Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon Oct 19 2015 16:23:37

Should Marketplaces Skew Search Results in Favor of Locale

By: Ina Steiner

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Etsy buyers and sellers are up in arms about the decision to factor in a seller's location in search results. And while buyers in only two countries are impacted, the change impacts sellers everywhere.

Etsy announced on Friday it had updated search ranking to make locally-made items in the UK and Australia more prominent for shoppers there.

"This update increases the likelihood that listings from a shop based in the United Kingdom will show up when a buyer based in the United Kingdom searches for an item. If a buyer in Australia searches for an item, they may also see more items from Australian shops in their results. When members in any other country (including the United States) are searching, they will see the listings ranked normally, regardless of where the items and shops are located."

Some US sellers think it's unfair and that their fees should be reduced because of reduced exposure to UK/Australian shoppers.

Some sellers and buyers think it should be up to the shopper to decide whether to exclude (or reduce exposure to) items from overseas sellers.

We've got questions in to Etsy to learn more about the changes, and we'll have more details in tomorrow's Newsflash newsletter. (Available now on this page.)

In the meantime, take a look at the announcement and let us know what you think. And do you see other online marketplaces factoring in a seller's location when ranking their items in search results?




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Should Marketplaces Skew Search Results in Favor of Locale   Should Marketplaces Skew Search Results in Favor of Locale

This user has validated their user name. by: eXtinctBay

Mon Oct 19 17:10:15 2015

There should, and will, someday be an all-encompassing law regarding online sales sites.

It will require any e-commerce business which collects a fee to list items to have every one of them available for purchase to anyone at any time who uses the site, or face civil and criminal penalties.

The U.S. Congress men and women should address this. After all, when more business is done by American sellers, it stimulates the economy as a whole, not to mention more tax dollars coming in for our Big Government regime to spend......

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

Mon Oct 19 17:37:43 2015

I have no problem with this. As a shopper, I think I'd actually prefer it.

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by: Writings on the Wall This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 19 17:40:48 2015

I have long thought that the Attorneys General in the states where these companies are located (CA and NY) should be looking at the fraud implications of taking someone's money to be seen in search, and effectively and intentionally limiting their ability to be seen in that search, which is what the sellers paid for and thought they were getting. Need transparency--especially from a B-Corp! So much for the "global economy" and the "world wide web."

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by: Writings on the Wall This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 19 17:45:00 2015

To Anonymous Annie: Before, You could always filter your own search results by location. Now it's not a choice, and you can't reverse it. You think you're getting a world-wide search and you are NOT.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Oct 19 20:07:46 2015

I don't like search manipulation.  I want to see what I am looking for. I don't want any type of algorithm skewing my results.  Show me what I am looking for, and I will then consider where the item is located and make the decision on whether or not I want to order it based on where it is.

If a company wants to use a filter that I can choose that is fine, but DON'T manipulate search.  Sounds like etsy is taking a page out of eBay's playbook.  Very dangerous.

Perminate Link for Should Marketplaces Skew Search Results in Favor of Locale   Should Marketplaces Skew Search Results in Favor of Locale

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Mon Oct 19 20:24:05 2015

The items I sell aren't particularly popular in a couple of regions in this country but are very popular in several others.

Not only do I despise manipulated search for reasons that have been thoroughly hashed over on these blogs but locale manipulation would further damage my sale.

No thank you!

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This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Mon Oct 19 21:32:15 2015

I kind of wish Amazon would.  As it is, I have to add $10+ to every price because their pathetic $4.49 shipping vouchers push me so far into the red.  You can't ship _next_door_ for $5, let alone cross country.  But then that makes my prices unfair for local buyers and my sales suffer for it.  The real answer is to offer calculated shipping but so many venues, not just Amazon, react like a vampire thrust into daylight at the thought of it.

Perminate Link for Should Marketplaces Skew Search Results in Favor of Locale   Should Marketplaces Skew Search Results in Favor of Locale

by: Owen This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 19 22:27:34 2015

Search manipulation is terrible. Buyers should be able to see the breadth of all the items they are looking for. What in the world is the purpose of limiting search, anyway? Is it because these sites do not have the computer space to accommodate everything that is available?

I certainly agree with Writings on the Wall. It is taking people's money and not delivering the goods. Another word for fraud or stealing. But then, I guess, that is why we have to agree with their terms that say they do not promise that items will be seen.

What are we paying for, then?

Who is going to reign these companies in? They seem untouchable.

Perminate Link for Should Marketplaces Skew Search Results in Favor of Locale   Should Marketplaces Skew Search Results in Favor of Locale

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

Tue Oct 20 00:30:57 2015

If you use Ebay and go back to the time they switched their search to what they deem are favorites, you will see market sales on a yearly scale in the United States plummeted. I think that speaks for itself.
As for locality, Ebay has a way to shop by country, etc. Why would any market place want to narrow their business down to one level.

Are the Universities now teaching their business majors to reel in their sales so as to be able to better manipulate and track demographics?

