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Who are you kidding, Etsy? Ready for an IPO?

I've been lurking, and occasionally commenting, in the forums for awhile. I must say, it's been an education!

Here's the deal. Etsy is working on this latest (bull-crap awful) test, because it needs to improve mobile surfing. Why? Because, if it's going head to head with the big boys (Amazon, Ebay), it needs to be mobile friendly. And it's not right now. Why is this important? Currently, more than 40% of users use mobile. If the site is not mobile friendly, you lose those customers.

Why the big issue? Etsy surpassed 1.5 BILLION dollars in sales last year. Mobile users are becoming a huge issue and Etsy needs to address that. Why? Well, sales aside, they are also considering an IPO in the not too distant future. And how does that affect us as sellers? Think about it. We need to be on the cutting edge, else Etsy doesn't make the cut. So does what we need matter? Not a bit! Get used to testing, like it or not. We're the guinea pigs that are going to make Etsy A lot of money.

So, here we are. No longer is this a handmade, vintage and supplies site. You've all seen the sellers from 'other countries' take up the top pages for a variety of items. Report them? Sure! Makes a difference? Not! They're here to stay. Like it or lump it. Nothing we can do.

There's been a lot of angst on the forums lately about 'can I sell this'. My response? Sure. Etsy doesn't care anymore. This isn't the site it once was. If that's an issue for you, take it up with admin, for all that will get you. Seems to me this has become a free for all, just like those other sites I mentioned. Can we do anything about it? Um, no. The powers that be have their own schedule, and we sellers don't have a pot to.......well, you get the idea. The only thing we can do is make better products, keep them guessing, and hope that Ali you know doesn't try to steal our stuff.

Just my humble opinion, of course,

371 Responses

Debbie, what a welcome breath of fresh air :-)

And you have beautiful pics and products, too. Win!
Thanks so much, Jen! How sweet of you!
Etsy said there are no plans to go public as of now.

They have also done this type of testing every year since I've been here, which is 3.5 years now, and probably before then. That's how they've gotten from a beta site that nobody heard of to a site with 30 million users.

None of that has anything to do with what is allowed to be sold here, and I can assure you that not "anything goes". Sellers are questioned and shops investigated, and if a shop is found to not be following the rules, shops are closed. This happens every day, all day long.
true true. people who are selling iphones are nipped in the butt almost immediately after being reported. this isn't ebay, telling people to sell whatever they want on etsy is just making the problem bigger. a lot of people who sell items that aren't allowed on etsy either dont know the policies here or do not care. the testing can be frustrating, but over time, we will have a top notch site.
and like amazon and ebay, you have to adapt to the world and present new ideas for browsing. just keep rolling with the punches, this is a business after all.
When did Etsy tell you this, Brandi? At a tech conference in New York on May 5, 2014, Fred Wilson (Union Square Ventures cofounder - one of Etsy's main investors) stated "Etsy is well positioned to go public within the next year."
The CEO of Etsy told me (and a few million others) at the town hall meeting in January.
CEO's are not to be trusted...especially when billions of dollars are at stake.
The investors are the CEO's boss, basically the conductor of the orchestra, who do you think is making the decisions? Testing is necessary, I have learned to work around it, albeit frustrating as all heck. The thing that is outright horrid is the "Promise" of transparency and absolutely no follow through. This concerns me more than anything else and doesn't seem to be addressed by anyone.
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Inactive Etsy Member 8:28 pm May 26, 2014 EDT
It's not that CEOs can't be trusted. And I hate to generalize, but CEOs are one vote out of a board of many members. CEOs can & do get out voted on IPOs, buyouts, etc.
this is cracking me up.
I've been here over 7 years, and I can assure you that testing is not what has brought them up to their current user base. Venture capital and data aggregating is what has brought them up to their current numbers.
Not testing, innovation. Nobody would have invested in the Etsy of seven years ago. And if it truly hadn't improved, there would be no buyers and sellers and nothing to invest in.
There would also be no data to mine. These things don't exist in a vacuum void of brisk activity.
I've learned that nothing is written in stone. Changes happen.
You can assure us that "not anything goes?" Are you not seeing the searches clogged with resellers? I'm confused... how can your search results be so different from ours?
"Nobody would have invested in the Etsy of seven years ago."

That's not quite correct. Union Square Ventures invested their first $27 million in Etsy in January 2008, nearly 6 1/2 years ago.

