EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 279 - January 23, 2011 - ISSN 1528-6703     12 of 18

Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings: Etsy

By Ina & David Steiner

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In January 2011, AuctionBytes surveyed almost 2,800 online sellers and asked them to rate the marketplaces on which they had experience selling. An introduction to the Sellers Choice survey along with a summary of the overall ratings can be found here, along with links to results for each of the 16 online marketplaces included in the survey.


Customer Service:


Ease of Use:

Would you recommend:

Year Established: 2005
Description: Fixed price; handmade, vintage, and crafting supplies
More Info

Etsy came in tenth with an overall score of 5.4. Its highest marks were for Ease of Use (6.34) and its lowest marks were for Customer Service (5.08). There were a lot of enthusiastic comments, such as, "I LOVE etsy. In 5 months I made more sales on etsy than I did on eBay, craigslist and bonanza altogether. The venue is charming. The people are artsy and appreciate what I sell. I love etsy."

Many respondents discussed certain issues they had with the site, but were happy with the traffic and sales on Etsy. "Constant listing and re-listing is necessary to remain visible on Etsy, which can result in a substantial monthly fee. Certain sellers seem to be favoured and are featured ad nauseum by admin," said one seller.

Some respondents discussed growing pains. "I think there is a lot of inner turmoil and I probably want to see just where they are going. Right now it is a little muddled and their direction is not clear," and "they allow the manufacturers to list under handmade."

"The site is a "hipster heaven" and true artisans who are not the "favorites" of the 20something admins get treated like the red headed stepchild," said one seller.

"Some of the things that they used to frown on a lot, like relisting an item before the four months listing period had expired, are now actually being RECOMMENDED by them. I was not active in their forums, so I missed all this originally and was rather surprised to find them promoting this actively. Well, it is a revenue generator for them!" said one respondent, who finished up by writing, "All in all, a very good place to sell my handmade items!"

