Etsy Is Working With Its Sellers to Offer Site-Wide Free Shipping

Vendors on Etsy who don’t already offer free shipping are getting a sharp—but well-supported?—nudge by the platform to start doing so.

The Brooklyn, N.Y.–based company announced this week that it plans to make free shipping a core part of the shopping experience on the site—by providing its sellers with “tools and support to make it easy for them to guarantee free shipping on orders of $35 or more to U.S. buyers.”

And there’s a huge incentive for sellers to get on board: Items that ship for free will get priority placement in U.S. search results.

The push for site-wide free shipping is designed to modernize Etsy. Avid online shoppers have come to expect free shipping. And consumer data collected by Etsy (and virtually every other retail entity on the planet) has found that buyers are significantly more likely to purchase an item in their cart that offers free shipping, compared to an item that has added shipping costs.

The company also ran a brief free-shipping promotion in May 2019 that “led to higher order values when participating buyers purchased items that shipped for free or were eligible for free shipping,” according to a company statement. 

 Josh Silverman, Etsy’s chief executive officer, said in the same statement, “By making free shipping the norm on Etsy, rather than the exception, we’ll connect more people with items that they love. Ultimately, we believe this will help increase marketplace conversion and order value, encourage repeat visits, and drive more sales for Etsy sellers.”

Though better search rankings are being dangled for U.S. sellers on Etsy, the company is providing tools and support to its global vendors to be able to transition to free shipping on orders $35 and over. The website will start actively marketing the site-wide free shipping initiative to buyers starting in September.

Kruti Patel Goyal, senior vice president, head of product development, added in the statement, “Buyer expectations continue to evolve, and we want to help sellers adapt and thrive in an increasingly competitive retail landscape. Free shipping is now table stakes when it comes to online shopping.”

The executive acknowledged that the transition may be challenging for small businesses selling on the site, but said, “we will be there to support them every step of the way. We are providing numerous tools, resources, and customer support touch points to make it easy for them to set up a guarantee and understand how free shipping can help them reach their business goals.”

The initiative is expected to have a modest upside to Etsy’s previously announced 2019 gross merchandise sales guidance, according to the company, which will share info on the rollout during reporting of its second quarter 2019 financial results.

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