5 Tips for Shopping on Etsy

Have you heard of Etsy? Are you a fan of the site? Etsy is a marketplace where millions of individual business owners sell their wares. Unlike marketplaces like Amazon or eBay, Etsy only offers handmade goods, vintage items, and craft supplies. This makes it a great place to find unique, offbeat, and beautiful items. I sell my handmade jewelry and gifts on Etsy but I also love to shop on the site. I have quite a few special gifts bought years ago when my children were small. These handcrafted items are now wonderful reminders of their childhood. Where else would you find a handheld mirror with a beautiful handmade fairy doll attached to one side, complete with a gorgeous tulle dress, wand, and lovely curly hair? My daughter still uses it years later! Whether you are a pro at shopping on Etsy or completely new to it, I hope you will find the tips I share useful. 

Tip #1: Check out the Shop Owner

 I like to take some time to check out the shop and its policies. This will give you lots of information about what type of item you are getting. For example, in the case of handmade goods, some owners create everything by themselves and some have shop members who help. A few create original designs and then have production partners. I always check the shop owner’s return policy for my own peace of mind. You can also check recent reviews. After you click on a listing, scroll to the bottom of the page. Here you will find policies on shipping and returns, FAQs, and get to “meet” the creator/owner in the about section. Look for details about how long a piece takes to make and any customization options. You can also click on the shop name above the listing and go directly to the shop for a look around. Remember, Etsy is just the marketplace. You are buying from an individual seller, and each seller will have different policies. 

Tip #2: Take Your Time

 Spend a few extra minutes double checking things. It could save you a lot of time in the long run. Once, I was thrilled to find the perfect print on a personalized tote bag for my niece. I was so happy that I just assumed the name was embroidered on the bag. I received a nice bag, but not the bag I had in mind. The name was hard to see and printed on the fabric. I learned my lesson and now I always look for measurements and materials. I look at production times, return policies, and I even make sure the correct shipping address is used. It is a wonderful convenience to shop in your jammies and get a delivery straight to your door, but online shopping goes smoother when you wait a moment before hitting the buy button. 

Tip #3: Join the Club

 Etsy likes to promote a community spirit. Registering on the site will get you access to some exclusive features. Members can favorite items and shops. For an item, just click the heart on the left corner of a listing image. For a shop, click the “favorite shop” button on the shop’s homepage. You can choose to share these in your public profile or keep them private. Joining is also the easiest way to contact a shop owner before you place an order. Etsy has an internal messaging system called conversations. Once you join, you can send an owner a question by clicking on the “ask a question” button on the listing page (right under the buy button). As a member, you can click on your profile where it says “You” on the top right corner of any page. You can access your favorites, your conversations, your purchases and reviews, and your settings here. If you have a question about an order you placed, just go to purchases and you will find a link to contact the shop right next to your order. If you do join, go to settings and make sure your privacy and email marketing settings are set up just the way you like them. 

Tip #4: Get in Touch

 Etsy gives you a few ways to get in touch with the creator of your product. Most shop owners would love to answer any questions you have. If anything goes wrong with your order, communication with the shop owner is the best way to make things right as quickly as possible. If you make a purchase as a guest, you can ask any questions through the email receipt that Etsy will send you. Some shop owners will provide a business email to help guests who have a question prior to ordering. If you are a member, you can contact the shop owner through the contact link next to your order. This is found under the purchases and reviews section of your profile. In the unlikely event that your problem is not resolved by the buyer, you can open a case with Etsy. Etsy will investigate and mediate a resolution for you. You do need to be registered with Etsy to do this, but you can register after ordering if necessary. Once you register, you will find your purchases under your account (the link to “You” on the top right-hand corner). Click on the link by your purchase to open a case (either clicking “I haven’t received this item” or “item isn’t as described”). 

Tip #5: Make Search Work for You

 You can narrow your search in a few ways to help find the perfect item for you. You will find lots of categories you can check off on the left-hand side of Etsy. For example, you can narrow your search to handmade, vintage, or a specific country. Adding extra details in the search bar will help too, like the color or material you had in mind. You can also put a minus sign in front of a word to narrow the results. For instance, entering “chain necklace personalized –gold” would exclude all gold chain necklaces. You can also search in specific categories at the top of the page, like “Art & Collectibles.”

These five tips will not take up much of your time, but they will help you shop safely and securely online. I hope you will have as much fun exploring Etsy as I do!

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