We began by looking at where Etsy is at right now, as we prepare to turn three years old on June 18. It’s been quite a ride, and there’s a lot to do. The nature of our business means that we conduct our education in public, because on the Web there’s no shuttering the shop at 5pm to mop the floors.
It took an incredible group of enthusiastic and driven people to create Etsy: both the site itself and the marketplace. There are 73,478 shops with at least one item for sale, with sellers in over 100 different countries. Our company is 60 people now, and we’ve just doubled the size of our Support team.
As the complexity of the website grows, as the amount of traffic served every day grows, as the company grows, as the community grows, there are new demands. And meeting these demands requires a bit more process, a bit more structure. We all feel this, and we’ve just hired someone whose primary role will be to meet and exceed these demands.
I’m happy to announce that Etsy has a Chief Operating Officer (COO)! Her name is Maria Thomas. She brings with her a wealth of experience on how to lead and orchestrate a company, having previously worked at Amazon, the World Bank and most recently NPR.
We just filmed an introductory interview with her, which we’ll be posting to the Storque soon. When Maria gets back from her short between-jobs vacation, there will be a chance to follow-up and ask her questions directly as she leads a Town Hall of her own. We’re all eager for her to begin.
It’s important to all of us that even as we grow and hire people like Maria, that we keep our Etsy-ness. What is this? It stems from a genuine love of what we do, and the personal approach we all take (especially all you sellers) to how we do business. On the other hand, if things are run in too much of an ad-hoc manner, slip-ups occur. We’ve learned this lesson and our biggest challenge is to learn from the past to better guide our future.
We discussed a handful of new site features:
- Currency conversion
- Shop stats for sellers
- Dynamic Team sections
- Multimedia (video) on Etsy
- Improved multi-user apps, like the Workshop but tailored more for shopping
- An in-house payment system
With each one there were many questions. First and foremost people wanted to know when any of these might launch. This is an especially tough question for a number of reasons. Part of improving our internal operations is to get a better sense of the timeline and prioritization. Once we’re more comfortable with this inside Etsy, we’ll share info with the community. We’ll also hold workshops around each specific feature to get more input from everyone. For now, this was just to give everyone an idea of what’s in the air.
We’d also be grateful if you shared your own top ideas for Etsy in this forum thread.
Two Important Announcements
We made these announcements during the Town Hall:
1. Item renewals will work a bit differently.
Currently, when you renew an item, four months is added onto the total listing period. There are some items on Etsy that expire after the year 2100! This is problematic for several reasons, the most important one being that it’s unlikely the seller will be alive then, or that the item will be retrievable; yet the item will remain on our site, for sale.
We will shortly (by the end of April) change this to work as follows: when you renew an item, four months will be added to the item listing from the date of renewal. It’s up to a seller to decide if they’d like to pay another 20 cents to have their item listing placed back atop the pile, so to speak, in the marketplace. (Search results and categories are currently sorted by default to show the most recently listed items first.)
2. Changes to the category structure and search.
The top-level categories on Etsy have remained almost totally unchanged since our launch. We’re amazed they’ve worked for this long, but there’s also big room for improvement. There’s some overlap and confusion: for example, if I knit a sweater for my little cousin, it could go into any of these top-level categories: Children’s, Clothing, Knitting.
We’ll be creating filters that can be applied to any top-level category, e.g. Who’s It For?. So this means that instead of being a top-level category, Children’s will be a filter that can be applied anywhere.
Etsy’s search works well. It’s fast. It’s just looking at data that’s too free-form (tags). Our tagging system will remain as it is, but we’ll create a more specific set of criteria about an item (codenamed Credentials) that the default search will look at.
This is a huge project, and there will be a lot of discussion around it in the upcoming months. In the meantime, please know that we won’t spring any changes on anyone.
We have Town Hall meetings so we can all share ideas and answer questions. We’re quite a big community now, so we’ll have more meetings at different times of day, and post notes and minutes from each one. Stay tuned for the next one, and I hope to see you there.
We’re all in this together. We see the mountain ahead of us and we’re eager to climb it.