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What to expect when buying from an Etsy shop

Most sellers on Etsy producing handmade crafts are passionate, skilled artisans who have perfected techniques and developed their creative wares over years of research and hours of experiments. In most cases that passion is also reflected in the service they provide. Every shop offers a different service but here are a few tips and ideas I have come across, to help develop a great relationship between buyer and seller.

  • Read the item description and shop policies properly

  • Check your address is right.

  • Be aware messages may need answering

  • Ordering a commission

  • Is the parcel damaged?

  • Are you happy with your purchase?

  • No response from a seller

  • Changing a review

  • Lost parcels

  • 'Star Seller' shops

I regularly read forums (related to online buying) discussing issues as it's helpful to get a different perspective and I am quite often surprised by the responses I read. I am not sure whether it is the honesty of my shop policies, the people I sell to or whether it is the items I sell but I rarely have issues and so reading about the pickles people get into is quite astonishing.

Most Etsy shops are run by sole owners who not only make their own wares, but also have to promote, take on commissions, pack/post items and create new ideas whilst maintaining a reliable service. To give an idea of my schedule I work 7 days a week approximately 12-14 hours a day. Being dedicated to what I do at Cat's Punky Stuff means I never stop. Last year I had 5 days off though it has to be pointed out that this is my choice and I do it because I love it and I don't have any other commitments. I consider myself most fortunate.

When you have decided to purchase on Etsy

  1. Read the description and shop policies properly. For many reasons every shop is different. Read all of the description as there may be requirements mentioned to achieve a successful transaction. There may be drop down boxes to fill in and always bear in mind you may be interacting with someone new to Etsy Selling so the description and photographs may have different purposes but are all relevant.

  2. Check your address is right. Addresses on Etsy can be changed so that things can be sent directly to a recipient. Message the seller if this is the case because you may find the they will 'special' up the parcel a little as I would do. I send three photographs to the buyer when I know I am not posting to them so they can see what the recipient is going to receive and see the whole experience they have bought. Folks really like this and it is a good shop practice. Ensure the address has your house number and/or house name, road, village, town/city and postcode. A full correct address will alleviate issues and increase the chances of a successful delivery.

  3. Be aware messages may need answering. Once you've read the description and have no need to ask the seller a question about the item (because all you need to know is in the wording and photographs) and you have made your purchase, be aware the seller may ask you something. Have Etsy notifications switched on so if you get a message you can answer it as soon as. There is a possibility your seller cannot continue for some reason and if the processing time is short at just 1-2 days, time is of the essence.

  4. Ordering a Commission If you have ordered something to be made the seller may have a few questions. A bespoke piece can only be perfect if the seller knows exactly what the buyer wants. It is a really good idea to send your seller screenshots or photographs to show colours or a theme you are creating. My best commission was a lady who sent me photos of a mood board she had made with the paint colours, furniture styles, accessories and fabrics she had chosen. Although we chatted a lot there was no need for me to contact her, as she had supplied me with all the information I needed to start. The vaguest commission I had was for 'a blue and green bird'.....I have over 50 different coloured greens and blue wool and so this commission could have been very wrong. Supposing the buyer had wanted Regency blues and slate greens, but I gave her baby blue and aqua greens! In this situation I sent three photos with different combinations. The buyer was able to pick exactly what she wanted, was very happy with her birdie and left a great review.

All shops should send an automatic message when they receive your order. My message informs you I will send you a personal message shortly. Generally within a few minutes I reply and I include aspects of the sale so you know it is a personal message. I always confirm when the item will be sent and that I will send proof of posting (even though all my Stuff is sent just 2nd class, and upgraded to 1st class for repeat customers).

Receiving a delivery from an Etsy shop

  1. Is the parcel damaged? Once you receive your item check it hasn't been damaged during the post and if there is damage take a photograph BEFORE you open the parcel. The postal service is not infallible and no matter how well a seller packs an item, there is always the possibility of damage during transit. I worked as a courier for 25 years so I know the issues that can arise and the whoopsies that can happen.

