Thursday, March 20, 2008

Etsy's Alchemy is Back


Alchemy was a feature of the first version of Etsy.com, where buyers who wanted a custom-made "whatever" could make requests, and sellers could bid on those requests -- a bit like submitting a tender for handcrafted goods.

Well, it's back.

Unfortunately, although it's a great idea, its current incarnation is anything but great.

There are no categories in Alchemy, so all the requests are lumped in together, making it darned hard for potential bidders to find items they can bid on.

Quite a few people are attempting to use Alchemy for trading, or for requesting non-handmade goods. There aren't enough Etsy admins assigned to policing Alchemy, so it's a bit of a mess. There's also no built in way for people to easily flag items that may be breaking the Alchemy Terms of Service -- strange for a website that depends almost entirely on its members policing other members (in the fora, for listings, etc.)

A huge ideological problem is that Alchemy, as it stands now, seems designed for bargain hunters. There are so many sellers on Etsy now (listing and relisting of items FAR outweighs sales) that there are invariably many who will make almost anything for almost nothing. This has encouraged potential buyers to list risible "ideal prices" for everything from sterling silver jewellery to logo design.

A lot of sellers are not happy about this.

As is the case with nearly every feature roll out since I joined last May, Etsy has apparently not thought the darned thing out before it foisted the feature on its community. They've had a LOT of time to work on this one -- it's just not good enough to release a half-assed version of what could be a great feature, and then just leave the community without answers.

The only update they've bothered to publish in their PR magazine is a list of all the good press they've received about the relaunch of Alchemy, noting that some online reviewer dubbed the feature "Genius".

Sorry, guys, it's not genius yet.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I like Etsy very much, but less impressed with alchemy. I am a designer and have a Etsy shop selling my design services. So far I have had one customer from Alchemy, for 30 dollars. I designed a logo for her photography business. So I've contacted several buyers who are looking for custom wedding invitations etc... I've gotten no were. I've even sent comps to them showing what I could do based on what they were looking for.
At first it seems like there interested, and I go out of my way to communicate to these people, just as I do with all potential clients. I here from them telling me that they're interested, they have to show their fiance etc... Never hear from them again. I don't even get a little notice saying that they have found someone else, so I'm left hanging. Do these people not understand etiquette? Not to mention that a buyer looking for invitations may have 25 other bidders before you come along, it can be very overwhelming for the buyer and impossible for the bidder. It just seems the people I'm coming across are very flaky.
I'm wondering as well, that the buyers who are putting out a large amount for invitations (invitations - nice ones are not cheap!) hoping that the person who bids will actually say they can do it for less. I bid what they offer, I'm wondering if they get cold feet or what?? Any anwers would be greatly appreciated !!