Friday, June 27, 2008

Etsy Thoughts: What to Sell? (or "One Shop or Two?")

Let me tell you about a recent experience. I was browsing for cheaper mailing supplies for my Etsy shop. I looked at a few things and found exactly what I was hoping to find. Large quantity, bulk discount, low shipping. Perfect. But as I was browsing around the online store looking for other items that could be helpful and would be eligible for combined shipping, I noticed something. Something odd.

Look at these photos:

A toilet wheelchair. A set of poker chips. Mailers. Exercise equipment. And a cable accessory.

This is a representative sample of the 346 items sold by that vendor. Really? Yes, really. There were really just those 5 types of things... what you see in the pictures and variations on a theme.

The store was called Good Deal Hunting. OK. I was expecting it to be hunting supplies.

So that experience got me thinking about my shop. What do I sell that would make people go, "Hmm...?" What does my shop name imply?

So my shop name is TheJuneBride because, frankly, I am a June bride and I liked the sound of it. I don't think it commits me to a category of items the same way "Karen's Button Emporium" would. I've gotten feedback both ways about it too. Some guy thought I should sell more wedding related merch, but another person (a world-famous author, as it happens) told me she thought it was "classy and elegant". Of course I was flattered, as the comment was unsolicited. But since Etsy doesn't let you switch names, the point is moot if I'm only going to have one shop.

And what do I sell? In the handmade arena, I mainly sell iPod/gadget cases, baby hats and baby booties. For vintage supplies, it's buttons, trims and other sewing hardware-type items. That's it with a few odds and ends tucked in here and there. I'm not sure if that is as random as the toilet wheelchair and poker chip combo, but it certainly falls into 2 categories. I don't know if it bother people who want handmade items, or if it bother people who want supplies.

Now Etsy has changed their default search tactics to prevent "category bleed"... basically, they want searches to produce results that are more in line with what the search intended to pick out. If someone searches for "shirt", my shirt buttons will never show up now. This has hurt sales since only people who are looking for buttons find buttons now, but as time passes, things are recovering. I am findig that having a variety in my shop turns out more regular sales. I just deactivated all listings that are not iPod cases, brooches or buttons because I'm taking my shop on vacation. Sales are dramatically down. This could be a fluke, but I don't think so.

So, in conclusion, variety is good. Especially if you are an incontinent computer repair person who is rehabilitating a broken leg and enjoys playing poker. I'm going to stick with one shop, at least until Etsy gets their alternative up and running.

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