Some sellers on Etsy say they are stopping the sale of their items on the site for a week to protest against an increase in the fees the artisanal e-commerce market is charging them.
As of Monday, Etsy sellers will have to pay a commission of 6.5% for each transaction, up from 5% since 2018.
A protest organizer, Kristi Cassidy, said thousands of Etsy sellers – a fraction of the 5.3 million sellers on the site – had temporarily stopped selling their items. Cassidy, which has been selling gothic and punk costumes on Etsy since 2007, also launched a petition that has so far collected more than 50,000 signatures from buyers and sellers. Roughly 20,000 are vendors. Cassidy said it is difficult to estimate the exact number of sellers who have actually stopped selling on the site.
Cassidy and others are also addressing an issue with Etsy’s advertising policy implemented in early 2020. It requires that sellers make at least $ 10,000 a year on Etsy and who advertise their products on Etsy’s offsite social media and search engine partners, in order to pay a 12% advertising fee on sales made through the ads.
Cassidy also said that Etsy should destroy resellers, people who sell mass-produced goods that they themselves have not designed.
Raina Moskowitz, chief executive officer at Etsy based in New York, said the new remuneration structure would enable the company to increase spending on marketing, customer support and remove listings that do not comply with its policies.
“The success of our vendors is a top priority for Etsy,” she said in a statement.
Etsy, best known for selling handmade soaps and jewelry, was one of the few beneficiaries of the pandemic as more people stayed home and made items or searched for homemade items online.
But it is now under pressure to increase its offerings to better compete with Amazon. As part of its growth strategy, it made two acquisitions last year. It bought Depop, an app popular with young people looking to buy and sell used clothing and vintage fashion from the early 2000s. It also bought Elo7 – known as the “Etsy of Brazil” for its popular brand for cunning creators.
Speaking of unionizing
Cassidy said the protest over fees is just the beginning. She told The Associated Press that she was actually “building the equivalent of a union” for Etsy sellers and said she was inspired by the union that is heating up activity at companies like Amazon and Starbucks.
“As individual artisans, makers and small businesses, we can easily be for a giant corporation like Etsy to profit from,” Cassidy wrote in the online petition. “But as an organized front of people, determined to use our diverse skills and boundless creativity to win ourselves an honest deal, Etsy will not have such an easy time pushing us around.”
The Rhode Island – based mother of two young children said she saw her income drop last year to a third of what it was in 2019, partly to blame for some of the moves Etsy has made.