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Tue Jan 8 2019 23:51:33

Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping

By: Ina Steiner

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Etsy sellers urged management to reconsider their push for sellers to offer free shipping. The response came in reaction to an announcement by the company on Monday.

The impassioned pleas from sellers were even more striking because Etsy's announcement wasn't focused on free shipping, but rather, was about the efforts the company was making to help sellers get off to a good start in the New Year. The only mention of free shipping in Etsy's post was the following in a section called Connect to Your Customers: 

"Over the next few months, we'll be sharing tips on collaborating with buyers on custom orders, delighting shoppers with special offers like free shipping, and sharing essential info to get great reviews."

(What seemed to go unnoticed was Etsy's announcement about improvements to customer support: "You can give us a call when you need support - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When you reach out to us about certain help subjects, including managing your listings or viewing your stats, you'll see a phone number for Etsy Support on the Contact Us page.")

Etsy has been pushing sellers to offer free shipping, in part by giving listings with free shipping greater visibility in search results. In October, it kicked off a sweepstakes giving sellers who offered free shipping during the holiday shopping season a chance to win cash prizes and informed sellers that, "items that offer free shipping will have the chance to be featured in our holiday marketing to buyers."

But it was clear by the comments from sellers in response to the post Etsy published on Monday that its push to get sellers to offer free shipping had struck a raw nerve among many.

Some sellers were wondering who was going to pay for the "free shipping," especially now that Etsy also takes a commission on shipping charges. 

An international seller noted, "If I put my prices up to cover "free shipping," then customers in my own country will pay substantially more."

"If the buyer orders two goods, he will pay double delivery," pointed out another concerned seller.

Several sellers pointed out that free shipping did not work well for all sellers or all types of goods. Nevertheless, one seller of light-weight, customized commodity goods said offering "free shipping" was effective for him and indicated it would work for others - pasting his exact response in replies to several sellers. 

"Yes, it may seem "sneaky" in a way (to include the cost of shipping in his price), but it truly does boost your sales and customer satisfaction," he wrote. "They are willing to pay more for a product when they don't also have to pay shipping prices." His advice was not well received.

But not everyone was caught up in the angst about free shipping. One seller thanked Etsy for the tips and insight and said, "I think people forget that you're trying to improve our businesses by suggesting things like free shipping. It's not a punishment! People can add to an item's price and get around free shipping, while still giving the customer the feeling they're getting a bargain by not having to pay for shipping."

Etsy executives may feel pressured to promote free shipping in part because of Amazon's Handmade marketplace where some sellers use FBA to offer free and fast shipping to Prime members.

But Etsy risks becoming a pale version of Amazon Handmade if it alienates sellers who offer unique items that are expensive to ship, leaving it offering only easy-to-produce, easy-to-ship items and lessening the appeal of the Etsy marketplace.

One seller suggested that instead of focusing on getting Etsy sellers to offer free shipping, the company educate buyers on how much work goes into the products for sale on its marketplace. Product differentiation is a well known marketing strategy and has worked well for much of Etsy for much of its existence.

"For me, Etsy has changed to a market where we now compete with each other far more, rather than competing with the rest of the retail world," the seller added.

Update 1/10/19: We came across a post from a seller of vintage goods who explained her strategy for dealing with this issue. She offers free shipping along with a 15% discount for buyers who purchase 3 or more items. The idea is that she can include her cost of shipping in the item's price, but shoppers who purchase multiple items that she ships in one package won't overpay for shipping. It doesn't solve all of the problems described by sellers, but it's a strategy that could work for some and may be worth testing.

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Perminate Link for Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping   Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping

by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jan 9 05:02:27 2019

Etsy is just following its twin Ebay down the road of no return.

Perminate Link for Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping   Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Wed Jan 9 05:40:37 2019

After Etsy takes its take from shipping, I only have $10 remaining to ship the item.
So, I'm now guaranteed to lose the cost of the box, the cost of packing material, and gas money on the sale.

Perminate Link for Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping   Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Jan 9 06:57:16 2019

With shipping going up every year and sites pushing "free" shipping, offering it is a losing proposition.

It is free for the site, but it is not free for the seller.  If it were not free for the sites you wouldn't hear a peep about it.

