Etsy Sellers Sound Off On "Vital Few" Initiatives CEO Should Prioritize In 2024

Liz Morton
Liz Morton


When Etsy CEO Josh Silverman announced layoffs and restructuring last month, he said heading into 2024 Etsy would be focusing on a "Vital Few" initiatives to reignite growth on the platform.

While the Etsy marketplace is still more than double the size it was in 2019, we need to acknowledge and adjust for today’s realities. We are operating in a very challenging macro and competitive environment, and GMS has remained essentially flat since 2021.

This means we are not bringing our sellers more sales, which is the single most important thing we can do for them. At the same time, employee expenses have grown, even as we have introduced significant cost-cutting measures and adjusted or paused hiring plans. This is ultimately not a sustainable trajectory and we must change it.

As we head into 2024, we have identified our “Vital Few” projects and initiatives that we believe will reignite growth for our sellers and drive buyer consideration and loyalty through a focus on quality, value, and reliability. I have great confidence in these plans, but we need the right structure and resources in place to successfully execute on them.

Unfortunately, Silverman didn't give a lot of specifics. Luckily for him, sellers have stepped in to provide their own lists of what they believe Etsy should be focusing on to improve quality, value and reliability - will he be smart enough to take their suggestions?

A Vital Few Seller Suggestions 2024 edition
Perused Google news for Etsy and have yet to find a definition or any hints @ the direction in re Etsy’s “Vital Few initiatives”. Instead, I found a photo of a landfill, introducing a recent BoingBoing article by Rob Beschizza re the layoffs, with a heartbreaking opening sentence: “Once home to vin…

Perused Google news for Etsy and have yet to find a definition or any hints @ the direction in re Etsy's "Vital Few initiatives". Instead, I found a photo of a landfill, introducing a recent BoingBoing article by Rob Beschizza re the layoffs, with a heartbreaking opening sentence: "Once home to vintage and handmade wonders, Etsy grew into the same dropshipped mass-produced landfill stuffing that everywhere else sells."

But, we aren't weren't everywhere else and most of us don't wish for growth at any and all costs! So, what to do? My fear is that Etsy may decide not to turn the ship around, by being as succinct in defining the primary problem as simply by one photo and sentence! So how about we voice a few suggestions of our own. Keep it to a few and focus on priorities that we as sellers would hope for in 2024.

I'll begin: Here's to wishes for new and more hopeful beginnings in 2024. Cheers!

  • Make a dedicated section for purely artisan handmade items, not mixed in w/dropshipped or factory assisted items.
  • Fix Search, so buyers can find the distinctive handmade and vintage items they once more easily found and purchased.
  • Recognize that Temu et al. isn't our competitors and instead re-embrace what once made Etsy a vital link for artisans and collectors alike.

Many other sellers echoed the call to refocus on truly handmade and vintage items, while doing more to stop dropshippers and resellers on the platform.

Resellers parading as handmade should be banished from Etsy. If sellers can easily Id who they are, then Etsy needs to stop waffling on getting them gone for good.

Just as Ebay changed from the worlds greatest flea market and crashed and burned, Etsy changed from true handmade, vintage and supplies into just another "sell whatever you want and call it handmade" because they are more interested in making more bucks off of sellers listings and ads than from what they sell. They said we are just churn, however the churn that has left were the quality sellers and the replacements that took their place were resellers.

Others also called out that search capabilities on Etsy have gone downhill and need some serious changes.

I hate to sound negative ......

but, really, if Etsy cannot see what a useless mess their search is and how that affects their bottom line?

I do not think there is much of anything that they can or will do that will save them/us.

I couldn't believe it, but search actually got worse.

Looked for gold filled rings today and couldn't narrow by category anymore. So I waded through about 3 pages of all sorts of gold filled jewelry before I gave up and went to Google.

Also selected US shops only and got 2 from the UK. Useless.

I wish the search function could be corrected. It seems I can only search my own shops and get correct results. The search functions for most any venue and google have all changed in the same manner. I'm not a techy person, so don't know where to go with all this, but am thinking it may be a little deeper than just "correcting" the search function.

I also think AI has changed search outcomes in a weirdly tweeked way. Such as when you search for your own shop items, they pop up first. Like machine learning has been taught to fawn over our own egos.

If AI can be taught to fawn over sellers items, it can unlearn that to focus more productively.

Besides that, maybe we were better off with searches before AI got their grubby paws all over it and made a mess of it. Certainly there are engineers who are smarter than what is currently going on with search. So, fix it...I ask, incredulously.

And some raised concerns about the proliferation of spam and scams through the Etsy messaging system that could be mitigated by adding the "From Etsy" section in the inbox to the app as well.

Etsy Fights Spam & Scams With New “From Etsy” Inbox
Etsy addresses spam & scams with “From Etsy” section in messaging inbox & reminders about how to spot scams.

Well, I'll chime in with a suggestion that seems to get mentioned a lot: put the "From Etsy" messages subfolder in the app.

Yes we need the 'from etsy' folder on the app. We also need a 'mark as spam' button for the sellers app while they are at it. Sellers need access to both on the sellers app.

What are your suggestions to Etsy leadership about the most important "Vital Few" initiatives they should be tackling in the near year? Let us know in the comments below!

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Liz Morton Twitter Facebook LinkedIn

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