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Etsy Extends Into the Real World with Its Own Card Reader

Etsy launched a payments card reader to let its sellers accept credit and debit card payments processed in person at offline venues such as flea markets and craft shows. It can also record cash sales. But make no mistake – this is not simply a Square or PayPal Here clone. Because the card reader is dedicated to Etsy, it presents some unique advantages that other card readers do not:

  • Electronic sales receipts (even for cash transactions) drive traffic directly to sellers’ shops on Etsy;
  • Inventory syncing helps sellers avoid inadvertently selling out of products;
  • Etsy records in-person sales in sellers’ Etsy shops, where the offline buyers can leave the seller feedback. The resulting increase in sales and feedback for the seller on Etsy can “help boost a shop’s reputation and brand in the eyes of a buyer”;
  • Accounting tasks may be made easier since funds from in-person transactions are deposited into the seller’s account alongside their online sales.

An Etsy spokesperson told EcommerceBytes the card reader was the next step in its multi-channel strategy. “We’re committed to creating a world of online and offline commerce powered by Etsy,” she said. She also revealed an interesting statistic about sellers: 35% of US-based Etsy sellers sell at craft fairs.

The Etsy card reader is free, and sellers pay 2.75% per swipe (and a higher fee for manual entry, such as phone orders). That’s compared to the 3% plus 25 cents to process a payment through Direct Checkout on the Etsy website. The lower processing rate in the offline world is due to the fact that they’re separate payment systems, according to Etsy’s spokesperson. “We felt establishing the 2.75% fee for our reader was fair, as its inline with the industry standard.”

In addition, since the seller is generating the sale off of Etsy, they don’t pay the regular 3.5% Etsy commission fee.

Initial reaction from sellers was very positive. “No more deactivating listings before the shows in fear of selling twice the same item on the same time … my guess also is it will make taxes preparation much easier having most of the sales registered here,” wrote one seller. “It will also spread the word about Etsy to new customers.”

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One snag for some, however, was regarding Internet connectivity. At some shows, Internet access is sporadic – “at the last show I did internet connectivity was in and out all day so accepting offline is important at some shows,” explained one seller. In response to questions, an Etsy moderator explained:

“You must be online to authorize a credit card, which means you need to have an internet connection at the moment that you swipe the card. After that point, however, it’s OK if your connection is lost; the app will take care of the sale and receipt as soon as you come back online. You can also make cash sales while completely offline.”

Etsy partnered with mobile Point of Sale company ROAM, based in Boston, to provide the card reader.

Etsy sellers must be based in the U.S. and enrolled in Direct Checkout to order a card reader, and they must download or update the Sell on Etsy app for their iOS or Android device.

Etsy set up a help section and has been answering sellers’ questions on this discussion thread.

Comment on the AuctionBytes Blog.

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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.