Also, the significant increase of testing on the live site began after Chad took over as CEO, in mid-2011.
Penny, 2011 was 3 years ago. That's a long time now and a lot of growth has happened since then. It simply isn't true to say that A/B testing has harmed etsy in any way, it hasn't.
Even if an investor says that its ready to go public in a year doesn't mean they will. Its merely a statement about Etsys ability. I'm ready to roll with the punches and adapt. People are getting really upset about everything as a whole. There's many different things going on at once, and always has been. Brandi articulates my point well above.
actually I do think that testing has harmed us all, with disruption, anxiety, buyer confusion, time lost updating and changing listings. Only to see that change disappear six months down the line. I'm all for innovation, but not for random, haphazard, live testing full with bugs. Before, it used to be a major test run every few month or so, now my shop is on the 3rd test in May alone.
Actually I fail to see where shipping not showing in the item description page or a tab makes it mobile friendly. They don't appear that they should be mutually exclusive items to appear on a mobile device...? I believe the other major auction site shows everything up front and not after it is in the cart. ( I do not have smart phone but do help a friend browse on his... )
'' Currently, more than 40% of users use mobile. If the site is not mobile friendly, you lose those customers.''

Yes don't I know it ; ( Just look at the reviews on the iPhone/iPad apps

The tests are extremely chaotic and unnecessary at this time, fixing broken things is more important.
I agree Jens, on Ebay's mobile site you CAN see the shipping before you add the item to the cart.
The SEC has strict rules about what and when a company can disclose about going public. Whether Etsy is prepping or not has nothing to do with it. They very well (and in my opinion) are prepping for a public offering. But until they are ready to file, all anyone is going to hear is "Etsy does not have any plans to go public at this time".
I was under the impression that the innovative shop owners had ALOT to do with Etsy's growth. All the tweeting, pinning, etc.
Some tests do harm. Today I was considering a purchase. Two identical vintage items but sellers. No visible postage resulted in no sale. I do not put things into the basket unless I plan on buying. Without seeing the shipping I will not shop. Harm done.
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Inactive Etsy Member 6:59 pm May 26, 2014 EDT edited
Every site has trouble enforcing their guidelines. With the lines of what exactly is handmade already blurred, I'm sure they can't just take down any item that gets reported. This is not a new problem.

I think it's a little over dramatic to prophecy the end of etsy just due to some tests. They're a business, they're going to do what brings in the most money. That may mean it loses money for some shops, which sucks, but overall it will help sales (For them) or they won't keep it.

I've seen so much uproar over the past couple months due to the tests, but they're just that tests, your sales aren't rock bottom because of them, because most people can't see it, it might just be a slow week. I sure get them, tests or no.

I've seen many valid concerns with the testing and I have my own but the swarms of people ready to close up shop because of a temporary test is surprising. Fill out the survey, let your opinion be known but mature attitudes about it would be nice.

Whew, I've stayed out of any of this talk until now, just what I've been thinking for the past few days.
Kaitlyn, I have no plans to close my shop at all. Just wanted to give my .02 cents on what's going on. For me, a vacation is in order. Two Etsy schools, an 8 week marketing course, 25 renewals with SEO updates, and I'm tired! Then the latest testing (I'm in both the new shop front and let's make shipping costs disappear tests), it's time to take a break. These all all just opinions, of course.
It's not necessary (and can be harmful) to do anything in response to the tests. So it's just business as usual for me.

What are Etsy schools?

Isn't it possible to not be in the testing groups? I was under the impression that we volunteer for tests by joining the test teams. I was on one testing team and decided it wasn't worth my time messing with and worrying about what might happen. I'll deal with the real changes as they happen.
Some tests are optional, but they have been doing some large scale tests lately where they need an actual random test sample in order to get useful statistics and users (both buyers and sellers from what I've seen) are randomly selected to participate with no choice to opt-out.
Carol: those opt-in test teams are for seller products that are already in the works.

Testing is for buyer behavior. In order to test buyer behavior, it has to be live, and it has to be for all. You can just test shops that want to be tested, or just crochet shops, as that doesn't test overall buyer behavior.

That's why the test is on the USER not the shop.
I've not purchased items after seeing the high shipping cost. I've included shipping prices in my shipping policies. My shipping prices aren't jacked up and I want buyers to see that up front. This certainly isn't harmful to my store. I've seen sellers come to the forums saying they're getting convos asking about shipping and not hearing from the buyers again.
Most buyers want immediate answers and if they don't get them they just move on. With so many sites to buy from why wait around to get shipping prices? Some don't know to put the items in their cart when they never had to do that before.
Thanks, Brandi, for your insights. However, I beg to differ. Recently I reported two shops selling the exact same thing, with the exact same images. Nothing was done. Let's not even get into the bubble necklace issue from last year.
How do you know "nothing" was done? Having been through a shop investigation myself, I can tell you that Etsy does everything but test your DNA when they're determining whether a shop qualifies to sell. There's also a backlog of shops being investigated so they may either be in the pipeline, or they "passed". Either way, you won't be notified.
I check those shops. Their merchandise is till the same, and they are still open.
The fact that they are open can mean several things, and not necessarily that nothing was done. They may very well be Etsy legal. I mean, somebody (or a lot of somebodies) was convinced I was a reseller and flagged me. People can be wrong sometimes.
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Inactive Etsy Member 7:56 pm May 26, 2014 EDT
I agree with everything Debbie has to say.
I completely agree with Brandi. No matter how much resources Etsy can devote, with shops able to open at any time and from anywhere in the world, rule violators will abound. Etsy will address them as much as possible.

