Etsy desperately wants to offer shoppers free shipping, but a new program it's considering has some sellers spitting mad.
"Free domestic shipping when you spend $XX or more" is the enticement Etsy believes will draw shoppers to its site and get them to buy, and buy more. But since sellers are the ones who ship products to buyers and actually pay the shipping carrier, Etsy must find a way to encourage (or coerce) sellers.
Some of the incentives Etsy is considering offering sellers for participating in the free-shipping program include: reimbursement for a portion of return shipping costs; a certain amount of free listings; full customer service; and, "an option for us to price your items to compensate for the free shipping."
Another question highlighted the "sticks" in the carrot-and-sticks approach, asking sellers, "How likely or unlikely would you be to close your shop if Etsy did the following based on shop participation in the free shipping program?" and describing the following scenarios:
- Only items from shops that adopt the shipping program are in our paid advertising.
- Only items from shops that adopt the shipping program appear in search at all.
- Only items from shops that adopt the shipping program are featured in Etsy navigation.
Etsy is considering two ways of marketing the free-shipping program to buyers - one is offering free domestic shipping on items that cost over a certain amount; the other is offering free domestic shipping on a minimum spend.
There are a few versions of the survey, here are two examples from one version:
"Free domestic shipping when you spend $50 or more": This means as a seller you'd offer free shipping within the US when a buyer spends $50 or more site wide on Etsy.
"Free domestic shipping on items that cost $40 or more": This means as a seller you'd offer free shipping within the US on any item with a price of $40 or more.
There are other dollar amounts in other versions of the survey - we've heard as low as $25 and $35.
Sellers can already choose to offer free shipping if it makes sense for their model - but Etsy wants to heavily promote the free-shipping program to attract shoppers.
While some sellers say free shipping just doesn't work for the types of items they sell, having the "item" version would be more palatable at least to some sellers, since it would not impact sellers of low-priced goods. But the minimum-spend "sitewide" might do nothing to alleviate concerns, since a buyer might purchase five $10 items, each from a different seller, to meet a $50 threshold, for example.
We don't know is how close Etsy may be to launching such a program, but one thing is sure: it must be very tempting to be able to promote free shipping on Etsy during the holidays.
Let us know if you've taken the survey and what you think. Feel free to share examples of the types of items for which this program would work, or not work.