Sunday, March 12, 2017

Big Changes at Etsy in 2017

Etsy is on the move! If you have sold there for any amount of time, you know that change is a constant on this vibrant online marketplace.

First, what changes were announced in Feb, 2017?

1. A new website called Etsy Studio has been created for those who sell supplies.
2. Many new categories were created for supplies. Your items may have been moved to new categories without your knowledge.
3. Shop Manager is available. It is an improved "all-in-one" interface to navigate the selling side of Etsy.
4. Enhanced search attributes are being added to all listings.

When is this happening? These changes are being rolled out over days and weeks. Possibly months. You may already have some of these changes. I know that I do. March 27 [date updated] has been announced as when the new attributes will begin to factor into buyer searches.

Etsy starts new supply selling site

Etsy Studio - Etsy's New DIY Marketplace

For a long time, Etsy has been a website for (1) handmade, (2) vintage or (3) supplies. If you sold supplies in 2017, this new development affected your shop. Etsy Studio was born!

Etsy's (former) CEO Chad Dickerson described his vision of the new one-stop crafting marketplace*. A venue with "joy" to compete with traditional craft stores. Etsy's new do-it-yourself marketplace sought to provide an all-in-one crafting experience. People were supposed to refer to detailed tutorials for crafting projects. Etsy Studio would provide a list of all supplies needed for a project. Those supplies would be purchased on Etsy with one click.
Vintage Supply on Etsy Studio
How our items appeared on Etsy Studio. See the "Vintage" feature?

Money orders, checks and "other" payment would not be accepted in Studio.

A traditional new craft website would need some time to get off the ground. Etsy Studio has access to the millions of crafting items already for sale on Etsy. There was no extra cost for sellers on Etsy Studio.

All sellers' items in the "supply" category were automatically added to Etsy Studio.

On Etsy Studio, items could have a special designation feature of "vintage" or "recycled." We all are familiar with what vintage means. But what about recycled? Here are Etsy's guidelines about that.

Here is more information about Etsy Studio.

Enhanced Supply Categories

At that time, Etsy updated the categories for materials and supplies. Etsy wanted to help sellers with these changes. They performed bulk category edits.

There have been some unintended consequences. For example, sellers reported that some framed art had been moved into "Supplies."

Additionally, sellers found it necessary to reevaluate whether additional items qualified as supplies. I moved my doorknobs and drawer pulls from "vintage" to "supplies." That way they could enjoy any extra exposure of Etsy Studio.

New Look Etsy Seller Dashboard
New look - Shop Manager dashboard

New Shop Manager

This is a centralized dashboard for Etsy shop owners.  It improves the visibility of important information, such as orders, buyer conversations, statistics, and inventory management. Sellers see right away what needs prompt attention, such as overdue orders.

Sellers can opt in and out of the Shop Manager for now. I find it beneficial to opt in rather early, as the change is coming anyway. If you wait a week, Etsy admin can get some of the bugs out.

A new capability is included. The new Shop Manager allows sellers to perform searches across multiple shop tools, including Conversations, listings, and orders. I am not sure how useful it is, but it does work.

Included is an improvement in inventory management, SKU numbers. SKU's are visible to the seller but no one else. This is a great innovation for those of us who have been known to {looking away} lose sold items. Here is more information about how to set up an effective SKU numbering system. I have seen complaints that the SKU system is not all that sellers had hoped for.

Search Attributes

Sellers will be able to able to add details about listings. Such "attributes" will eventually serve as filters when buyers search on Etsy. Attributes include:

  • Colors (primary and secondary)
  • Occasions
  • Holidays
  • Size: clothing, jewelry, pillows, dollhouse furniture, dolls, signs, wall hangings, fabric
  • Capacity: teacups, cups
  • Fiber content, potential use (and a lot of other aspects): fabric
Maine granite stones VintageMaineia
Quick Add Attributes for Etsy Studio itens

If you had an item in the "weddings" category, the "wedding" attribute should be pre-selected for you. Sellers report that some pre-selections are inaccurate, so you will need to recheck.

This is pretty straightforward for vintage sellers. If the attributes do not apply, no need to try to force them to fit. Conversely, if more than one attribute could apply, be sure to vary your attributes for different products. This way you will show up on more different buyer searches.

Here is more information about attributes.

Item Variations for Custom Colors

Item variations screen
Below the colors is an option for "more than one."
Item Variations are useful if you sell items like hand made jewelry. There you might have multiple options of lengths, colors and styles with different price, quantity, and SKU numbers. They have been broadened out with these changes. Here is more information about them.

Some have been upset about the color attribute choices. If you have an item that is maroon and cream, you have to call it "red" and "white." Turquoise becomes "blue" (or "green").

Etsy seller custom color workaround
On the screen that pops up, select "create a new option."
There is an interesting workaround. If you have colors that are not on the list, they can be added using Item Variations. Once you select "color," you will see a box with colors listed. At the bottom it has a spot to add your own color.

The custom color(s) you add to variations will be used in regular search. However, the colors will not be seen if the color search filters are used. (Search filters are not available yet. Well, they are but they are not really working. A working color filter will eventually become available.)

Pluses and Minuses

More details about your items will now be visible on the Etsy app on mobile. Item descriptions are hidden when buyers use the mobile app, so this in an improvement.

Attributes will act like "extra tags and titles." This means more opportunities for your items to be found by buyers.

Big shops will need to take some time to make the necessary changes to attributes. Etsy's promised bulk editing tool is available, but some users do not find it very helpful.

Will the new attributes affect how items are found via searches?

As mentioned, the new search attributes and variations will "become a factor in Etsy search" starting in late March. When it takes effect, both pre-set and custom variations and attributes will be searchable, same as tags and titles.

The filtering aspect will not be enabled until later. [Update: Etsy has begun testing filtering in June, 2017.]

It is impossible to know how Etsy's search algorithm will change. Stay tuned for more on Etsy search as information becomes available.

Etsy Quick Add Screen Attributes Tool
Quick Add screen for new attributes

What do you need to do right now?

1. Make sure all your items are properly categorized. Etsy may have changed the categories for your items without your knowledge. You will want to recheck every item's category during this process.

2. Use Etsy's new "Quick Add Attributes" tool. Mine had a little thermometer-style indicator [for a while] that told me that I have only 609 listings to go... It takes you quickly through the process of adding attributes and fine-tuning categories (but nothing else). Unfortunately, if you have already made changes, it will still take you into the listing. It has a reputation for being buggy as well.

If you have a large shop, this task may seem daunting. Try breaking it up into smaller pieces, like sections.

The new search attributes will eventually become important to getting found when buyers search Etsy. They will begin to factor into buyer searches on March 27.

[June 20, 2017 update: most of these changes are not yet fully implemented. Attributes are not up and running to any degree. Custom variations still cannot be searched. Etsy's recent tests hardly even using the attributes. Etsy Studio has very few sales as of yet.]
*Here is Etsy's former CEO Chad Dickerson's interview about Etsy Studio:


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