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Answering your questions, #2

Dec 23, 2009

by Rokali

Hello again. Here's another batch of questions. Before we jump in I'd like to say two things:

1. Site Features

I'm holding off on answering questions about specific site features for now. This issue deserves its own dedicated discussion, and we all know that words about features are much less useful than the features themselves. To make good here we need to actually LAUNCH stuff, not talk about it. That said, talking about it is helpful, both for ideas and to help us prioritize.

As for focusing on seller tools, this is vital. Our most important task is to build a real read/write API. If you use Twitter, you'll notice that there are hundreds of apps you can use — on other sites, on your Mac or PC, on your phone — to post an update to Twitter. These apps are all made possible because Twitter's API supports writing to their system.

Imagine having a dozen different item listing apps to choose from, made by developers around the world. Same goes for batch editing tools. (Please note this is not to say that we don't want these features on the website proper — this is important, too.) As I see it, the most important thing we can do to support seller-focused features is to have a fully-featured API.

2. Marketing

This, too, deserves its own dedicated discussion. There's a lot to think through. Amazon has shown the power of an affiliate program, and this is something we're considering. Think of it this way: If Etsy had $100,000 to spend on marketing, we could buy a handful of small ads in big publications, or we could split our 3.5% sales fee with people as an affiliate reward. We'd have to estimate how many sales this $100k would bring in from the ads, but as an affiliate incentive, that $100k (as half of 3.5%) would represent $5.7mm in sales.

Amazon and Facebook have shown it's possible to attract a massive number of people to a website, with little to no advertising. Has anyone ever seen a Facebook ad (outside of Facebook itself)? I'm not saying we should use this as some kind of excuse not to advertise. I'm saying that there are powerful ways to drive traffic and spread the word that don't involve buying ads. And as a business, it's our job to find the best use of our resources.

OK, now onto the questions.

– When will Etsy Hacks be PART of Etsy and not something I have to use FF for? It's kinda nuts to have to use one browser for Etsy and another for everything else. (goatmountainarts)

I admire Ian and what he's done with Etsy Hacks, and I'm glad he's now at Etsy. There will always (I hope) be add-ons for Etsy, built by outside developers, that run in the browser. That said, we definitely need to make a lot of the Etsy Hacks features native to the site. And we will. After we create the employee teams around specific areas of the site, each team will work with the community and amongst themselves to add these features.

– I'd like to know (am asking this for the fine art artists on etsy) if etsy is planning on doing more promotion of 'fine art' on etsy? Are the fine art artists going to have a more defined category and sub categories of art? (MysticSilks)

Yes, we'll be redoing all the category structures. We've spent a lot of time researching this. Etsy has also been talking with art schools and museums to help push this further, and Matt (who was heading this up) can speak more about it.

– I'd love to know what the heck rob means when he says Etsy isn't a retail oriented site but is a social one. How will that change the look and feel of Etsy? How will that change the brand? (OriginalHardware)

I opened up a can of worms with the term "social commerce," which I apologize for. This does not mean Etsy is going to turn into a social networking site like Facebook. We are a marketplace, and commerce will remain central to Etsy. But there are myriad lessons to be learned from understanding how engagement (social interaction) can boost commerce. After all, buying an item from someone, especially from the person who made it, often leads to conversations. (I'd actually say that buying an item is a conversation of its own.) A big part of product marketing, even by large corporations, is trying to make everything as personalized as possible. We are interested in the "social" half of "social commerce" insofar as it bolsters the "commerce."

– Will there be more open lines of communication with admin? More personalized answers rather than canned responses? (MNHPhotography)

Yes, yes, yes. We have a long way to go, but we're moving in this direction.

– Weekend Deals: Will Etsy still be trying to get us to do the SMARMY SAMMY'S USED CAR BLOWOUT EXTRAVAGANZA type of deals with free shipping, BOGO, and other stuff that simply isn't feasible for most of us? (peaseblossomstudio)

No, no, no. Weekend deals have been scrapped, you won't see them again.

And a couple of questions for fun:

– Who is your favorite Beatle? (Ozknits)

John.

– Will Jared be coming back?

http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6384692&page=6