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Tue July 9 2019 08:28:38

Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative

By: Ina Steiner

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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.

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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative   Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative

This user has validated their user name. by: Life During Wartime

Wed Jul 10 23:13:39 2019

I took quick pass over the Etsy Forums, and some shop owners are so eager to participate that they already turned on the ''free shipping'' initiative for their shops.  Ooops.  The way it is currently set up, it extends the free shipping offer to ALL buyers, including international.  

Every doormat says WELCOME.

Perminate Link for Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative   Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative

by: ZZ This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 11 01:09:50 2019

eBay and Etsy want to be like Amazon, except they want the seller to pay the shipping, not them.
I  amd nearing the end of my 90 day Etsy experiment. About 50 listings and all I sold were 3 cheap shirts that weren't even vintage. So I don't care what Etsy does or doesn't do.
eBay doesn't have a clue either about shipping. I could write a million words about the issue but not now. The bottom line is the top dogs have stock options that need the stock to rise to be worthwhile. Amazon stock goes up, eBay's not so much. Solution: try to copy Amazon if it's not too expensive to do (con the sellers to offer free shipping and free returns).

Perminate Link for Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative   Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative

by: Bubbles This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 11 01:17:45 2019

If sales become any slower than they have done over the last few weeks because of this 'free shipping' we will be gone.

eBay have tried this and failed - sellers ran out the door.

We have also tried 'free shipping' on eBay several times - it fails each and every time. Reason being, including shipping cost in low $ items makes the item look really expensive so it gets passed over by the buyers. We do much better if shipping is shown separately.

Silverman is telling 'porkies' when stating buyers buy more with free shipping. Buyers know the shipping is included in the price - they aren't stupid and they realise they will then be paying shipping on each and every item instead of combined shipping.

This is all a money grab for Etsy - Such a shame - was a great site before Silverman arrived.

Perminate Link for Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative   Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative

by: Disgusted This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 11 01:30:41 2019

Said to add shipping into the price.  Okay then the buyer close to seller has to pay more because shipping is added to price.  For me, shipping priority to Chicago is cheaper than LA.  So the Chicago guy has to pay more...Okay that means etsy revenue will go up.  That is the only reason for this stupid idea.  More revenue for Etsy-screw the buyers and sellers.  

Perminate Link for Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative   Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative

by: rover This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 11 04:17:27 2019

Just another blow at non US sellers who are supposed to offer free shipping with international shipping costs at an all time high. Plus they have to pay Etsy for shipping as well. I dont regret having closed my Etsy shops last year. The company is a corrupt greedy scam.

Perminate Link for Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative   Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative

by: hawk This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 11 05:02:29 2019

where do these arrogant , greedy , rich bi**h idiots get the ideas to make great venues , at one time , into the MAFIA grab , burn , and destroy great sellers and buyers in doing so. there arrogance and greed make me sick.

the statement that says if you don't offer free shipping at your own cost , we don't show your items in search. that means to me that they , BELONG IN PRISON FOR LIFE !!! come on everybody , free crime is running rampant.  

Perminate Link for Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative   Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative

by: hawk This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 11 05:16:31 2019

no matter who they thing they are , one size , DOES NOT FIT ALL !!  this just shows how they are continuing to brain wash the buyers into believing that shipping is they same amount all over the world.

Perminate Link for Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative   Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative

by: an American in France This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 11 06:47:19 2019

I am based outside the US, in France. Does anyone know whether this applies to *all* sellers?  

Perminate Link for Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative   Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative

by: cvsharkey This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 11 06:50:31 2019

I like "seller-facing launch," it seems to mean "seller-facing firing squad."

Perminate Link for Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative   Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative

by: felyne This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 11 06:56:16 2019

Making shareholders happy. All sellersa need to NOT offer free shipping. Basically, we need to unionize. We all knew this would happen when they joined Wall St.  

Perminate Link for Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative   Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative

by: chester This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 11 07:20:07 2019

Ina quoted Esty as saying:
"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."

During that promotion, shipping really was "free" to some buyers, in that the buyer did not pay the shipping fee. Etsy paid it for them.

There's a huge difference between "free shipping" and "shipping included".

If Etsy really is using the data gathered from that promotion when Esty paid the shipping fee, then of course their data will show that buyers preferred free shipping. During that promotion, the sellers did not need to raise their prices to compensate for the shipping fees, so the total price for an item for the buyer was less expensive for "Etsy subsidized" (not FREE) shipping listings.

Apples to oranges...... "free" shipping to shipping "included". They're NOT the same thing.

Perminate Link for Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative   Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative

by: SammyCat This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 11 08:02:39 2019

This is one BIG FAT FREAKING LIE!  

No such thing as 'free shipping' its HIDDEN SHIPPING and its against the law.

Their hidden shipping means cheap shipping with no protection for the seller or the buyer in case of lose or damage.  

Etsy will become known as being expensive because its all rolled in together.

People have a right to know the value of their item, and what shipping is - all on different lines.

Buyers will have to pay higher taxes and duties for items coming from outside of their country.

Etsy makes more money on inflated pricing and taxes.

This is racketeering ... like a crime family - do as I say or you will be punished; pay us the protection money or we can't guarantee what will happen to you.

What a bunch of con artists and liars.  I am beside myself with this latest punch to the gut.

Taking 5% of shipping costs for doing nothing was apparently not enough.  Damn them for being so stupid for thinking that burying shops that are money makers to the bottom of search will somehow help them.

