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Sellers Choice 2021 Marketplace Ratings: Etsy



Etsy moved up one slot to finish 4th in the 2021 EcommerceBytes Sellers Choice Awards. Survey respondents voted the handmade and vintage marketplace the second-most profitable venue, but Communication and Customer Service scores were only middling, keeping Etsy from placing among the top three.

In January 2021, EcommerceBytes asked readers to rate the marketplaces on which they had experience selling. An introduction to the Sellers Choice survey along with a summary of the overall ratings can be found here, along with links to results for each of the 10 online marketplaces included in the survey.


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Year Established: 2005
Description: Fixed price; handmade, vintage, and crafting supplies
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Etsy came in 4th place in the 2021 EcommerceBytes Sellers Choice Awards

Fans like Etsy for its ability to attract buyers and for its general ease-of-use – except when it came to financial and accounting reports.

Some sellers referenced a new (and unpopular) policy. In January 2021, Etsy said there was an increase in disputes due to an increase in new buyers, so as a result, “some sellers may have a reserve placed on their account for a short period after their first sale.”

Another unpopular change that launched last year was Offsite Ads. Numerous sellers expressed their dislike of the program in which Etsy charges a mandatory 12% commission fees to sellers who generate sales of over $10,000/year if a buyer comes from a paid, offsite ad: “If a shopper clicks on an Etsy-funded ad featuring one of your listings on Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Bing and makes one or more purchases from your shop within 30 days, those sales will be attributed to Etsy’s advertising and you’ll be charged an advertising fee on the total value of that order.”

“You can’t prove the sales came from them,” one seller wrote.

“Thankfully I don’t sell too much through Offsite Ads,” another seller wrote, “but every time I do, the atrocious fee eats most of the profit on that item.”

Interestingly the same seller wrote, “I regret not moving over to Etsy years ago I had the perception that my higher priced antiques wouldn’t have a market there. I was very wrong.”

One cynical seller said Etsy markets its site as if it’s supporting artisans and small businesses “when in fact that is a thing from the past and it is anything goes there now,” an apparent reference to Etsy’s broadening definition of handmade to include some manufactured goods.

One seller said Etsy needs to promote vintage and antique goods (not just handmade) and said it should be more equitable when promoting certain items and shops.

Some sellers referenced Etsy’s “Free Shipping” policy launched in 2019 – sellers must offer some form of free shipping or else get penalized in search results. “Forcing free shipping is NOT right,” one seller wrote.

Some sellers criticized Etsy’s practice of charging commission and Offsite Ads fees on the *shipping* portion of sales (price plus shipping).

Etsy received a 6.28 in Profitability; a 5.71 in Customer Service; a 5.74 in Communication; and a 6.97 in Ease of Use. It received a 6.31 from sellers when asked, “How likely are you to recommend Etsy as a selling venue to a friend or colleague?”

Reader Comments: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Etsy is a great site for sellers and it keeps getting better as it evolves and progresses.

Quick, easy to list. Clarity in shipping and payments. Fast and actually helpful customer service.

Etsy is great place to sell vintage and handmade items. The fees are reasonable and the one page lister is easy to use for sellers to get items up for sale.

Hands down, the best for my business. Screens super easy to use for back-end management. Fantastic exposure using search engines and Facebook, even though it costs me 12% for an entire order in some cases.

Etsy has been doing very well for me of late as a seller. To me, it’s easy to set up listings, and it’s easy to answer customers’ concerns.

Of all the selling platforms, Etsy is my favorite as a seller. Most importantly, I make money on the site. I love their seller interface, with the exception of the financial section, it’s clean, organized, and easy to use. I like that they are always testing new features, but more importantly, they tell you what they are doing. In my opinion, their seller communication is superior to all the other platforms. Two complaints, their financial department, and payment interface need to be overhauled and their program forcing high volume sellers into paid ads needs to go. But overall, I love selling on Etsy.

Very unique marketplace. Till now no problem in selling. Customers are top class in this marketplace.

