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Calgary, Alberta
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Jewellery and accessories with a natural look; genuine fossils, shells & stones, with some authentic sea glass thrown in for good measure. Handmade in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 

My Blog about SEO & eCommerce, Mitochondrial Disease & Disability, & the Good Life

Blog posts from Cindy Lou Who 2 - a little eCommerce & SEO, some discussion of disability issues (including mitochondrial disease), some jewellery info, & the expected topics of beer, travel & recipes. 

 

Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week, Sept 17-23, 2017

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Yes, it is that time again ...

Yes, it is that time again ...

Welcome to Global Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week, 2017! Every year, the mitochondrial disease community comes together in September to spread the word about this neuromuscular disorder. 

Some facts about "mito":

  • Mitochondrial disease is a chronic, progressive disorder that occurs when the mitochondria of the cell cannot produce enough energy for cell or organ function.
  • Estimates suggest that 1 in 4,000 people will face a diagnosis of mitochondrial disease.
  • Mitochondrial disease symptoms differ from person to person and can first appear in infants, children, teens, or adults. Common symptoms include poor growth, loss of muscle coordination, muscle weakness and pain, seizures, vision and/or hearing loss, gastrointestinal issues, learning disabilities, and heart, liver, or kidney failure.
  • Mitochondrial disease symptoms affect many different organ systems. The neurologic, digestive, musculoskeletal, and cardiovascular systems are most commonly affected.
  • Mitochondrial disease is related to autism, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

You can learn more about mitochondrial disease here and here

There are tons of activities this week, including walks, Light Up for Mito, and Stay in Bed Day. I am hoping to post a gallery of Light Up For Mito once the event is over, so check back! (You can follow the hashtag on Twitter as well.) A partial list of international activities can be found here

By passing this blog post on to other people, you are helping spread the word about a serious but poorly-known disease that millions of us live with every day. So please, post a link to Twitter, Facebook or other social media to do your part in raising awareness of this deadly condition!

The Calgary Tower lit for mito awareness in 2016. Sadly, I no longer have a clear view of the Tower from my rooftop. 

The Calgary Tower lit for mito awareness in 2016. Sadly, I no longer have a clear view of the Tower from my rooftop. 

Etsy's New Sales Tool - How It Impacts Search Results

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Etsy's new sales tool allows searchers to only view items on sale, and displays the item/order discount in the search results. 

Etsy's new sales tool allows searchers to only view items on sale, and displays the item/order discount in the search results. 

Etsy announced a new seller tool for running sales in your shop at the beginning of August. After some limited testing, it goes live to all buyers August 22. While some Etsy shop owners are excited about running sales from within the site instead of via outside tools such as Etsy on Sale, others are worried that these types of discounts cheapen handmade work in particular, and may create a buyer expectation of sale prices on Etsy. I think there are valid arguments on both sides, and the truth is, none of us can be sure how this will affect the marketplace in the long run. So I am going to skip most of the philosophy here, and only discuss how this affects Etsy search. 

A Search Filter for Sale Items 

When a seller chooses to run a sale in their shop, as of August 22 all listings included in the sale will show the sale price in green as either a strikethrough next to the new lower price, or as a percentage off the whole order if the sale applies to the entire shop. (See the screenshots above and below for examples.) The sale offer will also show on the listing page, above the item details on the right, with a link to all of the seller's other on-sale items. (NOTE: as of August 23, this link is not working, but Etsy is aware and is planning a fix.)

But this very visible discount signal is not the only way shoppers can find a deal. Anyone doing a search or browsing through categories will have the ability to filter the results to only include items on sale:

The filter on the left appears on both the search pages and the category pages. 

The filter on the left appears on both the search pages and the category pages. 

So if a shopper is bargain hunting and clicks the "on sale" filter, they will eliminate all articles that aren't discounted through an Etsy sale. They might end up missing very affordably-priced items, if a shop just has everyday low prices and does not use this new tool for markdowns. At the time I am writing this (August 21), most searches I sampled show 5-10% of listings offering an Etsy sale, so most buyers will have a decent number of choices available through this filter. 

