A big part of Etsy is the ability to connect buyers with makers. (If you’re not familiar with Etsy, be sure to check out Part 1 of this article!) One of my favorite parts about running the farm stand is meeting my customers face-to-face. While this isn’t possible when you are selling online, Etsy does have some features that help you connect with buyers and even make custom items. This gives a personal shopping experience for folks who may want something handmade that they can’t find locally, and gives you a bit of connection to where your handmade efforts end up.
Potential buyers have the ability to ask you questions. Sometimes it is to simply ask a question about an item- in this case it’s a great way to think about what kind of info may be missing from your listing. Other times it may be about how quickly they can receive an item. This tends to happen a lot as the holidays get close. I have the Sell on Etsy app on my phone so I can get back to customers very quickly. Great customer service often means more sales!
We do a significant portion of our Etsy business as custom orders. Sometimes people would like an item you offer in a different size or color. Sometimes, they send photos of something they found on Pinterest or elsewhere they would like to have made. Others sketch a diagram of what they have in mind. You can create a listing just for them that cannot be seen or purchased by anyone else. Some of Dan’s most popular items are hand-forged items that started as a custom order, but turned out well so we made them regular items.
As long as you have a great example of what you’ll be making, you can take some nice photos and create a listing. But you have the option of making them to order so you don’t need to store a lot of inventory. You can set your processing time from days to weeks. Faster processing time can mean more sales, but we find that many people are willing to wait two weeks for items Dan creates in the forge.
Many times, your items will be viewed by someone who finds them while searching for a particular item, either on Etsy or via a search engine like Google. They may not see other, similar items you also sell, so it’s a good idea to provide links so shoppers can see more of your stuff. I divide my shop into sections since we do and sell a number of things. It’s a good idea to break your shop into sections and send customers to those subpages . I provide a link to the item’s shop section in each item description. That way, customers can compare styles of our handles when they are looking for something hand forged, rather than going back to search results which will include many other sellers. I note that shipping is kind of pricy for the jams, but up to 6 will fit in a box for the same rate and provide a link to our collection of home-canned items.
Etsy also has a social media tool which makes it easy to connect with your followers on Facebook or Pinterest and will soon be adding Twitter and Instagram. You can post about your latest product, share glowing reviews from happy customers, celebrate shop milestones (for example, we recently had our 700th sale!) or create a post to give your followers a coupon code. It makes it easy to create one post and share it across platforms, saving you time when you’re trying to connect followers to your shop.
Coupon codes and sales are a way to boost sales or reward repeat buyers or social media followers. Etsy allows you to design your own. It can provide buyers with free shipping or a percentage off their order (between 10-70%). You can set a minimum purchase amount, but it is not required. You can design a code to give to shoppers however you like (newsletter, social media, after purchase to encourage repeat customers), or run a sale which will be visible when shoppers visit your shop or find your items in a search.
Like many online markets, buyers can leave reviews after a purchase. They can even post a photo, so it can be really neat to see how our handiwork is used. This can give other buyers ideas of how your items can be used, and provide reassurance that you are a trustworthy seller with quality items.
Customer service is a huge part of any business, whether you’re selling in person online. Make sure your listing photos and descriptions are accurate, and that your items ship within the promised time frame. Answer questions quickly and thoroughly to encourage buyers to purchase your item rather than someone else’s. Share what’s new, recent reviews, or shop milestones to keep people engaged with your online shop. Create sales to drive up traffic, or coupon codes to reward followers or repeat customers All are great way to connect with customers and can help add to your bottom line!