I love Etsy. The website has provided me, as well as many others, the opportunity to sell and buy unique products in a friendly environment. I greatly enjoy being a part of the online community that shares business and craft tips with each other.
Etsy is like a family. I see the many wonderful opportunities and joys that Etsy has to offer. However, the "SEO Affair" illustrates the fact that Etsy also needs to grow and build in the areas of communication and development for shops. I believe that this SEO affair can teach other online businesses (especially small shops on Etsy, ArtFire, etc.) several important lessons.
1. Communicate in a timely and effective manner with all contacts. If a customer asks a questions, respond promptly and thoroughly. Be friendly and polite. Check your Etsy "convos" and e-mail often. Keep up-to-date on your Twitter, blog, or Facebook fan page. The online cottage industry is big. A customer may remember you for your through, polite conversation and consider buying from you again on that basis alone.
2. Be concise and informative. Use your shop announcement section, message to buyers, policy section, etc. to list all pertinent information so no buyer is left confused. Ask a friend to read through your listings to insure absolute clarity. Remember to include all necessary facts about items listed for purchase. Is the size, color, type, and material all perfectly clear?
3. Follow through, follow up. It's all in the details. Keep your end of the deal on everything from delivery, gift-wrap, coupons, anything! My mom still talks about an Etsy seller she purchased a scarf from last year. The scarf got lost in the mail right before Christmas (it was intended to be a present). The seller went above and beyond her duty as a seller to to make sure that my mom received a replacement scarf for no extra cost. The seller sent the replacement package overnight (for free!) and even offered to mail it gift-wrapped to my grandmother (the present recipient). While this is certainly not required, prompt communication and courtesy is essential. Review the Etsy Seller Handbook. Seek out other online tips and suggestions to insure that you are doing everything you can to maximize your potential as a seller.
I know so many online sellers who do these things already. I think the SEO affair serves as a reminder to all sellers that you have a definitive responsibility to your customers. Mistakes can cost you customers. Do your part to insure that all your customers feel that they are a priority in your business because they are. Make them feel heard and special. That's one of the strengths and joys of small business ownership: the personal seller-customer relationship.