Seller Handbook

Advice and inspiration for successfully running your Etsy shop

What to Do When You Notice a Dip in Sales

When your sales or views appear to decline, follow these tips to diagnose the problem and make an action plan

By Audrey Manning 24 May, 2016
Photo by Art Prints by Jetty Home

Every business experiences busy times and slow times. But, whether you are a new Etsy shop owner or are an Etsy veteran, it can be distressing when you notice a downward trend in your shop views or sales. How do you know if this is a temporary blip? And how can you find the root of the problem and make an action plan?

Year-over-year shop performance is highly individual and depends on several factors including seasonality, listing frequency and product offerings. By pairing data from your Shop Stats with personal knowledge of your own unique business, you can take a comprehensive approach to evaluating your shop’s health. Follow these steps any time you have concerns about your shop’s performance.

1. Gather the facts

The Shop Stats tool provides statistics and information about your shop’s sales, activity and traffic sources. To view your stats, sign in and go to Your shop > Quick links > Stats. By selecting a date range from the top menu and the overview tab, you can see graphs of your views, favourites, orders or revenue. Below this dashboard you'll find information on how people find your shop and items, including traffic sources, keywords, pages viewed and listing favourites. (You’ll also see additional information for Promoted Listings if you have them turned on.)

Use Shop Stats as a tool to improve your business by learning which metrics to focus on, and how to interpret the numbers.

One of the most helpful metrics to calculate is your views-to-sales ratio, or conversion rate, which is best measured over several months or more. Say that last year from January through April you had 1,000 views and 20 sales, whereas this year you had 800 views and 20 sales. At first it might appear your shop performed better last year because you had more views. However, looking at your conversion rate reveals that more of your items are selling per view this year compared to last. This could mean you are describing your items better, anticipating questions, and turning a larger percentage of your visitors into buyers.

How to calculate your conversion rate:

Conversion rate = total number of sales ÷ total number of views x 100

Example:

Last year: 20 sales ÷ 1,000 views = 0.02 x 100 = 2%

This year: 20 sales ÷ 800 views = 0.025 x 100 = 2.5%

2. Dig into the details

If you see a decline from last year’s views, favourites and orders, comparing your top traffic sources, keywords, pages viewed and listing favorites year-over-year can provide clues as to what changed. 'Once you can pinpoint where the decrease might be, you'll have a better idea of action steps to improve those stats', says Amy, a shop optimisation manager at Etsy. She suggests breaking it down piece by piece:

Traffic sources tells you how people are arriving at your shop, whether that’s via Etsy or from sources outside of Etsy. If your views are down this year compared to last, which views are down specifically — off Etsy? on Etsy? If the drop in traffic is from off-Etsy sources, is a large portion of last year’s traffic from a one-time promotion, like being featured on a blog? 'If it's Etsy search traffic that's seeing a decline, compare your top keyword traffic this year to last year', suggests Amy. 'What keywords are missing and how might they have shifted?'

Top keywords shows which of your keywords (in your titles and tags) are performing best and worst. Do you still use the same top-performing tags? If you see that a particular word or phrase is bringing you a lot of views, make sure you are using it in all applicable tags and titles. If you notice that some tags on your listings never appear in your shop stats as keywords, try replacing them with other words or phrases. Keep an eye on your stats as you add new keywords to see how they perform, and tweak accordingly. Additionally, a drop in a specific keyword’s popularity could suggest you don’t have as many listings as you previously did using that keyword. For more tips on keywords, read Give Your Titles, Descriptions and Tags a Makeover.

Pages viewed and listing favourites displays your most popular listings. Do you still offer last year’s top performing item? If you’ve stopped offering a popular item or forgotten to renew it, this could contribute to a decline in traffic to your shop.

Once you determine the source of the decline, you can create an attack plan, says Amy. For more help digging into your Shop Stats, read 5 Shop Stats You Should be Tracking.

3. Put the numbers into context

Are your numbers truly falling? Before determining your shop is in trouble, consider these points:

This year isn’t over yet. Shop Stats graphs can be misleading if you’re comparing this year to last but not considering that this year is still in progress. 'Always compare the period of time you're concerned about with the exact same period of time the previous year', suggests Amy. To compare how your shop is performing this year compared to last, select Specific Dates from the drop down menu.

