Over 20,000 sellers on e-commerce platform Etsy have agreed to go on strike from April 11-18, organizers said Monday, to protest a 30% transaction fee increase that Etsy claims is necessary to draw new customers but that striking sellers describe as the latest of numerous arbitrary and burdensome policies.

Strike organizer Kristi Cassidy—who sells vintage-style dresses on Etsy— said that she calculated the number of participating sellers to be 20,494 as of Monday afternoon, by using an online petition that has so far gained 56,686 signatures and that allows signatories to identify themselves as sellers if they choose.

However, Etsy said the site’s transaction fee increase from 5% to 6.5%, which took effect Monday, will help bring in more shoppers with increased marketing, increase the size of the site’s support team by over 20% and increase the site’s ability to resolve buyer disputes and get rid of policy-violating listings.

The petition also takes aim at Etsy’s off-site advertising system, which charges a 15% fee to sellers who have made less than $10,000 in the past year for any purchases made via an off-site ad, a policy that strike organizers say is unpredictable and sometimes impossible to opt out of.

Strike organizers further accused Etsy of enforcing community guidelines using bots that indiscriminately shut down legitimate accounts while allowing accounts that sell low-quality, mass-produced goods—a practice that, while not forbidden by Etsy guidelines, is widely frowned upon by sellers.

Though the strike includes roughly .4% of the site’s reported 5.3 million sellers, Cassidy told Yahoo Finance she still hoped it would be enough to grab the company’s attention.

An Etsy spokesperson said that the company is receptive to seller feedback but that increased fees will help address some of the issues identified in the petition, such as removing listings that violate site policies.

Etsy specializes in vintage items and in customized or handcrafted goods ranging from jewelry and artwork to homewares and gifts. The early days of the Covid-19 pandemic brought record profits to the site, which sold over 12 million masks for about $133 million in April 2020 alone. In 2021, Etsy increased its reach outside the U.S., acquiring the U.K.-based e-commerce site Depop for $1.63 billion and Elo7, the “Etsy of Brazil,” for $217 million. However, as lockdowns for brick-and-mortar stores ended and Etsy’s user growth slowed, Etsy’s stock began a months-long decline. The company’s stock was at $117.22 at the end of trading Monday, up by .55% compared to the previous day, but down about 61% from its November 24 record high of $296.91.

Cassidy said strike organizers plan to build something akin to an Etsy sellers’ union. Gig jobs, which often feature loose, low-commitment relationships between workers and business managers, have generally been resistant to unionization. However, labor organizers have scored a few victories in the gig economy over past years, in 2021 compelling Uber to recognize a union representing drivers in the U.K.

“Etsy Stock Lost 4% Last Week, What To Expect?” (Forbes)

[Read More…]