It is my observation that stupidity usually is what topples the first domino, no matter who plays the game.  

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

Tue Oct 20 02:45:48 2015

I don't even see the benefit of this to the venue, especially those that charge listing and sales fees. the buyer themselves should be the only one making the decisions on how they want to filter a search, whether they want to buy from someone an hour away in hopes of getting their product quicker or from someone 3000 miles away because of their great feedback, selection and condition of the item. Limiting searches only leaves the venues with less income from buyers deciding to go elsewhere when they don't see what they want.

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by: Watching the Wheels This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 20 03:00:29 2015

Let's face it, if Etsy thinks an idea is good, it'll fail.

I've been dead in the water for close to a year. I've also been noticing an upsurge of little flea markets and store fronts opening up by me on Long Island NY.

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by: LeeLoo This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 20 03:27:28 2015

As an Australian Etsy seller this change is totally absurd. What are they thinking?
I now have a reduced placement on my 2nd largest customer base - The U.K. Thanks Etsy, thanks a lot.

There is of course, much speculation that this 'localisation' will be rolled out across many regions. Time will tell.

As a seller, I want my wares to be able to be viewed by everyone at anytime.
As a buyer I also do not want this same restriction. I want to see EVERYTHING on offer, no matter its locale.

Australians (and New Zealanders)are already very used to shopping over seas as a part of their location.  

Searching by location was an option previously - What Etsy should have done is make this feature more prominent and promoted.

But what Etsy should have done is again typical of the oh so many ill thought out ideas implemented in the past.

Perminate Link for Should Marketplaces Skew Search Results in Favor of Locale   Should Marketplaces Skew Search Results in Favor of Locale

by: Adamo Dagradi This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue Oct 20 04:42:32 2015

Search Manipulation is limitation of individual freedom, very dangerous habit. Customers all over the world are intelligent enough to verify the location of the items they're interestes in, I think no one should mess with that.  

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by: an American in France This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 20 08:28:10 2015

As both a buyer & seller on Etsy I'm not happy about the change. I sell from France, & the majority of my customers are in the UK & U.S.  Up to now they have been quite happy to make purchases from outside their own countries, but now I fear I will lose a portion of my already declining sales because my listings will be dropped far down in search results.

As a buyer, I frequently turn to Etsy to make gift purchases, usually from a seller in the recipient's home country. If Etsy expands their new search structure to France, I'll have to wade through results I don't want, when the whole point is for me to avoid shipping the gift from France to the U.S.  

As others have said, I am against manipulated search. I prefer to structure my own search & not have someone (or a computer) decide what it is I want to see.

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by: Volvo351 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 20 08:44:21 2015

Just another deviation from the "level playing field" that sellers are generally promised on various "ecommerce platforms." Shouldn't it be up to the buyer/shopper to determine preference for seller location?

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

Tue Oct 20 08:51:14 2015

@Writings on the Wall ... I take your point. I guess the default bare-bones search should have no filters. Maybe users should be given the option to be able to set *permanent* search configuration that automatically sorts and filters.

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by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 20 09:05:10 2015

No search manipulation please.

Ebay does this in a worse way abd look how well that turned out.

Have to nip it in the bud before they skew even more

Perminate Link for Should Marketplaces Skew Search Results in Favor of Locale   Should Marketplaces Skew Search Results in Favor of Locale

by: SammyCat This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 20 09:08:18 2015

This entire situation is pretty outrageous. People have a right to choose what they want to see and from where.  

Where does Etsy get off tell me/us what where we should be shopping.  

Its a choice that as grown-ups we get to make for ourselves and for Etsy to pretend to know is insulting.

There has always been a toggle for 'Anywhere' and ''Your Country''  ... do they think we are too stupid to make the choice?  

What's more, they are taking our money and now limiting who sees our products.  There has to be a law against something like that.

We pay to be seen by a global audience.  That is, was and will continue to be the draw of any online sales forum.  

Bad enough that the top categories like Vintage have the most stupid categories there like caps!! But there is no immediate link for Jewelry.  

Go to Jewelry and Vintage isn't a top tier option and you have to open the entire category.  

I don't know what they're drinking over there, but its time they hired a seasoned e-commerce web designer cause so many decisions are just play stupid and counterproductive to actually selling things.

Perminate Link for Should Marketplaces Skew Search Results in Favor of Locale   Should Marketplaces Skew Search Results in Favor of Locale

by: SammyCat This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 20 09:12:58 2015

ETSY IS A GLOBAL MARKETPLACE .... these manipulated results are beyond my comprehension.  

Damn, I'm SO ANGRY

Always right before holidays too ... brilliant, just brilliant.

How do they even think they can get away with what could be perceived to be censorship.

Perminate Link for Should Marketplaces Skew Search Results in Favor of Locale   Should Marketplaces Skew Search Results in Favor of Locale

by: rhawk This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 20 09:18:38 2015


Search manipulation is WRONG whether they are free listings or paid.

There needs to be a law passed to guarantee that if one lists on a global provider, ALL listing will be  available on a global platform.

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