If you’re looking for eccentric souvenirs or one-of-a-kind, handcrafted garments, you might want to wait until next week. More than 14,000 Etsy merchants went on strike starting today as the platform’s transaction fees raise from 5% to 6.5 percent. In an interview with Yahoo! Finance, Kristi Cassidy, one of the strike’s organizers, said, “We’re hoping to draw Etsy’s notice that we’re fed up.” “It’s also quite a bunch for just people trying to promote a movement online with no advertising,” Cassidy adds, admitting that 14,000 vendors isn’t a significant fraction of the marketplace’s 5.3 million active sellers. The outpouring of love we’ve had since putting this out into the public… people are sharing, and it’s growing organically.”
Cassidy began a petition requesting Etsy to “work with merchants, not against us,” and it already has over 48,000 signatures from consumers and sellers. The seamstress from Rhode Island also mentions an advertising policy that went into effect in February 2020, requiring sellers who earn more than $10,000 per year to allow Etsy to advertise their products on sites like Google, Facebook, and Pinterest, with Etsy taking at least 12% of every sale it refers. While Etsy promoted this as a new revenue source for merchants, the craftspeople felt compelled to give up a portion of their profits against their choice.
“Etsy fees are an unexpected expenditure that may take up to 20% of each purchase, thanks to Offsite Ads.” “We have no say in how these advertisements are delivered or how much of our money is spent,” Cassidy said in his petition. Just a few years ago, Etsy raised its fees for the first time since its creation in 2005 (from 3.5 percent to 5%), thus this recent hike seemed like the final straw for a lot of independent artists who own Etsy businesses. Etsy’s overall income has continued to rise after becoming public in 2015, so merchants believe they are giving up an extra percentage of purchases merely to keep padding Etsy’s bottom line.
In the last year, the firm has made two large acquisitions: a $1.6 billion cash-only purchase of Depop and a $217 million cash-only purchase of Elo7, dubbed the “Etsy of Brazil.” “At Etsy, our merchants’ success is a primary focus. We always welcome seller input, and the revised pricing structure will allow us to boost our spending in areas like marketing, customer service, and eliminating items that don’t comply with our regulations, as described in the petition. In a statement to TechCrunch, an Etsy spokesman stated, “We are dedicated to offering exceptional value to our 5.3 million sellers so they can expand their businesses while preserving Etsy a valued, trusted, and vibrant marketplace.”
In a note to sellers, Etsy CEO Josh Silverman defended the rise, stating that the drop in sales will allow the company to expand in marketing, double its support team, and continue to invest in security. Etsy is working on an app for sellers to help them run their companies more simply, he noted. The Etsy strikers, on the other hand, have different demands. They want Etsy to reverse the fee hike, tighten down on resellers selling mass-produced products, and phase out the star seller program.
Finally, these merchants want Etsy to repair what they describe the company’s “infamously delayed support system,” saying that AI bots have taken down businesses without violating any platform rules. “Etsy can’t claim to be a folksy, handcrafted utopia while AI bots intimidate vendors whose livelihood depends on connecting with shoppers on the platform,” the petition states.