Etsy’s sellers are pretty fed up with their host at the moment. There are technical niggles and murmurs of conspiracy theories. More than that, is the stark difference in trade that shop owners are seeing at the moment. People are comparing their sales to a year ago. To 10 years ago.
They blame Etsy for favouring sellers who offer free shipping, pushing other shops to the bottom of the search lists. They blame Etsy for prioritising dishonest shops who bring in more sales, and create more listings. Etsy are accused of weeding out the little man. They aren’t seeing the bigger picture. Etsy’s slow deterioration into Amazon territory needs a wider understanding of the economy to realise where things have started to go wrong. Etsy may be selling out, but it’s selling out to survive.
Etsy has bowed to the market and is allowing non-vintage and non-handmade sellers to list on their site. It’s not good. But equally Etsy is a business trying to stay in business. And if the majority of its sellers are not handmade or vintage sellers, well, they’re still making money. This doesn’t make Etsy popular and it is damaging their reputation with honest sellers and buyers with a certain expectation, but Etsy is still making money. Etsy will always profit.
The problem with Etsy sales worldwide, is that it is a general and ‘across the board’ trend, not an Etsy trend. Etsy isn’t sabotaging its own sales – at least not directly. It is trying to save a sinking ship, a ship that is failing under the weight of fake sellers, undercutting from other online sites whose sellers rip off Etsy shops, stealing product for cheaper copy sales. Etsy is sinking under the weight of the likes of Amazon, who have no qualms about who sells under their name provided it fits in with their T’s and C’s. The fact remains that cheap product sales are customer driven. We only have ourselves to blame.
Here in the UK, bricks and mortar shops are closing all the time, even big brands that have been around for generations. Shoppers are turning online, not just because it’s convenient but because it’s cheap. US sellers complain about this as if it is a US problem. UK sellers complain about it as if it is a UK problem. But it’s none of those things. It’s a worldwide problem.
It doesn’t stop there. Online line brands, especially those who offer free shipping and sale a lot, are also suffering as they haemorrhage those additional expenses and profit margins in a quest for end of year statistics at any price. At the end of the day, shoppers want cheap and are happy to sacrifice quality over price. Companies who can undercut the competition in whatever way necessary, using bad manufacture practices and inferior materials, are happy to profit at any cost and at any ethical sacrifice. All the time customers keep buying these products, they will continue to be produced. Only foot fall can change it.
There will come a time when cheap won’t rule the roost quite so much. People will either start shopping more mindfully or they will just stop shopping completely. All over social media there are customers who are seeing the benefits of both. And an ever shaky economy thanks to Brexit, the slow down in the Chinese economy, Apple’s recent problems and huge environmental issues worldwide are all signs of a change in behaviour that will also dictate where the market is headed.
Blaming Etsy for worldwide trends isn’t strictly fair. Shopping in general and across the world is a saturated market and it’s on the way down, at least short term.