It’s hard to believe that just one year-and-10-days ago, it was business as usual at Etsy under a CEO who had happily reigned for 6 years. But on May 2, 2017, the company’s Board of Directors abruptly turned things upside down by replacing Chad Dickerson with former eBay executive Josh Silverman, and much has changed since that time.
On Tuesday, with a full year under his belt, Silverman exuded confidence during a conference call with Wall Street analysts to discuss Etsy’s financial performance for the first three months of 2018. He pointed out the latest quarter was the 3rd consecutive quarter of sequential accelerating growth (they just happened to be the first full quarters of his tenure), and the company raised full-year 2018 guidance.
“This GMS growth is a testament of Etsy’s ability to execute on its strategic initiatives and rapidly launch new tests and experiments. In Q1, Etsy launched new products and tests expected to generate $75 million in incremental GMS in 2018,” a spokesperson told EcommerceBytes.
In the past year, Silverman has cut costs by laying off employees, outsourcing certain operations, and cutting programs, making the company leaner in party by relying on outside firms.
As we reported in March, Etsy cut a deal with Square so merchants can accept in-person payments (at craft fairs and flea markets, for example), in a move that Silverman called “retiring a home-grown product.”
In addition to moving from storing its own servers in data centers in favor of using Google’s Cloud services (a 2-year project), he revealed the company is using Zendesk to provide customer support.
“We launched an improved help center that benefits both buyers and sellers. We’re using Zendesk, a customer service software company, which allows us to deprecate a homegrown platform that consumed resources and attention from the engineering team. We’re able to deliver a better customer experience, lower costs as more customers are able to access self-service, and better agent productivity.”
He has also worked on monetizing the site with a focus on Seller Services – particularly Promoted Listing ads.
“We have also further optimized Promoted Listings by using context specific ranking to surface more relevant ads,” Etsy stated in its financial press release.
During the call with analysts, Silverman explained that “Context Specific Ranking” (CSR) makes ads more relevant. He provided an example: a search for “wedding dress” without CSR would bring back Promoted Listing ads or dresses and other items, such as clothes hangers and lace. But with CSR, Etsy would display Promoted Listing ads that show wedding dresses.
Another change worth noting: while Etsy used to include its payments service under Seller Services, it now classifies Etsy Payments as Marketplace revenue “because Etsy Payments is required to be used by Etsy sellers in the countries where it is available,” it explained.
Of special interest to sellers, Etsy Chief Financial Officer Rachel Glaser acknowledged that an upcoming change in how it collects fees would benefit the company economically. While Silverman kept the focus on how it would free up sellers’ valuable time, sellers had pointed out last month that the practice would negatively impact their cash flow and in some cases would cost them money (see this April 17th EcommerceBytes Blog post).
In Q1 2018, Etsy grew GMS nearly 20% to $861.1 million – that’s the value of goods sold on the site by sellers (or nearly 18% on foreign-exchange neutral basis). But Etsy’s own bottom line was even better – it grew its revenue by nearly 25%.
Sellers like to see more growth in buyers than in other sellers; Etsy reported 16.9% growth in active buyers for the first quarter of 2018, and it saw 9.4% growth in active sellers.
Silverman’s no-nonsense, go-lean approach to running the business is in stark contrast to the former feel-good vibe of the old Etsy. He’s made it clear he’s working to drive buyers back to the site for repeat purchases, and if he succeeds, it may take some of the sting out of the less popular changes with which sellers have had to deal.