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Etsy Makes Changes in Move toward Calculated Shipping

Etsy launched a new way of displaying shipping costs to buyers as a first step in a two-part plan to introduce a calculated shipping option for marketplace sellers. The company said the new update makes it easier for buyers to quickly find shipping costs and options based on their location.

The company also revealed it would soon invite a group of US-based sellers to participate in a prototype team to test its first design for calculated shipping.

Referring to accurate shipping costs as a “pain point” for sellers on Etsy, the company explained:

The shipping tools currently available often lead many of you to overcharge buyers for shipping, then subsequently reimburse the difference between your charge and the actual cost.

Etsy’s shipping tools do not currently take varying domestic shipping rates into consideration. Similarly, we’ve also seen many of you set shipping rates as an “average” and end up losing money when it comes time to actually ship the item.

Sellers specify for each listing a domestic shipping cost that displays on the listing’s Shipping & Policies tab. Now, buyers must enter a zip code before the domestic shipping cost will display in the shipping tab – unless they’ve previously entered a shipping address, either from a previous purchase or while checking shipping costs for an item, in which case Etsy will use that zip code to display the domestic shipping cost.

International shoppers will see a drop-down list of countries, which will display a shipping cost once they make a selection.

One EcommerceBytes reader was concerned that the changes would lead buyers to think Etsy was displaying actual calculated shipping. “Etsy is working on adding calculated shipping, but instead of allowing sellers to opt in and showing buyers “actual” calculated shipping costs, the fake shipping calculator being shown to real customers in some shops is just showing the ballpark shipping price all sellers have to set for themselves.”

Etsy also made another change: shipping costs for multiple-item orders will remain but will only display in a shopper’s shopping cart. After receiving feedback from sellers, Etsy provided this update: “Some of you have expressed concern regarding the moving of “With another item” costs and Shipping Upgrades off of listings and to the cart. We are taking all of your points into consideration as we move forward and are actively looking into ways to prevent any buyer confusion about whether or not those options are available in the mean time. We’ve heard you and have already made a change to make it more clear to buyers when you offer Shipping Upgrades on an item.”

Etsy is not alone in struggling with calculated shipping – it’s a surprisingly difficult challenge for many marketplaces, and as Etsy admits, failure to offer it can be costly for sellers.

“Calculated shipping has been one of your most requested site features over time and we are thrilled to be taking the first steps toward offering that functionality.”

Etsy explained in its announcement why it was making changes as a first step before offering calculated shipping and additional details about what’s to come.

On the Etsy discussion boards, a seller asked, “When the new calculated shipping becomes available to us, we will have to go through each of our listings to add the right weight for the item boxed up properly to a calculator here on Etsy so that the shipping cost is correct as per our shipping carrier, right?”

In response, Etsy said, “Calculated shipping will be tied to item weight. Although we’re not able to give specifics now, we are looking into ways to make it as easy and quick as possible for sellers to add that information. We’ll update once we have more to share.”

When asked if the new calculated shipping feature would roll out during the holidays, Etsy said, “We do not have more information about when calculated shipping will launch.”

While Calculated Shipping will be optional, the buyer-facing changes it launched are not optional and are now live for all buyers on Etsy, the company said.

Will sellers be able to include other costs, such as insurance and signature confirmation, a seller asked? “We know that there are a lot of individual features that would make calculated shipping work for our sellers – including things like handling or packaging fees and additional shipping services. We are definitely looking into it, but keep the suggestions coming,” Etsy responded.


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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). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.