Free Shipping On Etsy

Ok. We know you may have been having a bit of a meltdown with this new free shipping thing on Etsy. But before we go any further, let’s all take a deep breath and forgo the aforementioned melting down.

Free shipping and priority placement for sellers offering free shipping for any item individually or any order over $35 to U.S. buyers is NOT a reason to freak! Is it hard when you feel like your choice has been taken away? Yes! Do you feel like you should be able to make your own decisions on what is best for you and your shop without feeling like you’re being penalized? Of course you do!

But, sometimes it takes looking at a situation thoroughly and from a different perspective which changes everything. We completely understand your frustration, but let’s dive in a bit and see if we can help you find the positive side of this and let the negative stuff go!

What’s this all about anyway? 

Unless you’ve literally been living under a rock (hey no judgment from us, we wanna do it too sometimes) by now you’ve heard the news. Etsy announced that as of July 30th (that’s t-minus seven days people) items that ship for free to the United States, either as individual items or as orders  of $35 or more USD, will receive priority placement in US searches. To hear this from the horse’s mouth, click on the video below: 

In a nutshell

What this cute little video above is saying is this: Etsy is a place people come to in order to buy super unique items. Thoughtfully made gifts. Products created with love from awesome Etsy sellers (such as yourself)! Bottom line, the sellers set Etsy apart from every other normal place you can buy stuff from.

Buuut, these days, online shoppers EXPECT free shipping pretty much everywhere they go. And the other bottom line? Etsy is no exception. So what’s a seller to do? Bundle in the cost of shipping with the item’s price in order to offer …ahem….”free shipping” (wouldn’t it make more sense to call it “shipping included”…?) But honestly, if the shipping cost is included in the price of the item, there are no surprise costs at check out for your shoppers, and they will be more likely to complete the transaction. 

What this looks like

Actually, shoppers on Etsy are 20% MORE likely (according to Etsy) to complete their purchase when an item ships “for free” (when the shipping is included in the cost of the item). SO. For U.S. buyers only, things are changing in order to make the buying experience easier. Here’s looking at you, free shipping! AND if your shop offers “free shipping” (shipping included in cost of item) on items or orders $35 and above, Etsy will give you priority placement in U.S. search results. Etsy may EVEN promote you where Etsy is advertised, through email marketing, social media, and even Etsy’s new T.V. ads! 

Etsy wants you to remember, offering free shipping does NOT mean you have to pay for it yourself. Your item pricing strategy should include shipping, just like it includes your time and materials. With Etsy’s new smart pricing tool, you’ll be able to offer free shipping to U.S. buyers for orders $35 and above which can help boost your average order value. They even made it easy to bulk it at listings to adjust your item prices to recover shipping costs. 

But what about us “smallish” sellers?!

If you’re a seller that is SUPER concerned because your item is tiny and lightweight, or you sell a really low-priced item, OR maybe you offer craft supplies, this can feel like a huge blow. Especially if you feel that the shipping cost is gonna be waaaay more than the item itself is worth! Who’s gonna buy a charm for $10 if the shipping cost is double that? Alright, again, let’s take a deep breath and look on the bright side! 

If you offer low-priced or small items, incentive buyers to not just purchase one thing, but to buy multiples. If you put into place the $35 order minimum, you can actually encourage buyers to order multi-item orders that meet the “free shipping” guarantee minimum. In theory, this should allow you to recover your shipping costs AND create more revenue for your business. 

But, what about us “bigger” sellers?!

Normally, if a buyer is purchasing a large item, the cost of shipping will be on their mind. Clearly, we’ve all shipped something heavy in our lives to someone somewhere and been like “holy what the heck, how much did you say that’s gonna cost me”? It’s super stressful.

Honestly, I’ve been there. When ordering a new couch, I actually decided to go pick it up instead of having it shipped. Why? Because the seller had presented me with this amazing cost that totally fit my budget. I’d planned on it for months! I’d saved to be ready to purchase this particular couch when it was ready (I was having it made). And then, BAM, the seller hit me at the very end with the fact that shipping was NOT included and I would be paying an amount I had NOT planned on! As a buyer, It was SO frustrating!

I know that if I had been told the full cost of the couch and shipping upfront, I would have been more likely to NOT freak out at the end and still buy the couch. This is basically where Etsy is coming from with shipping heavy items as well. 

