Monday, October 6, 2008

Took the words out of our mouths...

A long-time Etsy seller has stated it so succinctly - Does Etsy know who their customers are and what they sell?

That's not a trick question - the answer is, the sellers.

And what are they selling? Predominantly art & craft.

And who are they? Independent, self-representing creative people.

Self-employment is tough at the best of times. In a recession, when you're making & marketing non-essential goods, it's even tougher.

Imagine my frustration to see a recent Storque article focused on bargains & sales with the opening lines:"

Feeling a little strain in your billfold lately, or simply trying to not to break the bank? Well, we hear ya, and we decided to run this special Storque edition called "Weekend Deals," highlighting some fantastic shop promotions and sales running this weekend only!"

What about the strain your customer base is feeling, Etsy? What about the sellers trying to get a *fair price* for their work?

In isolation, this article is no big deal. I have no problem with sellers offering sales, if that's how they'd like to operate their business, but I *do* have a problem with Etsy's ongoing inadequate marketing & misrepresentation of art & craft in the media.

In regards to art & craft, context is EVERYTHING. How many art & craft galleries do you know of who run sales & pride themselves on their bargain prices? How many of them like to represent themselves with terms such as "bric-a-brac" & "BOGO"?

That type of image is NOT the way to market art & craft. Key words to emphasise are terms such as..."unique", "exclusive", "quality", "bespoke" - not "two for the price of one this week only!"

Most galleries, you'll find, do their utmost to support & represent their clients - artists & craftspeople - by creating an environment in which they can achieve the best price possible for their work. It's mutually beneficial to do so.

We're selling HANDMADE, not knock-off watches on a street corner (remember that unfortunate image Etsy used to represent us?)

Please Etsy, get a handle on the products you're representing, who your customer base is & what they want & need, & the shopper demographic you should be targeting. In fact, start targeting *any* buyers, because we're currently all suffering for your pitch to recruit as many sellers as possible at the expense of a sustainable buyer/seller ratio.

Seen how low listing views are recently? I keep on hearing reports from admin that sales are up - but percentage of sales per seller are down, we all know that. We're all feeling it.

The most fundamental place to start supporting & understanding your customers & their products is at the most fundamental level - the categories.

I just did some quick sums...

There are almost 2.5 million items currently listed.

The average amount of listings per category is approx. 81,000

The Art Category's total listings are 335% the average.

To put that into context, the Jewellery category, Etsy's largest, has 800% the average, & Music, the smallest category, 2.4% the average.

There is TOO MUCH pressure on the Art & Jewellery categories & the sellers listing there are NOT getting the same value from their .20c listing as those in the smaller categories. With batch updates, new listings get lost within minutes beyond the extent that most buyers are prepared to browse.

It wouldn't be such an issue if we had advanced search, but we don't.

Sellers have called for a simple top level split to the Art Category between Reproductions & Original Art for about 2 years now. Last I heard from admin was it wouldn't be happening. The Jewellery category obviously needs some urgent restructuring too.

This is just one example of a total lack of understanding & support from Etsy towards its customers. It's really getting disheartening.

Actually, I'm way past disheartened now & actively trying other avenues - as they say, insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing & expecting a different outcome.


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16 Comments:

wristeroni said...

True. True. True.

Unfortunately, Etsy has blinders AND earplugs.

sigh said...

"Actually, I'm way past disheartened now & actively trying other avenues.."


Ditto.

Impetuous said...

This is a REALLY frustrating part of Etsy's m.o. They operate with their head in the clouds when it comes to analizing and marketing to their customer base. When your customers needs are an after thought because you are more interested in doing things "your way" you are simply alienating them. Etsy will always have people signing up to sell but no one with any real aspirations to build a business will end up staying. There isn't room enough in the narrow hall of Etsy fame for the site to get over the hump and actually help young businesses thrive.

I'm afraid Etsy will always be a start up. It's a tinker toy with a broken wind up mechanism. Cool to look at but hopelessly broken and outdated.

The Funny One said...

Well stated. But, Etsy turned the corner 2 years ago when it allowed supplies and vintage, which quickly took over the site, and Etsy fell in love with its self-fulfilling revenue model, which is based on listing (and when they discovered the profitable relisting) fees. And all of Etsy's press releases push how proud and thrilled they are that the average price of items purchased is $15!!!

Etsy is not going to suddenly switch to a really handmade site that supports and protects its sellers because it lacks any core mission to do that, and is staffed with people who have little real life, small business experience. And, Etsy has a long tradition of us vs. them, putting themselves before sellers, above sellers, and apart from sellers.

Their current lack of focus and complete inability to offer an innovative holiday selling plan for 200,000 sellers that they openly invited to set up to sell on their site shows that their lack of a core mission turned into a fleamarket for questionable quality (at $15 and under), let alone depressed pricing, which has done nothing good for the handmade community.

In the long run, Etsy may do much more harm to the handmade community. By consistenly ignoring the ecommerce section of the site which pays for all the other fluff they love to spend 95% of their paid time on, they probably won't survive the next 3 and a half years.

