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Is Etsy Instituting Seller Quotas in Search?

A rumor is circulating that Etsy has instituted a quota system as a band-aid to the problem of “clumping.” Etsy acknowledged the problemwith its search engine last month and began testing a fix in late October.

Clumping is when a few sellers dominate search results. Some sellers are still seeing the “clumping” issue, while others report seeing a “quota” system. They believe Etsy has programmed its search engine to limit each seller to a maximum of one listing per search result page. But that’s an unpalatable solution to many of the sellers commenting about it on the boards.

While a product manager on the Etsy Search team Jaime DeLanghe said the company was testing a fix to address “clumping” in search on October 29th, he provided no details and no updates since, and there have been no announcements about quotas from Etsy. One seller explained it was “the word on the street,” and said, “It’s really crummy for those of us who specialize in one type of item.”

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“I don’t think it’s a good solution because eventually those that clump just clump worse later in the search (I’m saying this as a clumper myself). Meanwhile things that aren’t at all relevant are pushed forward.”

Another seller wrote, “It’s the non relevant being pushed further forward in front of the very relevant items that is totally not acceptable as a solution. Can anyone explain what was wrong with the search prior to the insertion of clumping?”

Some sellers say the problem of clumping in search began when Etsy changed to the promoted ads structure (see this article). Others blame search-clumping in part on Etsy’s policy instituted this year allowing manufacturer-aided goods onto the site.

We had asked Etsy for an update to the clumping problem on Friday afternoon prior to seeing threads about quotas and have yet to hear back.

Sellers are discussing the quota rumor on this Etsy discussion board thread.

And you can read more about search clumping and what sellers had to say on this EcommerceBytes Blog post from October 13th.

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Ina Steiner

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. Send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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