Monday, April 6, 2015

Etsy Visits Karmabee - Kingston, NY

I recently had a visit from Etsy as part of their seller studio tours. Etsy staff visit sellers because, as they explain in a recent blog post, "...nothing beats visiting a seller in person to witness her creative process in action and the challenges she faces on a daily basis." It was lots of fun! The five Etsy staff who came to Karmabee from both the Hudson and Brooklyn offices had great questions about my business, and I got a chance to ask questions and make suggestions about all things Etsy.

Etsy Visits Karmabee in Kingston, NY
Etsy visits Karmabee in Kingston, NY
First I gave them a tour of my store, which sells both my own Karmabee products and items by local artists and makers, including quite a few members of the Hudson Valley Etsy Team (many of whom have been with me since I opened in 2011!). We discussed my experience running a brick & mortar store and what a typical day is like.

I then showed them around my studio area, which I've reorganized many times since I opened, with its separate work stations and table surfaces that allow me to work on many different projects at the same time, as the multitasker in me loves to do. Unfortunately it's the the office portion of my studio that gets the most use, and they acknowledged that most sellers spend at least 50% of their time running their business rather than creating. They had lots of great questions about my systems, such as how I manage my inventory (my weakest area!), handle shipping, and manage social media.

They were very patient with my various questions (and a couple of complaints) about the technical side of Etsy. For example, I mentioned the problem of not being able to adjust shipping rates for different quantities in the same listing (e.g., 1 notecard vs a pack of 10: either this has to be two separate listings, or buyer has to pay crazy shipping for the single item). They are aware this is an issue, and explained that this feature was originally intended for color/size variations of the same item, and thus wasn't set up to handle different shipping weights, which makes sense. I also begged for more bulk editing options, especially for tags, titles and descriptions (as Craftopolis and Betsi offer), and they said they're on it! Yay!

After many more questions and ample time satisfying my dog Annie's need for belly rubs, they perused the store and made some purchases, which I really appreciated. I used my Etsy payment swiper for the first time, and learned that it's a great way to have in-person sales adjust online inventory and to gather customer reviews.

As both Etsy and the controversy surrounding Etsy's definition of handmade continues to grow, I am happy to know that the company dedicates time and effort to hearing from sellers. We all hope Etsy finds a way to support handmade sellers in a marketplace free of cheap mass-produced competition.

Karen - Karmabee

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