It’s a new relationship…and it’s complicated

The challenge for you as the seller is going to be figuring out how to account for the costs in your overall price. Not every heavy item is the same. Some will weigh a TON (almost literally) and some will only weight slightly less than a ton! Which leads to shipping costs have HUGE differences on top of everything else! So what do you do? Etsy recommends considering incorporating the shipping cost for the minimum, maximum, or median distance your item might travel. They say that some sellers use the median distance a given item might travel to estimate the average cost of shipping that item domestically, with the expectation that costs will balance out between various distances traveled. 

But, the bottom line here is this is up to you. And if you have a different strategy in place, we would LOVE for you to tell us all about it in the comments! Because we’re all in this together and everyone will be going through the exact same thing come July 30th. 

But, what about us OOAK/Vintage sellers?!

Did we forget about you?! No, we did not! Ok, so pretty much every. single. item. you have comes in various shapes, sizes, and weights. This makes it super challenging to calculate and apply shipping costs into your item prices in order to recover shipping costs when you offer free shipping. 

Something Etsy is recommending you do is to weigh your item as part of your photography process. Now might be the time to invest in a postal scale, because weighing your item in the box you’re shipping it in with the packing materials will really help you calculate how much to charge. You definitely will want to research which shipping carrier you can get the best deal from as well! Something else you might consider is keeping a list of common weights and box sizes for the items you sell. Etsy recommends this because it can greatly help you calculate and track your median shipping cost for cautious weights and sizes. 

Thinking about how much you’re going to invest into a piece, including the shipping costs, when you purchase an item to resale should all be something you track. Make the shipping costs part of your investment into that particular item in order to recover the amount invested and make a profit. 

Look at it this way

Again, we understand that all of this can be frustrating. It’s one more thing to figure out on a long list of things you already do as an Etsy seller. But, look at it this way: when you purchase from a brick and mortar store, you do not take your item to the check out only to find an additional $20 charge because the store didn’t include the cost of their rent in your item.

Can you imagine?? It’s almost laughable when you think about it! Would you purchase from a store if every time you went to check out, they told you, “Oh, sorry, its not actually the price you see on the tag, we have to include our rent and our electric bill was slightly higher this month, so that cost is included here as well.” You’d probably put that item back super fast and high tail it out of there! 

Figuring out your shipping costs and implementing them into your item price really does have the potential to help your customers complete their purchase. From someone who is more likely to take an item out of her cart and put it back because of shipping not being included, I can speak to this first hand. 

Final thoughts

However you decide to tackle this, make SURE you’re doing your research and understand where you should be pricing your items to begin with. If you have your item priced correctly to begin with, this will make a world of difference. Let us know what you think about the new shipping changes below and how you are planning to handle it all. We’d love to hear your thoughts! 

53 thoughts on “Free Shipping On Etsy”

  1. Ugh…I fought it. Jumped on the bandwagon for the reasons and possible perks mentioned. I have seen larger orders. I’m going to greatly increase my inventory making that $35 a breeze to spend!

  2. Simply another attempt at sugar coating. When purchasing at a brick and mortar merchant does the customer have the expectatuon of the merchant covering there costs to get there? I would think not.

    1. Bwahahahah, I would love if they did! Especially when you have to drive out of town for something you need <3 Small town woes.

  3. It’s a minefield for sellers like me, based in the UK and half of my current customers are US based AND happy to pay the £17 postal fee! My frames are £20 and to ship to the US it costs me £17 (almost the same price as the frame itself) BUT the US buyers have been happy to pay that to receive a totally unique handmade item from the UK. So how do I swallow up the price of free US shipping on these items ? It would literally double the price of my frames – and that’s also just not fair on my UK customers who make up the other half of my sales.

    1. Just a thought Mel, and I’m going to try this to see how it goes, double the listings up, have a UK one with us postage listed as a cost AND then a second, identical listing with US post included (which obviously our UK customers won’t buy)

      1. I thought about that but when I asked in a Facebook group was told you cannot do it. You have to use the Etsy tool to set up the free shipping and it applies to all your listings, you cannot separate some out.

        1. There is actually a way to have free shipping with a price adjustment for location, I am in Canada and probably 90% of my customers are in the USA ~ I updated to have free shipping about a month ago, (Still working on it cause… reasons) and it would add $1 for USA orders vs. Canada. I will go take a look and see if I can figure out how/why this is going on and comment here again with some help <3

    2. Same issue here from Australia.. To overprice my my product for Australian customers , so unfair they will be paying for the highest Shipping price to another international country !!!

    3. I am feeling the same as you. Shipping my artwork to the US (50% of customers) and shipping to home customers in the UK is a massive difference. I’m now loosing out on all US sales and ripping off my UK customers. It’s too early to say if my UK sales will decline but it’s just a bit unfair. Not keen but have done it.

  4. I’m sorry, but… no. I can’t agree with any of this.

    First, it is illegal to increase the price on an article to accommodate for shipping in the US – free means just that, it’s free of charge. If you ship within or to the USA, you need to abide by this law. The reason Etsy is telling us it’s our choice is because this will exonerate them from liability.

    Second, buyers shouldn’t expect free shipping from small businesses. People go to Etsy to look for unique handmade items and they know this has a price. We are not Amazon (by the way, not even they do free shipping – you pay annually to be on Prime *and* if you search for the same item without Prime, it’s cheaper).

    Third, $35 is a ridiculously low amount. I’m in the UK and that translates to roughly £27, which is nothing. Half of that price would be gone in shipment! If I increase my prices to accommodate for US shipping I’m seriously conning my local buyers by making them pay premium prices for people who are overseas (this last bit could be point #4)

    Lastly, I personally don’t like to be told what to do with my business. I’ll offer whichever benefits I feel are fitting for me and Etsy isn’t my boss, they shouldn’t be meddling. To tell me if I don’t do as they’re told means I’ll be pushed back in searches is, to me, a form of bullying – “do as you’re told or else.”

    I know you’re trying to put a positive spin on this and I value that, but there is no way to make this a happy occasion and no way to pretend that what Etsy is suggesting is ethical (we already know it’s illegal).

    I feel this is the last straw for me with Etsy. I’m using this as fuel to set up my own shop in my website. I prefer to take my chances with Google SEO and decide for myself what is best for my business. I left the corporate world to be my own boss, after all… 🙂

    1. I’m with you Leonor, same problems as a Canadian seller. Shipping is a small fortune. The USPS is heavily subsidized so within the USA shipping is fairly cheap. Canadians will pay 3 – 5x more to ship to USA. You are right on so many points. Fed up with Etsy! Silverman should open a shop and get down in the trenches to see firsthand the difficulties most sellers have. I have a Shopify store too (fairly new) and making Facebook ads is another beast to deal with and I’m hoping the pixel I have setup in Etsy will have collected enough data to be useful for FB ads.

      1. check out chit chats express
        you can sign up with them and if they are too far to drive to to drop off your orders you can do weekly / bi weekly shipments of your parcels to them and they will broker for you across to use usps <3

  5. Thanks for the post, but you have taken the same approach that Etsy itself has – a totally US-centric one. What about non-US sellers? Why should we (how CAN we?!) ‘roll in’ the cost of ‘free’ shipping into the total cost of shipping to the US so that US buyers *only* can have a freebie, when our domestic buyers not only don’t get that incentive from Etsy, but they end up paying more for their items so that US buyers get a subsidy. And anyone buying multiples ends up paying more in total in ‘free’ shipping in each item’s price, than if they bought multiples before, and then paid one shipping fee at the checkout. This is a badly thought-out ‘incentive scheme’ on the part of Etsy, which needs convoluted ways round it on the part of all sellers, but particularly non-US ones. You didn’t tackle that at all in your blog post, unfortunately.Yes, we can deal with it. We’ll have to.

    1. Good article. I decided to include the shipping costs, as my customer are already paying that anyway. However, I am making that decision solely on being found on ETSY. I also worry about the fact that this adds almost $20 to the cost and takes me out of the search at a lower price range.

      If I was new to ETSY and they told me I would have to offer free shipping, I would still join. Having said that, I have decided to add a shopping cart to my website, and still need to make a decision regarding free shipping. ETSY has provided me with an ever-increasing income (although my views have declined in the past few months), but I don’t think it is good to have all my eggs in one basket.

      I know I need to see this in a positive light, or my sales will decrease… So, decision made – expecting the best!

  6. I sell on Etsy and my policy is free shipping with purchase. of $20 or more. I am a supply shop and my items are inexpensive. I don’t feel that I can raise my free shipping to $35. If I do I may just lose my customers who already take advantage of my free shipping offer.that I already have. I feel penalized because my free shipping is not at $35.