Establish a baseline. New sellers may have a difficult time gauging the success of their shops without a benchmark for comparison. If you don’t have a full year of business behind you, you can look at month-over-month traffic instead of year-over-year traffic, but keep in mind that it takes time to observe natural traffic patterns to your shop — and month-to-month ebbs and flows are natural. 'Most businesses have a natural cycle throughout the year, so looking month to month isn't always indicative of a true decrease', says Amy. 'Comparing to your previous year will give you a better idea of how buyers were interacting with your shop during the same season.' When possible, look at your stats over a broader period of time, no less than a month and up to a quarter, Amy suggests. 'We can all have a slow week or two', says Amy. 'It's very important not to get too focused on small chunks of time and look at your stats and traffic health more holistically.'

Consider seasonality. Seasonal traffic patterns vary by category and individual shop. Shops selling in certain categories may be more affected by seasonal shifts than others. Wedding and jewellery sellers, for example, may see declines in traffic around the end of summer, when peak wedding season and Mother’s Day (in several countries) have passed and the Christmas season hasn’t begun. By getting to know the seasonal patterns common in your product category, you can learn what’s normal and what isn’t. Amy suggests following blogs related to your field to take the temperature of your peers as well as keeping a business journal to document your efforts and traffic patterns. 'The more you can keep track of the history of your business, the more you'll have a pulse on what's ‘normal’ for you', says Amy. 'If you know your slower months are during the summer, don't just plan a big marketing campaign, document it, so that you know how to combat it next year.'

4. Look past the numbers

As helpful as Shop Stats are in gathering information about your shop, they only tell part of the story. By examining the various factors at play in your unique business, you can reveal a more complete portrait of what is happening in your shop. For example, if you are seeing a decrease, think back to the actions you took in your shop last year. Were you listing items more frequently? Did you invest more time in fine-tuning your titles, tags and listing descriptions? Were you spending more on Promoted Listings? It’s possible a recent dip in traffic or sales to your shop could reflect less time spent on these important success factors. Keeping a journal of shop actions taken throughout the year can help you decipher what actions have a positive impact on your shop.

Once you determine that your shop is experiencing a dip in views, sales or both, ask yourself the following questions in order to create an action plan.

Are your products fresh?

When is the last time you refreshed your product line? A product that was a hit three years ago may have lost appeal with shoppers in the years since you debuted it. It’s natural for trends to change over time. You can help attract new customers — and encourage repeat buyers — by introducing new products and fresh versions of existing designs. Read 3 Ways to Refresh Your Product Line for tips.

Is your shop optimised for search?

Products can only perform well when they’re easy to find. Optimising your products for Etsy search requires putting yourself in the mindset of shoppers, and routinely revisiting your titles and tags to make sure they’re working for you. If you’re seeing a decline in a specific keyword, Amy suggests checking that the keyword is still relevant to your work and the shopper community. 'Sometimes the way we refer to things changes as trends and time goes by', she says. Learn about how search on Etsy works by reading this guide.

When is the last time you listed an item?

The more items you have listed, the more chances shoppers have to find your shop. A higher number of listings tends to correlate with a higher number of sales. A decline in traffic coming from 'your listings' could suggest you don’t have enough listings. A dip in traffic year-over-year may be the result of having fewer items listed this year. Set yourself reminders to list new items and to renew existing items them before they expire (or set your items to automatically renew). Set a goal for the number of items you’d like to list by Christmas and tackle that number one listing at at time.

Are you spending enough time on your Etsy shop?

The more time, effort and thought you put into building your shop, the more you’re likely to get out of it. Since your Shop Stats don’t measure how many hours a week you spend working on your Etsy shop, keep a log of the time you devote to your shop, and how you spend it.

What are you doing to market your business beyond Etsy?

Are you promoting your own business or relying too much on Etsy? It’s up to you to invest in marketing your products by pitching to press and doing social media marketing. 'If you're seeing a decline in social media traffic to your shop, look for ways to create posts that are engaging to your target market', says Amy. For tips, read How to Create a Facebook Campaign for Your Shop, How to Market Your Shop With Instagram and 5 Ways to Market Your Shop on Twitter.

What have you done to improve your shop after noticing dips in your sales cycle? Share your tips in the comments below.

Author

Audrey Manning

Audrey Manning grew up in Brooklyn, just blocks from the Etsy office. When not writing for Etsy’s Seller Handbook and the Etsy Success Newsletter, she can be found knitting for her Etsy shop, abrooklynheart. Keep up with her on Twitter and Pinterest.

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