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July 15, 2009


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"I mentioned the problem of lack of clarity in the emails sent to flagged sellers - frequently the flagged item is not mentioned at all and so the seller does not know which item to address - and Matt said this was a pet peeve of his as well. Maria said Etsy takes full responsibility for that problem and is going to address it."
I am so glad you asked that question, it is really one of my pet peeves and it just creates so much extra work for the staff as well as frustration for the seller. (often leading to forum threads which then get locked and told to email the content team with questions, which of course the seller has been doing before turning to the forums in desperation). Even when the outcomes are eventually OK, by the time it's all resolved, Etsy often leaves a formerly happy, law-abiding seller with a bad taste in their mouth about the whole Kafkaesque process.

When you do any type of customer service by email, the goal is "done in one". This means solve the problem or give all necessary info inn the first communication, reducing the need for drawn-out, back-and-forth exchanges. For the seller this is preferable because their time is money and they usually just want to fix their mistake ASAP and get back to running their business, they do not have time to play guessing games.
But "done-in-one" is also in Etsy's best interest. The time of their CS staff is money too, and when you have one admin spending a cumulative hour dealing with one customer, it's just a diminishing rate of return. It leads to low productivity and backlog. I think if they had a more efficient procedure, they could get more done with FEWER staff on the content team, rather than needing to keep adding more people.

Thanks for sharing this.

Very interesting! Sounds like you and others asked good questions. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for the recap! It was nice to be able to hear second hand what the admins said. Reading the forums sometimes can be so negative and it's nice to know that they still are still small and focused on improvements.

Thanks for the write up! My San Francisco Etsy meetup is here:

I really liked how you guys addressed the flag emails that sellers receive. I've never received one, but I frequently see posters in the forums totally bewildered because they cannot figure out what was flagged, and some have hundreds of items! And of course their thread gets shut down if they try to ask us to find violations in public, a catch 22 really. Would be great to have this addressed.

Thank you for the write-up! Nicely done!

Am I the only one concerned that, and let's quote this so I don't mess it up:

"Etsy is not yet a profitable company. This is something I have seen posted in the Etsy forums before, but it was news to a lot of people there. They are, however, at the break-even point."

This sets off several alarms in my mind. Why is the largest handmade marketplace online unable to turn a profit. Rough calculations and past mentions put their revenues at almost one million dollars a month.

The big money investors aren't going to let Etsy hemorrhage their money for long. "Break-even" doesn't generate the 300% return on 35 million that venture cap firms look for.

I'm crossing my fingers that it all works out in the end.

Thanks for the detailed report.
When i went through the whole flagging thing when they altered the mature rules, it was, to put it nicely, agonizing to get a straight answer from community. Sarah (lawyer-sarah) was my savior on that. She is a really great person to deal with, and will tell you things on face value, for what they are. Maybe Sarah could take some time with the community team helping them figure out how they *should* be replying to flag complaints. This has been an ongoing problem for years now, and like Eclipse commented "done-in-one" is optimal for all parties!


It's very common for start-up companies to take a while to reach profitability. That Etsy have reached break-even in four years is actually, to my mind, very good.

It costs a lot of money to keep a big site up and running, and you have to balance having enough staff to expand the company with having a low enough payroll cost to keep afloat.

Etsy's venture capital partners are seasoned veterans. They're looking for a return on their investment down the line, not tomorrow. And their profit is tied to the value of the company, rather than the company's profits per se.

So no, I'm not concerned myself.

Great blog ty for sharing with us

sounds like i missed a great meeting! thanks for summarizing!

thanks for taking and summarising. it was an amazing event, notably for getting so many vancouver etsians together in one room (and those on the team certainly rallied to making suggestions for meeting venues, etc. - thank you all!). i left feeling quietly a little more optimistic about all things etsy but i still hold some reservations. there was a lot of talk about branding, which no one challenged or pointed out that this involved a lot of etsy picks/faves, an issue which is dividing the 'community'. Likewise, Tanis's plea for searchability within her faves and the developing discussion about member-curation of their own faves wasn't seized on by etsy as a way of salving the aforementioned dissent.
admittedly it did occur to me that bringing such hard questions to such an event would be impolite ..... but i still would like to know

Thanks for such a thorough write-up. I'm enjoying the comments (especially Amanda's above me)--will be continuing to follow the discussion over the meet-up, even though the meet-up itself is over.

Melanie mentioned that we had placed 82 seats in the room! Amazing turn out! Double thanks again to everyone for joining us. I met a few people I've known online for years now for the first time.

You can always email me with questions or further comments and I'll do my best to help.

Interesting stuff, and nice to have this perspective, thanks for sharing it!

lou x

Shoot, so that’s that one sppuoses..

Nice article. Unique thinking. Thanks.

Unique idea. Make it persistent. Thanks.

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