Saturday, October 30, 2010

Etsy search and categories limited to 50,000

Do you feel that? You’re getting screwed. I know I know, Etsy’s little limp noodle doesn’t make much of an impact, but your wallet sure does feel it.

Etsy made “minor adjustments” to the search pagination resulting in a return of only 50,000 results when a buyer searches for something. The reasoning:

“our data has shown that purchases drop to .000001% on item listings beyond position 50,000 for a given search”

Yeah, so why help those items sell? They’ll just keep pimping out the constant renewers
Cuz guess what, the results get returned by – recently listed date! (and check out the latest weather report - the backlog of unsold items keeps growing by hundreds of thousands)

To quote an Etsian: “This does nothing to help sellers or buyers find items they may be looking for. This does everything to line Etsy's pockets with more renewal fees, your motivation is so transparent Etsy.”

Oh yeah, and it affects browsing categories, too. So if you haven’t renewed in the last 2 to 4 weeks, your item isn’t being returned in the category when a shopper is browsing. Didn’t you pay for 4 months?

“Only 3% of the items listed in jewellery are now accessible when browsing.
That's a staggering $324,019.60 spent on listing fees for items that are inaccessible. When sorting by price, you can not browse items between $4.49-$139.”

And that thread – more than 1100 posts and no admin response. Surprised?

So rather than updating the hardware, Etsy is simply screwing all of you to get you to pay more to be seen.

Oh this is going to be a GREAT holiday shopping season!

31 Comments:

Virginia said...

My advice to everyone still keeping an Etsy shop open:

Run away. Fast.

No - faster than that.

Because Etsy is a scary-dangerous abusive spouse who is showing signs of becoming violent.

It is almost like they actually want everyone to leave.

The Cranky One said...

Okay, so back when etsy tried to do relevancy search everyone threw a fucking hissy fit because well the renewal game is easier to play than tiddlywinks so they took it away, and gave back the recency.

So now, all you fucking crybabies who screamed bloody murder over using Relevancy - guess what? Relevancy would be the only halfway decnet thing to deal with right now with this new fucking gem. But you know what - no one is gonna get it now because all you fucking assholes would rather scheme, game a play the games they WANT you play by renewing and fucking over each other. You fucking played into their trap. Feel stupid yet?

If not you should if haven't left Etsy yet.

tiredofetsy said...

What Etsy has done is atrocious. Not sure what they were thinking, but I do know they weren't thinking about their customers.

While this is a mess and one of the worst things Etsy has done to date, I would not compare Etsy to Domestic Violence. I find Domestic Violence far worse than Etsy.

RRobin said...

Cranky, I don't know if simple "relevancy" would help. I never found it useful on Etsy. The whole tagging/categorizing system needs a serious overhaul first. But of course, it is easier for Etsy to just do it this way.

And of course, since most buyers only look at the first couple of pages anyway, it really doesn't matter whether there are 5, 50, or 500,000 pages more that aren't looked at.

I don't think anyone stops looking on that basis. Where does Etsy get its figures? Are we supposed to believe they are doing scientific consumer-behaviour research? Best laugh I've had all day.

Mark my words: This, too shall pass, rescinded within the week.

SusanA said...

The relevancy was the biggest joke. Sellers bragging they spent 200/month in so they don't have to worry. There were enough sellers who liked it, but then they didn't renew frequently anyway.
Money talks.
Best a new cupcake saying "But I can't imagine Etsy would go anything to hurt sales or the sellers"

shop is nearly closed said...

Now, a lot of people who screamed about the relevancy wasn't because they did not want relevancy search it was because it was completely broken and didn't work at all. Instead of taking advice and working on it, they took the ball and went home.


I've also seen their explorer tool touted as something to be used instead of the current search and I would only hope its been improved because the results it gave when it first came out appeared to be random and I know for a fact it was not pulling up all the results. Of course knowing now about the 50,000 cap maybe that was part of the issue and the Explorer tool has had that cap since day one.

DancingWindDesigns said...

Once again, etsy has stuck a knife into the backs of the sellers there-at the start of the holidays no less. What a bunch of idiotic, greedy morons. I am so glad I'm done with them. All I am doing is hanging out in the coral "sit-in" thread and waiting for the mass mutings to spew forth. All those starry eyed cupcakes make me want to hurl. They are the ones that those of us who have left will be seeing in 5 or 6 months on other sites. I'm sure they will be saying "I didn't see it coming", too.

Anonymous said...

I remember dennis andersen complaining about relevancy because nobody could find him. He already had a few sales so far that day at the time he complained, but he said those were repeat buyers and didn't count. Could've picked my jaw off the floor seeing that. Very nervy.

