April Update: Breaking Up With Etsy

Hello Everyone,We’ve recently made the decision to close our Etsy shop and move our ecommerce to Shopify and that’s been generating some questions from our followers. So I wanted to take a minute here to outline how and why we’ve come to this decision and where we’re going from here.For starters, I want to say that this transition has been a long time coming. As the Owner/Operator of Philomath Crafts and Supplies, I make all of the major decisions and, as most people who know me can attest to, I am not a super “up-to-the-minute” tech-y kind of person. I’m not a huge fan of new devices, apps, programs, and tech in general and when I find something that works for me I stick with it for as long as I can.That being said, Etsy was “working” for us since we opened shop in September, 2017. Throughout 2018 there were a lot of billing, financial, and policy updates that smashed through the Seller Community like a shockwave and we at Philomath Crafts were mostly unaffected for one key reason: We do not subscribe to “Promoted Listings”, shipping through Etsy, or any other add-on services.I have heard some really terrible stories regarding Etsy billing updates in 2018, mostly surrounding sales revenue and fees. The billing updates were all clearly geared towards making sure Etsy gets paid for absolutely every service as soon as possible, with whatever is leftover going to the sellers eventually. Since Philomath Crafts and Supplies did not ever subscribe to promoted listings, shipping services, or any other “add-ons” to make selling easier, we never really owed them very much to begin with.That being said, I’ve noticed over the past few months that listing on Etsy is more expensive than it used to be, even without “add-ons”, and I’m just not seeing the benefit on a per item/sale basis either for us or our customers.From our side, we pay a $0.20 listing fee for every listing that goes up, regardless of whether or not it sells. Now while it’s possible to add variants to a listing so that multiple “types” of the same product can be listed at once, I’ve never been particularly happy with how those variants can be entered and differentiated, so most of our products are in separate listings (with a $0.20 fee for each one). This means that many of our in stock products never even make it to Etsy, or are there for only one “listing cycle”, because if they are less likely to be popular, or if there are too many variants, or if shipping costs is likely to discourage sales it just isn’t worth listing. So, essentially, when a customer views our Etsy shop they are really only seeing a fraction of what we have to offer.Once a product is chosen to actually be listed, if we assume that a listing goes up with a quantity of 10 in stock, and one is purchased the next day a $0.20 “renewal” fee is deducted. This is because the “listing” was sold, even though the remaining nine were part of the original listing, so the listing needs to be “renewed” with the new quantity. Two days later another two sell and we see another $0.20 “renewal” fee for the second sale, plus a $0.20 “multi-quantity” fee. These, by the way are in addition to the transaction fees (% of order total) and shipping fees (% of order total). And, as previously stated, Etsy has literally nothing to do with our shipping so I don’t even really understand why we pay a shipping fee, but it’s in the fees we agreed to pay through Etsy so we pay it.I’m not usually one to complain about fees and, considering we do get sales through the Etsy Marketplace, I kind of figure these fees are worth it for the additional exposure/advertising we receive. However, Over the past four months in particular I’ve noticed that our customers aren’t particularly satisfied either. We’ve seen an increase in the number of customers asking for custom listings to combine shipping costs, or ask for a product that was mentioned in our social media but not listed on Etsy. I am more than happy to set up custom listings, but I am also aware that for everyone one customer that takes the time to message and arrange for a custom listing, there are likely several that don’t.So, I decided it was finally time to look at other options…I’ve been resisting looking at Shopify for a while now, because I don’t like monthly subscription fees. With the lowest possible plan from Shopify costing $9 per month (and I mean LOWEST as in there are so few features here…), it’s a big commitment to make the switch. Price comparatively, we could set up 145 listings per month on Etsy for the same monthly cost as basic Shopify, so it’s a little hard to justify until you really start looking into the features and benefits…I signed up for the Shopify 14-day free trial and, honestly, I am extremely happy with it so far. I’m using a combination of desktop and mobile to enter products into our new shop and it’s very user friendly. I am having a little bit of trouble with catalog/collections organizations, but I think I’ll get the hang of it eventually (this is me, not being tech-y). They have some pretty cool basic (as in free) themes and the themes are easy to customize to get a website look in keeping with our brand.Testing out the check-out/shopping features went pretty well too. Shopify is automatically calculating shipping “at checkout” for customers at what appears to be no additional cost to us and their shipping rates appear to be pretty accurate to actual shipping costs from I’ve seen in the past. This is a HUGE benefit for our customers, since Etsy has always calculated shipping per listing in our shop and totaled separate charges up at the end, which often resulted in the customer being charged upwards of 2-3 times what it should cost to ship.But here is my absolutely favourite part: Shopify is multi-platform. All of the products that have been entered into our ecommerce website will automatically be available to buy direct from philomathcrafts.com, or Facebook, or Instagram once we’re all set up. And if someone purchases the last item in stock from Instagram at 1:35am (cause, you know, shopping), and then someone tries to order the same item from our website at 1:36am, it’s no longer in stock. Plus, with Shopify POS I can make sales in person, accept cash payment, and those sold products are instantly deducted across all selling platforms so they don’t accidentally double-sell.This is a HUGE benefit for us as we had planned to put our Etsy shop “on vacation” during pop up shops and then manually re-enter quantities afterwards to adjust for inventory sold in person. Up until now we’ve had our own inventory tracking system for inventory “in-house” that had to be manually updated every time an Etsy sale was made. Although rare, we have had some occasions in the past where a product was purchased on Etsy shortly after having been purchased in person or through direct message on Facebook, resulting in a cancelled sale and a confused/frustrated customer.Now I’m not saying that Shopify is perfect, or even that it is going to go well for us, but the initial outlook seems pretty good and I think this will be a good move, both for Philomath Crafts and our customers. I also don’t have anything personal against Etsy and we’re not breaking up on “bad terms” or anything like that. We had a good run on Etsy, with 112 sales and many five-star reviews, but it’s just time for us to grow and move forward.All in all, I think Etsy is an okay platform for starting out, testing the market, and building a customer base, but I just don’t see it as an ecommerce “solution”.

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