyer and seller. I have maintained 100% positive feedback throughout the 9 years I've been selling on line and I am very proud of that accomplishment. Sadly this is not a site I'm able to show my positive rating to potential customers, have those customers grade me or express appreciation to my buyers.

Been selling on Etsy for quite some time, few sales. They have greatly improved in that they have own payment system but their customer service is slow, up to 1-2 weeks delay in responding-their dispute system is a joke - LOTS of new, unallowed items listed there - I report such but those listings remain, they don't penalize unfair unallowed listings, their csr are awful, too bad.

Etsy is one of the worst sites for customer service. But they seem to attract more buyers than most other sites, except Amazon. And, because there are so few buyers, it would be nice if they waived the listing fee.

I've sold a little on Etsy, but I don't find it particularly easy to use as a buyer or seller. A lot of junk to wade through now...liked it much better when it was strictly a handmade/vintage site.

I sold antiques on Etsy and then they abolished the antiques category which left me and all the other antiques sellers without a category to list our items in. They refused to listen or engage with us. Arrogance does not come near describing them.

The site is no longer a site for artisans, crafters or vintage sellers. It is site for large wholesales mostly from international countries, like China. Etsy is no longer Etsy.

New calculated shipping option is confusing. Many item categories are poor which is reflected in their poor search mechanism.

Etsy favors Handmades over Vintage and does not give Vintage Sellers equal status. They also have ruined Handmade Sellers because of their Rule Changes and now have begun the change to an eBay type selling. Very Sad.

Fees are too high. Shouldn't pay till you sell. Also the way to list is long and tedious. You don't have a lot of feedback, you don't get seen on Google. So no help with sales for newcomers.

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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