The landing page for Etsy's sales event.

Etsy, the global marketplace for all things creative and vintage, has about 30 million active buyers, who go to the site for unique, personalized products and the ability to connect with the creative entrepreneurs who make them. Etsy typically doesn’t hold annual or semi-annual sales, nor does it partake in the blitz of calendar holidays that are synonymous with discounts, such as Presidents’ Day. But like consumers everywhere, Etsy shoppers appreciate lower prices. The site has only held two sales in its 12-year history, Labor Day and Cyber Week 2017. Now, comes the third, the World of Etsy sale, March 22 to 29.

“The sale is not to clear inventory or prop up our balance sheet,” said David Zhang, general manager of Etsy Markets. “Last year, we did the Labor Day sale to understand what this would mean as a business tool and tried-and-true tactic. Customers were excited about saving money and value. We were very encouraged by both the numbers we saw coming out of that event as well as the qualitative feedback.

“We were putting more money in the pockets of sellers and getting their products out to more folks,” said Zhang, who noted that in the recent fourth quarter, Etsy for the first time posted gross merchandising sales of over $1 billion. “We even saw a positive halo effect on the sellers who didn’t participate in the sale, but benefited from positive traffic.”

Etsy, which boasts 50 million products, traces the evolution of fashion differently than other sites. “At Etsy, our trends really begin with our sellers,” said Dayna Isom Johnson, Etsy trend expert. “They’re not bound to a creative director. They’re inspired by their own imaginations. That’s why Etsy is a whimsical destination.”

Isom Johnson, who will be a judge on NBC’s upcoming show “Making It,” said, “Our sales stand out from any others. We’re not adhering to a traditional retail calendar and what we sell is special and can’t be found anywhere else. We know what’s trending in the market and what’s taking hold with buyers across the board.”

“We’re very much a test and learn organization,” Zhang said. “We wanted to see if something like a sale elevates the buyers’ experience. We found that it gives them a chance to explore more of Etsy. It’s import to do this kind of thing judiciously. We’re very mindful not only of cadence, but how we frame the sale. Is it just about saving money?”

The World of Etsy is the sale’s theme.” It’s whimsical and speaks to kingdoms and queendoms,” Zhang said, adding that “category pages represent a different “land” within Etsy such as Pet Paradise, Personalized Place, Wildlife Kingdom, Charming Gardens, Celestial Skies and Traveler’s Trail. Shoppers can filter sale items by price ranges, ready-to-ship, discount amounts and free shipping.”

Zhang said the kingdoms and queendoms were informed by data of what shoppers were searching for.

The categories we’ve seen a lot of momentum in, reflect the things we stand for as a business, for example, handmade products, jewelry, clothing and home goods. People looking for the ability to express themselves. Sale gives us a huge megaphone to tell the story.”

Celestial Skies was one of the top searched terms of the year in 2017, and still remains popular in 2018. Celestial Skies has infiltrated beauty, home, fashion and jewelry. “One big trend last year was placing stars on your face,” said Isom Johnson, adding that another top trend involves wedding jumpsuits. “We started to see jumpsuits trickle into bridal. It first spiked last year.”

Isom Johnson said there’s a movement toward spending more time at home, which plays to Etsy’s strengths. “For DIY kits, we saw 130,000 search results. Maker’s Village is about finding items that you can make in your home. As our lifestyles are changing, designers and makers have to accommodate people who don’t want to follow the traditional timeline of life.”

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