Etsy online shopping review

Shop distinctive handmade and vintage goods — all in one convenient marketplace.

Etsy is a global online community of designers, sellers, and lovers of unique items. It provides a marketplace-like platform that allows sellers to share their passion with others, and buyers to find items that are truly individual and made with love. Etsy also has a section for collectors and lovers of vintage items.

None

Free shipping

None available

Financing

At customers expense

Returns

Quick take

Pros

  • Unique, handmade products
  • Convenient messaging system between buyers and sellers
  • Secure marketplace

Cons

  • Steep fees for sellers
  • Shipping times can be long, depending on the seller.
  • Item quality can vary widely, depending on the seller.

Reviews and complaints: Is it legit?

Yes, Etsy is a legit marketplace where you can buy unique, handmade and vintage items directly from the maker. It has an A rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), where it’s been accredited since 2016.

However, over 4,400 reviews on Trustpilot add up to just 2 out of 5 stars and a Poor overall rating. It’s important to note that some of those negative reviews are from sellers, complaining about problems with the changing interface and not making a satisfactory number of sales. Some shoppers complain about slow shipping times, while others report difficulty getting answers about refunds from Etsy’s customer service team.

To avoid problems with shipping, review the estimated shipping time in the product description when you’re shopping on Etsy. As for dealing with sketchy sellers, you can avoid most issues by only buying from Etsy shops with 5-star ratings and ample customer reviews.

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Case study: Amy's experience

Amy Stoltenberg profile photo
Amy Stoltenberg
Staff writer

I absolutely love shopping on Etsy. I’ve been a customer since 2015, but really got into it last year when I moved across the country and needed to furnish an apartment from scratch. I bought everything from groovy digital-print rugs for my bathroom to a butter dish for my kitchen. I even bought a sourdough starter from Etsy, which I’ve used to make lots and lots of delicious bread.

I also turn to Etsy when I need to buy someone a present because brainstorming gift ideas really stresses me out. When I couldn’t decide on what to get my best friend for her birthday last year, I typed her astrological sign into Etsy’s search box on a whim and ended up buying her a curated Libra box with crystals, candles and dried herbs for like $35. She loved it!

Of course, it feels good to support an independent maker instead of a giant corporation — another key reason why I am a loyal Etsy shopper.

That said, Etsy isn’t the best choice if you’re on a tight timeline and need shipping ASAP. It’s not meant to function like Amazon Prime. If you’re wondering how long it’ll take something to ship, message the shop owner for a time estimate.

Also, keep in mind that some of the toiletry products have more of a homemade feel, like something you’d pick up at a farmer’s market instead of the drug store. For example, once I bought a perfume roller, and the outside had a thin layer of oil on it from where the fragrance seeped through. It didn’t bother me because it was easy to rinse off, but if that sort of thing is unacceptable to you, then you might want to shop elsewhere.

What you can buy from Etsy

Etsy is a third-party marketplace. Shop owners are only allowed to sell handmade goods, vintage items or craft supplies — so you won’t find factory or mass-produced items on Etsy.

The best way to get a sense of what Etsy has to offer is by going to the website and browsing around. Here’s a taste of what you’ll find:

  • Jewelry and accessories. Find everything from engagement rings to personalized jewelry, charm bracelets, body jewelry and more. Plus, shop handmade bags, scarves, hats and other custom accessories.
  • Bath and beauty. Buy soap, lotion, makeup, perfume and other toiletry items, many of which are free of preservatives, harsh chemicals, dyes and other ingredients common in mainstream toiletries. You can even order custom fragrances.
  • Clothing and shoes. Browse one-of-a-kind vintage clothing, handmade items and much more.
  • Home goods and decor. From unique gift items to custom-made furniture, organizers, signs and other decorative pieces, you’ll find just about everything you could need for the home.
  • Wedding and party. If you need anything personalized or custom-made for your wedding, bachelor/bachelorette party, shower or other event, check Etsy for a fountain of ideas.
  • Toys and entertainment. From books and stickers to stuffed animals, wooden playsets and personalized baseball bats, Etsy offers plenty of fun for the whole family.
  • Art and collectibles. Including a large selection of vintage goods and photography prints.
  • Craft supplies. Shop custom stamps, to-do lists, planners, stencils, wax seal kits and more.

