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Are Shoppers Ready to Haggle on Etsy?

Are Shoppers Ready to Haggle on Etsy

Etsy is testing a “make an offer” style feature on certain listings in the US, it disclosed to sellers on Wednesday. It’s also conducting a survey to find out sellers’ overall impression of the tool with a chance to leave comments.

Etsy emphasizes the unique and special nature of sellers’ products, so it may be perplexing that it wants to add a “haggling” feature – but for now, Etsy is limiting it to vintage goods, an area where people are more accustomed to making and accepting offers.

“When shopping for vintage items on other platforms or in-person at markets, buyers can often make offers and negotiate prices—and many of you have told us that you already do this on Etsy today,” according to the announcement. “This tool will streamline those negotiations so you can seal the deal even faster and make new connections with customers.”

Etsy expanded on why it was making the feature available: “Some of you have also told us you need more flexible pricing options,” Etsy said, “That’s why we’re testing out a new tool that will give shop owners the option to receive price offers from buyers.”

Etsy said it was currently limiting the test to vintage listings from sellers in the United States and offered more information on the Etsy Seller Handbook, where it said it will suggest to sellers those listings it believes might be a good fit. Sellers can pick and choose on which listings they wish to receive offers – or they can allow offers on all of their active vintage listings.

Sellers can set the maximum discount they would consider so they “don’t have to sort through lowball offers.” Discounts can be 20, 30, or 40% off list price. Sellers will also have the option to “Receive all offers.”

Etsy provided the following example: “Let’s say you have a $100 listing and you choose a maximum discount of 20% off. If a buyer submits an offer below $80, we’ll let them know their offer is too low and you won’t be notified (so you don’t have to waste time on offers you wouldn’t accept).”

We reported seller concerns about Etsy’s offer tool in January after sellers began spotting its availability on some listings. Some sellers felt it would degrade items on the site even for those who chose not to accept offers. Others felt it would result in bad behavior by buyers whose offers were refused.

Etsy promised to keep the feature optional – “It’s up to you to decide if it works for your business.”

Pricing is a touchy issue for sellers, depending on what they sell. Savvy sellers might think to raise prices to give themselves wiggle room for haggling – but they take a risk that Etsy might show lower-priced goods ahead of their items in search results.

One seller commenting on the new feature was concerned with Etsy’s understanding of seller profit margins. “I’ve been offered the test…won’t do it. No way. Etsy AGAIN does not allow us to choose the discount we would accept. It starts at 20% off and goes UP from there! Can’t do it even if I wanted to join in. What is wrong with Etsy that they think after all our costs we can do that. Etsy Staff…give us the option to CHOOSE 5% or 10%…or fill in the blank percent.”

Etsy will commence its latest test of the offers feature on or around April 5. It warned sellers they won’t be able to opt in or change which listings are included during the test. See Etsy Seller Handbook for more information.

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/.

8 thoughts on “Are Shoppers Ready to Haggle on Etsy?”

  1. I like the offer option but I agree base of 20% is ridiculous. If you give me 20% I’m going to scrutinize all the pricing. This is what happens when they are mining all the data. I love the sellers there big and small. I get cute stuff!

  2. As an Etsy seller of handmade goods, this is a slap in the face. After all the time and money I put into my items and all the fees I pay, the last thing I want is somebody asking for a discount. What seller needs more flexible pricing options? That is absolutely ludicrous. You can set any price you want now. We need more flexible options when running a sale. Right now you can only offer a percentage off and not a specific dollar amount when running a sale. That would be more flexibility than receiving lowball offers.

  3. Etsy has always treated vintage as the bastard child of the marketplace, spending $0 on advertising, barely mentioning the category in press releases, making it difficult to accommodate local delivery and pickup. Now they would like to diminish it further by messaging buyers that our inventory is negotiable, perpetuating a garage sale mentality with buyers. More race to the bottom strategies to stimulate revenue for their shareholders while creating more roadblocks for sellers to control their brand.

    1. littlesaint30 , you took the words right out of my mouth re Etsy treating vintage like the b*stard child, so it is very interesting that they are using vintage as the guinea pigs.

      I seldom add a B/O on eBay, but do often send offers to watchers. Unfortunately, it appears that most of those watchers are just eBay bots data mining for your lowest price, and seldom do those offers result in a sale.

      Likewise, I think many buyers are gun shy about making offers, so I don’t know how giving potential buyers the ability to make offers on Etsy would pan out. I suppose in Etsy’s eyes, any increase in sales it might bring is a good thing.

  4. I have a vintage store, received the invite for offers and hit decline. That feature has been a total time waster on other platforms, especially Depop. Always ghosted after I accept the offer.

    This year has been the first time the coupons for favorites and abandoned carts have started working well for my shop on Etsy. It is a small discount, but it works nicely. Have a lot of repeat buyers from that, which feels like a huge accomplishment.

    This week I was searching for an item on Etsy’s main marketplace page. I don’t know if it is a test or not but I am seeing “Picks for every budget” at the top of search. Then you can choose from Under $25, 25 to 100, 100 to 250 and Over 250.

  5. I’ve been “haggled” on Etsy :o)
    It’s so cute…..
    They ask if I’ll take HALF what I’m asking.
    I would entertain an offer of a few bucks lower,…..

  6. My response was ” While buyers and sellers MAY barter at flea markets and shows the seller isn’t paying 11.5% in fees on every item and there is usually CASH involved-your reasoning is flawed. Any time I get hit with one of your predatory mandatory offsite ad fees it sucks any profit right out of that item. Encouraging buyers to think the price isn’t the price is a terrible idea and just encourages low ball offers. Try fixing your search engine if you’re hard pressed for ideas because this one is awful and I will NEVER participate in it. I price my items at what I need to get after I factor in your fees-I’m not interested in receiving offers thanks.”

  7. Oh look…Yet another thing no one has asked for (“Some of you have told us…” my behind).

    Let’s see how long the option to opt out lasts for vintage store. Let’s also see how long before this catastrophically bad ideas transitions to non vintage stores. Etsy has the reputation if they decide something you have to do it. Look at mandatory ads! 90% of us would cut then off if we could. I bet it will be on automatically with no options to set minimum offers based on prior things Etsy has crammed down our throats.

    Etsy really does enable buyers for entitlement. All this is going to do is push price control from the seller to the buyer. If I wanted to sell an item for 20% off I’d adjust the price or run a sale. Now customers will be trained to haggle or expect the option at the least.

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