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Etsy Reignites the ‘Free Shipping’ Debate

Etsy Reignites the Free Shipping Debate

It’s the eternal struggle between marketplaces wanting to entice shoppers with free shipping and sellers needing to cover their costs. On Tuesday, Etsy offered some examples of sellers who have found a way to do both.

As is often the case, sellers who left comments offered insight and suggestions. Sellers who had different types of products appeared skeptical, others had some suggestions for Etsy.

Some sellers said they’d like to see Etsy include case studies featuring sellers of large vintage items. Other sellers said they couldn’t possibly offer free shipping on their low-cost beads, since the higher prices they’d have to charge would scare away buyers.

One seller found some advice in Etsy’s article useful, but couldn’t see how to put it into practice: “One of the sellers highlighted in the article offers free shipping when THREE items are purchased. I can’t see to figure out how to set that up… anybody know?”

Another seller responded, “I think a way to do it is to run a sale in marketing – sales and coupons. You can set the quantity of items to qualify there.”

One seller said she’s had luck with flat-rate shipping for her small, inexpensive items, since “baking in the cost of shipping” puts her out of price range. For the majority of her items, she offers $3.65 shipping for as much as the buyer wants.

She offered this advice for Etsy: “Instead of pushing purely free shipping, I’d like to see more emphasis put on a flat rate cost and combined shipping profiles because it encourages people to buy more than 1 thing from a shop.”

Free shipping won’t work for every seller or every item, but reading about how others are using the tactic can be helpful. You can find the article titled, “How 5 Sellers Use Free Shipping in Their Shops,” on this page of the Etsy Seller Handbook.

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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. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

6 thoughts on “Etsy Reignites the ‘Free Shipping’ Debate”

  1. If etsy wants free shippign so bad maybe they should help subidize that.

    Its a double edged sword anyways..because if you put the shipping price in the cost of the item, it appears more expensive then standard prices..

    If you add shipping, then you get hit with less views because the venue has created algorytmhs to punish you.

    Its really rediculous situation and one that these venues could easily fix by re adjusting customer expectations.

  2. Free shipping (so called) hits badly at international sellers and those who ship larger and heavier items. But this corrupt organization is already milking its international sellers for all its worth.

  3. No matter what any buyer thinks, they are not getting free shipping. Shipping costs the seller, and if the listing says free shipping, it just means the costs have been hidden in the price of the item. With the new USPS rate system, that means sellers are adding the postage fee for the farthest distance to the price, so buyers are probably actually paying MORE than they would for an item without free shipping.

  4. I experimented all 2018 with different shipping profiles, including free shipping and found free shipping did not increase my sales at all. Products with free shipping sold at exactly the same rate as they had without free shipping. There was no value added to my Etsy shop by offering free shipping.

    Etsy isn’t like eBay. Buyers know they are dealing with small sellers of better, usually unique items. They don’t expect small sellers to absorb the cost of shipping. I wish Etsy would go back to the less greedy days where it was a community of buyers and artists.

  5. It’s time for selling platforms to change to something like…
    “Sellers pays shipping” or
    “Delivery included in price” or
    anything but ‘free’ shipping.

    Shipping is not free in any world apart from the dreamland some buyers live in.

  6. Are they freaking kidding? It would have cost me over $9000.00 for shipping last year. I am busting my rear end. If I am awake I am working. I intend to keep the money. Now buyers are demanding free shipping.

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