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Tue Sept 17 2019 21:05:16

Risk as Etsy Revs up Free Shipping Strategy

By: Ina Steiner

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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).



Comments (44) | Permalink

Readers Comments

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

Wed Sep 18 01:01:05 2019

Ah....the IDIOT Parade......
It's SHIPPING INCLUDED, for those of us presenting Legally Acceptable Language.
We have a name for people wanting Free Stuff on OUR DIME.....

Perminate Link for Risk as Etsy Revs up Free Shipping Strategy   Risk as Etsy Revs up Free Shipping Strategy

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

Wed Sep 18 01:11:27 2019

By The Way : It is the TAX added through the CHECKOUT ROUTINE that surprises people. NOT the shipping charge, as stated by Sappy Silverstein. The Dope.
That's O.K. WE'LL FIX IT.

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by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 18 06:44:00 2019

I saw an Etsy commercial just last night that was boasting about free shipping on "millions" of items. I just shook my head and thanked the man upstairs that I no longer sell there.

The excitement expressed in the blog post is sickening. All I hear is Etsy getting excited about screwing its customers (sellers) by forcing something illegal on them. All so they could claim "free shipping on millions of items" on national TV.

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by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 18 06:56:53 2019

You know what's really sad about all this? Sellers have been waiting for years for Etsy to do TV ads. Now that they're finally doing them, so many of us sellers don't get to reap the rewards because we either left or refuse to give in to Etsy's demands.

Oh well. The way I see it, such things shouldn't come with strings attached. There's an old saying that goes "Generosity with strings is not generosity."

These marketplaces think they're doing us a favor by "letting" us sell there? I've got news for them...we're doing them a favor by choosing to do business there. If you don't do good business, morally speaking, then why would I want to do business there?

So, just like eBay and Amazon, you can keep your TV ads boasting illegal claims and keep getting excited about how you're getting away with screwing your sellers more and more with every change.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Life During Wartime

Wed Sep 18 10:14:13 2019

I saw one of the Etsy TV ads on cable a few nights ago featuring the ''free'' shipping.  I don't think the words ''handmade'' or ''vintage'' were mentioned, though, which is far more troubling IMO.  The featured items were presented as if they were generic trendy mass manufactured things you could find in a hip big box store.  

Shoppers who purchase based on that misrepresentation are going to be shocked if they purchase a vintage item with undisclosed wear and/or damage, or a manufactured in China product marked up 80 percent over the listing price elsewhere.

So Etsy has found another issue to be deceptive about (the cost of shipping)?  It's not the first deception on Etsy, and it won't be the last.

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by: littlesaint This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 18 12:16:52 2019

@LifeDuringWartime:''Shoppers who purchase based on that misrepresentation are going to be shocked if they purchase a vintage item with undisclosed wear and/or damage,''.
You seem to be implying that purchasing an item with undisclosed wear or damage has something to do with the type of products that are represented in the Etsy ad, as if they are part and parcel with the vintage buying experience. Whether vintage is included in the ad is separate from the issue of non-disclosure which is unacceptable under any circumstance and free shipping doesn't change that possibility. It's pretty clear that an item is vintage when a buyer is making a purchase. A mass-produced item made in China is another matter.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Life During Wartime

Wed Sep 18 13:32:19 2019

littlesaint  -- In my view the shopping experience on Etsy generally involves stepping over countless steaming piles of mendacity.  The ''free'' shipping gimmick is just the latest chapter in a decade-long story of Etsy corporate encouraging shop owners to bend the rules -- or break the law -- if it means a sale, or a lot of sales.

I closed my vintage shops on Etsy years ago because I was uncomfortable with selling in such a deceptive environment.  There are still honest vintage (and handmade) sellers on Etsy, and I wish shoppers good luck in finding them.  They are going to need it.



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

Wed Sep 18 14:15:43 2019

Very FEW of us are offering Free Shipping because we know....
First Page has Very Few ....

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

Wed Sep 18 19:57:30 2019

Etsy is now Criminal.
They just Promised to Hide My Listings if I don't offer "Free Shipping".
GO GET 'EM FTC ! ! !

Perminate Link for Risk as Etsy Revs up Free Shipping Strategy   Risk as Etsy Revs up Free Shipping Strategy

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

Wed Sep 18 20:02:14 2019

Imagine what 2 words I'm yelling to Sappy Silverstein right now.......

