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How Online Shoppers Think and How to Make Your Etsy Shop Appealing to Them

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We went over SEO in this post: How to Get More Buyers to Your Etsy Shop With SEO so now that you’ve got your shop optimized and people are finding you let’s make sure that they stick around, buy something, and come back again!

First there are some things you should know and remember about online shoppers. They have some quirks and as Etsy shop owners we should all be aware of them!

Before I get into that though please know that this is not meant to be offensive in any way. I am only telling you these things because they are important to helping you understand your potential customers and how they will interact with you and your shop.

And I'm not making these things up, there have been studies done!

Ok, so here we go... point blank!

How Online Shoppers Think and How to Make Your Etsy Shop Appealing to Them

1. Online shoppers are self-centered. Yep, I said it! 

They are shopping online for one self-centered reason or another... it’s all about them.  If you ask someone who likes to shop online why they prefer it over a physical, brick-and-mortar store you will likely hear one or more of these reasons:

  • because I want to do price comparisons to find the best deal to save myself some money
  • because it is convenient for my lifestyle
  • because I want _______.
  • because I like to shop in my pajamas (early in the morning/late at night)

Takeaway - Do not talk too much about yourself in your item descriptions. It is a subliminal thing, people shopping are in an "it's all about ME" state of mind so when you talk about yourself, it creates a subliminal message that your shop is not all about them, it's all about YOU. So they don't feel valued and they leave.

For example, for handmade items instead of saying "To make this scarf I used wool yarn that I dyed myself", say something like "This scarf is made using beautiful hand dyed wool yarn"... instead of "I painted it yellow because it reminds me of the sunshine", simple say "it is painted sunshine yellow".

2. Online shoppers are impatient  and flighty.

They are shopping online because they don’t want to wait in lines or deal with people; they want to sit in the comfort of their own homes in their pajamas and shop (granted some people feel it is ok to shop at Walmart in their pajamas but we won’t go there right now!!).

This tendency to be impatient and flighty will cause them to leave if they see long and/or confusing descriptions. If it takes too long to read it or too much concentration to understand it they will leave. They want fast and easy shopping… why? See number 1 above (they are self-centered)!

Takeaway - Make your descriptions brief and to the point. Put the important information first (size/measurements, materials, condition issues, etc.). Long stories about how your products are made would be better in your "About" page. Put a link in the item description if you'd like: "To see how my products are made check out my "About" page at http://blah, blah, blah. 

If at all possible do not make them ask how much shipping overseas will be. Figure it out and make a shipping option for it. If they have to wait for an answer they are much more likely to find something else instead.

3. Online shoppers are impulsive

It is so easy to make a purchase online… as easy as clicking a button. There are no long lines to wait in where they have a chance to think things over and change their minds.

They are using credit cards and online payment processing methods instead of cash. Cash is much harder to part with.

Takeaway - This goes along nicely with number 2. If your descriptions are brief and easy to understand that impulse purchase is much more likely to happen! Etsy has made it super easy for thos impulse purchases!

4. Online shoppers are hedonistic

They are usually shopping online for things they want not things they need. They shop for fun.

Takeaway - Lucky for us Etsy is fun! Load your shop up with fun (but useful) things for those shoppers who are looking for pleasurable and self-gratifying things!

So now that you know these little quirks about your potential buyer’s it is important to tailor your shop to their wants and needs!

Your Shop’s Appearance

Source: SearchQuotes.com
This may be what we are taught growing up but when it comes to our Etsy shops people DO judge by appearance.

When a potential buyer ends up in your shop you want it to be a pleasurable experience for them. Your shop should look appealing to the eye.

Banners/Cover Photos Since Etsy switched us over to the new format we have a much larger area (called a cover photo now) at the top to brand our shops. They partnered up with Canva.com to make it very easy to create your own in the exact size you'll need. Just go to https://www.canva.com/ and click on "Create a Design", then scroll down to the section "Social Media & Email Headers" and choose "Etsy Cover Photo". From there you can use different backgrounds, fonts, etc. and upload and use your own pictures. Canva also has an option for "Etsy Shop Icon" so it's super easy to get that done too!

