You are questioning whether it’s time to leave Etsy. It may be, but let’s start at the beginning of your journey.
You have decided to believe in yourself and take that wonderful leap to start your own business…Congratulations! It is an incredible feeling to start something for yourself and maybe even your family.
You have created this amazing product by hand and are sure it’s going to be a hit. You think about starting your own website, but the idea of learning how to build one seems daunting, so while you look online you decide Etsy may just seem like a good fit. Love start up costs and with millions of potential customers already shopping there you decide to pick your username and open up shop. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this method, BUT, I am here to get you ready for the next step and GET OFF ETSY.
What is Etsy?
Etsy is a large ecommerce site that allows users to sell their handmade or vintage goods on their site. You simply chose your shop’s name, put in your bank details and voila, you are ready to start selling.
Etsy was launched in 2005 and today (as of November 1, 2021) brings in a revenue of $1.725 Billion dollars. In 2015 they went public and many say this was a turning point for both the company and it’s sellers. Etsy now had to watch out for it’s investors and stock holders and this mean streamlining a few practices for it’s sellers that turned into a sour point for many.
Is it time to Leave Etsy?
As the years pass, Etsy has implemented several policies that directly affect their shoppers but most of all, their sellers. There have been a huge influx of sellers from overseas who are directly copying or ripping trademark items, not selling items as listed, claiming handmade when it’s just massed produced. The marketplace has become so large, that unfortunately, Etsy can’t catch all of them.
There are copious amounts of sellers, especially re-sellers and wholesalers from China that have infiltrated the market. The amount of new shops that have popped up as made it impossible for authentic handmade businesses to compete. Now, I’m not talking about a few dozen, but hundreds if not thousands of shops that sell items that are mass produced and infringing on trademarked items. I invite you to take a look at Etsy and search “Designer Inspired Bags” or even “Disney”. Within seconds you see them pop up. Some items don’t seem to have the traditional logo, like the beige LV purse pictured below, but upon closer inspection, you can see a poor job at blurring the logo. Once you receive the items, the are replicas of the high end designer bags.
Here are a few examples from a quick Etsy search:
A final note on Trademark Infringement, there also has been a rise in frivolous Trademark Infringement claims. While Etsy can’t mediate and pick and chose who is right or wrong, they always side with the person claiming the intellectual property and shut down the listing in question. There is a large Facebook group run by entrepreneur, working at taking down false claims. It’s a great group with loads of information, Trademark Watch Dawgs – Stop Frivolous Trademarks. It is a private group, they accept and decline at their discretion.
Living and Dying by the Reviews
Because Etsy is such a large market place, having 5 stars is crucial to a shop’s success. Now, what happens is that customers see Etsy and think it’s similar to Amazon and this includes their refund policies. Customers can sometimes be the absolute WORST (not all of course). TikTok is flooded with “Karen Customer” stories. Often times customers threaten and black mail shops for refunds or returns or free items and if the shop doesn’t comply, the customer threatens to leave a bad or 1 star review. So shops have 3 choices:
- Give the customer what they want and hope for a good or at least decent review
- Bite the bullet, hold their ground, take the 1 star review and hope it doesn’t affect business
- Take the bad review and argue it with Etsy and hope they take your side and remove it.
This has created a culture obsessed with reviews. While honest reviews can help a customer decide if the shop is worth shopping from, consider the pressure it places on smaller shops who are being manipulated by less than stellar customers.
Now add to all this Etsy’s new “Star Seller” program. What is a A Star Seller ? A Star Seller on Etsy has to have the following:
- 5 star ratings on more than 95% percent of their reviews
- At least 10 order and $300 in sales (before shipping and taxes)
- Must have been on Etsy for more than 90 days.
If you meet this criteria, you receive a badge on your shop, easily identifying you with customers. When I tell you this has produced so much anxiety on Etsy sellers, it’s the understatement of the year. There are so many things that are outside of the control of the shop. USPS has been slow these past few years, shipping rates have increased, it takes longer to receive materials, you are competing with large companies like Amazon with customers having the same expectations. It’s exhausting and why many are thinking it’s time to leave Etsy.
Don’t believe me, here are a few posters on the subreddit R/EtsySellers:
Your Competition is on the same page as YOU!
This is more of a personal note on smart business practices. When you shop on Etsy, you have the benefit of seeing similiar items from other shops on the same page of a single store. Now, read that again as a seller and change the word “benefit” to “disadvantage”. This is the equivalent of having Louis Vuitton list Channel on their own website or Starbucks listing Dunkin Donuts menu on their website. It just doesn’t make sense.
Whenever you visit any shop, you can scroll down and discover “You May Also Like”. This leads your potential customer down another rabbit hole and away from your shop. This absolutely won’t happen on your own website because you are the only one there. Does it sound now like you should be leaving Etsy?
How can you start preparing your exit from Etsy
So now you are asking yourself if you should leave Etsy? Do what feels right for you in your current place of entrepreneurship. Does it make more financial sense? Are you prepared to build a website from scratch? What will happen to your business if Etsy shuts you down tomorrow? Could you afford it? Is Etsy’s current system not serving your best interest?
Preparing to leave a large platform like Etsy doesn’t have to be a scary thought. I always recommend you download all your data, including customer contact information. Download your descriptions and your images. Have it backed up on your computer.
You don’t have to make a clean break from Etsy, but you can start building your own site, your own happy space reflective of your brand, while still having Etsy.
Pick up and purchase your Domain Name. Then you will need hosting. I always recommend WordPress with the Woo Commerce plug in. For $8.99 a month you can have an entire e-commerce site just for you. I don’t normally recommend sites like Shopify since their rates are high ($79 per month). It doesn’t have to be fast, you can take your time. If you need help, or just rather have me take care of it for you, I will me more than happy to handle the whole process for you. Just message me here to proceed.