Thursday, 23 February 2012

Folksy & Etsy Comparison Part 6: The buying experience

This is the second last part of my looong winded comparison of Folksy and Etsy. Here I'm going to cover some aspects of the buying and selling experience; some from the customer's point of view, some from the point of view of you the seller. 
Note I have updated this post 18th September 2012.

Note to seller

Folksy & Etsy - both now have the ability for buyers to leave a message to you when they check out.

Vital if you have product options such as colour or size! Etsy is however now going a step further by trialling out the ability to add selectable options to your listing directly, so that buyers choose from a drop down box before adding to basket. I am testing this out on some of my collars and it looks great!

How can customers contact you 

Folksy – message system 
Etsyconversations – otherwise known as "convos"

The Etsy conversation system is great and works really smoothly. You can apply actions to multiple convos at a time, and there's even a search function for your convos. One particularly nice touch is that you can set an "out of office" message when you are on holiday.  I think the messaging system is a great illustration of the resources Etsy has at its disposal: they are able to invest in parts of the site that aren't absolutely essential to the running of our shops. Similarly, as Folksy is much much smaller they have to prioritise their investments. As a result the messaging system on Folksy is fairly bare bones. It is a bit clunky, for example you are only able to view a few messages at a time, and you can only delete messages one at a time. Another irritation is that when you reply to a message, it doesn’t bring up the subject header automatically. But ultimately, these niggles are really minor, essentially it does the job it needs to - enabling customers to get in touch with you. 

Payment methods

Folksy – Paypal is the only integrated payment method
EtsyPaypal is mainly used, but other options are available and integrated into the checkout process.

Another area Etsy seems to have been investing in quite heavily recently is broadening the checkout options for customers. As well as the ubiquitous Paypal, they offer bank transfers and are testing direct credit or debit card payments (US shops only at the moment).

I haven't looked much into bank transfers myself - it seems a bit complex but could be useful for UK-> UK purchases. There’ll be charges to consider for international purchases made this way. Essentially, you add your bank details to your account and they are revealed to the buyer once they’ve committed to buy. The buyer loses Paypal protection; but it doesn’t make so much difference for the seller. There may be security issues but the same details are printed on your cheques, so if you are happy paying for things by cheque this shouldn't present a big problem to you.

The option for "Direct Checkout" - direct credit and debit card payments without leaving the Etsy site - is quite tantalising, I hope it will be rolled out to shops outside the US in time. However, note that international buyers can use Direct Checkout when buying from US shops who are using it. Using Direct Checkout will cost sellers a 3% + $0.25 USD payment processing fee per sale, so that is a little cheaper than Paypal for most sales (not the cheapest things). Brilliantly, you don't need a merchant account to take payments this way, which saves on business banking fees. I really hope they bring it to UK sellers soon!

Etsy also allows you to take payment by cheque, money order or any other method you wish... I haven't used these myself, I believe that once you have been paid you will have to manually mark the transaction as paid.

At Folksy too you can choose to accept payment by bank transfer, cheque, postal order, etc, but these have to be organised between you and the customer. Once the payment has cleared, you must contact Folksy support to get them to mark the transaction as paid. 

Confirmation of purchase

Folksy – buyers get a generic email from Folksy
Etsybuyers get a personalised email.

I love being able to customise the order confirmation email on Etsy. You can use it to put lots of important information in. In my first paragraph I say "If you’ve bought a collar with a colour choice, don’t forget to tell me which option you want", and information about expected shipping times. It's also useful to add last posting dates for Christmas. All this information should be elsewhere in your shop (eg in shop Policies), but it's always good to repeat the important stuff! 

Currency settings

Folksy - £ only. 
EtsyAny currency supported by Paypal.

On Etsy the basic currency of your shop can be $ or £ (or many other currencies). So you can set your prices to eg £10 instead of $15, which may one day will be £10.14 and the next £9.92. Etsy converts your price to the price of the buyer – eg a buyer in the UK will see your price as £10 but a buyer in America will see your price as $15.72. The transaction is done in the home currency of your shop, so £10, and if the buyer is not in the UK they will experience (small) FX charges from Paypal for the conversion. 

Having everything in £ makes your accounting (much) easier but could potentially put off customers (however I think most Etsy buyers are savvy to this and don’t mind the few cents extra). If most of your customers are from the US anyway, you could just keep it in $ (I do). Note that according to HMRC you need to have the Paypal conversion rate for each purchase made in a currency that isn't £. I check and note the conversion rate every day I get a purchase and make a note of it.

On Folksy, international buyers will still see your prices in £ and they won’t be converted to their currency until they get to Paypal (by which time they have committed to buy your item). Again they would be charged the slight extra for FX from Paypal. To be honest, international buyers are few and far between on Folksy at the moment (I’ve had one from US, one from Canada, one from France and one from the Netherlands out of about 200 sales). 

Etsy - Shop local

Etsy has a "shop local" feature where you can narrow down search results to be local to you – this could be "London" or "UK" or there’s even a "EU" option now. This is really great if you are looking for something and you can’t wait several weeks for delivery from the US or other international locations. To make sure your items are picked up by a local search you go into Account > Profile and start typing your city into the City box. Then you must pick one of the options that Etsy gives you. If you don't do it this way your item won't be picked up in Local searches.

I also suggest putting "UK" as one of your Etsy tags, some people search this way. 

Etsy - Shopping in another language 

One interesting thing from Etsy here is that they now have "Etsy in German" and "Etsy in French" – this is a setting where the whole Etsy site is translated into French/German. For customers using these settings, Etsy translates their French/German search terms into English and shows customers relevant results, so you don’t need to translate your listings to catch these customers.

However... if you do have good language skills, as a seller you do have the option to sell in French or German. This means that you translate your shop announcement, policies, etc and all listings into the language, and anyone with the site set to that language will see your listings in their language. To take this option you are supposed to be able to conduct business in that language, so probably not one for you if you can just scrape by with GCSE or O-level vocab on a holiday to Brittany. In the UK we are not far from France and Germany so I think this is a bonus for us; if you have the language skills you can go one step further and make your shop bi- or tri-lingual! 

Next and final part of this series (I promise!) - all the little bits that I couldn't fit anywhere else!!

All parts of this series:
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Listing 

Part 3: Personalising your shop 
Part 4: How items appear on the sites
Part 5: Sharing your shop and items

Part 6: The buying experience 
Part 7: Everything else!!

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