As a shop owner, I thought I'd compile a list of tips for those who are new to shopping on Etsy!
1. First of all, know that you can find pretty much anything your heart desires on Etsy. Take a few minutes and try searching for some of the most random stuff you can think of. I bet you'll find a shop that provides it! Vintage clothes (and other items), furniture, steampunk treasures, "adult only" items...the list goes on and on.
2. When you find an item you love, be sure to read the entire description, as well as the shop announcements! I remember my very fist purchase made on Etsy; an adorable military style cap (that I still wear all the time). Almost 3 weeks after purchasing and no hat in sight, I started wondering what happened to my hat. Had I read all the information given to me by this cute little shop, I would have known that the shop owner needed those 3 weeks to get that hat made and shipped. And that's probably the #1 area of confusion in my shop as well.
3. Did you find something you love? Check to see if the shop has a Facebook page. If they do...chances are good that you'll find a coupon code for their shop somewhere on that page. It's an easy way to save a few bucks or get something for free!
4. Ask questions! Do you need your item quicker than the listing says it should take? Want the same basic item but in a different size, color or fabric choice? Need something similar to what the shop offers but you don't see it in the shop? Ask the owner!!! I would dare say that 9 times out of 10, they will be happy to accommodate you. I had a customer that wanted an entire matching set of everything that I made, PLUS a matching nursing cover, which I don't offer in my shop. However, since I know how to make them, I set up a listing for her. It never hurts to ask!!
5. Having said that, remember that for 99% of the shop owners, Etsy is a very side job; done in their spare time between real jobs, families and day to day life. I know when you buy something, you want that instant gratification of finding it in your mailbox 3 days after purchase. And sometimes that will happen for you when shopping on Etsy. Just remember to have dose of patience too. I've had an array of situations pop up in my life to sidetrack my Etsy orders that were just way beyond my control. However, if there is an issue on the sellers side, you should be able to expect them to communicate with you so you know what is going on.
6. After placing your order, check back on Etsy within a day or two to see if the shop owner has tried to message you (and keep doing so periodically until you receive your item). I don't know how many times I've had a question for a buyer, but they don't respond to my messages.
7. Take negative feedback on a shop's Etsy site with a grain of salt. If most of their feedback is positive, but they have one or two negative comments, keep in mind that people leave feedback for a problem without trying to seek resolution with the shop first. They're irritated and just need to do something to blow off that steam. Chances are, their problem did eventually get resolved and they just left their feedback beforehand and never went back to change their negative feedback. BUT. If you see a store with consistent negative feedback about the same issues time and time again, you may want to be a little leery.
8. Lastly, leave feedback for the shop you purchased from. It's helpful for others shopping behind you, and it's not only helpful for the shop owner, but, if it's positive, it also just brightens their day! I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see a nice comment left with positive feedback. Shop owners love knowing their customers are happy with their product. And if you have a photo of that item in use? Send it to them, or post it on their Facebook page. I promise they'll love it!!