I thought relevancy was a good idea for people who can't afford to renew every minute like the etsy faves who make more sales.

so its the same thing now; the rich get richer.

eloo sibby said...

shop is nearly closed said...----
I've also seen their explorer tool touted as something to be used instead of the current search and I would only hope its been improved because the results it gave when it first came out appeared to be random and I know for a fact it was not pulling up all the results. Of course knowing now about the 50,000 cap maybe that was part of the issue and the Explorer tool has had that cap since day one.
----

Etsy's api always had that 50k limit.

Amenhotep IV said...

Add this to the fact that the default on the new profile page is to showcase your favorite items and shops alongside your business info, with much screen real estate.

Cosmic Yuk said...

Sellers have talked themselves into believing that renewing is marketing or advertising. It's not. Advertising and marketing usually entail reaching beyond your current market to those that haven't discovered you yet.

Marketing usually takes more effort than paying another .20 to renew a listing, it requires that you actually find a way to appeal to the market you are trying to attract. Advertising is placing an ad in a magazine, blog, newspaper, with something eye-catching that piques curiosity or interest to see more.

Renewing listings is just feeding the machine called Etsy and making it easier on them to not have to restructure the category system and clean up the tagging system.

Sure, it may work for some, just like the grapefruit diet can help you lose weight. But it isn't a diet you can live on indefinitely, and it doesn't work for everyone.

Sustainability. Nothing Etsy does considers the long term effects, they live in the here and now and let the future sort itself out.

Etsy can't sustain the over 7 million listings in their inventory (which grows each month since new listings still outweigh sales each month, so the leftovers get dumped into the inventory. And it keeps growing and growing.

Now they're having issues with page loading times taking longer and longer and had to cut down the number of results returned. Just like when renewals started to pick up they had to increase the number of listings that got uploaded in each batch so that sellers started noticing their items didn't make the front page scroll bar and didn't get front page face time in their category.

It wouldn't surprise me if one of the reasons they went to this new pagination is to weed out sellers who don't play the renewing game. They want those listings that have been sitting for 3 months gone. they're sitting there collecting dust and creating an extra load they can't handle. If the choice is to start renewing like mad or leave, well, either option will benefit Etsy.

Wake up people, if they make it any clearer they'll h ave to stamp it on your forehead.

Invisible said...

I don't think this is hurting Etsy, in fact there may have been a renewing frenzy this weekend as shops try to stay relevant. A few may not be renewing, but some are renewing several at time. Etsy slots are still spinning rapidly.

for the hell of it said...

One of the problems with the relevancy search was that IF you were follwing Google rules and had your first 3 tags working to establish the attribute"product_type", you dropped in Etsy relevancy.

I personally find the new profile pages to be more problamatic. MY page is MINE I do not appreciate Etsy utilising MY tags for triple duty. I NEED to try to get found by Google, then hopefully turn up in the Etsy internal search, and figure out the other day that my favorite materials and tags are also portals back to ETSYLAND??!!

WTF!!!!

The Funny One said...

It's the Etsy-ass-lazy way of not dealing with scale. It's also one more tool for giving more free promotion to the shortlist of Etsy faves who are at the top of that 50k list.

Which is why the total number of BUYERS hasn't increased - shoppers see the same thing (for 6 years) get bored and go to eBay to shop. For real.

If Etsy can't see its ass from its asshole, the "cap" will soon prove that it can't make millions in profits by listing fees alone.

If sellers don't see this as incredibly anti-seller, I don't know what else will get sellers to see what a scam Etsy is.

Even eBay will give a seller better traffic and sales results than Etsy for the next 7 weeks.

While many will figure out how bad Etsy is after no traffic or sales through Dec. 24, it'll be too late--Etsy will have already taken the money for doing.......nothing!

Virginia said...

tiredofetsy - please don't think that I am belittling the real dangers of domestic violence - I have two close family members and a dear friend whose lives and childrens' safety were in danger for a number of years as a result of spousal abuse.

I've studied the cycle of abuse quite closely from a personal point of view and from an academic anthropological/ sociological point of view. The pattern Etsy is following actually quite closely resembles that of domestic violence in many ways. They are a corporate abuser and as far as your business is concerned, it is a very valid comparison.

