A Prepping Guide for Etsy Sellers or, not putting all of your eggs in one basket
Our little Etsy Shop was chugging along
We have been very happy Etsy sellers since 2014. A few minor bumps in the road but all in all a very good 7 years or so, growing sales and learning to deal with the changes in the Etsy selling platform. We have become accustomed to selling on Etsy. To help others we prepared this prepping guide.
As in most of the serious Etsy selling community, we tried to exceed customer expectations and maintain a five star rating. This was goal number one and all of our actions from providing accurate descriptions, offering fair pricing, using safe packaging and always shipping fast helped to keep us there.
That is until recently, when we ran into some problems that we had little control over.
The problems started with Shop edits
We needed to go in and change some settings in the shop. They should have been relatively minor changes but something strange happened when we got some errors. The errors continued to compound and our shop was basically shut down for two weeks. We could take orders but they could not be fulfilled and they could not be cancelled.
After a harrowing half a month working with Etsy Support, endless tickets and calls we finally solved one problem only to run into another even more serious problem. I will spare you all of the gory details but our shop was essentially shut down. A technical bug in the Etsy Shops payment processing algorithm stopped us dead in our tracks, no payments would clear, we could not cancel a sale and we were powerless to do anything other than reach out to those customers that placed orders and keep calling Etsy Support.
Panic sets in
So we started to get very anxious. We started to read other stories of shops getting closed, shops getting poor ratings from late sales and all the other bad stuff one finds on line about this kind of stuff. It was not cool feeling so helpless, unable to solve our problems quickly.
We then did the thing that many do we began to panic. We started making explorations into Etsy alternatives. We thought that while we waited for Etsy to fix their bug that we could magically re-host our shop on another platform. This of course is the worst time to plan an exit. Especially when you should be focusing on getting the issues resolved and communicating with your customers.
The moral of the story
If you are going to be a proper business person you need to take the time to plan for issues that are out of your control. When using a selling platform that you do not have a great deal of control over you have to have a well developed contingency plan. You need to have such a plan ready, tested and documented before you encounter the emergency (that you will almost never anticipate).
Every day we read about shops that have been closed for a variety of reasons. Some the sellers fault and some (like ours) from a bug in the shops technology stack. Here is a quick check list to help you structure your backup/recovery plan.
A ten step prepping guide to help recover quickly
1. Know how to contact support. From tickets to phone contact methods. Don’t wait till you need it to understand this!
2. Understand what credentials you will need to contact support. This is really important because you will need a combination of your email, the physical address of the shop, your payment methods and access to other key pieces of information you used to set up your shop. Document them and put them in a safe place.
3. Know how to document your problem effectively and accurately. Most ticketing systems are limited to a certain number of words. Know how to get to the point and provide important facts. Don’t ramble, don’t exaggerate and be truthful.
4. Gain a full understanding of how the support system works with the platform you are selling on. This includes hours of operation, ticket service levels, escalation procedures, and learn to read the documentation.
5. Understand how to backup your listings
6. Keep a document of all of your settings (like Tax-ID, Shipping accounts, Bank Accounts, Payment methods and all of the details) you would need to either reopen the shop or migrate the shop. Put it in a safe place.
7. Understand how to dump all of your reports and listings. They are documented in Etsy but they are not very clear. You will need to understand not only the way to export them but also understand what format they will be produced in and how you can import them into a usable format.
8. Make a step by step list of actions to take should your shop need to be moved. Put it in a safe place.
9. Make a list of alternative selling platforms that you might migrate to if it becomes necessary.
10. Make sure that you have a backup method of accessing your shop if your computer dies.
Making this list will be very helpful in preparing you for extended downtime with your shop. It will also help you to start thinking about how to move to another platform. We came right to the edge of leaving Etsy but were saved by escalating the problem with some persistence but it easily could have gone badly. We were not prepared to re-platform in the “heat of the downtime”. Making your own prepping guide plan will help you to manage the anxiety and hopefully solve your problems quickly.
We will cover re-platforming in a future post. Thanks for taking a look. You can find our Etsy Shop here