Subscribe to Inc. magazine

5 Tips to Rock Holiday Sales on Your Etsy Store

Handmade goods are attractive this time of year, but they don't exactly sell themselves. Start moving more product with these tips.
Advertisement has become one of those must stops for many entrepreneurs—more than 800,000 of them, according to the site. These people create handmade goods and want to sell them. But those who gravitate to arts, crafts, and design often don’t have the best natural chops for business. That’s not good during gift-buying prime time.

So Allison Strine, co-author of Starting an Etsy Business For Dummies, and her publisher put together a list of some tips to help make a greener Christmas for sales. Some of the points were a bit trite—there’s only so much “networking” you can do before you finally drive your Facebook and Twitter connections to come looking for you with tar and feathers—but, there were some good ones. Here’s the cream of the crop:

Tiered pricing

It’s a retailing basic, whether you’re in one of the most sophisticated chain stores in the world or you’re strolling through a craft show. Monolithic offerings and pricing means you’ve just eliminated anyone who isn’t interested in spending that amount of money on what you offer. So create tiers or levels of pricing. If you have many $25 items, consider some at $5 that can be a stocking stuffer or an impulse buy. Similarly, don’t write off having some items at $100. Why not let someone spend more if they wish without having to buy duplicates?

Give a little to get a little

Strine suggests giving customers something, whether advice on a blog, gift-wrapping, a little gift with a purchase, or free shipping. She says that it builds trust and helps develop relationships. There’s the equally-valid view that consumers like to get something for nothing and have become accustomed to the practice this time of year. Try it as an experiment and see how it works, tracking your order volume, average order size, and other factors that might show whether the marketing tactic encouraged more buying or not.

Provide a guarantee

Marvelous advice. One of the reasons consumers can be reluctant to buy from the Web is concern about being burned. A guarantee may not solve all trust issues, but it will help. Also, even if someone doesn’t like a product, quickly resolving the issue and keeping the person happy can pay off in some good word-of-mouth and, more importantly, a lack of the bad variety.

Use deadlines

People hate to make decisions and procrastination kills impulse purchases. If you’re running a special, limit it in time. That helps create a sense of urgency that should increase response. Also, be realistic about deadlines. If someone wants a product in hand by Christmas Eve, then make sure you have enough time to package and ship an order and still leave enough days for the product to reach its destination. Factor in the increasing load on the post office and carrier services, as well.

Pay attention to how you shop on Etsy

Browse Etsy and see what products and shops appeal to you. Learn from the experience. You can’t expect that all customers are like you, but figure some things don’t change. If you find a certain technique—maybe a way of handling product descriptions or photographs—seems to work in more than one Etsy store, you’ve probably upon an important principle of merchandising.

Last updated: Dec 13, 2011

ERIK SHERMAN | Columnist

Erik Sherman's work has appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Magazine, and Fortune. He also blogs for CBS MoneyWatch.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

Register on today to get full access to:
All articles  |  Magazine archives | Livestream events | Comments

Or sign up using: