Etsy’s recent announcement on shipping times during the holiday season seems to have been missed by most people, but it’s pretty crucial as far as search placement goes.
I stumbled upon it recently in a letter to sellers in the Etsy forums, and I thought that it was worth talking about since it will probably impact us throughout the year, not just during the holidays.
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What Etsy is doing for the holiday season (and probably beyond.)
Since one of Etsy’s main goals is to build trust in the platform with consumers, they created the Purchase Protection Program for sellers and buyers to have some extra security when transactions happen on Etsy.
They’ve been advertising the “get your money back if the package isn’t delivered on time” thing recently, but that’s basically just purchase protection.
That campaign is designed to make customers aware that they’ll get reliable shipping when they buy something on Etsy, but it’s not anything new that’s being introduced.
However, another layer that they’re adding is that the search algorithm will be giving a boost in search to listings that have shorter processing times in December (of 2023.) This is the announcement that they made in the forums, and it does have some wider implications for sellers.
Basically, listings with faster shipping and shorter processing times will probably have better placement in search ranking, so things that have a longer processing time might suffer.
Holiday algorithm changes.
Keep in mind that this announcement was only for the holiday season of 2023, but it shows that Etsy is putting a premium on getting customers their orders quickly.
We’ve known for a while that Etsy has been using localization for search rankings, meaning that customers in one location are being shown shops that are closer to them in search results. The goal there is to reduce the transit time for orders so that people get their stuff faster.
When Etsy shows a customer the estimated delivery dates for their orders, it’s taking your processing times and adding it to the shipping carrier’s estimated transit times that you have available in your shop.
Giving shorter processing times a boost is trying to make the estimated delivery dates start sooner. That makes customers think they’re going to get their orders faster, which in turn makes it more likely that they’ll buy something.
Because of that, we need to be aware that Etsy might keep the search ranking boost on in some way even after the holiday shopping season is over.
It’s always better to ship faster than it is to wait, but this really reinforces that idea.
Weekend processing times
Another indication that your processing time might be more important than it used to be are the messages that Etsy was putting on the shop dashboard that encouraged sellers to turn on weekend processing.
When you turn on weekends on your shop settings as days that you process orders, it reduces the processing time estimates, so it shows faster estimated delivery dates.
If you have Monday-Friday as days that you process orders, Etsy adds 2 days for the weekend to the estimated delivery dates, and they seem to think that the longer delivery window will make some customers less likely to buy.
If you add Saturday or Sunday (or both) to your processing days, it basically moves the estimated delivery window that customers see up by one or two days, so people see that they’ll be receiving their orders earlier.
All of these things that Etsy is doing, using localization, shorter processing times, and shorter estimated delivery dates, is a really good indication that Etsy is putting a premium on listings that will get to customers faster than ones that will take longer.
That means that if you want to get a better search ranking, you might want to figure out how to shorten your processing times.
Ways to get better search ranking for faster deliveries.
Keep in mind that some of this is specifically for the holiday shopping season only, but I really think that Etsy will be keeping some of these search signals in place even after the holidays.
Since people have been trained to expect next-day delivery, they’re more likely to purchase something if they think they’ll get their orders quickly. There’s no reason why Etsy would just give up on that idea after the holidays, and I do think that processing time is going to be more important in the future than it used to be.
One way to take advantage of this is to have things that are ready to ship, as much as you can.
Another way is to add Saturday and Sunday to your processing times if you do actually work on orders on the weekend. If you don’t, then don’t add them, but if you ship everything that’s ordered on the weekends out on Monday, then you probably should.
You don’t have to choose both Saturday and Sunday, you can just turn Saturday on and leave Sunday off if you want to give yourself the time cushion.
To change the processing days, go to your shipping settings and click “edit” on the order processing schedule section at the top of the page (on desktop.)
You can choose the days that you process orders by toggling them on and off.
You can also change this back, so if you want to turn the weekends off at some point, you can easily do that, and it will adjust the estimated delivery date that Etsy shows customers.
In general, it’s a good idea to ship things as quickly as possible. Etsy is making it clear by the things they’re prioritizing that they think that customers buy more when the estimated delivery dates are sooner, rather than later.
Changing a few settings and shipping things as fast as you can will probably end up being a good way to help your shop show up better in search, even after the holidays are over.
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