Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Etsy Quick Trick: free shipping plus 15% off

help for Etsy vintage sellers
Free shipping can be an effective marketing tool for vintage sellers

Have you tried free shipping? Many vintage sellers have expressed concern that free shipping is unattainable.

Will free shipping discourage multiple purchases?

My shop has free shipping. My shop also runs a 15% discount all the time off from purchases of three or more items. I have had a many takers.

Lots of vintage shops give volume discounts when asked; what I do is not much different. Shipping costs are rolled into the price... Multiple buyers get their "free" shipping cost back. They feel like they are getting a bargain to boot, a win-win!

Items with "sales" such as "15% off three or more purchases" receive another benefit: they show up on any Etsy search for items on sale.... (And of course searches with free shipping...) I get fewer requests for lower prices, too.

Etsy's take on free shipping

rural mailbox
Is free shipping viable for online sellers?

Etsy asked buyers, and
...They see no reason why they should pay more for shipping on Etsy than anywhere else...

There was a belief... that because Etsy is person-to-person that people would understand that and pay more shipping. The buyer research was definitive: They won't.
"They're willing to pay $50 for that beautiful product. But having to pay $10 for shipping felt wrong. In fact, it feels wasteful for them to pay for shipping when everywhere else they don't have to pay. We saw time and time again that if the buyer had to pay $60 for an item and shipping was free, they felt great about it. But if they paid $50 for an item with $10 shipping, they felt bad about it."

Case studies for offering a 15% discount along with free shipping

***Example 1: an 8-oz item along with 2 jewelry pieces.***

Estimated shipping built into the cost to cover the “free” shipping: $2.99 + $2.99 + $3.99 = $10.00

Actual shipping $4.38

Order cost $64.83
15% discount on that total was $9.83

The amount  of the discount was about what I had rolled into the prices toward shipping. In this case for the three items I spent about half of that on shipping ($4.38). So when receiving $9.83 off their purchase, my customer received in effect a 7.5% discount. Does that makes sense?

***Example 2: a $100 bracelet with 2 post cards.***

This buyer purchased 2 inexpensive post cards in order to secure the 15% off. How did it work?

Bracelet $99.99 + post card $0.75 + post card $0.49 = $101.23

15% off $101.23 is $15.18 taken from the total is $86.05

$86.05 + Shipping (post cards only; shipping is not free for them in my shop) $3.98

Order total $90.03

So my buyer got 10% off plus two post cards (which I consider to be of no value and I sent one more as an extra). The buyer did not have to contact me to ask for a discount, and I am pretty happy about the sale.

15% off sale setup

A percentage-off sale on Etsy can only be a maximum of 30 days. That means that I actually run 12 sales per year. I can set them up well in advance. They are named something like "201915off01" for January, "201915off02" for February and so on.

***Example 3: six lots of window glass ***

This buyer scored 10 lovely pieces of crackle glass.

$185.94 - $27.89 (15% off) = $158.05

Calculated into the item cost toward free shipping: $3 + $5 + $5 + $5 + $5 + $5 = $28 

Actual cost was $21.05 + $3.82 = $24.87 (I could not get all those pieces double-boxed into a box under 1 sq ft.) 

So essentially my shop gained $3 extra over the calculated shipping. My buyer scored a net 13.5% off. With an order that big, I would have given 20% had they asked. So I am happy, and so is my buyer!

eye candy vintage art glass
We love combined orders

Saturday, January 5, 2019

USPS shipping prices will increase on January 27, 2019

The US Postal Service is making a significant change to postal rates in early 2019. Besides the expected rate increases, first class mail is switching to zoned service.

This means that $2.66 will no longer be the smallest package rate to ship to any U.S. destination. Effective January 27, it will cost  $3.09 to ship that same little package to zone 8 (coast-to-coast from your location; zones 1 & 2 will remain $2.66 and close zones will cost slightly more than that).

Highlights of the 2019 USPS Postal Increase 

Average postal increases are:
  • Priority Mail 6.2% 
  • Priority Mail Express 3.9% 
  • Priority Mail Express International 3.9% 
  • First Class International 3.9% 
  • First Class Package Service 11.9%.

A further rate hike for bulky packages:
  • The USPS is extending dimensional weight to Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express for packages over 1 cu ft, with the DIM weight divisor becoming 166
antique letters
USPS letter rates will increase to 55 cents
And, of course, first-class packages rates are switching to zoned-base pricing in 2019. (A first-class stamp increases to 55 cents, for the record.)

Here is a USPS document with the new rates outlined. For my shop, I print the applicable pages. I post them in my shipping room for reference. (Try pp 13, 17, 40, 25, 27, 32, 42 and 74 for starters.)

First Class Mail zone rates

Particularly hard to absorb are the changing of first-class mail to zoned rates... I present them to you here:

Wt (oz) 1 & 2 Zone 3 Zone 4 Zone 5 Zone 6 Zone 7 Zone 8
1 2.66 2.68 2.70 2.76 2.84 2.96 3.09
2 2.66 2.68 2.70 2.76 2.84 2.96 3.09
3 2.66 2.68 2.70 2.76 2.84 2.96 3.09
4 2.66 2.68 2.70 2.76 2.84 2.96 3.09
5 3.18 3.20 3.22 3.28 3.36 3.49 3.63
6 3.18 3.20 3.22 3.28 3.36 3.49 3.63
7 3.18 3.20 3.22 3.28 3.36 3.49 3.63
8 3.18 3.20 3.22 3.28 3.36 3.49 3.63
9 3.82 3.85 3.88 3.96 4.06 4.19 4.33
10 3.82 3.85 3.88 3.96 4.06 4.19 4.33
11 3.82 3.85 3.88 3.96 4.06 4.19 4.33
12 3.82 3.85 3.88 3.96 4.06 4.19 4.33
13 4.94 4.98 5.02 5.12 5.24 5.38 5.53
14 4.94 4.98 5.02 5.12 5.24 5.38 5.53
15 4.94 4.98 5.02 5.12 5.24 5.38 5.53
15.999 4.94 4.98 5.02 5.12 5.24 5.38 5.53

They are in price groups: 1-4 oz, 5-8 oz, 9-12 oz and 13-15.999 oz. I have price points in my shop, and it looks like the US Mail does this as well.... for each zone of course... My add-on for "free shipping" will be ranging from $3.50 to $6.00 depending on the estimated packed weight.

The first-class package prices are mostly increasing (except the zone 1/2 packages):
  • Any package shipped across the USA (to Zone 8) increases from $0.43 (Zone 8, 1 ounce = $3.09) to $1.43 (Zone 8 – 13 ounces = $5.53)
  • 13 ounce package rates in particular will be higher, increasing $0.84 (Zone 1/2 = $4.94) to $1.43 (Zone 8 = $5.53)
  • Heavier first-class items weighing 15 ounces to 15.999 ounces are seeing a smaller increase, going from no increase at all (Zone 1/2 = $4.94) to an increase of $0.59 (Zone 8 = $5.53)

My shop will be able to absorb much of this increase because of using a cheaper (free to join) shipping service called Pirate Ship.

Are you all ready?
USA map with Maine highlighted
My shop is geographically challenged.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Etsy forums and teams will be temporarily read-only

Etsy newsbreak:

Teams and forums will be essentially offline for nearly 2 weeks... Starting in one week, Etsy will begin their "improvements ... to Etsy's community spaces."

“...we’ll be entering a brief read-only period in Teams and Forums spaces from January 10-22. During that time you’ll be able to view community content, but unable to post comments or start new discussion threads.“

“Starting January 22, members will have access to improved tools and features in the Teams and Forums spaces... We appreciate your patience while we finalize these improvements."

Admin officially announced the team migration here. 

Since making it official, they have amended the above announcement twice. The first adjustment was to state the "The only exception [to the full shutdown of the forums and teams] will be the Bugs forum, which will remain open for both reading and posting new threads and comments.

A day later, they added:

**More about the read-only period: In addition to putting the finishing touches on new tools and features, the January 10-22 read-only period allows for the extensive migration of existing Teams and Forums content—including over 10,000 Etsy Teams and millions of discussion posts—into our updated community spaces. Our aim during this period is to ensure a seamless transition that will make it easier for you to connect with other sellers, grow your creative business, and keep up with the latest Etsy news.**

Information for team captains and leaders here.

Etsy has provided some clues about how the new team spaces will be

1. They will run on Lithium. Lithium is the operating system used by PayPal's forums. So take a peek at how it may work. It seems like a less pictorial, less warm and fuzzy place for sure.

2. Previously deleted threads will no longer be accessible, and any deleted threads in the future will not be saved.

3. Forums threads without a comment in the past three years will not be available in the refreshed community space. If you have older Forums threads saved, you’ll want to jot down any pertinent tips or resources prior to the read-only period.

4. Improved tools for Team Captains and Leaders make it simple to quickly communicate with all members, including a streamlined group messaging feature and a customizable announcements section on each team's home page.

5. If you have set up a question for new members to answer, their answers will not be saved and teh question will not appear to future people trying to join.

6. There will still be the option to make your group open (anyone can join) or closed (members must request and be approved to join), but there will no longer be an option to hide your team completely and make it invite-only.

7. There will no longer be an option to download a CSV file of your team's members.

What about promotion? Etsy has said nothing. The indications I am receiving are that the new spaces are not designed for it.

What is is store for forums?

1. "We’re increasing the overall number of sections available in the Forums, and adding intuitive labels to surface the answers you need quickly." Included is a "new shop critique section provides an easy way to share and request feedback."

2. "... enhanced comment functionality lets you @mention and “like” other members’ posts. After posting a new thread, you’ll be able to select an accepted solution that indicates when another member’s reply addresses your question effectively." You will have "the ability to like and tag other members within threads..."

3. " simultaneously across existing Forums and Teams threads to see what questions have already been answered by the community. You can even follow threads or saved searches that you want to pay close attention to."

4. There will be "an increased character limit and text formatting tools including bullets, numbers, and emphasis options like bold and italics."

Will it be better? I have not seen it so I cannot say.

We will find out soon!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Shipping integration Pirate Ship is free... it just may save your Etsy shop some money

Pirate skull and crossbones inside stamp
Pirate Ship is the new shipping app on the block

Have you tried Pirate Ship for shipping?

Arrrrgh, there is a new shipping integration afoot.

I admit it: I was skeptical at first. Pirate Ship seems TGTBT. After all, Etsy already gets commercial rates.

However, the "commercial" USPS rates that Etsy (and eBay and Amazon) pass on to third-party sellers is not the cheapest rate (called "Commercial Plus.")

How does an online seller tap into the lowest shipping rates without spending a monthly fee?

I think I have found it: Pirate Ship.

There are lots of things to like

Pull up a screen and see how much your package will cost. The interface is simple:

Pirate Ship interface screen
The interface is clear and easy.

  1. The rates are competitive. I save especially when shipping small, heavy items.
  2. Ability to combine some different selling venues into one shipping source, such as Etsy, eBay and Shopify.
  3. Pay with your credit card.
  4. It is simple to set up and use.
    Measure, Buy and Hand over to the UPSS
    Pirate Ship presents it as easy as 1 - 2 - 3
  5. Pirate Ship imports shipping details from Etsy, eBay and Shopify.
  6. After purchase, it marks orders as shipped on Etsy and other venues. 
  7. Setting up my Dymo 4XL was a breeze. 
  8. Included is up to $100 insurance. If you need additional insurance they use U-Pic which is 75c up to $50. 
  9. Pirate Ship has free chat support where you can ask questions. 
  10. You can pay for labels as you print them or you can pay in advance. 
  11. It is free!

Pirate Ship is easy to use
This will be my new go-to for personal packages. PayPal’s user interface for shipping has always left a lot to be desired...

Is it the very cheapest for every package?

The short answer is "no." If you ship primarily large packages such as 12x12x8" you will only save around 25 cents per package. First-class packages are the same as other venues. (This is in late 2018, before the new zoned first-class rates are implemented by the USPS.) 

Stay tuned for how it goes in 2019.

Cubic rates, the secret sauce of Pirate Ship

PirateShip uses cubic shipping rates when applicable. Cubic shipping is shipping by space and not weight. (Have you ever been disappointed that your heavy item was just a tad wrongly shaped to fit into a regional box?) Cubic rates are purely by size, maximum of 20 lbs.

Priority boxes are free

You probably already stock some priority boxes, right? Priority Mail boxes are in fact already set up for cubic mail. Here are some examples:

Priority Mail Box - 1096L | 9-1/4" x 6-1/4" x 2" | Cubic Tier 1
Priority Mail Box - 4 | 7" x 7" x 6" | Cubic Tier 2
Priority Mail Box - 1097 | 11-1/2" x 13-1/8" x 2-3/8" | Cubic Tier 2
Priority Mail Box - 1092 | 12-1/8" x 13-3/8" x 2-3/4" | Cubic Tier 3
Priority Mail Box - 1095 | 15-1/4" x 12-3/8" x 3" | Cubic Tier 4
Priority Mail Box - Shoe Box | 7-1/2" x 5-1/8" x 14-3/8" | Cubic Tier 4

If you do not have them, Priority boxes are free for the ordering from the USPS website.

More about cubic shipping

Skip this section altogether if you just plan on dropping your product details into Pirate Ship... This is the math for those who wonder how it works.

graphic of how to calculate USPS cubic rates
You can calculate cubic feet for yourself
To calculate the cubic pricing tier of your package:

Measure the outer length, width, and height of your package (18" max in any dimension). 

If any of the measurements are over the nearest quarter inch, round down to the nearest 1/4" (for example, 5.6" inches becomes 5.5" inches).

Multiply the Length x Width x Height and divide the result by 1728.

The resulting number is the size of the package in cubic feet. Use the Priority Mail Cubic® rate chart to determine the pricing. 

(Be sure to round UP fractional results to the next tier... for example a package that is 0.24 cubic feet is in the 0.3 tier).

Here are the 2019 cubic rates for US mail:

Cu ft L, 1 & 2 Zone 3 Zone 4 Zone 5 Zone 6 Zone 7 Zone 8
0.10 6.95 7.28 7.49 7.65 7.82 7.99 8.25
0.20 7.34 7.68 7.91 8.12 8.40 8.61 8.92
0.30 7.79 7.99 8.27 8.92 10.18 10.73 11.39
0.40 7.95 8.27 8.63 9.50 11.79 12.94 14.79
0.50 8.07 8.56 9.13 10.34 13.95 15.75 17.91

What are the zones, anyway?

This great question was brought up by a reader of this blog post.

The USPS zones are based on where you ship from. They are different for almost everyone (if you have a different 3-digit zip, the first three digits of your zip code). To find out yours, go to the USPS at this link.

Type in the first three digits of your zip code; a chart will appear with your zones.

I keep a copy in my shipping room for reference.

What about International First Class Mail?

According to one seller, “after using Pirate Ship for 2-3 months, they offered me a lower rate tier for international first class. My rate for a 3 oz package to most countries is $9.95 and $7.95 to Canada.”

They told users before the USPS increases in January, 2019:
“First Class Package International is no longer the cheapest way to ship packages that weigh less than 4 lbs internationally! If your business is expanding globally, just chat with us to get access to Simple Export Rate, which can save you up to 40%.”

What about paperwork?

Pirate Ship has a tab for "reports" for bookkeeping

My husband is still skeptical. "How will this go come tax time?" He has a point.

I found the "reports" tab. It will be one more step, an additional calculations for taxes of course.

And they have these pretty data charts.

Pirate Ship is easy to integrate with your online venue

Is it easy to set up?

You must provide some basic information to Pirate Ship.

In order to access your account and pull your orders, you must grant them some access to your account (much like Foto Fuze if you have used it).

They will ask for a way to pay for the labels. (I have it set up much like EZ Pass and meter them out $20 at a time from my credit card.)