I feel really terrible for the sellers who are stuck in that abuse cycle, whose children depend on the $ they make from their Etsy sales. I wish we could fund an escape hatch for them. It is so hard to get away and etsy keeps making it harder by

- cultivating a culture of fear; many people have spoken off site about actually being afraid to open another venue because it might be seen as "disloyal" leading admin to shut down their Etsy shop before the new venue is able to make enough $$

- making selling on Etsy more time consuming and stressful; Etsyhacks are not working for most sellers, the re-listing schemes have escalated, requiring more time on site for re-listing and pimping yourself in the forums. All that time spent on site = less time to work on creating or building a new venue which leads to feelings of desperation.

- Slamming sellers' self esteem and confidence; Pleas for selling help on the forums get two canned responses - take better pictures and promote your shop off site (which can easily be read as - your work/promotional efforts aren't good enough to make it) People begin to believe that they MUST make this "relationship" work because they've invested so much in it that it is the only thing they've got left plus, their talents aren't good enough to succeed anywhere else, anyway.

- engaging in small or large, passive or active acts of aggression; Now, when sellers are doing all they can to improve their shops, working harder, investing more time, energy and $$, etsy keeps throwing roadblocks to success in their way; allowing more resellers, breaking more tools, changing lay out of shops, limiting search functions, allowing "guest bloggers" to call for boycotts of honest sellers, invading our privacy, creating "tools" that aren't needed that make the site bog down.. . . . When people try to address those problems, Etsy either slaps them across the face and closes down the thread, ignores them completely, accuses them of LYING (remember the March/April fiasco when Admin. straight out told us that no one had actually seen a drop-of in sales?) or reverts to the standard "you need better pictures" line.

Like all abusers, it is never Etsy's fault - any problems are either all in our head or a result of our own inadequacy.

And they keep demanding more of our resources, bleeding us dry until our businesses can't survive anymore. If we squeak too loudly about it, they will shut our shops down down - the business equivalent of serious physical violence. Of course,they will say afterward that it was a mistake, all a misunderstanding, Etsy really loves all of us . . .

It is abuse, plain and simple.

sark said...

I've been attempting to ignore this pagination thing...

I will say this — I don't renew, and I never have. The first time I finally figured out what the word meant — I knew "renewing" was a bankrupt idea: as in bad business practice.

I didn't hate relevancy. I did hate that morons who were chipping away at their overhead killed the concept.

Relevancy was flawed, however, in the way they figured the algorithm because too much credence is being given to date (to this day).

I think the problem with pagination, and why it doesn't quite make me frothy is because I have a science background, and am a little bit of a numbers savant.

When I look for something — I actually look for it. So, while I understand that Jewelry people may be pissed that the "last page" of jewelry results that come up by clicking just on the jewelry category and then on "LAST PAGE" are from 3 days ago...

Well, yeah, who the fuck just randomly clicks on jewelry and doesn't search for anything? I have my own personal taste, and can tell you that when I stand in front of the racks at Macy's or JC Penny's or even fucking Target — I don't stand there and painstakingly paw over all the shit that doesn't appeal to me in the slightest.

Customers aren't stupid, they're picky, and they search for shit.

When I type in something as generic as topaz or moonstone — I still get the results from 4 months ago.

So, statistically, how many people do you really think just click on the top level category, search for nothing at all, and just want to see the oldest listings? Because that's the gamble that etsy is betting against.

It pains me to agree with their decision, but unfortunately, to a certain extent, there is a rational on their side. At least, when I shop for something I'm pickier than just the category (like "housewares") I'd probably actually be looking for something — like a wreath — there are 85 pages of results.

People are picky, and etsy is generally incompetent.
So, the problem lies more within how this was explained than the actual application.
I honestly don't understand who shops online and cannot perform a basic search (beyond the handicapped... which does not mean I think you're all handicapped... just that I think they explained it poorly).
Meh.

Damn it, and then I thought about it for 1 minute after re-reading my own post and wondered, why the fuck would they do this to begin with? Who the fuck cares if 12,000 pages show up if someone just clicks on a top level category?

Fuck, it's rational, and yet it's stupid.

Damn it.

F.W. said...

I really have no sympathy for the Etsians who constantly berated sellers who requested a sane search system and the notion of being found on Google. These are the same smug people who bragged about spending hundreds of dollars monthly on renewing and tried to make others look like fools because they were trying to request another way to be found on Google.
Now let's see the renewers try to work their way out of this latest change. I suggest we all approach the forums en masse' and keep hitting a canned reply to each of their laments: "get off your butt and promote, take better photos, social network" over and over.
I'd say "come to Artfire," but I'm not sure I want to see those same folks over there. But at least their renewing fever would be nipped, big time and they'd be in the same boat as most of us, having to build a slow, yet sane, search engine presence. Imagine that!

Cosmic Yuk said...

Lol, I was trying to come up with real life scenario to describe Etsy.

