Etsy Screws Over Sellers (Again)

Etsy Screws Over Sellers (Again)
Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket, Getty Images

Two things became pretty clear on Etsy’s latest earning call: the platform is making more money than ever, and sellers are going to start seeing a lot less of it.

The ecommerce giant announced in a report passed out to investors this week that it’s raising its so-called “transaction fee” — the dollars and cents collected off of every sale a shop makes — from 5%, to 6.5%. This fee change, which is going into place on April 11th, will go towards the company’s seller and marketing tools, along with Etsy’s efforts to create “world-class customer experiences,” according to the announcement.

These spiked fees are hardly the only money that the platform skims off its sellers. As Etsy’s FAQ’s point out, sellers still need to pay a flat “listing fee” every time they post something, on top of various payment processing fees that vary by whichever country the seller is based. Transaction fees, under this new arrangement, would deduct 6.5% of the total price of a given order from each shop.

Naturally, Etsy’s sellers weren’t thrilled about the update. One Friday post from Etsy’s community seller forums even called for a platform-wide strike over what the poster saw as the final straw in Etsy’s ongoing squeeze on its sellers.

“Neither moving to individual websites nor quitting has done anything to stop Etsy expanding, or from pushing new fees or terms on to those who remain,” the post reads.

“When we all split off, we lose the collective power of a shared platform, the name recognition and the audience which our products and hard work have built over the past decade. Further, we all end up in competition with the same platform we helped build and then left — a tiny business competing for attention against one with billions of dollars to spend on upgrades and marketing. Billions of dollars we gave it!”

It’s arguably even more of a slap in the face considering the gangbuster numbers Etsy relayed to investors during this new earnings report. Etsy says that it pulled in $US717.1 ($995) million in revenue this year — about $US100 ($139) million more than last year’s revenue numbers ($US617.4 ($857) million). On top of that, the company also said its Etsy marketplace acquired approximately 10 million new buyers in the last quarter of last year, grew its number of “habitual buyers” 26% since last year, and “reactivated” 6.8 million buyers that had previously not purchased anything off Etsy in a year or more.

This is all to say that Etsy could certainly keep chugging along without hiking up fees for sellers — the same ones that are responsible for turning Etsy into the handmade-and-vintage wonderland that buyers know and love today. But it’s not like this is the first time these sellers were thrown under the bus; two years ago, for example, sellers were told that Etsy would start advertising seller’s shops snd taking a cut off each sale those ads refer. Sellers revolted over the change, but that hasn’t stopped Etsy from continuing the practice (and skimming 12-15% off each referral) to this day.

Hell, this isn’t even the first time that transaction fees increased — sellers were slammed with a bump from 3.5% to 5% back in 2018. Maybe a strike is just what they need.