The question of why Etsy sales are slow is probably the most common one that’s ever posted in the history of posting questions about Etsy shops.
Slow sales are definitely annoying and scary, and sometimes there’s nothing that you can do about it. Other times there are, and the important thing is to figure out what the likely cause for slow sales is, and if it’s something that’s “normal” or not.
Some causes for slow Etsy sales that would be considered “normal” would be seasonality, trends waxing and waning, typical sales patterns in specific niches, poor SEO and changes in the search algorithm, low-quality listing photos, and lack of traffic through non-SEO methods. All of these are things that can slow sales down, but not all of them are within the control of the seller.
The wrong question to ask when your sales slow down is whether other sellers are also having slow sales. The people who are will say yes, and the ones who aren’t won’t answer.
This is going to give you a false sense of security and you may not take steps to correct what you can correct.
Table of Contents
- Check for sales patterns and timing.
- Look at your stats to check for changes in traffic.
- Research on Google trends to see if searches for your type of listings has decreased recently.
- Investigate search results to see what they look like.
- Check to see if Etsy seems to be having a lot of glitches.
- Check for search algorithm changes.
- Look in the Etsy technical issues forum to see if people are reporting anything noteworthy.
- Check to see if competition has changed in your category.
- Do an honest self-critique to see if your listing photos could be improved compared to general search results.
- Evaluate whether external factors could be playing a role.
Asking different questions will give you an idea of what might be going on and whether it’s something that you can correct. So, what are the things that you should look at if your sales slow down on Etsy?
Check for sales patterns and timing.
If you have sold on Etsy for any length of time, you may be able to identify patterns where sales are faster or slower. If you tend to have natural dips in traffic on certain days of the week, or at certain times of the year, it might be a normal slowdown. The summer months are traditionally a slower selling season for many shops, but others sell a lot more during those months.
If you’re able to compare sales trends by looking at year-over-year stats, you should be able to determine whether slowing sales is normal for your business or not.
You may also have natural dips in traffic on a weekly basis. My traffic tends to slow down on Friday and Saturday, then picks up again on Sunday.
Because I sell cake decorations this is logical, because many of my customers are professional cake decorators, and they’re busy decorating and delivering cakes on those days.
I also see slower sales than most people during the holiday season because fewer weddings take place then, so people aren’t buying decorations as often.
Identifying your business’s traffic patterns is important so that you can anticipate slower times and plan for them.
It will also prevent you from freaking out when your sales are slow at certain times of the year if you know that it’s a normal pattern for your shop.
Look at your stats to check for changes in traffic.
Checking your shop statistics to look for drastic changes in traffic is something that people don’t always do, but it can answer a lot of questions really quickly. Using Etsy traffic stats and Google Analytics stats will tell you whether your traffic has dropped, which can be one reason for slow sales.
If your traffic seems to be steady, there probably hasn’t been any change in your Etsy search placement.
Consistent traffic means that you’re still getting visits and that your Etsy shop is indexed, so there could be something that’s changed in the way that people are judging your listings once they get to the listing page.
If there has been an increase in competitors who ship for free, for example, the shipping price could be a sticking point for customers.
If your traffic has dropped, think about whether there’s a reason around trendiness or normal seasonal traffic. If not, there could be something that’s changed as far as Etsy organic search goes.
The algorithm may have been re-weighted to take different factors into account, or to give more credit to things that you were weaker in. If you think that there might be a trendiness component to your listings that’s causing the drop, you can confirm that in Google Trends.
Research on Google trends to see if searches for your type of listings has decreased recently.
Google trends (trends.google.com) is a service that shows you the highest and lowest time periods when that term was being searched on Google. This chart shows the popularity of the search term “fidget spinner,” which peaked in 2017. If you were selling fidget spinners in 2017, you were probably doing very well. However, you most likely saw slowing sales in 2018, totally due to changes in trends.
This charts shows the pattern of search rates for the term “Christmas gifts” over a period of 5 years. It’s pretty clear that if that’s what you sell, you’ll see huge increases and drops in traffic at the same time each year. Seasonality and trends can be the simple reason why your sales have slowed down.
Be aware that Google Trends uses exact word order match when reporting data, so you might have to try several variations of a search term before you find a pattern.