Perminate Link for Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping   Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping

by: HappyOne This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jan 9 07:09:02 2019

Etsy “Free” shipping has worked for me. Etsy search  promotes “free” shipping.  I only sell within USA; so the unbelievable International shipping is not an issue for me. It is not rocket science to use 1st Class Mail, Flat Rate Boxes or Regional Boxes. Most of my items that “fit” ship “free”.  Why does it work? As a potential buyer an item with “free” shipping  the total price is displayed with the item. An item that has priced shipping requires clicking into listing to find true cost. As a buyer after awhile one finds that some crafters/artists have NO clue how to use calculated shipping. I have seen $20 items that weigh 6oz that should ship for $3.75 have $12 shipping. I did “convo” with several of these sellers and found: they only ship using Priority mail because they  like the “free” boxes at Post Office; they liked the “free” insurance on Priority mail (ever try to collect?) or they “DO NOT HAVE A SCALE”. Other sellers are putting overhead costs into shipping - packing material, gas for car, interest on credit card, time to pack item etc.. They bury these cost in shipping to show a more advantageous price at start of listing. Etsy could “correct” these issues by showing price and shipping in listing header without going into the details of the listing. I do sell on Ebay and use calculated shipping as search there favors lowest price. Shipping is shown below price calculated to buyers Zip code. Just my 2¢.    

Perminate Link for Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping   Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Wed Jan 9 07:55:05 2019

Ya, that works fine for microscopic items, not normal stuff.

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by: buffalochick This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jan 9 10:21:20 2019

The first "marketplace" (and I use that term loosely) to incorporate the term "Shipping Included" to the buyers, but allowing sellers to enter their shipping cost into software on the backend (ex. Tradesy), will win on all sides of this argument.  Return shipping should always be upon the buyer, and all shipping costs already spent by the seller should always be non-refundable for any remorse return. Buyers should always have some skin in the game, or forced to show photographic proof of damage or SNAD, before they are allowed out of the game free.

Perminate Link for Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping   Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Wed Jan 9 15:48:52 2019

Does Etsy work better then eCrater?

My wife listed 7 lots of (15) earrings on Etsy for $20 for each lot of 15.

In 2 months ZERO have sold.

Could she expect better sales on Etsy?

Perminate Link for Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping   Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping

by: bobbiejj This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Jan 9 15:54:14 2019

I am a vintage seller and when I offer free shipping I am loosing money all over the place. I have tried it and I loose sales on the west coast because I have raised my prices to account for shipping on the east coast, or I can choose not to offer free shipping go down in the listings and loose visibility. My sales are way down from before they started raising visibility for free shipping because most of my items are too large to do that with. Adding that at the same time as adding a percentage for shipping is killing my business. I sold 24,000+ this year (a lot lower than last year) and my margin is awful!  I will probably stop buying inventory and close at some point this year or next. Right now I have broken my ankle and have had to take a break from the shop, but will be assessing my sales and costs as soon as I do my 2018 taxes.

Perminate Link for Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping   Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping

by: Iwishiwaskidding This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jan 9 16:41:45 2019

Amazon provides free shipping on so much, everyone else thinks they need to as well.  Thats not what makes amazon so attractive, its that whole package deal of prime, free shipping, top notch customer service, huge selection, best prices, easy shopping easy to find stuff, the whole image amazon has successfully built AFTER LOSING MONEY FOR TWO DECADES.  For crying out loud, its not about free shipping.  

Perminate Link for Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping   Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping

by: Flying Childers This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jan 9 18:26:22 2019

In the past year I have been charging cheap, not free shipping.  Since most of my items are small,  I don't lose that much and I can certainly add it to the cost of the item if need be.  Etsy does not seem to penalize you if you can ship on the cheap side.

Perminate Link for Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping   Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping

by: MIscetal This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 10 00:26:23 2019

Etsy tells me nearly every time I enter a shipping price that my shipping price is too high for domestic delivery. Etsy evidently thinks I should ship four restaurant ware dinner plates not for the $18 priority shipping costs to the west coast from here in the mid-Atlantic for six dollars.

To prove their wisdom to me, Etsy staff then disadvantage my items in search - and Etsy search isn't so hot to begin with.

If buyers want to buy a particular vintage item and are willing to pay for the actual cost of shipping (I eat the 5% commission Etsy now charges) they ought to be allowed to SEE that item without disadvantage.

Perminate Link for Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping   Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping

by: pennyrub This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 10 00:29:41 2019

Amazon doesn't just have free shipping willy nilly. They have a minimum purchase for "qualified" items. It's all a ruse, and it encourages members to buy more than they meant to.

Perminate Link for Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping   Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 10 00:33:42 2019

This is why I love Poshmark so much:  Prepaid postage sent to the seller by email.  priority mail already paid for by the buyer.  Buyer MUST PAY SHIPPING!!!  Nobody can offer free shipping.  That's insane.  You want it?  You gotta pay shipping.  
AMZ is losing money on the shipping side because of quick delivery and free shipping.  Sure they get customers, but they lose shipping.