If you had a smaller banner that disappeared when Etsy made the updates, you can still use that if you want to. To put the small banner back, just go to "Your Shop" at the top right, click on the blue "Edit Shop" at the top of the drop down menu. Then click on "Add a cover photo to highlight your brand" then select the branding option of "small banner".

I'll share a couple of my shops as examples of what it looks like with a cover photo and what it looks like with only a shop icon and no banner, no cover photo.

My bear shop, Something Special Bears, is an example of a shop with a cover photo. I designed it in Canva following the instructions above.

My vintage boho shop, Little Boho Cottage, is an example of a shop with only a shop icon, no banner and no cover photo.

You can buy a pretty shop banner that fits your theme too. There are a lot of shops that sell banners on Etsy. Use the search term “Etsy Shop Banner” and you’ll find them from .78 cents all the way up to $1,500.00 for full logo design packages.

But do yourself a favor and don’t put something that is all distorted or pixelated. When I land on a shop that has a banner like that I am immediately turned off. I think it is a sort of subliminal message that this shop owner doesn’t know what they are doing. Just pay the .78 cents and buy one that looks good!

Pictures – there is an area in the Etsy community where you can ask fellow shop owners to critique your shop and the advice I see given most often is “work on your pictures”. Here is my advice about pictures:

·     Make them crisp, clear, and bright. Take them outside or use lots of lights if you have to take them indoors. If you have small items there are some great tutorials online for how to make a light box with a large cardboard box and white paper.

·     Your pictures should be oriented the correct direction. Don’t make your buyer’s turn their head to the side in order to see the item!

·     Edit them. Crop them to remove distracting backgrounds, lighten them, and intensify the colors if they look too washed out. PicMonkey is my favorite free editing tool.

·     Use the same background (or a couple of backgrounds) for a cohesive feel. This will make your shop look professional and like everything belongs together. Don’t take photos of some of your items on the couch, some in the grass, and some on the dining table. This just looks messy when they are all together on your shop pages.

I use an old chippy door and two chippy shutters for my backgrounds lately. Choose something that compliments the theme of your shop. I sell lots of cottage and farmhouse items so the chippy door and shutters compliments my shop and items well. If you sell industrial items try concrete, weathered wood, or metal backgrounds. If you sell hand sewn items try a couple of different fabric backgrounds. If you sell Victorian antiques try a lacy or velvet background. Jewelry looks beautiful on vintage book pages, you get the idea!

Of course if you are using a light box you won’t have to worry about backgrounds.

·     Use a good camera to save yourself a lot of editing time. My new cell phone takes great pictures, much better than my camera!

·     Do not use a quarter or penny to show size! This is an old eBay trick and it isn’t a good one if you ask me. If you need to show size take a picture of the item in your hand or with another complimentary object next to it. And always put the measurements in the description.

Speaking of hands (and feet), if you sell things that are modeled on hands or feet please, please make sure the hands and feet you choose to use are pretty! I do not mean to offend here but think about how you would feel if you saw a pretty ankle bracelet shown on someone with cracked heels and chipped toenail polish!


  1. Great points Tania! Agree with all of them! It's also a turn off to me to see someone with thick, hairy arms or wrists model something. Ugh! I agree having the hand showing gives a.good idea of scale. Sometimes I use the original Campbell's Soup can. Most people know about how big that is.

    1. Thanks Florence, I'm glad you found the post informative :o)


  2. Oh my goodness. I was just thinking about how frustrated I have become with trying to grow my store. I have struggled for months to try and expand my customer base. You helped me gain some real insight. I have retail experience in a brick and mortar store and I was really starting to wonder where I was going wrong. Thanks for the tips

    1. Hi Lindsey, I'm so glad you found this post useful!