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Etsy Translates Listings to Attract International Shoppers

The appeal of Etsy and its approach to connecting handmade goods makers and vintage sellers with the buying public has attained a global reach. A recent change to Etsy’s listings now makes many more of those items visible in multiple local languages besides English.

Etsy’s blog said it is seeing transactions in 200 countries, something that has moved the company to translate the site into several languages. That translation has been extended to the listings themselves.

Most listings had appeared in English only. The new change sees Etsy adding millions of local listings in “French, German, Italian, and Spanish-speaking countries.” Etsy rolled out its new automatic translation feature for all sellers’ listings, which in turn should help them appear in more local language searches.

The current discussion about this automated translation on Etsy’s discussions area noted the company is keeping an eye on sales happening through these translated listings. Sellers are concerned that, despite the testing, automated translation isn’t perfect, which could lead to costly mistakes, especially given the high cost of international postage. Etsy does seem to be proactively trying to resolve any issues tied to this new feature.

“For sellers who do not speak foreign languages and want to access buyers in other markets, we believe this is the best, fastest, and easiest solution. The upside far outweighs the downside: without machine translations there’s no exposure to shoppers who do not speak your language,” one discussion admin wrote of the automated translations.

Etsy sellers should also note their translated listings will only appear in a given country if they ship to that location. This does depend on the buyer having their location settings noted correctly on their account.

It’s likely Etsy hopes to mitigate some of the seller agitation regarding the site’s decision to permit listings for items “produced with manufacturing partners.”

Etsy’s appeal has been in presenting itself as a destination for handmade goods rather than mass-produced ones. The policy change apparently cost Etsy some of their sellers, but as the NY Times op-ed piece noted, easing the definition of handmade may be in line with how such goods have historically adopted more efficient production methods over time.

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David A Utter
David A Utter
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. You can find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.