Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Apr 14 2013 21:14:46

Etsy Sellers Worry about Price Plus Shipping Display

By: Ina Steiner

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Etsy is trying to tackle a problem that online retailers don't have when selling on their own websites, but with which eBay is very familiar: the inability to control the shipping costs on its marketplace. Amazon is one of the exceptions to this rule for online marketplaces - it is able to set shipping costs because it collects payments from buyers.

Etsy began testing a new feature in early April in which it displays price plus shipping in product listings instead of the total price only. It does include the shipping cost underneath the combined price, but sellers have to do the math to isolate the price of the item. (Look for details in Monday's EcommerceBytes NewsFlash newsletter.)

eBay sellers had to deal with a similar change when it began displaying "price plus shipping" in search results, and many sellers are equally resistant to the concept on Etsy.

Currently, Etsy shoppers can see the price of the item at the top right side of the item page, and can find shipping costs underneath the photo and description. The shipping charts are helpful since they display the shipping cost by geographic location of the buyer, and sellers can display discounted shipping in cases where buyers purchase more than one item from them.



Some users say price that includes shipping is helpful in comparing listings, but others believe it will make Etsy items appear more costly compared to other ecommerce sites. Users say this will hit sellers of vintage and supplies particularly hard, and Canadian sellers are also concerned about the impact of such a change on their sales.

"It says right in my listings that I don't hide the shipping cost in the item price because I want people to know who is getting the money," wrote a Canadian seller. "Canada Post shipping is annoyingly high and I want my customers to understand that. For Canadian sellers, especially of vintage and supplies where multiples and odd item combos are the rule, this could be a disaster."

"If Etsy puts this format in place, I think I'll have to put the price in my titles," wrote one seller. "I have some heavy items with rather high shipping (even though I'm eating part of it) and my "new prices" would look super high."

Etsy has also tried tackling another feature found on eBay - displaying estimated delivery dates to shoppers. However, Etsy found that in the aggregate, displaying shipping speeds and estimated delivery dates made shoppers less likely to add an item to their cart and make a purchase. Even after factoring in a reduction in cancellations, Etsy said displaying shipping speeds and estimated delivery dates reduced purchases. (Do shoppers behave differently on each marketplace, or is one marketplace making a mistake in their approach?)

It would be helpful to hear how sellers deal with "price plus shipping" on eBay - do you have any advice for your colleagues on Etsy?

And feel free to provide feedback to Etsy management as well - let them know if you think the potential downside for sellers outweighs the potential advantage to shoppers.




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Worry about Price Plus Shipping Display   Etsy Sellers Worry about Price Plus Shipping Display

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Sun Apr 14 22:36:07 2013

How about a price box that says $72.00 (in large print) and directly beneath, add ''Your total with $14.00 shipping: $86.00'' in smaller print.

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This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Mon Apr 15 00:10:14 2013

Looking at the new pricing display made me question what was the REAL price of the item. Etsy SHOULD be worried about buyers making fewer purchases with this change. I do like Annie's suggestion a lot better.

This shipping business is getting out of hand and wish venues would just stay out of it since they seem to complicate things even more. As a seller I just want to make sales and the process as easy as possible for both myself and my customers. It shouldn't be necessary to analyze each and every item to death. I don't make enough money to have these venues expect me to be a rocket scientist. These venues are not only pushing sellers out but putting themselves into early retirement. Is this the goal?

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 15 00:25:16 2013

I've stopped buying. I have enough stock and the fun of the hunt is wearing thin now. Rigged search results, rigged exposure, rolling blackouts, bipolar sales... eBay was never really upset that sellers were profiting  on shipping. They just wanted IN on it. They'll all get there.

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by: Sierra This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 15 00:55:20 2013

These folks who can't grasp what ''includes $xx for shipping'' means need to take a remedial reading course!

Personally, I don't know if I like it or not yet. Few of my items have exceptionally high shipping so my only concern is that it's taking the buyer's country into account ... and showing Australian shoppers the ''Everywhere Else'' price, for example.

