Conversing with artisans and crafters is part of the charm of shopping on Etsy. But in its bid to help sellers automate tasks to become more efficient, will Etsy lose the personal touch?
In July, Etsy announced it was giving its "Convos" feature an instant-chat style interface. In addition, it began displaying the seller's typical response time. Randomly checking two sellers today, one listing showed the seller typically responded within one month (ouch), the other within 24 hours.
Now, Convos are no more - they're called "Messages." Etsy explained on Tuesday, "It's got a new look that's easier to navigate and easier to read - and new tools designed to help you quickly compose personalized responses that could lead to more sales and more loyal customers for you."
But many sellers panned the new interface. Wrote one unhappy seller
, "Our messages with customers are not a string of chat. They should be treated like emails where a message is sent by one party who then goes about their business whilst waiting for the other party to respond. They should not behave like a live chat eg "Hi, I'm Mike. How can I help today?""
Other sellers pointed out that messages no longer have subjects and there's no way to search and organize them.
Some sellers had display issues that appeared to be caused by browser incompatibility issues.
In addition to the new interface, Etsy updated "snippets," now called "saved replies," which allow sellers respond to buyers with pre-written responses, though they can be personalized.
"So much for the personal touch in responding to questions," was one seller's reaction, though other sellers may appreciate the new feature.
The changes are part of a push by Etsy to get sellers to respond more quickly to would-be buyers. The marketplace explained, "When buyers are considering a purchase, they tend to make that decision quickly. In our research, we found that most buyers on Etsy make their purchase decision within 24 hours of sending a message to a seller. When they received a prompt response, buyers were more likely to complete a purchase. Conversion rates were highest when buyers received replies from sellers within two hours."
Etsy also added the ability for sellers to add coupons in their messages to buyers.
"Many sellers use coupons to encourage repeat business. That's why we've made it easier for you to include a coupon in your buyer responses with just one click," Etsy wrote in its announcement. "While composing a message, simply click Coupons below the message to select one of your active coupons and add it to your reply."
A typical reaction from sellers who have lots of back-and-forth discussions with buyers - for custom orders, for example - is the following from this thread on the Etsy boards
"Sorry - not a fan. Trying to scroll through message history is awful. All my saved messages no longer show the title. Attachments are above the message, not below. When I see a message that is new, the title does not show so I can't tell what it is about. Showing a use name like "Laura" does not give me any idea on who/what it is about. Most of my customers are sending 3-4 messages with one word before getting their message to me.
"My shop is all custom orders - we use message/convos for all orders with much back and forth till the design is finalized. This new system is very very frustrating to use. I know I'll get used to it, but ...... argh!"
The term "convos" seemed uniquely Etsy - although some sellers on the Etsy discussion boards said they had never liked it. Let us know what you think of the new Messages feature - Tuesday's announcement can be found in this post on the Etsy boards
. And Etsy will host a "live walk through" on the Etsy Success Facebook on October 24 at 11 am ET.