Buying online is always a scary thing to do.
Even with sites like Etsy, Amazon, or eBay, which see millions of customers and transactions each year, there is always the possibility of scams or people who try to hack your information.
Although no online superstore or eCommerce market is going to be always guaranteed to be safe, there are some sites out there that are generally trusted and have taken precautions to keep customer, seller, and their own information safe.
Is Etsy safe to sell on?
Etsy is a commercial eCommerce site that sees millions of transactions every year flow through its sellers’ shops. However, there are customers out there who do try to scam Etsy sellers, which is why it is important to keep records and maintain a keen eye on your shop at all times.
One of the biggest things you may need to worry about is keeping your financial information safe and worrying about customers who will try to scam you for their items.
Table of Contents
In this article, we will explore Etsy as a safe site for sellers and the possible pitfalls you could run into.
(See any reference links below for more information)
Is it Safe to Sell Things on Etsy?
Selling your products on Etsy is incredibly easy to start up and to do. Once you have your products ready to sell, you can take great photos and post listings online to your shop.
The actual act of selling your products is very safe. However, once you do start to sell and interact with customers, you have to be careful who you sell to and how you communicate.
Personal Information and Shop Address
When you sell to customers, the return address on your packages will include your shop address and the name of your business.
If your business is your own full name and real physical address, you do run the risk of customers knowing how and where to find you.
This can be scary for a lot of sellers who don’t want their personal information out there that potentially hundreds or thousands of customers can see.
To combat this problem, you can give your shop a clever and official business name that will show up on your return labels. Many shops will have great and amazing brands that they share all over social media and use on their Etsy logos and packaging.
Furthermore, many sellers like to use a P.O. box for their shop address, rather than their own physical address.
This protects you and your information and makes you feel a little more anonymous, even if you’re the only employee in your business.
Financial and Banking Information
Opening a shop on Etsy requires an email and banking information for depositing funds from Etsy to your personal account.
This means that you do have to load up your personal financial information into Etsy.com. Many people worry about uploading their information online in order to operate their shop.
None of your financial information is seen by customers online. Your personal banking information will stay within your account and are not shared or visible to anyone but you.
Because of this, you can rest assured that your information will not be viewed by anyone but you. Furthermore, Etsy doesn’t scan through financial information or bring attention to it unless your account information is invalid or outdated.
However, you need to be careful about sharing your personal information online with any customers or clients that you speak to on Etsy just because they can’t see it does not mean that customers won’t try to get your banking information another way.
If someone asks for alternative payment options or asks that you give them some personal information, such as banking, account numbers, or social security, make sure to report them immediately to Etsy.com.
How are Sellers Protected on Etsy?
Sellers are protected when disputes with customers arise that they may need assistance in mediating.
Shops will have to meet certain criteria in order to qualify for Seller Protection (see reference link below), but once they do, they will have the ability to get assistance from Etsy in one of these scenarios.
If you have your own website or don’t go through a third-party site like Etsy to host your shop, you could lose out on this protection.
Let’s take a look at what I mean:
An Etsy Seller Protection Scenario
When a customer requests a refund that you feel is unfair, you may need Etsy Seller Protection – and package tracking!
For example, if you sell someone a $500.00 silver necklace with real diamonds, you are setting yourself up for a very serious danger – that the customer will attempt to cause a chargeback.
A chargeback is when the customer refunds or does not pay on an item for one reason or another. This removes the money from your account and sends it back to the seller.
A dishonest customer will receive the $500.00 necklace and then request a refund. They will then attempt to claim that the necklace never arrived, that it was a fake, or that it was damaged in the packaging and would like their money back or a replacement.
This means that not only are you out $500.00 but to prevent a low star-rating, you would have to send the customer a new necklace or try to reason with them to solve the situation without escalation.
Etsy’s Process for Protecting Sellers
Once you enact your Etsy seller protection in this scenario, you can basically dispute this customer’s claims about your product.
Once you do, Etsy will begin an investigation into both sides of the story to make sure that you aren’t scammed out of your sale.
After a few weeks, Etsy will make a decision either in yours or the customers’ favor.
Keeping Proof and Information for Etsy Investigations
It is also important to note that whenever you sell very valuable or expensive items, you should definitely be getting as much proof as possible for all transactions.
That means getting tracking on all packages to prove that the package arrived, or to take photos or videos of yourself packaging that product to prove that it was intact when you last handled it.
Finally, you should be using honest and detailed materials in your descriptions, as well as possible proof of use for those materials to prove that your product really IS that valuable.
All of these are great to help you with your problem, especially when Etsy begins their investigation. Once they’ve reviewed all of the data, they will usually rule in your favor.
Just be careful not to sell to people who seem a little shady upfront, as they are more likely to try and refund their money immediately.
5 Things to Be Aware of Before Starting a Shop on Etsy
Starting a shop on Etsy can be a great experience, but any eCommerce site has its issues, and Etsy is no exception.
We’ve compiled five more scenarios and situations to consider or be aware of before deciding to put your shop on Etsy.com!
1. Etsy Ruling in Customer Favor
Some investigations may not be ruled in your favor.
Even if the customer has scammed you out of hard-earned money, Etsy may still find that the customer is in the right based on the evidence available.
As we mentioned before, making sure to have plenty of evidence is crucial for investigations or for disputing customer claims. Without that evidence, you could lose out on hard-earned cash.
2. Accidental Leaks or Hacks
Accidentally giving out personal information in your seller bio or through customer conversations and direct messaging DOES happen all the time online.
