Etsy is an ecommerce venue, right?
So why doesn't Etsy offer any real statistical tools to its sellers?
Etsy has never offered its sellers any stats, although it's been vaguely promising them for almost as long as the site has existed. (This is consistent with Etsy not offering a slew of features that most people would consider standard for an ecommerce site: streamlined listing, bulk image uploading, searchable sales, a proper printable invoice, vacation mode. They've only just now given us bulk feedback, for pity's sake).
The end result of Etsy offering no stats is that sellers are working almost totally in the dark. If they run an advertising campaign for their Etsy shops, they have no way of tracking where their traffic is coming from, and, therefore, whether that advertising was successful. If they change their product line, ditto. Without statistics, sellers are flying blind when it comes to running their shops like real businesses.
Etsy has the stats, of course. Most people have noticed Etsy's own Google Analytics loading while they're waiting for a page to open on the site. It doesn't fly blind. It just won't help its sellers (unless those sellers are Admin. We've heard a few reports from people who've visited Etsy that Admin there have lots of access to stats). So, Etsy has lots and lots of statistics for its own use, particularly misleading ones it can trot out in monthly Stroque articles. But it has consistently refused to share basic statistical information with its sellers.
Views and hearts.
The only thing resembling statistics that Etsy has given sellers are 1. item view counters and 2. "hearts". ("Hearts" are given by other Etsy users to sellers or to specific items when those sellers or items are added to another Etsian's favorites list.) Not dazzling. Not terribly useful. Not even reliable (views were seriously wonky from at least August 2007). But they were the only stats we had, and we made the most of them.
We made the most of them, largely thanks to the initiative of other Etsians (not Admin).
Etsy sellers doing it for themselves.
Since February 2007, Etsy's sellers have tried to compile their own stats on the site. Lots of sellers have tried this, including the redoubtable loosewirestudios. This is all of a piece with Etsy rolling out features (in this case an entire ecommerce site) that has enough holes in it to require its own users to come up with work arounds.
An extended example of sellers doing it for themselves was the founding of off-Etsy sites which sprang up to fill the statistical void, notably EtsyTools and The Heart-O-Matic.
The Heart-O-Matic was launched by Etsy seller, juln, and turns Etsy's view and hearts counters into fairly useful statistical tools. From January 2008, until EtsyTools' demise on April 1, 2008, the Heart-O-Matic was offered as part of EtsyTools (see below). Now it's gone back to its original site at http://www.majaba.org/heartomatic.php, where it continues to provide some very useful information for Etsy sellers.
EtsyTools (founded in August 2007 by interrobang and vertis) was another unofficial, off-Etsy site which offered incredibly useful charts of Etsy data culled from Etsy's API (application programming interface). Etsy itself always seemed a little snippy about EtsyTools, perhaps because it was slightly embarrassed that two sellers were able to grab Etsy's data and provide some of the stats that Etsy sellers had been pleading for for so long. For whatever reason, a concerted effort was made by a few seriously unbalanced people to shut down EtsyTools. Finally, it was the death threats that did it, and Etsy Tools closed its site on April 1, 2008. It is much mourned.
Both of these sites were brilliant pieces of work, but nothing Etsy couldn't have come up with itself, as a service to its sellers. It didn't.
The whole view thing
As I said, views were pretty unreliable from August 2007, but they were completely unreliable for over three months, from March to June 2008, disappearing sporadically to the considerable consternation of sellers. During this time Etsy displayed its patented cavalier attitude to its sellers and their needs. Anyone asking questions about views was directed to a month's old thread (which itself referenced a month's old Storque article.) On May 27, 2008, a thread was posted in the Ideas forum by a staff member CaterpillarCowboy, asking us to choose between having accurate views and a decent search, and telling us to defend our choice. This employee finally closed the thread, after having delivered the somewhat upsetting news that the engineers who built Etsy (that would be RevolvingDork himself) didn't allow for the exponential growth of the site, with the result that the view counters were degrading and would continue to degrade. Fixing this problem was going to be a huge undertaking and we weren't to hold our collective breaths.
Then, after months of outcry and frustration in the forums, without any warning, Revolving Dork announced that everything was fixed, for data from January 2008 to June 16, 2008. Not only were views fixed, but they had been restored from previously stored data. A sterling example of Etsy's fine communication, but, nevertheless, we were all pathetically happy to have even this tiny piece of information back.
Etsy asks our opinion ... and then ignores it.
Etsy Admin have, from time to time (about once a year), entertained themselves by seeming to ask our opinions about statistics. They did it in June 2006 and August 2007. Then Rokali asked again in April 2008 -- or, rather, he asked Etsy Forum participants to list their top three ideas for both selling and buying. 93 pages of input resulted in a Storque article on April 21 which disclosed that, tah dah! Statistics were on the top of seller requests. Since then ... nothing. Except maybe the threat that shop stats are something that we're going to be charged extra for.
A modest proposal
Etsy, please stop trying to reinvent everything from scratch, and just let us add a tiny bit of code so that we can use Google Analytics and/or statcounter with our shops. For example, take a look at how shopify.com has integrated Google Analytics so that their sellers can seamlessly track their own stats. In fact, take a look at shopify.com for a lot of great tips on how you can make the seller experience at Etsy better.
Also consider an idea originally suggested by dingo and seconded by littleput. "Even in aggregate some stats would be helpful. Etsy could - today - tell us what the conversion rates are for hits from search engines, bookmark sites, blogs, the front page, the gift guides, Etsy searches, category browsing, etc. They could be fixed up in a daily or weekly chart and shared with everyone."
