Etsy is well known and a major player in the handmade and vintage arena with a marketplace that offers curated collections and suggestions.
Etsy feedback popup test on shipping, photos and more
Etsy are running a test with the display of an Etsy feedback popup on the listing page for shoppers to leave feedback about items they’re viewing. They will ask for specific feedback about the listing’s shipping price, photo quality, and more.
The goal is to ‘Better understand shopper preferences to give sellers helpful and accurate recommendations for their shop’.
What’s interesting here is that the Etsy feedback popup test isn’t gathering feedback on items a buyer has purchased. This is a feedback test for items that the buyer is simply viewing on Etsy which they may or may not go on to purchase. Asking whether the shipping cost is ‘Cheap’, ‘Good’, or ‘Expensive’ is going to draw attention to the shipping cost up front and sellers appear to be worried that it could put buyers off.
Sellers would be right to worry as well, at least those that are gouging on shipping costs would be right to worry and that’s a higher percentage of sellers than on other marketplaces. Etsy have only just started to charge fees on shipping costs and one of the reasons for doing this is that traditionally shipping costs on Etsy have been high. It’s a way to game the system to have your product appear to be a bargain in search results and back load some of the profits into shipping and avoiding fees at the same time. Sellers can no longer avoid fees on shipping and now, if their carriage costs are high, there’s a chance that may be highlighted in the test.
Whilst the test covers more than just the shipping costs and also asks about the quality of images and other listing features, it’s naturally shipping that has riled sellers which does tend to suggest some sellers may be all to well aware that their shipping costs are higher than their compeptitors and have something to worry about as they try to justify their costs on the Etsy forums in an outraged manner. It’s also fair to add that many Etsy sellers are relatively small and may rely on the Post Office to deliver items, having never had the need to source low cost deliveries through alternative carriers.
The Etsy feedback popup won’t be shown to all buyers, as is normal it will be shown to a percentage of buyers so that Etsy can measure it’s impact against buyers who don’t see the test. This way they’ll be able to gather data on what effect it has an if it changes buyer behaviour.
Instead of asking browsers what they think, and put sellers under even more pressure to offer free shipping, what is stopping etsy integrating the shipping within the cost of an item so browsers know upfront what an item costs including shipping and can therefore compare straightaway and make a judgement of value for money before buying.
I don’t rip people off with expensive shipping, I charge the amount quoted by the shipping companies I use and I have no control over that. Domestic shipping is always going to be cheaper than international and etsy should recognise that if they’re offering a worldwide service, they shouldn’t penalise sellers for the country of origin’s shipping costs.
Combining the shipping cost is actually an incredibly difficult thing to do. Etsy would have to tag the seller location and the buyer location, Then they would have to search the shipping options for that particular item and decide if there’s a price difference for say the Highlands or Channel Islands compared to shipping to mainland UK.
To do this on the view item page is heavy on computing power. To do it on the fly in search results for millions of products and then decide which to present on that basis would take an eye watering amount of computing power and more importantly search page load times would slow to a crawl while the calculations were being done.
Sounds simple in theory, fiendishly complex and computing hungry in reality.
If Etsy wants us to lower shipping prices, they’d do well to do a few things:
1. Add FedEx as an option on the shipping calculator.
2. Charge sellers the amount that Etsy actually pays for shipping (you know they’re making a bundle on shipping). They get a bulk discount for shipping and don’t pass it along to sellers, so shipping is a major profit source for them. Hint: Use Pirate Ship or FitShipper to get better USPS prices.
3. Stop charging a 5% fee on shipping costs collected.
Rolling shipping costs into the item price and giving “free” shipping isn’t feasible for items that weigh more than a pound and it becomes less feasible the heavier an item gets. I can ship an 11-lb package to zone 2 for under $7, with the same item costing nearly $40 to ship to zone 8. Even for a 2-lb package, the price can differ by about $4.
It might be more doable for someone who lives in Kansas, because it’s smack in the middle of the country, but to those for whom California is a zone 8, there’s no good way to do it.
As a customer, I have a mixed feelings about this. It doesn’t seem fair to draw just the shipping cost to the front. But on the other hand it’s good that they are testing feedback features – I’m from Poland and we have a similar marketplace here (Pakamera), where feedback features work great for years now 🙂