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Notes From Chad: 2012 Year in Review

Jan 28, 2013

by Chad Dickerson handmade and vintage goods

Happy New Year! As you ramp up your businesses in these first weeks of 2013, I want to take a moment to reflect on 2012 one last time and celebrate your collective success. This was a breakthrough year for the Etsy community by any measure.

The Etsy marketplace is thriving as we enter our eighth year. Overall sales by the community in 2012 grew 70.3% over the previous year, to $895.1 million from $525.6 million in 2011. This continued growth was generated by the hard work of every seller and the support of every shopper. As you know, we also invested more than ever in marketing Etsy and your shops in 2012, including our Google Product Listing Ads program — which brought 14 million visits to Etsy — and the Etsy Holiday Shop in SoHo, where about half of all visitors had never bought anything on the site before. Our focus on mobile and international growth led to an acceleration of activity on the go and around the world. All of these factors added up to more shoppers coming to Etsy than ever before; in fact, new buyers increased by 83% in the last year.

You closed the holiday season with a bang. Overall sales in December 2012 were 72.9% higher than 2011 and November sales increased by 74.9% over the previous year. Our percentage growth rate for these key months increased for the second year in a row, representing stronger activity in the marketplace against the larger base of sales numbers from the prior year.

I’ve written a lot in the last year about our ambitions to reimagine commerce as a people-powered ecosystem. The person-to-person interaction at the core of Etsy goes beyond a simple transaction. It is a meaningful experience that you rarely find elsewhere, and that matters more than ever today. We see proof of this in the growth of highly-personal categories like wedding goods and home decor. Jewelry, our #1 category, is still strong, but others, like clothing and housewares, are quickly gaining steam. Furniture was the fastest-growing category on Etsy this year, growing 134% from 2011.

Etsy is bringing the personal connection back to how we express ourselves, make our homes, and plan the most important events in life. As Karen Brown recently wrote after her 100th Etsy purchase: “Buying on Etsy restores your faith in people – at least it did for me. It’s easy to be cynical nowadays. But the talent, beauty, and sense of fun on Etsy convinced me that most people really are wonderful most of the time. And I have the handwritten notes, surprise extras, and emails full of best wishes and pet photos to prove it.”

More people experienced this sense of magic in 2012 than ever before. We added 10 million new members last year, nearly doubling the total number of members to 22 million around the world. Since we opened our doors in 2005, more than 14 million shoppers have made a purchase and more than 100 million items have been sold. Etsy’s global reach expanded dramatically last year, with transactions taking place in nearly 200 countries. Today, Etsy is available in more languages than ever before, as we grew from one new language in 2011 (German) to five in 2012 (French, Dutch, British English, Italian and Spanish). We even collaborated with the Etsy community to help do the translations. Check out the graphic below to see Etsy spending and earning patterns around the world.

Gross Sales by Country
Darker shading corresponds to more Etsy buying or selling activity.

Digging in further, we looked at 2012 activity by buyers and sellers in the U.S. When we adjusted sales in each state by its overall population, we discovered some interesting and maybe unintuitive things. For instance, more Etsy purchases per capita came from Alaska and Massachusetts than California and New York.

Gross Sales by U.S. State per Capita
When the total dollars spent by buyers or earned by sellers is adjusted based on population, you can see where Etsy members are most active relative to the number of residents.

To keep everything running smoothly for you, we hired more staff last year, particularly in our international teams. Etsy Admin are now 400+ strong around the world. As Etsy grows, it’s more important than ever that we stay in touch with the community and we do this in a number of different ways. Etsy Admin who don’t normally work on our support team pitched in to answer more than 15% of customer support emails during the holidays. Everyone at the company (myself included) does regular support rotations throughout the year to get a first-hand view of where the problems are. If you dropped by our New York City Holiday Shop in early December, chances are you had a conversation with or bought from a community member or Etsy employee. Etsy Admin also met with sellers at more than 20 Home for the Holidays gatherings, everywhere from Stockholm to Detroit to Tel Aviv. We’re passionate about preserving this connection no matter how much we and the community grow.

As I mentioned, we focused more of our energies on our mobile products in 2012 and made great progress. Mobile visits on Etsy grew 244% in the past year, and currently represent more than 25% of all traffic. This week, we announced our acquisition of Mixel, and their talented team of mobile developers and designers will help to accelerate our growth in this area. This is particularly important since we expect mobile traffic to surpass desktop traffic in 2014.

Following the success of direct checkout in the U.S. last year — with over $200 million paid out to sellers to date — we will be bringing this tool to international markets in 2013. Etsy Gift Cards, which launched in October running on the direct checkout platform, were hugely popular for the holidays, and instrumental in bringing new audiences to the site. More than a third of gift cards sold in the ten weeks from launch to year-end were purchased by or given to a new buyer.

As we close the first month of 2013, we will be continuing our work on new and expanded categories for the marketplace (like Fine Jewelry) and new ways for shoppers and sellers to connect (like Etsy Wholesale). We’ll be focused on making Etsy easy to use wherever you are, whether you’re walking down the street in Berlin or sitting at your desk in Sydney.

The momentum of 2012 means exciting days ahead for the Etsy community in the rest of 2013, and we’re looking forward to working with all of you to make it the best year yet!