Thursday, 11 July 2019

Etsy and the great free US shipping debate

Many of you will have seen that Etsy is now requiring all sellers to offer free shipping to the USA if they want their products to be found in searches by US customers. Yes, even overseas sellers like myself. I am sure you can guess how that went down in the community. 50% of my sales are to the US so I have spent the last few days thinking about a way to offer this. It is just not possible. I cannot find the words to express how disappointed I am with Etsy for this move. It shows me that overseas sellers are totally unimportant to Etsy, that Etsy has no respect for a seller's ability to find their own pricing strategy and that profit and the standing of the shareholders is the only thing that is important to them.

At the end of last year Etsy had 39.4 million buyers and 2.1 million sellers (according to Wikipedia). According to Erank's market report 57.2% of users are from the USA. Only 5.3% are from the UK. You can see that there is a much bigger user base in the USA than in the UK - and a much bigger customer base.

Many people have said 'Etsy is a business, they need to make a profit'. They do, yes, but they are dragging sellers further and further down in the name of that profit. They are alienating the people who make those profits possible. Etsy was set up to give creative people an outlet, to support them and create a healthy trade in handcrafted and vintage goods. It is no longer about producing hand made items and selling them at a price that exhibits pride in your work and respect for our customers. It is about offering the cheapest price possible.

Where my beads and silk cords are concerned, they will not withstand a price increase to cover the cost of US shipping. My bead sets cost £4.30 ($5.31 US) and US shipping costs £3.45 (not including Etsy's shipping fees and the cost of packaging materials). You can see that increasing my prices to £7.75 ($9.57 US) would lead to no sales. 'Offer free shipping on orders of more than $35', says Etsy. It would take an order for seven sets of beads to get to the $35 level. Just to recover the shipping cost alone I would need to increase my prices by 58 pence (72 cents). By the time I have done that it means shoppers only need to buy six sets of beads to reach $35. So I need to increase the price a bit more. All I am doing is offering my beads at a much more expensive price to all my buyers all over the world to subsidise free US shipping - and probably decreasing the number of sales due to the unnecessary price hike.

I am ashamed of Etsy. I am sad. We creative people deserve better than what Etsy is giving us. I won't be offering free US shipping. I will be offering a reasonable shipping fee to the US and prices on my products that are respectful of my work and my customers. It might mean the end of my business but I can only do what I can do.


Nana Louise Nielsen said...

I couldn't agree more, Gillian. I'm in the same boat, and if we hike the prices halfway between UK shipping and US shipping, we're basically making our UK customers pay for the US postage.
I am instead considering raising my prices just the UK shipping rate and offering free domestic shipping, thus giving the benefit to my UK customers instead.

But really, I don't think free shipping is important for customers who come for the handmade unique items like yours, and I hope you don't get less sales because of Etsy's odd sales strategy.

Gillian McMurray said...

I am so sorry to hear you are in the same position, Nana. I think there will be a lot of us in the same place. I agree with your comment about shipping for handmade items too. I don't think it is as important as Etsy thinks. They say 20% of customers who put things in their shopping cart don't go any further once they find out the shipping price. That is not a high proportion of sales at all. It is very sad that Etsy cannot see that we are offering something more than Amazon and Etsy. I hope your plan for free UK shipping helps though. It sounds like a good plan.