Love Etsy, have many sales, all 5-star reviews, a diverse arrange of products with designs, and love having a shop there. High rates but, hey, the traffic just comes in!

I love Etsy. It is my favorite selling site. Some say the fees are too high, but I say that’s the cost of doing business. I adjust my prices occasionally to account for this.

We have been selling on Etsy for 2+ years now and it did take us a while to get our store up and running with enough items as it must be vintage or handcrafted. Now we are doing well and expect to increase our business and customer base in 2021. Not having to take 30 day returns has in no way affected our business as we are honest sellers who do a good job. Overall we are very pleased with the experience.

Etsy makes it fairly easy to sell, though it seems to take a lot more work than other platforms for me to drive traffic to my listings. Their upload form is well laid out and I like that the ERank service, though I haven’t used it yet.

Love Etsy’s seller platform well thought out easy simplistic, only thing is customer service talking to a real person had been difficult. We are sent a lot of information and kept on top by email and the platform is easy to use. Picture sizing requires a program as their picture size is different than eBay and has to be a certain size exactly or it won’t except it. Do wish they would coordinate with Sellersource book or something to make listing more pretty and allow us to create a template – but it is way easy and fees are very fair for listing. Ads bring mixed feelings, seems you have to pay to advertise. Shipping calculators are sometimes off and seen to charge high prices.

Etsy is a platform aimed at certain consumers for specific items mostly so although I don’t sell as much in quantity I do sell good quality and make a decent profit with their low seller fees

Still not the most visible of online selling spots, but shoppers will pay the value of items. Some aspects of listing items are just stupid, but they are highly visible, so my sales have greatly increased. Costs to sell, though, are really creeping up.

ETSY has provided a nice forum whereby I have a lot of traffic to come to my listings posted on the forum. But yet my profits are marginal but could be better. Just listed a new category of mint error products on the website and hoping for profitability in 2021. Otherwise I give ETSY a (“C+”) for the additional traffic and a (“B-“) for the items sold on the forum.

Etsy is, by far, one of the best venues I’ve sold on. I’ve had a shop there since 2009. However, it’s changed drastically since they went public and the communication with and respect for sellers has suffered.

Need more bulk editing tools. Need more sales, I have two shops on Etsy and without Etsy ads nothing happens, with Etsy ads more views and sales but the cost is 30-40% of sales, compared to about 12% for EBAY and 3% for my own website. Still the best look for my store…at a price.

I had to pay to advertise to get sales but I’ve been happy with the results.

Etsy is now my favorite place to sell. I would have liked to give them all 10’s but cannot due to the offsite ad policy. They have the lowest commission of all the sites I sell on but the enforced mandatory (if you take more than 10k a year) offsite advertising with the egregious fees it charges really reduces the profitability of selling there. Thankfully I don’t sell too much through Offsite Ads, but every time I do, the atrocious fee eats most of the profit on that item. Overall the cheapest place to sell so I list all my items there first now. Etsy has a wonderfully diverse customer base and they advertise the site constantly. The selling form has several annoying drop downs and the tag stuff is a pain. Apart from that, the selling page is easy – I wish we had a few more spaces for photographs. I regret not moving over to Etsy years ago I had the perception that my higher priced antiques wouldn’t have a market there. I was very wrong. Etsy is my #1 selling site choice. I have had nothing but a great experience my first year on Etsy and have made a LOT of sales there.

So far, Etsy seems to be almost perfect for sellers. Although they are geared for handmade items I find that many items sold are not really considered handmade. They are friendly enough and if you contact them through email they seem to offer help ASAP. I do not like the fact that if an item is not sold within a few months you need to pay to relist them all over again. Etsy is one of my favorites.

I wish they offered FedEx shipping. Their shipping system makes it hard to offer option to your customers. Customer service is harder to reach, but they do solve the problem when you get them. I get higher prices for my antiques on Etsy than other sites.

Insertion Fees for each product listing created add up if selling volume is low, or unique products have low turn over selling rates. For high profit items, Etsy is a nice niche market platform if you have multiples of same items, or have a following of loyal customers.