Note also that all of the promoted listings (aka search ads) on search pages are also sale items when the filter is activated. This is a change from the usual Etsy practice of showing somewhat irrelevant items when a filter is selected. At this time, filters such as colour are not reflected in the promoted listings, but this could be a sign that Etsy will be changing how promoted listings interact with filters in the future. 

HOW WILL THIS AFFECT SEARCH RANKINGS? 

As always, it will be hard to evaluate this new part of search until it has been working for a while, at least a month in most cases. This one will be particularly difficult, because a shop would have to run sales then stop them at least a few times to compare whether or not it affects their search hits - and a lot of shops have zero interest in running any sales. (I took some of my clearance items and converted them to an Etsy sale to test the tool and filter, but Etsy sales can only run for 30 days, so this is not a good long-term option at the moment.) Those of us running sales will probably not be able to track how much effect the filter had on getting a search click, as the filter does not appear to show up in Google Analytics at this time. Any increased search clicks could potentially be from the sale price, the green sale indicators on the listing, or the filter. We won't have any way of knowing. 

Clearly, if a lot of buyers use the filter, this could affect search views and overall sales for many shops. Traditionally, though, most customers do not use filters, and filters don't currently exist on Etsy's mobile format; mobile plus the app brought Etsy 65% of visits in the last quarter. Many people don't update apps very often, so even if Etsy adds the on-sale filter to the app immediately, it will take a long time to trickle down to most users. Also, you can't see filters on the app unless you click a link, which likely further reduces their use. Still, the green sale indication will be visible to everyone, and that alone could affect buyer behaviour when viewing search results. 

Each listing on sale will have the green markdown test on the right hand side, along with a link to all other sale items from that seller, so the effects may go beyond what is seen in search. 

Each listing on sale will have the green markdown test on the right hand side, along with a link to all other sale items from that seller, so the effects may go beyond what is seen in search. 

Running a sale is not a factor in the search algorithm at this time, and I doubt they would add it overtly in the future. However, if more people click on, favourite and buy items on sale, with or without the filter, those items will usually rise in the search rankings. That can also affect impressions on promoted listings. Also, since promoted listings are included in the filter, some sellers may choose to run ads to promote their sales when they wouldn't otherwise pay for advertising. That would drive up competition for ad impressions. 

Etsy will be promoting a Labour Day sale August 31 to September 4, with "a temporary shopping page displaying items discounted between 10% and 60% off. Buyers will be able to search and filter items on the shopping page by category and price point. We’ll be driving traffic to the page through marketing emails, site banners, social media, and Etsy’s homepage."

At this time, it is not clear how the special shopping page will work, or how many items will be featured, but this could clearly drive substantial traffic to any featured sellers. Often, these types of Etsy promotions have links to search results, potentially giving a greater number of shops some decent exposure. If this is anything other than a massive failure, I expect they will run similar sales for other events during the year, including Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

Again, this is all speculation right now. We know that some Etsy buyers are not there for the bargains, and they are not likely to be swayed by a 10% off sign. Anyone looking for something very specific will often need to look at the whole site to find it, and not just the small percentage of items on sale at any given time, so sellers who do not use this tool will still have lots of customers available. But shops in very competitive fields, and especially those selling substantially similar items (such as commercial supplies) will probably feel the impact, at least a bit. 

Other Search Updates - still lots of testing

Since my last update, there haven't really been any permanent changes to Etsy search. There have been so many tests, most still ongoing, that it is impossible to update them all here; see my article from late June for more details. When any changes become permanent, I will post about them here on my blog, or on my Google + page in my SEO collection. 

