Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Business Chat - Etsy market research

Last week I discussed/ranted about someone who wanted to open an Etsy shop without even know what Etsy is. My point was that starting any sort of business initiative with doing proper research is just plain dumb and will fail. Today let’s talk about how to do some market research on Etsy. (www.etsy.com) Before beginning any business venture you need to see what your competition is doing. So let’s look find them. If you already know their name or their shop name you can search under people and shops. To get a better look at the big picture you should do a more general search, try looking under Handmade or All Items. You’ll notice that a very general search of something like “jewelry” gives you a ridiculous number of items, try to use more search terms such as “lampwork jewelry” or “rose quartz pearl earring”. Another way to browse is to click the Buy button and use some of Etsy’s tools such as Shop Local. Here’s a great idea, many people do try to buy local so having your location listed is very important. Want to find competition in your neighbourhood? Search on your city and your craft. Search by color, search by material, search by categories (Prints, Digital Prints, etc). Make notes as you go on who pops up repeatedly. When you’ve found your competition go over their site with an eagle eye. Read their profile. Check out their shop policies. What kind of categories do they break their work into? Check out their shipping rates, and how they ship. Open up a listing and read it. Every item can have 14 tags to describe the item. These tags are your search terms. Read the tags on items that are similar to yours. At the same time look at one of your pieces and write 14 descriptive tags for it. Read the materials list. Now the important part, read the description. It’s a really good idea to read several hundred descriptions not just on items like your work but on all sorts of items. When you find a description you like save it for future reference. Think about why you like it. What makes you want to buy? Now let’s look at peoples sales. Sometimes you look at a seller and think, “wow, they’ve sold 2,000 items! And they have work that’s really expensive like mine!” Just because someone lists expensive work doesn’t mean it’s what is selling. Every item has the date that it was listed, it’s on the right hand side of the page. You can also see how many times people have viewed an item. Now go to the sellers main page and under Shop Info click on xxx Sales. This will show you every item that has sold. This can get interesting. That seller who has expensive work like yours may also have a couple of really cheap items, and it may be those items that are selling over and over and over. You can also see when the item sold. By looking at this date you can see the frequency of their sales. Many people begin an online store by opening, listing 25 items and then sitting back and waiting for the money. A better idea is to list one item a day for 25 days. Go back to a successful seller and take a look at how often they list items. Take a look at how often they sell items. Mark these people as favourites and watch them for a few weeks. Another great place on Etsy to do research is on the forum boards. Click on Community and then Forums. I can highly recommend the business forum, there are loads of people who are happy to share information about anything business related. One last piece of advice, this is a fabulous way to conduct market research however it can be time consuming and expensive. You might want to lock your credit card up and set a timer. And now I should check my mailbox, I’m expecting more packages from my last bout of “research”.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Some good advice but next time could you please parse it into paragraphs. Makes it far easier to read.

As just a customer wandering through I find Etsy a little odd. Just to contact the seller for a simple question I have to "register" and log in to Etsy. That makes no sense at all. And what you said about location is right on. I am looking to buy something only to discover way further on that the seller is in California--and I'm in Canada. There's something wrong there and it's just a little off-putting. Thanks!

sailorgirl said...

Apologies for the lack of formatting. This was lined up before I went on vacation and my formatting vanished into thin air. Bad elves.