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

Wed Sep 18 20:22:20 2019

As predicted, most all of the stuff marked with "free shipping" is Junk.
I won't use it on my stuff.....which sells itself....I don't need the gimmick.
My stuff and other people's good valuable nice stuff doesn't cater to that crowd.
Etsy better watch its step. Their lawyers are morons.

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by: Babs This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 19 00:54:58 2019

Etsy told us to add the shipping to the item prices and that buyers know it's "not really free". So we are to just lie to them and they will approve the underhanded lie and buy more! well supply sellers can't. Sellers of heavy items like vintage can't. And people who feel it is dishonest and  morally wrong won't.
Lots of seller working hard on their alternative selling sites these past few months. Including me!

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by: choochoo This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 19 00:56:42 2019

Lower placement in the search should mean lower fees
for sellers who do not offer free shipping.  
Is it legal for Etsy to charge a 'non-free-shipping-seller' the same fee they charge a 'free-shipping-seller' who is getting preferential placement in the search?

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by: Eagle This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 19 01:39:35 2019

I guess it's the norm these days to lie to your customers about getting Free Shipping? We played the Etsy game last Christmas and combined shipping into the item price. It was our worst Christmas sales since we started selling on Etsy in 2014. After we went back in and separated the item cost and shipping our sales started back up. On top of that it really pissed off the customers when they wanted to return an item due to wrong size or other reason (which happens quite often during the Holiday Christmas rush) and we would tell them there would be  a restocking fee (to cover shipping we would otherwise be out of pocket). So far we haven't offered free shipping (and don't plan to) and we are gradually letting certain items expire instead of renewing the listing. We sell jewelry and have always supplied a gift box, sturdy quality shipping box (no bubble envelopes), and include insurance in the shipping charge in case of lost or damaged items. Nothing worse than have a customer file a chargeback with their credit card company especially when you are at no fault yourself. Money automatically taken out of your account and given back to the customer then having to wait 60-90 days to get it back (if you do get it back). Our payment processor with our website also takes $15 on top of the money taken to refund customer. So if you lose the chargeback due to lost package we also lose another $15 on top of it. Insurance allows to at least get the cost of item back. Anyway, back to Etsy, all they are doing as far as I'm concerned is losing a seller by forcing this just so we can have our listing seen by shoppers.

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by: lancecorp This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 19 04:57:51 2019

I have always offered free shipping and don't have a problem. The majority of Americans have no idea what the real cost of shipping is these days and feel a seller is trying to rape them even when that seller is charging the true ship cost as can be seen by my shipping metrics on Ebay. Customers do want free shipping - even though in the long run we know that we pay for it.

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by: felyne This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 19 05:42:00 2019

Etsybay

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by: SellerGirl This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 19 05:54:23 2019

I feel very frustrated by Etsy right now. 3 weeks ago I had $380+ in profits, and since  the "free shipping" fraud/extortion, I haven't sold a single thing. And I offer free shipping. Etsy is no longer a consortium of artists and vintage sellers, we are all just pawns in their silly control games. I've decided to let listings on Etsy expire and move my products to other venues, several venues so this never happens to me again. It's a big deal to migrate 700 listings off Etsy to better places.

Why'd they have to ruin a good and fun place to shop?

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by: hawk This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 19 05:58:03 2019

it doesn't matter how many millions etsy ceo's sticks in their pockets , and how arrogant they get , they are the lowest form of trash on the earth for doing what they are doing to their sellers.  

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by: cvsharkey This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 19 06:53:42 2019

Had to explain this week to a customer who messaged at the end of her order"Oh, and I get free shipping, right?"

Told her I was not a participating shop and that Etsy is encouraging shop owners to increase item prices to compensate for the free shipping.

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by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 19 07:50:58 2019

I've never been a big etsy fan and now they just keep piling one money grab after another into their platform - it's all the same wherever you go. Start your own website - yup it's hard and slow at first - be prepared to wait at least a year but they will come.  The general consumer is educating themselves. They no longer go directly to ebay or etsy and search - mainly because search is so screwed up - they google search for things more often than not these days. Last year I got perhaps 1 sale per month on my website - this year one a day - just keep pushing forward - it will come - can't wait to see where I'm at with 50,000 items online (I got the goods)

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