🎨 Etsy's Sellers Strike
The labor movement continues to gain steam in the US, this time in the form of sellers’ strike at the popular online marketplace Etsy. The platform recently announced that it would be charging sellers a higher transaction fee (from 5% to 6.5%) as it scales up efforts to compete with Amazon. According to MarketWatch, the company reported a 16% increase in fourth-quarter gross merchandise sales YoY, and Etsy's share price has skyrocketed nearly 250% since the start of the pandemic.
As the sellers' petition demands, the strike aims to achieve 5 goals including canceling the fee increase, cracking down on resellers, and allowing sellers to opt-out of offsite ads.
An Etsy spokesperson told MarketWatch that the fee increases were in response to these demands, noting that “Sellers have consistently told us they want us to expand our efforts around marketing, customer support, and removing listings that don’t meet our policies…Our revised fee structure will enable us to increase our investments in each of these key areas so that we can better serve our community and keep Etsy a beloved, trusted, and thriving marketplace.”
Etsy CEO Josh Silverman recently told the Wall Street Journal that the company is acting in a way he believes will make the site's 5-plus million sellers "more successful". As the e-commerce site sets its eyes on rival Amazon, he added that Etsy needs to invest in marketing “even if we need to raise fees to do that.” Etsy sellers have pushed back on this comment, noting that the company is placing the burden of these costs on sellers who never agreed to it. Silverman continued, however, that Etsy sellers may list on multiple platforms (including Amazon), but that “the majority of their sales come from Etsy.” The organizers of the strike petition respond that “Rather than rewarding the sellers whose hard work has enabled Etsy to become one of the most profitable tech companies in the world, Etsy gouges us, ignores us, and patronizes us.”
Can a group of sellers unionize? It’ll be interesting to see how this strike affects Etsy in the long run—why would you piss off the very sellers who gave you success in the first place—and if the strike gives sellers the concession they want. If so, will they go a step farther and unionize?