If you haven’t heard the news . . . Etsy filed a form titled S-1 about their intent to become a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ stock exchange. (Everything an Etsy Seller Needs to Know About Etsy’s IPO)
I copied and pasted this HUGE financial disclosure form into my word processor and started reading it. As you can see below, it really is a BIG publication!
While reading this document, I took 5 pages of notes…There is a treasure trove of insight that can be turned into practical tips for Etsy sellers. (This type of insight is one benefit I really didn’t expect to see when the initial IPO rumors started coming out around the beginning of this year). I’ll take the increased information though – more open communication about the Etsy platform we sell on is not a bad thing!
Here are 3 BIG PICURE TRENDS the S-1 revealed about the post-IPO world of Etsy:
ONE – Get ready for an increase in traffic.
Etsy has been spending more money on advertising over the past few years. They hinted that they will do the same and expand to attract more buyers and sellers.
“Etsy sellers and Etsy buyers have been our best marketers, sharing their positive experiences with their own communities. Even so, we plan to increase our marketing spending on traditional and online media to increase awareness of our brand and attract additional members to our ecosystem.” – Page 5 Etsy’s Form S-1
Many years ago, I crunched the ROI on a Super Bowl ad for Etsy and it looked pretty favorable to me. Marketing Etsy is not my job, but I can’t help thinking about these things since I’m such an Etsy numbers nerd! In my opinion, spending money on advertising is a smart move for Etsy. I was surprised that the amount they currently spend was way more than I anticipated though.
We’re going to have increased visibility into how many customers and sellers there are on the site in the post IPO world. Growth has been the norm and putting more money toward traditional advertising will likely increase the traffic.
Not all this traffic will be distributed equally. Sellers that have their items at the top of the search will fare better results when more searches take place. More impressions = more views = more sales.
I’m glad Thrive Members have been focusing on helping their products to have every chance to move higher in the Etsy search results following statistically proven techniques I’ve been researching over the past 4 months. Good Etsy SEO pays dividends for your business (while I discovered that Etsy does not plan on paying dividends).
Increased traffic means little if you’re products can’t be found. Make sure you and your shop are positioned well for this opportunity and expect Etsy’s customer base to grow after the IPO.
TWO – Don’t forget to focus on your shop’s mobile presence.
“We launched our first mobile app in 2011, and we continue to enhance our mobile offerings. Mobile visits represented 41.3% of visits in 2013 and 53.2% of visits in 2014. Mobile GMS represented 29.5% of GMS in 2013 and 36.1% of GMS in 2014.” – Page 59 Etsy’s Form S-1 * (Note from Jason – GMS stands for Gross Merchandise Sales – how much money in sales Etsy sellers generated)
There are more traffic and sales coming from the Etsy mobile app. There are 3 ways to shop via the Etsy mobile app:
- The keyword search function (as discussed in point 1) where the customer types the keyword phrases that they want to view products related to. Good Etsy SEO matters on both desktop and mobile shopping!
- The personal feed and the customer’s favorites. (Both rely on getting more true organic favorites for your shop and your products). This article briefly starts to discuss a technique that Etsy sellers can start using. But note that this is just 1 out of 11 techniques I’ve identified . . . more to come here! Shop and product favorites matter!
- The category searches and browse functions. (This will likely be a topic I research soon for Thrive Members to make sure they have every advantage to improve their chances for being found via the category browse functions on mobile and desktop). Etsy admins have hinted in the forums that more category searches might be coming in the future.
Etsy’s recent changes in the taxonomy classifications with the new categories is a sign that they might be preparing to make even more changes in how shopping takes place on Etsy using categories. The dust is still settling from their most recent category change.
Etsy is not one to leave things where they are. They are a growing business – just like how what you did one year ago in your business might not work for you today. Times changes. Business realities change – you must adapt or be left behind. This is business. Business realities change. You must adapt as a business…it’s what businesses do if you want Etsy to be a small or large part of your revenue stream.
If you are a currently successful Etsy seller, you must stay nimble to keep up with the changes or you will lose your position and sales. If you are a start-up or new Etsy seller, each one of these changes is an opportunity to gain new ground by being a quick adapter. That’s why I do what I do – provide your Etsy shop tips, tools, and know-how to thrive.
When was the last time you looked at your Etsy shop from the mobile app? Make sure you aren’t ignoring this view . . . your customers aren’t.
THREE – Manufacturing is here to stay.
Etsy’s Chad Dickerson doubled down on Etsy’s manufacturing stance and addressed the concerns from Etsy sellers about the decision to allow small-scale manufacturing on Etsy in a letter within the S-1.
