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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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