Thursday, January 15, 2009

What DOES Etsy do Right?

No seriously, I'm asking. The cupcakes like to come on here and tell us we're unhappy with everything, that can't give credit when due (we have but those are few and far between) but what DO they do right? You tell us.

They aren't good at advertising. Their marketing plan was developed by a band of drunken monkeys (we WISH it was that good!) Communication isn't just bad it's abhorrent. They seem to go out of their way to ignore you exist. Programming was a clusterfuck before Chad and it only seems to have gotten WORSE. Customer service... well I doubt they can even pronounce it without gagging. They ignore bug reports and suggestions to improve their site. They can't write a helpful article in the Dorque over 100 words long. They can't spell check. They can't even keep who they feature regularly straight, let alone which sellers are in fact staff. You can't call them, they ignore emails and convos. They shun, threaten and banish their customers. They allow (maybe even enjoy) members to attack other members, threaten and harass each other on and off site. They play favorites and force thier personal tastes and concepts of hipster chic on us all. And of course, they are all too busy twittering each other across the office to care if they are actually DOING anything. And they need 60+ people to do all this to us... oh I mean FOR us.

But what do they do right? I'm asking.

All I can come up with is "Founding a mind altering cult" and "Extremely skilled at generating false hope" but you might have other suggestions, but those are mine. Let's hear them.


PrettyThingsAreNotEnough said...

Here's one I'm waiting on - received a survey to my shops re: international vendor stuff. Most of the questions were generic, some had WTH options (no in house payment system though).

One of the final ones was: What could Etsy do to improve your experience as an International seller? (or close to that).

Honestly, I'm in Canada. I'm used to operating in US bux, the language is similar, I convert $ in my head (and maintained a US balance in paypal before Etsy). So I couldn't really think of anything that would benefit me as an international seller other than what I've said EVERY. OTHER. SURVEY.

Equal treatment for promos and contests. Speedy, polite, CORRECT customer service. Site improvements as per numerous other wishlists. Adherence to Terms of Use by staff and reliable enforcement of it. 24/7/365.

etsy = biggest joke ever said...

Well, I gotta give Etsy this: They've developed a site that allows even the most technically illiterate (like me) to have an online presence with a pretty good-looking shop. That's why I first came to Etsy, and that's why I stay. I had "develop website" on my to do list for 5 years before Etsy came along. So, for that, I'm truly grateful.

And, they have responded to requests in the past. (Maybe it took a loooooong time, but they did respond.) I'm particularly thinking of allowing us to move our pics around when listing without deleting and re-uploading, the finish button on each listing page, and the blue arrows on the bottom of shop pages, forum pages, etc. There are probably some other examples as well, but these are the ones I use all the time and most appreciate.

Well, you asked.

blissfullyignorant said...

Etsy has provided a good income to 5 or 6 sellers.

Paw and Claw Designs said...

Hey Look! A Cricket!

Rana said...

I'm a little puzzled by your post, because if Etsy is 100% crap why even bother with it?

Anyway, I'm certainly not one of the starry-eyed cupcakes (as my comments here should suggest) but I do find some things useful about Etsy.

Despite the complaints some folks have, I actually like the look of the site. The style is consistent and attractive, and despite the weirdness that is search, it's easy to navigate between sections. The ease of viewing items and purchasing them (from the buyer's perspective) is also a plus.

Etsy also has the advantage of size and name recognition; I benefit simply by being on a larger venue. The internal community is also sufficiently large that it generates its own traffic; my sales are about equally from fellow Etsy sellers and from outside buyers-only.

But that's Etsy-the-site and Etsy-the-community.

Etsy-the-company is poorly run, understaffed in important areas, pays too little attention to seller complaints and needs, and has massive problems communicating.

The problems are not enough for me to abandon shop (heh) entirely, but I'm expanding to include ArtFire and perhaps 1000 Markets in my roster of online venues.

Etsy's biggest problem? It fails to live up to its potential. If it were 100% crap, there would be no reason to be disappointed when it screws up, after all.

Anonymous said...

There ability to encourage artisans to devalue their work has exceeded my expectations.

Anonymous said...

Honestly I use Etsy primarily as a low cost way of showing off sculptures in between shows. I used to handcode it for my own site, but thumbnailing and debugging ate up a lot of my time. I consider $.20 to do that tedious part more than fair.

If I happen to sell something entirely through Etsy traffic, bonus.

