Etsy News Blog

Talking Product with Etsy’s VP of Product Sara Hicks

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Hi friends,

Following up on the latest installment of Talking Shop with Maria Thomas, I wanted to provide a few operational updates from the Product Team here at Etsy.

We are excited to talk about what we’ve accomplished so far in 2009 and provide a glimpse into the priorities for the rest of the first quarter of the year (Q1) and into the second quarter of the year (Q2). Consider this the start of an ongoing series of regular updates.

So, what have we accomplished in the last few months?

  • In February we introduced the Etsy Developer Community in beta form. We believe the full launch of Etsy’s API will unleash pent-up creativity and many new exciting applications for Etsy sellers and buyers.

  • We also rolled out three viral marketing tools:
    • The first is a “Bookmark and share” feature, which is available on every item listing page, shop page and blog posting. This feature allows you to quickly and seamlessly share your Etsy discoveries on sites like Facebook and Twitter.
    • We also updated the Etsy Shop application on Facebook. The Etsy Shop Facebook application is similar to the Etsy mini but it’s specifically for Facebook. More and more buyers and sellers are using Facebook to spread the word about Etsy items and events.

    • In early December we made some relatively small but important improvements to the RSS “feeds” available from Etsy. Shop feeds now contain thumbnail images, are available on every item listing page and come pre-formatted for easy upload to Google Base. Scheduling item uploads to Google Base is a great way for sellers to help Google — specifically Google Product Search — find their items. Shoppers will then be able to find sellers’ items via the ‘Shopping’ link on the upper left of any Google search page.

  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, starting in November and December, you should have noticed speed improvements when searching on Etsy and across the whole site. My colleague, Chad Dickerson, posted a technology update that has more detail on some of these improvements.

And, here are a few items we said we were going to deliver but, for various reasons, we opted to defer for the time being. We haven’t abandoned these items completely, but we have shifted some priorities. When we have further details on timing for these important initiatives I’ll be sure to let you know.

  • We have not yet introduced new tools for Etsy Teams as Maria outlined in her November 2008 Talking Shop article. This is something we know is important and intend to provide, but as Matt Stinchcomb recently explained in an Etsy Teams Virtual Lab, we have a few more urgent priorities in front of us first (I’ll mention those in a minute).

  • We did not roll out the Super Etsy Mini as described in Matt’s holiday marketing plan post. We realized that the Super Etsy Mini was probably trying to do too much, so we’ve gone back to the drawing board and are working on a broader “widget” development plan.

Now, where are we headed? As Maria said in her post, “2009 is a time to keep our heads down, replenish the soil, and focus on making better the basic elements of the site.” Here are some further details on our top priorities going into the second quarter of the year:

Search

Search is our top priority for 2009. We understand that Search is vital to your business and though we expect to make changes throughout the year, we won’t launch any surprises. We will test, preview, and communicate before we make significant alterations to Search. This week, Product Manager Sean Flannagan posted an article about our plans for Search. We anticipate numerous updates to Search throughout 2009 with the goal of improving the experience for both buyers and sellers. Many more details can be found in Sean’s article and we will provide additional details, in the form of Virtual Lab events, Blog articles, and Forum posts, as we get closer to each new feature.

Payments

Yesterday we launched new functionality enabling sellers to pay their Etsy bills with PayPal. Many sellers have asked for this, and we hope many opt in (sellers, this means you can use PayPal if you want, but you also have the option to use a credit card).

We’ve also evaluated our collection policies for sellers’ Etsy bills. The result of this evaluation was announced in December and will go into effect in March 2009. Etsy relies on collecting fees from our members in order to continue developing and growing our business. The majority of Etsy sellers do pay their bills promptly and in full, and for that, we are very thankful. However, there are also some sellers who allow their bills to become overdue and these new policies are intended to help Etsy collect its fees from those sellers.

Checkout

You will see more clarifications and improvements to the Etsy checkout process in March and throughout 2009. We understand that Etsy’s checkout process (and the text we use to guide buyers through it) can be confusing, especially because items are marked as “sold” in Etsy’s catalog in a separate step from the payment processing. In March, we will be clarifying language around this process. In the coming months we will be working to better clarify the functional elements of the overall process, including introducing inline registration (i.e. letting first-time buyers checkout on Etsy without forcing them to confirm their registration first).

Safety, Security, and Trust

We continue to focus on creating a vibrant marketplace that is built on the principles of safety, security, and trust. While it may not always be possible for Etsy to disclose its fraud deterrence practices, you can have confidence that we are doing everything to make sure buyers and sellers on our marketplace are safe and community places like the Forums, Chat, Virtual Labs remain meaningful. Etsy takes these issues very seriously and thus we continue to update our infrastructure to keep fraudulent behavior off of our site.

Showcase

In March you will see improvements to the design of Etsy’s Category pages and, more specifically, the design of the Category Showcase promotional modules at the top of those pages. Our goal is to make these promotional slots more relevant and attractive to Etsy shoppers.

In the coming months, we are looking to expand Showcase placements to other relevant areas of our site to provide more opportunities for sellers to gain additional exposure. Again, more details will be provided as we get closer to launching these updates.

Seller Tools

I know that there are certain seller tools that are critical to managing your shops. According to many of the forum threads and support emails I’ve read, being able to rearrange items in your shop should be at the top of the list. We are going to provide some tools to let you do this in the next month.

Site Performance

This is listed last, but site performance is one of the features that we always keep on our minds here at Etsy. As mentioned above, Chad’s article details our progress in this area.

There’s much more ahead so please stay tuned. I’ll be back with regular updates on what we’ve accomplished from this list and what else we have lined up for the remainder of the year. As always, your feedback is important, so I look forward to a continued dialog around our priorities. Please post your comments in this forum thread (we’ll close commenting here to consolidate discussion).

Thanks,

Sara

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