Former Etsy seller, Alejandra Vega, found herself increasing the prices of her items to be able to cover the seller fees. Many potential buyers tried negotiating prices with her, which often led to the sale being moved to different platforms like Instagram. The fees along with the constant negotiations ultimately led to Vega closing her Etsy shop.
On April 11, Etsy raised their transaction fees from 5% to 6.5%, making sellers pay a total of 9.5% in transaction and payment fees from their revenue. When Etsy made their announcement of the increase, sellers formed a petition against it. Despite the petition’s 28,000 signatures, Etsy continued in enforcing the increase.
“I did increase prices back then to make up for the increase in fees, in my particular case it actually backfired so I decreased them again,” Yaira Rivera, who sells products based on book fandoms and K-pop, said. “I don’t think buyers realized the gymnastics sellers have had to do since 2020 when the pandemic hit.” She said with the rising cost of goods and shipping along with Etsy’s fees, “sellers have been eating most of those cost.”
Rivera, based in the Chicagoland area, has over 20,000 sales and a 5-star rating on the platform. Rivera said, “Have I thought about closing? Yes! It’s not what it used to be, I get why someone would opt to leave, you are putting more effort and time than before to get less sales.”
After the increase in fees, sellers like Rivera have yet to see how it benefits them. “They don’t help me personally, while they do some advertising off site, I rarely get sales from them,” she said. Etsy offers a paid plan that costs $10 a month for tools such as account customization and discounts on services like listing credits.
Vega would sell custom bags, canvases, and nails. On Etsy there were times when people asked Vega to lower her prices or attempted to negotiate. “That’s when I would send them to my Instagram, and we would talk there and do things outside of Etsy,” she said. “But sadly, not many had Instagram or had a PayPal account for example and only had a card which made it harder.”
Etsy also offers the option to put one’s shop on “vacation mode” instead of completely closing it down. Najiyah Abdur-Rahman opened her shop in May of 2020, selling resin keychains. As of right now her shop is on pause, but she hopes to begin selling again soon. “I decided to take a break from selling on Etsy because resin keychains are expensive to make and Etsy did take a large cut of my profits, so I was losing more money than making it,” she said.
Adbur-Rahman said it was already difficult for sellers to break even when the transaction fee was at 5%. “I think all of the fees Etsy charges [like the] listing fee, transaction fee, payment processing fee, etc. make it hard for us sellers to make a decent income on their platform,” she said. “I think these fees will continue to drive small businesses away from Etsy and towards more affordable selling platforms such as Depop or Shopify.”
In 2020, Etsy saw an increase in sellers during the COVID lockdowns. Even after the fee increase, people like Allen Nguyen are preparing to open their shops as new Etsy sellers. Nguyen is planning to sell 3D-printed plant pots and plant accessories. “Admittedly it’s somewhat discouraging. Obviously, I’d prefer if the fees were lower and I’d probably change my prices to reflect that.” he said.
Besides canceling the increased fees, the petition made by sellers also asks for a stricter system to weed out resellers, removing obstacles that restrict sellers from seeing their earnings, an end to the star seller program, and to allow all sellers to opt out of offsite ads.
Rivera has a personal list of things she would like to see from Etsy. “I would love if they included in-depth stats from our visitors/buyers and for their Etsy Ads [to have] the ability to set a selling in how much we are willing to spend per click, this was something we had before and they took it away,” she said. “Every other ads platform, TikTok, IG, Facebook, Google etc. all allow you to set your ad spend while Etsy makes that choice for you.”