Rob Kalin, aka Rokali, spoke up in the Forums last week to address the Etsy community's concerns about recent changes.
Rob is the current CEO of Etsy.
Rob is the current CEO of Etsy.
He explained that the words in the header had been replaced with icons to facilitate a more international market, and to make the shopping cart more visible.
He said that the icons were handmade, "pixel by pixel."
He said that he appreciates all of the "negativity" and "criticism" in the forums, because they are more interesting and instructive than compliments.
He said that, "Over $1000.00 per minute is sold on Etsy," and they're monitoring how the changes affect sellers.
So far, so good.
On Etsy's new social networking focus:
"Shopping is itself a unique social experience. This is what we're designing for."
I would argue that online shopping is not a social experience. It's me being able to find what I want, at the price I want to pay, quickly and efficiently. A better search is more important than a social experience. If I want to browse, I will take the time to browse, and enjoy what I come across. I don't often involve anyone else in this process. Maybe I am abnormal.
On Etsy's new homepage:
"Etsy's curated spaces are going away. . . Instead of an admin deciding that every single visitor to Etsy should see a particular Treasury on the homepage, the homepage will be personalized."
I'm not sure how to translate this. On a positive note, we can hope that this will give a wider selection of Etsy sellers more exposure. On a negative note, I have to wonder how they will choose what will pop up on your homepage. Will these be treasuries curated from your teams, those in your circle, those with shops Etsy would suggest?
On finding friends on Etsy, or sending them to Etsy:
"For the 90% of people here on Etsy who don't have shops, we're seeing that finding people they know on Etsy has a huge impact on getting them to register, buy stuff, and stick around. . . we're building tools that ultimately help customers find you, which can be quite different than the tools that help you find customers."
I don't believe this theory, but then I don't buy into the entire "social commerce" vision. I'm not approaching this as a buyer only, though. I'm approaching it as a seller/buyer. Everyone I know also has heard about Etsy, through me. As a buyer, I shop a site and buy what I want to buy. If I enjoy a shopping experience, I will tell others about it. I would never use a "find your friends" function on a site as a buyer. Would you?
On improving sales numbers:
"The total $ value of sales on Etsy is up, so the changes we're making are improving the commerce side of this marketplace."
Actual January numbers showed that growth is slowing. Many of the changes Rob Kalin is discussing have been in place for less than a month. The figures for February have not been published yet.
On "Forum Migration":
"Our old forums ran on an outmoded infrastructure, one that we're not supporting anymore. The teams codebase was the future, and we migrated forums to teams."
I don't believe this one. The public forums that Etsy kept were converted to public teams. Others were killed off. Why? Teams (1) require more clicks to navigate, and (2) are not immediately visible to the ninety percent of Etsians who are buyers only. All forums could have been migrated to public teams, and the community would have been kept intact.
"If someone left Etsy in let's say 2006, and came back today in 2011, my hunch is that it'd still feel like the same place."
No. There are still people signing in, asking where the forums are. There are regulars who are confused about the new layout, and convinced that the changes in layout, forum structure, alchemy's "rest" and search have negatively impacted their businesses. If someone took a break around Thanksgiving last year and returned now, it would not feel like the same place.
In response to a seller saying they just want to sell their stuff, and have no interest in circles:
"What you're saying is you don't want to help yourself."
No, what the seller is saying is that they don't believe in your vision that circles will sell their stuff.
On how people buy online by searching, not by looking at favorites, either their own or others:
"That is how commerce currently works. . . we here at Etsy are not trying to uphold the status quo. . . I hope we discover much more, because that is the future I wish to invent."
Here we're getting down to the nitty gritty. Please, Etsy, uphold the status quo while it is still the status quo. I can appreciate wanting to predict the future and adapt to that, but I can also appreciate that people shop most of the time by searching for what they want to buy. Do you look at other people's favorite items in order to buy something 99% of the time?
Also, they're working on the search, tripling the content team which takes care of resellers et al, and working on a new listing process.
Sean11 goes on to explain how Circles and other networking are just extensions of the word of mouth advertising that has helped Etsy achieve the success it has seen thus far--word of mouth that was done by those of us who have been on Etsy for awhile. If you're favorited by someone with a "high circle count," this gets you seen by more potential buyers. Also, clicks on the Circle icon are growing by leaps and bounds.
Again, I can only speak for myself. I have quit using Circles pretty much completely. I'm just not interested in them. I don't spend nearly the time on Etsy that I used to a couple of months ago. I can't imagine most of the buyers I know personally using circles the way these guys think Circles will be used.
What do you think? This is a lot of information to process. What is it saying? And are you buying it?