This is a bit of a rant, so I will counter that with some nice pictures, I promise. Recently Etsy announced that they will only let sellers rise in their search engine if they offer free shipping. They encourage sellers to "adjust" their pricing to cover the cost of the shipping. Meaning, the shipping is not free, but included in the price.
This raises some questions and issues.
1. A brief explanation of how Etsy works. In addition to taking a percentage of the sale of the item, they also take a percentage of the shipping charge as well. Due to the increase in postage in the last few years the amount I charge is usually about on the nose for what the post office charges me and doesn't include the price of packing materials (in my case not that big a deal since I use recycled whenever possible) or the time it takes to pack it up and take it to the post office. I could go on some tirad about what my time is worth-but that aside, look at it this way. If I had to hire somebody to help in the studio I would be paying them, so their wage would be going toward packing up your order. I decided that I was better off to make the shipping charge look reasonable than to actually account for the all expenses involved, so I am not charging what it really costs to get an item to a customer as it is.
|Taking pictures in the garden and fiddling around with the filters on the phone.|
2. Let's say for the sake of argument that I just go ahead and raise the price of each item the amount I am charging for postage now which is about $3.95. So, a customer orders one button or pendant. No biggie, they are paying the same they would have anyway. But, if a customer buys several items they would be paying that added cost on each item, way more than they would have since up to this point I do a flat fee. The boxes I had to buy for the ceramics to ensure they reach you in one piece hold several pieces and the added weight is minor, so it is a way to encourage people to stuff that pup full! Why not keep the price of everything clear? To have "free shipping" all the time also doesn't allow me to use it as a marketing tool, instead my only options are to do some sort of discount on the already over priced item. Again, why not just be clear that there is a value for the item and a value for the shipping?
|Here are some of the students of the eco printing on paper class I taught at Art Salvage.|
3. Speaking of pricing. I started up this version of my shop in February and after a fair amount of research came up with a pricing plan that covered the cost of expenses and labor and was competitive. So when you search "ceramic buttons" or whatever you type into your browser you will see similar pricing for similar work not only on Etsy, but out on the web in general. Adding to the price only makes me look like I am charging too much or think a whole lot more of myself than I should! My inclination as a shopper is to not click on the Google listing for the higher priced item, meaning, I may never see that the shipping is included. Then there is the whole matter of refunds. It may seem like semantics but there are actual laws regarding what you call things in advertising. When something is called free, it is supposed to be free. If a customer wanted to return something in the past then the normal procedure is to refund the price of the item, not the shipping, as it was shipped after all. But if you call it free shipping than technically speaking you weren't charging them for it to begin with so they get the entire purchase price back regardless of the fact that the money was spent at the post office and the item delivered.
|This studio helper gets paid in cat food and treats. That being said with non-opposable thumbs she isn't much help in the shipping department.|
I tend to be an over thinker, so I will close this by saying a few things and be done. When I put scarves or other higher priced items in the shop it is truly, honestly, free shipping. You hate the thing when you open it up, you can send it back (following my return policy) and you get the price (all of it) back. It is just cost prohibitive for me to do that on $6-15 buttons. Etsy's new policy applies to things over $35.00 so it shouldn't make that much difference items priced under that amount, in theory. I guess my problem is that it is just another way that people don't understand the actual value of an item or person. People working in the small studios are not the same as Amazon. We don't have those resources. If somebody paid me a hundred bucks a year for no other reason than to pay me a hundred bucks a year, then yes I would give them free shipping. Hey-now there's idea! I will let you know where to mail that check. It is one thing to have the rest of the world devalue your education and skill, but then to have an organization that is supposed to be supporting the arts devalue you, it is very disheartening. Etsy should quit worrying about trying to compete with Amazon and go on education campaign about how things are made, along with the time and skill it takes to make them, and why it is better for the economy and the environment to shop small.