ecommerce

Etsy Offers Hotline To Humanize Gift-Giving


As part of its effort to own the holidays in a new way, Etsy is opening up the phone lines. The crafty ecommerce company is inviting customers to call in during a three-hour window on Nov. 5, when Dayna Isom Johnson, its trend expert, and other staffers will help solve people’s toughest gift-giving challenges.

“This is an extension of what we already do, which is make human connections and help people find personalized and unique gifts,” Johnson tells Marketing Daily. She says the Brooklyn-based company expects to spend between 15 and 20 minutes per call, handling hundreds before the three-hour window closes.

Etsy is treating the event as a pop-up experience, already advertising it on social media channels. As an incentive, Etsy members who call in get a gift card, which they can spend on anything -- even themselves. All gifts ship for free.

Johnson expects presents that incorporate handwriting, already big sellers, to be especially hot. “My family cooks together during the holidays, and last year my mother got me a quiche pan with the recipe for her bacon quiche -- in her handwriting -- transferred on the bottom,” she says. “That’s the kind of item you can only find on Etsy, and that I expect to treasure forever.”

She says the average price point for Etsy gifts is around  $35.

While holiday helplines are nothing new -- Butterball has been doing it for decades, and now even offers an Alexa-enabled experience -- Johnson says it’s an essential aspect of the Etsy experience. “Our customers already interact extensively with the Etsy sellers about their orders. But we know gift-giving can be stressful, and we want to bring some joy. The goal is to help them have a memorable holiday moment.”

Earlier this year, Etsy kicked off its largest holiday marketing campaign, including spots focusing on Halloween, Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. As a result, it says marketing expenses as a percentage of revenue in its most recent quarter rose to 25.4% compared to 21.9% in the second quarter of 2018 and 20.9% in the first quarter of this year.

Etsy is expected to release quarterly earnings this week, and analysts are keeping a close eye on the impact of the ad campaign, as well as the shift to free shipping.

In a recent note, Wedbush Securities analyst Ygal Arounian says he is cautiously optimistic. But there may be “temporary negative impacts” as Etsy optimizes free shipping, as well as negative seller reaction to the Etsy ads, “which can lead to some pulling back on advertising spend” by individual sellers.

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