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Mon Feb 28 2011 09:01:30

Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace

By: Ina Steiner

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Etsy has been rolling out a rash of changes to become a more "social" marketplace, a direction founder Rob Kalin had promised immediately after taking back the CEO role from Maria Thomas, who left the company over a year ago.

But the changes Etsy has been rolling out one year later have been controversial, from replacing forums with "Teams" to adding "Circles" and "Find your friends" features. (See more about this in today's Newsflash article.)

Kalin told users last week, "Shopping is itself a unique social experience. This is what we're designing for."

In this age of social networking, are these changes necessary? And are they helping to bring buyers and sellers together?

As online sellers, are you seeing any impact on sales from social features, whatever the marketplace or venue?




Comments (52) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace   Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace

by: Quicksilver Messenger
Web Site

Mon Feb 28 09:34:38 2011

I don't think I would care for Etsy, since it seems to be getting way to "eBayified" with all it's constant changes. I feel if I ever find the time to become involved in selling my hand-made goods I would go with Artfire as my first choice.

Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace   Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace

by: Sandy's Fancy Pants Antiques and Collectibles
Web Site

Mon Feb 28 09:40:59 2011

So true. Even though I had 2 stores 2 times and made money I got off of that place. Way too much drama for one.
Though I have been selling on Tias since 2002 (my home base I call it) and now on Ruby Plaza I have recently opened on Artfire. It seems like fun and well run.

Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace   Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace

by: oldtimer

Mon Feb 28 10:10:02 2011

It would be more helpful not to just repeat Etsy PR releases when reporting on Etsy doings, since Etsy is clearly not pro-seller and pays no attention to seller comments or concerns.  In the last 3 months, Esty is going in a direction that a majority of sellers do not approve; Etsy just ignores them, as usual.
Emphasis on social means less shopping, so once the real numbers are counted (never to be made public) Etsy will see a (1) huge decline in sales (2) huge exodus of sellers who haven't been able to sell on Etsy for over 12 months and (3) continued negative public buzz about a company that decided selling & real handmade is no longer their mission.  
It's a disaster waiting to happen.
I would much rather see an article here based on interviews with SELLERS, not Etsy puff pieces that are completely and totally false.
Please read Kalin's comments - he doesn't address ONE seller question or issue.  He is not only on another page, he's on another planet.  His obvious disdain towards sellers is well known.

Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace   Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Mon Feb 28 10:26:53 2011

@oldtimer
I think you're misreading what Ina wrote. This article simply states the facts of what Etsy is doing and what Rob Kalin said. You'll note she's asking for opinions.

I've been following the changes and the feedback from sellers that I'm seeing is not positive. These changes seem to be geared toward getting Etsy members to sell to each other, which doesn't necessarily mesh with the trends of shoppers using search engines like Google to find what they're looking to purchase.

I haven't bothered with my Etsy store for a while and none of these changes make me want to go back to it. I don't think they're really geared well to those who want to sell handmade, supplies, or vintage as an actual business. They seem more interested in the casual sellers who want to chit-chat and sell to one another. After all, "circles" are closed systems, excluding things outside them.

I haven't incorporated any other "social selling" techniques into my business yet, but I've heard some people are seeing results from using Facebook as part of their marketing. I'd love to hear some concrete results of this kind of marketing, since most of what I see is vague or full of hype. There are also a lot of privacy concerns, both with Facebook and Etsy, especially when features automatically default to opt-in status. This has been a big hot-button in some of the Etsy controversy.

Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace   Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace

by: Sandy's Fancy Pants Antiques and Collectibles
Web Site

Mon Feb 28 11:00:49 2011

After all, ''circles'' are closed systems, excluding things outside them.
----------
Wow, that does not even make sense. As I got completely off even as a buyer it does make me sad as I love some of the diffferent dealers inventory there for my personal use. Now I just wait to see if they list it other places if I really want the item.  

Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace   Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace

by: Sharon

Mon Feb 28 11:05:17 2011

Etsy has become such a jumbled mess that I've put my shop on semi-permanent vacation. It's been one huge change after the next, and none of them were helping me with sales at all. In fact, in less than a year's time, I went from making several sales a week to making absolutely NONE for the next 6 months. But since I refuse to renew listings before they're about to expire, it's no wonder that I got buried beneath those who can afford to spend hundreds of dollars a month to keep their listings at the top of searches.

The original purpose of Etsy, to provide a marketplace for handmade and fine art, has been destroyed, and replaced by a huge corporate machine that doesn't care about its customers (the sellers) and refuses to listen to them.

Even though I'm not an active seller anymore, I'm forced to waste time weekly to check all of my privacy settings on Etsy to make sure they aren't exposing my personal information.