Link to 2010 results

Reader Comments - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly:
We sell several items a week on Etsy, and find the site friendly with low fees.
I LOVE etsy. In 5 months I made more sales on etsy than I did on eBay, craigslist and bonanza altogether. The venue is charming. The people are artsy and appreciate what I sell. I love etsy.
Etsy is the best sales venue I have found recently. Customer support is outstanding, friendly, respectful of both sellers and buyers. They are the one site I have found who is willing to really listen to a seller's concerns and treat everyone fairly. Unlike some other new sales venues that claim to be growing in the market, Etsy is the one place where I have made excellent sales revenue, and it has become my replacement for the now-defunct ebay. The people there are great, and unlike ebay I can still pick and choose whom I am comfortable dealing with. I feel the atmosphere is easy to deal with, fair to everyone, inexpensive and easy to use, but when there is a problem I am not afraid of big brother as I was on ebay. I feel as though I still own my business, and I have autonomy over my own craftsmanship. Gearing the marketplace towards the artisans and hand craftsmanship goes a long way toward that end, and I applaud Etsy for it. I might have given up and gone out of business last year if I hadn't started selling on Etsy. They deserve a big hug!!
I really like etsy. I find the fees fair and the site is easy to use. Communication does seem to be a problem there and you can wait a real long time to get an answer from anyone there. I do recommend etsy to my vintage and artist friends because I feel it is a great venue. I do feel as they continue to grow there will be a greater need to "enforce" their policies, which seems to be overlooked by many sellers, especially in the vintage category.
Etsy is the most recognized Handmade Market, and the best looking. I don't feel like I've stepped into a bazaar at my Grandma's church when visiting the Etsy website. I don't have many sales ON Etsy, but have made many as a result of Etsy. I see it as more of an advertising tool.
In terms of fees v. gross sales, Etsy is only slightly better for me than eBay, but that's mainly because I sell low-priced products in high volume, so the 20-cent fee eats into my profit margin. The ambiance is outstanding from a buyer standpoint, despite search problems. Admin is said to be inclined to shut people up when they don't like what is being said, but they have not caused me any problems.
I have been with Etsy for almost 1 year and a half. There have been some problems during the past year that had made selling difficult. I have done very well & hope to continue to do so. Some things I would love to change, but overall it's very easy!
The search for buyers is based on how frequently sellers pay to relist/renew items, which can get expensive. Suggestions from sellers for new features or selling tools are ignored. They promote items that fit a narrow view of what they think a trend is.
I've had great sales here. They're not transparent, not responsive, arbitrary and unprofessional much of the time. But customers flock there, so I keep my shop.
A seller can set up easily and accept payments as they see fit. There are buyers there and while it is not as profitable as ebay in frequency of sales, it is a nice professional place for vintage collectibles to be sold at a fair listing price. I would love to see them do a calculator on the listings as that would help many. In addition some advertising would be nice too, but all in all, after I moved my stuff from Bonanza to Etsy I sold items immediately on Etsy after no sales on Bonanza.
although the site if overwhelmed with "hobby sellers", and many categories are saturated, there is still ample opportunity to sell artisan wares at a decent and worthwhile price. CS cares about it's sellers and works quickly to solve problems.
My sales increased significantly in 2010 on this platform. When I first started I put everything but the kitchen sink. Over time I was able to determine what vintage areas are the most profitable for me. So know I put up only 2 to 3 niche areas and doing well.
I like their format, ease of listing to a degree. It would be nice if I could find answers easier when I need help with something or need to contact someone. Friendlier marketplace. Would like more visibility and more sales.
They need to let you know you need to pay your fees more than just the first time it is due. The first time I was billed, I expected to get a bill the next time I owed money, but it never came and my items went away. I was able to pull them back and show the listing again. Then, I was billed ONCE and the next time I got nothing. I left. It is also a chore to TAG items if you are not good with this sort of thing. I found an easier venue to use.
I am really disappointed in Etsy overall, and have found I've spent more on relisting fees than is worth it, considering sales. I have two shops there, one for jewelry and one for art. I am letting my jewelry listings expire because they are lost in a sea of other jewelry. With the art, it is not bad to make connections there, be seen through treasuries, etc. though I've had no sales. I'd have to say the people (other sellers) are the plus to Etsy, and the familiarity people (non-sellers) have with it. Also, for something as huge as Etsy you'd think they could improve their back-end. Adding listings is a pain, going through multiple pages, etc.
etsy has become a mecca of resellers, and heaven forbid if you question why they implemented a policy that makes no sense. fees to keep relisting to keep your items at the forefront of the listings will soon bankrupt you if the other sellers don't like you, or aren't interested in what you want.
Etsy has more internal traffic so my sales are higher but so is my bill. I haven't done all the numbers yet but I may actually be close to making more money on Artfire even though I make fewer sales. Etsy has dragged it's feet in getting tools that sellers need but are offering more now. Etsy has broken it's own TOU's and appears to have little regard for the concerns of it's sellers in certain situations.
Etsy's response to problems is to contact trading partner. When non-payment happens, and it does, they do not refund the fees on the basis that they provided the service and it's not their fault the buyer reneged.
They don't monitor criteria for their "vintage" or "antique" categories well so buyers are becoming wise that there's increasingly a lot of mass-produced fakes and shopping elsewhere
horrible search feature. young customers that don't pay. etsy is good about refunding FVF on non payers. search is backwards, expensive when you have to keep re listing items which is ridiculous. hard to find items, newly listed items get lost in the crowd. no enforcement of non vintage / chinese junk or non handmade items. weekends are blasted with sellers "sneaking" in and saturating the site with items not qualifying. no enforcement or removal. Listing is ridiculous and you loose your work if you have to go back and edit once you start listing. too many pages required to list an item. they could easily simplify it.
Etsy treats the site, and its users as a laboratory, making arbitrary, unannounced changes which affect sellers' sales and then waiting to see how much $ they lose, or not. Despite many, many objective suggestions and requests from sellers to explain what's going on, they refuse to answer or accept any input -ever. They set up the site to allow anyone who will pay a listing fee to sell there, nothing is done about illegal/items, resellers, etc., and they leave the "policing" up to sellers, who are ignored anyway. Much wasted time and energy there, and between this and the search changes, the only way to make any kind of money is to spend - a lot - more on top of the listing fees and FVF. A real shame, and waste. It will implode at this rate; honest sellers are leaving in droves, and it may implode. What a shame. I was very active in the community for several years, and it's very sad.
There have been long term problems with the search features causing potential buyers difficulty finding products. Recent changes to increase interaction within the site are confusing and seem unrelated to drawing buyers to the site. Fees seem low, but the need to constantly renew items so they are seen adds to the cost of selling on Etsy.
I have done okay on Etsy, and in the past, I would have recommended them to people. I no longer would because they have totally lost focus. They are only concerned with their own "Brooklyn Hip" brand, nobody else is in the radar, no communication, too many flashy apps, getting way too expensive because the only way your item will be seen is if you renew it daily. They claim to use tools that will get your shop picked up by google, but the only time I have ever seen an Etsy item of mine on google in the past year, it was a "sold" item. Since this is a site that was supposed to be for handmade/art, the onslaught of resellers has really hurt the market for artists. They turn a blind eye to this and let them all stay and compete right a long side of the artist. I think they are on their way down as far as a viable place to sell handmade/art. They are seeing the dollars more than the people now.

Sellers Choice
We thank all readers who took the time to rate the marketplaces. If you have comments about the survey results or the survey itself, please feel free to post them in the AuctionBytes Blog.


About the author:

Ina and David Steiner are publishers of and have been writing about ecommerce since 1999.

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