Etsy ‘handmade’ row as Which? offer advice for online shoppers after investigation into items on website

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Which? has shared advice for customers looking to buy handmade products online amid a recent Etsy investigation.

Which? has unveiled its latest investigation, which explores falsely presented ‘handmade’ items being sold on the shopping platform Etsy. The analysis found some sellers on Etsy to have been charging increased prices for items claiming to be ‘handmade’, which were also available elsewhere for cheaper.

This week Which? shared its concerns about shoppers being misled into buying falsely presented items on Etsy. It follows a recent investigation carried out by the consumer champion that analysed the listings of items on the e-commerce site.

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The research found that more than 20 items in its study which claimed to be handmade were also available on other online platforms or retailers. These include well-known stores such as Asda and B&M, as well as online retailer Amazon.

Out of the 23 total ‘handmade’ items, the investigation found that all but two had a higher price on the e-commerce site. Nine of the items were also found to cost more than twice as much on Etsy than the cheapest price elsewhere.

Which? has also shared some advice for shoppers when looking for handmade items online that explains how they can check a particular product.

Which? shares tips on how to tell something is genuinely handmade

Cross-checking the item’s picture online 

The consumer rights advice service recommends those looking for genuinely homemade items to first check the product image online to see if it is being sold elsewhere.

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Shoppers can do this on a Google Chrome browser by right-clicking on an image. This will cause a menu of options to appear, including one that reads ‘search image with Google’.

After selecting the option, a results page should appear, which should show if the particular photo is being used elsewhere.

Be wary of on-trend items

Which? also highlights that shoppers should also be cautious of trending items. Products that are more popular may have more demand.

The service explains: "If an item is particularly on trend, then there’s more incentive for a seller to have products in that design."

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Make sure to read through product reviews

Another way of understanding more about a particular product that may have caught your eye is to have a read over its reviews.

Which? expresses the importance of looking at a range of reviews and not to just go off of positive ones. It adds to also look past the first page to get a wider look at the reception a product has had from buyers.

Etsy respond

In a comment to Which?, a spokesperson said: “Our policies prohibit counterfeit and resold merchandise on Etsy, and we use a combination of automatic controls, manual review and user flags to continuously monitor the marketplace and identify policy violations. Etsy users are also encouraged to report potentially violating listings via our site-wide flagging tool.

“Since 2018, we’ve quadrupled our investments in the trust and safety of our marketplace and, in 2022 alone, we put $50m towards these efforts. Specifically, we are intensifying enforcement of our Handmade Policy, and we have expanded our team of content moderators and strengthened our automated detection systems to steadily increase our removal of resold content.”

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