I use Facebook and Twitter to socialize, and to promote my shops. Once someone enters my space on Etsy, ArtFire, or Zibbet, I want them to be thinking about shopping and spending money, not making friends or spinning around in circles with me and my competition.

I used to love Etsy, now I can't stand to even go over there. I never recommend it to anyone, whether they're shopping or wanting to sell. There are other venues that will serve their needs much better, and for a lot less money.

Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace   Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace

by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 28 11:34:09 2011

It would be so refreshing if just one of these boob CEO's struck out on their own instead of trying to copy something that's already been done!  Etsy started out as a marketplace for handmade goods since Ebay has been ignoring this sector.  Now they want to be Facebook - something that is wildly popular and lightyears away from Etsy?  Hogwash!  Here's where we destroy another decent venue!  He should be strengthening things like search and making it easy for people to come in and find what they are looking for.  Make communication between buyer and seller smoother, checkout smoother, connection to Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and the rest easy, etc.  Social networking?  Sorry...for that I go to Facebook.  I'm not interested in listing on Etsy and then having to "socialize" to be seen.  What utter nonsense!

Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace   Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace

by: Maria

Mon Feb 28 11:36:57 2011

Etsy recruits new sellers en masse, that's why sales rise. Real artists and vintage sellers leave the site every day in confusion after a short time. If sellers are etsy's customer base, it is a revolving door with only small retention numbers.

My customers, like the rest of the world do not have the time for social shopping as Kalin claims is going on. They want to search (impossible on etsy) and buy with ease.

As for resellers. This is the same thing Kalin said over 2 years ago. Talk is cheap. Resllers are not only on the site, but in the finds, an etsy admin curated newsletter. Daily.


Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace   Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace

by: Sandra Sporer

Mon Feb 28 11:43:03 2011

Etsy used to be a leader. Now it's just a follower.

A facebook ebay combo. Looks the same as everyone else.

That's the shame of it all. They don't have any idea what it's like to make a living with your hands.

It's just games and circles and fluff.  If you ask them about the search or resellers, they just say they are smarter than you and know better what you need and want to run a business.

Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace   Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace

by: Susie

Mon Feb 28 11:52:41 2011

I'm a buyer on Etsy and have been for several years.  (Have never sold on Etsy.)  I go there for handmade and vintage goods.  I certainly am not interested in socializing.  I have Facebook and Twitter for that.  I used to buy on eBay and gave up when they totally ruined search and it became hard to distinguish between US handmade vs China and other imported goods.  Lately when I've run searches on Etsy, I find myself having to filter or plow through an awful lot of mass produced items from China...   I also used to visit the Etsy forums from time to time and use them as a resource.  Now... I don't want to belong to a circle or team, so that takes care of that.  Disappointing.

Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace   Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace

by: Digby
Web Site

Mon Feb 28 12:30:06 2011

I am not into hand made.
But just interested.
All the above posts are anti etsy.
Yet the number of listings on etsy keeps rising by quite a bit each day.

The CEO did say they are putting on extra staff to police listings

Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace   Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace

by: Joan

Mon Feb 28 12:52:34 2011

Rob Kalin's premise is completely wrong. Most buyers want to be able to easily find what it is they want, buy it, get it, and be happy with their purchases.

They do NOT want to socialize. People go to Facebook or other social sites to socialize. They go to Etsy to buy, or sell. Or they used to. Many have left, and many have now opened up on other venues as a backup plan.

Mr. Kalin is out of touch with reality and is turning a blind eye to the fact that he's alienating both buyers and sellers.

Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace   Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace

by: virginia

Mon Feb 28 13:01:41 2011

the site has become one giant breeding ground of unhappy sellers and giant miss-steps of the staff.  Its becoming a joke, both in the world of artisian sites as well as the real world.

Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace   Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace

by: Blue Kitty
Web Site

Mon Feb 28 13:02:47 2011

I've never wanted to join Facebook so am not impressed with Etsy trying to turn into Facebook V2, views and sales dropped when this began. It was enough to send me to ArtFire two weeks ago, five items sold there already so I'm happy with the Etsy changes.

Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace   Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace

by: violetsnewvintage
Web Site

Mon Feb 28 13:03:00 2011

Etsy continually ignores sellers request for better shop tools and instead, uses the site as an experiment. Every time these experimental changes take place, sellers report a drastic drop in their sales. The forums have been honed down to keep sellers from publicly voicing their dislike of all the changes. These changes have a negative impact on the sellers who faithfully pay their fees. Not allowed a promotional thread? Yes, must hide our promos in a team so what is the point. ARTFIRE is a seller friendly venue, Etsy should take note of ARTFIRE, it is filled with sellers who closed their shops on Etsy

Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace   Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace

by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 28 13:04:27 2011

@Digby - "I am not into hand made.
But just interested.
All the above posts are anti etsy.
Yet the number of listings on etsy keeps rising by quite a bit each day.