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by: goin broke This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 15 01:47:02 2013

As a Canadian seller I can see this causing a decrease in any sales for me. Canada Post rates are calculated on postal code to postal code by delivery route. I can ship a parcel from my postal code to any other postal code for $X.XX, but reverse the postal codes to ship to me and there is an increase in the amount based on the delivery route to the sorting facilities.
On Ebay there was always sellers pricing their items low and making up their profit on shipping cost, then the FVF was added to shipping cost so Ebay slipped their hand deeper into a sellers pocket. Ebay sends an automatic invoice for purchases charging the advertised shipping rate and charges the FVF fee based on that amount. With the Canada Post rates items may be cheaper to ship to a closer destination but this is not factored into the FVF. Ebay has slowly killed a percentage of combined item purchases.
Is this move by Etsy a slight of hand trick to take advantage of their FVF being added to shipping cost? What about multiple item purchases where a seller has more than 1 of an item available, are they charging the buyer the full shipping cost on all the items or is a multiple item purchase factored into their automated billing?
Ebay or Etsy it really does not matter, without a seller base they cease to exist. There are more and more sellers using their own e-commerce web sites to sell their items on. There are more and more sites offering free or cheap e-commerce site building tools to anyone willing to take the next step.
I for one have climbed out of the Ebay maze of confusion and am testing the Etsy waters for sell through rate. Lower fees mean I can sell for lower prices. In my opinion Etsy needs to stay out of the shipping arena to survive a loss of sellers and buyers. Making things too confusing will result in a more traumatic loss as more sellers venture out on their own.

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by: truehandmade This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 15 02:53:51 2013

No other retail site does this.  Shoppers are used to seeing shipping listed separately and sites that sell by wgt/vol all have shipping calcs inside the cart so you can get a preview of the often shocking rates.  I shop with that in mind.  If the shipping costs seem out of whack, I do not buy.  Etsy sellers who charge exhorbitant shipping get the same trtmt.  I do not buy from them.  
Shoppers make 2 decisions about buying online and have for more than a decade.  Cost of the item, cost of shipping.  If Esty breaks that custom, shoppers will be so confused they will STOP shopping on Etsy.  
Why does Etsy comtemplate these changes?  Because they have so many overpaid employees who need somthing to do?  Etsy is dumb and arrogant when it comes to the rules and customs of online retail.  They display such arrogance and disregard for their sellers which is evident in this latest busy-work project.
Answer this Etsy - if you do this, how the heck are you going to promote FREE SHIPPING and other retail tricks that you push all the time because you never know what you're doing to your sellers' bottom lines?
It's amazing that Etsy gets up in the morning and knows which way to walk to work...

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by: marcello This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 15 04:42:58 2013

This is simply astonishing! Etsy has so many major technical issues and this is what they are spending their time on. I'm stupefied by this idiotic idea. The shipping system Etsy has in place is archaic, frustrating and time consuming. Now they're throwing another complication into an already problematic system.
I'm completely  fed up with all of these selling venues.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Nan

Mon Apr 15 08:27:26 2013

And what about those of us who charge shipping for the first item only, and additional items ship free?  It's an option that I can select right in my shipping profiles.

I have 2 Etsy stores, both sell lightweight items that I can combine without affecting the rate.  I don't see THAT noted in their Add-to-cart pop up.

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by: innerpuppie This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 15 09:02:24 2013

I'm with Nan. My items on Etsy are light and my combined shipping is rock bottom. How is a shopper to know that they won't be paying for shipping on each of my items at the higher rate?

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by: Terry in Texas This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 15 09:52:02 2013

For any online retail venue, this is a BAD BAD BAD idea.  annie's suggestion is way better. that's how it is on amazon. you can look in the box and see the price + shipping. as a buyer, i'm always looking for the least expensive PRODUCT price FIRST, then i explore the shipping options.  yes, i'm smart and can do the math to deduct the shipping from the total but WHY? it's time consuming and i wouldn't spend my time doing that.

the ONLY online venue where this TYPE of combination works is the AIRLINES. used to be you got the airline ticket for $250 then got to the check out and found another $50 in taxes and fees. now all the airfares you see INCLUDE the taxes/fees. for THOSE purchases, the fee combination works.  

