Resellers continue to be Etsy’s biggest problem

Etsy calls itself the “handmade marketplace,” but it takes a lot of effort to keep it that way.

Resellers, people who use Etsy shops as storefronts for factory goods which they claim are handmade, are legitimate sellers’ chief concern—no true crafter can compete with the speed of a reseller with a secret factory churning out goods. During last month’s chat with CEO Chad Dickerson, the majority of sellers’ questions were about culling resellers’ ranks.

“We are always working on marketplace integrity,” Dickerson assured sellers. (“Marketplace Integrity” is Etsy’s official term for making sure crafters are who they say they are.)

Now Etsy’s Marketplace Integrity and Trust and Safety Teams (MITS) leader, Julian K. Wong, has provided an official update to back up Dickerson’s words. According to Wong, the team has added 10 new employees and now reviews each potential reseller’s case within 24 hours.

“I understand how much you care about your work and I’m committed to maintaining our standards for the marketplace where you sell,” Wong wrote.

Since the last update on Marketplace Integrity in February, Wong has replaced the former team leader, Kruti Patel Goyal, who has since gone on to lead the International Business Team. In Goyal’s update, she said MITS added six new employees, but didn’t say how many were on staff before. That means at least 16 people are currently working for MITS.

Goyal said that within the next few months, MITS would begin using new online tools to sniff out resellers and keep them from relisting. Wong’s update shows that Etsy is actually using a tool developed in 2010 which has been updated. SCRAM (Systems for Catching Resellers and Abusers of the Marketplace), now keeps more resellers from relisting.

In the Etsy forums, Wong and other members of MITS answered seller questions about the update. More than 300 sellers participated, but MITS has only been able to answer 17 questions since the discussion began Monday.

Many sellers seemed upset, providing examples of resellers who were still active on the site (even though bringing up specific names is against forum rules).

“What’s the point in having the rules if you’re not going to enforce them?” Lori McKee asked.

“We do understand your frustration that some listings which appear to be in violation may remain on Etsy,” MITS employee Mark S. wrote. “We are working hard to enforce all of our policies evenly. However, enforcement by necessity requires prioritization. Some issues, while they are violations of the current rules, may fall lower in our priorities as we work to remove more serious violations of policy from our Marketplace.”

As Etsy grows, its reseller problem grows with it, and the team doesn’t always have time to deal with each problem. While it’s unclear how many employees are on the MITS team, it’s looking like they’re going to need to hire more.

Photo via Etsy

Lauren Rae Orsini

Lauren Rae Orsini

Lauren Rae Orsini is a web culture reporter who specializes in anime and the business of fandom. Her work has been published by Forbes and Business Insider.