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Etsy Lays out Plans to Help Sellers at Town Hall Meeting

Etsy has big plans to help sellers in the New Year, and managers laid out plans during a Town Hall meeting on Tuesday. CEO Chad Dickerson kicked off the event, reporting that Etsy members sold $1.35 billion in goods in 2013. He also helped answer questions from members in a Q&A period following presentations by Nickey Skarstad of the Seller Experience team and Heather Jassy of Member Operations.

Among the news coming out of the event about Etsy plans for 2014 are the following:

  • Etsy will work to make the listing process faster, and will make it possible to bulk edit listings and renew listings;
  • Etsy will work on making shipping easier for sellers, including the calculation of shipping costs;
  • Etsy will work to improve the shop homepage to improve conversion rates. (Today, it doesn’t do a good job of converting, Skarstad revealed);
  • Etsy will make it easier to get help when users need it, including adding a customer support phone number and adding live chat, and will improve response times when things go wrong;
  • Etsy will take a much more proactive role in sweeping the marketplace of things that don’t belong on Etsy, and is doubling the size of the integrity team this year;
  • Etsy’s Designer Protection Program will address problems when someone copies a seller’s design or photos;
  • Etsy is working on a Review Reminder email for buyers and is doing some testing this week (the launch will be coming soon). “The goal of the email will be to remind buyers to leave reviews, if they forget to do so on their own.”

Improving Listing and Shipping Processes
Skarstad said sellers have reported spending 50% of their time spent on non-creative tasks necessary to run their business. “We think we can improve our tools to give you more time to create or curate the items you sell.”

Etsy created a new internal team to conduct user research to learn more about sellers run their business and so it can make sure changes support their processes.

Skarstad said Etsy will work on making it easier for sellers to calculate shipping costs. “We’ve struggled with getting shipping right. This year, we’ll spend a lot more time on shipping.”

First, Etsy wants to help sellers calculate shipping more accurately. Sellers often go to outside sites such as USPS or other providers to figure out shipping costs – “We will bring research onto the site,” she said. However, it appears Etsy is tentative about what the shipping tools will actually look like.

Skarstad said Etsy will also work to make it faster to manage orders and reduce time spent on Sold Orders pages. Etsy wants to improve whole process, even off Etsy such as when sellers are printing an invoice. “We want to help you through your whole journey.”

Questions and Answers 
Users, particularly sellers, had lots of questions at the end of the presentations, from Etsy’s advertising plans to its wholesale-seller program, and Dickerson, Skarstad and Jassy fielded them.

When asked when Etsy would advertise on TV and other media, Dickerson said the marketplace was not planning any television advertising – “TV ads are often not really effective,” he said. The company advertises on Facebook and Google and would be spending more resources on marketing this year, he said. Regarding Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs), Dickerson said Etsy was always evaluating those programs.

Another seller asked why “About” pages don’t show up on mobile apps or mobile browsing. Dickerson said it was a gap they were aware of, “and we’re fixing it.”

One seller of vintage goods who said she does very well on Etsy said she’d like more emphasis on the vintage category (compared to the handmade category) – “Etsy tends to forget us,” she said.

You can review Etsy’s response to that comment and others by watching the meeting. Etsy is making the webcast available for viewing on a special Etsy Town Hall website.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.