The popular independent crafts site Etsy has been gaining popularity rapidly in the past few years, allowing any person with artistic talent and an entrepreneurial spirit to sell their wares easily through the Etsy store. But Etsy has been changing its rules lately, which might shift the website in another direction that indie designers may not like.
According to The Huffington Post, Etsy altered their terms of service to allow independent craftspeople to hire manufacturers to produce their artwork. This means that users of Etsy no longer have to sell handmade crafts, which was the initial appeal of the website. The Huffington Post reported that instead of searching for a specialized item on the Etsy store made by a private business owner, tons of results of manufactured items from China show up on the search feed.
“Last year my Etsy sales tripled in the spring and then again in the fall, so I figured things were still looking good,” said an Etsy seller. “But in May, my views dropped off to about one-third of what they were in the previous months and as compared to last year. I thought they just dipped because of the holiday weekend and the nice weather, but in June they did not pick back up.”
The cause of the major drop in Etsy sales was due to Chinese factories showing up on the website and undercutting independent designers with cheap and abundant items.
Etsy made this shift as a grand-scale business decision, taking the company away from independent users and into the hands of the shareholders to expand the website’s reach. In other words, Etsy now more closely resembles retail stores than an artisan craft shop. The original Etsy craftspeople who brought the site to life are now seeing a fraction of the sales.
Etsy sellers can fight the takeover of large manufacturers by making their niche craft more refined and using specific tags and networking with other Etsy sellers to cross promote and collaborate on advertising. Networking on other sites like the Etsy blog, Instagram or Pinterest could be helpful as well.
Etsy has made some other changes to the company as well, which might not be as controversial to the users. According to Business Insider, in an attempt to help the environment, Etsy removed individual trash cans from their employee’s desks in exchange for a communal trash station with recycling and compost. As a result, Etsy’s garbage input dropped 18 percent, its recycling rate went up 20 percent and its compost rate jumped 300 percent.
Initially, Etsy’s employees were annoyed by the decision, but the payoff was worth the hassle. Etsy has also eliminated disposable kitchen items and batteries and made the shift to double-sided-default printing. Etsy has also been managing their energy use more efficiently and buying local food and office supplies to stimulate the American economy.
It seems Etsy is making some wise decision and some not-so-wise. What do you think about Etsy’s changes?