Etsy Sellers React to Forced Free Shipping (Why I’m Not Worried)


Hey there, welcome back to the blog.

If you’re new around these parts I’m K. Hill of Handmade Hybrid where I serve up tips tricks and biz builder hacks that help creative entrepreneurs craft a life you love, with an occasional dose of craft therapy thrown in for good measure.

Why? Because adulting is hard.

So today we’re going to be talking about Etsy’s new shipping policies that rolled out a couple of weeks ago. When they announced that they were going to make it so that the first page of search results would be reserved for any of the sellers that were offering free shipping for items at $35 — a minimum of $35 spent and you would receive free shipping on your order.

That caused a lot of ruckus to say the least in the Etsy seller community. And for good reason, you will notice there are tons of videos on YouTube about the topic and it really put Etsy sellers in a unfavorable position because as a small business it’s really hard to offer free shipping.

It cuts into your profits you know and us shipping at least we’ll talk about US

based shipping here. US shipping is not cheap. So it is nearly impossible for a small business and particularly a handcrafted business to compete with the likes of Amazon and their free shipping policies and Prime and all of that good stuff.

Even though we love it as buyers, of course, but as the seller is very difficult to

compete with that. And so there was a lot of conversation going on in the Etsy seller community community about that topic.

Now I’m going to give you my personal opinion on on the Etsy shipping policy.

I myself chose not to participate. I do not offer free shipping at $35. What I do offer is free shipping if you buy three or more items from my shop.

That was what I was offering prior to the policy and that’s what I maintained after the policy change and I’ll give you my thinking about why I am personally not worried about this. Yes you will have a dip in visibility, a dip in views and likewise a dip in sales for the time being but I personally don’t think that it’s going

to last and I’m willing to let it play out and I’ll tell you why.

Here’s my thinking Etsy wants to make sales. Etsy has shareholders to answer to we know that. They’re now publicly traded company they see that Amazon is dominating and one of Amazon’s best features is their free shipping and their prime so they want to compete totally understand that as a business I get it but here’s the thing…

I think what people are overlooking is the simple fact that Etsy is in it to make money they want to make sales and so when a shopper comes to the Etsy  platform they want to show them the items that will have the best chance of leading to a sale.

So think about it if they feel the first page (and we’re talking about the first page because people more than likely don’t go past the first or second page of search

results) if they fill the first page of search results with items that are based that solely on the fact that they offer free shipping at $35.

If those search results are not a good fit for what that buyer is searching for they’re not going to buy it regardless of if it’s free shipping or not. Think about it… if you see a bunch of stuff on the first page of search results that is not what you’re looking for you don’t care if the item had free shipping.

You are not going to buy it. It’s not what you want. It’s not the best option, not the solution you were looking for and so what are you going to do? You’re going to keep looking.

And Etsy’s algorithm is going to see that they’re going to see I’m (Etsy algorithm) putting a bunch of stuff on the first page but nobody’s buying it. Nobody’s clicking on it so therefore I’m (Etsy algorithm) going to go searching for better stuff to show and when I show that better stuff and it gets conversions I, being the Etsy the algorithm, I’m going to learn that and I’m going to start showing the things that convert.

So to me in my mind (me K. Hill now speaking not as Etsy) in my mind eventually is going to self-correct because if you keep showing stuff simply based on the fact that it’s free shipping and the buyers are not buying that stuff you’re going to start showing different stuff.

That different stuff will eventually be the best stuff, the best stuff that has the best opportunity for a sale which brings us back to where we were before. Meaning Etsy wants to show what converts to sales and it’ll starts showing that more often because they want to get the sale just like we want to get the sale.

So I’m going to keep making the things that I make and attracting the audience that it appeals to. I’m not going to worry about the free shipping and the low $35 threshold. I cannot compete with that and I’m not going to try.

I am going to rest on the fact that just like I want to make sales, Etsy wants to make sales too. We actually want the same thing. So as they try their different tests and what not, I consider this a test, as they try their different tests the data will show and subsequently prove what’s selling and they will continue to (or go back to) showing what’s selling.

So that’s why I’m not worried about the new shipping policy and that’s why I think you don’t need to be either.

Of course I don’t have a magic crystal ball and I don’t have any ties to Etsy so that is just my opinion. We’ll have to see how it plays out. We can circle back to this video/post next year and see how, or even six months from now, and see how things played out.

Was I right? Was a wrong? Time will tell but you can feel free to drop a comment and let me know what you think and what your strategy is relative to the new shipping policy. And since it’s been a few weeks, how has it played out for you? Have you seen a drop in views? Have you seen a drop in sales or are things plugging along as they normally did?

Let’s let’s talk about it in the comments below alright until next time…


Happy Selling!

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