Friday, June 12, 2009
San Francisco Meeting with Etsy's Maria (by Savor)
Savor graciously allowed CCCOE to post her notes from the June 9 meeting with Etsy's CEO: Thanks to a heads-up from Brenda at Phydeaux Designs we got news of an Etsy meetup June 9 in San Francisco! I left work an hour early and Mike and I headed over to a very cool cafe (Crossroads) next to the Embarcadero — it had a nice open space, perfect for the large gathering. It had a great coffee and artisan tea menu, lot of food goodies, and Etsy graciously picked up the tab. There wasn’t a lot of other traffic, so we were not interrupted and everything ran quite smoothly. The meeting was very organized, but not stiff or stifling. Each speaker introduced themselves first — I know Maria (CEO), Chad (CTO), Carrington (Finance Guy) and Sara (VP of Products) were there, and Jesse, the business development lead*. It was a fairly large group so I didn’t always catch everything that was said. We also heard briefly from CB, the “database guy” who actually lives here in Marin. Everyone did a lovely job, Maria really shone. She’s got a natural talent for running meetings, that’s for sure! She made a point to talk about not only handmade, but hand-selected — including the suppliers and vintage sellers in her discussions. She said (I’m paraphrasing) that Etsy is definitely a global business, with 159 countries represented. A quarter of the business generated with at least one non-US party — and I have found that statistic matches my own store, of having approximately 25% of my sales to non-US customers. At the top of their priority list is the buyer’s experience. We all know we want certain seller tools, and Ian at Etsy Hacks has sure done a fantastic job of picking up where Etsy’s lagging. But Maria stressed that we need to have the buyer experience as fluid as possible before we get our fun toys. I can agree with that (but I will not give up my hacks!!). Related to this is continual work on the search results, and for optimizing Etsy itself for searches off of Etsy (namely, Google). Along those lines are features like “related searches” and spellcheck, which I think are fantastic. I often tag with mispellings to try to catch some of those searches. She’d like to have us able to organize our favorites into lists, and refine checkout so that newly signed up buyers don’t have to stop and confirm their email during the purchase process (they would confirm it later I think). Chad focused on how the tech side is going — he stressed that (and so did Carrington) people are working hard behind the scenes during down time to really improve the stability of the site and improve the structure so that we can have all these fun tools in the future. The new “re-arrange your shop” tool that is in Beta is part of this. He said that there has been a 200-800% increase in the site’s stability, even as traffic has nearly doubled, in the last 9 months or so. He said they are also writing the software that helps them write future software for the site. Maria talked then about advertising Etsy as a whole. They have no desire for TV ads (too expensive is what that boils down to), so they’re focusing on what I’d call more passive things like search engine optimization (SEO). They do sponsor on NPR (you get a little fifteen-second segment when you do that) and she talked about the recent Good Morning America feature on Etsy and selected sellers. She is fond of email marketing tools such as Etsy Finds, social media (Facebook applications, handmade videos, etc). During questions, I asked if we could integrate our shop newsletters with our Etsy site to make it easier for people to sign up and for us to send them, and that idea seemed well received. The provider for their mailing lists might be able to offer something similar to store owners — but not in 2009, although hopefully in less than a year*. They moved on to Paypal, and Carrington and CB both said that currently Paypal is simply the best solution — however, we’ll need an in-house payment system for things like site-wide gift cards. They tossed around an idea of having a pre-paid Etsy debit card (like a Starbucks card) but I think most sellers are underwhelemed with that idea (I definitely am not fond of it). I don’t sign up for Etsy emails, but a couple people talked about that, with Maria and Sara. Some people don’t get the emails, so they’re going to chat with Chad to see if that’s a technical issue or what. All the needed seller tools, like batch listing, scheduled listings, auto-relist, etc., are things that are in the works but need the stable background that they are building now. There were a couple questions about wholesale and how to do that on Etsy (which I think is sort of dumb, I don’t want Etsy to have a cut of my wholesale, that changes my pricing structure!). But I DO want a fixed catalog of all my items so that shoppers and retailers can see my product lines even when something is not in stock. I want to be able to organize by scent, or product type, or whatever, so that people can see the full range of what I do. Searching through my sold items is not practical! Maybe have a password-protected area for retailers to visit to “shop” wholesale. Someone brought up that it’s often difficult for buyers to know they are in one store, and to return to that store’s main page if they’re on an item listing (I say, keep the shop banner on all pages and have it clickable!). I think it was Jill from Scabby Robot. I definitely liked that idea, and Maria said the item pages do need a makeover. Chad then took up the Etsy outside development issues — and stressed that they are welcoming third-party devs with open arms. There are two iPhone apps now, and of course Etsy Hacks and some others out there. The issue of flagging was brought up, including that horrible item that was up the other day (not gonna rehash that one). Anyway — in a nutshell, they do their best. While they didn’t say this, I just think it’s a lack of staff for all the flagged items. Maria said instead of focusing on the after effects, they want to look at more ways of preventing resellers/forbidden stuff. Make it maybe a little more tedious to sign up? She said it was something that she personally has a renewed attention on at this time. They briefly touched on some other areas, such as site personalization — ie, if you only buy jewelry on Etsy, to sort of “block” the rest of the site if you wanted to customize your experience on the site. CB asked if people would use some kind of Etsy-hosted accounting interface, and I asked if it would be possible to integrate an inventory feature (the answer was, sounds good, maybe in a year). It was a (long) and great meeting. I got to meet a bunch of great sellers too If you’ve made it this far (long post, sorry!) I’d love to hear from you especially if you’d like to talk about your experience as a buyer, and how this might be improved! *made some edits, thanks, Maria! Clarified the last speaker’s name and the newsletter “hopeful” timeline Allie from AlliesAdornments also posted notes in this forum thread.