Can I get free shipping at Etsy?

Sometimes. Shipping fees and delivery policies are set by the individual sellers and outlined on the product page. Many sellers do offer free shipping — but others don’t. Message the seller if you’re unsure about shipping terms, fees or expected delivery times. You can also filter your search to only see items with free shipping.

Shipping costs and options

Expect to pay between $3 to $10 on shipping for smaller items, but keep in mind that this varies depending on where the item is coming from and how heavy it is. Most shop owners provide shipping estimates in the product description, so you can get an idea of what it’ll cost before checking out.

Many stores offer expedited shipping, although this might not be an option for personalized or custom orders. Items shipped with international delivery may take longer than usual to arrive to the US.

To track your order, go to your Etsy account and select the order. You’ll see the shipping status, and if the shop owner added a tracking number, you’ll see that too.

Etsy payments and financing

Etsy accepts most credit and debit cards, along with Etsy gift cards, coupons, Apply Pay, Google Pay and even some bank transfer services.

Does Etsy accept PayPal?

Yes — you can choose PayPal as a payment method at checkout.

Does Etsy have financing options?

Yes — most shops on Etsy offer Klarna as a payment method, so you can split the cost of your order into installments. Klarna is only available on orders between $50 and $10,000 after any discounts. If your order costs between $50 and $250, then you’ll pay in four interest-free installments over two months.

Etsy returns and exchanges

Each seller decides how to handle returns and exchanges, so policies vary depending on the shop. You can usually find this information in the product description of whatever item you’re eyeing.

Does Etsy have free returns?

While some Etsy sellers may offer free returns, it’s not common. If you receive a product that’s faulty or not as advertised, message the shop owner to ask about a free return. Otherwise, if returns are accepted, then you’ll most likely be on the hook for the cost of return shipping.

If the issue can’t be resolved, the Etsy Trust & Safety team can step in to mediate and help you reach a resolution. All sellers and buyers must abide by the company’s terms of use policy.

Does Etsy do exchanges?

Not really. You might be able to work out an exchange with the shop owner, but it’ll be on a case-by-case basis. Contact the shop directly to inquire about exchange policies or alert them of any issues with your purchase.

How do I return an item to Etsy?

Message the shop owner through your account to ask about how to return your item. The shop owner should tell you where to send it, when to send it and any other details necessary to facilitate the return.

Etsy discounts and sales

Etsy doesn’t have annual sales since each shop owner sets their own prices. You can shop discounted goods year-round by going to Etsy.com, searching for a product and selecting the On sale filter.

Does Etsy offer student or military discounts?

Nope, Etsy doesn’t offer discounts for students or military members.

How can I contact customer support?

Message the individual seller for questions about their products or shipping and returns policies.

If you have an issue that needs Etsy’s attention, get in touch with the company via:

  • Phone. Call 844-659-3879.
  • Live chat. Message a customer service rep online.
  • Email. Submit a contact form online to get started.

Etsy alternatives

If Etsy isn’t quite what you’re looking for, you can shop similar items from small business owners and artists on sites like Zazzle, Amazon Handmade, BulbHead and more.

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Review by


Gabrielle Pastorek is the shopping and travel publisher at Finder, helping readers to round up the best deals, coupons, retailers, products and services to make sound financial decisions. She's contributed more than 800 articles to the site and is a quoted expert in Best Company and DealNews. She earned an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh, with essays and short stories published in The Collagist, Blue Monday Review, Blotterature and others. When she’s not writing, Gabrielle can be found out in the barn with her horse, Lucy.

Expert review

I have had nothing but good experiences shopping on Etsy. Many of my wedding items — including wooden save-the-date magnets, a customized return address stamper, wax seal kits and personalized sugar cookies — came from Etsy. I love the fact that you can easily message sellers with questions or special requests, and nearly everyone has been more than willing to help — even with fairly last-minute orders.

That said, I’ve read that Etsy’s new seller policies make it a bit harder for sellers to earn their fair share of profits. And I’ve noticed that more and more shops are now offering free shipping — something that Etsy has pushed for. While I’m certainly not complaining about free shipping from a buyer’s standpoint, I do have to wonder how much this might be hurting shop owners.

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