Etsy is running a free-shipping promotion that is available to some US shoppers. Some sellers were concerned since they must still pay shipping carriers, but Etsy will give sellers a credit for shipping costs for transactions that are part of the promotion.
Etsy kicked off the promo on Wednesday and said it would offer a small percentage of US shoppers free domestic shipping when they spend a certain amount, either $25 or $35 or more, in the same shop. The promo will run "for about a week."
Etsy explained in its announcement that most items from US shops would be included, with a few exceptions. (Listings with shipping prices greater than or equal to $500 won't be included, for example.)
"We're running this special promotion for a limited time - Etsy's covering the cost and there's nothing you need to do." Etsy isn't exactly covering the shipping for items purchased through the promotion - it's giving sellers a credit for the shipping, meaning sellers will have to pay shipping out of pocket. The marketplace explained:
"If a shopper makes a qualifying purchase from you during the promotion, you'll see a note on your orders page that Etsy covered the shipping costs on that order. You'll receive the funds from that order, minus the shipping costs, in your payment account. Within 24 hours, you'll get a separate credit from Etsy for the shipping price you set for that listing."
A seller who hadn't seen the announcement but sold an item to a buyer who qualified for free shipping was caught off guard
. "Etsy gave my buyer free shipping on high ticket item???? What is going on? The buyer is suppose to pay 25.00 shipping and Etsy gave it to them free. When I click on the "question" mark, it says Etsy has got my shipping covered? What's the deal?"
When sellers explained how the shipping reimbursement worked, one wit paraphrased a Popeye cartoon character: "Etsy will gladly pay you on Tuesday for a hamburger today."
But the announcement
itself set off a flood of angst-filled comments from sellers who disagreed with Etsy pushing free-shipping, and some said they believe such actions from the company cheapened the site, with some referring to it as promoting an "online flea market" image.
"Etsy is breeding an Amazon mindset for something that was never meant to be like Amazon and I hate them for it," one seller wrote.
Some sellers were also upset about the fact Etsy gives lower exposure to sellers who don't offer free shipping. "I pay the same fees as everyone else I should get the same exposure," one seller wrote.
Sellers who do offer free shipping are out of luck with the current promotion since Etsy won't be picking up the tab for their items. Etsy addressed them in the announcement, telling them to "keep it going. Listings with lower shipping prices rank higher in Etsy search and only some shoppers will see this promotion."
Etsy may have been expecting sellers to be happy it was enticing shoppers to buy with free shipping, but clearly not everyone is happy with its approach.
The terms and conditions of the promotion can be found on this page
of the Etsy website.