As promised, Etsy is marketing "free shipping" to entice shoppers to come to Etsy, and an example of that strategy came on Thursday in the form of a blog post targeting buyers
. Etsy resident trend expert Dayna Isom Johnson published the following post featuring the title, "It's Here! More Free Shipping Than Ever! The wait is over!"
"Just in time for the holiday season, shoppers on Etsy can now receive free shipping to the US from participating shops when spending $35 or more at that shop. Shoppers can easily uncover items that are eligible to ship free by using the "free shipping" filter when searching.
"We're ecstatic that more items than ever before are eligible to ship free on Etsy across all categories, and below are just a few of my faves. Check them out."
The post featured products that offered free shipping (Modern Terracotta Earrings, Support Your Local Farmer Kids Shirt, Terracotta Escort Cards, White Sienna Round Cat Basket, Snake Skin Boots, Stoneware Pottery Mug).
The post went on to say, "Discover more free shipping finds for the fall here
. Happy shopping!" and it included the following "fine print": "On US orders from the same shop. Participating shops only. See terms
Etsy had informed sellers in July
of its plans to promote free shipping. Incentive to sellers came in the form of a stick, rather than a carrot: Etsy began giving priority placement in US search results to items that shipped free and to shops that guaranteed US buyers free shipping on orders of $35 or more.
That was followed by a bombshell announcement this month
: items that don't offer some form of free shipping would be barred from appearing in the first page of search results:
"When a shopper in the US searches for an item, the first page of results - up to 48 listings* - will be reserved for items that ship free and items from shops that guarantee free shipping to US buyers on orders of $35 or more. Keep in mind that 83% of purchases from search on Etsy come from the first page."
The free-shipping strategy is an enormous risk for Etsy, which has found success by promising shoppers unique and special products. Focusing on free shipping, expected of commodity sites like Amazon, may send the wrong message to shoppers about what kind of goods are offered on the marketplace. Equally important, Etsy faces the risk of sellers being more open to exploring Amazon Handmade and other marketplaces if they struggle to be profitable or believe Etsy is no longer differentiated from other sites in shoppers' minds.
On the other hand, Etsy may succeed in driving more shoppers to the site - presumably those who don't balk at the higher prices that sometimes come with items offering free shipping (and perhaps including shoppers who are more interested in a bargain than in the unique).