It is hard to beat views. Even on the most popular online art galleries I use, Etsy still generates around 10X views I get through places like DA, etc.... and Etsy doesn't even show me an accurate view count! it undercounts.

For me, it streamlines the most tedious part of the process. I am more than willing to pay them to do that part and generate some extra traffic while its there. If I was listing new items every day, I might get peeved, but I only list about two new sculptures a month. They take a long time to do!

Heather said...

I like how the favourites link is now on the top of my screen (instead of having to go through my etsy...isn't that a change that happened in the last couple months?) so when I get pissed off I can escape and look at pretty things.

No, really...I like that.

Anonymous said...

They have taught thousands of people that without a copyright you have screwed yourself, so go ahead feel free to copy everyone. Ethics is a vague concept at best.

I have learned there is a big difference in Law and ethics- thank you Etsy.

Etsy'sDown.BigSuprise said...


Plz pass the Vodka.

Thank you.

is this a trick question? said...

Well, they certainly don't check items for site violations before putting them in the 'Etsy Finds' emails. Today's included a wonderful pair of VINTAGE boots. Um, yea, they're Justin lace up boots... definitely not 20 years old. But Etsy advertised them in the lovely email... and guess what? They sold. ::gasp::

eclipse said...

Positives about Etsy:
I have met some awesome people there.
I have bought some very beautiful things.

But both of these are due to the members, not to the company/admins.
So I guess the thing Etsy can do right, is that it managed to attract some very talented and wonderful members.

Hee Haw said...

Is this a Buddhist metaphor?
Ala what is the sound of one hand clapping.


And now a word about my other online venue who seems to have both hands a clappin'. I recently sold something on Artfire and when I marked the shipped button they sent an email to the buyer to let them know it was shipped.

I think I'm in Love.

If etsy did that for me they'd free up about 20 minutes of my time per day.

And I'm just a little fish. I hope the big fish are reading this and thinking about moving over...think of the time you'd get to do things like, oh I don't know, create cool stuff.

oldbutnotdeadyet said...

I just feel that the people in charge have squandered so many opportunities-- there seems to have been an enormous am't of luck involved with getting to Etsy to where it is now.
It would have been (will be?) the smart thing to do to improve the general usage of the site.

I have to say that I started out 2 years ago with a mental image of young, inexperienced employees in a disorganized work environment and lots of chaos, and that mental image has not changed.

Seems like there has been 2 years worth of (frittering and twittering). I would have thought that there would be more consolidation of purpose and better customer service (shipping alternatives, advertising, quality control etc etc) in that period of time.....but it seems like most of it is pretty much cosmetic.

Old Hippie Bitch said...

Yeah, I was gonna say "size and name recognition" too...but fuck 'em. That happened because of a) right place, right time, and b) all the early sellers (including me) who waved the banner and recruited sellers and drew buyers.

So I'm left with the two coined brilliantly by The Cranky One:

"Founding a mind altering cult" and "Extremely skilled at generating false hope"

The Funny One said...

I'm with you on a lot of what Rana said, but I'm a lot more concerned with the negative impact Etsy has had overall on handmade, quality, pricing, protection and support of small business/handmade community. Through its constant efforts to marginalize handmade into low cost, trendy items, Etsy has actually encouraged more sellers to produce more similar products and sell them at cost or below.

Why? Because, with the Etsy Forumula, those are the only products and stores that Etsy promotes. Which is fine, if you like what amounts to mass-handmade, but it is also AT THE EXPENSE of other artisans and their products who are shut out of all Etsy promotions because they do not fit the Etsy mold.

On Etsy, handmade is no longer the product of the individual who creates it, it's an Etsy product at an Etsy price for an Etsy audience willing to spend about $15 per Etsy item.

While Etsy pushes its narrow concept of what handmade is, it managed to turn the definition of a "store hosting site" to no-service parking lot, where most sellers are expected to (for free) market, promote, explain, excuse, and THANK THEM for what they don't do for their sellers.

Etsy's gotten so good at throwing all the work in sellers' laps that they even have sellers writing Etsy Manuals for How To Be A Successful Seller On Etsy, and jump in to (for free) explain how to use Etsy----------because Etsy can't even manage to provide a clear blueprint on their very own site!!!

It doesn't matter "what Etsy does right"------because, according to the proliferation of similar "trendy" products on the site, Etsy promotes them and they sell and Etsy makes a lot of money. What matters is what Etsy is doing to permanently damage the long-lived reputation (including quality and pricing) of handmade.

forum rubbernecker said...