Etsy format is only for homemade items or supplies to make them. This makes it difficult to broaden inventory.

I like selling on Etsy. I’ve had lots of friendly customers and good experiences. I sell vintage, seemingly Esty’s ugly stepchild. Many sellers offer furniture or other large items that can not be shipped without a delivery/freight service and special quotes. Etsy insists on noting these items as ‘free shipping’. This causes MANY customer issues and MUCH customer dissatisfaction. Having the option to note these items as ‘local pick up’ would be a simple fix. Selling categories are bizarre. Poor selection that fails to describe a huge selection of items.

Etsy, it’s like a love-hate relationship. Everything can be going perfectly and then they adopt (read roll out) some weird unnecessary changes. I’m all for change and improvement but make it count, burying a listing’s description in favour of displaying reviews is just silly, how can customers see what they are buying? C’mon Etsy stick with the actual improvements. In terms of the profitability it’s declined as they have the advertising game set up, he who pays most wins, realistically though advertising was Not working for me at all, since turning it off I’ve had more interest and definitely more sales, I kept it on for a year to give it a real chance, maybe it works for some but it’s not for me. Overall really easy to use, lots of fantastic information always sent to you via email etc hints and tips a plenty Great customer service with really friendly people. It’s easy, it’s very low cost, probably the lowest fees out there which is an obvious win as a business, nice interface, really like the new cancel feature. They are improving and streamlining, some changes are just so off the mark. I like Etsy overall and the advertising including the Christmas advertising they put out was extremely helpful and useful, this was an Etsy win! Keep up the good work Etsy, sideline the weird things 🙂

Etsy makes so many features easy to use and to edit (like listing variations) and traffic has increased enormously in the past year. I also love the way that Etsy maintains your old listings so you can copy them to sell similar items. The main thing I don’t like is the extremely high rate they are charging to advertise your listings – I calculated the cost on some low-priced listings and the rate came out to about 33%! I know that Etsy says that the rate is about 18%-20%, but if it’s a low-priced item, it can be much higher because you pay the fee on the shipping cost as well. If it’s an international sale, you really pay a hefty fee due to the shipping cost being factored in. I no longer advertise on Etsy due to the change, but higher-volume sellers are forced to be part of it.

Etsy has gotten overrun with non-us sellers selling knock-offs and reproductions. It doesn`t have the crafty feel to me any longer.

The new forced adverting fees if you sell over a certain amount I am not a fan. I already pay Etsy enough in fees now I have to pay additional for advertising I do not want or need.

Etsy is great; EXCEPT the fact that certain shops MUST have Etsy Ads and I do not agree with that. Lesser expensive items found on an Etsy ad incur a 10-12% fee ON TOP of the regular fees! I lose money! Forcing free shipping is NOT right! Customer Service is VERY hard to find to be able to contact. Live chat is a plus, but hard to find. A phone # is non-existent! Need to promote VINTAGE AND ANTIQUE items sold on site, not just hand made. NEED TO FIX THEIR CATEGORIES! HORRIBLE! Won’t listen to any suggestions! Very radical in their promotion of certain items and shops – NOT right. ALL SHOULD BE EQUAL.

When a customer has a problem that’s related to payment (which Etsy handles), it falls entirely on the seller to figure it out. If a buyer needs to contact Etsy, it can take days before the buyer gets help. So the buyer always turns to the seller, who has to figure out something that is not within his or her bailiwick.

Etsy is constantly raising fees. I frequently can not find my listings even with exact wording. My friends in other countries often can’t find my listings also

Etsy doesn’t allow you to back date a tracking number. Therefore, even if you send the item (and forget to update Etsy) then you are forced to select the current date and 2-3 future dates for shipment making the customer believe the order has not shipped, or is yet to ship.

