Another Epic Etsy Fail!

Update: The Gift Guide Debacle seems to have run its inevitable course and the big bright orange beacon out of our shops has now been removed. I'm going to leave this post up though as I think the thread that I copied here is still very relevant. There is just a real lack of understanding of the needs of the community by Etsy that is highly troubling to me and many others.

Really Etsy, what were you thinking? For those etsy sellers who haven't checked out their shop in over 24 hours I will give you a moment to go see if you can spot any changes.... How long did it take you to see the giant orange elephant in the room? Etsy in their infinite wisdom has once again decided to promote their one size fits all Gift Guides on not just the front page of the site, but on every single shop page. So why is this a bad thing? For the short answer I quote GreenMamba from her very clear thread on the topic here,: "While that button is there, at the top of every shop page, every moment that passes is another lost or diverted sale."

So we as sellers are spending our time and money to bring buyers into our shops to hopefully convert into a sale. In the meantime etsy is trying to actively divert our buyers attention and draw them into their handpicked Gift Guides to hopefully have them spend even more money meaning higher fees to them. Is it any surprise that all of the top GG's are all items that go for far more than the average item for sale on the site. I think not. What is really sad is Etsy tried this same stunt in 2007 and the after a month of nonstop complaints they finally took it down. Does no one in Brooklyn have any type of long term memory. Did they think that we would be fine with it this time. I just don't understand their mentality.

I really haven't spent much time or energy worrying about my etsy sales or shop this fall since I have my craft shows to be preparing for but this rubbed me the wrong way. One look at the Etsy Forums and it is obvious that I'm not alone. Clearly the admin are taking the day off as there has been all of one response saying that they are reading our opinions and they will be discussed.

The supplies seller Pickle Valentine who sells the cute orange beads above along with lots of other great finds, has written an eloquent and well thought out response to this latest etsy fail. I am reprinting it in it's entirety with her permission. You can see the entire thread here.

"I see the Etsy brand idea as getting in the way of performance. You don't get successful, become a household word, without stellar performance. You can pump up the Etsy name all you want, but you need to make sure that the idea of brand is not interfering with service.

Etsy is a venue, like eBay. Etsy is supposed to perform a service. Let me explain. Did anyone ever go to eBay to buy the eBay brand? Did anyone go because of their logo. No. Buyers and sellers came because the eBay venue supported the widest and most astonishing raft of items on the planet. It became a known brand because of the outstanding way it performed. It performed an incredible service for millions of people. Like Amazon, it became a household name. Then eBay blew it, which is why you have some of the sellers you do, including me. Amazon has not forgotten what it does, thank God.

I am not sure Etsy has figured out its raison d'ĂȘtre.

You can't tout your so called Etsy brand when you are not performing. And Etsy is not performing very well at all. As a seller, I do not feel well served much of the time. As a buyer, I have trouble finding things. If you read the forums, you can hear the unhappiness with the service.

"What can the Etsy venue do for me?" is the question of EVERY person, buyer or seller, who comes here. We don't care about the Etsy brand; it could be the "Woohoo" brand...we only want service. If we get incredible service each and every time we are on the site, if our items are findable, if we show up in searches, if we can find what we are looking for, if we are treated as if we are important, then Etsy will grow to be a brand, a household name, like eBay. But it won't get there without some mighty big changes.

At this point, buyers and sellers have been doing most of your advertising for you. That is terribly inefficient and it could turn on you. It may become negative advertising if Etsy continues to misunderstand that its brand-worthiness is only as valuable as the services it performs.

Etsy just announced they will not refund our fees for items that are returned. That makes Etsy unaffordable for some of your very high end sellers. It also makes you brand look greedy and grasping and cheap. No other venue does that.

The second issue is the so called Etsy look. Many of your sellers are extremely disaffected because Etsy only promotes a certain look and certain sellers. If you look at the front page, you will see the trend and the same sellers again and again and again. This is a HUGE point.

Neither eBay nor Amazon selected one demographic as being more important than others. Etsy rates a huge fail in that regard. Etsy needs to dump the idea that a certain look has anything to do with brand.

Not all shoppers and sellers are hipsters from Brooklyn, or those who aspire to be, but if you want to appeal only to those people, you are doing a GREAT job. Not everyone loves owls, cowls, felted fake beards, matte silver jewelry, clothing with unfinished seams, grey backgrounds, waifs wearing sheer clothing, etc. The emphasis on that so called Etsy look is a turn off to many people who love handmade, vintage, or are looking for supplies.

You also need to keep resellers of stuff we can find at Target today off Etsy and off the Etsy front pages. That means you need to make much wider and much wiser choices for your front pages and gift guides. You will need to advertise on sites and publications that appeal to different age groups.

The treasuries that we sellers put together are wonderful resources for you, but the same people's items and the same Etsy "look" are featured over and over again on the front page. Get some knowledgeable people to pick the front pages to start with. Take it out of Brooklyn altogether. Take it away from admin. Otherwise you are going to get what you always got with an appeal to a limited demographic.

