Etsy Unveils Major Policy Changes Amid Backlash From Solo Sellers

Comment

Etsy is making a major change to its policies today, allowing sellers to hire as many people as they need to run their businesses and to partner with outside manufacturers to produce their goods. While the marketplace for hand crafted goods faced a very public backlash over this issue in a recent GigaOm article, CEO Chad Dickerson has been considering changing the policies for some time now.

Etsy, which currently lists 18 million items for sale and is seeing 60 million unique visitors each month, has been wrestling with what “handmade” meant. In the meantime, guidelines for sellers grew from 4,000 to 14,000 words. The actual language allowed sellers to use “partial production assistance,” but what this assistance meant fell into a gray area. The rules were confusing, but many sellers came away feeling like they couldn’t expand their operations beyond a one-man shop. In other cases, some sellers began to bend the rules, adding more manufacturing resources. And unfortunately, some sellers left Etsy, says Dickerson. Additionally, sellers weren’t able to ship using outside couriers or fulfillment services–they literally had to drop their items off at the post office each time they sent a purchase made from the site.

Today, Etsy is making things clear in what they see as the most seller-friendly guidelines the company has ever implemented in its history. Sellers can now hire of any amount of staff, have someone else ship their goods, and apply to sell items they produce with manufacturing partners. Etsy is also expanding its rules to allow sellers to hire staff in other locations besides their own.

Instead of a focus on just handmade, Etsy has tweaked the guidelines to require products sold to have authorship with the seller, which basically means the handmade item began with your idea and vision (even if the item wasn’t necessarily assembled by you). Etsy is also admitting that sellers now have an array of methods to create their items, including laser cutters and CNC routers, to manufacturers who do small runs of high-quality items, and it is now acceptable for makers to use these tools and processes to create their items sold on Etsy.

To ensure that everyone is being transparent, Etsy is requiring that any artisan who is working with an outside business to make handmade items apply for review and approval by the beginning of 2014. The application requires sellers to demonstrate authorship of the idea, responsibility that the item is handmade and transparency on who and what is helping create the item. If the application is approved, you can list the items, and information about your manufacturer is made public in your shop’s About page.

As Dickerson tells us, this has been an ongoing conversation internally at Etsy for some time. The firestorm that erupted following the GigaOm article was symptomatic of the unease that everyone, including both Etsy and sellers, felt over the way the current guidelines were established. In addition, Etsy is also debuting urgent phone support for sellers, which will launch in November.

If anything, these clarifications allow sellers more liberty to grow as business as demand increases. Sellers could also tap into fulfillment services like Amazon’s fulfillment offering to make shipping and packing more seamless. And sellers can start using manufacturing techniques to make their products better. It seems that this move is actually seller-friendly and will only help sellers who are growing in terms of sales to actually grow within the Etsy platform.

More TechCrunch

Zen Educate, an online marketplace that connects schools with teachers, has raised $37 million in a Series B round of funding. The raise comes amid a growing teacher shortage crisis…

Zen Educate raises $37M and acquires Aquinas Education as it tries to address the teacher shortage

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

A new self-driving truck — manufactured by Volvo and loaded with autonomous vehicle tech developed by Aurora Innovation — could be on public highways as early as this summer.  The…

Aurora and Volvo unveil self-driving truck designed for a driverless future

The European venture capital firm raised its fourth fund as fund as climate tech “comes of age.”

ETF Partners raises €284M for climate startups that will be effective quickly — not 20 years down the road

Copilot, Microsoft’s brand of generative AI, will soon be far more deeply integrated into the Windows 11 experience.

Microsoft wants to make Windows an AI operating system, launches Copilot+ PCs

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. For those who haven’t heard, the first crewed launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule has been pushed back yet again to no earlier than…

TechCrunch Space: Star(side)liner

When I attended Automate in Chicago a few weeks back, multiple people thanked me for TechCrunch’s semi-regular robotics job report. It’s always edifying to get that feedback in person. While…

These 81 robotics companies are hiring

The top vehicle safety regulator in the U.S. has launched a formal probe into an April crash involving the all-electric VinFast VF8 SUV that claimed the lives of a family…

VinFast crash that killed family of four now under federal investigation

When putting a video portal in a public park in the middle of New York City, some inappropriate behavior will likely occur. The Portal, the vision of Lithuanian artist and…

NYC-Dublin real-time video portal reopens with some fixes to prevent inappropriate behavior

Longtime New York-based seed investor, Contour Venture Partners, is making progress on its latest flagship fund after lowering its target. The firm closed on $42 million, raised from 64 backers,…

Contour Venture Partners, an early investor in Datadog and Movable Ink, lowers the target for its fifth fund

Meta’s Oversight Board has now extended its scope to include the company’s newest platform, Instagram Threads, and has begun hearing cases from Threads.

Meta’s Oversight Board takes its first Threads case

The company says it’s refocusing and prioritizing fewer initiatives that will have the biggest impact on customers and add value to the business.

SeekOut, a recruiting startup last valued at $1.2 billion, lays off 30% of its workforce

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender SoLo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

The ChatGPT mobile app’s net revenue first jumped 22% on the day of the GPT-4o launch and continued to grow in the following days.

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw its biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

2 days ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’