Etsy Seller Feature

UX Design

An overview

  • Etsy's policies for how sellers may message customers
  • Etsy's design system
  • Financial constraints required creativity in finding interview participants
  • 1 UX Design Student
  • 1 Design Mentor
  • Group Critique Sessions
  • 2023
  • 4 Weeks
  • Figma
  • Maze

Conceptual project for Designlab's UX Academy. (Done independently from Etsy.)

The Problem

Etsy's system for messaging previous customers is inconvenient and time-consuming.

If a seller wants to send a note to a customer after their purchase to see if the customer is satisfied, the seller has to:

  1. Go to their list of sales and scroll through all sales to find the customer.

  2. Message each customer individually.

A seller must go to "Orders and Shipping" and message customers one by one.

This is problematic because:

  1. It takes a lot of time.

  2. It leaves room for error if the seller wants to add personalization, like the customer's name or the name of the item purchased.

Not being able to easily message previous customers doesn't help sellers easily create a loyal customer base and nurture repeat buyers.

The Solution

A feature that allows Etsy sellers to customize emails sent to their customers.

This feature allows sellers to:

  1. Customize parts of the automated emails Etsy sends to customers. This can help sellers create a personalized experience that customers will remember.

  2. Choose how they want their shop to be referred to in the emails so their brand is conveyed more accurately to customers.

The dashboard of the custom emails feature for Etsy

What I did...

Secondary Research

Would having more control over how customers are messaged actually be beneficial to sellers?

To answer this question, I did some secondary research. The following statistics stood out to me, indicating that more control over messaging customers would be beneficial to sellers.

92% of purchases on Etsy are from repeat buyers.

“Of all the purchases made on Etsy in 2020, 92% of them were made by repeat buyers.”

It's much easier to convert an existing customer.

"The chance of converting an existing customer is 60%-70% as opposed to the 5%-20% chance with new customers."

Existing customers spend more.

“Your loyal existing customers have a 67% higher average order value than new customers.”

Email marketing is highly effective for getting sales.

“In 2019, the average ROI was $42 for every dollar spent on email marketing… That’s drastically higher than the ROI on other digital marketing channels, like PPC, where Google boasts a $1.50 return in official case studies.”
Competitive Analysis

I wanted to know what other e-commerce websites allowed sellers to message customers, so I analyzed Shopify, Gumroad, Amazon, and Allure.

Shopify allows sellers to schedule emails and create email sequences.

Shopify: E-commerce platform where sellers can create websites for their products


Sellers can build an email list and stay in touch with customers through Shopify's integrated mailing system.


Shopify’s system was the most complicated product I researched. I could see new sellers feeling confused about how to start.

Gumroad: E-commerce platform similar to Etsy where sellers can list their products


Sellers can schedule and send emails to customers.


Although Gumroad’s system is easier to use, it has limitations. The free account only allows sellers to send up to 4 emails per month. Also, sellers can only send 100 emails at a time until they have $100 in sales.

Gumroad provides options to email customers and create email sequences.
Amazon appears to only allow sellers to message customers one at a time.

Amazon: E-commerce platform where sellers can list items and have storefronts


Sellers can create message templates and personalize the templates with “placeholders” which automatically insert information like the buyer's name into the message.


From what I could see, sellers can't send emails to multiple customers at once like Shopify or Gumroad.

Alura: Third party marketing platform that integrates with Etsy


Alura connects to the seller’s Etsy account and allows sellers to schedule up to four follow-up messages about the transaction to the customer. From what I could tell, these emails are sent in addition to the automated ones Etsy already sends. If sellers want to send more than these four emails, the customer must have consented to be on their mailing list.


Alura’s free plan limits sellers to 25 messages and 25 emails per month. If they want to send more, they must upgrade to a paid plan, starting at $19.99/month.

Alura integrates with Etsy and allows sellers to schedule messages on the Etsy platform or emails to the customer's personal email.

I discovered that there could be an opportunity to create a messaging feature that would do the following:

  1. Work well for beginner and advanced users

  2. Wouldn’t bring additional cost to the user

  3. Allow for messaging multiple customers at once

  4. Allow the messages to be sent within Etsy instead of relying on a third party integration

User Interviews

I wanted to hear directly from Etsy sellers about their experience with messaging previous customers, so I conducted user interviews.

I enjoyed meeting with Etsy shop owners. The information they shared helped me understand their pain points more deeply and give direction in the design.

Affinity Mapping

Doing affinity mapping from my interview notes showed me some common themes.

“It [messaging an updated file to previous customers] was one by one, which was fine if it was like, less than 10, but when you have 100 customers, you don’t wanna message them one by one like that!”
-Etsy seller

User Persona

Luna and Natalia, my user personas, guided me throughout my design process.

UX Audit

I wanted to get a clearer picture of Etsy's current flow for messaging customers and how it could be improved, so I performed a UX audit using usability heuristics.

There are currently two main ways to message customers:

OPTION 1: By sending a message through the "Messages" section. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a clear way for the seller to initiate the conversation.

When I tried using the "Compose" button, the option that appeared didn't allow me to use the "Recipient" field to find a customer to message.

OPTION 2: By sending a message through "Orders and Shipping."

Unfortunately, sellers must scroll through all previous customers and message each customer one by one. This is unhandy if they want to send multiple customers the same message. (ie: Asking for a review or sending an updated file.)

User Journey Map

The user journey could be better!

After performing this audit, I summarized the information in the first user journey map below, which shows the current main journey a user takes to message a previous customer and the pain points they face.

The second map shows how the user journey could be improved, bringing a positive experience to both the seller and the customer.

The current user journey versus the improved user journey

What could be done to make the messaging experience easier for Etsy sellers?