[I want to thank a tireless member of the Auxiliary for compiling many of the links below. They give some of the history of sellers' call on Etsy for statistics. (Of course we may have missed some important threads because locked threads are not searchable). I know it's a really long list, but In some ways I think this sorry progression speaks for itself.]
NOVEMBER 16, 2005 :
Sellers want stats, Etsy won't give 'em
JANUARY 5, 2006:
More statistics from Etsy? RD replies that "We're planning on
expanding internal shop-specific stats in future revisions."
FEBRUARY 28, 2006
Seller asks for referral stats, RD replies that they're not in the plans.
MAY 2, 2006
Etsy seller happywhosists starts compiling some random stats from items viewed in The Sampler to show items sold, price paid per item and average price of item sold. She continued doing this, on and off, until January 2007. Well done!
Here's a forum search for "selling stats for" which will give you most of her threads
JUNE 19, 2006:
Rokali asks "Which Etsy stats can help you?" Apparently there was an internal discussion about stats panel. 11 pages of suggestions from sellers, until August 2006
NOVEMBER 25, 2006
Etsy Statistics? No reply from any Admin
FEBRUARY 13, 2007
Graph for shopping statistics? In the absence of Etsy-provided stats, sellers share workarounds
AUGUST 6, 2007
EtsyTools.com launched by two sellers to fill a void -- using Etsy API, they provided some tremendously useful stats until they were harassed into closing in early April 2008. Eight months. That's how long they lasted. (This thread was locked for misinformation)
AUGUST 27, 2007
Views: Why are they restarting and when will they be back?
RD tells us that view counts are stored in RAM, and that all the information is saved, but not visible. They are "currently trying to overhaul the view system to make it more robust and prevent this sort of thing from happening" , it may take "a few months to be implemented.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2007
Sellers start gathering their own demographic stats to answer the questions: what is our market? What is the sales to listing ration? How long is normal before I make a sale? What day of the week is best to list?
SEPTEMBER 19, 2007
loosewirestudios starts collating the user-gathered data on Etsy Statistics (from the above thread) on Flickr
SEPTEMBER 24 2007
DrWoohoo asks for Seller Stats requests.
This was also a Storque article (of course).
SEPTEMBER 26, 2007
Sellers recommends alexa.com as source of Etsy stats
NOVEMBER 13, 2007
Where do I find Etsy stats? Not on Etsy, that's for sure.
NOVEMBER 14, 2007
Sellers try to compile their own Showcase Statistics
DECEMBER 3, 2007
Idea: Shop Statistics
MARCH 6, 2008
Intrepid seller complies some Etsy stats on his own
MARCH 18, 2008
Storque article on view tally reset, cause and future solutions
MARCH 26, 2008
Curious seller wants to know where she can find site statistics.
MARCH 30, 2008
etsytools.com is closing down because of harassment
APRIL 11, 2008
Minutes of Town Hall meeting -- Rokali announces that shop stats will likely cost sellers more money.
Rokali: one word on shop stats: this is something that's very server-intensive, meaning that it takes a lot of resources for us to provide these stats. Rokali: there will be several differing levels of stats, starting with free and moving onto a couple packages that cost a couple bucks a month (pricing to be set). We'll give you the most we can for free ;PAPRIL 15, 2008
Rokali wants our input as to the top three ideas so that Etsy can "prioritize development". Of course you do, Rob.
APRIL 21, 2008
Rokali announces the results of his forum thread gathering info about our top three ideas for improving Etsy: Seller Stats is number one.
APRIL 28, 2008
RD tells us that views are not a priority, and that the current view tally systems has "some problems with storing data reliably". He refers to the March 18, 2008 Storque article.
MAY 13, 2008
Seller begs for Shop Stats. marymary says they're something Etsy is working towards
MAY 16, 2008
Are we ever going to have statistics?
MAY 27, 2008
CaterpillarCowboy (aka "Dave") asks us to choose between a better search and working views, and tells us to convince him that views are needed. It later turns out that this is an experiment.
MAY 29, 2008
"Dave" calls us all his friends and spills the beans that views are broken because the engineers who built Etsy (that would be Revolving Dork) didn't allow for site growth. They will continue to degrade (the views, not the engineers)
JUNE 4, 2008
Seller would still like some stats, please.
JUNE 11, 2008
"I wish I could see stats!" So do we. It would be even better than seeing dead people.
JUNE 11, 2008
Is there anywhere else I can get stats on my Etsy shop?
JUNE 12, 2008
Shop statistics: any idea when they might be available? How cold is Hell getting, these days?
JUNE 13, 2008
Aren't you ashamed, Etsy? OP about lack of communication, but a lot of discussion of views and stats. Locked on June 18 after 84 pages, and called "long-winded" by marymary.
JUNE 18, 2008
RD suddenly announces that views have not only been fixed but they have been restored
JUNE 21, 2008
ETA on site statistics for individual shops? marymary notes suggestion, and that they have shop stats on the list of "user requested features" (as if the designers of an ecommerce site couldn't have suggested that shop stats would be a good thing), but no ETA.
JUNE 26, 2008
Is there a section on Etsy for stats?
JUNE 27, 2008
Sellers asks how to view shop stats -- usual responses from Etsy community: majaba.org, you can make your own, etc.
JULY 15, 2008
So, Etsy ... How Are Those Seller Stats Coming Along?
JULY 22, 2008
Etsy, you have stats available for your needs -- please share them.
JULY 23, 2008
Charging sellers for shop statistics is a bad idea. Please don't.
JULY 29, 2008
Can we please have daily etsy stats in the aggregate
AUGUST 5, 2008
God, I need stats. So do we all, honey, so do we all.