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Notes From Chad

Feb 7, 2012

by Chad Dickerson handmade and vintage goods

This is my first note to the community since we closed 2011, and I wanted to make sure that no one missed the numbers from the holiday season. Thanks to the hard work of the Etsy community, overall sales in December 2011 were almost 70% higher than 2010. Congratulations! The year-over-year percentage growth rate in sales for December 2011 was higher than the prior year — the first time in Etsy’s entire history that our percentage growth rate accelerated over the prior year. While sales figures themselves are important, I am just as excited by what those numbers represent. As I wrote in my update just after Cyber Monday, Etsy provides an alternate vision of commerce where people matter most, and these numbers give us all a clear indication that the model is succeeding. Thank you!

Before we move past the holidays, I wanted to let you know that we tried a new approach in customer support for the busy season. During the holiday surge, everyone in the company signed up for customer support shifts, including me. I answered lots of questions from sellers and even helped one buyer find a holiday gift. When all was said and done, one out of every seven responses this holiday season came from folks outside of the support team and our response time was the fastest in years. Beyond the speedy response time, having everyone working in support helps keep each member of Etsy staff directly in touch with the community, and I think that level of involvement across the board helps make us a better company.

As 2011 fades into distant memory and we look ahead, you will see two key themes taking shape as we continue to build Etsy together. The first is bringing the Etsy experience to buyers wherever they are. In the past six months, we’ve made big strides in two related areas: mobile and internationalization. The Etsy iPhone app has been downloaded over 850,000 times in less than three months, and mobile usage of the Etsy website has doubled in the past year. (Find out more about Etsy mobile.) Last September, we made Etsy available in the German language, and just a few weeks ago we made Etsy available in French. We’ve only just begun!

The second theme is providing more of the tools and services that people need to build and run independent, creative businesses. This applies whether they are long-time Etsians looking to expand or those just thinking about opening shops on Etsy. We’ll be providing help in three distinct ways: by working with trusted partners, encouraging developers to build new applications via our developer program, and building key foundational pieces of the Etsy platform ourselves. For some tools and services, collaborating with trusted partners is the most effective way to help Etsy sellers with a specific need. For example, we’re big fans of Outright, and we’ve been working closely with them to make sure that Etsy sellers with more complex business needs have access to their excellent tools for managing finances.

We also encourage any independent software developer to build new applications via our developer program, which anyone can join. The past six months have seen a flurry of activity, with over 50 seller tools now available from third-party developers. In fact, the very successful Etsy for iPhone app originated from the developer program. We liked the Etsy Lovers iPhone app so much that we bought it and hired the developer behind it (Jey Biddulph) to build the official Etsy app. The Outright integration I mentioned above also began with the developer program. Etsy has long been a platform for sellers, but as you can see, Etsy has also become a platform for any developer to build new tools for the community as well.

As I’ve mentioned, we at Etsy are also building key foundational pieces of the platform ourselves. While we have many things in store, we have been particularly focused on improving the checkout experience. We know that it helps both sellers and buyers to have the best and smoothest shopping experience possible.  Today I’m excited to announce that we are rolling out direct checkout, a new way for shops to accept credit card payments from buyers directly on Etsy. The rollout will continue over the next several months to all U.S. sellers, and you can read the details here. This is an important step forward for Etsy. Besides making it easier and faster than ever for people to buy from sellers, our work with direct checkout lays the groundwork for future improvements, like gift cards and expanded international payment methods.

We’re really excited about the momentum on all fronts — with buyers, sellers, developers, partners, and within the company. We’re more committed than ever to help Etsy sellers become even more successful in 2012.

For any thoughts or comments on Direct Checkout, please join the conversation in this forum thread.

To express your thoughts and reactions about anything else Chad discussed, please join this forum thread.