Perminate Link for Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping   Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 10 00:34:58 2019

@Toolguy:  #1) Etsy only allows vintage or handmade earrings.  Did you wife make the earrings, then yes she can sell on Etsy.  #2) Ecrater has always been a crap site.  I don't know how it stays in business.

Perminate Link for Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping   Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping

by: Becky_55 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 10 00:56:56 2019

Etsy has just made themselves look like fools with this whole free shipping push.  Buyers aren’t dumb enough to think they’re really not paying for shipping.  I’m so tired of the little messages I get when listing an item that my shipping is too high and they don’t have any idea what I’m actually listing! I’ve just ignore the whole thing and list my items with a shipping price that is realist and I’ve just had the best November and December ever.  

Perminate Link for Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping   Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping

by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 10 01:08:14 2019

There is a problem with Free Shipping that no one has addressed as far as I can tell, and that is sales tax. If you add the shipping costs into the item, then the buyer is charged sales tax on shipping fees which can add up in a hurry for buyers that do a lot of shopping online. When more states or venues start adding taxes to the price, perhaps we will see some complaints about the so-called Free Shipping that costs buyers more money.  

Perminate Link for Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping   Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Jan 10 01:39:30 2019

Toolguy - whether your wife can sell earrings on any site we would need to know more, such as did she make them herself or did she buy them somewhere or has she been picking them up at yard sales, etc. For the price and the amount being sold, you mentioned I probably wouldn't be interested no matter what site they were being sold on. I would assume they were cheap. Since you asked this question in a response to the free shipping topic, is she trying to sell these with just the $20 and free shipping?

I've seen a lot of people trying to sell homemade jewelry and much of it is junk (IMHO). If it is made with cheap findings, fake stones etc. it isn't worth much. I remember being at a ladies gathering once and a lady gave each of us a necklace that she had made. Mine broke by the end of the night. Now if she had sold my necklace to someone and it broke immediately, the buyer would be very upset even if they didn't pay much. If I was going to pay $20 for some earrings, I would rather get one nice pair that should last for a few years, than 15 iffy pairs.

You asked if they could be sold on Etsy but I think you meant to say eCRATER. Unlike Chicago 48, I do NOT think eCRATER is a crap site. I have been selling there for 10 years now. I have shipped out over 5250 orders at this point. I think that is significant and totally worth it. A lot of orders are multi-item orders and I have my shipping set up there and on Amazon to combine shipping. Unlike many of the other popular sites, it is very seller-centric. We are important to them. No need to feel like your ulcer will be cropping up when you go to the site.

As to whether something will or won't sell at eCRATER you get a very big IT DEPENDS! It depends on your photos (up to ten), your title (up to 100 characters) and your description, then pricing and shipping. You also need to do your own promoting which depending on what you are selling is easier or not. Pinterest has been a great boon to sellers of things that need to be seen to get interest and that is something that you want to have is eyes on jewelry, etc.

eCRATER is free to list on and if you do get a fee it is minimal. So the only thing your wife might lose is some time if they don't sell. Once she has opened her store she can ask on the forum for opinions on anything that she might want to do differently to give her a better chance of selling. One thing to remember, it can take up to 6 months before the search engines take you seriously because you aren't venue hopping, so it is good to stick it out.

Hope that helps.

Perminate Link for Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping   Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping

by: rover This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 10 05:59:27 2019

Undoubtedly ''free'' shipping can be made to work for small light items shipped by the cheapest method within a country. However Etsy advertises itself as a global site which is a lie. Etsy is infamous for kicking non US sellers in the teeth and this is just one more manifestation of their evil program to shaft international sellers.  

Perminate Link for Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping   Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping

by: Mads This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 10 06:00:19 2019

I only use free shipping for very large vintage items in the UK and that is not many. I just ignore Etsy's pop up suggestions, they have no idea regarding vintage, sizes, boxes,packaging used and shipping prices. In any case if I over charge I always refund. When I buy something on Amazon I never use their offers of free shipping. I am not silly, I use the best company with the best reviews.

Perminate Link for Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping   Sellers Urge Etsy to Back Off on Free Shipping

by: cvsharkey This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 10 08:20:16 2019

Etsy....grrrrrrr.  Free shipping may work for some Etsy sellers, it definitely does NOT work for the items in my shop. And I do resent being charged a commission fee on my shipping.  Etsy's focus shifted away from seller needs to stockholder desires when they IPO'd. Period.

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