One potential change I am tracking involves some new additions to regionalization of search. Etsy has updated their search help page with the following info: "Many buyers from the EU, Australia, and Canada have told us that they like purchasing from sellers based in their own countries or neighboring countries." The "neighbouring countries" part is new, as is the general "EU" statement (as opposed to specific named countries). Right now, Etsy appears to be testing various versions of this update within EU countries, but with the numerous other search tests happening, I am having trouble separating out any potential permanent changes. Look for more info from me soon! 

UPDATED August 23, 2017

Etsy Search May-June 2017: Few Algorithm Changes, But Lots of Tests

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The Etsy jewellery filter test originally wasn't using the colour attributes we have been painstakingly applying - makes perfect sense, right? 

The Etsy jewellery filter test originally wasn't using the colour attributes we have been painstakingly applying - makes perfect sense, right? 

 

Everything You Need to Know About the Last Few Months in Etsy Search

If you are like most people, you are having a bit of trouble keeping up with everything on Etsy these days, with both big changes and small dominating sellers’ focus in the Etsy forum and on social media. So, out of all of the recent developments, what do you need to know about search?

While there is a lot going on with Etsy search right now, there have been very few permanent changes made, so I have avoided drawing up a summary until now, but there is just so much happening that I thought people might appreciate the highlights in one place.

 

Regionalization/Localization: Two More Countries Added

This is the only area where Etsy has made an official and permanent change in the past few months, adding Canada and the Netherlands to the short list of countries that have localized search, meaning that people with their search filters set to “ship to” those countries will see items that ship from those countries rank higher in searches, especially in large searches.  

During the testing in March and April, I also saw tests for Italy and Spain, but at the moment, those countries are not localized, nor have I seen any reports of any further testing in other areas. Only four other countries are currently localized: Australia, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. See more about how regionalization works in my older blog post from when they first started doing this.

Note that Etsy did not announce this change, but instead simply buried it in their Help file as if it had always been true. This change also applies to categories, and I recently noticed that Market pages - collections of "popular" items you see when you click on a tag - are localized now as well. Since those pages rank well on Google, a large chunk of Etsy's search engine traffic comes through Market pages. Clearly, Etsy feels they will get more sales overall if new customers land on pages featuring items that ship from their country.

What you need to know - This may be a small help to sellers in those countries, as they will gain move visibility in searches within their country. The continued expansion of this program is problematic for all sellers, though, as it does limit their visibility in large searches in the six affected countries. (Note that search ads are not localized, however, and US search is not localized, so any drop in sales from search ads or the US must be due to other factors.)

This will likely only have a large effect on sellers in other places if they usually get a lot of sales from a regionalized countries. Remember, the key to getting around this is to make sure you are optimized for many smaller, niche searches, where this factor has a negligible effect. If your SEO strategy is to rank in big generic searches, this could hurt you more than the average seller. 

 

Attributes on Etsy: Still Partially in Limbo

At this time, only the Colour & Occasion attributes are fully searchable on the main site, with some of the Holiday attributes also included. 

At this time, only the Colour & Occasion attributes are fully searchable on the main site, with some of the Holiday attributes also included. 

As of this writing, only some of the standardized attributes - Occasion, Holiday & Colour - are searchable on Etsy, and none are filterable yet. All pre-set Colour attributes, and all Occasion attributes are showing up in search on PC and mobile, but not on the Etsy app. Only some of the Holiday attributes are currently searchable, including Christmas, but certain ones such as Father's Day and Valentine's Day are not yet included across the site. I am still waiting to hear back from Etsy on why this is happening. (It is possible some are included in tests at this time, but I haven't seen any.) Custom colours and other custom variations are not yet searchable across the site. 

The attributes that are currently searchable are getting very little weight in the algorithm. While removing them does drop some of my listings a bit in searches where the attribute is included in the keywords entered, other searches show no changes at all. This is markedly different from the early testing, where attributes received a lot of weight, even more than tags in some cases. Their main effect at the moment will be to add keywords that were not already in the titles and tags, but that weighting may change in the future, of course. 

