Friday, January 22, 2010

Relevancy Search.....continued

There is just so much fodder in the forums lately regarding this experimentation of the relevancy search it's hard to keep up.  I'm only on page 50 o f this thread and it's all I can do not to come back and post on my blog every few minutes.  I think it's running about 50-50 of those opposed and those in favor.  Some of the opposed make some very good points, especially about the title stuffing that is apparently happening, and the alleged stagnation of certain seller's items in certain categories.  I say alleged, because I haven't researched this myself.

Etsy definitely has some housekeeping to do in terms of fixing these and a few other things, such as tag and category abuse, and as much as people complain about experimenting in a live setting, I really, really think this was the only way to go to find potential pitfalls, especially in such a short amount of time.  You have to admit, testing in a controlled beta setting is probably not going to be as useful.  Etsy's past performance on rolling out features that have supposedly been beta tested first didn't have a whole lot of success either.

Which brings me to the latest post that has gotten under my skin.  Now, I will start off by first conceding that I do not make my living on Etsy.  While I certainly treat this as a business, it is not a means of dependable income, so this may color my views to a point, but because I do treat this as a business, there are certain things that being in business would require of me, or of anyone who's intention is to establish and maintain a business as an artist or crafter.  Preparation and planning being among the top 2 items.  Ok, so here is the quote:

"This might be a good thing to test for maybe two hours a day for a week. But as a seller with two children who has found a way to make this a viable income producer for her family by getting between 10-30 sales a day, let me just say that having zero sales today is like showing up at work and being told, "We're doing an experiment with payroll today. Work your butt off and mayyyybe you'll get paid!" Completely changing what has been working well for 24 hours: not cool.

I would like to reiterate that even if this helps buyers find what they are looking for today. The quality of high volume shop products will go down if their incomes get slashed. (I can't come out with new designs if I don't have the income to support the back stock.)"

Ok, I am not unsympathetic to a sudden loss of sales and income due to the search change.  Even for one day.  But there are a lot of things that could also cause this one day loss that don't have the potential for positive change.  Etsy could just plain take the site down for a day, or two or longer, believe me, it's happened before.  You could be in a car accident and be incapacitated for an extended period of time, one of your family members could become ill and you might have to tend to them rather than your shop.  These sorts of things should be taken into consideration when planning for your business.

As for 'the quality of high volume shop products going down if their incomes get slashed', well, I don't really believe this statement to be even a tiny bit truthful.  Quantity?  maybe.  Obviously if you are not selling a lot you won't continue to produce at quite the same rate as you would if you were selling multiple items daily, but it should never affect the quality of the items.  Especially if you are relying on the income of those sales directly to fund the creation of new ones.  I would imagine most of us do this, to a certain degree.  I know I do, but I also have reserves set aside so that I can buy supplies if I want to try a new idea or if I want to just continue to produce inventory for my shop.  Naturally, a portion of my sales go back to those reserves to help replenish it, but I felt it was a necessary business decision because not all business take off immediately, and the potential is always there for something to happen that might slow down or cut off one of my income streams.

All in all, I guess what I am trying to say is I really resent the emotionally charged reasoning rather than the factual reasoning.  If Etsy is going to scrap the relevant search, I'd much prefer that decision be based on the hard data that tells them it isn't going to work rather than a bunch of sellers crying that they have lower views, fewer sales and they are ultimately going to have to go elsewhere if this continues.  If the hard data shows that sales are still up, then it probably means that the sales are being spread out a bit more and as much as that might hurt your business, it is probably helping someone else's.

Here's a piece of unsolicited advice.....spread out your eggs into other baskets.  Start advertising your shop and bring in your customers and stop relying on Etsy foot traffic.  That foot traffic is a bonus and not a given and, for one, am glad that Etsy is trying to spread out that foot traffic more equitably. 

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