Interesting piece about Etsy’s business model

Etsy seems really hard to make livable money with. The shipping change doesn’t seem like it’s going to help.


Etsy must not understand how shipping works. If I’m forced, as a merchant, to offer “free shipping” then I need to increase my price to cover any possible cost.

You can’t anticipate that 32 New Yorkers will buy your stuff versus 12 Minnesotans (I’m from South Dakota). So, everyone gets the cost of the furthest. If you’re good, you can figure out a mean value. But it may mean you’re going to lose some money.

I don’t know much about Etsy, but would they get a cut of that increased price because of the added shipping? That means that has to be accounted for as well. Sounds like a good scam.


There was an incredibly long discussion on the Etsy forums about this. The comments were almost uniformly opposed to the idea, and explained the very many things that Etsy was not taking into account. Etsy promised over and over to address everything brought up in that thread, and didn’t. Basically they ended up highlighting the comments that provided workarounds for a few of the minor issues, and ignored the herd of elephants in the room. For example, numerous people pointed out that this policy could put them in violation of EU customs rules when shipping to Europe. No cogent reply.

My own main comment on it was that I wouldn’t actually mind offering free shipping on most of my things - which is to say folding in shipping costs - and could do it easily on most, if they would offer me the ability to make it free shipping to the Continental US rather than the entire US. I can fold in shipping that will allow me to send a table across the country by UPS, but as soon as someone in Alaska or Hawaii orders the same thing, shipping costs rise by about 150% and I’m losing something on the order of 20% of the sale price. But Etsy has no option for pricing shipping differently to the Continental US vs the disconnected states.


I know a lot of people who have moved off Etsy for this reason.

To where?

Seems like a lot moved to Shopify…

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Maybe we’re lucky, but our sakes have gone up since they started heavy-handing the free shipping - and the best part is most of our products were $35 or under so they didn’t qualify for free shipping anyways. (and the products that were $35, we dropped to $34) But even with orders over $35, we haven’t seen a big drop.

Not sure if we are reaping the benefits of other sellers leaving, or if the free shipping is working, or if sales are just up over this time last year because we’re a more seasoned shop? Whatever it is, it’s working for us. (and we were REALLY against the free shipping-for-search results idea when we first got that survey about it)


Of course, this is the issue with moving off of Etsy, unless you already have an established customer base.

“Your own website is a lemonade stand in a desert,” Kennedy says. “Etsy is the world’s largest craft fair. Which one do you want to be in?”

As someone who has built online shops and, had to explain marketing basics to numerous small businesses who didn’t understand why no customers were showing up, I know this isn’t to be underestimated.


Yes, these folks were already well established. I’m not giving marketing advice… just acknowledging that Etsy has pushed a lot of people into other places with their policies. If it is the world’s largest craft fair, a lot of people are tucked into the far corners of the earth where no one can find them unless they are specifically searching for them. That said, I’ve seen a lot of people shift their businesses entirely to FB groups, which are even more problematic.

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For sure. I’ve been thinking about the alternatives for the marketing part especially. My brother is considering opening an Etsy shop “or something” to sell some of the interesting home decor stuff he’s creating in his metal shop. Like many, not having time or interest in the marketing part is his main blocker. I’d like to figure out what to tell him.

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I think this is actually what a FB group/page is good for. Share your stuff with friends and family (in reasonable quantities!) on FB and ask them to share the things they like most with their friends and family. You can also do ads fairly easily. Point your FB page to your Etsy page.

If it’s more of a hobby, this is a nice way to get started. You just grow organically. But if you can pull that off on your own site with your own email list, all the better. Owning your customer list is certainly the best way to go.


Maybe partly, but is suspect it also includes hard work and quality on your part. Mind sharing your link? I’d like to see what a successful Etsy shop looks like these days.

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For anyone who doesn’t always need Etsy, look at Ecwid - I don’t sell too much so I’m able to do much on their free plan.

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My Sister-in-Law said her sales went up too.

Has anyone heard of or used these folks?

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