Every now and then Etsy runs a site-wide sale, and sellers always start posting about whether they should participate in them or not. The answer should be fairly simple unless Etsy has put conditions for the sale in place that make it more complicated.
So should you take part in these Etsy sales or not?
You should take part in Etsy sales if your profit margins are high enough to absorb the cost of the discounts, and if your shop uses sales as a promotional tool occasionally or regularly. If you don’t put your listings on sale at all, it isn’t mandatory to participate, and if the discounts that Etsy is requiring are too high, you definitely shouldn’t take part.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why you would or wouldn’t want to take part in a sale on Etsy.
The pros of participating in Etsy sale events.
Etsy tends to run site-wide sale events a few times throughout the year, and especially during the holiday shopping season. The two main reasons why you’d want to take part in one of these events are to take advantage of the traffic that Etsy sends to the site during the sale, and to take advantage of sale shoppers.
More visibility during the sale.
If Etsy is running a sale, Etsy will be advertising that sale, so there will be more traffic coming to the site overall. If people are using sale filters to shop, they won’t find your shop unless you’re running a sale.
However, not all people who come to the platform during a sale use those filters, so it’s not guaranteed that you WON’T be found in search if you’re not running a sale. It could work out that you’ll be found just because more people are coming to Etsy in general.
One thing that you can do during an Etsy site-wide sale if you’re not participating is to watch your traffic and make sure it seems to stay steady or increases.
If you see a decrease in your visits or sales during an Etsy promotion it could mean that traffic is being diverted to shops that are participating because people are shopping with sale filters.
That brings me to the next pro of participating, which is that people might be consciously shopping for a bargain if Etsy is pushing that.
Products are more likely to sell if shoppers are looking for a sale price.
If Etsy brings people to the site with a promise of sale prices, those shoppers are probably going to be more likely to buy something that’s being offered at a sale price. If your shop isn’t participating in the sale, people might not want to buy from you.
What you should do to check this if you’re not participating is to watch your sales in the same way you’d watch your traffic. If your traffic is the same or higher, but you’re not selling as much, it could mean that people are looking for deals.
If your shop isn’t on sale during an Etsy site-wide event it might not hurt you at all, but if you do see drops it might be a good idea to try out a sale to see if things pick up.
The cons of participating in Etsy’s sales events.
There can be a downside to taking part in an Etsy sale event, and it mainly comes down to bringing in less profit during the sale and training your customers to expect a sale.
Etsy’s requirements might be too much.
Sometimes Etsy sets up an event that has discounts that are too high for sellers to handle. If that’s the case, you might not be able to take part in a particular sale event.
Since Etsy is looking at stats and not individual shops, they can come up with discounts and sale dates that are longer than some sellers feel comfortable with.
They recently did a month-long sale for French shops and required an increasing discount for nearly the entire month of July. For a lot of sellers that isn’t feasible, so you need to think about your own profits and whether the conditions that Etsy sets up for participating make sense for your specific shop.
Less profit during the busy selling seasons.
Because Etsy tends to run sale events during holidays, it might eat into your profits to participate in sales. It’s always a gamble to take part because you don’t know if you would make those sales without having a discount in place.
What I would watch when you’re participating in an Etsy sale is whether your sales and revenue are up overall. If you’re making more sales than usual that’s good, and as long as your sale was set up so that you’re not going to give away too much of your profits you should be fine.
But watch out for Etsy offsite ads, since they might advertise more heavily during a sale event, and those extra fees can add up.
Customers might start to wait for sales before they buy.
Another downside of taking part in Etsy sales could be that customers will start expecting sales if you run other sales in between the Etsy promotions.
When you have sales too frequently the discount starts to lose its luster, and customers have no incentive to buy at the sale price.
If you only run a sale once a year, and you train your customers to know that, they’ll buy when you have something on sale. If you have a sale every other week, or even every month, people will start to wait for the lower prices.
Think about the furniture store in your area that has a “going out of business” sale about once a week. (There’s one in every town.)
After the tenth going out of business sale nobody takes them seriously, and nobody pays full price, either. They know that they can wait a few days to get the sale of the week.
How to take part in Etsy’s site-wide sale events.
Let’s say that you’ve decided that you want to participate in a sale event on Etsy. How do you get the information about how to join the sale?
Etsy announces sale events in multiple places, including shop dashboards, emails sent to sellers who have signed up to get the emails, and on the Etsy forums Announcements page. If you check your shop dashboard every day you should see announcements of upcoming events and what’s required to take part.
(If you’re not signed up for Etsy emails, you should sign up for them to keep up with what’s going on. Read this article for more info: Privacy Settings on Etsy)
Every Etsy sale event has some specific things that you’ll need to do, but you usually only have to follow the guidelines to be included in the sale filter.
There’s no place to sign up for a sale, you just have to set up a discount that meets Etsy’s guidelines and set the sale up for the dates they specify.
As long as you do that, your on-sale items will be included in the sale filters during the event.
Sometimes Etsy runs a sale that’s specific to only one country, so check the announcements section for the dates of upcoming events.
What’s the best strategy for taking part in Etsy sale events?
The best strategy for whether to take part in the sales that Etsy runs is to decide whether your profit margins are large enough that you can take part in the sale as Etsy has it set up. This might mean that you can take part in some, but not all of them.
Remember that taking part in Etsy sale events is an optional activity…It’s not required, and you won’t be penalized in the long run for not participating.
I would say that if you use occasional sales as part of your marketing strategy (three or four times a year,) you should try to participate in Etsy’s sale events to take advantage of any extra traffic the sale promotions can bring you. If you don’t use sales, don’t feel that you need to.
I don’t run sales in my main shop at all, it’s just not something that I do. I offer a discount coupon for people who sign up for my email list instead, but I don’t do sales and I don’t participate in Etsy sale events.
Another thing I should mention is that you shouldn’t be afraid to put your listings on sale if you make handmade items. There’s a concept that discounting handmade “devalues” it, but that’s not entirely true.
A moderate discount between 10-20% isn’t enough to make people think you’re trying to get rid of things that nobody wants. When people see the original price crossed out with the sale price next to it, they just think that they’re a smart shopper for getting a deal.
So don’t worry about that, but just make sure that when you’re putting a sale price on something, it’s not so much of a discount that you give away too much money.
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