Imagine Kohls department store (or your favorite or familiar one, any one will do).

Now imagine that they carry unlimited brands of clothing, jewelry, housewares, etc. And the store is laid out like you would imagine with each department having it's own area. BUT, instead of Kohls employees putting things in their proper department, they let the vendors do it. In the beginning, everyone pretty much stuck to the correct departments, but at some point, someone decided that if they put their sweaters in the cosmetic department they might get more exposure, and sure enough it sparked a couple of impulse purchases.

Upon seeing this phenomena, other vendors decided to do this, the bead seller decided to put their crafting supplies in the jewelry department, the yarn vendor decided their skeins of yarn should be divided up between the sweater department, the craft section and the jewelry department.

Meanwhile,new vendors continue to bring their wares in, some following logical department placement, others following the other's 'do your own thing placement.

And the shop clerks, instead of trying to keep things organized are busy breaking up fights between vendors, picking their favorite items for shop displays and their daily sales ads. The back office, instead of enforcing the original store layout and departments, are busy changing the store layout, putting in new light fixtures, putting a new coat of paint on the walls, installing new carpet and building showcases along the aisles throughout the store to put the most recent items within clear view and easy reach of customers. And vendors discovered that if they paid extra, they could have their items remain in those showcases.

Once the the other vendors discovered that they could also pay extra to have their stuff in the showcases, the back office found out that the showcases weren't big enough to hold all the items vendors were willing to pay extra for the added exposure. So they came up with a cap on how many items the showcases would contain. And since it was dependent on how often the vendor wanted to pay to stay in those showcases, vendors started to pay more and more often to keep that visibility. Of course, other vendors said 'screw this' and took their items and left since the chances were slim that customers were even going to see them. This was actually a relief to the back office, as that stuff was just taking up valuable space that another vendor who didn't mind paying extra for visibility could have.

Part 2 to follow:

Cosmic Yuk said...

Part 2

Now, the customers come in, greeted by a huge display of personal favorites of the shop clerks. Nearby is another display of other things the customer might be interested in, however, it resembles the first display. As the customer proceeds through the store, they find they have to stick to the pathway provided, the display cases lining the aisles are so close together they can't get past them to see what else there is. The black curtain hiding the rest of the inventory fools some into thinking that what is in the display cases is all there is to purchase, but a number of customers noting the size of the store feel like there must be more there, but they don't know how to get to it.

Not to mention the confusion they encounter when actually looking in the showcases. While they look up at the sign for the department they believe themselves to be in, the showcases are full of things that aren't really relevant. Sometimes it results in a serendipitous discovery, but often it causes confusion and frustration.

Many shoppers buy one or two things and leave, never to return. Others, finding what they want, return to buy similar items. A lot of the traffic in the store is vendors seeing where their items are showing up and if they aren't, quickly run to pay their fee so they can put their stuff back in the showcases. There are a lot of browsers, some new to the store, others come back time and time again hoping to see some new stuff on display, but usually see the same merchandise.

Still, it's a cool place to hang out, there's a back room you can go to and listen to vendors complain, although the clerks are usually there shushing the louder complainers, warning others, interrupting and ending some conversations and even removing some people from the store entirely. Sometimes, if you piss one of the clerks off, they'll not only kick you out, but pull all your inventory.

So there you go, my real life example of Etsy.

Grrrambo said...

Here's the deal as far as etsy seach goes.You better HOPE your shoppers are searching via the window not the screwed up cats.

Heads up on FUBAR etsy search: I just did some searchs on one of my items...an Oct.11th one. Even tho doing it search window option with only 25 pgs, Mine already was on the 8th one by then. OK, seems pretty normal but still wish we had the jump to when needed for folks whose items are in a huge competitive niche.

So next I did a search with the drill down cats...much better pg. 4. that's wonderful since I'm in a very small product niche. (if buyer only uses drill down).

Here's something wierd...say as a buyer you might start in the window with your search, but then notice the cats have ceramics, oh good shows 40 to look through now, great, I'll click. hmmm, now my item isn't there at all in any of the 40 items brought up.???

What I'm getting at is if you think of a buyer trying to fine tune using the window AND then clicking a cat to narrow it further, I believe that's why we're not showing on pages that we should. (This has to do with being well under any capped amounts that was explained to us by admin) If the rest of you have the same same experience, we can point this out in the forums.

Capped search or not, people are screwed.

Jon Stewart II said...

Congrats, Etsy. The bullshit profile page changes kicked me in the ass and I finished my retail website--at least enough to open for the holidays. I will be listing hundreds more products on there than I would on Etsy. And it's all mine.

