One of the activities I see being done wrong by Etsy Sellers most often is Market Research.
It’s often done badly, lazily, or not at all. This leads Sellers to open shops with poorly thought out products that don’t sell. Inevitably this leads to moaning that “Etsy doesn’t work”, or “Etsy is rigged”.
Don’t be like those sellers. Do you research thoroughly, and you’ll be well on your way to success.
What is Market Research?
Market research (or marketing research) is any set of techniques used to gather information and better understand a company’s target market.
At its core Market Research is looking around, to see what is currently selling, and finding gaps in the market which you can then fill.
Market research is designed to give you confidence in what you’re selling.
Market research - when done well - should catch many simple mistakes. This saves time, effort and money in the long term.
Many Etsy Sellers don’t do research before opening their store. This often leads to disappointment.
Why do market research?
Some beginner sellers think this kind of research is too “business-y” for a novice Etsy seller, however, I believe all Etsy stores are micro-businesses and as such they should be run like one.
Market research can on one hand open your eyes to new opportunities, whilst on the other narrow down your options to those with a good chance of success.
Going into your store journey with the mindset of “I sell Product X. This is what I do” isn’t optimal. Good market research shows you how you can adapt the crafting skills you learnt to new ideas. See what is working and how you can adapt to it.
FInally, once you find what you want to sell, Market Research can confirm if your store idea is viable. Something is only worth what someone is willing to pay.
What to look for
What should be your goals? What are the key things to look for?
I recommend researching as broad as possible. Don’t be constrained by your existing style or preferences.
Make notes, and include screenshots, and urls of interesting listings or comments. This can be reviewed later.
What Customers are Looking For
Finding what people want is the first step to creating a successful product.
Working out key styles and niches that are popular can help with product ideas.
Ensure you keep an eye out for seasonal trends or “flash in the pan” fads. These should be avoided as once the season finishes, or the fad fizzles out you’re left with a product range that no one wants.
The goal of selecting products to sell is to find products that sell consistently. This way you are making money each and every day.
What Your Top Competition Is Making AND Selling
You will always have competition.
Clues to success are everywhere so keep your eyes peeled! Selling products can be a twist on something already selling welland by analysing what your most successful competitors are doing you can plan to compete.
Also, look at what is not selling. Most stores have many categories. Most make the majority of sales in one or two ranges. By seeing what DOESN’T sell you can learn from their mistakes by avoiding those ideas or styles. Your Top Selling Products
Never forget the best source of information is your own store. Double down on your own strengths first before branching out.
You will have much more reliable success by making similar items based on your own top sellers.
Sales data can be a treasure trove, so look through reviews on your top sellers. Chances are you may have had enquiries from customers asking about other products that you don’t have for sale yet.
Listen to these signals and exploit your own strengths first.
What Your Customers Are Shopping For
I know I just said to keep an eye on reviews and messages, however I cannot labour this point enough! Keep a close eye on these points as customers are literally telling you.
If they are motivated enough to go out of their way, and to take the time to write it in a review then it must be important to them. If they feel this way, then it’s likely others will likely feel the same.
So remember - before complaining that customers are fickle - customers will sometimes tell you what they want. Often in messages asking if you do other variations, or in reviews (on our products, or others). You just have to listen.
Applying what you have learnt
Doing market research is the first step. It’s worthless unless acted upon.
You now have your list of ideas. You have an idea on the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, and you know what your own strengths are…
Let’s go and create some action points!
Focusing on your strengths
I mentioned before to ignore your own style and preferences. This step is where we filter out the ideas that just aren’t possible. This could be for different reasons:
- Don’t currently have the skills to create the style or product
- Requires expensive equipment which you don’t have the finances for
- Is too labour intensive and you don’t have the time to commit to it
Be sure to be realistic, if you don’t have experience in a certain style - could you learn it relatively quickly? Be honest.
Once you have filtered through your ideas, order them based on your strengths. Easy wins should be near the top. What can you move fast on?
Brainstorm 10 ideas
You’ve got your ordered list. Take the first few ideas and brainstorm ideas for new listings.
Take the best 10 ideas forward to the next step. Ideally, 10 ideas should cover different ideas. You don’t want to target 1 idea, the purpose of this is to dip our toes in as many different markets as possible.
List and track
Create the 10 listings. Turn auto-renew off. Track their progress. Don’t expect massive sales. Any sales at this point are the goal. If you make a handful of sales, this is an indicator that the market idea is worth investigating further.
Discard any ideas that don’t sell. If they don’t sell before the renewal deadline then its a sign to not pursue now
Market research for new stores
New stores should cover as much new ground as possible. In the steps above I would suggest making 20-30 ideas. These will get cut back very quickly, and only the best performers should continue.
The focus should be on trial and error at this stage. The cost of a single listing is low, only 20 cents. Make the most of this and create many listings in as many areas as you can handle. After a few months you should be able to cut out 90% of these, but you will be left with a strong set of core products to take you forward.
It can be difficult to get sales as a new store. Sometimes at this stage traffic and “Favourites” can be adequate indicators of success. As you build your reviews up you will start to see the most “favourited” items will eventually start to sell.
See my guide on opening a new store on how to get those tricky first 10 reviews.
Market research for expanding stores
Creating more of what already sells should be the primary goal at this stage.
Product ideas should be subtle twists on your existing best sellers. Take what worked for you in your initial tests and build from there.
If none worked in the initial “new store” phase, then you may decide to start from scratch and redo the “New Store” step above.
Market research can be done simply by searching and checking out listings one-by-one, however this can be time consuming and tricky to note down all of your ideas.
There are plenty of tools that either speed up this process or offer insights not possible by searching alone.
Here are a few of my favourite tools. There is a mix of free and paid services available, so there is something for everyone.
One of the original search tools for Etsy. Offers AI driven search estimation. Has a traffic light system on areas such as traffic, and competition. Great insights into buyer search behaviour.
Has a great listing grading service. Once your store is hooked up erank will make suggested improvements to get more search impressions, and more sales.
Another AI driven search volume estimation tool. Has the same “Listing grading” feature as erank
Tools such as “Tag Storm” and “Pinterest Trends” are great additions.
Etsy Simplicity Search Inspector (FREE)
I may be a bit biased, but my very own search inspector tool offers the core features from paid services such as erank and marmalead, but for free!
Get insights into what tags are being used by the most successful listings.
My tool doesn’t use any AI to “estimate” search volume. No one knows what those volumes are, other than Etsy. The Search Inspector Tool shows detail on actual viewed numbers. This offers a more holistic approach. As Etsy search gets clearer then targeting single keywords will go out the window.
Etsy will show your listing in related searches, so long as you get the basics right.
Lists the most successful stores in each category. Find the stores in your niche, and have a deep dive into what they are selling. Learn from the best of the best.
Etsy Forums (FREE)
Forums are a great place to check out customers’ real opinions. Check to see for recurring issues, both from sellers and buyers
Etsy Search (FREE)
The tools above are great - however nothing beats getting stuck into the search bar and browsing categories.
This will give you a better flavour of what is out there, as well as giving better real-world examples