Etsy Gift Mode AI Recommendation Tool Launches In Stealth Mode

Liz Morton
Liz Morton


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UPDATE 1-24-24

Etsy is finally allowing major media outlets some insight into Gift Mode, revealing it is powered by OpenAI’s GPT-4 and that it will in fact be the subject of Etsy's debut Super Bowl ad this year.

Etsy launches ‘Gift Mode,’ a new AI-powered feature that generates 200+ gift guides | TechCrunch
E-commerce site Etsy today launched “Gift Mode,” a new AI-powered feature to match you with tailored gift ideas based on specific preferences. Gift Mode Etsy launched today “Gift Mode,” a new AI-powered feature to match you with a tailored selection of gift ideas based on specific preferences.

We built Gift Mode on the insight that while plenty of brands sell items that make nice gifts, there isn’t a dedicated and scaled shopping experience designed for the gifter that addresses these pain points while helping shoppers find truly thoughtful, meaningful gifts. Now, Etsy is building for the gifting experience year-round, to become the destination for gifting. And we believe these products will help people discover and more easily purchase gifts from independent sellers,” Holley added.

Holley explains that the new feature leverages a combination of machine learning, human curation, and OpenAI’s GPT-4.

“OpenAI’s GPT-4 enabled us to expand to such a wide range of gifting missions. We then built and scaled the product on Etsy’s existing advanced machine learning training and inference stack – which powers search, recommendations, and more on Etsy. For this use case, we included specific adjustments to make sure listings included are ‘gifty’ and add preference to listings that are predicted to be high quality and sold by sellers who offer excellent customer service,” Holley said.

How Etsy plans to make you the perfect gift giver - FastCompany

Gift Mode represents a major investment, across both product development and brand marketing, leading to Etsy’s first-ever Super Bowl ad, set to launch on February 1. Silverman says beyond the obvious reasons of scale in advertising during the big game, that Etsy has a significant opportunity to build its reputation among men.

The original announcement has also been updated with an invitation to a "sneak peek" of the Super Bowl ad on February 1.

Re: Get a sneak peek at our BIG plans for 2024
Hi everyone–I hope your 2024 is off to a great start! I recently took on an expanded role as Etsy’s Chief Operating and Marketing Officer and I could not be more excited about our plans to help bring you more sales and grow our built-in audience of buyers. This year, our focus is simple: get buyers…

First, we’re going big—really big—with our marketing. We're "kicking off" a year-long marketing campaign focused on gifting with a commercial during the big game (ya know the one)!

More than 100 million viewers tune in to football’s biggest event each year, so this is a huge opportunity to build buzz and inspire shoppers to visit Etsy. This is a first for Etsy—and we want YOU to be part of this exciting moment! On February 1, we'll share a sneak peek of our ad and a special perk to help you make the most of the moment. Bringing more shoppers to Etsy through marketing is only one part of the equation. To become THE destination for gifting, we also need to create a stellar shopping experience for gift-seeking shoppers.

That’s why today we’re introducing* a totally new way to shop for gifts on Etsy: Gift Mode™. This new tool makes it easy (and fun) for shoppers to discover perfect presents for everyone and every occasion. Shoppers can browse 200+ personas and share details about their gift recipient to help them find thoughtful gifts for all of their loved ones.

Then, we’ll use the power of AI machine-learning technology (paired with curation by our team of style experts) to match them with awesome items from Etsy sellers. Similar to Etsy search, our algorithms will review listings based on category relevance, tags, listing quality, and more to determine what items are featured in Gift Mode...

...We’re excited about the initial launch of Gift Mode today, and we’re even more excited about what we’ve got planned for the future. Our teams have an ambitious vision for how we’ll continue to improve and expand this feature and all aspects of the gifting experience on Etsy. We’ll keep you posted on our progress and share more updates in the coming months. Have questions or feedback? Drop them in here!

*At launch, Gift Mode will be available to shoppers in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia and will only be available in English. We plan to expand to more shoppers in more countries in the future!


UPDATE 1-23-24

Gift Mode has been spotted back on the Etsy home page.

UPDATE 1-22-24

Still no official announcement from Etsy but the link to Gift Mode has been made active again - we'll see how long it lasts this time!

Gift Mode on Etsy - Get Perfect Present Ideas Every Time
Find gifts based on the occasion, the person’s interests, and more with Gift Mode on Etsy.

UPDATE 1-19-24

It appears Etsy wasn't quite ready for this feature to be public yet - they've now redirected the URL for Etsy Gift Mode to the existing Gift Guides page.

