E-commerce marketplace Etsy will host a Holiday Hotline to offer free personalized shopping advice, according to details sent to Retail Dive by Etsy. The event will take place from noon until 3 p.m. Eastern time on Nov. 5.
Shoppers will be able to call a dedicated line to tell Etsy's "team of experts," including Dayna Isom Johnson, who they're shopping for, their price point, and a few traits and interests about that person. Etsy's team will suggest gifts and send a followup email with those ideas.
Callers will also receive Etsy gift cards, and their gifts will ship for free, according to the release. In conjunction with the event, the company will host a sweepstakes on Instagram to award gift cards to participants who comment.
Etsy offers curated selections by category, occasion, or stylistic theme, but those efforts combined with its search feature may not be enough to entice consumers — or sellers, for that matter. The marketplace has faced criticism that it's packed with cheap imports that crowd out the artisans, and some longtime sellers have had to deal with incorrect charges for seller fees.
The holiday hotline could boost Etsy's word-of-mouth reputation among shoppers who have previously been frustrated by sorting through search results. It also provides relief from two of the biggest obstacles shoppers face when shopping through Etsy: the higher price tags of some products, assuaged by gift cards, and the fact that shipping is not free.
It could also be a case study for personalization efforts to come from the long-running handmade marketplace. More than three quarters of consumers surveyed by BRP said personalized service from associates is a major factor in deciding where to shop. That attention can lead to considerable revenue: 93% of businesses with advanced personalization strategies increased their revenue in the past year, a March 2019 report from Monetate, a personalization software firm, and WBR Research, found.
Etsy reported strong second quarter with gross merchandise sales, with a 36.8% increase in company revenue from the year prior. But it's likely still rebuilding on a turnaround that caused the company in 2017 to lay off 22% of its global staff and lose ground to other players in the space, like the Handmade at Amazon program. In July, the marketplace began to incentivize sellers to offer free shipping for orders of $35 or more, with merchants who do so getting priority placement in U.S. search results.