News: Etsy Encourages Sellers to Offer Free Shipping

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Heads up: changes are coming for Etsy sellers this month. In a recent announcement, Etsy is going to start favoring listings that offer free shipping on orders over $35. I’ve broken down the announcement into what you really need to know.

What You Need to Know: Etsy Wants You to Offer Free Shipping

  • These policies take effect July 30th, 2019.
  • Products that ship free and shops that guarantee free shipping to buyers in the US on orders $35 and above will get priority placement in US search results. This is extremely important for sellers. This means that Etsy is adjusting their search algorithm to favor those with free shipping. Unfortunately, if you don’t go along with the changes, your shop likely won’t get the same traffic it currently gets from Etsy’s search engine.
  • US shoppers will primarily see items that ship free and shops that offer free shipping on orders of $35 in the top, most visible rows of search.
  • Shops that offer free shipping on orders over $35 will be more likely to be seen in Etsy’s official email, social media, and tv marketing.
  • A new, smart pricing tool will be available for shop owners soon to allow you to guarantee free shipping for orders more than $35. Included in this tool is a bulk editing tool to edit listings.
  • There won’t be any changes to how free shipping affects search placement for buyers outside the US. This is important because if most of your business is from outside the US, I’d ignore these changes. Additionally, Etsy notes that they know sellers need a way to offer different shipping prices to US versus international customers. They are working on it.
  • In September, Etsy will begin advertising to customers that many items ship for free on Etsy.

Does this mean you’ll have to pay for shipping on your orders?

Absolutely not. This just means that you need to start including the cost of shipping in the product price if you want to have a chance at a higher search engine result placement on Etsy. If you generate a lot of your own traffic and don’t care about search engine placement on Etsy – then don’t do anything. You will need to realize though that a lot of customers will favor the shops that do offer free shipping.

So, if you’ve previously listed a product for sale for $10 with $4 shipping, you’ll now list the product for $14 with free shipping. Unfortunately, if you sell heavy products – this news isn’t good for you – because raising your prices to include shipping might make you too expensive to compete.

Estimating shipping costs can be difficult because each location has a different cost. Here’s what I would do: Weigh your item and use a shipping calculator to estimate the cost using a zip code far away from the origin zip code. For example, since I’m in Florida, I would estimate my shipping cost to a zip code in Washington state. Find out more about estimating shipping in this post.

I’ll let you know when the new tool is launched. In the meantime, start figuring out your shipping costs per product.

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8 thoughts on “News: Etsy Encourages Sellers to Offer Free Shipping”

  1. I make and sell heavy handmade items on Etsy. I’m really disappointed in this change. Etsy was supposed to be a platform that was “different” from other online shopping experiences. Now they are trying to be like everyone else. Only problem is, they aren’t. People “pay” for “free” shipping on Amazon through the Prime membership. Large ecommerce platforms (including Amazon) have negotiated lower shipping cost agreements, Etsy has not. To hide the cost of shipping in the price of my items is deceptive. Additionally in some cases it will double the cost of my items. Plus shipping to a region close to me does not cost as much as shipping to a region further. Should my closer customers have to pay the same to have the item shipped to them? I think that customers are smarter than this. Yes they may WANT free shipping, but I think they also EXPECT to pay for shipping and know that the cost is paid somewhere. What they really want is a good deal. A quality product and a fair price. This is really going to hurt small businesses that ship larger/heavier items. Especially those of us that don’t have enough business to support a Shopify site or our own websites. I will not deceive my customers by hiding the shipping costs. I have too much respect for my customers. I know it will make it difficult for me to show up in search results, if at all, and my traffic will decrease. So I’ll be paying more for marketing. But to allow my customers to decide to make their purchase based on an honest transaction, with shipping selections, is more important to me.

  2. I’m so disappointed in this change . As a small business, it’s hard to “hide” shipping & way to hard to compete with larger companies . Etsy has been frustrating me lately and this just topped it off . To favor shops with free shipping is unfair . Let the customers find products as they always have & if someone offers free shipping on same product it’s up to customer to decide – not Etsy to priority placement. The rich bigger companies get richer – while smaller family businesses get lost in search .

  3. A thought from a customer: I’m not an Etsy seller, just a customer. Now that Etsy is plainly coercing its sellers to lie to their customers about shipping costs, customers can no longer know which Etsy sellers are charging shipping by including shipping in the product prices while claiming that they aren’t charging for shipping. Therefore, I’m sorry to say that I won’t be buying anything from any Etsy seller until and unless Etsy permanently retracts this policy.

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