Binding Bee Leather Journal by Megan Winn.

Photo courtesy of Megan Winn

In an effort to better serve its 2 million active sellers, artisan marketplace Etsy recently increased seller fees. It’s the first spike sellers have seen in the company’s 13-year history.

Etsy shops are still “free” to set up, and each item advertised there incurs a $0.20 per item listing fee. However, once an item sells, it is no longer subject to the old 3.5 percent seller fee. Instead, a new 5 percent fee is applied to the sale of both the product and the shipping.

“I’m a maker, not an importer.”

Glass artist Robyn Coetzee is not at all pleased with the changes. “They seem to be ignoring the makers’ needs,” said the Bristol, United Kingdom, artisan behind Robyn Coetzee Glass Designs. “I am very angry at the postal cost charge. I’m a maker, not an importer.”

An example of the new seller costs shows the difference is significant. For instance, Coetzee offers a pair of glass earrings for $33.88 USD, shipped for $10.16 USD from the U.K. to the U.S. Under the old seller fee, she would have paid $1.19 to Etsy, but with the postage now lumped in, the new seller fee is nearly doubled at $2.20. While some shop owners will simply raise prices to account for higher costs, Coetzee instead is taking the loss herself.

The change is enough to make her think about closing her Etsy shop and moving to the British-based marketplace Folksy, though she hasn’t decided just yet. With Etsy’s pledge to improve the seller experience through site improvements and marketing tools, Coetzee is holding out for one item on her wish list: “The ability to upload videos of products would be the most useful and drive more traffic to my page.”

Earrings and Glass Bird by Robyn Coetzee Designs.

Photo courtesy of Robyn Coetzee Designs

Business owner Ashley Powell-Squires is hopeful about Etsy changes, viewing them in terms of how it can grow her business. Ranking in the top 1% of all Etsy shops, Powell-Squires’s Glitter with Grace Co. is a popular supplier of faux leather and designer vinyl sheets operating out of Houston, Texas.

“We hope the fee increase will provide sellers with more incentives,” she said. “As the owner, I am very hands-on and love to solve any issues as soon as possible. I would love to be able to pick up the phone and call Etsy directly when I have an issue. I also hope they are able to increase our sales in general.”

Like Coetzee, Powell-Squires would rather her company take a loss, rather than shift these fees onto the customers by raising prices. To help offset the higher fees she’ll pay Etsy this year, she plans to launch a new website for her company, passing along extra discounts and promotions to her loyal customer base.

Optional seller packages

Along with the fee change, Etsy introduced three seller packages:

  • Etsy’s free plan is now called Etsy Standard.
  • The new Etsy Plus seller package will cost $10 per month, and it offers sellers a few perks like targeted restock notifications, listing credits, and more customized storefronts. The fee will double in January 2019.
  • The Etsy Premium plan (cost TBD) will launch in 2019, with management tools to help Etsy store owners with multiple employees.

With plans to join Etsy Plus, Powell-Squires is most excited that customers will be notified when an item is restocked. “Having over 1,000 items listed in our shop, many being huge customer favorites, we sometimes find it difficult to message customers when items are restocked,” she said. “This alone will make Etsy Plus worth it to us.”

But sellers are still in the dark as to what the top-tier Etsy Premium will offer. Powell-Squires longs for the ability to add logins for different employees based solely on their job, giving them access to certain parts of the site, like messages for customer service employees or orders for fulfillment.

A full-time artist living in Indianapolis, Megan Winn stitches leather journals and custom guest books under the name Binding Bee. Like other sellers, she’d like to see Etsy use the revenue to give sellers tools to manage the back end of their business more efficiently and effectively.

Binding Bee Leather Journal by Megan Winn.

Photo courtesy of Megan Winn

“Having the option to have staff access part of my Etsy account, but not all of it, is a feature I would like,” Winn said. “For example, I am hiring someone to drop-ship ready-made orders for me. It would be great to have the ability for my drop-shipper to access Etsy in a way that makes her job simpler without necessarily having access to the rest of my shop’s backend.”

At present, the Etsy Plus plan doesn’t add enough value for Winn to sign up, though she is curious to see what shops look like after implementing the perks.

A recent blog post from Etsy speaks more to the specific changes and the intent behind them. “Our commitment to investing in seller success has never been stronger,” said Kruti Patel Goyal, Etsy’s General Manager of Seller Services. “We have an exciting pipeline of launches slated for the coming months, including revamping Etsy’s community spaces, adding new support channels, providing sellers with advanced analytics and insights, and improving Etsy’s shipping tools.”

Etsy’s considerable reach plus the company’s plan to “significantly increase our spend in marketing this year so we can attract new buyers to our marketplace” gives sellers some hope that their shops will grow thanks to more advertising.

Experiments in pricing

Over the past decade, Winn has always charged shipping costs, with the exception of coupons and special promotions. After listening to a podcast by Etsy’s CEO, she’d like to experiment with free shipping.

“I will not raise my prices to include shipping (as was recommended) because I sell in multiple channels and never want my online item prices to be higher than what people pay in person,” she said. Etsy provides 15 to 20% of her overall sales, with wholesale orders and art festivals making up the majority.

“For me, the overhead for selling on Etsy is lower than my other sales venues, so even with the price increase, my margins are still strong.”

Etsy Artisans React to Higher Fees and Seller Tiers
Lindsay Conner

Lindsay Conner


Lindsay is a modern quilter, writer, and editor. A multi-book author with C&T Publishing, her latest project was designing sampler quilts for FreeSpirit Block Party (Stash Books, September 2018). She also works with Craftsy and Baby Lock sewing machines, and is an editor for Frommer's Travel Guides. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband, son, and two cats, who were the inspiration for her adult coloring book and Kickstarter "Project of the Day" Lazy-Ass Cats. www.lindsaysews.com, www.lazyasscats.com

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