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Tue Feb 18 2014 12:57:44

Should Etsy Show Sold Item Prices?

By: Julia Wilkinson

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This is a bit of a "devil's advocate" post. Full disclosure: I am a seller on Etsy, and like selling on there. (Etsy employees are apparently pretty happy too). However, after noodling around on the site to try to find some sold item prices, to help myself in reasonably pricing one of my own items, I realized Etsy simply does not show sold prices.

I can see pros and cons to this. There was a discussion a while back on one of their boards about this, where an Etsian thought sold item prices were showing. An Etsy admin, Lori, clarified in the thread, "Hopefully I can clear up some confusion here. If an item is sold out, the listing's price will not be displayed. If a sold item has been renewed, the transaction URL will display the active listing with its most current price."

She continued, "If a listing is showing a price, but the "Add to cart" button is greyed out, this means the item was renewed after being sold, but has since been deactivated, deleted, or has expired," and added, "I've already sent your thread along to the right team for further consideration. Thanks so much for all the feedback!"

(Update: "You're correct, sold item prices are not displayed," an Etsy spokesperson told AuctionBytes Blog. "Showing sold items is a way to help buyers understand the breadth of a shop's inventory and style. Buyers aren't as interested in past prices or an exact record of sales as they are in what they can find for sale now or to be inspired as to ways they might work with a seller on a custom item.")

So why would sellers on Etsy say they do not want sold prices shown? Here are some reasons they gave in the thread: "Absolutely agree.. sold price should NOT show up in sold items!" said "Liz." "That information should be private between the seller and the buyer."

"Yes, I agree, Liz. Lots of factors in pricing," added a seller named Linda.

Perhaps "Wanda" summed it up best: "First of all, some buyers do not want anyone who they might buy an item for as a gift to snoop around and see how much they paid for it. In fact, I have had buyers tell me before purchasing that, if there was any way the price could be seen, they could not buy it. Secondly, it violates the sellers' privacy, because all anyone has to do to figure out their Etsy income is to go through and look at their sold prices. I'm not comfortable with this at all. What I sell my stuff for is between me and my buyers, and it should not be made visible to anyone else - not under any circumstance - not for an hour, not for a day, not for a week, and not at all."

These are good points, especially, I think, in light of a marketplace that has largely handmade items, as there may be an inherent tendency among people to discount the work that has gone into making them.

On the other hand, putting on my "devil's advocate" hat, viewing sold prices might it help some other Etsy sellers to be able to price their items reasonably...as in, not way too high, and not unfairly low?

Or is this just something that should stay a seller's and their buyers' own business? Another question: does this mean other marketplaces, such as eBay, should follow suit? Personally I like being able to see sold prices on eBay, at least in the limited way they go back (unless one pays for a Terapeak or other price data service).

What do you think? What are the pros and cons of being able to see completed items on marketplaces? Post a comment here!



Comments (28) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Should Etsy Show Sold Item Prices?   Should Etsy Show Sold Item Prices?

by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 18 15:06:08 2014

As a seller, I don't like others to see what an item I relist at another site cost at another. It has caused problems before. as a buyer, I never look to see what an item has sold for in the past because I know the values of what I buy. There are other sites for sales records.

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 18 15:08:16 2014

It's kind of like a seller educating a buyer by telling everything about the item (other than the necessary details)--I feel there are better sources of background info, too.

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by: miss_west This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 18 15:17:57 2014

While I've been registered on Etsy for a long time and sold a few things, I have never fully delved into it but plan to in the next few months. This article helped me because I was under the impression that the sold item prices were visible to the public. I didn't realize that since I'm the shop owner I can see what my things sold for but the general public can't. (duh!)

After realizing this, I am happy and eager to start listing my items. I plan on selling some of my drawings and small paintings on Etsy. Now, down the road of life if things go well for me and I start charging more for my art, then I don't want people to look at my sales history and complain that I used to sell my paintings for less.

I sell household & clothing items every now and then on ebay and I do agree that being able to see comparable items and their prices help me. But it's just different than the handmade items I would sell on Etsy. If I want to see what another artist charges for a painting similar to mine then I could go to galleries, talk to my artist friends, visit people's websites and see what they charge, etc. If I wanted to, I guess I could look at artwork currently up for sale by Etsy artists and look to see if they are making sales at all.  Anyway, I guess ebay is different because you can list things auction style and ultimately the final price is determined by the bidders, not you.  So if I sell a painting on ebay and it starts at 100 and goes up to 157 and sells- and then another one goes up to 195 and sells, then the people who buy my paintings at a higher cost have nobody to blame for the price difference but other bidders. It’s all about demand.

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This user has validated their user name. by: juliawww

Tue Feb 18 15:25:43 2014

Miss West, glad I could help! ;) It certainly does seem that Etsy sellers, or those whom I've heard speak out on it, are happy with the status quo of no sold prices publicly listed.  

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by: reiszvanadis This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 18 15:51:34 2014

Yes, Etsy should show sold item prices. In the past, did they not show sold item prices? That was awhile ago but I coulda sworn they did... back in 2009 or so. Anyways I don't see the bad in showing the price. I'd like to see it so I can get an idea of what sells at what price, as a consumer and soon to be entrepreneur.  

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by: Mr. Me This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 18 20:22:43 2014

I use "sold prices" to judge the price that a sites buyers are willing to pay for similar items, so yes it is a good idea.

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by: DingDong This user has validated their user name.

Wed Feb 19 09:23:23 2014

I like the sold items listed.

I like to see what items are being sold for, such as are Ugly Sweaters still being sold in March for late sales or Christmas patterns being sold in September for early sales.

