The Marketplace Boom   //   September 11, 2023

Etsy seeks to drive more organic traffic through “Share & Save” program

Last Wednesday, Etsy announced a new optional program for sellers called “Share & Save,” that essentially asks Etsy sellers to be their own affiliates.

In a blog post titled “Save on Etsy fees when you drive sales to your shop,” the company outlined how the new feature will work. “Today we’re excited to announce a brand new program that rewards you for the work you already do to drive traffic and sales to your Etsy shop,” the post said.

According to Etsy, when sellers share a unique link to their shop or listings and end up making a sale, the platform will take 4% of the order total off their Etsy bill — compared its usual fee of 6.5%. The links can be posted on social media, in text messages, on sellers’ websites, or in email marketing. Share & Save, which is optional and free to opt into, following a sellers backlash and strike over Etsy transaction fees increases in 2022. According to sellers who spoke to Modern Retail, the new program is a welcome reward to those who already share their listings to drive traffic to their stores.

But other sellers were skeptical of how much of a reward this program would actually provide to sellers in the long run. Artisans Cooperative — a group of artists, Etsy sellers and makers who met through the April Etsy Strike — told Modern Retail in a statement that the new program comes at a time when many Etsy sellers have lost trust in management. 

Valerie Franklin, the spokesperson for Artisans Cooperative, said, “This Trojan Horse of a program does nothing to solve that.” She went on to explain that the new contract reads as self-serving for Etsy, and “opts sellers back into arbitration in the fine print, doesn’t actually offer a discount if the buyer also clicks on an Offsite Ad and presents yet another risk to the artisan when pricing their work.” Artisans Cooperative is currently building its own member-owned, no-fee cooperative platform to sell through.

Still, some Etsy merchants who already use their own social feeds to direct customers to their stores are welcoming the Share & Save option. 

Shane Earl, a Utah-based Etsy seller who runs two photography and design shops, said “I do think it’s a good feature and I plan to sign up for it, although I don’t think the 4% in fee reductions they are offering is a huge deal,” Earl said. “But that being said, I drive most of my own Etsy traffic on my own anyway,” adding that the majority of his shops’ sales come from Twitter, now X. “If I’m driving most of my own traffic already though, I might as well use that benefit.”

Another Etsy seller, who spoke anonymously, agreed that Share & Save “actually sounds like it’s a decent program.” They said, “I definitely don’t like their fees much, plus I already share my listings regularly.” In April 2022, Etsy increased the transaction fee per sale from 5% to 6.5%, sparking backlash from many longtime sellers, who were also grappling with inflation.

Illinois-based Etsy merchant Joanna Marie, who sells prints on demand, said that, on the surface, the Share & Save option seems like a good benefit to sellers that are heavily invested in social media marketing efforts. However, she pointed to the program’s terms and services as a reason to “exercise caution” when opting into Share & Save. As outlined in the terms, the company states: “You are prohibited from directly linking pay-per-click (PPC) activities to Etsy, which includes utilizing as a display URL.” 

“This implies that one might be required to invest in advertising that leads to a dedicated landing page and subsequently rely on users navigating from that page to access your unique URL” Marie explained. She wondered if Etsy’s growing advertising business may not be generating as much traffic as hoped. “One strategy to sustain an advertising presence involves promoting a grassroots campaign, incentivizing sellers with modest rewards for their participation,” Marie said.

It’s still early days to determine how much the Share & Save opt-in will help offset transaction fees, but sellers like Earl say it likely won’t hurt given Etsy’s vast network.

“Even with the fees and such Etsy remains, for me at least, the most profitable way to create an income stream off of my artwork,” Earl said. “They have lots of users, are a trusted platform and I still make a higher margin than I do on platforms like Redbubble.”