Etsy is the easiest store to run. I have 5 online stores. Their only downfall is their bogus “marketing ads”. They claim when a customer clicks on Google, Bing, Pinterest, etc, & that customer buys, we are charged an additional 12%. They neglected to say it is on the entire cost including shipping and taxes collected, making fees up to nearly 25%. AND if that customer buys again, I get hit with that same marketing ad fee on everything they buy! I had a customer buy regularly for 12 years. She came back to buy and they said she found me on an Ad. I lost all the profit I would have made because they took it in Ad marketing fees. Conveniently, the “Ads” are always on big dollar amount orders. It is all about getting stockholders their money.

Etsy would be a great place to sell if it wasn’t for their impossible rules. As in any business (especially ecommerce) the competition is fierce. Other sellers will try to do whatever they can to try to thin the competitors in their given category to make life more profitable for them. Etsy is a great place for someone with these business practices. They don’t care to look into things that get reported they just take it as fact and close the store. The buyer community at Etsy is one of the best I’ve seen. I love the idea of a marketplace for handmade things. Etsy has the worst customer service and buyer support hands down. I wouldn’t sell there again if they paid me to.

Etsy used Covid to push their marketing campaign with the mask thing and then left both sellers and buyers high and dry when it all took off, turning off any way to reach out to them with problems. No phone support, no chat, and email a week or longer for response, if any. Ride the marketing of handmade and small business when in fact that is a thing from the past and it is anything goes there now. Also entered the political arena and I feel give special treatment to certain sellers. Treated equal is for ALL to be treated equal no double standards. Fees are becoming ridiculous, especially for those forced into their extra 15% off site ads campaign. Try to come across as caring but it’s all about the money. IF Covid made some of these problems for them being short staffed regarding customer support, then they should have directed what staff they had to help sellers and buyers and not make more unnecessary changes that further complicated things at such a time.

Done well this year but not sure if it is due to Etsy or the fact that more people are buying online. I do hate the required advertising fee if you gross over a certain amount but have only been “hit” with the fee once. Filling out listings takes longer than other venues although the thoroughness could be why sales are better on Etsy than other venues.

Etsy’s mandatory offsite advertising scheme, draconian ODR defect system, and constant changing of their TOUs to place even more of the responsibility of a transaction onto the seller have really turned me off. Their customer service to us completely sucks – if we treated our customers the way they treat us, we’d be kicked off the platform. Shameful.

The best as far as customer expectation (we get zero complaints and zero returns), easy for customers to contact us. The accounting, like eBay pay management, is for 3rd graders, or platforms to grab some extra….really hard to reconcile with end of month bookkeeping

In order to be successful on Etsy, sellers have to be willing to work hard to promote their own shop especially if you don’t conform to their “Free Shipping” or other hare-brained ideas they come up with to take money from sellers. Their latest money grab was the “Etsy Outside Ads” which was a way to take more profit away from sellers in into their own pockets. Also I will never understand why they take a percentage of shipping cost. Etsy is a tough place to sell and I share that with those that ask if I would recommend opening a shop.

Sales on Etsy were up over 400% in 2020. However, Etsy tries to nickel and dime you for every little thing. Shipping is the worst – they miscalculate cost consistently. They miscalculate shipping dates (the post office isn’t open on Christmas!). The site has become glitchy and looks like an overpriced eBay with the cheap foreign sellers. Their search function seems to bring up everything except what you are looking for.

I have been selling items on Etsy for a few years now. The only complaints I have are 1) they don’t properly calculate shipping out of the US and 2) If you don’t have money to invest in advertising, you won’t make any sales. I do not make enough in sales to cover costs to advertise.

I have used Etsy for almost 7 years, I am profitable there, but think there advertising fees have gouged me this year it used to be I could set my limit for each item and make my fees last, but now a popular item can eat my fees in very little time. I have not had issues with Etsy so communications is neither good or bad. It was easy to set up and is easy to use. I would recommend it to a friend, the fees they charge are comparable to other sites.

