8 Ways To Determine if an Etsy Seller is Legit
There isn’t an approval process sellers must go through before they can open a shop on Etsy. Anyone can join.
Etsy may shut down a shop if they receive complaints, but there are many shops that fly under the radar long enough to make several sales.
Because it’s so quick and easy to set up an Etsy shop, the platform does attract scammers.
Here are 8 things to check before buying to determine if an Etsy seller is legit.
1 – Reviews
The best way to determine if an Etsy seller is legit is to look at their reviews. When there are several good reviews, and those reviews date back further than a few weeks or months, it’s a good sign that the seller is legit.
Although Etsy doesn’t always act swiftly, they do work to close down shops that aren’t legitimate. So it’s unlikely a shop will be around for months or years if they’re taking money and not delivering the promised product.
Obviously, a lot of bad reviews are also an indication that the seller may leave you dissatisfied.
It’s one thing to have one scam buyer or one unhappy customer who leaves a bad review on a legitimate Etsy shop. But if an Etsy shop has several 1/2/3 star reviews with people complaining that the product they received is not what’s listed, or their item didn’t show up, etc. it’s a red flag.
2 – “Star Seller” badge
Etsy awards badges to sellers who provide good customer service, fast shipping, smooth shipping, speedy replies, rave reviews, etc.
A “star seller” badge means that a seller has a good track record (Etsy looks at a seller’s performance over the past 3 months when awarding badges). The Etsy team looks for a good record of replying to messages within 24 hours, shipping orders on time with tracking, having an average rating of 4.8 or higher, and having at least 5 sales worth $300 in the past 3 months (source).
It would be very difficult for a scammer to pass those requirements and receive a “star seller” badge.
If the shop has a “Star Seller” badge, chances are, the shop is legit.
3 – “On Etsy since”
Before heading to the checkout page, visit the seller’s shop by clicking the shop name link on the top right of a listing.
Once on the seller’s shop page, scroll down the page to the About section. You’ll find it below the shop’s reviews.
In the About section, you’ll find “sales” (the number of sales the seller has had through Etsy) and “On Etsy since” (the year the seller joined Etsy).
Both stats will be helpful.
If the seller has hundreds of sales, it’s a good indication that they can be trusted.
The “On Etsy since” date can give you an indication of whether the shop is new, or has been around for years.
A more recent date doesn’t mean the seller isn’t legit, it can simply mean the seller is new.
But if the product listing seems too good to be true and your spidey senses are going off, low sales and a newer “On Etsy since” date may be considered one more strike against them.
4 – Highlighted by Etsy
Etsy is always changing the names and locations of their spotlight sections; currently, the site has a section called “Most loved” at the top of many search results (when I search “Christmas wreaths” using the search bar, I see a “most loved” section at the top).
Every listing I clicked on that appeared in the “most loved” section also had a “star seller” badge.
I’m not saying it can’t happen, but it’s unlikely a scam Etsy seller would have one of their listings featured by Etsy.
5 – Communication
Although it’s not face-to-face, I find you can tell a lot by interacting with someone through online messages. You can pick up on vibes, just through a simple email.
Use the “message” button on the listing page, or the “contact” link on the seller’s shop page to send the seller a message.
You can ask “background” information if you like (e.g. “how long have you been in business?”), but obviously, scammers can easily lie about their operations.
Try to spark a more genuine conversation to get a feel for what type of person is behind the account.
Let’s say I’m looking at a Christmas wreath on Etsy, and I’m not sure if the seller is legit. I may write…
I love your X Christmas wreath 🙂 Have you ever made this item for someone living in a very cold location? The temperatures get down to -40 Celsius where I live and I’m worried the delicate ornaments on the wreath may not do well in the cold.
Thanks in advance!
If they reply with a short, blunt answer, and seem to be lacking customer service skills, it may be a sign that the seller doesn’t care about making you a loyal customer, or about the long-term reputation of their business.
For example, if the seller writes back:
“Yes it’s fine in cold”
That would be a red flag for me.
My message is friendly, complimentary, and uses punctuation.
That response doesn’t have any formalities, or personality, and is lacking basic customer service etiquette.
Addressing me by my name, thanking me for reaching out, graciously accepting my compliment, and providing reassurance about my worries would make me feel like the Etsy seller is legit.
For example, I would feel better if the seller responded with something along the lines of:
“Hi Erin, thanks for reaching out! I’m so happy you love my wreath. Yes, I commonly sell my wreaths to people across the country, and from full sun in a hot climate to months of cold weather, my wreaths fare well.
Please let me know if you have any other questions.
Even better if they offer some type of guarantee or offer to make things right if you’re unhappy with your purchase.
Of course, a response like that could also come from a scammer. However, scammers are less likely to put the effort into a detailed response. They want to make money quickly and close up shop before they’re caught.
You should also keep in mind, if the seller takes days to respond to your message, you may not be happy with their aftercare. If they take longer than you’d like to respond before they have your money, what are the chances their communication will improve after they have your money?
6 – Etsy profile
The seller’s Etsy profile is one more place to check for validation that there’s a legitimate business owner behind the shop.
Go to the Etsy seller’s shop page and click on the profile name on the far right (right above the contact link).
It’s unlikely a scammer will take the time to complete their profile with a personalized profile picture, favorite items/shops, or fill in their profile about section.
They may not have a fully completed shop either. They may be missing a banner image, shop description or announcement, an About section, policies, etc.
If their shop looks incomplete, it may be another strike against them.
7 – Ranking
Etsy wants buyers to have a great experience. So when choosing which products to show first in the search results, Etsy’s search engine will do its best to choose products from shops that have a good track record.
Etsy’s search engine algorithm will look at factors such as a shop’s rating, number of sales, age of a shop, etc. to determine which products deserve the top spots in search results.
The products you see on the first few pages of search results are generally safe shops to buy from.
8 – Google Search
You may also take your search off Etsy to help determine if a shop is legit.
Try Google-ing the shop’s name to see if they have any other presence online.
Look for social media accounts or a website. If you find a social media account for the business, check to see how long that account has been active and if there are many followers, comments, interactions, etc.
I hope these tips help you determine if the Etsy shop you’re considering buying from is legit.
If you do get scammed, check out: How to Open a Case on Etsy (if you’ve been scammed)
*Made Urban is not affiliated with Etsy in any way. If you have an issue with an Etsy seller, please get in contact with them through Etsy, or contact Etsy directly by opening a case. I cannot help you track down orders or sellers.