Etsy staff have stated that these attributes will also be used as filters, but at this time, only a few tests are making use of attributes. See below for more details on the various filter tests Etsy is doing at the moment. 

What you need to know - Everything is still being tested or still hasn't rolled out, so I can't make many recommendations here. Colours, holidays and occasions can add additional search terms to your listing right now, so I still suggest using them where they apply. Also, beware that Etsy is still adding them to some listings, especially for sellers who have not started adding attributes at all, and sometimes they are not correct. So check your listings! 

 

Etsy Studio Search: Dead on Arrival?

Etsy Studio launched at the end of April, with very few changes from the sneak preview; I haven't seen many changes since, either. Search is still not localized, even though the Help file says it is. Most attributes are used as filters but are not included in the search; custom variations are not included at all, other than on the listing itself.  

Recent Etsy cutbacks have put the long term plans for Studio in limbo, it would appear; while CEO Josh Silverman said the "the craft marketplace is a great marketplace for us", Etsy has recalled staff from this project to work on the main site at this time. Etsy will assess all branches of the company in the coming months; it is unclear if any new Studio development will happen in that time frame. 

What you need to know - Nothing at the moment, but stay tuned for further developments. You may end up reading them on the financial pages first. 

 

Jewellery Filter Test: More Work To Do, More Nonsensical Results

In late April, some shoppers were greeted with multiple additional filters down the left side of the page (as shown in the screenshot at the top of this post). Options include colour, material, and gemstone type. The announcement stated:

"Our goal is to learn more about the types of filters that are most useful to shoppers so that they can easily find the items they’re looking for and ultimately make more purchases. We also want to ensure that we’re creating the most relevant attributes for your items to save you time."
No one has any clue what Etsy is doing with these search filters. 

No one has any clue what Etsy is doing with these search filters. 

However, initially Etsy was not using attributes to populate these filters (that changed at the end of last week), and many listings that have relevant terms in their titles and/or tags are also excluded from the filtered results. Having the filtered term in title or tags can help you show up in these filtered searches, but it is not guaranteed. This led to a lot of confusion from members, some of whom took these search results as proof that adding attributes was an exercise in futility. So why was Etsy not using the attributes that they insisted we spend hours applying (without a bulk editor) so that we could show up in filtered searches in the future? An even better question - why not run this test before introducing attributes for us to add to our items? Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe they only recently noticed that sellers' time is valuable to us. 

But my best guess is that there are multiple factions within Etsy working on search, and there is no one game plan guiding everyone right now. The purchase of the search firm Blackbird Technologies may have led to this problem, at least in part, as it occurred more than a month after Etsy began testing the new attributes on a prototype team. They seem to have developed most of the categories and options for filters before Blackbird's machine learning/artificial intelligence (AI) was available to start trying to make sense of the 45+ million listings on Etsy. I can't think of any other reason they would not run this jewellery test first, to better determine what filters might work, before we did all of the work applying them one by one. 

Part of the problem might be that most sellers have not applied attributes to their listings, and Etsy therefore needs another way to make sure that the majority of listings will be included in any filters it sets up in the future. That problem likely would not exist if we had a bulk editor to apply attributes and variations! But it appears they are also trying to let the AI learn from the search, which probably means they would also need to look beyond attributes for data to feed the AI, even if everyone updated their attributes. So far, I haven't seen any evidence the AI has learned much. 

Also, there is another significant problem with these filters - they are sticky if you try to narrow down your search further, and you can't always remove them. That's another issue I am waiting for Etsy to address. [UPDATE: this does appear to be fixed now.]

What you need to know - We don't know what we need to know here. This test has been going on for two months now, which is a long time for an Etsy experiment. It may be more about getting data for the AI than it is about finding out what will make searchers buy more. Whatever happens, expect this to change in some way before the holiday season. Either they will be adding more filters permanently, or they will at least make the existing attributes more prominent in search. Or not. 

