Etsy was started by painter and carpenter Rob Kalin in 2005 to offer handcrafted works. In a short amount of time it has grown to a company that now has nearly 26 million items. Some that are listed on its site are vintage (which is not handcrafted) and many items now are what you’d see at any shopping mall.
It also generates revenue from advertising and payment procession. In 2013, the site reported $1.35 billion in gross merchandise sales, according to its website. Time
So, I just read that Etsy is now going public. You know what that means? Shareholders, they will have stock in the company for sale, which means also, that its all about profit. The sole purpose for a publicly traded company is to make money and to monetize the customer base. You, my dear merchant friend, are now a commodity and will be utilized. Its no longer a business agreement, if it ever were, between you and Etsy.
You, merchant/seller, are now as important, if not more important, to Etsy’s profits as those who purchase or who you believe to be your potential customers.
Seemingly unrelated, but keep reading, I was recently kicked out of a Facebook group about Etsy. I asked questions about HOW Etsy charges and when they use the “free listings” I earned from sharing a link to open a store. I was not overly critical, nor did I use inappropriate language, for that group.
When my posts was deleted and I wasn’t emailed a warning, I realized a few things, 1.) Either this group only wants “pleasantries” shared, and/or 2.) it was run by Etsy.
That got me thinking… And really looking into how Etsy charges me for the use of their store front. I’d also like to point out that I’ve only had my store since September of 2014 and in that time I’ve had 3,704 view and 238 favorites. I can’t say I did all that on my own, but I can say I do not come up in general searches about soap and that I know where each one of my sales came from. I can see the general traffic in the stats area and each one, if not a friend, has contacted me on Facebook and shared with me what group they came from. Which means, I drove that traffic.
Etsy had nothing, zero to do with my traffic. Except for the fact they offered the easy-to use site.
Etsy does not offer traffic. Etsy does offer a seller interface and charges for that service. They are not going to make sales for you, offer traffic or even encourage traffic toward your site. It seems that its harder to find true handmade items than ever before. Not impossible, but more difficult.
Small challenge: If you have a store, do a search and TRY to find your shop on Etsy without using your store name. Take a look at what shows up.
Here is what Shannon Whitehead wrote about Etsy.
Now, on to the fees. Etsy charges 3.5% on each transaction and $.20 USD per listing/transaction.
At first I chalked up their fee structure to “the cost of doing business”. I also liked that if I shared a link to open a store and my link actually got a person to open that store, we would both earn 40 free listings. Fair enough. I do some marketing for Etsy and they give me something for those efforts. I get it and understand it.
What I did not know is exactly how those “FREE” listings were utilized.
Sneaky Business Practices
Those FREE listings are not just used for new listings. They are eaten up for each renewal and copied listed item. If you are selling an item, and only need to change a few things, you can copy that item and adjust it. I would assume I’d be charged for that, but to “auto renew”? Ok, I can see that. And yet, it feels sneaky.
Joining and setting up a shop on Etsy is free. Each item listing on Etsy costs $0.20 USD when the listing is published. A listing lasts for four months or until the item is sold. Once a sale occurs, we assess a 3.5%transaction fee on the item’s sale price.
I have earned 80 free listings. I only have 37 items. The most I’ve had listed were 40. Each time I sell something it auto-renews that item and eats into that free listing. I don’t get charged, but that’s where my “free” listings have gone.
Now you know what I know. If you don’t want to be bothered with developing a website, and running it, then Etsy is the price of doing business.
And I expect to see some Etsy changes in the future. Why look for new customers when they can make money on existing ones? I suspect, if Etsy is like any corporation, they will now try to squeeze the existing customers for more money.
I hope that Etsy proves me wrong. I really do.