I'd love to see more traditional crafts for instance. I'd like to see an emphasis on different age groups. I'd like to front pages full of vintage jewelry and gorgeous supplies.

You may have to cough up some money to use your sellers items in advertising. God knows I would rather look at some beautiful objects as an enticement to go see what Etsy is about than the Etsy logo.

You need to advertise loudly and boldly that you have a venue for ALL sorts of handmade items. Equally important, you need to advertise loudly and boldly that you also serve buyers and sellers of vintage items and supplies here.

Vintage and supplies do not take anything away from handmade. A lot of people are not even looking for handmade when they come in here, but may buy something handmade later if they can find what they came for in the first place. Make it easier for them by changing the search NOT to default to handmade. You need to change the front page banner too. Etsy makes money from handmade, supplies, and vintage, so why not make it easier for everyone?

What category is giving you your bulk of revenue?
Look at the bottom line. Who makes you the most money? Is it supplies? If so, you could be doing lots better. You can advertise in places like Bead and Button, Knitters, Threads, where you can reach crafters.

As far as handmade, you can advertised gorgeous hand made objects in Ornament, for instance. You can ask artists and vintage sellers magazines or sites they would suggest. And then don't rip off your sellers. Pay them for the use of their items. Get their final approval on photos, too.

Now, as a seller, I don't want that gift guides button in my shop and I am hoping that you will get Etsy to undo another boneheaded stupid move and perform the service of getting that button out of my shop. It is a distraction and it is placed right in the way of the path of the mouse. Very easy to click on. In fact, even though I have been using computers since 1983, I clicked on it by accident whilst looking at someones shop. That is a total lack of service on Etsy's part."


selahestelle said...

Wow, I didn't think about any of this. I was really excited to be included in this Gift Guide, I'm not one of the regularly featured sellers, I've only had 1 sale. My stuff is all one of a kind and leans toward the more traditional arts. I feel like the Gift Guide button is no different from any other button that you can click on to take you somewhere else, and don't really understand the thinking behind it being directly in the mouse's path. Couldn't you say that about any spot on the page? Just another viewpoint.
I can totally see people being frustrated, and can't really speak to many of the points brought up as with so few sales, I have yet to run into any of these issues. I don't want anyone to be unhappy with Etsy making adjustments to their individual pages and can totally see a bias of aesthetic, but am also really thrilled to be in my first Gift Guide!
Thanks for posting this; always good to see every side of an issue!

Anna said...

Being a beadweaver and having no representation in the gift guides whatsoever, I am pissed about that button being in my shop! If they want people to be happy about the button, make sure that all sellers are being represented, not just the admin's faves! I'm really sick of the same people being on FP over and over and those same people being the majority in all the gift guides. It's very aggravating!

Janet said...

Etsy is not the only viable player any more... Art Fire has addressed many issues we're all having with Etsy. And 1000Markets, in my opinion, really seems to get not only the handmade shopping experience, but the shop owner's desire to be the focus when a customer selects their shop to go in. Ebay is not what it used to be in the beginning and I rarely go on there now... Etsy may be headed the same way.

Lenox Knits said...

Congrats on being in the GG's. It really is a great promotional too, albeit one that we have no control over. I have been in them twice myself and received a number of sales from the exposure. I really don't mean to sound like I have sour grapes about the gift guides. I just don't want people that I have sent to my Etsy shop through my own promotional efforts, such as my blog or Project Wonderful paid ads, to be then redirected to another seller through the big orange GG link at the top of the page.

WillOaks Studio said...

I'm glad to see both the orange button issue...and more importantly all the other "Etsy look" issues...coming out in the open--so thanks for reprinting some of the amazing forum discussions I was also following today. I objected, as you did, because I gave up on any help from Etsy getting folks to my shop so spend a lot of time, effort and money getting my own clients there...only to what? Have them hit an orange button and leave? Not! I'm my OWN Gift Guide, thank you very much. I began to figure out that I represented a demographic that they really don't care about--older women, often with money to spend, who care about style, fashion, arts and handmade...that ISN'T the owls, cowls, swallows, beards thingies, with which I've become bored...and didn't really think it were artistic in the first place. I have my one year anniversary next Monday, 11-18, with Etsy. Yes, I've had a lot of sales (by my standards) and had to win each one without Etsy help...and yes, I'm looking at shifting my emphasis away from my Etsy shop to either my Artfire shop or the 1000 Markets shop I got accepted to, but didn't fill up yet. Why struggle against a place where you're not really wanted--except for the cash you pay out?

Carol said...

Paige...I agree with everything that is written in your blog post AND in the comments of other Etsy sellers. I, too, spend lots of time driving buyers to my Etsy page. When I saw that button I was REALLY pissed. That's all we need: another diversion. I left EBay with over 1300 sales to come to Etsy. I was hoping it would be my last stop. Now, I'm not so sure.

Thanks for a very poignant posting!


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