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by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 15 10:46:03 2013

It's obvious they hired someone from San Jose. Are they paid to make things so confusing? I can understand when a buyer looked at a listing then had to go to the bottom just to see if the shipping was anywhere near in line. BUTT to add it it the price is wrong. Why didn't they just put in underneath the sale price instead of including in the price?

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by: rebecca7 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 15 11:04:28 2013

There's nothing more aggravating to a shopper than having to HUNT through an online website or page trying to find the hidden S&H cost.

The only thing worse is having to E-MAIL a seller for this basic information, wait a day or two, then hunt through spam for their response.

Do sellers think they're being clever by hiding this information?

MANY times I've been on the verge of buying online, only to be stopped by this idiotic game.  It makes me angry.  I don't buy, and I don’t go back.
 
A particular pet peeve is when online merchants require that I fill out a form, identify myself, give my address, and even give my e-mail address BEFORE they'll tell me the shipping cost!  This is amazingly common on the Internet and it ALWAYS stops me from buying.  The sad thing is that many of these websites appear to be for small merchants who don’t understand how badly they’re hurting themselves.   What’s really more important: getting my e-mail address up front, or getting a sale?  If I buy, they get my information anyway!

(Can you imagine walking into any local store in your community and being required to turn over your ID and e-mail address BEFORE you can see their prices?)

S&H disclosure is one of the few things eBay got right in recent years ... posting the price with the S&H right below it. eBay shoppers can also customize gallery or list views of search result pages, to see both price and shipping below each photo, and search based on lowest or highest “Price + Shipping.”

But shoppers shouldn't NEED to waste time going through the constant repetitive hassle of customizing every single time they shop.   And why can’t venues automatically show the lowest cost options first in each listing (including USPS regional rate options?)

FULL upfront disclosure should be the default standard everywhere.

Recently, eBay seems to be experimenting with moving the shipping cost to different parts of listing headers, which is annoying.  WHY make shoppers hunt for it again???  Why can't eBay EVER seem to leave a good thing alone?  They constantly fiddle with things and mess them up.  It’s almost pathological.

If Etsy is doing the math for shoppers and showing only 1 total cost (postage and shipping added together)... that would be somewhat helpful, but too confusing when compared to other sites.  It would also muck-up combined shipping, by hiding the huge savings buyers could realize with multiple purchases.   As a seller, I wouldn't like it.

I know shoppers are more comfortable seeing for themselves that my postage costs are reasonable and that I'm NOT ASHAMED of showing my S&H charges prominently next to the price.  It looks a lot more trustworthy.

And my descriptions always emphasize that I’m happy to combine shipping and will minimize shipping costs as much as possible (while still shipping safely.)
 
Sellers, PLEASE don’t make shoppers go through the huge hassle of e-mailing you to ask whether you’re willing to  combine or what your minimum handling charge is per piece. Please spell it out as best you can.

In fact, why can't sellers and venues show all four elements … PRICE, S&H (with clickable options), TOTAL, and yes/no COMBINED SHIPPING (with clickable options) … in a little column at the top of each listing next to the photo.

Why would that be so awful?

What's wrong with total honesty and full disclosure?

Why make shoppers feel they have to protect themselves from dirty tricks?

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This user has validated their user name. by: Bijoux Dragon
Web Site

Mon Apr 15 11:34:04 2013

At the moment I do not like it because it does not effect all sellers.  By only having some sellers showing the full, real price vs some sellers showing the price not including shipping, it makes for an unfair playing field.

Yes, people 'should' add price to shipping to compare items but many do not.  This eliminates the didn't see the shipping/how much is shipping question which can be really annoying.  I always answer graciously but really do wish some folks would read as shipping is clearly addressed.

As a buyer, it saves a step knowing the info up front.  Personally, when I compare prices I always include shipping charges in my comparisons but I have friends who always gripe and act surprised.  And yup, they get no sympathy from me - I tell them to learn to read.

In closing - I wish Etsy would either do it for all or for none - this some 'lucky' sellers and not others is BS.

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by: Gina This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 15 13:47:36 2013

this STARTS to level the playing field that Etsy admin started years ago by FULLY ALLOWING the wholesale dumping of MASS-MARKETED goods into the HAND MADE category!  I had a great hand made product that sold for $60 until Etsy FULLY SUPPORTED Eastern suppliers dumping crappy products similar to mine for TWO FRIGGING DOLLARS!!!  At that point, shipping costs don't matter, do they?!  So tell me, how is FSV on a $2 sale better than FSV on a $60 sale?  Quite simply, admin don't frigging care!  They are there to line their own pockets at the expense of the little guy....again!

