If you are thinking of buying something handmade or custom-made, you’ve come to the right place. Etsy is a global marketplace that sells a wide range of items from independent sellers, ranging from bespoke jewellery pieces, crocheted toys to wedding dresses and even furniture.
I had the opportunity to interview someone who went frequently buys things on Etsy from Singapore, and here’s what you need to know:
How did I discover Etsy?
During the coronavirus pandemic, Animal Crossing was one of the hottest games on Nintendo Switch. As an avid animal crossing fan, I had developed an affinity for some of the villagers in the game. Hence, I knew I had to get a custom plush of Merry from Animal Crossing.
Back then, bootleg plushies were very popular on Aliexpress, but they didn’t have any of my favourite plushies including Merry, Apple and Rosie.
So my hunt for the perfect animal crossing plushie began…
I typed in www.etsy.com in my browser’s search bar and I was greeted by this page.
Hence, I promptly signed up for an account, which was a fuss-free and easy experience.
Alternatively, you can click on “Continue with Google”, “Continue with Facebook” or “Continue with Apple”. You can buy stuff on Etsy without creating an account, but I would strongly advise against doing so, in case of disputes.
Moreover, it is much easier to keep track of your purchases this way.
I was redirected to the homepage which is a specially curated page filled with my favourite items. As a first-timer, your homepage will probably be more empty and spartan in contrast.
(Ps. I am using an Alias for my Etsy account)
These are the listings that appeared on the Etsy search page:
I decided to click on the listing named “Merry Cat Villager Animal Crossing 15.7”(40cm), and I was redirected to the page. However, if you are not satisfied with any of the listings, you can always click on the respective shops and request a custom order.
A closer look at the details…
The description lists everything you need to know about the plush toy such as:
- The amount of time needed to make it
- The size of the plush
- The type of fabric used
- Care instructions
In this case, the plush is 15.7 inches(40cm) tall and made of plush fabric.
Upon scrolling down, the shipping and return policies will be displayed, such as:
- The amount of time needed for the order to ship
- The cost to ship
- Whether the item is trackable
There is also a button to click if you have any questions for the seller.
A closer look…
You can scroll back up, and proceed to click on the “Add to cart” or “Buy now” button.
The total amount as shown is USD 113.00, which is inclusive of:
- The item price (98 USD)
- The shipping fee (15 USD)
If you have any shop or discount codes, now is a good time to apply them. The “Add a note” section is also useful if you have any special requirements.
This shop allows buyers to pay via Paypal, which offers buyer and seller protection. Please take note that Paypal transactions will be subject to foreign exchange conversion rates.
To the best of my knowledge, the seller will be responsible for any Paypal commission fees.
An item that has not been shipped will appear like this.
Once the item has started shipping, you can click on Track Package, to check the status of the delivery. (In this case, I ordered the Merry Animal Crossing plush from another store.)
The messaging function is really useful for:
- Enquiring about your order
- Receiving updates about any unforeseen production delays.
It might be tempting to email your seller when they don’t respond promptly-but it is best not to do so. In case of any disputes, the Etsy team will look at your message history for your case.
What if my seller did not ship out my item in time?
Check whether your item has exceeded the estimated shipping date. First, go to the “Purchases” tab, followed by clicking on “View receipt”.
If yes, you can drop the seller a message about it. Most sellers would reply promptly.
If not, you can click on “Help with order”, which allows you to fill out a form to send an expedited message to the seller.
If you did not get a satisfactory response, you can open a case after 48 hours and Etsy will step in.
Nonetheless, COVID-19 has affected many businesses and supply chains, hence, it is best to exercise patience during this difficult period.
As a buyer, I have never opened a case before, as most sellers were quite responsive and they were good at service recovery.
Also, too many unresolved and open cases could lead to a seller being banned from the platform.
What if my item was lost in transit?
If your item did not have a tracking number and you decide to open a case, the seller is liable for any lost parcels. In most cases, the seller would either refund you or make a replacement item.
If your item has a tracking number, Etsy will not hold the seller responsible for any shipping delays or lost parcels.
Based on my personal experience…
I had a parcel with a tracking number that was lost in transit for months. Hence, I contacted Etsy’s customer support about it.
Knowing that it was not the seller’s fault, Etsy decided to refund me out of goodwill. Anyway, my parcel eventually arrived after a very long wait.
However, this is the exception rather than the norm.
Here are some answers to questions you may have while buying from Etsy:
Does Etsy ship to Singapore?
As Etsy is an e-commerce platform made up of individual shops, each shop would have its own shipping policies. Most shops ship to Singapore, but it is always good to take a look at their shipping and return policies
Moreover, these would be subject to the country’s post office and global shipping providers. If an item is unable to be shipped to Singapore, I believe your transaction will not be processed.
How long does Etsy take to deliver to Singapore?
Depending on the complexity of the item, and whether there is available stock, it could range anywhere between 1-3 days and 4-6 weeks or even longer. If you want to buy a customised item that takes a lot of time and effort to make, most sellers will cite a manufacturing time of 4-6 weeks or even more.
How much does Etsy charge?
The amount of fees charged is determined by the seller. You will have to pay for the cost of the item, as well as the shipping fees. Moreover, you may also incur additional costs such as foreign exchange rates.
If the shipping fee is quite high, you may want to buy a larger number of items to make it worth this high fee!
What else should I take note of?
Here are other tips you may want to take note of while you are buying via Etsy:
As Etsy becomes increasingly popular, there are more and more dropshippers joining the Etsy platform. Before trying to purchase a plush on Etsy, you may want to do a quick check to see whether it is on Aliexpress or Alibaba.
Does the quality of the plush seem inferior? Were the photos stolen from another website?
This is where you’ll need to trust your gut instincts!
2. Familiarise yourself with the Terms and Conditions on Etsy’s buyer and seller policy as well as the seller’s shop
Most shops usually state that customised items are not refundable nor returnable. Unless the item’s quality differs from what is stated on the website, it will be hard to get a refund.
An example of an order would be listed below:
3. Manage your expectations
Handmade items might come with some imperfections. For crocheted items, no two products for the same listing will be exactly identical.
For example, a crocheted animal crossing plush might have slightly different eyes as compared to the licensed character. Moreover, works of art are up to the artist’s interpretation.
You may want to look at sellers with more listings to get an idea of what they can offer.
4. Don’t wait till the last minute to buy something
If you are thinking of buying a gift for a friend on Etsy, and his birthday is in one week’s time, don’t buy an item that will take at least two weeks to make. This will put undue stress on both you and the seller!
Etsy is indeed a treasure trove of hidden gems. You can buy literally anything you can think of-from watches to one-of-a-kind dolls.
The risks of using Etsy are also no higher than any other online retail platform, such as Etsy. Any issues are easily resolved by opening a dispute with the seller.
With some patience, shopping on Etsy can be quite a pleasurable experience!
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