Friday, February 22, 2008

What Is Etsy?

Chapter I. What is Etsy?

I have plans of creating a clickable tutorial for those who are unfamiliar with Etsy, so that new users and complete strangers can become more familiar with the site to buy and sell handmade items. While my motives are somewhat selfish ("Buy from me! Buy from me!"), I realize that as a new buyer or seller there are many concerns and it can be somewhat intimidating.

This is my first chapter of my tutorial, called "What is Etsy?".

Despite the many theories behind the name "Etsy," it's origin is still a secret to everyone except those who named it. While I'm pretty sure my theory is false, I'd like to think of it as:

You can register on Etsy as a buyer and/or seller. The most important thing for buyers to remember is prompt payment. It is not fair to the shop owner if their item becomes unavailable for selling and it takes an excessive period of time to receive their payment, if they receive it at all.

The rules of selling are pretty basic. The items must be either handmade, vintage items, or items for commercial use, such as jewelry findings, yarn, zippers, and so on. If they are for commercial use, they must be tagged as such. The purchased item must also be shipped in a reasonable period of time. It helps if you list in your profile your shipping policies, such as what days of the week you can ship items so that they buyer can know when to expect your package.

Why register to buy items on Etsy?

Because the Etsy administrators make you, that's why! It has to do with feedback and to protect everyone's best interests, mostly. For the buyer, when you make a purchase from an Etsy shop, you and the seller both must follow Etsy's guidelines, as well as any policies that the seller has in their profile and/or shop announcement. Both the buyer and the seller can rate the transaction through feedback. Did the buyer pay promptly? Was the seller's description of the item accurate? Of course, it is always appreciated from both sides of the transaction to discuss any problems that may arise before leaving negative feedback. If you are unhappy with an item, first contact the seller to see if a return is possible. Maybe the buyer was slow to complete the transaction because they just put funds into their PayPal account but PayPal had taken longer than three days to clear it. If you purchase an item and it is never shipped, you can contact Etsy for intervention. Leaving negative feedback for poor/unethical service helps warn other buyers/sellers, while positive feedback is encouraging to future customers.

Etsy administrators also get cranky when Etsians sell items listed on Etsy but not through Etsy. It is only fair that they make some money off of the seller's profits because they host a website and help direct traffic to your shop.

Is Etsy safe and secure?

Etsy explains their privacy and security policies here. As a seller, when someone makes a purchase from me I do not see any personal credit card or PayPal information other than the buyer's name, shipping address and email address which is only available upon them purchasing an item. We need to see this information, obviously, so we know where to send it.

Both Etsy and PayPal are secure. I have not yet heard of anyone, buyers nor sellers, have a security issue and personal information compromised while using either of these two services.

In today's world, if you think about it, everything is stored on computers. Whether you are a computer programmer or someone who does not even have an email address, your bank, credit card companies, utility companies, and so on all store your personal information on computers. Even if you are not affiliated with them online, there is always a chance that someone can access your electronically stored information.

In my life, I have had two instances (that I know of) where my personal information was compromised. Ten years ago when I was looking at colleges to apply to, I requested information from several. There was one college I didn't even remember contacting for information that sent me a letter in the mail a couple years after I graduated from Marist. In the letter they explained that their computer system had been hacked into and that the person that had broken into the system may have accessed my social security number. Keep in mind, when I was looking at colleges, internet was just beginning to become huge but we did not even have dial-up in my house. I did not use the internet at all in my college search/application process, yet it was used to access my personal information that I had provided to a school I didn't apply to.

The second security breach I had was a few Christmases ago. I had done some Christmas shopping at a Marshall's store and made my purchase with a credit card. That very next day someone broke into the Marshall's/TJ Maxx computer system and got access to all the credit card numbers within a certain time frame. I was promptly issued a new card from my credit card company, and there were no suspicious charges made on my account. Like my first situation, I had done nothing online to allow this to happen.

My point is that these are secure sites, and there's always a chance your personal information can be accessed anywhere.

Stay tuned for the next chapter specifically on how to become a buyer and make purchases. In the mean time, if you have any questions you can contact me or check out some of these useful links:

General FAQ's about Etsy
DO's and DON'Ts of Etsy
Etsywiki (The Wikipedia of Etsy)
Etsy's Help Guides


Anonymous said...

Nice article. Bookmarking.

Shelley Ann Jones said...

Awesome! Do you mind if I link to this in a future post? This was a terrific write-up!

A Keeper's Jackpot said...

Link Away! :)

Tanuja said...

Thanks! I was just thinking of selling some purses and artwork on etsy. But I wasn't sure if it is safe and secure. I think I will give it a try! =) Thanks!

rt r said...

I noticed that Etsy asks for your billing information to validate you , when you try to sell something, and they request your card number, cvv, and birth date, essentially all the information that could be misused by someone to cash your account.

There is no signs of a secure socket layer, or anythign that could give me the idea that it is a safe place to give my credit card information.

Do you have anything to say on that?

I am wondering how i can take this to the people behind, as I would really love to use the site provided it is safe.

A Keeper's Jackpot said...

rt r: They require this information of you to be a seller because there are small fees associated w/ selling on Etsy. They claim very small percent of your sales, plus twenty cents when you list something. When Etsy first started you could not pay your bill w/ PayPal, it had to be CC. So they kept that info on file.

When you pay your monthly bill to Etsy which are these fees as I've described, it takes you to an https:// website as opposed to http:// the https being secure, and there is also a pad lock icon in the bottom right of your screen indicating a secure site.

I can tell you that I've never had an issue w/ security on Etsy nor have I heard of anyone having one, if that makes you feel better. I can't say for sure as though its never happened though, this I don't know. Hope that helps.