The CEO did say they are putting on extra staff to police listings "

I'm sure the flat 20 cent fee for 3 months' listing has a lot to do with the rise in listings.  I have a shop there - only go to submit a new listing or to deal with a customer.  Nothing else there interests me.

Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace   Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace

by: A Former Etsy Seller

Mon Feb 28 13:05:48 2011

Not only do I think that Rob Kalin's approach to eCommerce is flawed in that buyers wish to find what they want, make the purchase and move on instead of socialize, but I find his need to press his views and experiments onto others reckless. The original Etsy sellers and Etsy's growth did not come about because Rob informed them of his plans to use them as a grand experiment. It came because he promised a vision of a handmade-centric platform to allow the smaller indie artisan to try their hand at selling and making a living. He has not only betrayed that promise by turning on the initial way he sold the site to his client base (the sellers), but by now belittling them with comments such as these if they don't like being the subject of his experiments:

"What if making good use of Circles and increasing your influence helps you sell your stuff?

What you're saying is you don't want to help yourself. The # of shops on Etsy is increasing every day, and we're working hard to build better tools for sellers to sell. Circles is one of these tools."

He has let success go to his head. Kalin is far from infallible, and his increasing missteps as he betrays the original PUBLIC vision (who knows what private vision he never shared) are alienating both sellers and buyers.

Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace   Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace

by: Trained Observer

Mon Feb 28 13:30:22 2011

Sellers are not pleased with the changes. It has become more and more difficult to sell on this site. Kalin keeps making changes that are not beneficial to navigating the site or finding things in search. The site is supposed to sell handmade (artisan) goods, supplies for making crafts and vintage items over 20 years old. These types of sellers have been crowded out by blatant resellers, yard sale type goods, non-vintage, counterfeit designer items and others. Users abuse the tagging system, which should have been repaired long ago, which ruins the search function. The same select bunch of people appear on the front page often multiple times a day. Some sellers are allowed to do whatever they want in the forums and others are "muted" (banned from commenting) for simply asking questions. The forums used to be an excellent way to find new friends, promote items and get answers to business and other questions. As they exist now, its akin to being back in middle school - you are with the "in" crowd or ignored. The general way the company is managed is poor. There is no consistency on how rules are enforced. The TOU is violated every day by Etsy itself. Etsy has pulled some scams on its users by suggesting they "renew" their items often (at only 20 cents a pop but it adds up) in order to remain in the top end of their search - this after limiting the search function instead of fixing it. Etsy is aware of people violating copyrights but makes the copyright holder jump thru flaming hoops to get things taken down. Same holds true for those who have their pictures and text stolen by other "artists" even tho the evidence is clear to anyone.
Many, many buyers are mislead into believing they are buying "handmade" and therefor unique. They are actually buying imported factory-made items. They are sold counterfeit "designer" bags touted as vintage.
All this and more has diluted Etsy's reputation and hordes of sellers have left to go to Artfire, Shoply, Zibbet and other venues who have learned from Etsy's mistakes.
Kalin seems to think that he will be the next Facebook by selling information gathered on people on his site. The sad truth is that most sellers who came to the site came to sell. They did not come to join in a social clique. He "comments" on the forums but never seems to address the questions that come to him. He sounds like a canned recording which further shows how out of touch he is. Etsy is a diluted brand and has become a poor imitation of Ebay.

Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace   Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace

by: Megan
Web Site

Mon Feb 28 13:47:04 2011

Etsy is taking a big risk by jumnping onto the social network bandwagon. One the one hand, this could ensure that it doesn't get left behind as a marketplace and go-to web site as the internet morphs into a place of interaction. On the other hand, it could be going about it the wrong way and scaring off too many sellers and buyers by being too confusing and adding too many new features at once.

I'm keeping my shop at Etsy, trying to do the best a can as the changes roll in and out, hoping for the best but waiting to see how it goes.

Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace   Etsy Is Determined to Become a More Social Marketplace

by: echoart

Mon Feb 28 13:48:17 2011

Etsy has become LESS truly social, since destroying the forums. All this other BS -- circles, teams, etc. -- is nothing more than Etsy trying to be Facebook, and it is pitiful, seeing Etsy trying to jump on a trend that is on its way out. Etsy WAS a wonderful site, and it's a shame it is taking the same path as ebay did, by not listening to what its customers (i.e., sellers) actually want, by muting anyone who speaks out against the changes, by closing the shops of some people who speak out against the changes.

I left ebay for Etsy, when ebay went to hell in a handbasket. Now I guess it's time to leave Etsy for ArtFire, for the same reason.

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