Etsy Makes the Line Between Personal and Business Blurry

I’ve recently started using Etsy to sell the things that I create, both digitally and in my workshop. I’m looking forward to announcing that officially here soon. But for now, I’m just working on getting all my ducks in a row and learning the ins and outs of Etsy and the sales process.

One of the things that I’ve been doing is using the social functions of Etsy to familiarize myself with how most people will come across my items for sale. I’ve been following people, adding shops to my favorites, and adding products to my favorites and lists that I create. That’s exactly where the problems with Etsy seem to surface.

If a person does things on the site and I follow them, I get to see what they are in my feed. I normally don’t want to follow people, but rather, I want to follow shops. I want to be notified when they update their info, add new products, etc. But I can’t follow shops on Etsy. I have to save them as a favorite instead. Even though it acts just like a follow, it’s called a favorite. Okay… I guess I can get used to that, though I’ve already explained it to three different family members who were confused too.

Personal -vs- Business -vs- Both

The Etsy team has decided that each shop needs to have an individual behind it. This makes sense, as there almost always is a person running the store, but the way they go about it is confusing and counter-productive. Instead of attaching your personal account to all of your shops (many people have multiple shops to focus on different markets), you are required to create a different personal account for each shop you want to open. On top of that, any time someone views a product page, they see your personal account avatar next to your shop name at the top of the page.

How is it helpful to anyone to have a flood of empty, unused, personal accounts floating around Etsy because shop owners can’t maintain all of them just to run their shop? And how is forcing these pointless accounts on product pages going to help customers feel comfortable. For one, it’s confusing. Confusion isn’t helpful and it certainly doesn’t invoke comfort.

I found these issues to be quite serious. So I wrote a letter to Etsy’s support staff, detailing my confusion and lack of trust in at least one aspect of these issues.

On my shop page, you display my personal profile photo and name in the left column. This is fine because it’s clear that this photo is me, with my name below and “Shop Owner” above the photo. The link for my photo uses this reference: ref=owner_image_profile_leftnav. This makes sense.

On product pages, however, it does not make sense that you show my personal profile photo next to my shop name. It does not say my name or “Shop Owner”. It does not show the difference between my personal account and shop. The link for my “shop” photo uses this reference: ref=l2-shop-header-avatar. It appears that it was intended to be my shop avatar. Shouldn’t I be able to upload a shop avatar, just like I upload a shop banner?

This is confusing and it means that many of your sellers feel compelled to use their shop logos as personal profile photos. Thereby confusing things in the opposite direction. Now their shop makes sense and their personal accounts do not.

What is your reasoning for doing this? It looks like you haven’t finished working on the product pages. When will you be finished working on them? I am very concerned that issues like this which exist throughout the Etsy website will not be given any attention and will continue to be confusing and unhelpful. Could you please shed some light on this and direct my concerns to the development team so that a simple profile/avatar photo field may be added to the Info & Appearance section for exactly this purpose.

The Cake is an Experiment

I felt like that was a reasonable request for information and possibly a resolution. The response I received was less than encouraging.

Thanks for writing in to Etsy Support.
We have recently been running a series of experiments in an attempt to improve the shop homepage and listing pages. Some of the areas that you’re seeing your profile picture are a result of these efforts. We also want to be sure that buyers know they are buying from an individual shop, rather than from Etsy as a whole, which is why you’re seeing your profile picture repeated.
The branding questions that you have raised, regarding things like shop avatars, are certainly on our radar. I’ll be happy to pass your feedback along to the team that is working on these pages, as member feedback is highly valued.
While I don’t have a specific date of when we will be done working on these pages, please know that if we decide to launch a change to the site to everyone. You can keep an eye on our announcements here: []

Also, we want to reassure you that we won’t be running any experiments or making any big changes to your desktop shop home now that we’re getting closer to the busy holiday season.

It seems many companies are training their support staff to give responses that deflect all responsibility to a simple experiment. Yes, companies like Twitter and Foursquare have been doing this for years.

One of the reasons I stopped using Foursquare was because they never seemed to fix any bugs on their Android app. They chose instead to rely on the whole of the Android userbase believing that the bug was simply an experiment and that when they completed the experiment, action would be taken. After three years, I stopped believing their lies and uninstalled their app. There was no cake, the cake was a lie.

We Won’t Fix Anything Because Jesus

Well great. Did you happen to catch that last line of their response? They won’t make any big changes because of the holiday season. So from now until Spring of 2015, I should expect Etsy to be confusing. Because they will not make it less confusing, just in case that would confuse someone who’s shopping for Christmas presents.

These are just some of the ways Etsy is making their site annoying and difficult for sellers to use. I can’t imagine that it’s any easier to use for first-time buyers either. I mean, the difference between following a person and adding a shop as a favorite is just the name of the action. So why is the action named differently?

I’m going to go now. I think I’ve ranted long enough. For some reason I have a desire to bake a cake.