Etsy is testing a new feedback mechanism, and it's unusual in a surprising way: Etsy is asking shoppers - not buyers - to rate various aspects of a seller's listing. Sellers began seeing one aspect of the new test on Thursday, and many were not pleased.
Here's what sharp-eyed sellers began noticing on certain listings today: directly under the "Shipping & returns" section on some listing pages, Etsy inserted a box with the following text:
"Let Etsy know your opinion:
"How's this shipping price?"
"Cheap - Good - Expensive"
Etsy doesn't announce tests on its announcement board or forums, but to its credit, it has a page where sellers can keep track of the testing it runs.
Etsy's description of the test that began surfacing today: "We're testing showing a pop up on the listing page for shoppers to leave feedback about items they're viewing. We'll ask for specific feedback about the listing's shipping price, photo quality, and more."
Etsy's description of the goal of the test: "Better understand shopper preferences to give sellers helpful and accurate recommendations for their shop."
To reiterate, the new feedback questionnaire appears when someone is simply browsing, not after they've made a purchased.
Sellers vented their frustration over what they see as Etsy's obsession about shipping costs, of which Etsy recently began taking a 5% commission fee, another sore point with sellers.
They listed numerous concerns across a number of discussion threads.
- Sellers say buyers find surveys annoying when shopping (one compared it to sales clerks who follow you around a retail store).
- Sellers fear it may make buyers change their minds about making a purchase by pointing out the shipping cost.
"I hope this is a very short-lived test because it can only make buyers think, "Why, yes, now that you mention it, this is pretty high shipping. Maybe I shouldn't buy today and wait for a better deal..."
"I have calculated shipping in my shop based on the size and weight of an item and where the item is being shipped to. I have no control over the shipping charges. This only serves to make the buyer question the shipping charges which might make the buyer back out of the purchase."
- Sellers say using the word "cheap" in the popup box about shipping costs might make shoppers think of the product being cheap too:
"What's with the word "cheap" too? It just kind of melded together with the item at that point, and it all became a turnoff."
- Sellers say there's no reason for buyers to rate shipping costs positively.
"They are giving buyers the impression that their input will get them a better deal, or punish the seller somehow."
"What is the point of this? To make buyers think that sellers have some kind of choice in what shipping costs?"
- Sellers say buyers don't have any idea what reasonable shipping costs are;
- Sellers fear Etsy will use the data punitively against sellers, and/or will use it to justify more unpopular changes to shipping policies.
Some sellers said the feedback questionnaire shows up even when the seller offers free shipping.
Sellers pointed out that Etsy already pesters sellers about shipping costs. One seller wrote, "Etsy already DOES tell us we're charging too much! When I do a listing, I get a message indicating that "MOST" clothing items ship for under $5.00. Well, my items often (were) more than 1 LB. USPS rate is far more than $5.00 at that weight. Not to mention supplies, time and the 5% fee..."
One seller enthused about the test as an opportunity, stating that market research is expensive so sellers should be grateful Etsy will share the results of the tests with them. He was among the minority of those discussing the new feedback mechanism on the Etsy boards.