Etsy makes it easy for people with no talent to make a living, merely by promoting them over and over again.
Case in point, ugly suitcases with bad artwork. nice photos, but still, mediocre artwork.
Oops, did I just call out, my bad!

Etsy makes it easy to despise your fellow man.

Etsy is an easy place for drug addicts to make "friends".

Etsy makes it easy for tattoed pierced school dropouts to make a living.
Oops, did I just call out again, my bad!

Sorry, I am feeling cynical today.

The one truly good thing is that I have met some amazingly fun and talented people. :-)

ebbandflo said...

Etsy is still one of the most aesthetically pleasing ecommerce sites around but Big Cartel is a very close second (and I've heard 1000Markets is nicely uncluttered except for their Amazon payments system)


beauty is definitely only skin deep, scratch the surface and there is real ugliness inside etsy

Malacologist said...

Etsy admins remind me of kids who'd rub their snot on a piece of paper and their parents lavished praise upon them for such artistic self-expression. They grew up expecting to get similar praise for every little piece of snot they rubbed on a piece of paper, thinking it was great Art with a capital A, and that great Art could be created as casually as blowing their nose. No wonder the truly gifted artists are doomed to languish there.

Brass Monkey Designs said...

Oh I think Etsy has done plenty right. I mean, the venue interface is fairly user-friendly for sellers (though I think buyers and newbies might deal with some confusion over convos and how to pay with paypal). And the gee-whiz factor of all the bells and whistles is appealing and dazzling to new people.

I would consider it the online birthplace of the urban craft movement...I know I never even knew there WAS A handmade movement going on until I went there.

It was an fanfuckingtastic idea at its inception. I *think* the problem, at this point, however, is that the creators want to sit back on their laurels now, and enjoy the fruits of their labor without having to expend much more energy and you can't do that in the business world. Once you come up with the great idea, you have to keep reinventing it and keep it updated so that the competitors, who implement your ideas (except only better and without all the glitches) won't court away your customer base.

KPP said...

Well, I'll make a go.

Etsy does not sell off site advertisement. Think of it...even if you dislike that etsy allows commercial and vintage, at least they're not in your shop. Or on the sidebar on various pages. They might be in a treasury, etc, but its part of the etsy "scene." Etsy could easily make advertising bucks by selling space to JoAnn's, Lion Brand, Knit Picks, etc. Yeah, most of the other handmade selling sites don't do this either (that I have seen from a glance), but doesn't one of them allow you to buy a sponsered shop? I can't remember which one. I tried to find it, but maybe I've gone batty.

For the most part, etsy keeps it clean. Many other website that I follow do not. They get clunkier and clunkier. The front page is leaning that way, but its mostly getting longer (scroll wise). Not crazy though.

Grace said...

Etsy has given me the inspiration I needed to go and start my own website, where I now make 5x as much as I ever did on Etsy, and where my average item price is $45.00 (and up).

Etsy has taught me how to stand up to bullies, copycats, plagiarists, psycos and generally incompetent management. Etsy has taught me to value myself and to value my work.

Thanks Etsy!
*insert one fingered salute here*

eclipse said...

The urban craft movement was already going before Etsy- sites like Craftster, books like Stitch & Bitch, , groups like the Craft Mafia all pre-date Etsy. Etsy saw this phenomenon and found a way to capitalize o it, but they definitely did not start it.

Chain, Chain, Chain said...

Amen, My Sisters in "Bitchness"!

"Chain, chain, chain, chain, chain, chain
Chain, chain, chain, chain of fools
Five long years I thought you were my man
But I found out I'm just a link in your chain
You got me where you want me
I ain't nothing but your fool
You treated me mean oh you treated me cruel
Chain, chain, chain, chain of fools

I'm added to your chain, chain, chain
Chain, chain, chain, chain,
Chain, chain of fools"

annoyed said...

Etsy definitely has promoted a very select few sellers and allowed them to make a fantastic living while ignoring others on the site. My New Year's resolution is to find alternative venues for my work.

kibbles said...

"What DOES Etsy do Right?"
Is this a trick question?

GernBlanston said...

They process cancelled orders very quickly. I had one last night from a sock puppet and it took less than 10 min to get cancelled.

Unfortch, the ability to place orders and not pay necessitates repeated cancellations for many sellers and that is a pain in the ass.

Lotta said...

I'll go with attractive graphic design and large pictures in the search.