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Sat Mar 30 2019 23:56:01

Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program

By: Ina Steiner

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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.



Comments (50) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program   Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program

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

Sun Mar 31 00:17:19 2019

Dear Etsy ;
SHUT UP AND SIT DOWN.

Perminate Link for Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program   Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program

by: Sierra This user has validated their user name.

Sun Mar 31 01:11:45 2019

Where's the LIKE button?

Etsy: Keep your paws off my shop. This is definitely going too far!

Perminate Link for Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program   Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program

by: Silver Ice King This user has validated their user name.

Sun Mar 31 02:43:41 2019

Etsy just cannot stop following all of the bad examples of moves that Ebay continues to make.  I am so glad that my products do not qualify to sell on Etsy as these sites that have no skin in the game seem to just love giving Sellers money away so they can get higher profits.  

If Etsy wants to offer free shipping then let Etsy reimburse the entire cost of the shipping to the Seller, then we will see how long that program lasts.  Ebay has the guaranteed Delivery where they pay for shipping if the item does not arrive by a certain date but I have been reading threads on the boards that now the delivery dates seem to be changing on many of them after the buyer makes their purchase.  Anybody want to bet that Ebay was losing their rear ends on this program so they have now started fudging with the delivery dates so they don't have to pay for the shipping?

I still think that Etsy is having cash flow issues which is why they had the erroneous money grab over the Presidents Day weekend that I still have not heard anybody confirm is resolved to all sellers satisfaction and now they want to grow by taking more money out of the Sellers Pockets.  Starting to sound more and more like Ebay every day.

Also did anybody catch that comment about Etsy pricing the Sellers items to account for the free shipping??  Does anybody really trust Etsy or any platform to price their items for them when all the platform cares about is making a sale no matter how much money the Seller loses.

Perminate Link for Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program   Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program

by: LeeLoo This user has validated their user name.

Sun Mar 31 04:08:57 2019

Wha? This is super confusing and makes no logical sense at all.
Items would need to be in the $100's+ to make this work, and even on domestic shipping, could be anything from $1.00, to ++++
Would sellers sign up for such a thing (and I guess this is the big Q).
Yep, you get front and center no matter what, but you need to guarantee, that if a certain threshold is met on a buyer forking out, then free shipping for your customer. Oh, I don't think so.

Perminate Link for Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program   Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program

by: HappyOne This user has validated their user name.

Sun Mar 31 08:06:51 2019

I will comply with any of Etsy’s “free shipping” requirements and my prices will reflect the additional cost. Etsy is having a hard time duplicating the “growth” they had last year by raising FVF (3% to 5%) and charging FVF (5%) on shipping. Wall Street thinks this growth will/would continue as justified by a price earnings ratio (PE) over 100. The encouraged influx of “handmade” low quality crafts from India and other low wage countries has caused shoppers to be more cautious - sales are not growing double digit. Some legitimate crafters; 87% who are women are finding their EP (Etsy Pay) revenue (with all fees and shipping deducted) clearly not worth their effort. Just like Ebay for your listings to be seen sellers are “encouraged”  to buy Ads (Promotions) - but do they work? Clever crafters are finding other outlets for their products (FB, Pinterest, the “old” fashioned craft shows). High end crafters are using Etsy as a “cheap” form of advertisement to bring potential highend buyers to their own websites. World wide shipping costs are prohibitive; Etsy will have little increase in country to country sales except oneway sales from China and India. Expect more spaghetti thrown at the wall to see if it sticks from Etsy.  

Perminate Link for Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program   Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program

by: angryllama This user has validated their user name.

Sun Mar 31 08:28:31 2019

" NICE TO KNOW " that there truly IS a company (ETSY) even MORE STUPID than eBay.  Well, make that TWO.  I  had forgotten about the  Pedophiles for Progress website.

Back to Etsy for a moment.... can there truly be THAT MANY employed adults who failed Third Grade Math.... over and over?   Only a moron would fail to see the INSTANT PROBLEM with that one example of "free shipping if MORE than $50 sitewide" as five $10 purchases from FIVE different sellers.  Take it a step further and consider it as multiple $5 purchases from TEN sellers.  

Perminate Link for Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program   Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program

by: Donna This user has validated their user name.

Sun Mar 31 08:51:39 2019

What Ina's article doesn't mention is that you had to sign a non-disclosure agreement to take the survey.

Perminate Link for Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program   Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program

by: HappyOne This user has validated their user name.

Sun Mar 31 09:07:56 2019

Let me “Mull” this over. So how will this would work? I would now have to charge shipping on my current “free” shipping items without lowering price so it could be part of a $50 purchase? Otherwise buyer is buying $50 to get what is already “free”. What happens when one item is returned or one seller does not ship?

Perminate Link for Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program   Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Sun Mar 31 10:46:37 2019

If I made large, heavy items to sell on Etsy, I'd be truly terrified if the free shipping initiative was adopted. For an Etsy seller who makes, for instance, small and expensive jewelry items, that wouldn't be much of problem. But it seems Etsy is going for the 'one size fits all' logic that eBay uses.  

Perminate Link for Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program   Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program

This user has validated their user name. by: Number 6

Sun Mar 31 11:42:04 2019

This is an easy one for Etsy to solve.

They want Free Shipping?

No problem.

They pay for it, or do the shipping themselves, and sellers carry on trying to earn a crust selling on the site.

Oh hang on - you mean Etsy wants SELLERS to pay for the Free Shipping.

