Thursday, November 20, 2008

Why Etsy Does It

Let me start off today by pointing out that I have no business education or experience beyond a stint in retail management. I also have no 'in' with Etsy, real or imagined. Everything that follows is pure conjecture based on simple observation.

Now a little background, yesterday Etsy implemented a few changes. The most obvious of which was a front page face lift which had the temporary effect of a gift guide taking up the entire right side of the screen. While this glitch went away with a simple refresh and was in reality a small two picture box in the top corner it caused quite an uproar in the massive chat room that is twitter. Folks who have been vocal about their dislike of gift guides on the site were livid and the change just enhanced their argument.

Now for my analysis. First of all Etsy sellers, the front page, yeah, it's not there for you. Nope, not even a little bit. The front page is the face of Etsy the company, it is all about the buyers. It is there to set the bait for them, to entice them to shop. That is it's only purpose and as such it is in the best interest of the company to make that face pretty, interesting and above all to make people want to shop there. The shopper doesn't care if a seller is on the cover all the time or if a seller has never been featured, the buyer doesn't care about the perceived inequality of the gift guides, they just want to get a handmade gift for their sister and they want to get it fast and easy.
Etsy uses that front page to create an image that appeals to its core demographic, it uses gift guides to help people start shopping and really clicking through to items. It is the bait, you as a seller must set your own traps.

There is plenty that Etsy does for the seller. It creates a simple and inexpensive way to list items, it maintains forums, chat rooms, hosts tutorials and writes help articles. I know that there are plenty of other things that seller wish they would do like stats and a more efficient search system, but seriously, they appear to working their backsides off and there is just no way to please hundreds of thousands of people. I'm not trying to be an Etsy cheerleader, but I think that there are just so many people who don't 'get' it. Sure, Etsy started as a way for people to make a living selling handmade items and along the way they've had to compromise a bit of that to make a living themselves. Do I miss the old Etsy? Sometimes, but I'm more excited to see them grow and I understand why they have done the things they have, even if I sometimes disagree with them.

Well, I think I got that all out of my system. I've got a whole bunch of pieces to make right now and I'm getting a little nervous about the impending holiday season. The fog has started rolling in here in the Central Valley and even though it's still in the 70's, it won't be long until Christmas overtakes us all. Deep it comes.


jewelstreet said...

I know it's there to bait them, but I often wonder if Etsy knows who it's actual target market is as far as buyers goes. I also wonder of those "buyers only" how many of them actually use the GG's or the fancy flash tools. I don't mind the front page, but I think the categories should be above the GG's. Everything else is great. Except the leaves. They distract me. lol.

SOrry for the long post.

Heather - said...

Yeah! I think you're right. I stay out of the forums drama, but great point here.

Found you via twitter.

And, the 4yo's fear of tv static snow is just irrational! I remember being afraid of that when I was a kid... it was loud and disturbing. Fear is rarely rational!!


June Shin said...

I agree with all you say. I'm tired of reading about people bashing the Etsy admins. Sure, there's always room for improvement, but they can only do so much at a time. And if the sellers don't like it, then they should either go somewhere else, or create their own site with everything they want.

And I think the front page looks great.

thebeadedlily said...


AJ said...

It's certainly very frustrating to see the same people on the front page over and over again (while never getting into so much as a treasury), but I do get tired of people acting like it's a great big conspiracy by the admins to constantly feature their favorites.

I have my own theory about why it happens, and that is that as soon as someone gets on the front page, they get "hearted" by a ton of people. Then when those people make a treasury, they go through their list of favorites and choose appropriate items, and then the person who has already been on the front page is in even more treasuries, giving them more of a chance to get featured.

I grouse about it from time to time, but really, a seller's energy is best spent improving their product and their image and working to get their name out there, rather than whining and hoping someone will randomly feature them.

Denise said...

As a buyer, rather than a seller... I barely notice anything on the homepage, but the search box. Nice pictures are nice, but a search is more efficient.

If I were a seller, I'd be thinking about my tags, my descriptions and my photos, I think. And how and where i exist in other spaces (For example - i found your sites via Flickr).

I don't think it's all about being on the front page of etsy at all, but there's nothing like a massive drama when something changes :)

Cheryl Van Dyck said...

Great post, very well said!! Etsy has done a lot for me and my business, and while I don't agree wth everything they do either, they are definitely a fabulous opportunity for an artist to get their work "out there".