Luckily, we have the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. 😉

Gift Mode on Etsy - Get Perfect Present Ideas Every Time
Find gifts based on the occasion, the person’s interests, and more with Gift Mode on Etsy.

Etsy Gift Mode has been activated, allowing buyers to easily find special gifts for all the people and occasions in their lives, with a little help from AI.

Gift Mode on Etsy - Get Perfect Present Ideas Every Time
Find gifts based on the occasion, the person’s interests, and more with Gift Mode on Etsy.

Welcome to Etsy Gift Mode!
If you need gift ideas for anybody—and we mean ANYBODY—in your life, you've come to the right place.

By answering a few simple questions, this fun gift finder will suggest the perfect presents based on the occasion, the person's interests, and more. Etsy Gift Mode takes the stress out of finding special gifts. From anniversary gifts to birthday gifts, and even gifts for the people who have everything, use Etsy Gift Mode to take the guesswork out of giving.

Through Gift Mode, buyers are prompted to either select from pre-chosen "personas" like The Music Lover, The Mixologist, or The Newlywed or to use the options at the top or "find the perfect gift" button at the bottom to receive tailored gifting suggestions.

The questions ask who you're shopping for, what's the occasion, and what are they into - with a note that choosing three or more options will provide better suggestions.

Etsy then displays gift ideas based on your answers.

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Several sellers are guessing that Gift Mode may be the big secret surprise to bring in more buyers in 2024 that Etsy has been teasing in the seller community.

Etsy Teases Big Surprise To Bring In More Buyers In 2024
Etsy is teasing big news about plans to bring in more buyers - but you’ll have to subscribe to the community announcement thread to find out!

Seller and ecommerce consultant Cindy Baldassi (aka CindyLouWho2) started a thread in the Etsy community about the teaser and provided some additional information about Gift Mode as well.

Re: So, who is excited about Etsy’s announcement that Etsy is going to make an announcement?
Collecting info from other posts and adding a few tidbits of my own: Re the gift banners: They have been working on ways to make the gifting process simpler and more interactive than just searching. Silverman mentioned in more than one quarterly report that ideal shopping online should easily incl…

Collecting info from other posts and adding a few tidbits of my own:

Re the gift banners: They have been working on ways to make the gifting process simpler and more interactive than just searching. Silverman mentioned in more than one quarterly report that ideal shopping online should easily include ways to narrow things down by style, occasions, etc., that don't include just entering more search terms to a generic search. That could be related to the "gift" tags they added to most listings late last year; no doubt they have been beta testing this since then.

I don't use the buyer app, but when I click on the gift guide link in the teaser email, it takes me to a gift page that has a "giftmode_teaser" reference value in the URL (which tells Etsy that my visit comes from that particular email.) So whatever it is, they are calling it "gift mode". That jives with this being different than just more gift guides; it sounds like a different way to shop for gifts.

Other sellers chimed in about seeing Gift Mode featured on the home page for a few minutes, then removed, surmising someone at Etsy may have pulled the trigger prematurely.

Earlier this morning I did not see the new "Gift Mode" blurb, links & photos on their home page. It was there about 20 minutes ago. Now it has disappeared from Etsy's home page.

Either this was the big news & someone did an "oopsie" releasing it too soon. Or it's not the big news & the gift mode feature suffered an immediate glitch and had to be taken down.

Lounging in my bed with ipad (Safari) this morning when I saw GIFT MODE on my main page. I'm not opposed to the concept but .... EW .. the graphics are garish (not at all cohesive with the rest of Etsy's look) and they're MOVING!

Fortunately when I got to my desktop (Crhome) ... the gift mode wasn't showing.

I saw it earlier and would have to agree it's the bold colours I then thought maybe rebranding. I went to the dog lover gift section to have a look I wanted to see if the sellers were paying for ads but that was not below these listings like they normally are. Don't like the movement to much of a distraction to the point of annoyance.

If that was it ( I highly doubt it ) then these people would celebrate opening an envelope.

A few of us saw the “gift mode” option briefly this morning on the website/website homepage. I’m of the opinion that it was the exciting thing but dropped too soon, simply because the banner is blue and the “new” indicator by gift mode along with several other aspects on it were the same blue.

As Baldassi pointed out, gifting is a major focus for the company, with wedding and baby registries launched last year, and a catchy spy-themed holiday shopping campaign touting the ability to find the perfect gift for anyone on Etsy.

Etsy campaign turns Christmas shoppers into savvy spies
The online retailer’s Christmas ads by Orchard use the Mission: Impossible theme song as the backdrop to some gift-related detective work

In the Q3 2023 earnings call, CEO Josh Silverman said he believes Etsy has a "ton of opportunity to do better" at providing buyers a few best examples for a diverse set of ideas for gifting and no doubt AI is seen as an important way to unlock that opportunity.

Etsy, Inc. (ETSY) Q3 2023 Earnings Call Transcript
Etsy, Inc. (NASDAQ:NASDAQ:ETSY) Q3 2023 Earnings Conference Call November 1, 2023 5:00 PM ETCompany ParticipantsDeb Wasser - Vice President, Investor…

We've made a ton of progress on relevance. So whatever you enter in the search engine, we do a pretty good job of understanding what you meant in finding a set of results that are relevant to what you meant, maybe not what you said.

But giving you a diverse set of ideas, what are the five or 10 best ideas for that provided it's a relatively generic thing like gift for mom or whatnot. Giving you a really good, compelling diverse set of ideas and then picking the few best examples within each of those ideas is a big focus. I think we have a ton of opportunity to do better.

So we don't just match you with the product you're likely to buy. It's a product you're going to love. And in the process, we show you the breadth of the kinds of things that Etsy can do for you. I think there's a ton of opportunity. And as we do that, we will get a lot more frequency.

Baldassi also shared her initial thoughts in a post on LinkedIn pointing out some issues Etsy may still need to improve with the tool.

Cindy Baldassi on LinkedIn: Etsy Stealth Launches AI-Enhanced Gift Mode, Making Gifting "Extra-Easy"
I tried out Etsy's new Gift Mode, which hasn't officially been announced, but is available if you have the link. (Etsy may shut it down once the word gets out…

My initial comments after selecting husband, Valentines Day & the options of drinks, astrology & space, and sports:

🔸 Astrology and space are not the same thing, and will annoy science folks who might select space. Selecting it as an interest gave me a bunch of zodiac signs, and no space stuff at all until I kept clicking to see more. Sci fi did show up below, and gave me plenty of earrings for women

🔸 I'm in Canada but got football and basketball stuff for the sports options. I had to click a few times to finally get hockey as an option. Hockey had a bunch of warm hats for women below, so it appears that they don't hold on to any gendered ideas beyond the first click.

🔸 Needless to say, I got lots of infringement. Like, tons. This is Etsy, after all.

🔸 In the additional options, it gave me "the Chicago local" - which is either a bizarre coincidence, or they have enough data on me to know my partner has lived in Chicago and is a Cubs fan. (Entirely possible; Etsy swaps data with many companies, including all social media where I may have posted Cubs stuff). Also, Chicago Local options started with 2 items from Pittsburgh, so there are mistakes in almost every category I looked at.

🔸 Despite selecting "drinks", I never got a main drink option, and had to scroll down a lot to see some sub-options for drinks.

Other sellers in the Etsy community also noticed this feature is highlighting some questionable listings that violate policies or are clear IP infringement.

I just did a few searches with it. Not impressed nor excited. Lots of Etsy illegal items were shown to me. I didn't see much of what I'd like to see. And it was limiting. I imagine this will be a main focus as Etsy typically does this with their new features. If it remains like this, that will likely change at a later time which is also typical Etsy.

And one seller in particular highlighted a particular gifting category Etsy seems to have completely missed - memorial or condolence gifts.

The first thing that came to me was seeing what it would suggest to gift my best friend that just lost her dog last night.

So I chose 'Friend'.

After that there is no option for any sort of loss. No recommendation for a memorial, condolences, or gift for those grieving.

They failed my first attempt at giving it a whirl.


Etsy of course isn't the only ecommerce company leveraging AI capabilities to enhance the search and shopping experience.

eBay has been testing AI shopping discovery personalization for laptops, tvs, and smartphones on it's German marketplace in partnership with Zoovu.

eBay Germany & Zoovu Partner On AI Shopping Personalization
eBay.de tests AI shopping discovery personalization for laptops, tvs & smartphones in partnership with Zoovu.

While Etsy Gift Mode may be useful in some ways, it's much like the eBay personalization initiative where it's limited to selecting pre-defined options rather than a fully interactive conversational experience like you'll find with generative AI shopping assistants on Mercari or Shopify.

Shopify Adds ChatGPT Assistant To Shop App & Web
Shopify’s ChatGPT powered assistant brings conversational AI to the Shop app & web experiences.

That lack of interactivity may limit the usefulness of Gift Mode, or at least make the "big announcement" less exciting when other companies are already doing far more innovative things with recent advances in AI technology.

What do you think of Etsy Gift Mode? Let us know in the comments below!

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Liz Morton is a seasoned ecommerce pro with 17 years of experience in online sales & marketplaces, providing expert commentary, analysis & news about eBay, Amazon, Etsy & more at Value Added Resource!