When this happens, you have the possibility that the customer you are working with will have sinister intentions.
Whether that is hacking your banking information or giving out your personal and physical location, accidental leaks of your information can be a huge issue online.
Now keep in mind, this is not exclusive to Etsy. Any eCommerce site or even social media site can experience user-error where you may accidentally leak information.
In this case, however, it could affect your entire livelihood online if you live solely off of your small business.
3. Competition is Dishonest
Selling common items on Etsy, such as knitted scarves or personalized T-shirts, can put you in a huge pool of competition.
If you are lucky enough to stand out from the crowd, you may have some dishonest competition.
For example, if an Etsy shop out there is selling custom-made T-shirts or mugs with cute slogans on them, and then scamming customers out of their money without actually sending them the mug or shirt, your shop could get a bad reputation.
This means that customers may start to consider other sites rather than Etsy for their purchasing of your niche product, and that could cause you some problems down the road.
If you have your own domain and website, you wouldn’t have to worry about your neighbors on the “search results” page and how they are portraying Etsy and how they might affect your reputation.
4. Customers Leaving Untrue Reviews
Customer service is probably one of the hardest industries in the world to work in.
People can be completely satisfied with something but will still find a way to complain about it or find fault in it for the sheer joy of it.
Even so, some customer complaints are very valid, and should be used for your business’s growth! However, if someone is dishonest about your shop – many, many times – your ratings on Etsy could drop, and those don’t go away for a whole year.
If you are given one or two one-star ratings on your shop, customers will definitely go look to read them.
You may have fifty other five-star ratings, a great fanbase, and a huge social media following, but several one-star reviews can sometimes turn a huge percentage of your customers away.
While the star-rating system is great for catching scam shops or sellers who don’t care about their products or their customers, spiteful customers can also use it to tear down a great shop with a great team.
5. Stolen Images and Content
If you sell a really unique item online, you may be targeted for content and stolen ideas or images.
“Unique” ideas – especially ones that you can sell – are very difficult to come by and are often targeted by shops that don’t have a lot of sales or ideas of their own.
This means that the cute stickers or buttons that you make in your product line are always going to be looked upon with envy and possibly copyright infringement.
If you sell little buttons, for example, that say “that girl” in a specific font and style of your choosing, other shops may make little pins or buttons that say “this girl” in their own specific font or choosing.
This isn’t necessarily “copyright infringement,” but it can sometimes get so close that you feel as though your own great, original idea isn’t even original – or that some customers will assume that YOU were the one who was piggy-backing off of someone else’s success.
If you feel like that is you, consider moving away from sites like Etsy where pins are a dime a dozen on a “search results” page, and very easy to duplicate.
Do People Generally Trust Etsy and See it as Trustworthy?
The general answer to this question is yes, and while Etsy doesn’t necessarily screen their sellers before a shop is built, all sellers and their products must meet the standards approved by Etsy.
This means that Etsy has many rules and parameters that verify shop owners aren’t selling anything mass-produced, illegal, fake, or copyrighted.
However, there are some caveats that can cause some problems, though they are few and far between.
As we’ve mentioned before in this article, there are sellers and customers on Etsy that are untrustworthy – but that is true for many eCommerce sites out there.
Just because Etsy has a few bad apples, doesn’t mean that you’d be better off on other sites like Shopify or eBay or even Amazon (who has it’s own problems, for sure).
Etsy is overall a very trustworthy site with millions of transactions that go through it every year. You can always give it a shot for free, and if you decide it isn’t for you, you can go elsewhere with your products!
Just be smart, careful, and savvy when it comes to owning and operating your small business – even online.
Selling on Etsy Pros and Cons:
There are a lot of reasons to pick Etsy as your eCommerce site, and there are also many reasons NOT to, but we thought it would be prudent to look over both sides of that story in our pros and cons list.
Here we go!
Etsy is a verified platform with millions of customers running through it every year.
They’ve had years and years to figure out the bugs in their system and to make great changes to what was ultimately a handcrafted online marketplace only years before.
Now it is a household name and a hub for unique and amazing art or craft from small business owners that you can support by buying from them instead of through mass-produced companies online.
Here are a few amazing things about selling on Etsy.com:
- A huge customer pool
- Seller Protection
- Financial & Banking Information Security
- Shipping and Management Help for your Shop
- An online blog to help you learn to sell better
- Easy-to-use shop setup and tools
- A massive community and forum to discuss market trends and Etsy policies
With all of these amazing things combined, Etsy has proven time and time again to be a great online platform for new sellers and online creators!
With every rainbow, there is a little rain.
Etsy is not perfect, just as many eCommerce sites are not perfect, and there is always a slight potential for things to go wrong.
With online scams, vindictive customers and plenty of fees, there are many cons to go with the pros for Etsy.com:
- Dishonest Customers and Sellers
- Rules and Restrictions about what you CAN or CAN’T sell
- Many fees and costs both starting out, and if your shop makes it “big.”
- Lack of Personalization for your shop
- Being stuck on the “search results” page among a sea of competition
- When Etsy rules against you in a customer dispute
- Funds are locked in your Etsy account when they should have transferred already
- Overpricing your products to compensate for fees and shipping
Furthermore, there are many shops out there too “big” for Etsy, meaning that they would operate better off of the Etsy platform than they would on.
If this is you, consider investing in your own website, domain, and developers to help make your shop completely its own – rather than end up in a sea of other Etsy dreamers.