Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday's Tip of the Week: Five Tips for Shopping Etsy

Tuesday's Tip of the Week is a guide for navigating the vast world of e-commerce.  Tips and Tricks from The Online Shopper for Online Shoppers!

The Online Shopper hearts Etsy.  If you have not heard of Etsy before, it is a site whose mission is "to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers."  This is exciting for an Online Shopper, but navigating the extensive inventory of handmade and vintage items on the site can be daunting.  Thus, The Online Shopper has pulled together five tips for shopping http://www.etsy.com/.  [Drum roll...] In no particular order:

Della T-Shirt from Alis
  1. Focus your Search:  With so many items on Etsy, it is absolutely necessary to go to the site with a clear vision of what you want.  For instance, if you search "t-shirt," you will end up with 124,745 hits. Yikes!  However, if you search "white t-shirt flower applique" you end up with 96 results, including this cute Della t-shirt from Alis.  The "categories" section on the left-hand side of the homepage is a great place to start, and be sure to select whether you are looking for something "handmade" or "vintage" in the button next to the search text box. 

2. Communicate with the Seller:  One of the greatest parts about Etsy is that the seller is a *person* not just Mr. Gap.com!  What a great resource.  You may email the seller, ask questions about their policies and/or products, and ask for something custom made if you do not see it listed on their page.  The Online Shopper had a great experience like this with the vendor of OhReallyBecky.  On the market for an ivory woolen caplet and after emailing with the seller, learned that OhReallyBecky had the perfect option.  The Online Shopper could not have been happier.  Communicating with the seller also gives you an opportunity to ask for a discount.  Sometimes a discount is not an option, but sometimes it is, and you will feel better after you asked (try that with a major retailer and you will get nowhere, fast).

Romantic Wrap Top With Short Ruffled Sleeve  Coral/ Pink Sweatshirt
Lirola's Romantic Wrap Top
 3. Pay Attention to Feedback: Feedback is incredibly important when shopping on Etsy.  If other Etsy shoppers have had a positive experience with a given seller, it is likely that your experience will be similar, and vice versa.  One of the Online Shopper's favorite stores is Lirola.  Lirola's handmade clothing like the Romantic Wrap Top, pictured right, is unique and beautiful, but better yet, the retailer has an abundance of Feedback with insightful comments and 100% positive review.  This is music to The Online Shopper's ears.  On the other hand if a seller does not have a lot of feedback, it may be because the seller has not made a lot of sales, but buyer beware.  In that case, pay with Paypal or even a credit card, instead of a debit card linked to your personal bank account.  If the seller's feedback is predominately negative, stay away altogether. 

4. Set up and Utilize Your Account: Etsy has recently revamped its account section to allow shoppers the opportunity to identify their "favorite" items and stores and create a "circle" of your friends.  The Online Shopper has added a number of items and shops to her favorites (like Lirola above) for ease in reference on future shopping visits.  These resources will help you navigate the various shops and items and can serve as a great starting point and a way to keep track of the stores from which you have made a purchase. 

A Maine Sunrise
A Main Sunrise by LovewithKatie
 5. Have Fun: With so many wonderful artists and objects to explore, have fun with Etsy!  The Online Shopper recommends going to Etsy first, before your local super store to try something new and original.  By way of example, The Online Shopper was recently on the market for some original art work.  Rather than scooting over to the local Home Goods chain to pick up a mass produced print (which would have done the job in an unoriginal way), The Online Shopper perused Etsy.  After going to Etsy, clicking "Art" underneath "Categories" on the home page, and then "photography" The Online Shopper was flooded with an abundance of beautiful photographs.  How about this lovely photograph, A Main Sunrise by LovewithKatie?  At $15.00, this is a must buy.    

Online Shoppers, do you have any other useful tips for shopping on Etsy? Post your advice here.