 

The optional attributes for lamps, in the new Home and Living Category filter test

The optional attributes for lamps, in the new Home and Living Category filter test

Home and Living Test: Even More Work 

Disappointed that jewellery sellers are getting to have all the attribute fun? No worries - Etsy has started another filter test, this one using the Home and Living category. In this experiment, not only are they drawing on titles and tags to populate the attributes, they are also asking sellers to add new attributes to their listings - right after most just got finished adding the first set. The screenshot on the right shows the new options for lamps, but many different sub-categories also have the recently-added attributes. Most items will at least have the Room option, for example, if it is not already evident from the sub-category. Style, Material, and Recipient are other common fields. Most items also have the standard Colour, Occasion and Holiday drop downs available on almost all other types of listings. 

As with most Etsy tests, not every visitor will see these filter options when searching. Similar to the jewellery test, items are showing up in filtered results somewhat randomly, with many items being excluded from the search once filters are applied. Part of the problem is that Etsy's software is not yet sophisticated enough to pull accurate information from each listing to fill out the attributes, or trigger the filters. Shop owners reported multiple instances of Etsy automatically filling out the attributes for sellers, and doing it incorrectly. Etsy needs to find other ways to use machine learning in search; altering sellers' listings without our permission should not be an option. 

What you need to know - This test can be affecting your visibility at the moment, even though not all visitors will see it, so I suggest adding attributes where they apply, but don't spend hours doing this and nothing else, because who knows what Etsy will change next? I fear this is all going to get worse before it gets better. They don't seem to be anywhere close to done with attribute development, so I would not be surprised to see several more tests, and more sets of attributes added to the listing process. We can only hope that they are working on a bulk editing tool for attributes as well. 

 

Similar Items in Search Results - Another Type of Filter

When the "See Similar Items" link is combined with the review rating & totals on the search results page, it is far less noticeable

When the "See Similar Items" link is combined with the review rating & totals on the search results page, it is far less noticeable

One of the latest search experiments is the addition of a "similar items" link under each listing shown. The screenshot on the left shows this test combined with a different search experiment where a shop's review rating and feedback total is shown, so the link is quite small and not very prominent. If you have the regular search layout, the "similar items" link there is a bit larger and is much more likely to be clicked, in my opinion. 

If you click on the "see" link, you get the page shown below: the original product you clicked on is off to the left, with 5 pages of new items mostly not included in the original search filling the rest of the page. Note that there are no ads on the page, and no review ratings. 

My example used the query "coprolite pendant", and many of the products on page one do include coprolite, but those quickly dwindle as more related products are shown: other fossils, dinosaur items that are not jewellery, dung items that are not fossilized, etc., right down to a vintage science textbook that seems to have been selected because it could be a science-themed gift. Of the 40 items on page one, only seven (17.5%) are coprolite pendants or necklaces, and that percentage decreases on subsequent pages. For a less niche search, however, the algorithm can show more items that are a direct match. 

The "similar items" page includes very few items from the original search, and rarely includes many items from the original seller.

The "similar items" page includes very few items from the original search, and rarely includes many items from the original seller.

This is the same similar items algorithm that picks some personalized listings on your account home page, as well as similar items in Etsy Finds emails, and on the top of listing pages clicked from off site. It was previously used to show similar items on the old Browse and Trending pages. In fact, the layout of the "similar items" page shown above has not been changed for years, which makes me think it will change in the future - perhaps to include ads? - if this test becomes permanent. Note also that the similar items will be the same if you look up that listing using a different search, so they are generated by the listing itself, not the search query. 

When it started, this test link was also shown on promoted listings, but Etsy removed it after numerous complaints. 

What you need to know - There is not much you can do about this particular experiment, other than the usual: list great items with awesome photos. I expect that this algorithm will change as Etsy continues to let machine learning processes make decisions about search; this exercise is probably testing the layout more than it is assessing the quality of the similar items.  

 

Auto-Correct - Causing More Confusion Than Typos

Finally, you may already be aware of a series of search changes and some tests first announced last fall: automatic correction of typos and misspellings in search queries. While in most cases customers will still see a link to their original search if Etsy does not display it initially, there have been examples of results reverting to Etsy's auto-corrected version on page 2, and many issues with words being changed in the search bar with no ability to keep the initial entry. These test bugs are being reported, but most take an inordinate amount of time to be solved, if that even happens. 

What you need to know - Be aware that some users may not be able to find your niche items, if they involve unusual words that could be auto-corrected by Etsy by mistake. There is not much you can do to counter this beyond filing frequent and persistent Bugs reports when you encounter these problems.  

 

What's Next for Etsy Search? 

Wouldn't we all like to know? If they decide to continue with attributes, we should expect more categories to get new options, but I otherwise can't predict much here. It may be several months before we know more about how Etsy's new direction will affect search. With the change in leadership and massive layoffs (22% of staff are being cut), any and all plans seem to be up for possible cancellation at this time. We've been expecting major search changes this year, based on the plans for attributes and filters as well as the comment last fall that Etsy would like to make the average listing title more Google-friendly, but Etsy's current focus is a rapid improvement in the main site's sales as well as in company profit. This could mean more short-term initiatives instead of major retooling - it is very hard to predict the next move. And if the swirling rumours about an imminent sale come true, new owners could again transform the company game plan. 

Remember, increasing sales across the site does not usually mean that everyone's sales will improve. Generally, any change will have some winners and some losers, and Etsy won't play favourites if it sees a way to boost Etsy revenue. So while my blog posts tend to focus on Etsy search topics, this would be a good time to keep an eye on all Etsy developments, including testing other items at the top of your listing page when found outside Etsy, making purchases look less risky, and highlighting estimated delivery times, among many other experiments. Expect more of the same in the next few months.

And make sure you don't miss any crucial Etsy search updates - sign up to get all of my blog posts by email here

Have any questions on this latest update, or any tests you have noticed that you would like to share? Please add a comment below, or send me an email! You can also contact me at my SEO shop on Etsy.

Updated July 20, 2017

Etsy Studio Sneak Peek - What the New Supply Site Will Look Like

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A screenshot of the drop down menu on every page; note that DIY tutorials are included on the right. 

A screenshot of the drop down menu on every page; note that DIY tutorials are included on the right. 

On Thursday, supply sellers finally got to look at Etsy's new DIY and supply website, Etsy Studio. The site will not be live until late April, but Etsy sent out invitation emails to anyone who has sold a supply item in 2017, giving them a chance to look at the whole venture. While there are likely to be several changes before launch, and (everyone hopes) the bugs will be ironed out by then, I thought I would do a quick overview now, especially for those of you who don't have access yet. If I don't cover what you want to know, please leave a question in the comments, or send me a message. 

Not familiar with Etsy Studio yet? Check out the FAQs, and my previous blog post

Etsy Studio's Search Seems To Be the Same Algorithm as Etsy's

For the moment anyway, the search results seem to be ranked the same on both sites, with the usual slight shuffling by a row or two. Etsy even states that the basic rules are mostly the same. (Find out more about how regular Etsy search works here.) I tested both small and large search results by comparing Studio to the same query on Etsy, filtered by the Craft Supply category. In a few cases, there seem to be a small number of listings missing from Studio, possibly because the results on Studio are not completely up to date. (There are some indications that very recent changes to listings are not always included on Studio, which may be a glitch, as they are still in beta.)

13 different filter choices for a "sterling silver chain" search, including "chain style" and "theme". 

13 different filter choices for a "sterling silver chain" search, including "chain style" and "theme". 

Although ranking is mostly the same now, the Studio algorithm will diverge from the main Etsy one eventually. Reviews for individual listings will be a factor for Studio's search (unlike on Etsy where only the overall shop review score is used), and the lack of ability to favourite an item will also change rankings between the two sites. It also is unlikely that listings on both sites will have the same quality scores when the two venues will have different search filters and top-level drop down categories. But at the moment, we just don't know how much rankings will change over time. 

All of the new attributes are available as search filters on the left of the search results page, meaning that buyers can limit their results to items with specific attributes selected by the seller. Some of these will be added to listings by Etsy automatically, but there have been many errors, so make sure to check all of your listings for attribute accuracy as soon as you can. And yes, that is a filter for free shipping, right at the top. 

Studio search results do not show shop names under the items, and you cannot search for a shop on Studio the same way you can on Etsy. The exception is people who have tagged their shop names, which is a wasted tag on Etsy but works on Studio. It does appear that Etsy is de-branding individual sellers on the Studio platform (see more analysis below). 

Note that search ads are included on Studio, and as on Etsy, they don't get filtered out by a buyer's choices. So listings without free shipping will be shown as ads in a "free shipping" search, and listings that only ship to the US will be shown as ads when a customer only wants to see things that ship to Australia. Etsy says that search on Studio will be localized for the same four countries as on Etsy, but this time, I could not find any regionalized searches by changing the "ships to" filter. It is possible that shoppers in Australia, Germany, France and the UK will see different rankings on Studio by Etsy applying these changes directly instead of letting us control them through filters, meaning that all people in those countries will only be able to see regionalized results. (Currently, you can change results for those countries on Etsy by changing the "ships to" filter.) That will be another interesting area to watch once the new site launches. 

Shop Home Page On Studio

The new shop home page layouts are sparse, but do include many elements from Etsy shops, as well as some new twists just for Studio. In general, shops look less individual, although shop icon and feedback ratings will appear on the new site.  

Your Etsy Studio Shop Home Page - banner free, and sorted by relevance. 

Your Etsy Studio Shop Home Page - banner free, and sorted by relevance. 

Experienced members will immediately notice the lack of a banner or cover photo on the shop home page. There is a fair amount of white space up top, with the shop icon, location, review average and total sales figure all pushed to the far left. The shop's About Page and Policies do stay the same as on Etsy, although Etsy's cookie-cutter policies are showing up in some shops at the moment; admin reassured sellers that this is a bug

Clicking on each row shows all of the reviews with that star rating

Clicking on each row shows all of the reviews with that star rating

There are no shop sections written by the seller; instead, the left side shows all of the site categories the shop's items are found in, as well several filters one can use to narrow down the shop: price, free shipping and "themes" included. Also missing is any way for the seller to arrange their products. The default appearance is "relevance", based on the search algorithm, but shoppers can also choose most recent and high or low prices as the order. 

Clicking on both the review stars and the "Reviews" link on the top menu is a surprise: it reveals the shop's most recent feedback, as well as the percentage of reviews for each star rating. Buyers can click on "1 star" and see all of the one-star reviews, similar to the set up on eBay. Seller replies are not included on Studio, meaning there is no context for bad reviews, which is frustrating for many shop owners. Only 10 reviews are shown per page (same as on Etsy), making it tedious for a customer to read all of the low-star feedback comments. That might be a good thing for any sellers hoping to keep old and bad feedback buried, however. 

Listings for Sale: More Homogenization 

Sellers unhappy about the de-branding of their shops on Etsy Studio will also be dismayed to see numerous other items for sale from other sellers on each listing. The top of each product page shows the title and photos, with the first part of the description visible on desktop, and variations (where applicable) on the right. Immediately under the partial description is a row of items "You might also like", with 6 items showing, and quite a few more available when you scroll to the side. Here, the similar items algorithm is working poorly (as it usually is, in my opinion) - on a listing for a finished sterling silver chain, this well-positioned row of products is offering unfinished chain, connectors and jump rings. A sterling clasp shows shoppers a choice of henna cones, a wooden storage box, and loom parts. Other articles show almost identical products on the same page, though, so this is something I hope they can figure out in the next month, as it almost seems random for some listings.  

Using Etsy's prewritten policies adds this message to each listing

Using Etsy's prewritten policies adds this message to each listing

Below that, a Studio product page shows up to five separate reviews for that particular item, with a link to see every review ever left for that item. Unlike Etsy, a Studio page will show reviews older than 12 months old on the product. Beneath come more articles from that shop, the shipping profile, and the shop's policies. Then Studio displays another row of items from other sellers, this one entitled "You might also need", once again fairly random things (on the various pages I checked). There is no indication that all of these items come from other sellers. 

While some of this cross-marketing is similar to the items shown on mobile when browsing Etsy, this goes much further, and is also visible on desktop. It is quite likely that Etsy intends to move further in this direction on the main site, possibly sooner rather than later. That is, if it leads to better sales per visitor on Studio.

One other note: sellers who use Etsy's canned policies will have "Returns and exchanges accepted; See this seller's return policy" on the right of each listing if they accept returns. Shop owners who have written their own policies will not see this notice on their items, even if they do take returns. 

The DIY Tutorials: Featured Items Sometimes not Available for Sale 

Do it yourself craft tutorials are a main selling point of Etsy Studio. Instead of being hidden on the blog, as they are on Etsy, these tutorials are featured in the drop down menu on each page, and the section also has its own link on the right end of the drop downs (see "Projects" in the first screenshot). They are not currently shown directly in shops or on search pages. Each Project features a difficulty rating, and many step-by-step photographs of the process. 

Etsy staff have made a big deal out of the fact you can buy the materials and tools needed for each tutorial by clicking just once to add everything to your basket (cart). Sounds great to some people, but in practice, this is kind of a mess right now. I tried this with a few different Projects, and found articles that were sold out, didn't ship to Canada, or were showing as unavailable because the seller updated variations on the listing after Etsy added the item to the tutorial. While there are supposed to be several alternative items for each product that is added to your basket, some listings shown are not a good match, and in a few instances, the area was blank. If Etsy expects buyers to use this feature, it is going to need massive improvement. 

How are these featured listings chosen? No one is sure, but I was surprised to see items with low quantities (some things had only one available), sold by shops that had relatively few sales, featured on some Projects. I am not sure if staff will be contacting shops to let them know about the features before Studio goes live, or if they will require higher quantities available on simple beginner projects that could potentially have more demand. Other featured products came from very large shops with tens of thousands of sales and had a large number for sale, so there doesn't seem to be many rules as to whose shop can appear on a Project.  

Final Thoughts - What Does Etsy's Future Look Like Now? 

Like many observers, I am speculating that some of the more controversial aspects (to sellers, anyway) of Studio will be popping up on the main site in the near future. We know they plan on adding more filters using the new attribute system, but I will not be surprised if more changes, such as more listings from other shops on product pages, and a removal of seller names from search, are right around the bend. I am fully convinced we should consider Etsy Studio as a test zone for Etsy proper, at least in part. That doesn't mean everything from Studio will show up on Etsy later, though. 

If Studio is a success, Etsy may decide to remove all supplies from the main site at some point; even though they say they have no immediate plans to do this, it is clear that the option is on the table. It is hard to predict how well this option could work, since many of us have mixed shops with some supplies and some finished products, or some pure vintage. I don't feel this is automatically what the future holds for supply sellers. However, I do expect Etsy will do no promotion, & perhaps no advertising, for supply items on Etsy proper in the future, once Studio is running smoothly; funnelling that effort to the separate site makes more business sense for them. Therefore, Studio could dramatically change sales for some supply shops, with the featured items, free shipping filters and less-branded home pages. Many supply shops rely on a large number of repeat buyers, but it may be harder to keep your own buyers with so many generic features. So if you make a living on supplies, make sure you are funnelling your repeat customers to your own website. Do not rely on your Etsy traffic to stay consistent. 

***UPDATED: May 20th, 2017

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