Etsy states there are 1,353,000 active sellers on Etsy. They also stated that:
“As of December 31, 2014, we had approved more than 3,000 Etsy shops for over 5,000 manufacturing partnerships. Much of this production is local: as of December 31, 2014, 86% of manufacturers partnering with Etsy sellers were located in the same country as the Etsy seller.” — Page 100 Etsy’s Form S-1
3,000 Etsy shops divided by 1,353,000 active sellers mean that about 2 out of 1,000 Etsy sellers are using an outside manufacturer. 998 out of 1,000 aren’t approved for use of outside manufacturing. Also, there is a lot of talk about “Chinese manufacturing” in the Etsy community. Is Etsy trying to comment on that point with the 86% statistic?
Look. . . I get it. I’m actually part of the camp that wished Etsy would have kept the “handmade” ethos instead of the “unique” ethos they are now quoting. But guess what? That is not my decision and I still think Etsy is a great platform for creative entrepreneurs to utilize for a large or small % of their revenue streams – both handmade and small-scale manufactured. I’m “getting over it” and “moving on” to face the realities of business today.
Note, that I don’t think Etsy should be the ONLY place you sell. Don’t place your business at such a risk! Generally, Etsy should be a part of your comprehensive online sales strategy. It might be 80% of your sales or 5% of your total sales, but it is still a good venue to create sales diversification and a quality revenue stream in your business.
I also read more commentary from Etsy about 3d printing and how they see this as a trend that is going to continue in the marketplace. Does 3d printing come into play for your business or could you be a leader and innovator in this space? …just something to think about.
Handmade is still a big part of Etsy and if you are a handmade artist you probably need to “sell and communicate that aspect of your business more often in today’s environment.” You can do this in your product descriptions, 4th or 5 product images, your about page, your welcome message, etc. If you’re competing solely on price in the handmade market, you’re going to have difficulties. You have to sell yourself and your processes and materials.
YOU have to connect with your potential customers or you are just another “big box retailer” in a rather small box.
What else can I say about manufacturing on Etsy? Like it or not, Etsy has revealed in the S-1 that it is an underutilized niche on Etsy right now (only 3,000 approved applications). Feel free to shake your head at me, but I’m just pointing out the game of numbers here . . . . 3,000 is not a lot of competition. Small scale manufacturing might not be for you, but at least take a few seconds to make sure this is a direction that you don’t want to consider for your business.
Feel free to “crucify me” on my comments in the above paragraph…I already told you I’m not a fan of the manufacturing, though I have accepted the new reality and am “moving on”. I anticipate this manufacturing niche to continue to grow in the future. Handmade will need to differentiate. Unique will need to differentiate.
FYI – Most Thrive Members are individuals that are the only person that is working in their businesses. I also know of some Thrive Members that have employees or assistants working for them. I have also done personal consulting for a seller that uses an outside manufacturer within their state and sells on Etsy. My tag line has always been “helping your Etsy shop thrive.” – I’m going to continue doing that with excellence. I am not the “police officer” of what “really should be sold on Etsy”. I am a professional that helps people that are serious about increasing their sales on Etsy. If “it” can be sold on Etsy – I can help more of “it” be sold on Etsy – either handmade or manufactured products.
For most creative businesses, I think Etsy is a great place to build and maintain a revenue stream for your business. It is a good place to especially start selling online for a creative business. If Etsy is not a selling platform of your business (or you find it impossible to look past Etsy’s manufacturing position) – it doesn’t make much sense to complain about it on a website called “Etsy-preneurship” that is “for Etsy sellers”. Yes, my tips will also cover non-Etsy business topics, but I do have a focus on Etsy tips.
Etsy is an opportunity. Seize it or leave it.
BONUS – What is Etsy going to do with the money from the stock sales?
Etsy gave no promises, but they did drop some hints about how they might use the funds. This included:
- $300,000 for Etsy.org
“Consistent with our values and our mission, we also intend to use $300,000 of the proceeds of this offering to partially fund Etsy.org, a Delaware non-profit organization that we formed in January 2015. Etsy.org will be dedicated to educating women and other under-represented entrepreneurial populations and empowering them to build businesses that regenerate communities and the planet.” – Page 48 Etsy’s Form S-1
- Build out new corporate headquarters
— Jason Malinak (@etsypreneurship) January 26, 2015
- Acquire other businesses
“In addition, we may use a portion of the net proceeds received by us from this offering for acquisitions of other complementary businesses, technologies or other assets. However, we have no current understandings, agreements or commitments for any specific material acquisitions at this time.” – Page 48 Etsy’s Form S-1
Closing Thoughts from Jason This was only about 5% of the notes I took from my reading of the Form S-1. I’ve got a couple of other articles on this topic coming down the blog pipeline soon, but I want to let you know that some of the tips I’ve discovered here I’m only going to be providing to those on my email list. You can sign up and get lots of Etsy tip freebies in the process too! (FYI – I send out an email 2-4 times per month and try to keep you up to date with the core information you need to help your Etsy shop thrive!) Regards, Jason Malinak CPA of Etsy-preneurship.com
P.S. – Here is a cool story I recently shared on Facebook…