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Etsy Resumes Controversial Shipping Cost Tests

Many Etsy sellers fiercely complained about a test the marketplace ran last month that hid shipping costs on product listing pages. After completing phase one of the testing, Etsy has now resumed a second phase of testing.

Etsy initially suspended phase two due to “some bugs” that it need to fix. “Since many of you offered great feedback during the limited period that the test was running, we saw this as an opportunity to regroup, read through everything that you were saying, and be sure that we were considering your comments before launching again. Today we’ve turned these tests back on, with much of your feedback incorporated.”

An EcommerceBytes reader said in the first test, he had no sales and said now that testing had resumed, he was ready to pull out of Etsy. “This (in my opinion ) is just plain stupid not showing shipping up front,” he said.

In the test, a certain percentage of shoppers are unable to see how much shipping costs for a particular listing unless they place the item in their shopping cart.

But users who were part of the test pointed to a problem beyond the inconvenience of having to place an item in their cart before seeing shipping: they said once they placed the item in their cart, viewed the cost, and removed the item from the cart, they were left stranded on a “your cart is empty” screen. One user said the screen pointed to nine “recommended items,” none of which were in her favorites or in the shop where she had been shopping.

Said another, “I wasn’t aware the buyers were also being directed OUT OF each Etsy seller’s shop to a main page where they were unable to get back to the shop they were shopping in – this is very disturbing!”

In its announcement last week about the resumption of the shipping-cost test, Etsy wrote:

“We’re continuing with these tests because we want to expand the ways that shipping costs can be calculated, and that types of shipping services that can be offered to your buyers. In order for us to grow and support additional shipping features, we need to make sure that any changes we make will not decrease your sales.”

Etsy will not answer direct questions about the test, “but when it’s over we’ll share what it is we were doing and what we learned from the results. We hope that you will continue to share your thoughts and concerns as it’s helpful in informing our approach.”

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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/.