How to deal with Etsy category changes

Etsy made some changes to the way categories are organized recently. It wasn’t for the first time, and it (probably) won’t be the last, so … how can you as a seller work with these changes, and make sure your shop is optimized for them? Let’s take a look at what changed (and why), what this means for you and your shop, and what actions you may need to take.

Etsy category chnages

What changed?

In the past Etsy have made structural changes to categories: moving things around, adding categories here, removing categories there. This time they went a step further, looked at how buyers were using the site, and made a fundamental shift in the way categories are approached.

Here’s what Etsy says:

Categories used to be based on many different aspects, like what an item is, who it’s for, and what it’s made of. With that being the case, it has been tricky for sellers to pick the right categories and for buyers to use them to find what they’re looking for. Sellers often had to choose between several appropriate sections to list their products. – Etsy

Now the determining factor is simply what the item is. You don’t need to thinking about who might be buying it. You just need to clearly indicate what you’re selling (or as close as you possibly can within the parameters of the categories available).

What this means for your shop

Etsy’s goal in making these changes is to improve the user experience for buyers, and what’s good for buyers should ultimately be good for you as a seller, even if there’s a bit of an adjustment period.

Let’s look at some examples.

Say you sell paintings of unicorns in an 8-bit style, and had previously listed these under the “Geekery” category. Now you would list it under “Art & Collectibles > Painting”.

Or what if your specialty is hand-thrown clay vases and bowls? Prior to Etsy’s latest changes, you might have used the Pottery or Ceramics category. Now you need to think in terms of the actual object you’re listing. So if it’s a vase, you would use the “Home Decor > Vase” category under “Home & Living.” For a bowl, you would use “Home & Living > Kitchen & Dining > Dining & Serving > Bowls.”

What to do next

  1. Check your categories. You should have received a message from Etsy when these changes were first made, asking you to take a look at your categories. When the new categories were rolled out, items that no longer had a category were automatically re-assigned to a new one. In most cases, the re-assignment made sense, but you do need to go through your listings to make sure the categories used still make sense. (The full list of Etsy categories is here.)
  2. Re-assign categories if necessary. If you aren’t happy with the default category, you need to choose a new one. Before you do, take a moment to put yourself in the place of the buyer. How are they likely to browse Etsy categories when on the hunt for items like yours?
  3. Re-assess your tags, titles, and descriptions. If your former category included keywords that you consider indispensable – and now they’re gone – make use of the rest of your listing to ensure they are represented somewhere, so that while they may not exist as a category, they may come up in search.

What if I have hundreds of listings to update?

You can edit categories in bulk by clicking Your Shop > Listings > Listings Manager. Select multiple items then click More > Categories. Select a new category (you may need to select multiple drop-down boxes), then click Apply.

What if I can’t find a replacement category?

If you’ve pored over the category list and aren’t finding a home for your work, you can make a suggestion to Etsy using the following form: