THE FUTURE OF FREE SHIPPING ON ETSY (IT'S HERE!)
On July 9th, 2019, Etsy made an official announcement that I think we all knew was coming. You can read the entire official announcement here - but here’s what it all boils down to..
“Starting on July 30, 2019, items that ship free and shops that guarantee free shipping to buyers in the US on orders $35 and above will get priority placement in US search results. Shoppers in the US will primarily see items that ship free and shops that offer free shipping on orders of $35 in the top, most visible rows of search. We’ll also begin to prioritize these items wherever Etsy advertises in the US—in email marketing, social media, and television ads.”
Etsy has been urging its sellers to make the move to free shipping for several years now, but has also insisted that it would have no bearing on your shop’s visibility via search placement if you decided not to.
Well, now it does.
Before I get into my current thoughts on free shipping, I wrote a post back in 2017 about the original push to offer free shipping, and although some key things have changed since then, you can read those thoughts here.
When that post was written, Etsy was only taking fees from the item price. Since then, Etsy not only takes a percentage of both your item price AND your shipping, but they’ve also raised their fees (from 3.5% to 5%).
WE HAVE TO LOOK AT the facts..
• Etsy will now officially give preferential search placement (as well as placement in marketing materials - email, social media, tv ads, etc.) to items with free shipping and shops that guarantee free shipping if a customer’s purchase is $35 or more.
This is a really big deal. That’s not to say that those items that don’t include free shipping will never get featured again, but if Etsy wants to make a name for themselves in the free shipping world (alongside other marketplaces like Amazon), they’re gonna shout it loud and proud, which means they’re going to make sure their buyers can easily find all of their free shipping offerings. And now that they have an option to filter search results to those with free shipping, they can direct buyers to these searches, which simply won’t include items without it. I’m not saying it’s fair. I’m saying it’s the new reality.
• Shipping is not (and will never be) actually free.
And Etsy isn’t asking its sellers to eat these costs. Spoiler alert: nobody that offers “free” shipping eats the cost. They simply add it in to their item price somehow. Bottom line: Etsy is simply looking to avoid surprises for their customers. Shoppers see an item price and when they add it to their cart, they see an additional cost for shipping, and that can make them feel like they weren’t given all the information up front. According to Etsy’s market research, it can also make them abandon their cart and leave Etsy with a bad feeling.
As Etsy states..
“Shoppers come to Etsy because they want something special, something they can’t find at a big-box retailer. But these days, online shoppers expect free shipping everywhere they go. Etsy is no exception. Of course, shipping still costs something, and that cost should be factored into the item price. That way your shoppers will never be surprised at checkout and they’re more likely to complete the transaction.
Buyers tell us time and again that paying additional shipping costs often keeps them from making a purchase and coming back to Etsy. in fact, we know that shoppers on Etsy are 20% more likely to complete their purchase when the item is marked as shipping for free.”
This can lead to a ton of questions about how exactly you should go about recouping those costs, and ultimately, it’s different for every seller, but it CAN be done. I’ve got another post in the works with a bunch of different ways you can make free shipping work for YOU, and Etsy has a pretty extensive shipping guide right here as well.
so, i really should just do it?
I mean, yeah. You really should just do it.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Etsy will do what Etsy wants to do. And this is their way of trying to bring in (and keep) more customers, which ultimately helps all sellers.
For as long as I’ve been selling (over a decade!) sellers have been asking for transparency about what kinds of things Etsy tends to feature. And even though they’ve given helpful tips over the years, there’s always been a kind of mystique around the exact qualities they’re looking for.
This announcement, y’all.. THIS. IS. CONCRETE. INFORMATION. Think of it as an opportunity. Embrace it. Don’t miss out because you refuse to roll with the punches, think it’s unfair, or (and this might come across kinda harsh.. #sorrynotsorry but it’s for your own good) because you’re too lazy to do the hard math (I’m talking to my 2018 self here, too).
And if you’re not happy with your status quo.. what do you have to lose? Give yourself the absolute best chance of being successful on Etsy. Take what is being handed to you, and run with it!
OKAY, BUT DID YOU DO IT, christen?
So.. as you can imagine, after much skepticism (surely people realize shipping isn’t actually free?!), a bit of crazed yelling to family and friends (who listened sympathetically, but also probably wanted me to just shut the heck up already), and a fair amount of math (gross), I did in fact jump on board earlier this year. Admittedly, I had a pretty abysmal 2018, so I was ready to try just about anything.
In May alone, my revenue in happytatts was up by 78% over the previous year. Yes, some of that is added shipping costs that I’m collecting along with my item, but when I compare the growth in orders to the growth in revenue, I find that my average order size is larger, which means more revenue is coming in PER order, which means (even though I hated to admit it), Etsy was right all along.
I tell you all of this to give you a swift kick in the ass (I mean.. a soft gentle nudge) if you’re still on the fence. If this was achieved WITHOUT priority placement in search, just imagine the potential WITH priority placement in search! Come on July 30th!