Always a catch isn't there.

Slavery may have been abolished, but its alive and well on the internet third party selling sites these days.

Coming next:

Etsy suggests to sellers they give their items away Free with Free Shipping.

You won't make any profit on one item, but you'll make it up in volume.




Perminate Link for Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program   Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program

by: EtsySeller This user has validated their user name.

Sun Mar 31 16:51:18 2019

Can you imagine selling vintage, a set of glassware or a wood shelf. Take a look through a couple of Vintage shops and look at the shipping costs. This isn't a few dollars added on to the item cost. The bigger problem in my estimation is how unfair this will be for buyers. For example, a wood magazine rack, shipping to Chicago from my location is 10.75, to New York, 14.38 and to Los Angeles, 19.32. I would have to charge everyone the 19.32 and add it to my item price. Currently there is calculated shipping that determines the cost difference in location and charges them correctly. I won't be playing this stupid game with Etsy. I have been selling on Etsy for 8 years but it is time to check out other places to sell. One thing Etsy does know and thats how to ruin a good site.

Perminate Link for Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program   Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program

This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Sun Mar 31 17:48:09 2019

I don't sell on Etsy but I've had that sort of discount set
up on eBay for years now and have never had to make good on it.  Nobody is willing to spend the sort of money required for me to not get killed on free shipping.

If I ever saw the sort of veiled threats in that letter, I'd be working towards cutting off all contact.

Perminate Link for Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program   Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program

by: lalaland This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 1 00:22:22 2019

Sellers hate eBay for many reasons.  One of them being telling us how to run our business.  Telling us we must offer free shipping is outrageous.  If you sell jewelry or something that weighs 10 oz and uses a poly mailer is one thing, but those of use who sell antique lamps and such is a completely different matter.  etsy, STOP IT!!.

Perminate Link for Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program   Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program

by: MIscetal This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 1 00:44:47 2019

I'm already tired of paying Etsy a commission on shipping, and seeing that idiotic warning that I am charging too much shipping on a three pound vintage item that is priced appropriately - that Etsy buyers want to pay $x.xx for an item at such-and-such a price point - we have been warned that if we don't meet Etsy's estimate of what we should charge for shipping Etsy will disadvantage our items in search (which is still a mess, after years of complaints being ignored in favor of unasked for tweaks during holiday selling seasons).

Does anyone at Etsy or Ebay or Bonanza actually have any experience selling items online to actual human beings?  Their increased hostility toward sellers suggests not.

Perminate Link for Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program   Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program

by: Bubbles This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 1 00:44:54 2019

Out the door faster than you can imagine. Shipping costs money and can't be incorporated in to lower priced items without the sale price looking totally over the top.

Perminate Link for Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program   Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program

by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 1 01:13:04 2019

If I am understanding this correctly, a person could buy 10 items or more items from sellers on Etsy that totaled $50 and get free shipping. Ten sellers would then have to pay the shipping costs for those items out of pocket. The Post Office just raised prices by a dollar or two for many of their items. It now costs $14.50 for 2 pounds from California to Florida. In that case should someone sell a $10 bowl they would be out more for shipping than they got paid.  I am so glad I gave Etsy the boot when they took my Paypal money.  

Perminate Link for Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program   Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program

by: AnotherTime This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 1 01:15:19 2019

First I've heard of this push and i'm furious.  Usps services, zones, weights and price variations make this impossible to swallow as a merchant.  
The focus needs to get off shipping for marketing purposes and on ţo genuine creative ways to draw in interested customers.  
As a former store owner, it was crucial to always come up with new fun events in the store to bring people in the front door.   Not just a sale. The same is true for online stores.
My business is dwindling on etsy because of endless tech changes and new fees and regulations. Can't even fathom what the end effect of sales tax changes will make!
Required free shipping? Oh hell no.  Time to move.  

Perminate Link for Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program   Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Mon Apr 1 02:22:25 2019

OMG don't let Ebay see this idea.  This is BEYOND CRAZY!!

Perminate Link for Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program   Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Apr 1 02:49:38 2019

It is a bit past 2:40 AM so maybe I didn't read this right>>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."<<

Etzy wants sellers to offer free shipping and then if the buyer wants to return it, they will be magnanimous and pay a portion of the return shipping. So the poor seller is supposed to ship on their dime or dollars and then returns will be partly, may be reimbursed by Etzy for how much. Being told to offer free shipping and then free return shipping that Etzy might kick in a buck would be galling. Please try selling on eCRATER!

I don't know how much ETSY charges for listings but then turns around and requires free shipping in exchange 'some' free listings!

Pray tell, what does "full customer service" mean? And why would Etsy think any seller wants the 'work' of setting a price to be taken away from the seller in exchange for them to offer free shipping.

As I said it is rather late in the night and I thought perhaps I hadn't read this correctly, but every time I look at it again, it still makes absolutely no sense.  I have begun to realize that the only venue on the internet for logic and seller's receiving appropriate compensation for their work is eCRATER and the more sellers that come to sell there, the more sales that will happen. Come sell on a site that cares about sellers!

Perminate Link for Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program   Etsy Mulls Controversial Free Shipping Program

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Mon Apr 1 02:58:53 2019

If what is said in the article is accurate.  Etsy is saying free shipping for $50+ purchased SITEWIDE, not per seller, but sitewide.  So they may only purchase $10 from me and then I'd be required to ship for free.  Oh NO you don't.

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