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by: marcello This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 15 14:15:32 2013

I agree that the shipping cost should be in close vicinity to the item price in the listing. Combining the two together is a complete disaster and a decision being made by people who have absolutely zero business acumen and no marketing and sales credentials.
I don't want to get off topic here but I do wish to comment on what Rebecca stated. The combined shipping estimate on Etsy is not a workable system for sellers of vintage. When a shop sells merchandise ranging in size and weight from antique brooches to furniture. There is no way to estimate the shipping to anywhere in the US or 193 countries when the seller has no idea which items a buyer will combine together.

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by: tmooreseller This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Apr 15 14:15:47 2013

I am not sure this will solve the problem of selling items, since most people don't want to pay for shipping in the first place. If shipping is the deal-killer, raise your prices accordingly and forget about charging for shipping. It is a cost of sales anyway. Etsy's move will only cause buyers to go elsewhere, leaving us sellers holding the bag, and given the hideous prices for shipping, one is not perfectly sure the shipping charge is correct. The USPS has a wide range of shipping prices depending on the size and weight of the item sold, so guessing is not going to maximize sales anyway. I can see a lot of handmade item sellers opening their own stores, and while I have done both there is no real advantage to using Etsy in the first place.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Mon Apr 15 16:54:15 2013

rebecca7 says: ''There's nothing more aggravating to a shopper than having to HUNT through an online website or page trying to find the hidden S&H cost. --- The only thing worse is having to E-MAIL a seller for this basic information, wait a day or two, then hunt through spam for their response.''

Indeed!! -- My big pet peeve are web sites that have NO information about shipping costs, except for a little blurb that says ''calculated at checkout''.

Okay, fine... it's calculated at checkout. It's tedious and annoying, but I can live with that. However, this is ONLY acceptable if the shopping cart will calculate the shipping by letting me enter ONLY my zip-code.

What a PITA it is when a shopping cart refuses to calculate shipping until AFTER it's forced the shopper to enter in their name, full address, phone and email.

Yuk!!

I'm only willing to provide that information WHEN and IF I've decided to complete the purchase! --- But I can't decide to complete the purchase if it won't let me know the shipping charges.

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by: Daisy909 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 15 20:51:53 2013

Instead of wasting their time with this idiotic idea, they should be spending time on implementing CALCULATED SHIPPING. That is the only way to truly level the playing field!
Yes, I will miss my west coast shoppers due to higher shipping rates to them, but I will not miss eating part of the shipping costs that allow me to level the playing field to get sales. And the shipping costs will be much more fair to those who live closer to me.
I guess you can tell I sell heavy vintage items...

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by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 16 00:24:04 2013

Sounds to me like Etsy; 1) are getting too big for their britches, and 2) hired some of Ebay's cast  off big idea idiots.  All i know is i make very few sales there...another...yawn...Pftttt!

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 16 00:24:43 2013

Even WITH "Calculated shipping" on ebay and other sites the seller STILL has to account for the combining of different items in one sale;  packing etc.  So this is a help--but not a solution.

I can remember many times when I was still "Talking Up" ebay as a sales venue for people who WANTED to sell there--remember THAT????----and how SCARED most of them were about--shipping.

The simple act of putting something in a box or envelope terrifies grown men.

And they could NOT be convinced that the BUYER (remember THAT!!!!)  paid FOR the shipping--and that you could get a scale for less than $20 at Wally World and go to USPS.com and get the info YOURSELF.  

Some odd reasons I heard for NOT selling on ebay?  Well--there was the person who was convinced that selling "rare coins" would cause some whack job to buy one;  then have her address;  then come to her door and rob and sell HER into white slavery.  And yes--I AM serious about all of those.  But--her HUSBAND--the big beefy take no crap biker dude--HE was terrified--of the POST OFFICE.  

Somewhere there is a Grad Student PhD thesis on "Shipping resistance and Reality" in this odd collection of facts and fictions.  

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