understanding etsy's new browse feature

Etsy is renowned for making frequent changes to their site and tumbling their sellers into confusion and a mad scramble to work out how they can optimize for the new system. I've had an Etsy shop for 3 years now, so I've been up and down on the rollercoaster a few times and learnt what to look for. I'm going to be sharing some of my Etsy insights with you here, and you can also find more information about running a website and using social media on my blog, createpixelate.com.

In this post I'm going to help you understand the new Etsy Browse feature, how it affects your shop and what you can do to make the most of it.

From what I've seen, the people who are the most concerned about the changes associated with Browse are the ones who stand to benefit the most from them.

What is the Browse feature?

The changes Etsy has made to the way people find items on their site are easily missed - the home page doesn't really look much different and you can still use the search box at the top.
So what's different?
The 'Categories' section in the sidebar has been replaced with a 'Browse' section. At first glance the list is still the same but Etsy has replaced or removed a few categories (such as woodworking or crochet).
When you click on a category to browse, instead of seeing a list of  most recently listed items, you see sub categories, represented pictorially with varying precedence depending on what customers look for the most.
If you pick one of the sub categories the page looks much as it would if you were to use the search function instead, but with the option to change the category at the top.

Etsy has a lot of data about what shoppers are looking for and how they look, if they're making good use of that data we should expect them to make good choices about the categories to display.

So why is it better?

To understand how the changes affect sellers, you first need to understand how they will affect your customers.
As a customer, when you want to buy something (online or off), do you always know exactly what it is you want? Or do you need to have a look at what is out there first and pick what you like best?
Sure, sometimes you might know that you need a knitted green beanie and in that case you could just type that into Etsy search and find your options. But there may be other times when you just know you want a hat because the weather's getting cold. You don't know what you want it made from yet, or the style, or the color .. and you don't care if its knitted or crocheted or not. The way the categories were set up previously you would have had to look through the knitted section and the crochet section separately. Now you can just browse under 'women' (or men) and then 'hats' and you can still choose to view only vintage or only handmade if you want.

All that is assuming your customer is specifically looking to buy something. I don't know about you but, personally, I like to browse online shops when I'm bored but don't have the time to go to real shops. Clothes are my weakness but if a site makes me narrow down my search too much or only allows me to browse 1 collection at a time I'll leave. Why? Because I just want to browse everything, I don't have a specific item in mind.
Your first thought may be that you don't need to worry about 'window' shoppers because they aren't there to buy... but many of them do end up buying if they see something that catches their eye. If they weren't allowed the option to peruse at their leisure they would never have seen it.

How will it affect me as a seller?

More people will see your items. Yes, you heard me.
  1. People who might have missed seeing your stuff before because it didn't fit their search terms
  2. People who used the old Categories would have missed your items if you didn't relist often enough or recently enough
  3. People who looked in a broad category (such as jewelry) but missed your work because you listed it under woodworking or crochet (for example)
All those will now have the opportunity to find your items when they are browsing and you won't be missing out on anyone who finds you through search.

What do I need to do to make sure my work shows up in Browse?

The good news: nothing different to what you do already to show up in relevancy search. 

The bad news: if your items aren't tagged and categorized properly you are now missing out on yet another way for people to find you on Etsy. They have put another nail in the recency coffin with this feature so anyone still relying on the old method of relisting regularly will find it harder still to get found.

As yet, Etsy has not changed the categories that you choose when you list an item to match up with the new Browse ones but I assume they will at some point. At the moment they are gathering the data they need to categorize your items from a combination of the categories you choose along with your tags and maybe even your titles and descriptions too.


  1. I have noticed a significant increase in traffic and sales since the change.

  2. That's great, good to hear that the changes are making things better for sellers! Thanks for stopping by to share your experiences :)

  3. I've noticed an uptick in traffic. Thanks for the explanation! :)