    1. Hey Leta!
      I do similar in my shop – offer free shipping already with $15 purchase. I called and spoke to Etsy, and was told I did NOT need to change as all my items are already set for free shipping/are below the $35 threshold.
      Hope this helps you!
      Mellie

      1. Mellie, you got a different reply from Etsy than I did. I too called and asked about this and was told the opposite. I was told it had to be $35 to be included. I did explain to the Etsy person on the other end my free shipping threshold and I was told it had to be the $35. I do offer free shipping on a few items in my shop. I don’t know what to believe.

  7. I don’t know yet what I am going to do. What I do know is that I don’t like deceiving the customer. It is not free shipping…..and most know that. I would much rather call it shipping included. That is being honest and up front with your customer. But we don’t seem to have that option. Free is not free….to us or to the customer.

    1. Totally agree! It feels very deceiving to roll the cost in and then say ‘free shipping’. I do like the phrase ‘shipping included’, but that’s not what is being forced on us.

  8. I’m also not joining in – I offer free shipping for domestic (UK) customers, but bitter experience has taught me that anything going to the USA must go tracked and signed because so many are reported as not arriving. I can’t justify raising the price for UK buyers to cover that expense and I find US buyers are prepared to pay the higher postage.

  9. I’m in Canada also and am not happy about having my Canadian customers pay $7.32 more per item (the cost of regular mail shipping to the US for me). I have offered “free” shipping on orders of $100 plus to Canada and the US since I started. I tend to think that those who are making bigger purchases don’t mind the added cost of shipping quite so much.

    65% of my sales are from the US so I will add the $35 “free shipping” to my shop.

    The good news is that in August, Etsy is introducing country specific sales where I will be able to offer a $7.32 discount to my Canadian customers.

  10. Why can’t Etsy make it easier for the customer to see their shipping cost up front if we don’t use “Free Shipping”? No b/c that’s not what Etsy wants. Way too controlling. I’ll see how it goes. Luckily my income from Etsy is just vacation money.

  11. What about custom duties for EU products shipped to the US of a value above 200€? Those duties are normally paid by the customer. The term “free shipping” will then be misleading…

  12. Well, I’ve worn out several pairs of boots by digging in my heels on f.s. and finally gave in and signed on. Not a lot of choice. In the end it’s “ride the rapids or stay on the bank” and walk home empty handed (no sales). Hope my crash helmet is on tight.

  13. The difficulty I have is for multiple items. In order to get up to $35USD, someone will need to buy multiple items from me – which may all weigh different amounts. It’s quite tricky to calculate what the final parcel will weigh. I recently got caught – 3 magazines – awesome! $51. Great. Oh dear – shipping – $38. I gave 2 magazines away basically.

  14. PS. Etsy could make this very easy on everyone by ensuring people are logged in (or know their location from their browser IP) and display all prices with the shipping included. That would be a whole lot easier on us Australian vendors that now have to charge Aussies WAY more than necessary, in order to keep US shoppers.

  15. I’ll tell you this: a few months after swallowing Dawanda, the biggest European marketplace, Etsy goes and screws all non-US sellers AND BUYERS. Yes I do know that the biggest part of the business is happenning in the US. So what do we do with the other part? Hang a big sign ‘Our prices are proudly higher for foreigners’?

    1. Almost all comments are negative. I can understand why. I am from EU. I have upgraded my shop with “free shipping guaranty” and stuff. What do I see now? My views/visits are dramatically decreased and as a result just a few sales per month. Where is the boost? Where is promised shop promotion?

  16. I sell large things and they are too big for the post office. We use fed ex, but etsy refuses to tell us what their discount is or to allow us to figure shipping before a purchase is made. Our costs are based on distance and package dimensions. Weight doesn’t matter for our items. Also I’ve tried adding shipping into the price and it had made no difference n sales. Very tired of Etsy doing everything for 1. The buyer and 2. Themselves. Nothing for the seller.

    If I add in shippig for worst possible for longest distance and they live close then that cost will probably scare people off, if I make it less then I’m not covering my costs. Typical shipping runs $50-90 depending on distance. Etsy never seems to think of people like me who ship bigger heavier items. They also don’t seem to focus on our handmade items. Very frustrating.

  17. Where to start?
    Etsy have been warming us up to this for months. I sell cheaper items (under the threshold in one shop) and over the threshold in another. International seller.
    What most of us realize is the heavy handed tactics, is abhorrent. I pay my fees, but now you’re saying “if I don’t do ‘this’, I’m going to get penalized, and still pay the same fee structure?”.
    I’ve spent a lot of time digging around (and Etsy do say, that even if you’re having a sale for $35.00 you won’t be shown – it doesn’t count).
    I have heard of buyer boycotts, but can’t verify this.