I repeat --- THIS IS AGAINST THE LAW

Inflating prices on antiques and vintage ruins the segment as well makes items seem more valuable than they are.

People want to know what the value of their antique item is, not the rolled in shipping.

This is extortion and I sure hope that ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE reports this to ALL their local agencies, and federal as well.

Etsy needs to be brought to its knees or they will make hidden shipping mandatory, totally pay for play and other awful things that we haven't even thought of yet.

Perminate Link for Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative   Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative

by: SammyCat This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 11 08:07:33 2019

oh ... and research can be skewed to get the results that you want by the questions you ask.

Ask me if I'd like 'free shipping' ... hell I would say yes too, its a nonstarter everyone would love it it they could have it.  However, not an answer to base a decision like this on.

Were people informed that this hidden so-called free shipping will cost them more in vat / taxes?

Were people informed that this hidden shipping means cheap shipping without insurance or tracking in many instances?  

How are sellers protected from fraudulent purchases if there is no insurance and tracking which you have to provide to Etsy and to the carrier if something does go wrong?

No one is protected and everyone include the buyer pays more.

Also, when are we ever going to see the research that they base these inane decisions one?    If not the results, what about the questions which like I said can be skewed to support what you wanted them to say.

They are liars and can not be trusted - the end.

Perminate Link for Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative   Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative

by: littlesaint This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 11 08:11:49 2019

I'm starting to realize that online selling, particularly selling on sponsored platforms, is little more than a pyramid scheme, where you are drawn in and inspired by the prospect of being "independent", no longer expending precious time and energy working to make someone else profitable (and rich), only to find that after  taking the leap and making the investment, you are entirely at the mercy of Google and the platform. Once you are invested, you are squeezed and exhausted, left to feel that if you want to stay relevant, you must conform, or else. If Cosa Nostra rules aren't for you, now is the time to jump, before we all go broke and end up working in an Amazon Distribution Center.

Perminate Link for Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative   Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative

by: SammyCat This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 11 08:37:59 2019

AND .... how do you explain your prices being so different across different platform, i.e.: your own website, ebay, in-person sales for people who do that.  

Makes us all look like money-grubbing fools

And, we price ourselves out of the market.  People google and see inflated price on Etsy and someone else selling same or similar somewhere else will always look cheaper.

STUPID

Perminate Link for Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative   Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative

by: ewegolf This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 11 09:07:02 2019

Last month Rachel Glaser, the Etsy CFO, said she wasn't concerned about seller churn as they have so much supply another seller will step in and get the sale.  Thus Etsy doesn't lose any GMV.  In that context, one can easily see the attitude regarding the Free Shipping project. Leave little people.  There will still be so many of you that remain.

Perminate Link for Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative   Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative

by: Tinysaur This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Thu Jul 11 09:18:04 2019

More than half of my items are $9. It would increase their price to $13.50, and be higher than my retailers' prices, other ecommerce prices, and my craft show prices. In short, it would be uncompetitive, and buyers would feel overcharged once they found the other sites and stores. There's a thing in human awareness that you don't see something until you own it, and then you see it everywhere. I certainly don't want to have to explain or refund a customer, and receive bad reviews that stay with me forever, because Etsy's CEO made a bad business decision on my behalf. My customers aren't stupid and I want to have the opportunity to make a second sale, but if they feel ripped off on the first sale, that's the end of our relationship. A happy customer will tell a few friends about you. An unhappy customer will tell everyone about you.

Perminate Link for Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative   Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative

by: Judy F This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 11 09:32:26 2019

Thank you for this alert.  I had been considering opening an Etsy shop in August.  But, that won't be happening now.as I don't wish to enable Josh to get away with such greedy behavior.

Perminate Link for Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative   Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative

by: Ephemera Dealer This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 11 09:45:26 2019

This does not surprise me one bit. I've been selling online since 1998 on ebay and 2008 on Etsy. This move by Etsy has been coming for a long time, the handwriting has been on the wall.

I actually swallowed my disgust and went ahead and switched all my Etsy listings to free shipping several weeks ago, had done so on eBay last year.

I will note that sales this summer, which is usually a dearth, have quite picked up. Which tells me they've actually been giving listings with free shipping a boost in Search anyway, which I had suspected.

I am lucky in that the items I sell on Etsy (repro prints, cards, fabric blocks etc) are all able to absorb the cost of the shipping.

Where Etsy has shot themselves in the foot is for smaller items, because I now ship them with no label or tracking, so they lose money on me that way. Yes, I take a chance of loss, but so far so good, all get there just fine.

I actually had a buyer recently thank me for offering free shipping. Which made me cringe, because clearly they had no idea that there is no such thing, they paid shipping, I had just wrapped it into the cost of the item.

I feel for those people selling large/heavy items on Etsy, I don't know what I'd do if that were my market. This will definitely hurt them. But as a buyer I can go out of my way to purchase from those who don't offer free shipping.  

Perminate Link for Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative   Etsy Compels Sellers to Offer Free Shipping with New Initiative

by: SammyCat This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 11 09:50:24 2019

People need to stop calling it free shipping, there is no such thing.

We all need to call it what it is, hidden shipping.

Hidden in the cost of the item and its amoral, deceitful and against the law in more places than it is legal.

Etsy is basically saying to its customers (we are the customer and NOT the buyers) break the law in your region or screw you.  

ITS a mob like extortion - pure and simple  

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