Online creative marketplace Etsy has been the home of many Australian microbusinesses just getting started in the retail market. Here Etsy’s country director for Australia, UK, Canada and New Zealand, Nicole Vanderbilt, sharing some advice for micros at home.
With 800,000 shops and 42 million unique visitors each month, Etsy is a massive online store available for any small business retailer looking to sell handmade or vintage items of any sort.
Everything from wedding decorations, jewellery and furniture is available for purchase on the website with sellers in almost 200 countries.
While not every seller is there to make a living, the ability to do so is available and some sellers are taking on the challenge- even if they’re working simply from their living room.
The best thing about Etsy is that the platform aims to help these microbusinesses in any way they can. “This year for we’re focusing on how to better support our communities in countries around the world, including Australia, which is a top five market for us. And one of our best ways to do that is to support our sellers to give them more education and tools to help them to really succeed on the platform,” says Vanderbilt.
According to Vanderbilt there are two main areas that Etsy is focusing on this year to help micro sellers gain success. “One is on promotion. And so that’s both about setting up your own store front in a way that is appealing but also how do you promote that store front yourself on social media, on Etsy, how do you get connected to the Etsy community. And I think a lot of those principles are similar for any small business. How you set up a store front that’s appealing and then how do you get the word out about that store front is really important.
“One of the other areas we spend time talking to Etsy sellers about is pricing. We find a lot of small businesses under price and don’t take into account enough of the value of their own time. So we spend some time helping them think about that and make sure they get that right. And we often find that sellers do better once they raise their prices.”
Vanderbilt believes that a lot of the lessons that small businesses learn on Etsy are applicable in wider business. “Our community is a really great place for small businesses to learn. Not only about how to be successful in Etsy, but how to be successful as a smaller microbusiness. We get asked a lot about what advice would we give entrepreneurs and micro businesses and I think one of the toughest ones is to ask for help. When you start your own business it’s really intimidating, you think you should have all the answers, you’ve taken this very big risk, you’re out there on your own, you should be able to do it yourself. You know that’s very much a lot of the thinking behind it and one of the toughest things to do is to ask for help, and the Etsy platform is great for that. Whether it be through the teams that sellers can self organise or our forums. This is a great environment to feel safe, to ask for help and to get meaningful support from other sellers on the platform.”
The country director also believes that while Etsy sellers tend to be creative types, they’re very often not entrepreneurially minded. “I think one of the things that’s been most surprising to me about Etsy’s sellers is how shy they can be. You know they put themselves out to the world with these great store fronts and beautiful products, and then when you interact with them they’re quite unassuming and softly spoken. I find that really encouraging, that we’re providing a platform for people who aren’t just like your stereotypical entrepreneurs who are shaking hands and networking the whole time. There’s a group of people who are actually quite content to not be out there doing that, and yet we found a way to help them be a successful microbusiness.”