Monday, October 27, 2008

Meeting Maria Thomas, Etsy's CEO

On Thursday, October 23rd, a group of 6 Philly Team Etsians met with Maria Thomas,
the CEO of Etsy. Rumored to be a simple meet-and-greet, the gathering quickly shifted from social pleasantries to a vibrant Etsy research and development session. Maria guided us with incisive questions. Her goal was to stimulate an informative talk session where she could be like a fly on the wall, listening and taking notes that could guide future improvements for Etsy.

Etsy's CEO was really interested in our experiences as individual Etsy sellers, so we started there. As we went around the circle introducing ourselves and sharing our stories about discovering and using Etsy, our small group revealed itself to be pretty diverse.This helped with the lively discussion that followed.

*One attendee, Jennifer of jericasjewelry, is new to Etsy.
*Suzy (KlaatuCollection) has been with Etsy since its beginnings.
*Sarah (RedRedOrange) relocated from San Fran.
*Allison (AllisonOstertag) is a strong member of Etsy and the Philly Team.
*Sarah ,our hostess, is head of all the Etsy teams world-wide as well as proprietress of girlscantell.
*And yours truly, Suzanne, is a one year etsian (insitudecorativearts) just returning to active membership.

One thing I love about Etsy is the ever-present evidence of thoughtful, supportive and persistent in-house development. New features and tools seem to be always in the works, which is a good thing. Yet with complexity and rapid growth come challenges. With these realities in mind, our group began sharing feedback about the pluses and minuses of the Etsy interface system as it impacts both sellers and shoppers.

Navigation and search capabilities are at the forefront of any talk about Etsy. We talked about tags, the linking search words entered by sellers. How can we make things even easier for shoppers searching for goods while increasing traffic and sales to appropriate shops? Search results from entering tags can number in the hundreds, with the most recently listed (or re-listed) goods given priority at the beginning of the long list. Is this helping people find the incredible items they covet or is it a daunting hindrance?

Our new member Jennifer was often the focus for questions about the Etsy system. She wasn't shy about pointing out the problems she had encountered as a first time seller setting up shop.
Maria made clear that making the site more user-friendly and fun for novices, whether they be buyers or sellers, is a priority for her.

The pros and cons of listing items was next on the agenda. It is a task that many busy crafters find overly time-consuming. The square format for thumbnails was bemoaned; Is there some way to have a tool where the seller could manipulate their photo within the square crop to avoid cutting off important features? How about sellers that have different colors, sizes, etc., available for one item? Is it possible to incorporate those choices into the listing process rather than requiring sellers to list each similar item separately? Or rely on customers using convos to indicate size, color and other variations, which buyers many times forget to enter? Customers would than have the option to fill out this info during a purchase transaction.

Support features for Etsy members were examined . Many described their difficulties in locating and using The Storque( the Etsy Blog), Community, Treasuries (did you know there was a Treasury West? I didn't), The Virtual Lab (Thursday event where you can log on and ask questions. I didn't understand this great feature either). Improvements seem to be on their way in this realm.

The benefits of teams, especially those based on locale like the Philly team, was discussed throughout. Locale teams, versus those defined by art form, used to be called Street teams but that moniker is kinda being fazed out. But the distinction still stands, and i think our members will agree that there are many benefits inherent in joining a real, rather than virtual, team.
Some of the team benefits delineated were:

*Pooling of skill sets to share for group projects.
*An ever-growing base to ask and answer questions about Etsy and crafting in general.
*Organizing of local craft events.
*Mentorship and support for new members.
*Resource sharing.

The possibilities seem endless.

So, our productive meeting sadly came to an end. We all stood up, drank a little more wine/mineral water while Maria was shown one of the teams' goodie bags from DesignPhiladelphia. Then, as we loosely gathered out front, Maria seemed to disappear. As we looked up Ninth street we could see her gamely hailing a cab, NYC style. We waved good-bye as she sped away to catch her train for Brooklyn. She truly is a busy CEO.

1 comment:

Liza said...

I am so so so disappointed that I missed this. I had to stay late at work and there was really no helping it.

I'm glad it turned out so well!