What is Etsy? Everything you need to know before buying or selling on the handmade and vintage e-commerce platform for independent creators

beads on pink minimalist background
Etsy offers independent business owners interested in crafting and vintage collections an online marketplace.

  • Etsy is an online marketplace where independent crafters, artists, and collectors can sell vintage, handmade, or custom-made jewelry, clothing, home décor, art, toys, and more. 
  • Etsy offers a wide variety of shipping options and accepts various payment methods, including credit and debit cards, Etsy gift cards, Apple or Google Pay. 
  • Etsy competes with brands like Shopify, Big Cartel, and Amazon Handmade, but has carved out a corner of the market thanks to a seller pool that’s over 80% women
  • Visit Business Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Etsy was founded in 2005 to connect small, indie artists, creators, and collectors with customers looking for gifts, collectibles, and goods with a more personalized touch. 

Just two years after the site launched, it already had nearly half a million users and $26 million in sales, VentureBeat reported. By 2018, the e-commerce company had racked up some 2 million sellers and 50 million products, according to Yahoo

It achieved this rapid and continued success not through warehouses but its web of independent sellers. It’s a community of online shop owners that for years has been composed of mostly women – 87% of Etsy sellers identified as women in 2019, the platform self-reported.  

Here’s everything you need to know before buying and selling on the Etsy platform. 

What is Etsy?  

Etsy is an online marketplace where independent artists and crafters can sell their goods. Etsy is primarily associated with handmade toys, collectibles, art, home goods, vintage furniture, jewelry, clothing, and holiday items, in addition to crafts and craft supplies. 

Unlike Amazon and Walmart, everything on the site is made, collected, curated, and sold by its sellers. These independent business owners not only produce their goods but manage their orders and inventory, too. Etsy acts as the middle-man, giving smaller, independent creators a platform to find and attract customers. 

What you need to know about buying on Etsy

Esty seller viewing inventory on computer
Sellers optimize their online shops to help buyers find what they need quickly.

The retail platform sorts its offerings by categories to help customers narrow down their search queries, in addition to offering recommendations for items and sellers based on their browsing history. If you are looking for a specific item, you can use the search bar at the top of the page to find it. But if you prefer to browse based on keywords or item type, Etsy links to various buying categories directly below the search feature. 

Anyone can purchase items on the site, whether you have an Etsy account or want to checkout as a guest. The purchasing process is much like other online retailers, allowing you to add items to a digital car before checking out. The e-commerce retailer accepts credit cards, debit cards, Etsy gift cards and credit, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and some bank transfer services and PayPal where the option is available. As a global retailer, some buyers can even pay through country-specific installment methods. 

Because all Etsy shop owners manage their inventory, they’re also responsible for their shipping. Most sellers on Etsy ship globally and allow you to choose from various shipping methods, with some even offering a free option. Because each seller chooses their shipping method, ordering from multiple sellers means you’ll likely receive packages from different carriers at different times, even if you ordered them all at once. Luckily, if a shipping issue occurs, Etsy offers a tool to check your order number and shipping confirmation alongside a chat app that will put you in direct contact with your seller to resolve the issue. 

What you need to know about selling on Etsy

Woman models vintage clothing from Etsy store
Etsy features both custom and handmade clothing, as well as vintage pieces.

Those interested in opening up a shop on Etsy will be joining a network of millions of independent sellers. There are guidelines for selling any item on the site. But if you’re specifically interested in selling “vintage” pieces, Etsy has a verification process that begins with you confirming whether the piece is at least 20 years old.  

Regardless of what you’re selling, there is no fee to set up your account, but there are fees for when you list, sell and ship your products. To set up a shop, you need to list the following information: 

  • Your location
  • Shop name
  • How you want to get paid by buyers
  • Your bank information to pay Etsy fees

Once you’ve got all this information collected, you can create your first listing. It costs $0.20 to list an item for sale on Etsy. Each item you list has a four-month shelf life before it is sold or deleted. Etsy takes 5% of the sale price of the item and 3% if you accept Etsy Payments, which includes a $0.25 processing fee. And suppose you want to advertise or promote your products on the Etsy homepage. In that case, it will also cost you a specific percentage of your sales or an upfront cost, depending on the duration of the advertising. 

As you build out your shop, it’s digital appearance and prices will be essential factors to consider in building a signature brand customers will trust and return to. Many successful creators try to pick out unique usernames, themes, include high-quality images, and practice search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to find potential customers. 

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

Read the original article on Business Insider