Sellers who violate the rules are nothing new. They've been around at least 6 years. At least the front page doesn't include reseller shops almost daily like it did back then.
Brandi, I remember reading about you in the forums last year, about the reselling thing. Rumors of people waiting outside your house to watch what the postman brings you, real sick stuff like that. I was so appalled that people behaved that way and I'm so glad to hear that you were able to thumb it at them.

You are an opinionated and tough gal! I appreciate your posts and look forward to them.
Rumors of people waiting outside your house to watch what the postman brings you, real sick stuff like that.

Read all about the Integrity results, interesting reading
I find it very strange that some people refuse to admit the influx and takeover of resellers on this site. Sometimes it's like living in the twilight zone. Does denying the obvious (and welcomed by Etsy) presence of these factories make them go away? It's abundantly clear to most of us that this is the direction Etsy is going in, and we are powerless to stop it.
Beth... yes...
Beth, just because there is an influx doesn't mean etsy isn't doing anything about it.

It takes minutes to open an etsy account and a few hours to upload items.

It would take etsy weeks to go through and investigate thoroughly each report regarding a shop.

It's simple math logic. More people are opening at a faster rate than etsy can investigate.
I have two shops and some of my items I sell in both shops so you will see the exact same image in both of our shops. We are not resellers we make all our items so that is a bit of a generalization to say that because two shops have the same photo's make them resellers.
I agree with Debbie. Etsy is so very different now...
I agree with Brandi. Further it is a good thing to become more functional in the mobile environment. That is what buyers want.
Absolutely! We need to be more mobile friendly. It's the wave of the future!
As stated above I have no trouble seeing shipping costs when browsing ebay on mobile device, taking off the shipping view does not compute....
Have they mentioned an IPO recently? I wasn't aware if they did.
At the Town Hall meeting in January, that question was asked and they said there are no plans for an IPO.
That's what I thought. I was just wondering if it was pure speculation by the OP or if they had inside information or something.
It's in May 5, 2014 the Wall Street Journal that Union Square Ventures co-founder Fred Wilson mentioned it at a NY Tech Conference. In deference to Etsy's forum policies I will not add external links, but that should be sufficient for you to find it yourself.
Just because they said there were no plans in Jan. for an IPO, does not mean there aren't any now.
Do you have a link Lara?
Whenever there's a test, I worry, not that the TEST will negatively effect sales, but that the REACTIONS to the test will negatively effect sales. If I was Queen of the World I would convince everyone to let it ride.
If I had the power I would appoint you queen. I, too, am concerned that the constant bashing of the tests and of Etsy (Let's not get into some of language used...) will lead to buyers shying away. Low sales can be due to a lot of things, not just testing which a lot of people are pinning their reasons on. But the reactions to the tests and not looking for other avenues to help yourself and your
buyers when they and/or you are in the test does more damage I think than the actual test. Changes to other venues such as Facebook and Google. The explosion of Instagram which now has people shying away from it. There is so much more than Etsy's testing that affects sales.
You are hereby crowned....
Good thing there is no queen of the world position as I'm not of the same opinion as Brandi regarding the testing.
I am sick of the testing. It's archaic.
The testing will affect sales. If they didn't think it would, they would not even be doing the testing. The reaction and negative talk about it will not. That is the least of my worries. Think about it.
Yepsie. Waaaay too much energy spent on being angry and worried. If its not this, it's another thing that folks will be up on arms about.
the reaction and negative talk is in the forums. The testing is in our shops. Our buyers go to our shops not to the forums to purchase. When they see a new interface or are missing vital information like shipping costs, or sorting ability in a shop with hundreds of listings, they will blame the SELLER, not Etsy. They will not come to the forums to investigate, they will just leave.
Her's an interesting read on 'forthcoimg' IPO's.

I'm sure they will go public eventually, but I doubt that has anything to do with testing shipping costs. Etsy is ALWAYS testing.
Agreed. It's not the shipping costs test or the shop front test I'm commenting on. It's merely the fact that we all have to get with the program, because this is the way it's going to be. People always ask "why is this happening". I'm just offering a reason.
That article just lists companies that are making money and the author thinks will succeed going public, no insider info, just guesses.
The speculation of an IPO for Etsy has been all over the financial sites for the last few months. Everything that Etsy has been doing also points in this direction. At first Dickerson vehemently denied this, but more recently he seems to be leaning more that way stating in several interviews that it is a "possible outcome".
It's a possible outcome for every business.
I bet it'll happen before the end of the year.
Mr. Dickerson has no say in the matter.

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