And their constant failures to provide customer service and support to their sellers will spur all those other competitors to do better, and siphon off the sellers who are intimately aware of what they cannot get on Etsy and never, ever will.

Etsy completely and totally lacks those wonderful elements of handmade and the artisans who create it-----pride in their work, the pleasure of sharing with others, and deep appreciation for other artisans who share their core values.

Beadz n' Thingz said...

This post was so well thought out and professionally written. Etsy's weak response just made me sad. Sad, sad Etsy.

life-during-wartime said...

Etsy -- the place to buy everything you might want to REsell, and at a bargain price?

Etsy (the site, not the shops) has been trending to flea market for well over a year now. This can't be turned around before the holidays.

Etsy pretty much gives away the clue that the site is not geared toward people intending to run 'a real business'. After so many years online, Etsy still does not charge a fee to open a shop and still lacks many basic features that other multi-shop online venues have offered as standard for the last 5 years, or longer.

Etsy is still in the start-up stage. Which is really odd, since multi-shop online venues began opening like 10 years ago. The tech is not new!

life-during-wartime said...

Almost forgot...the NPR promotion is absurd!

Etsy needs to have a presence on MTV, Bravo, HGTV and the like. Because NPR involves a lot of 'local control' in some areas (like mine) it is mostly a boring semi-fascist bunch of financial types giving advice to the well-monied. Sure, these listeners buy handmade...made by a child somewhere in a developing nation. The shopping mall 'head shops' in the next NPR area east of here have that station broadcasting in their stores. Sure, the stuff in there is 'handmade' overseas and they are the resellers. I'm sure any Etsy ads aired during their business hours will help their customers feel good about buying handmade from them: your source for Ren Faire duds made in Asia. Oh, wait. That stuff is on Etsy, too, no?

Maria works for Etsy now. Conflict of interest.

fed up said...

Frankly, fuck Etsy. I'm going to stop wasting my money there and focus on selling avenues that actually operate like professionals who can tell their arses from their elbows. Never have I seen such a joke as how Etsy is run.

organicstills said...

I find it interesting that Etsy can't advertise anywhere but shophandmade.com can afford to have a nice big flashy ad that pops up everytime I log into myspace that says "etsy is a big place, try shophandmade.com and be found".

The Funny One said...

No, the NPR promotion is pure Etsy. It's called using old connections to do something easy and then offer it up to sellers as "proof" that Etsy is doing hard work.

No, no, this is the classic Etsy M.O. now: Etsy writes one Dorkie and that takes care of that bunch of ungrateful sellers; Etsy comes up with one or 2 lame co-op ad ideas (only open to 1/1000000th of all sellers on the site) and calls it "advertising"; Etsy writes really lame canned posts on page 42 of a decent thread and calls it "community liaising".

You know, if it takes 15 minutes to do it, Etsy will do it and then forget about it completely.

ignored said...

But wait! If you are one of the chosen few that Admin love to promote, or anywhere on the east coast - the majority of recent featured sellers - you don't have to worry about silly things like over-saturation.

upsetwithadmin said...

Evidently they do or must think they do.

Handmade? Don't think so. Just because this seller stuck a few decals on a manufactured item, does that mean it's handmade? They didn't even 'assemble' the item.

Was also told by someone that this particular item was in a FP treasury picked by Admin:

http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?ref=f...ing_id=15098755

Wake up, Etsy!!! It's time, don't you think?

life-during-wartime said...

Dunno if the magical link to Etsy visibility is being on the East Coast. Wasn't there an incident like over a year ago about a team from a large NE metro area (Philly maybe?) taking a road trip up to the Labs for a trunk show (was it?) and being treated rudely & totally disrespected upon arrival?

Etsy is the devil said...

I think that Etsy is too far gone now. Their customers now ARE just looking for those bargains. I was in it to win it a few months back, begging Etsy to do the right thing, but now, I just read and walk away.
As someone who has prices that are $50 and up, I now stick to doing awesome indie craft fairs and some choice finer ones where people appreciate craft. Which is where I started my business in the first place.

My life is so much better when I do not concern myself with the fuck ups at Etsy.

I had to comment here since that article was so offensive to heart and soul of craft.

Fuckers.

Andy Mathis said...

rather than trying to renew items on Etsy, I am trying to list items and support the new handmade sites, such as shophandmade.com and handmade fuzion.

Bigger is not always better.

Anonymous said...

YEP YEP YEP. I GOT SO SICK OF ETSY AND ITS CARELESS SELLER GATHERING TACTICS, I MOVED -- LOCK, STOCK AND STORE -- TO SHOPHANDMADE.COM.

SELLING IS LESS COMPLICATED AND MORE ELEGANT THERE. AVERAGE BUYER SEEMS TO BE MUCH MORE AFFLUENT AT SHOPHANDMADE.COM THAN ETSY.COM

AND NO CRUSH OF MILLION SELLERS. WE GET MORE VIEWS PER SELLER. RESULT: EVERYBODY HAS A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD. PLUS, IT'S FREE (NO LISTING FEE)! WONDER HOW LONG THEY WILL REMAIN FREE THOUGH....