It seems that the great Etsy View crisis of '08 may be coming to a close. Oh how I will miss the countless threads crying about lost views and the administrators inability to fix this problem. I was lucky enough to only lose my views once or twice, but honestly it wouldn't have mattered at all to me. I know many people see item views as an important business tool and they can be useful for creating some statistics, but views have little to do with sales.
Hear me out, I worked in retail for a time and I was able to learn quite a few things about shoppers, their habits and did my fair share of gathering sales data. You know what, no physical business keeps track of what their customers look at and most don't keep track of how many people walk through the door. They keep track of sales, that's all. They use the details of those sales to determine what else will sell. Views don't matter, sales do.
There are as many different kinds of shoppers as there are different kinds of people but there are three min groups I'd like to bring up in an effort to defend my opinion on views. First, The Determined Shopper, they get in, get what they were looking for and they get out. The Determined Shopper rarely gets distracted by anything but their goal purchase. Second, The Lookey Loo, they generally have no intent to purchase anything and spend hours looking at everything. They are the customer that tries on 12 outfits, listens to all the new CD's and asks questions until the salespeople begin to wish them harm, then they leave empty handed. The last group is the Casual Shopper, these are the money shoppers. They go in wanting to buy something, but they don't really care what. They may have an idea, but they are easily influenced by displays and salespeople. They may look at a lot of things, but they generally buy a lot as well.
So here's the problem with using views as a real gauge of saleability, there are far more Lookey Loos than any other group of shoppers. They are the ones giving you all your views. They are influenced by each other too. The Lookey Loo wants to know why everyone else looked at something so they look too, but they're probably not buying.
Here's a more specific example. Yesterday I saw a thread about most viewed items. One person shared an item viewed something like 1800 times that had been on the front page multiple times, wasn't priced too high and yet no sale. Wanna know why? The picture was amazing, beautifully composed, great color, but when you clicked through to the other pictures it became apparent that the item was just average. Not bad, but the picture was so much better. You get views when the first picture is great, but you get sales when the item is just as great.
Yes, you can use view data to determine what catches people eyes, but your sales data shows what captures peoples money. Or better yet, you could ignore the views altogether and make what you love and what sells for you. That's what I do.