Why Etsy Free Shipping is a Problem

Have you heard of Etsy’s new free shipping yet? This new rollout happened in July. If you are an artist, small business or creative entrepreneur selling on Etsy, this change affects you.

Etsy just announced that they are changing shipping to meet buyers demands. Essentially, big retailers have changed the way consumers shop online and buy product. This shopping experience of two day shipping, Prime, and free shipping has trained customers expect items to show up at their doors almost instantly and for free. Etsy has bought into this box box retail trend at the expense of small businesses meaning that Etsy sellers now are expected to provide free shipping for orders over $35.

Etsy is asking you to eat the costs of shipping items to your customers. If you are an Etsy seller if you don’t provide this free shipping guarantee, you won’t show up in search results. You wont be prioritized and Etsy shoppers won’t find your product because Etsy will showcase sellers who follow this new policy. While this directly affects sellers, as someone looking for cool and unique gifts, you may not be able to search and find artisan goods because they couldn’t afford the cost of offering free shipping and Etsy has hid them from searches.

What does Etsy have to say in regards to the sellers backlash? Etsy is claiming that it’s standard to offer free selling. This is not the case.

Many small micro-businesses are artists and crafters cannot just eat the cost of the packaging and shipping of the item. While an easy way around this is to include shipping in the cost of the item, this increases the price which may create a disproportion and inflated value. It also perpetuates the impact of big retail decisions on small creatives.

Consistency amongst online platforms and digital listings would be difficult too. While your art piece may be only $100, think about your online promotion. The piece is probably listed in your Etsy, your website or on social media, maybe even a gallery. All the prices are $100, but on Etsy you have it at $130 due to the included shipping costs. This is inconsistent. So the hard question is do you raise all of your prices now because one website has decided to make sellers provide free shipping or do you stay true to the prices you listed?

What can you do about this? Etsy cannot be your main site for selling your work anymore. And I won’t be surprised if this is the beginning of sellers pulling out of Etsy and finding other places to sell. I imagine a new social media platform emerging for artists who actually support the arts. But until that time, use other platforms to help support your sales. Consider using a website that has a e-commerce built into it, such as Squarespace. There is also WooCommerce and Shopify to easily design an online shop. Instagram is also the social network that has the most shopping behavior by users. Use a variety of digital spaces as areas to sell and talk about your work rather than relying on Etsy.

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