  18. I think it is completely against the law to favorite us buyers w the free shipping, whereas the European, Asian etc buyers need to pay the shipping PLUS the extra price top-on!
    I sell chandeliers, costs 200$ from France to the USA, how i can i just sit on these costs???? Incorporate them into the price would be dishonnest for all other buyers than the US buyers and the price would be huge and not understandable. Again something to kill us, European vintage sellers!

  19. I would like to see Etsy educate the customer more on shipping fees and small biz/handmade shops. If it’s a “surprise” to be paying shipping why not show it in the listing? Next to the pic or price show Price + $7 shipping (US) = Total $. No surprises. Etsy could also create a program like Prime to pay and receive free shipping then Etsy can offer sellers bonuses for the program as well.

  20. I would feel much better if Etsy used the combined shipping power of all the shops to negotiate lower shipping prices for sellers but they haven’t. They are forcing sellers to “deal with it” while offering zero support. They cant compare the structure of etsy to other companies that handle shipping internally. So it’s time for Etsy to step up or this short sighted strategy with cause long term losses.

  21. So sorry, but free shipping is not “everywhere” – I shop a lot online and I see it free almost NOWHERE, and the threshold shipping costs are going UP, not disappearing.

    Amazon’s ‘free’ shipping comes through Prime, which costs money, and they as a company lose billions a year on shipping.

    I appreciate the struggle to put a positive spin on this, but this article completely fails – it simply adds nothing to the conversation because it’s not accurately reflective of retail as a whole and has no new thinking. Thanks for trying, though.

  22. I’m in the UK and send to USA my items are usually £20and the shipping is £18 if I totally this up and offer free shipping which it’s not. It should say postage included or shipping include.

    So the listings are ok for the states. But what about our UK customer?? Who would pay these prices considering I can send out for £4.00 postage plus the cost of the goods. You can’t delete uk part.
    On the shipping list. Surely etsy could do this.
    UK price eg £24.00 including shipping
    USA price eg £38.00 including shipping
    Wouldn’t that be better on just one listing
    Sorry for the rant

  23. i think it is a way to increase revenue for Etsy.
    Because – initially Etsy did not take any commission on shipping cost.
    Once you make the cost inclusive of shipping – Etsy gets higher commission as the cost has gone up and they get commission on shipping also.

  24. 20% are more likely to complete the purchase if shipping is included. What about the other 80%? Just because 20% are more likely to complete the purchase doesn’t equal 100%. It just doesn’t work that way. Besides that when sellers include shipping in there selling price that makes profits look higher for the seller and hence the necessity to pay higher taxes. It also makes etsy’s profits look better to the investors and that’s bogus. You all think that we’re ignorant to the realities of what Etsy is doing with this free shipping thing. It’s fine for the folks that have small items that can build in the cost of shipping. But there are many many items that are 40, 50, 60 dollar or so price ranges that have a price tag of that same amount or more for the shipping cost that is impossible to add into the actual cost of the item for the buyer. This is coercion by Etsy. This is bullying and it’s very unfair. It’s very unfair to give those that offer free shipping an advantage in the search results and we all know the reasons why if you’re intelligent and really think about this. There’s no sugarcoating it, it is what it is. I think when the antitrust department of the US government starts their investigation into Google’s marketing practices it’s going to affect all online selling platforms and they will likely start investigating other online selling platforms such as eBay and Etsy and their practices of so-called coercing people to include shipping in their cost to be better found in and higher placed in search results. That is unfair and unjust and I’m certain that down the road that will be found out and dealt with by heavy fines for unfair practices. I will jump for joy when that day arrives.

  25. I’m totally confused.I went on Etsy re setting up free shipping re Us customers.
    The instructions clearly say the customer has to have a UsA address and all other customers pay calculated shipping .I ship worldwide from what I’m reading here my international and Canadian customers will see the price increased to including shipping,yet will be charged calculated shipping!!!!
    Is this really what happens or am I reading it wrong.

  26. Etsy is making this optional so as to avoid legal liability. The practice of claiming that an item or SERVICE is free, while still charging the customer for that item or service in a hidden fee is against the US FTC regulations. I urge every seller to consult an attorney or do their due diligence regarding this deceitful practice. After all, you’re on the hook here…Etsy didn’t force you, though they did lead you by the hand onto the primrose path of breaking the law.

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