Holidays and trendy items should give you a pretty good idea of search volume right away, though.
Investigate search results to see what they look like.
If you can’t find definite patterns that explain why your sales have slowed down, you might want to check search results to see what you find when you search for basic keywords that you’re found for a lot. I recently noticed that the search results for a common keyword in my category was being dominated by a shop that was undercutting other shops.
The search results were basically made up of that shop’s listings, which was odd because my shop generally ranks well on the first page for that search term.
If you suddenly see that one shop is dominating the first page of search, check to see what’s going on with that.
They might be running a sale that has brought them a lot of traffic, and in turn that forces their listings to the top of search results for a while.
If you’re dealing with this type of situation, you might want to run a sale yourself, run ads for a while to increase your first-page visibility, or send traffic to your shop from outside of Etsy.
Also make sure that your listings are showing up in search by checking from a browser where you’re not signed into your shop.
You won’t see 100% the same results that other shoppers will, but if there’s something completely bizarre about the search results, you’ll be able to tell.
Twice in the last month, I’ve noticed that my listings weren’t showing up in search at all until page 18. I knew why this was happening (the listings weren’t being ranked), so I called Etsy and they had to escalate the issue to their technical team.
Both times that it happened it was resolved after about 6 hours from when I called them, but while it was ongoing I turned ads on to keep some visibility on the first page of search. This was an obvious glitch (I wish I had taken screenshots to show you what it looked like), so if you see something that’s obviously wrong you should contact Etsy directly to have them look into it.
Check to see if Etsy seems to be having a lot of glitches.
If your sales are slowing, or have stopped completely, do a quick assessment of whether there are other Etsy glitches happening. If the stats are messed up, or the shop dashboard is showing you odd messages, or customers are saying they can’t check out, it could be that search results are also messed up.
As I write this article, a lot of sellers are saying that their sales are very erratic.
A couple of days ago I didn’t have any sales for the entire afternoon, then about 10 came in in the space of ten minutes.
I doubt that they were all placed in that short time period, my suspicion is that Etsy’s sales reporting system was acting up.
In addition, the stats have been acting WILDLY crazy for the past couple of weeks, either reporting monthly sales figures for the daily ones, reporting daily visits in the tens of thousands, and reporting 0 visits and sales when the sales are coming in.
If Etsy is demonstrating a lot of glitchy behavior there’s probably nothing that you can do about it other than wait it out.
However, if you notice specific glitches in search results that you can pinpoint and document, you can call Etsy and ask the rep to look at the same thing you’re looking at to show them what you’re seeing.
If they see what you’re talking about they can usually escalate it to a team that can look into it.
Check for search algorithm changes.
Etsy changes their search algorithm all the time, but some changes are bigger than others. As the stated goal of search at this point in time is to give customers a more personalized search result, there are BIG changes going on in search placement. Whether the changes in search are responsible for your drop in sales is debatable, but whenever there are big changes there are also big shifts in traffic, and that usually affect sales volume.
For some people it will increase their sales numbers, and for others it can decrease them.
The best way to check for Etsy’s search changes is to pay attention to their quarterly earnings reports and investor presentations.
They tend to discuss their goals during these, and you’ll be able to figure out what they’re going to be working on based on what they say they want to accomplish.
You can sign up for investor emails in your account preferences, or you can check the schedule of events on the Investor page on Etsy.
We talk about what’s going on with Etsy every week and try to keep up with any changes that are happening.
If you can identify what changed in the algorithm, you might be able to adjust your listings to better fit with the newer search criteria.
It may be something as simple as adding a video to your listings to assist in better search placement, or it could mean revamping your titles and tags completely.
However, most search algorithm updates won’t require an entirely different set of keywords, so if you do it correctly the first time you shouldn’t have to adjust your titles and tags very often, if at all.
Look in the Etsy technical issues forum to see if people are reporting anything noteworthy.
If you never go into the Etsy forums you’re not alone, but the Technical Issues forum is a good place to find out if people are experiencing any glitchy activity. If there are a lot of complaints about the same type of problems you’re having, it could be something that the Etsy system has to correct.
Whenever I have a technical problem I check in the forums to see if anything similar is being discussed. If you can find other sellers who are seeing the same things that you are, you can usually get more information from their posts and will have more to work with.
