If you’ve been hanging out in Etsy communities, then you’ve heard the collective groan from sellers about the recent push for free shipping. Etsy has been offering all sorts of incentives to sellers, trying to encourage them to offer free shipping, the main one being better SEO.
The thing about selling on a platform like Etsy, is they make the rules. This is part of the reason I chose to sell on 2 channels: Etsy + WooCommerce, but you can read about that here. You don’t have to follow their rules, but if you want to have any stake in the game, it’s in your best interest.
There are several things that play into a particular listing’s SEO. Things like favorites, reviews, amount of sales, shipping speed, shipping price… the list is long. I don’t know all of them, just what Etsy is willing to share. But Etsy has specifically shared that having free shipping does affect a listing’s SEO.
So here’s the thing. As sellers, we can complain about it + come up with excuses as to why we can’t, but really that only hurts us. So, let’s talk about how we can start offering free shipping.
HOW TO OFFER FREE SHIPPING
If you’ve visited my shop, you know that I sell clothing + accessories. I admit, this is definitely one of the easier categories to offer free shipping for, because my shipping fees are fairly consistent.
When I started offering free shipping, I just went through each listing and calculated the average shipping fee for that particular item then adjusted the price accordingly.
Free shipping gets trickier for shop owners who sell heavy or bulky items, like furniture. If that’s you, I recommend doing the same thing: calculating an average for each item and adjusting the price accordingly. Even though your fees are less consistent, you should still be able to get a pretty good average. It just might take a little more number crunching than it took for me.
A big benefit for you bulky item sellers, is that your competition likely won’t be offering free shipping. So that first page? It’s all you, my friend. (Well, that’s the goal, anyways.)
The key to this whole thing, is the same key to many things in life: just do a little math. If you are going to sell on Etsy, crunching numbers is going to become a regular thing. Offering free shipping is no exception. Calculate the cost to ship each listing to several parts of the country (or world, if you have free international), then average them + add them into your price.
SPEAKING OF PRICE…
If you are half the business person I know you are, then there is a red flag going off right about now. Because you know that you can’t just raise your price, without adding more value to your buyers. Let’s talk about making your listings more valuable than your competitors…
Thankfully, with the free shipping push, Etsy has started adding a “free shipping” sticker next to every listing that offers it. This adds a lot of perceived value to your customers, but there is still more we can do.
Beef Up Your Thumbnails
I’m a firm believer in a good thumbnail. I’d even go so far as to say it is the most important thing you could do for your shop. I dive into all the reason why here, but for the sake of this post, I’ll give you the short version. When a buyer searches on Etsy, they have very limited info about each listing that pops up. They get price, title, shop name, whether or not it has free shipping, and a picture. A thumbnail that is eye catching will get you more views every single time. On top of that, thumbnail image that stays true to your brand will make your item more valuable than the next guys. But don’t just stop there with branding…
Brand the whole dang thing
Let’s all just admit that as consumers we prefer a curated, branded experience. Now, I am not talking paying $300 more for a bag with a logo. (I have a $20 backpack, y’all.) I’m talking about girl’s night when you chose to walk through Target instead of Walmart. Walmart has great stuff + is usually a little less expensive, but there is nothing overwhelmingly exciting about walking through Walmart.
If you want to appear more valuable to your buyers, make your shop as fun as walking through Target. You can do this in tons of ways… brand your shop header, all the copy on your listings, the photos for each listing, your seller headshot. Basically, every graphic element of your store that can be edited, should be on brand.
Ya know, I think some examples would be really helpful here. So here are some people who I think have this whole target-level-of-fun down pat.
Not to go too far down this rabbit trail, but we can extend this past Etsy and into your entire experience. Brand your social media channels, your packaging, your correspondence.
If the whole branding thing seems overwhelming, check out Jasmine Star. She has tons of resources for small business owners on how to develop their brand.
ANYWAYS, BACK TO SHIPPING
Now, if you are like me, you read things online, implement them, and then expect immediate results. Unfortunately, I’ve found that Etsy SEO is kind of like losing weight: nothing happens overnight. Adding free shipping will no doubt help your listings, but the biggest factor is still views + sales. So do it, but have reasonable expectations for it.
If you’ve started offering free shipping and are seeing results, give me a shout in the comments – I’d love to hear! If you are still on the fence about the whole thing or have questions regarding shipping, let me know! 🙂
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