Thursday, July 5, 2012

Asking Even: Adding Extras to Etsy Listings and Charging for Them?

Hi Even,

When you charge something extra, such as shipping with insurance and making a chain longer, how can you issue an adjusted invoice, and how can the customer pay the extra?

Thank you!

This is a great question as Etsy's interface doesn't make it straightforward.  You do have a few options though and you can choose among them on a case by case basis, or stick to one that is the best balance for you and your customers.  The important factor is to communicate clearly and efficiently with your customer.  This comes from knowing what your options, making an informed choice, and then using your listings and policies page to state your method(s) to your buyers.

First, there are a few points from the Etsy Terms of Use (TOU--the rules!) that you should consider:

  • If the seller offers different sizes or styles that affect the price, the seller must make a separate listing for each item.
  • All listings on Etsy must be available for purchase
  • A custom order listing must be listed for purchase with a set price.

Here's what those rules mean when we look at making listing and shipping options:

Listing Options:

Custom Listings
The item can be entirely custom, meaning made to order, even if it is similar or exactly the same as other listings.  In this case, you would list each item and its variations separately and use the "made to order" feature when listing the timeframe the item is made.

Main Listings and Add-Ons
The item can be listed in the basic form with add-ons possible in other listings.  In the example of additional length in a necklace chain, one listing would be your necklace and another listing would be the added chain.  The downside here is that technically the added chain length is available for purchase! Here's an example of such a listing. 

Listings with no Price Change
You can list the item in it's most expensive version (longest chain) and then ask buyers to note the requested chain length in the "notes to seller".  In this case, you are not changing the price when they request a shorter chain.  You are allowed by Etsy to give choices within one listing, as long as the choices don't affect the selling price.  To keep yourself in business, the best way to do this is to list at the highest price option.

Reserved Listings
You can create a reserved listing for a particular buyer after using the Etsy messaging (convo) system to communicate exactly what the item is and the shipping price.  This is something that you can explain in each listing and also make sure that the "request custom item" link shows on your shop page (under Shop Settings < Options).  
Making sure that the "request custom item" link shows in your shop sidebar.
The upside here is that you don't need to try to cover every option, you just make the listing once you and the buyer have agreed.  The downside is that it takes messaging back and forth and that is a barrier for some buyers.  Be sure to protect your buyer's confidentiality when making a reserved listing: don't reveal their real name, address, or other sensitive info in the item listing.

Reserved Listings with Edits
This option is one that is great if your buyers are pretty skilled at online shopping.  You would list your standard version, but at the top of the description make a statement like "please message me before purchase if you would like custom options: chain length, expedited shipping, and tracking."  Then when a buyer messages you, you'll edit the price and details before they purchase.  This saves the step of extra invoices and extra listings.  You may find  buyers who like this because they can communicate with you prior to purchase.  I think if you are friendly and mention that you want to know your buyers, this can work very well.  

Shipping Options:

More shipping options features have been long requested.  I'll walk through the current choices below.  If it's something you'd like to be on the cutting edge with, go ahead and join the testing team for new features.  You can also just read through the team's forum to get an idea of what is coming up.

Adjusting the Invoice
Sellers may list shipping choices or upgrades and the price in the item listing description.  Usually the default shipping is the lowest price.  Sellers then say to note requested upgrades in the 'notes to seller' box while checking out and the seller will "adjust the invoice".  This means that you, as the seller, will have to send an additional paypal invoice to the buyer for a few dollars difference (the cost of the upgrade).  This is okay with Etsy because they are not charging you a percentage on your shipping, so you can change that after the sale.  It's not really convenient if you have a high volume of sales and are only using paypal. It is more convenient if you are using other forms of payment (like money order or google checkout) where you would be giving the buyer a total price after they checkout on Etsy anyway.  If you want to send an invoice via Paypal for just the extra shipping, here's how.  There isn't a way to invoice for extra shipping costs with Etsy Direct Checkout presently.

Start with the Highest Price Option
Another similar method is to list the item with the higher priced shipping option as the default and then refund the buyer a few dollars if they choose to downgrade the shipping.  You would also describe this in your listing.  For example, I charge $13 to ship priority mail to international destinations.  This gives my buyers tracking and faster service.  Canadian buyers can choose to leave me a note that they would just like basic shipping and it's only $5.  I just refund them the difference.  It saves one step of the back and forth.  It's worth considering if your buyers would be put off by a higher price.  I think around winter holidays, it's a good idea to list all items with priority shipping and tracking and then if a buyer wants to reject that choice, they may do so.
This is how I explain shipping choices via the "Start with the Highest Price Option"

Shipping Options as Item Listings
It isn't okay with Etsy's TOUs to list shipping options as actual item listings.  This is because you couldn't sell just shipping as a stand alone item.  A search of "shipping upgrade" will illustrate how many people don't understand this--please don't be one of them!

Insurance and Tracking Options

You can treat insurance and tracking as part of your shipping methods as described above.  Basically decide whether these are an 'add on' or 'default' for your shop and buyers.

Thanks for your great question and please feel free to elaborate, share advice, and ask more in the comments below!  Ask your own questions via 


If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, contact Katy or Steph about joining SFEtsy!


eko at eko jewelry design said...

Hi Even,
Thank you so much for answering my question. Your answer is very clear and the links are very helpful! “Start with the highest price option” is eye opening since it didn’t occur to me. Also, I was thinking of listing shipping options as item listings. Oops! Thank you for including this info. Eko

Reg said...

Hello Even.
Great entry very informative. I have a question about reserved listings. A buyer and I convoy'd and agrees to set up a reserved listing. However she has not purchased it and it has been 10 days. What should I do? Will etsy refund the listing fees?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...