Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Oct 30 2019 21:20:15

Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search

By: Ina Steiner

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Search is one of the most precious assets ecommerce marketplaces have - it's how shoppers find the kind of items they wish to buy - but Etsy is using it as leverage to push sellers into offering free shipping.

Etsy executives admitted on Wednesday that its new free shipping initiative resulted in pushing a large number of relevant listings off the first page of US search results, hurting conversion rates.

However, they are not backing down, according to Etsy CEO Josh Silverman and Chief Financial Officer Rachel Glaser during an October 30th conference call with Wall Street analysts to discuss 3rd quarter earnings.

Glaser called the impact of the policy a headwind for the company and said it had a negative impact on conversion rate, adding that Etsy would be experimenting with its search algorithm, which she compared to a "cocktail of ingredients."

We pulled the following excerpts from Glaser's presentation and her responses to analyst questions about the impact of the policy:

A second headwind to the free shipping initiative relates to search ranking. We have used search ranking as a key incentive for sellers to adopt the free shipping guarantee. As expected, this has had the effect of pushing a large number of relevant listings off the first page of US search results. 

With slightly over 60% of items listed as free-shipping eligible, this means 40% of items are not given first-page placement even if our search algorithms might have previously ranked them higher. This has a negative impact on conversion rate.

One of the levers we have to incentivize sellers to adopt free shipping, we've pushed some of the really good search results off to a second page or further, and that causes a decrease in conversion. 

Our search algorithms are a composite of many factors that go into them. Right now, free shipping is weighted more heavily, and it pushes the listings that are not free shipping or free-shipping eligible to a lower page, but we have going forward a lot of other ways to incentivize sellers to adopt. 

There's a lot of things that we can do to that search algorithm composite. So over time we could play around with that. I call it (the search algorithm) a cocktail of ingredients that go into that search result, and we will. We test everything at Etsy, and going forward, we will be experimenting with that as well.

She explained that Etsy only started marketing free shipping to buyers in September, and "the more buyers understand that Etsy is a place you can get free shipping like you can on most ecommerce sites, the more that becomes an incentive for sellers."

Etsy executives also revealed that so far, "sellers absorbing more of shipping costs than pre-launch testing indicated...or is warranted." 

We suspect Etsy's revelations about the impact of its free shipping policy won't surprise many sellers.



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Perminate Link for Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurt Etsy Search   Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurt Etsy Search

by: eBay Shill Buster This user has validated their user name.

Wed Oct 30 21:38:28 2019

These executives are as dumb and fraudulent as eBay managers are, and they are hurting themselves just as eBay shoots themselves in the foot daily with fraudulent and inept management.

New marketplaces are popping up at a rapid pace and sellers can decide who will treat them best, the best marketplaces are going to provide sellers options and freedom to run their business on their own terms.

Marketplaces like Etsy and eBay will destroy themselves with greed and mismanagement thinking they can do the same stupid things Amazon is doing in funneling business where they want it to go instead of allowing the buyer to choose who they purchase from.

Perminate Link for Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurt Etsy Search   Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurt Etsy Search

by: industrystones This user has validated their user name.

Wed Oct 30 21:58:04 2019

These guys came out of the gate cocky. The moment they instituted the whole Etsy Payments thing, I ended my 3 year relationship with them bozos and never looked back. Just waiting on Ebay's edict now.
My website is doing fine and I just landed a 145,000.00 order the other day. If you got saleable product guys, It's readily possible without these yoyo's . . . . . . .

Perminate Link for Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurt Etsy Search   Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurt Etsy Search

by: eBay Shill Buster This user has validated their user name.

Wed Oct 30 22:12:11 2019

industrystones, Looks like you pulled some levers on these dumb public company executives who are only there to cash in stock options, you are the headwind they are talking about with their slick Wall Street Lingo they copy form each others investor presentations.

Perminate Link for Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search   Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Oct 30 22:38:27 2019

"... Etsy is a place you can get free shipping like you can on most ecommerce sites,..." That's crazy. Either you pay a yearly fee on Amazon to get free shipping, or you have to buy a minimum amount of merchandise (like $75 or $100) on sites that are purchasing huge quantities at low, wholesale prices from the manufacturers. And those sites move millions of dollars of merchandise. If Etsy's sellers were in the same league as a place like Target, they wouldn't need Etsy.

Perminate Link for Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search   Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Wed Oct 30 22:41:42 2019

All of the stuff I've bought on Etsy amounts to NOTHING

Heck, I've never even bought an item off eCrater and I can count on 1 hand how many items I've bought on Amazon. . . .

Perminate Link for Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search   Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search

by: Frank Abagnale This user has validated their user name.

Wed Oct 30 23:46:16 2019

Just wait until ebay does the same thing.

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by: Silver Ice King This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 31 00:39:57 2019

@Frank Abagnale

I was worried about that with Wenig in place, but now that he is gone I am hoping that Ebay gets somebody from outside their culture who will not continue to make these meathead decisions.  If Ebay leaves Schenkel in place I am afraid he has been brainwashed by Donohoe and Wenig to believe that Sellers only exist to supply pockets that Ebay can continue to dig deeper and deeper into rather than running their site correctly.

Perminate Link for Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search   Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search

by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Oct 31 00:41:24 2019

I think the only reason they hired this Glaser person is for her catchphrases like ''seller churn'' and now we're told that Etsy search results are based on a ''cocktail of ingredients.'' Ask Google what factors their search results are based on and you'll get a simple answer that actually provides an answer...the most relevant factors that produce the most relevant results.

Anyone sensing an executive shakeup in Etsy's future? These people are idiots and I can't fathom shareholders falling for this stuff!

