Etsy sellers are infuriated at a letter they received from the marketplace on Friday telling them that from now on, Etsy will reserve the first page of search results for items that offer free shipping. An excerpt of the letter follows:
"To continue improving our buying experience, now when a shopper in the US searches for an item, the first page of results - up to 48 listings* - will be reserved for items that ship free and items from shops that guarantee free shipping to US buyers on orders of $35 or more. Keep in mind that 83% of purchases from search on Etsy come from the first page.
"Because you're not currently offering free shipping to the US, you could experience a significant decrease in views to your listings. To ensure your items are eligible to appear on the first page of search, we recommend setting up a free US shipping guarantee for orders of $35 and up."
Feeling "bullied" was the reaction of many sellers posting on the Etsy seller discussion boards.
"I got this email too and felt very threatened to do it their way or else," one seller wrote of the new policy. Was it legal given the fact sellers pay the same listing fee, they wondered? "Is Etsy going to give us a discount on our listing fee if they refuse to honor a fair place in the search?"
"It's pretty shocking and disheartening," wrote another.
One seller explained many of their items were under $5 - "if I offer free shipping, I will virtually be giving my items away. I keep my items affordable, combine shipping on multiple items, and refund shipping overages when the calculator goes haywire," they wrote.
Etsy announced in July
it would be favoring
items with free shipping in search results, but Friday's letter stating listings without some form of free shipping would be blacklisted from the first page of search results rubbed sellers the wrong way.
One seller pointed out the impact of adding shipping costs to the item price: "I totally disagree with the idea of cheating the prices with added shipping costs and I hate the idea of messing up Etsy as price reference for the vintage market."
The tone of the letter grated on sellers' nerves - "Keep in mind that 83% of purchases from search on Etsy come from the first page," Etsy warned sellers.