I don’t call Etsy support very often, but when I do I make sure to have as much detail as I can to help them figure out what’s going on faster.
I find that calling with a lot of details usually gets a better result than calling and saying “My sales are slow.”
Check to see if competition has changed in your category.
I mentioned this before, but if the competition in your category has changed, it can directly affect your sales. Doing a quick search for a few relevant keywords, both general and specific, can tell you a lot about the competition and what you’re dealing with.
If more people have entered the market you have increased competition, and the relative prices may also have changed.
Many times when people start selling something they underprice their merchandise, so you could be dealing with a shift in competition and in the relative price points in the category.
If your prices are the highest in your category that could be the issue.
I won’t say it’s a problem, because if you’ve set your prices where they should be in order to make a profit, you shouldn’t lower your prices.
You could try developing a version of your products that take less time to make, or that has a lower materials cost so that you can offer it at a lower price, but don’t lower the prices on your existing items.
The exception would be if you’ve recently raised your prices and your sales slowed down soon after that.
If that could be the cause of your slower sales, you can put a sale on your shop or the listings with the higher prices to see if sales increase.
If sales do increase you might need to reevaluate your pricing increase, or increase the perceived value of the listing by improving the photos or branding.
If the competition in your niche has increased, you should think about adding products to your shop that can make your shop stand out, whether it’s a different product or something related.
It’s always better to keep innovating as far as your product line goes, because adding more supply to an already saturated market might not end well. Doing something different is generally a better approach.
Do an honest self-critique to see if your listing photos could be improved compared to general search results.
Also related to checking the competition is to do a very honest self-evaluation of whether your listing photos measure up in search results. If your photos are substantially worse than all of the other photos on the search results page, or if the other photos are all professional-level and your are just a little less interesting, it could affect your click-through rate.
This can be more of a factor when the competition in a category increases, because new entries into the market can bring a higher quality with them, and what worked before might not work now.
I freely admit that a lot of the photos that I used when I first started out were TERRIBLE, and guess what? I still have some of them in listings.
Either the items are so specific that the competition is REALLY low and the photos don’t have much competition, or they don’t sell often enough to motivate me to redo them.
If you make sure to do your listings and photos well the first time, this won’t be an issue.
Evaluate whether external factors could be playing a role.
External factors that affect consumer behavior could be the only reason that sales are slower than usual, and it may not be anything that we as sellers can control. An excellent example is the situation in 2020 when the pandemic started and countries all over the world went into lockdown. People were stuck at home, brick and mortar stores shut down, and online shopping increased tremendously.
The result was a very good 2020 selling season for most online businesses, with a few exceptions.
The wedding and events industry was hit particularly hard as events were cancelled, so the shutdowns didn’t benefit everyone.
As things stand now and restrictions are being lifted, ecommerce will probably drop in revenue when looking at year-over-year numbers.
On the other hand, wedding business may greatly increase compared to last year.
Consumers are spending money in person at shops again, they’re spending money on travel and they could potentially be spending less money online.
When we look at stats from March of 2020 to around May of 2021, we’re going to be looking at unnaturally inflated sales numbers, so it could be possible for most sellers to see declines in YoY numbers.
I plan on comparing 2021 to 2019 as far as sales and revenue goes, because 2020 wasn’t normal.
In fact, when I compare June of 2021 to June of 2020 my revenue is down, but when I look at 2019 it’s up.
In 2020 my June sales were up way more than normal because bakeries were closed and people had to decorate their own birthday cakes.
That resulted in a higher sale rate than usual for June, and it’s not a good basis of comparison for a year when people can buy pre-decorated cakes.
Slowing sales on Etsy shouldn’t be ignored because if things slow down too much you can lose momentum in your shop.
It’s important to try to figure out what’s going on and correct it if you can.
Unfortunately, when you’re selling on a third-party platform you’re at the mercy of any quirks and glitches that are going on, and it isn’t always easy to get the attention of the people who can help you.
Other times, what’s going on has nothing to do with the platform itself, so it’s a matter of figuring out what you can do to straighten things out.
If you’d like to find out how to increase your Etsy traffic, check out this article that I wrote on the subject here: How to get more views on Etsy
This article looks at the confusing revenue reporting on Etsy in the stats section and other sections where you can find financial info.
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