I like to compare my handmade quilts to others. I am so disappointed that so many quilters are undervalue their quilts and understand they need the money. I have cut my quilt prices down 1/3 but I will not go down to nothing.

I have started to sell clothing and have no idea of ''name brands'' being an Old Tom Boy. Ebay has been very helpful especially when I had sweaters that were over $100 when new and was able to sell them for $50. (Thank you for paying my fuel oil bill)

I do find it a helpful resource to have the sold price. There are a lot of items that I see the sold prices and I will not list them for that. I rather hold onto the items or list them somewhere else for the price I want.

I won't play cut throat to another seller, I tried to figure out what is fair, how long am I willing to hold onto the item and if I am in a pinch.  

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by: gadget This user has validated their user name.

Wed Feb 19 23:53:51 2014

No. I've been on Etsy since 2008, and they've never shown sold prices, nor should they.

My reasons are the same as have already been given. If a seller doesn't know how to price their items, that's something they need to learn - on their own. Not at the expense of a buyer's privacy, or for that matter the expense of a seller's income.

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by: cayenna This user has validated their user name.

Wed Feb 19 23:54:55 2014

I have vendors that purchase bulk handmade items that they do not want their customers to know what they are paying for the item. If a customer discovered it then they would know their profit margin.

I agree it is a personal decision who gets what at what price. I may decide to sell one item for one price and the same item for a different price to someone else at a discount because of a barter agreement or whatever... If someone wants an idea what to sell something for do a search on google there's plenty of info out there. Another thing, what I started out selling in my shop was a lot less expesive when I first started and now that my brand is developed I charge more. The last thing I want is a potential customer to come to me and say can I have this for the price you sold it for back on such and such a date in my shop. How would I say no? Would they still buy or go away feeling I like to rip people off... Why can't what works just be left alone. Things are working just fine to a degree leave it be.

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by: gadget This user has validated their user name.

Wed Feb 19 23:56:47 2014

DingDong, I hope you realize that your ugly Christmas sweaters, and anything else that you yourself don't make, have to be 20 or more years old to be listed on Etsy.

Etsy is exclusively for handmade, vintage (20+ years old), and supplies for making handmade.  

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by: booksy This user has validated their user name.

Wed Feb 19 23:58:18 2014

You can actually find the sold prices, if you visit the individual listings.

In the Overview box on the upper right of the listing, right click and select View Page Info.  Scroll down through the gobbledygook and you will find the list price.

Not practical for viewing a lot of items, but useful if you are trying to compare an item like the one you have to list.

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by: gadget This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 20 00:05:36 2014

Booksy, that doesn't work for me. In the Overview box, the only things that are clickable are the Review and contact links. Right clicking doesn't give me a view page info option.

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by: Savvy Thrifter This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 20 01:58:23 2014

Etsy should absolutely show ''sold'' prices. I'd love to be able to see how to price my items so I don't price them too high or too low. And, no I don't sell jewelry.

If Etsy decided to go ahead and show sold prices without the approval of sellers -- what would be the repercussion for Etsy? Nothing.

Yes, there will be disgruntled sellers (that's nothing new), but they aren't going anywhere because there are no greener pastures for handmade items ''and'' the daily site traffic is only second to eBay.

If this is what customers and sellers are asking for -- then Etsy should consider giving the people what they want.

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by: Watching the Wheels This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 20 03:20:22 2014

This isn't the end of the world. Look up the sold items, then check out the shop in question. Current pricing will be a ball park number that could be worked with.

When I research pricing I do Google searches to find a range of prices. There are variables beyond just a $ amount that dictate what an acceptable price is.

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by: ewegolf This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 20 07:39:02 2014

@ gadget. So are you saying that you'll never complain when an uneducated seller undercuts your prices due to their "ignorance"? They very well may affect other seller's incomes. Very admirable if that is the case.

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by: Daisy909 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 20 07:50:23 2014

Between Ebay sold prices and current prices on Etsy, I can figure out what to price my Etsy items at…somewhere in the middle.

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

Thu Feb 20 07:58:14 2014

I'm an active Etsy seller and am glad that buyers (and others) can't see how much my items sold for. As the owner of a brick and mortar store as well as an online business, I can tell you that it would inject another element into the delicate process of buying.  You really don't want the buyers getting bogged down with too much info-- keep it simple.  When I'm pricing an item, it has very little to do with past practices and everything to do with today's market values.  I sell vintage and handmade and there can be a big difference in price between similar items that were sold a year ago and what I can get on the open market today.  Let's keep it private.  

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by: KathleenJohnson This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 20 08:16:50 2014

Interesting discussion.

A "customer", no matter the reason for stepping in the door - is a potential sale on the horizon.

If they come "shopping" for "sold" prices, and they meander onto other turf and "buy", then it is a win-win.

I believe in Openness and Transparency - so, for me, I have more trust in sites that do not "hide" anything about the sale: before, during, or after.

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by: felyne This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 20 08:23:46 2014

NO! If an item is popular I raise prices. This can only make potential customers angry if they see you've sold it for less.

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by: VintageLady This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 20 09:21:43 2014

NO. Weighing the pros and cons of showing sold item prices, I would say the huge benefits in terms of privacy of transaction and its participants, by far outweigh the small benefit of doing comparative pricing or shopping.

What ETSY should actually consider re-allowing AND displaying is the FEEDBACK for/of Buyers. Not the list of items purchased (I continue to be all for safeguarding privacy) but their RECORD of behaviour in transactions. Many transactions would become safer and more balanced if Buyers were held accountable for their practices, at least as much as Sellers are held accountable for theirs. Etsy is still blind/deaf to this major issue.

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