You might say Etsy is making sellers an offer they can't refuse. Today, the company announced plans to make free shipping a "core part of the shopping experience" on Etsy. It isn't mandatory to offer free shipping, but unless they do, sellers' listings may be virtually invisible to shoppers in search results.
However, Etsy is providing a feature to make this bitter pill a little easier to swallow. It's promising to provide tools that let sellers offer free shipping to US buyers who spend at least $35 in their shop, and those sellers will get exposure for their listings in search results.
That's crucial for sellers who offer inexpensive items - provided they offer enough products that would entice buyers to purchase more than one item. But it may not help sellers of oversized goods, especially now that shipping carriers, including the USPS, charge exorbitant DIM Weight rates for large, lightweight items.
We asked an Etsy spokesperson about this using a concrete example: "if a $45 wreath would cost $35 to ship, are you suggesting sellers change the price to $80?" and received the following response:
"We want to empower sellers to make decisions about the pricing strategy that works for them and their business. As noted in the announcement video, item pricing strategy should consider shipping just as it considers time and materials.
"We understand that offering free shipping may be a big step for some sellers, and we want them to know that we are here to support them through the process. We are offering sellers a number of tools and resources that will make it easy to adopt a free US shipping guarantee if they choose to."
Etsy is rolling out its free-shipping strategy in phases:
- Beginning July 30, 2019, Etsy will give priority placement in US search results to items that ship free and to shops that guarantee US buyers free shipping on orders of $35 or more. "This means that shoppers in the US will primarily see items that ship free and shops that offer free shipping on orders of $35 or more in the top and most visible rows of search," Etsy explained.
- Beginning in September, Etsy will begin actively marketing the free-shipping initiative to buyers, "with the goal of driving more traffic to the Etsy marketplace and sellers' shops."
We asked the spokesperson if she could provide examples of buyer messaging for sellers concerned that shoppers will expect EVERYTHING on Etsy to have free shipping?
"(Today's) announcement is more of a seller-facing launch," she replied. "As noted in the release, we won't be marketing this to buyers until September."
Etsy said its data shows that buyers are significantly more likely to purchase an item in their cart with free shipping compared to an item that has added shipping costs. When it ran a limited-time free-shipping promotion in May, it led to higher order values when participating buyers purchased items that shipped for free or were eligible for free shipping, the company stated.
It also noted in its announcement: "Given the timing of the launch, this initiative is currently expected to have modest upside to Etsy's previously announced 2019 gross merchandise sales guidance. The projected impact of this initiative will be shared when Etsy reports its second quarter 2019 financial results."
Will you be changing your listing strategy as a result of today's announcement
? Let us know what you think in our survey hosted on SurveyMonkey.com