And yes--they do cultivate a culture of fear.

I would love to advertise my new shop here, but I am certain if I did--they'd shut down my Etsy shop in a heartbeat. I'd like to leave it up so older repeat customers can find it, and therefore my new site.

RRobin said...

Etsy is doing this to hide the fact that there are too many unsold items on Etsy.

If new sellers -- and that's how Etsy expects to make money this holiday season, by signing up new sellers and convincing them to renew early and often -- knew that there were already 1,000,000 unsold earrings or knitted scarves on Etsy, they would be frightened away.

This way, bright-eyed and innocent new sellers will think they have a 1-in-50,000 chance of selling something, instead of 1-in-1,000,000.

RRobin said...

Etsy is doing this to hide the fact that there are too many unsold items on Etsy.

If new sellers -- and that's how Etsy expects to make money this holiday season, by signing up new sellers and convincing them to renew early and often -- knew that there were already 1,000,000 unsold earrings or knitted scarves on Etsy, they would be frightened away.

This way, bright-eyed and innocent new sellers will think they have a 1-in-50,000 chance of selling something, instead of (less than) 1-in-1,000,000.

California Girl said...

Will this 50K limit, which you know will be over run with reseller objects, hamper our front page cupcakes? Hope so.

vjhr said...

Cosmic Yuk, that was brilliant.

happytobeout said...

Back in the day, when I would still shop at etsy I would sometimes start from the last page after I did a search, just to give the "old" stash a chance. So I guess that would be pointless now huh? Good thing I don't shop at etsy anymore.

Gremly Girl said...

Cosmic Yuk, brilliant analogy! Add in that when vendors ask for help or clarification, the back office ignores them or tells them to make their displays prettier and all will be well.

All I can say is, I'm so happy I'm shutting down my etsy shop. For the first time I'll use my etsy name on etsybitch, because I just don't care anymore!

I started selling vintage sewing patterns 2 years ago and did a steady business for a little over a year. Things started slowing down around the beginning of this year...and now it's creaked to a stop.

I'm fortunate -- etsy selling has been a hobby for me, so it's easy to walk away. But there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of etsy sellers trying to achieve etsy's "Quit Your Day Job" dream. Etsy does nothing to help them! I've never seen a business run in such an immature and unprofessional manner. It's a real shame.

Bitter Jeweler said...

Their caching is so fucked up that the last pages of search have been showing expired items for months.

Total incompetence here, sorry Etsy.

Try keeping up with your current level of growth before expanding.

That interview with Rob Kalin where he says 'I don't see any reason why Etsy can't be as big as facebook' says so much. One, he doesn't understand Etsy. Two,he doesn't understand Facebook. Three, he's an egotistical prick who sits around dreaming about being Zuckerberg. Four, he's ready to completely turn his back on the customers who built Etsy up in the first place, and turn it into some confused shit that has nothing to do with the reason any of us belong there.

We want to sell our art and make money, not belong to some lame ass 'social network'. What a retard.

The Funny One said...

Better than excellent Bitter Jeweler and well said! We should start bombarding the ditzy "reporters" who keep interviewing the duncehead to feed that overblown ego.
I really enjoyed his comments about the "importance of customer support" for a company that has NONE, and his comments about "Etsy will never advertise."
They don't need to --- they have thousands of unpaid slaves doing it for free!

(Kalin didn't say that, he just lives it.)

Tired of Fools said...

I think the original post about this covered everything I feel on this latest Etsy crap rollout.

All I have to say is that I only pay $5.95 a month for my ArtFire shop and for that I can have as many items listed as I can make, photo, and upload. My ArtFire items get equal views.

Run your numbers on Etsy and you will find that your profit margin, if you have one, is narrow. Makes me sick to see folks complaining in Etsy forums that they don't get sales on ArtFire. Did they bother to promote their shops and do all the steps necessary to get their items seen? No! They park their items, don't bother to make them SEO friendly, and then rarely check back on their shop. It's not magic, its hard work selling online.

At least with ArtFire you not only have a platform that won't screw you over but you actually have a chance of making a profit.

Etsy has proven one thing very clearly over the two years I've been struggling there and that is it's all about Etsy and to hell with their customers. After all, a cupcake is born every second.

Get the fuck out of that craphole of a slot machine to hell and get yourself a real place to showcase your products and make money.

One thing is for sure, if you don't like what Etsy has done to date, brace yourselves because it's only going to get worse.

Jennifer said...

Wait until a lawyers sees this mess- this is a lawsuit waiting to happen. If listings are paid for but not seen, that's a breach, legally and ethically. They're going to get reamed.