OPTION 1: A feature that allows sellers to do email marketing right from Etsy, with the emails sent to the customers’ personal emails.

OPTION 2: A feature that allows sellers to personalize and automate transactional messages to customers. This would include messages like sharing tracking information, asking for a review, etc.

I discovered that Etsy's policies don't allow sellers to send customers unsolicited advertisements or promotions. It was possible that an email marketing system could violate this policy. I also realized that an entire email marketing system would be out of the scope of this project. 

So, I chose to create a feature that allows sellers to personalize and automate transactional messages (the types of messages that Etsy currently allows them to send).

This would address two pain points sellers had mentioned to me:

  1. Messaging many customers at once

  2. Making sure their messages to customers are personal and not spammy sounding

Feature Set

Based on my research, I wrote up a list of features for the product.

It wasn't feasible to do everything, so I prioritized the most important ones. In the beginning, my list included the following abilities:

  1. To automate transactional messages to customers

  2. To schedule when the messages would send

  3. To add personalization, like the customer's name or item purchased, to the messages

User Flow & Task Flows

I further visualized the steps the user would take by creating user flows and task flows.

The task flow for personalizing and scheduling a message
The user flow for personalizing and scheduling various types of messages to customers
Low Fidelity Sketching

I studied Etsy's current UI as well as ConvertKit before I started sketching ideas for the message editing page.

The start of the email customization, showing various types of emails that can be customized.
The message editor page.
The stats page for the email's performance. Although I explored ideas for this page, I didn't design it further because it wasn't essential for the flow I focused on.
Hi-Fidelity Wireframing

I enjoyed designing hi-fidelity wireframes that matched Etsy's current UI.

Below is a wireflow for creating one of the customized messages:

After getting feedback, I realized I hadn't clearly planned where the messages would appear to customers.

OPTION 1: They could appear in the customer's messages on Etsy.

Problem: The custom messages could be formatted with different colors, font sizes, etc. The current messages on Etsy didn't have personalized formatting, so custom formatted messages would be visually out of place in the messages on Etsy.

I also remembered Etsy sellers mentioning that they believe that customers check their personal emails more than their Etsy messages.

Conclusion: Sending personalized messages to the customer's messages in the Etsy platform wouldn't be ideal.

Messages on Etsy don't have customized formatting.

OPTION 2: They could show up in the customer's personal email inbox.

I remembered that Etsy already sends transactional emails to customers after they've made a purchase. I discovered the emails were based on templates.

Idea: The seller could add a personal message right into that email to customize it.

  1. This would avoid having customers receiving duplicate messages from both Etsy and the seller.

  2. This would allow sellers to create a personal connection with customers.

  3. This would allow sellers to have messages automatically sent to many customers at once for things like file updates or review requests.

  4. This would prevent having sellers violate Etsy's policies by sending marketing messages.

I decided to create a solution based on personalizing templates for transactional emails. These emails would be sent to the customer's personal email inbox.

Part of the order confirmation email Etsy sends automatically.

I studied the emails that Etsy sends and uncovered 3 areas that could be personalized. They included:

  1. Adding a personalized message to the beginning of the email.

  2. Choosing products to showcase in the email.

  3. Choosing how to be referred to throughout the email, like "my shop" versus "our shop."

Below is a wireflow for the "Order Confirmation Email for a Physical Item" task flow:

Usability Testing

What did users think of the new feature and the design?

I did moderated usability testing on the "Order Confirmation Email for a Physical Item" flow. It was important to me to be able to see and talk with my testers in real time as they tested the product. 

One of the biggest problems users faced was figuring out how to insert placeholders to automatically add the customer’s name when the email is sent.

The "@" symbol was inadequate for conveying the placeholder feature.

I also discovered:

  1. Etsy's algorithm would be more effective for suggesting products relevant to the customer's interests or activities instead of allowing sellers to select products.

  2. The email preview page needed to more clearly show that the email was still in preview mode.

  3. The instructions at the beginning of the flow needed to be bigger.


Based on the feedback, I prioritized the iterations according to their level of urgency.

BEFORE: The instructions felt small. It was also unclear that this was a preview of the standard email without personalization.

AFTER: The size and layout of the instructions are improved. A banner shows this is a preview of the standard email before personalization.

BEFORE: The "@" icon didn't clearly show that it was to add personalization placeholders like the customer's name.

AFTER: The "@" icon is replaced with the word "Personalize" and a dropdown. There is also a customer name placeholder already added to the message.

BEFORE: After personalizing the message, the next step was for the user to select up to six listings to showcase.

AFTER: The option to select listings to showcase is removed, leaving this to the algorithm to decide with more accuracy.

BEFORE: The progress tracker and the "Here's how your email will look" banner are not styled clearly to show that the email is being previewed and hasn't been published yet.

AFTER: The progress tracker circle is now gray to differentiate it better from the completed steps. The banner color and wording have been changed to make it stand out better.

BEFORE: The toggle and the buttons changing are the only feedback confirming that the email is published and active.

AFTER: A temporary banner appears at the top to confirm that the email is published.

The Prototype

After all the iterations were done, the final version of the high fidelity wireframes was finished!

The Prototype

My Reflections

Next Steps

The next steps would be to finish the other task flows I was unable to build out due to time constraints. After that, the new feature would need to be sent off to developers.  


When I was doing this project, I didn't start recruiting participants for user interviews soon enough. Finding participants ended up being more difficult than I'd anticipated, and I had to get creative. Starting the recruiting earlier would have made things easier when I ran into difficulties.

I enjoyed working through the complexities of how this feature would function. I'm happy that the solution addresses the seller’s pain points while also staying within the constraints of Etsy’s messaging policies.