Etsy are a pretty good sales medium, but their Seller Protection policy is misleading – it does not offer real protection, just an automated buyer – seller liaison, and you are supposed to sort out most issues via the Etsy community, with no easily contactable human Etsy support

Selling vintage is not a priority for Etsy. We are like the step children (not in a good way). They don’t promote us. The free shipping they push, hurts any seller who doesn’t do it. They threaten (and carry through) with our shop very low on the searches. Also, the Etsy ads implementation has hurt many sellers financially. You’re forced to do it, if you make 10k or above. If you choose to do it, the charges are a lot, especially when added up. You can end up with no profit or a loss. You also can’t prove the sales came from them. There is no phone number to reach help. It is a very easy site to manage, I’ll give them that. I’m not leaving because I enjoy selling and my customers. I just wish it was seller friendly and supportive.

We’ve had many sales through Etsy and the platform works well for acquiring customers. Costs per sale, however, are relatively high. It’s good that they take care of sales tax, etc., but their financial system is complicated and makes our business bookkeeping more difficult than it should be or needs to be. It’s also quite difficult to communicate directly with Etsy customer service.

Etsy remains my favorite place to sell, even though it too has introduced some changes that are not seller friendly, especially charging seller fees on calculated shipping costs, and the recent outrageous fees for “offsite ad sales” that occur without sellers actually being able to trace those sales. But it has millions of potential buyers, and many sellers shop from each other too. Plus it really has very user friendly seller tools, and although sometimes slow, the customer service is helpful. Pity they messed up their format for forums and teams, but they have indicated there will be improvements this year.

I’ve been selling on Etsy for 8 years. Etsy offers very little seller support. They need a direct system (not an email system that it take WEEKS to receive a response from if at all). There’s virtually NO support when you as a seller have an immediate problem, a crap review due to no fault of your own, or a customer that is belligerent. Etsy doesn’t allow sellers to rate customers, and Etsy does not support sellers in adequate ways.

Etsy changed how international shipping is handled causing me to remove my listings from my international customers. My items were shipped to a USPS sort facility and the USPS would put the label on my package there to the buyer. I do not feel confident in the USPS to hand over that responsibility to them. I have had repeat customers in many countries for years. This was devastating to me as a seller.

Etsy manipulates our search and sales now taking more of our profit margin leaving crumbs. They are greedy. Dishonest, charging for Google ads when they are free! Extremely difficult to contact support. Makes changes without notifications. Cannot understand their bookkeeping for taxes! Lack of TM protection.

I have 2 vintage shops though paused for months in late 2020 due to USPS breakage and lost packages, Etsy push for videos is ridiculous as there’s no audio. I keep my sales low to avoid mandated advertising since my small mark up will not support the high commission. My sales in April and May were incredible. If you can figure their software out yourself, it’s a little better among all the rich, marketplaces that don’t care about sellers.

Sellers Choice Awards:
We thank all readers who took the time to rate the marketplaces. If you have comments about the Sellers Choice Awards, please feel free to post them below.

Ina Steiner on EmailIna Steiner on LinkedinIna Steiner on Twitter
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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

One thought on “Sellers Choice 2021 Marketplace Ratings: Etsy”

  1. Agreed about the customer relationship comments, esp the one about how, if Etsy shops were to treat their customers even remotely like Etsy treats its shop-customers, that shop would get shut down immediately. Etsy drives traffic by encouraging all shops to offer “free” shipping, sales, coupons to buyers who favorite our items (a buyer could certainly use this as a tactic should want to), etc. And most of the shops are very interested in good customer service just because it’s their business, happy to take the advice. But Etsy doesn’t have sellers’ best interests at heart. Sellers get squeezed between their regular customers who have been coming back for years, and Etsy. We need to increase our prices to adjust to changes in their complicated fees, some of which are hard to predict. Our hard-earned customer base can, and sometimes does, walk away. Possibly never understanding what is driving our price increases.
    Regarding the many comments about offsite ads: no one likes it. And the more truly handmade a shop is, the more of a problem this is, eating up profits that can be difficult enough to keep. Etsy has an blog entitled “Quit Your Day Job”. That might have been possible before Etsy went public. The share holder is Etsy’s first customer. Visitors/purchasers on the platform are the second. Shops come next, in 4th place. And no, that isn’t bad math, it’s a statement.

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