  2. Are you happy with your purchase? Leaving a review about your experience will help the shop develop as the trust in your review may encourage another transaction. Etsy's 5* review system is an integral part of a shop's activity and should be seriously considered before submitting. If for any reason you do not feel able to leave a glowing review of 5* (or 4* as some folks have different expectations), then contact the seller instead. I get a lot of messages from folk letting me know their parcel has arrived safely and that they are happy with the item and the experience. Receiving these messages is so lovely because I can stop worrying whether my Stuff has arrived and knowing you have brightened someone's day is really rewarding. I LOVE getting a photograph with a review seeing the item in use, it's the ultimate review.

3. Are you unhappy with your purchase? On receipt of your item you may have an issue. Rather than venting rage with a vengeful review, reach out to the seller. Virtually every seller will move heaven and earth to avoid a bad review, especially with issues like 'My dog didn't like wearing the collar' or 'I didn't realise the size even though it is in the description'. These are horror stories I have read on forums where customers had left 1* reviews because something which is out of the sellers control has been disagreeable. A 1* review can be devastating to the shop's performance and will be completely heart-breaking for a crafter if they have offered a great service and a high quality piece. Spending hours of time and love to make a hand crafted item, just to be punished with a shocking review because 'the dog didn't like it' is unjust and unfair.

4. No response from a seller Of course a 1* review should be rewarded if you have no response from a seller after a few days. I would suggest two messages over three days and if no response from the seller about your issue then a poor review is perfectly acceptable. In some circumstances it may be necessary to involve Etsy where you can ask them to deal with the situation if you still have unresolved issues. This should only be the case once you've tried contacting the seller.

5. Changing a review A review can be left approximately 10 days after purchase. If you're left a poor review and the seller has got back to you, you may feel you were a little harsh and might want to change what you wrote. It is possible to amend the review.

6. Lost parcels Every shop will deal with lost items differently, but the general way to proceed if your item has not arrived:

i) Contact the seller

ii) Mutually agree to wait a set amount of time, I suggest 12 working days generally and 15 working days at peak times (these guides are just my personal approach to use as an example)

iii) Meanwhile check the address you used was correct and ask the postie if they have left anything on your property or taken it back to the sorting office. You may not have seen the card they have left

iv) After the agreed length of time the seller should offer a full refund or replacement, or not as the case may be depending on their shop policies.

v) Items that are shown delivered but cannot be traced or found and have not been received should be reported as a crime after you've checked with your postal service as to where it was left. In the courier world if a parcel goes missing, the driver is asked to retrace his steps. Errors can occur and in most cases the issues are resolved

Star Seller Shops

Some shops have a purple 'Star Seller' badge. I have had one since the objective began and not through any extra effort, but because I do more that the Star Seller badge requires. I have mixed opinions on the scheme, as to achieve the badge there are some questionable requirements:

  • 95% or above 5* reviews

  • 95% or above replies to messages within 24 hours

  • 95% or above tracked posted items

Whilst reviews and tracking are both directly an outcome from the sellers input and effort, tracking is not always necessary for low cost or letter size items. In my opinion the tracking and messaging aspects are really unfair. In order to qualify all messages must be answered on the same day and not within 24 hours. For example if a message is sent at 23.30 the seller has just 30 minutes to reply and if they reply at 06.30 in the morning when they get up it is considered a failed response, even though it is within seven hours. There is an automatic response that can be set and sent, but for some reason mine doesn't save my message. To maintain my Star Seller I have to set an alarm for 23.50 so I can check if I have had a message. I questioned the lunacy of this and concluded that having an alarm go off so I can sleepily check my phone isn't really a hardship when you consider that the alarm could be a signal to get up and go out to work for 12 hours.


  • Understand all the information, ask any questions if unsure and be clear and concise with commissions

  • Most handmade shops are sole owners working from home and not some corporation with masses of resources and back-up support.

  • Any issues are mostly out of the hands of the craftisans as a dedicated crafter would not send out defected goods in inadequate packaging

  • Every craftisan who's provided a good service and high quality item deserves a great review

  • Whilst every shop is different so is every customer. Your chosen Etsy shop should make you feel like the most important person there is where nothing is too much trouble.

  • Before making your purchase send the seller a message, have a chat, get to know the shop. It's great as a seller to interact with folks interested in my Stuff but of course not all shops have the time for idol

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