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Testing, Testing: Etsy Tests Changes to Search, Shipping Costs

You may notice changes as you shop on Etsy as it continues to test various functions on its site. Next up is a test of the Search function, a critical area for both shoppers and for sellers who look for exposure for their listings.

Etsy notified users this week it was kicking off the first in a series of tests to search as it works to improve make holiday shopping better for buyers, “no matter what they are searching for.”

Most shoppers use the search box to navigate Etsy, but this is time-consuming, according to the company. “We know we can do better.”

Two years ago, Etsy made a major change to search when it removed a pulldown menu that let shoppers narrow results to “vintage” or “supplies” (“handmade” was the default search category). Instead, Etsy’s search engine brings back items from all three categories as the default search.

At the same time, Etsy removed the long category list from the left navigation bar and replaced it with a much shorter list.

On Wednesday, Etsy said it would kick off the first of its latest experiments by again testing the categories on the left side of Search pages. Only a small percentage of visitors will be exposed to the testing. Here’s how Etsy explained the test:

“The experiment categories are based on your current listing information – you don’t have to change anything to show up, your listing information won’t be changed, and your items will continue to appear for the same search terms. As we run this experiment, we’ll be watching to see whether or not buyers can find what they are looking for more easily in the test treatment.

“We’ll give you advance notice before a change goes into effect for all buyers. We’ll also give you tools to see which categories your items are appearing in and let you know how you can show up in the categories you want to.”

Many marketplaces use the spring and summer months to run tests as it is generally a less busy time, though as some sellers have pointed out, certain types of items peak during those months. Etsy came under fire in the spring for running too many tests, and it issued an apology in June.

More recently Etsy addressed a test of Storefronts in which it took away sellers’ control over organization and branding. One of three reasons cited was the importance of mobile: “We know that can be jarring, but the mobile experience is too important to our sellers’ businesses to undervalue.”

Etsy sellers were also very concerned about a test that changed the way the marketplace displayed shipping costs, forcing shoppers to add items to cart before they could see how much the seller would charge them for shipping. On Tuesday, Etsy said it was resuming that test:

“Today we will be continuing our tests that focus on the way shipping costs are shown to buyers. While looking at the data collected from the most recent test, we were happy to observe that sales were not negatively affected but did see, however, an increase in Convos. We are taking that issue seriously and are committed to finding the right approach for the calculation of shipping costs on both the buyer and seller sides.”

See the full announcement on Etsy.

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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/.