Saturday, January 31, 2015

How To Create Professional Etsy Policies
Part 1
Tony Hershey,, provided valuable insight for creating your Etsy policy and information sections.  In the on-line selling biz for a number of years and with Etsy since 2010, Tony is approaching 700 sales on Etsy alone.  He also has 220 reviews with a 5 star average. 

Part 1, of this series covers Shipping and Refunds.  First, let's peek into the unusual, rare and quirky world of  With 585 listings, you are sure to find something wonderful. (Listing links follow photos.) 

Rare Czech Pitcher and glasses - $80.00

Antique Marble - German Cloud - $250

USA Mint Olympic Stamps - $19.99
Tony indicated the Return policy is the most important followed by Shipping Information.  I put shipping first, because one always ships, but hopefully will rarely deal with returns. 

  • Turn-around time. 
  • How to charge for shipping 
  • International shipments 
TAT - In the instant society in which we live, people like next day shipping. Tony recommends using the 3-5 day category in your listings. If you can ship faster, you have an impressed buyer. If you can’t, the buyer expected that anyway, so no disappointment.  (Blogger note:  Tony has daily sells and a huge shop inventory.  The 3-5 day process time gives you the opportunity to organize and be more efficient.)

U.S. Shipping Charges - Etsy does not have an embedded shipping calculator, so you will need to know how much to charge for shipping. The major carriers (USPS, FedEx, UPS) have on-line shipping estimate calculators.  A visit to your preferred vendor site, some experimenting with weight, box size and distance will help determine the right amount for you.  Though time consuming research, it is important.  Most sellers use USPS, because it tends to be the cheapest.  

How to determine the right amount of shipping, when you don't yet know where the item is headed?
  • Some Etsy sellers simply select a City and State far away from their home location, and set that amount as their standard shipping rate. 
  • Others take an average of several points across the US. 
It is easy to refund a portion of the shipping if you so choose. But shipping charges aren’t just postage. They include tracking, insurance, packing materials, etc.  Remember to calculate these somewhere in your pricing.

International Shipments? - If you answer yes, read on.  If no, skip ahead to Refunds.  From the Blogger: First step is back to those carrier calculators.  I use, USPS for all International Shipments, because consistently it is the cheapest.  Adding locations in your Etsy shipping profiles by country is easy.  I have about 20 countries listed and then "Everywhere Else."  Countries were selected based on the percentage of total views received by my shop during 2014.  (Not very scientific, but I am growing and learning about international shipments all the time. ) 

Tony says, "Remind international buyers that you have no control over shippers or customs agencies. As a result, shipments can sometimes take weeks or months." Remind them that any value added taxes (VAT), customs fees, or brokerage fees are their responsibility. If you choose to exclude countries that can’t be insured, state that plainly.  Although it is rare, you may be asked to falsify information in order to reduce the customs fees.  That is NOT a practice we endorse or participate in. 

Time for a short commercial break and another look at Tony has some wonderful historic photographs.  Below are a couple with autographs.  Listing links follow.     
President Carter, First Lady and The Pope
signed by The Carters - $345

Signed Marcel Marceau - $79

This is probably the most important policy section and needs to be done carefully. Make sure you include the following:
  • How long people have to return items. 
  • Whether or not you will refund shipping
  • Language about partial refunds
  • Refunds without return of item

Standard times for return are 7-14 days from receipt of item.  A “No refunds” policy is both useless and detrimental. Customers will be wary and you will lose sales.  Both Paypal and credit card companies can force a refund in certain situations, and savvy customers know it.  

Refund Shipping - Yes, for damaged or lost items.  Otherwise Tony recommends no for either direction, because it is a charge for a service that you cannot recoup. Additionally, one of the primary reasons for return requests is buyer remorse. Allowing such a return is likely enforceable by your buyer.  But they should also participate by absorbing the shipping costs.  The primary exception to this is an obvious mistake on your part, such as an incorrect description. In this case refund both directions, and take the loss. You’ll not make that mistake again, and your buyers will be happy with your customer service. 

Partial Refunds - Tony says, "NO!" And spell it out in your language, as in "No Partial Refunds." Partial refunds set you up for post sale pressure, which is essentially the same as asking for a discount up front. 

Refunds without return of the item to you - Again, Tony says, "No."  Why not just accept a picture of a damaged item item? There are two compelling reasons not to. 
  • The item may be repairable and re-sellable. 
  • Protection from a common scam:  "A person owns a vintage, mass-produced item (not a one-of-a-kind artist-made one). This item gets broken. They search online and buy one just like it from you. Once it arrives safely to them, they contact you claiming it was broken. You ask for a pic, and they take a pic of their original, broken item, not the good one you shipped. They get a refund and a new item…for free."
You can always loosen up your policy depending on the situation.  You may want to state in your policies that you use multiple photos and secret marks to confirm the validity and original condition of returns. Secret marks are advisable, especially on expensive items - some tiny mark, in a hidden location, in a way that will not cause damage. Photos of the secret marks and wear patterns will help you identify your item has been returned.  

Stay turned for Part 2 - Payment and Seller Info, coming soon.  And thanks to Tony Hershey of for his contributions to this article.  

By the way, Tony has his wares at: Top of the Class Antique Show, at Bone Student Center at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois this weekend. If you are from the area, go see Tony from now until 4 pm Sunday, Feb 1, 2015. 

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