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Wed Mar 25 2015 22:16:07

Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate

By: Ina Steiner

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Nobody enjoys paying shipping for online purchases, but what really gets buyers worked up is being overcharged. Etsy has been working on a shipping calculator for some time - and now it's launched a beta version that all sellers can try out in a prototype.

Calculated shipping has been high on the wish lists of sellers, who up to this point had had to use a flat rate shipping estimate. Even worse, they had to come up with a rate for those customers ordering multiple quantities. That often meant either taking loss or overcharging customers. And in many cases, sellers would feel they had to refund the buyer for overages, taking up valuable time and not leading to an ideal experience for the shopper.

Etsy Product Manager Calia Talmor told us the company was aware of the limitations - for example, sellers might offer $5 shipping and $1 for a second item, leading to "really inaccurate shipping costs."

Now with the new functionality, sellers input the weight and dimensions of their items and the Etsy calculator displays shipping costs based on the buyer and seller zip code.

We spoke to several sellers about their experience pre-testing the new feature (see the article in Thursday's Newsflash). One surprise was how sellers factored in the dimensions of their products.

We check backed with Talmor, who said Etsy recommends sellers use the item size, and not the final package size. And, if items require a lot of bubble wrap or packing, they've found it's a good idea to use the size and weight of the item "wrapped."

"We released a new feature yesterday, called "package preferences," which allow sellers to provide us with their preferred shipping boxes," she said. "This makes it even easier for them to just give us their item weight and size for individual listings, since we now know their commonly used box sizes."

"All that being said," she continued, "sellers have their own shipping workflows, so we're trying not to be too authoritative on item vs package size. The sellers in the closed team found that calculated shipping was most accurate when they entered the true item (or wrapped item) size."

What about Commercial Base discounts - are those shown or are retail rates displayed, we asked. Talmor said Etsy is giving sellers flexibility on this. Sellers can choose between Retail rates (the rates they would get at the Post Office counter) and "Etsy Shipping Label rates," which is the equivalent of Commercial Base pricing.

Sellers who use Etsy Shipping Labels and receive Commercial Base discounts may still elect to choose Retail rates on the shipping calculator, she said. There are legitimate reasons for doing this - for example, some sellers will use that difference to apply toward handling and insurance costs, she said.

One feature that's missing is the ability to offer buyers an insurance option via calculated shipping. "We know that this might be important to some sellers and hope to address it in future versions," a moderator of the prototype team told members.

Etsy is counting on sellers to test the tool in order to provide it with feedback. The sellers we spoke to, whose names were provided by Etsy, said they would never go back to doing shipping the old way and are enthusiastic about calculated shipping.

One selling duo said they were considering lowering their handling costs now that they've been able to use calculated shipping.

Etsy recognizes that sellers will have to invest the time to add weight and dimensions for listings using calculated shipping. Talmor said Etsy will build out additional features in prototype to make it easier. Sellers make the investment at the beginning, and it will save them time over the long run by not having to answer buyer questions and issue refunds. "Hopefully sellers will see it as a worthwhile investment," she said.




Comments (14) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate   Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate

by: joyful17 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 26 01:04:48 2015

As a Jewllery designer and seller on Etsy...I find that a prescribed shipping amount ( calculated by Etsy) will not work for me.
I ship from Canada, where postal rates are high, and increase  even in mid-year. The item must be bubble wrapped,placed in a gauze bag and then a velveteen Gift bag before placing in a bubble envelope.
Beside the cost of all these items, there is the time to actually prepare invoice and custom papers.
Like most, I have to make a post office run to ship...
In my particular situation, I also have to include the time my assistant takes making all the preparations...about a half hour of her hourly fee.
So you see, only I can make a fair decision as  to what flat rate I request. I ship 99.9% to US and Europe.
While my shipping fee is higher than some others,I have not had any complaints,,,and like others, offer free shipping from time to time.

Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate   Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate

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

Thu Mar 26 02:47:08 2015

And I sell vintage items with a wide range of sizes and a wide range of packing requirements. I don't know what the packing needs would be in many cases until it is actually packaged.

I offer combined packing rates, but need to know what the entire order is before I am able to quote a price.

Etsy's standards also usually wind up being too mediocre for me to even be willing to use their half baked features.

Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate   Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate

This user has validated their user name. by: Vintage Touch
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Thu Mar 26 07:13:41 2015

If I'm understanding this correctly, you would need to know the pkg SIZE at the time of listing the item along with the weight?  Wow, that would really be difficult to know unless you sell the same type of thing that goes in the same type of packaging.  At eCrater if you use calculated shipping, you enter the weight of the package and it is calculated for the buyer.  In this case I put the item on the scale with a box and add a few more ounces for packaging.  It has worked beautifully for years.  

Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate   Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate

by: Daisy909 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 26 07:20:40 2015

Leave it to Etsy to make calculated shipping as difficult as possible. I agree with Vintage Touch, just put the boxed weight of the item and let it be!

Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate   Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 26 08:37:57 2015

Sounds like taking the company public is easier than spending money on a shipping calculator.......

Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate   Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate

by: Russ This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 26 09:30:30 2015

Next ''feature'' associated with etsy's calculated shipping may be a fee similar to eBay's fee attached to shipping charges...hey, it's revenue that looks great to potential investors in advance of the IPO...Chad?  Are you listening?

Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate   Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate

by: ewegolf This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 26 09:38:39 2015

Have to also put size measurements on each item?  I'm curious if Etsy ever considered that nobody else requires this.  Etsy programmers obviously don't want to overwhelm sellers with practicality.

Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate   Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate

by: Toledo Maude This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 26 11:12:12 2015

Wow!  Shipping this year has become so expense to far off destinations.  

Forever and a day, I took the easy way out and listed a single one “price fits all” shipping charge on eBay and Etsy.

At the end of last year, I ended under billing for shipping and handling a total of $600.  That was a big hole in my profits.

Starting with eBay, I switched to listing the weight and dimension of my packages.  Most of my orders are shipped via the Post Office who basically charge by the pound.  So estimating the packed weight has become easier and easier.  

Although, you can still hear me wailing when a package is 1/10 of an ounce over a pound(s) and I must pony up charges for a whole additional pound.  To the West Coast that is substantial and scary.

With Etsy, a one “price fits all” shipping charge was a lose - lose situation.

If I charge for deliveries to the West Coast, how many sales to the East Coast do I lose?    

Sales on Etsy are sufficiently slow.  I do not need another “roadblock” discouraging sales.

With Etsy new shipping calculator, although not perfect, I look forward to more accurate shipping charges.  Good for my customers and good for me!

Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate   Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate

by: ruthie This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 26 11:17:00 2015

''We check backed with Talmore, who said Etsy recommends sellers use the item size, and not the final package size''
------------------------

That makes no sense whatsoever. The package dimensions and weight are what determines cost.  

Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate   Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Thu Mar 26 11:58:59 2015

Article states: "... sellers would feel they had to refund the buyer for overages, taking up valuable time...."

How many sales are the sellers processing on Etsy that they don't have time to do a refund? All my items on eCrater have flat rate shipping, and if someone buys multiple items, after I have packed them together and weighed the package (which I would have to have done anyway in order to print out a mailing label), it takes me maybe a minute to determine what I should refund, and approximately half a minute to do the actual refund. So for less than five minutes' of time I have a happy customer because I've saved them money.  

Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate   Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Thu Mar 26 14:28:54 2015

The reason for putting in dimensions is for multii-quantity. If you put in dimensions of the box, and someone orders 2, it would require a larger box; where adding dimensions of two "items" may show they can fit in the same size box as shipping one item.

Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate   Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate

by: ewegolf This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 26 15:48:37 2015

@ Ina. It really doesn't make any difference on item dimension as there is no box measurement specified to begin with. Multi-items are based on weight.  If someone has a product line that is consistently on dim weight then they should stay with fixed-price shipping.  Etsy is acting like they are the first to have calculated shipping, rather than one of the last.

Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate   Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate

by: csmih731 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 26 16:39:44 2015

What I'm waiting for is an option to NOT combine items. I sell vintage and a lot of my items can't be shipped together.

Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate   Etsy Shipping about to Get More Accurate

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

Fri Mar 27 08:50:39 2015

The reasoning behind putting the box size into the mix is because post office rates can change once you go past 12 inches in any given dimension.

@ToledoMaude, I work with the flat rate and for the most part wind up being pretty accurate. I'm in New York and when I was working through how to charge for shipping. I went to the PO website and based my calculations on something going to California. I compared the priority rates for given weights against what the standard mail cost would be. I picked a price somewhere between the 2 and added a dollar or 2, to cover the weight of a box, and if a given item was going to require substantial packing materials.

I reserve the option to choose whether it goes out Priority, 1st Class or Standard, and do so to keep my shipping as economical as I can for a customer.

After reading the requirements that would need to be met to insure an insurance Payout by the PO, I opted to "self insure", again to keep shipping competitive. The required double boxing and thickness of packing peanuts had the potential to add substantial costs to what shipping needed to be. Then add to the fact, That I view insurance as "kickback money" that is extorted by the carriers. Think about it. Why should I pay extra to get an entity to do their job properly?

IF there winds up being an excess of shipping $$ after a combined order, I do a refund, which makes customers happy.

I don't make an issue about this in one form or another, and for items that I KNOW how much can safely be crammed into the flat rate packaging, I will mention combined shipping in the listings itself.

I also don't get how much time could be lost doing refunds. You have to visit whatever payment processing center you're using, anyway. How long does clicking a few buttons really take?

IF you are doing such a volume that this simple function is a hardship, you should already be aware of what your shipping runs, and have already made the necessary adjustments.

Personally, I don't plan on messing with it.



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