Etsy just went public, opening at $16 a share and quickly raising $500 million valuing the company at $3.5 billion as shares jumped as high as $32 at opening.
As the company goes public, it's obviously going to face a lot more pressure to grow and, and that means its' going to have to regularly make improvements for both sellers and consumers. It seems like a good time to look at how Etsy has been trying to make its platform better to sellers leading up to the IPO.
Just over a year ago, Etsy added custom recommendations for buyers, which opened up a new channel for visibility for sellers.
“Half of the buyers received an email with the same set of items, and the other half received custom sets of items based on their individual shopping preferences,” said Etsy's heather Burkman about a test the company ran. “The group with customized recommendations were twice as likely to come back and purchase than the group that received the same set. Not only do custom recommendations better connect the right buyers with the right shops, but they also bring exposure to a greater variety of sellers.”
The company launched the Sell with Etsy app for iOS and Android, which enables sellers to process orders, add listings, view shop stats, and sell in person, providing for a much-needed upgrade in the mobile selling department.
“Etsy sellers are conducting more business from their mobile devices than ever before, and we’re focused on making it easier, faster and more efficient for our sellers to run their shops from wherever they are,” a spokesperson for Etsy told us. “Etsy sellers are not the typical mobile user. They’re multitasking at home, teaching in a classroom, working in studios, picking up kids from school — not tethered to a desktop. They rely heavily on mobile devices to manage their Etsy shops. Dedicated solely to the needs of sellers, Sell on Etsy makes it easier for sellers to live their lives and run their businesses with the flexibility, independence and autonomy that they want.”
In the summer, Etsy launched promoted listing ads, which took the place of the site's previous search ads. The ads let sellers tell Etsy how much they want to pay for a click, and include keyword-less campaigns that let sellers specify which items they want to promote so Etsy can show them to the "right buyers at the right time". The offering also includes automatic management features that give sellers the option to set up auto promotion and bidding.
October saw a big release from Etsy when it gave sellers free card readers called the Sell on Etsy Reader. You can plug it into your phone or tablet, much like those from Square and others, and it integrates with an app to let sellers manage their inventory and multi-channel sales. The “Sell on Etsy Reader” is free to those enrolled in Etsy’s Direct Checkout.
Etsy charges 2.75% per swipe, which is competitive with other readers on the market. The standard 3.5% Etsy transaction fee doesn’t apply for in-person sales.
“We’ve worked hard at Etsy to develop a leading online marketplace for buying and selling unique goods," said Etsy’s Camilla Velasquez. "However, 90% of all retail purchases are still made offline. We know that many of our sellers sell in channels other than their online Etsy shop. In fact, 35% of Etsy sellers sell at craft fairs. That’s why we’re launching in-person payments today to provide better tools for sellers who sell at craft fairs, flea markets, and elsewhere. We want to help Etsy sellers be more efficient in what they’re already doing in multiple sales channels."
“We designed the Sell on Etsy Reader specifically for Etsy sellers to help better manage their creative businesses, allowing them to focus more on doing what they love,” she said. “Unlike other card readers, our reader isn’t a commodity point-of-sale system; it’s for Etsy sellers and their shops.”
Asked about what improvements Etsy has made over the last year that have made a significant impact, one seller told WebProNews, "The Etsy Reader was pretty awesome, especially since it was free. They're making it a lot easier to grow your business outside your home/shop."
Late last year, Etsy partnered with Tumblr on a buy button, enabling Tumblr users to buy Etsy products right from the social media platform.
It also began piloting a new local feature, which alerts shoppers on their mobile devices that an Etsy seller they like is selling at a local event.
“Etsy Local push notifications are a new way for Etsy sellers and buyers to connect locally and in-person,” a spokesperson for Etsy told us in an email. “It connects sellers participating in fairs and markets to shoppers in their area; shoppers can meet and buy from sellers in-person, supporting both the Etsy community and their own local economies.”
Sellers can add the events and markets they’ll be participating in via Etsy.com/Local. Shoppers who are within 5 miles (based on their shipping zip code), and have favorited their shop, favorited an item, or purchased from that Etsy seller, will receive a notification about a day in advance.
A couple months ago, Etsy announced a new suite of listing management tools for sellers, which the company said would improve the way they add and edit details about products.
“The Listing Management prototype was launched in May of 2014 and has since drawn more than 10,000 sellers to try the new features (the second most popular prototype to date),” said Etsy’s Nickey Skarstad at the time. “Through regular conversation, feedback and iteration, the product in prototype has evolved as more sellers have used it. It may seem like a long time to work on one suite of products, but we deliberately took the opportunity to listen over an extended period of time in order to make sure the new tools would significantly improve a critical part of a seller’s workflow, while greatly reducing time spent. These tools, now launching broadly, include better bulk editing, in-line stats, quick edit mode, a faster listing process and photo editing, all based on feedback from sellers.”
“We’ve found that regular feedback on what we’re building, helps us build better,” she added. “74% of our sellers report that they consider their Etsy shops businesses, and we are focused on giving them the tools they need to fulfill their entrepreneurial aspirations. By working together to develop features, Etsy gets quality feedback and Etsy sellers get to weigh in on the tools being developed to support their businesses. We believe that this collaborative process can be the future of tech operations, and we are proud to see our community at the forefront of our product development.”
Last month, Etsy announced more payment options to give shoppers more options to buy products from its sellers. These include Apple Pay and Google Wallet.
"We know from our research that shoppers buy more when they can use their local currency and familiar payment methods, and we’ll continue to add more options on mobile devices and across the Etsy marketplace," said Stephanie Grodin, Payments Product Lead at Etsy.
A couple weeks ago, Etsy announced the release of calculated shipping, a new tool aimed at easing the burden of shipping calculation on sellers. It automatically determines the cost to shop an order from the US based on USPS mail classes and rates.
Since then, it has redesigned the home screen on its mobile apps to make it easier for shoppers to browse and find items of interest. This includes a Recommended tab, Etsy Picks, and a Your Activity tab.
In a new blog post talking about the IPO, Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson gave a shout out to the marketplace's sellers.
"I want to take a moment to acknowledge our sellers, as we wouldn’t be here today without them," he wrote. "Their dedication and their feedback, both supportive and constructive, have allowed us to grow, evolve, and grow again. Being a public company gives us even more resources to continue to invest in building the seller platform that they all depend on, helping bring their goods to even more buyers around the world. Sellers are at the heart of Etsy, and they were naturally at the heart of our transition to a public company."
"When our sellers succeed, our business succeeds, which leads to value for our shareholders," he wrote. "That will be our enduring philosophy and we are committed to running our business in a responsible way that combines our vision with strong execution and discipline, and with faithfulness to our values and conviction."
Images via Etsy