Perminate Link for Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search   Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search

by: Babs This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 31 00:45:21 2019

I have stopped relisting expired. I had over 900 listings and am down to under 200 now. My customers receive an email that explains about free shipping not free and why they can find my products on my website and not necessarily Etsy anymore.
This sounds like they are going to come up with a way to punish (incentivize) the remaining 40% of sellers. I'm now beyond caring after 11 years on Etsy.

Perminate Link for Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search   Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search

by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Oct 31 00:47:25 2019

"...we have going forward a lot of other ways to incentivize sellers to adopt. There's a lot of things that we can do to that search algorithm composite. So over time we could play around with that."

An admission that they are actually manipulating search to benefit the site and at the expense of its users' success. What's crazy is that they are admittedly killing the conversion rate, which hurts Etsy, too.

Isn't the point of search results supposed to be to increase the conversion rate? Yet, they are trying to force users to do what they want them to do and since not enough are falling in line, they're going to make it even harder for them to sell if they don't. All at the expense of not only those sellers, but the site as a whole. Can I say it again?

IDIOTS!

Perminate Link for Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search   Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search

by: Bubbles This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 31 00:50:52 2019

Did they really think it would improve conversion rates - really???

This is what happens when Etsy hires an eBay cast off - heading down the same downward spiral now.

Silverman would rather spin another word salad than admit he was wrong and change it back.

Such a pity, this site used to be all about buyers & sellers - now it just another of the corporate greed mob.

Perminate Link for Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search   Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search

by: OhWhatFun This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 31 00:58:16 2019

Dont know why they think having the price of everything on their site go up 5.00 is a good thing. Sounds like etsy incentivizing ripping off shoppers.

Perminate Link for Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search   Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search

by: Henrietta McClellan This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Oct 31 01:00:05 2019

I have lost sales because of this 'free shipping' Very poor policy. Does not create any 'Good Will'

Perminate Link for Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search   Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search

by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Oct 31 01:01:35 2019

"...the more buyers understand that Etsy is a place you can get free shipping like you can on most ecommerce sites, the more that becomes an incentive for sellers."

An admission that ecommerce sites could be conspiring to push the free shipping thing so they can earn more in FVFs. It is also misguided of her to think that sellers won't simply bail because of their blatantly obvious attempts to screw them into submission.

One other thing that shows her utter lack of experience, and apparently knowledge, is that buyers won't keep coming back to a site to shop if they find search results to be unsatisfactory. They're admittedly pushing many of the relevant listings out of sight, so what are they expecting shoppers to buy? Something they weren't looking for?

Sorry, but to rely on that happening over providing quality search results to increase the conversion rate is beyond ignorant. I think she just needs to quit talking and look for a job that she's better suited for...like a mail clerk.

Perminate Link for Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search   Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search

by: Bubbles This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 31 01:01:45 2019

I would have thought it would be in the interested of  Etsy to allow sellers to sell not bury their listings - they will find out soon enough the damage it has caused when sellers leave in droves because of low sales and Etsy wil end up like eBay with a shopfront of cheap tacky Asian listings all of which you can get cheaper in a $1 store.

Perminate Link for Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search   Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search

by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Oct 31 01:13:09 2019

"Etsy executives also revealed that so far, "sellers absorbing more of shipping costs than pre-launch testing indicated...or is warranted.""

Well, what did you expect, Goofle? Our three choices are:

1) Offer free shipping, but don't account for the highest cost in your item price because it's not fair to customers in closer zones and only makes your prices look inflated, thereby nullifying your competitiveness.

2) Offer free shipping, but DO account for the highest cost because you don't want to lose money, thereby making your prices look inflated and nullifying your competitiveness.

3) Refuse to offer free shipping and sell little to nothing because Etsy won't show your listings in search.

Talk about strong arming your customers into paying higher fees. It sounds just like what the mob used to do to those they "protected" -- pay up and keep paying more or we'll snuff you out.

Perminate Link for Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search   Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search

by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Oct 31 01:20:46 2019

Actually, there is a fourth option that Miss Glaser doesn't seem to be too concerned about considering her "seller churn" comment. I know there are a lot of sellers out there, but most know what they're doing and would steer clear of a site like Etsy. Many long-existing Etsy sellers have already left -- even million dollar businesses. How many more sellers do you think you have in the pool out there before you run out?

Perminate Link for Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search   Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search

by: eBay Shill Buster This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 31 01:23:44 2019

Purple, "I think the only reason they hired this Glaser person is for her catchphrases like ''seller churn'

That is funny, because morons like Wenig, Temken and Schenkel use automated fee churning scripts that load up sellers with debt and fees they can't pay leading to seller churn.

Man are these guys bright with their schemes to unload and cash in on stock options every quarter or what?

Perminate Link for Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search   Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search

by: KinChaser This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 31 02:25:09 2019

“One of the levers we have to incentivize sellers…”
“We have going forward a lot of other ways to incentivize sellers to adopt.”
“Etsy executives admitted…hurting conversion rates.”
Etsy’s whole attitude is to kill the golden goose (that’s us!) that fuel their cash flow.  Their ONLY interest is to insure that their bottom line satisfies their stockholders.  We are their debris that is tossed to the side of the road.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
E.T.S.Y = Endeavoring To Screw You!

Perminate Link for Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search   Unpopular Shipping Policy Hurts Etsy Search

This user has validated their user name. by: DeathFromAbove

Thu Oct 31 03:02:40 2019

Apparently they missed the part where shipping costs increase 10% annually since 2012 or so.  The idea that any low-volume business or craft seller can offer "free shipping" any more when the costs are so wildly variable is a joke.  These people have been living under a rock for the last decade, and tried to play "catch up".  "Free shipping" is not the future for anyone but amazon - whose only mission is to destroy anyone else (including anyone unlucky enough to sell on their AI-ran platform).

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