There are other things to set up like your return address, package templates and content of shipping emails.

Read here how to set up additional "ship from" addresses.

It seems too good to be true. How do they make money?

Their website explains:

“How can Pirate Ship possibly stay in business when it is 100% free while offering the deepest USPS® discounts available?

“The reality is we make our money just like any other shipping software company; through our official partnership with USPS®“

Package on manual scales
Online sellers need several tools in their shipping "box."

Monday, July 23, 2018

Etsy Plus features: restock request setup & use

Etsy Plus new seller shop upgrade
Etsy Plus is now available to sellers
Have you tried out Etsy Plus yet?

I have... I cannot say that it is worth $20/month for me. The discounted subscription fee of $10/ month until the end of 2017 is reasonable... With a cost to my shop of $2/month with the credits, it is worth a try.

The banner features are of questionable value. But hey, why not try them out, right?

I already purchased my domain name (for this blog in fact). So I am not in need of that feature.

Restock request

I am most interested in the restock request. According to Etsy's promotional information, "When an item sells out, shoppers can sign up to be automatically alerted when it’s back in stock. See which sold out listings are most popular so you can plan your inventory."

So a potential customer can find out when I restock something they are interested in? Sounds interesting.

To see how it should work, go to my sold items and select an item. There is an orange button to "Let me know when it's back". "We'll send you an email when this item is back in stock."

restock request button on Etsy sold item
Restock request as seen on the item sold page

Restock request setup

First let us set it up. It is easy using the bulk editing tool. In your Shop Manager, go to your "listings" page. Click the "select all" button in the top left corner. (Click a second time to select everything in your shop if you like.)

The "Editing Options" box un-grays and you can select from some options that drop down. One is "Edit restock request option for listing." Select "yes" and "apply." Voila, done!

(You will want to do this for your sold items as well.)

screen shot of etsy shop manager
Setting up the restock request in your sold items using Etsy's bulk editor

Using restock request

Now comes the coolness. Go back to your Shop Manager, listings page. 

On each listing you will now see a little counter for each listing (Restock requests: 0). The best part? You can filter the listings in order of restock requests: high to low.

You can look to see which items to source because shoppers have indicated an interest.

view restock requests in shop manager
It is simple to view how many items have restock requests

Important note

For the restock notice to go out, you will need to renew the sold listing rather than make a new listing.

Follow up

My shop has yet to receive a real restock request. Sellers have this trial period from now until the end of the year.  That will be enough to tell me if this feature is alone worth the price.

It is possible that like some other features, Etsy Plus is better suited to handmade shops. Time will tell... I will let you know here!

(Here is Etsy's tutorial on how to use the Restocking feature.)

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Will you try the new Etsy Plus tiered seller package?

If you use Promoted Listings, this package may be worth a try 
Most know about Etsy's fee increase. Along with that, they are rolling out new tiered packages.

First, if you are happy with how your shop is now, you do not need to do anything... everything is the same, except there will be a 1.5% increase in the sold item fee (up from 3.5% to 5%).

Folded into this announcement are details about new seller packages. One in particular may be of interest. The details from Etsy's information:

Etsy Plus (coming in July)

New ways to customize your shop

Sellers will be able to customize special options for their shop's look with new banner templates and featured listing options.

Tell shoppers your items are back in stock

When shoppers are interested in sold out items, Etsy Plus subscribers will be able to email them when the item is back in stock. Sellers can find out which listings are most popular. Could this be helpful in planning your vintage buying?

Send customers to your own web address

Save 50% on a custom .com address or get a .store address for free for a year. Some sellers may find this helpful.

**Bonus listing and advertising credits**

Get 15 listing credits and $5 in credit to advertise your items in Etsy search with Promoted Listings each month.

Discounts on custom packaging and promotional materials*

Enrolled sellers receive a special discount on custom shipping boxes, business cards, and other marketing materials from Etsy's partners.

If you use Promoted Listings

Etsy sellers who advertise may have even more of a reason to try out the "Etsy Plus" tiered upgrade at low cost; it is the "bonus listing and advertising credits."

The breakdown:

15 listing credits per month x 20 cents each = $3

$5 in credit to advertise your items (I spend over $30/month) = $5

That means that for the $10/month you pay for Etsy Plus at the introductory rate, it will cost only $2/month to try out.

You can find out if anything else in the package works for your and boosts sales. You can always opt out before the fee goes to $20 a month.

Read here for how to set up the restock request feature of Etsy Plus. Here is a deeper explanation of the new features from Etsy's CEO.

I hope this was helpful... Thanks for joining me for this quick tip about Etsy's latest announcement!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Does your Etsy shop need Privacy Policies?

GDPR laws in EU require privacy policies
Recent events have prompted an interest in privacy policies. The European Union has enacted new rules in that arena called the "General Data Protection Regulation" or GDPR. It takes effect on May 25, 2018.

Do small sellers really have to do this? Here is a hint: basic identity data like names and addresses are included under these new regulations.

Who needs to have a privacy policy in place?

This is what Etsy says:
"If you’re a seller based in the European Union or you offer your listings to buyers there, the GDPR applies to you, which means you’re required to have a privacy policy for your shop. Many other countries have also adopted data protection laws similar to the GDPR, so whether or not you sell to Europe, we recommend that all sellers create a privacy policy."

So privacy policy is recommended for all Etsy sellers.

If you use Etsy's so-called "canned" policies template (I do) your privacy policy will display as a link. For others, it will be a paragraph added.

How to do it

Here is Etsy's guide to crafting your own GDPR-compliant privacy policy. Simply use their template, copy and paste their example to fit your shop.

Here is one very simple sample privacy policy for those who only ship within the USA:
"We only use customer information to fulfill orders. We do not store or use customer information for any other purpose. Information such as name, address, and email address is not stored on our computers. If and when required, we will communicate with you about your order status using the Etsy platform."
Here is a longer one:
"ETSY is an online marketplace made up of over 1 million individual shops. The information you provide to Etsy for transaction purposes is governed and stored by Etsy. As a seller on Etsy, I am bound to their policies. If you have questions relating to the way Etsy uses your information, please refer to the Etsy Privacy Policy here: 
"We only use customer information to fulfill orders. Your personal information (name and address) as provided to me by Etsy will only be used by me as needed to provide my services. I may use your information to fulfil your order, to settle disputes, or to provide customer support. I may collect, use, retain, and share your information if I have a good faith belief that it is reasonably necessary to: (a) respond to legal process or to government requests (i.e. taxes) (b) enforce my agreements, terms and policies; (c) prevent, investigate, and address fraud and other illegal activity, security, or technical issues; or (d) protect the rights, property, and safety of my customers or others. If and when required, we will communicate with you about your order status using the Etsy “convo” platform. 
"I have no access to your payment account details: Etsy Payments and PayPal process your financial information independently of me.  
"Your transaction information will be stored on the Etsy system as long as I have my store on Etsy or until Etsy deletes it. I will not spam you or solicit you using the information provided to me."
Here is another template to consider.

To adjust shop policies, go to your public shop page. Find the orange "Edit shop" button. (It is right under your shop's star rating next to your shop avatar.) Scroll down, down, down to where it says "shop policies" on the left side. Opposite that, on the right side, is the button to edit your shop policies.

There are some unknowns in this process. For example, the EU law requires that companies provide a "reasonable" level of protection for personal data. But it does not specify exactly what “reasonable” means.

Time will tell how this shakes out. In the mean time, Etsy sellers should consider adopting a written privacy policy as a start. That includes sellers (like myself) who limit their selling to the USA.

Those who sell in the European Union will need privacy policies beyond the scope of this blog post. (Thanks for noting that this blog post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.) Here is a blog post with more information.

Concerns over privacy policies have changed the landscape of online selling. It is wise for sellers to do their homework.

Have you adopted a privacy policy for your shop?

Etsy Quick Trick: free shipping plus 15% off

Free shipping can be an effective marketing tool for vintage sellers Have you tried free shipping? Many vintage sellers have expressed...