Etsy Updates Policies, Debuts Ad Campaign in Bid to ‘Keep Commerce Human’

Etsy homepage now features its new messaging focused on humans.

During the pandemic, Etsy’s seller community nearly doubled, according to CEO Josh Silverman. But since that time, this marketplace for makers has faced increasing competition from other retailers, such as Amazon and Michaels, which have edged in on its “handmade” turf — while at the same time combating an influx of factory-made products from international sellers.  

Now Etsy is fighting back with a series of new policies aimed at ensuring that products on its marketplace are “original items from real people.” And the platform is letting customers know about these efforts with a wide-reaching ad campaign that features real Etsy sellers, as well as designations in product listings about sellers’ relationship to the goods they are selling on Etsy.

“Today, in a world with more automation and generic goods than ever, our mission to keep commerce human has never been more important,” said Silverman in a blog post outlining these efforts. “I have incredible conviction that these updates position Etsy to lean even more deeply into what sets us apart in today’s ecommerce landscape: original items from real people.”

“To truly allow you and your unique items to shine for many years to come, we also need to protect and strengthen the magic of Etsy,” Silverman added in a video for sellers. “We need to reinforce what we stand for so that everyone who comes to us understands why we’re different and special.”

Etsy Releases New ‘Creativity Standards’

All products sold on Etsy must now fall under one of four designations:

  • Made by a seller (item was made by hand);
  • Designed by a seller (item was created by a seller using digital tools);
  • Sourced by a seller (for example, craft and party goods bought in bulk from a manufacturer or maker); and
  • Handpicked by a seller (for example, vintage items hand-selected by a seller for resale).

Silverman made clear that these designations do not represent any change to the types of products allowed for sale on Etsy, but rather represent an effort to “reinforce and clarify” what’s allowed.

Buyers on the site also will see these new designations when they shop, because Silverman said that the top thing customers want to know when they shop on Etsy is the seller’s involvement in the product they are selling. 

“I want to stress that this is just the start of our work to elevate your role in our marketplace. We’re also exploring how to highlight it in areas such as search, discovery and new marketing experiences,” said Silverman. “We believe this will better meet buyer expectations and help them find the exact type of item they’re looking for — from artisanal pieces crafted by your two hands to production-assisted items personalized to perfection.”

Celebrating and Supporting Etsy Sellers

Sampling of billboards from Etsy's new marketing campaign featuring real Etsy sellers.
Sampling of billboards from Etsy’s new marketing campaign featuring real Etsy sellers. (Image courtesy Etsy)

To drive home its new messaging with consumers, Etsy’s ad campaign featuring real Etsy sellers will span television, OOH and digital in the U.S. and UK.

The platform also is working to better support sellers in reaching customers, with plans to roll out new features that help sellers improve their listings so they perform better in search.

Finally, Silverman said that the company will be bringing back two seller programs — the Etsy Up annual seller conference and the Etsy Design Awards, a global award program that honors the work of Etsy sellers. The 2024 Etsy Design Awards will open for entries on July 16.