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Sat Feb 21 2015 12:22:50

Etsy Is Too Risky, Seller Writes in Wired Magazine

By: Ina Steiner

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A former Etsy seller and author of a book called "Crafty Superstar" has written a negative piece about Etsy for Wired - and she sets the stage right away with the dramatic title, "How Etsy Alienated Its Crafters and Lost Its Soul." 

In the opinion piece, Grace Dobush writes:

"Etsy is the fifth most-visited marketplace site in the U.S., after Amazon, eBay, Walmart and Best Buy. But for that visibility, sellers have little autonomy in the store's design, and are subject to the site's rules, fees and design. A customer complaint can freeze your payment account. An accusation of copyright violation can freeze your store or shut it down entirely. For a full-time crafter, that's too much of a risk."

To be fair, one could write that about nearly any marketplace - intellectual property issues and bad buyers are a reality of selling online. And Etsy is not just a marketplace for crafters and artisans - it's also a channel for vintage goods.

The former Etsy seller also throws Amazon under the bus in an aside. "Like book authors who hate Amazon's policies, crafters who hate Etsy find it hard to leave because of the site's immense traffic and generally positive public reputation."

Despite such sweeping statements, the article makes some valid points, including the problem of "resellers" and the challenge Etsy has in trying to scale its business. 

It's difficult to keep everyone happy and very difficult to scale without a lot of growing pains. Alibaba's U.S. marketplace 11 Main is trying to limit the type of seller it allows on its site and what types of items they can sell - but that can make for a very frustrating experience for sellers. And in Etsy's case, becoming a global marketplace intensifies the challenge of scaling while trying to keep control of what's sold on its site.

Reading the piece in Wired, one gets the idea it is now cool to accuse Etsy of being not cool. "While Etsy maintains a hipster facade, they lost their indie cred years ago," Dobush writes.

Will Etsy be able to keep its "hipster facade," or will the backlash intensify once Etsy goes public later this year?



Comments (29) | Permalink

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by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Sat Feb 21 17:31:46 2015

Gee I thought she was talking about Ebay.

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Sat Feb 21 20:24:18 2015

I was attracted to Etsy in 2011 for the vintage goods. I do love and buy crafts, but it has always been a home to collectibles too. This seller had a romanticized view from the beginning. If Etsy has launched lots of online crafts businesses, I think that makes it a GOOD venue for a start. I never saw the hipster facade I guess.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Sat Feb 21 22:48:30 2015

"Etsy Alienated Its Crafters and Lost Its Soul"

And

"eBay Alienated its Smaller Seller and lost its Mind (and marketshare)"

Big companies always hire some "braintrust" to fix problems that most times dont even exist.

Their answer is ignoring/alienating one set of people (usually the ones responsible for you being successful to start with) for another set .... and as eBay found out .... it doesnt work most times.

Stick to what you are good at and make that work as a jack of all trades is good at none.

eBay lost ITS cool a few years back. Most (like me) hang around because in alot of businesses, Amazon is #1 followed by eBay - for sheer traffic and sales.

But certainly its been a half decade or so since eBay was cool. Now its mostly a haven for theives - starting from eBay itself to the buyers it protects at all costs.

Not ignoring Amazon here ..... they arent "cool" they are just the worlds largest retailer - who can drive traffic like no one else can. And ... alot of their policies are WORSE then eBays (some even make eBay look like choir coys)(In A-Z claims for example - if a customer sayd INR - delivery  confirmation isnt worth the paper its printed on, where on eBay it is ...!)

Since I dont sell on Etsy I cant tell you directly.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Sun Feb 22 09:11:17 2015

I like the "sold their soul part".

Once a company becomes public, that is EXACTLY what they do.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Sun Feb 22 14:33:37 2015

Once a company becomes public, that is EXACTLY what they do.

( ^^ Yes. This. ^^)

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Sun Feb 22 21:53:02 2015

I started in 2007.
My special invention drew other people in to begin their own shops.
An ETSY IPO will be the death knell for most of us.
But I'm not too old to move to another even More fitting site.
Yes, it isn't over 'til it's over. So, young programmers, get ready to create a site that keeps the fees under 2%, has an in house charge card system, and combines auctions and quick purchase WITHOUT being a stock market darling.
It has to happen. It's the only thing missing from the "palette" of creative options. So, count me in when you come to Ina, here, as that is how I found ETSY  :o)

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by: marcello This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 23 00:49:11 2015

Same old tiresome whine.

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 23 01:03:32 2015

ETSY is all fine 'n good I guess but their system is--to this one-time buyer--all too invested in the SELLER IS ALWAYS RIGHT.

I know that to us ebay sellers esp long time sellers this sounds like hawg heaven.

But--once upon a time ebay WAS a more fair market place BECAUSE neither the buyer nor the seller had a particularly "Upper Hand".  When the Negative for buyers was in place it DID level that playing field out.

ETSY on the other hand acts as if the BUYER were the Bad Guy --you cannot even contact them unless you file a CONTACT REQUEST and then maybe if the stars are aligned right they will call you.  Their sellers can be extremely abusive of the buyers.  

Somewhere in the middle lies the right balance

WE just have not found anyone to actually implement this

Anyone?

Hello???

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Mon Feb 23 02:23:23 2015

"Contact Request"? never heard of it....Open Communication here....no problem.

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by: bb6 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 23 02:31:19 2015

I read that Etsy has millions in backing. How come they never advertise? I don't know any one that knows what etsy is. I even know crafters that don't know what etsy is. Why does everyone take the if you build it they will come approach. I get it if you are strapped for cash but if you have millions behind a site at least do some radio advertising to draw in more buyers that wouldn't otherwise know about the site. I hear sellers saying they get a sale here and there from etsy. That doesn't exactly make me want to jump out of my seat and set up shop there.  

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by: AntiquesEtCetera13 This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Feb 23 02:35:03 2015

I Joined Etsy in July 2014 and so far have been very satisfied, I have had regular sales and payments by Direct Checkout and find it very easy to list items on Etsy.

I hope that they can soon fix the new categories that have just been implemented as they are a nightmare to place ones goods, with so many important headings missing.

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

Mon Feb 23 03:36:06 2015

RE: Categories, I wouldn't hold my breath. I've been on the site since 2008, and gave up trying to figure out how they come up with their choices.

Improper goods have also always been an issue.

For anyone who truly wants to try for changes, write the Board.  

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

Mon Feb 23 07:19:25 2015

The biggest problem with Etsy is that their alleged search engine is broken and has been for years. One thing you can say about Ebay, it's pretty easy to find stuff. Not the case on Etsy which has deliberately made shopping and searching a torture in many instances. The biggest problem I see with Etsy is their political structure more than anyting else. They are dyed in the wool NY hipster/leftist/ commies who hate capitalism and even, like their hero BHO, the USA. This leftwing anti-capitalist mindset filters thru to the marketplace where they now have a "diversity quota" on all listings across the board, regardless of content. Many of us small sellers are staying there till something better comes along as there's no other place for us at this time. If you accept all the problems and most of all the fact that you don't really have an actual "business" just a place to make a few extra bucks, no matter how much work you put into your shop, than Etsy is OK. I have lowered my expectations and keep working on listings but haven't yet given up my day job.

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

Mon Feb 23 07:53:30 2015

Had my stores at Etsy & now have them on Zibbet. Zibbet is dedicated to only hand made, not mass produced.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Mon Feb 23 07:55:53 2015

Zibbet is Prey Pal Only.

So, what's the "Risky" about Etsy ?
I don't get it.

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by: RAOTFLMAO This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 23 11:38:14 2015

"Somewhere in the middle lies the right balance"

Yeah, right!  even in the pre internet days of the old brick and mortar business was ther ever always a "right" balance??  As long as there are individuals doing business with each other there will never be a complete balance....
Well of course if I had a particularly vexing customer I would make it simple, I would ban them from my store....sorta like blocking a pesky internet shopper.  

Also I don't see the point of this article really.  Somebody wanting to write something but the story really goes nowhere....imho  

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

Mon Feb 23 14:00:23 2015

I used Etsy for a while and was sorely disappointed when the company decided to open the site for mass produced, cheaply made goods from China. I was also sorely disappointed when it decided to "experiment" with this or that site modification, changing categories constantly, and even censoring comments in the forums. I had operated my own site for years before and now after that. I don't see why I should give them money for sitting there and not selling anything. I made more money in the year I was there in person at conventions and on my own site. So yeah, Etsy is like a casino where it is obvious that the house always wins.
 

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by: marcello This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 23 14:04:35 2015

The article is inane and not worth commenting on.

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by: Gina This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 23 16:02:52 2015

Etsy threw me under the bus!
Money in their pockets is all they care about!  One complaint and you are shut down irrevokably!  I know this from first-hand experience.  Why anyone would put up with all their BS is beyond me!  
Etsy, like ALL other selling sites, discovered that home-based sellers are desperate and will pay anything to be scammed into giving their hard work away for nothing, and paying for the priviledge!!

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by: sundance This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 23 16:09:08 2015

I started with Etsy back in 2007 and had great sales of my hand crafts, yarns and supplies for about 4 years, then life got in the way and I stopped for a few  years.  When I came back in 2013, I was appalled at the number of resellers and folks listing in vintage that we NOT vintage.  I've slowed down my listings and may move a lot of my hand crafts over to my Zibbet shop.  I'm not thrilled with all the 'new' policies and formatting on Etsy.  We'll see what the totals tell me when I close this first quarter's spreadsheet, and look at the closing of 2014 ... doesn't look good unless I make a huge amount of sales over the next 4-6 weeks.

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