A Little Market transfer to Etsy: like a thunderbolt from a clear sky
The announcement on A Little Market Transfer came in the first week of July 2017 like a thunderbolt from a clear sky. La Fine Equipe has notified us, the ALM sellers, that their adventure is coming to an end. The decision has been taken by the owner – Etsy.com. All shops were going to be transferred to the Etsy site. Those who already had an Etsy account/ shop need not worry. They will receive all their French listings as drafts in their existing Etsy shop, together with (limited term) free credits to activate those listings. Upon the transfer they can decide whether to activate these listings or not.
That was not the best news of the day and it caused some disturbance on the ALM forums. However, I did not consider it very bad news. Consolidation of online handmade business could be a good thing too. Provided the customer base can migrate to a new venue. I was selling on both platforms, and since French is not my primary language my plan was to add French texts to my existing Etsy listings as translations, adjusting titles and texts to Etsy requirements.
So far so good. In the week of 14th July, my ALM shop was transferred to Etsy. After a quick glance, all my French listings were there, and I also got a lot of free credits. But it was only at a first glance.
A Little Market transfer to Etsy: my existing shop has lost its primary language – and its functionality
On July 17th I logged in the Etsy Shop manager to edit some listings. To my big surprise, the main fields such as title, description, and tags were empty. So when I tried to save changes, the Shop Manager suggested that I fill in the main fields first. But the texts were gone! All my work of 10 years has vanished! That was quite a shock to see an empty page like this (picture on the left).
I wrote my first email to Etsy support. At the same time, I started investigating the possible reasons.
It happened right after A Little Market transfer to Etsy. So there must be a connection. I went to see my French drafts and discovered that my primary language for ALL listings: both the existing ones and the transferred ones has been set to French. The good news was that the English texts did not disappear. They were moved to the field of the English translation. The titles and tags were there too. Fortunately, it did not affect my shop policies and other general info. The language for those remained English.
The worst part of it was that I could do nothing about it. The default listing language (not to be confused with the shop viewing language which can be set by the user) is determined at registration and can only be changed by the site admins. As Etsy Help states About default languages: Your default language is the first language for which you can provide item information. Your default listing language is determined during the registration process. I went to Shop Manager > Settings > Info & Appearance, clicked the Languages tab and saw that I could not change my default listing language, only enroll in additional languages.
However, when I went to My Account Settings->Preferences, I saw that English still was my shop language TO VIEW THIS SITE. It means I was localized as an English-speaking customer. This preference could be changed but it has no influence on my shop. Only on my viewing behavior.
As my listings could not be edited anymore, my existing Etsy shop became dysfunctional after the A Little Market transfer to Etsy. But I also worried about whether my items could still be found in Search. The above Help article states also “To ensure that your items will show up properly in Etsy Search, be sure to list consistently in the designated language section. For example, make sure that French is in the French section, and English is in the English section”. So theoretically my items could be found as long as descriptions were in the right sections. But how would the absence of any text in my ‘main language’ section affect the search results?
I wrote my second email to Etsy Support stating the possible reason for the problem. After 24 hours I received a reply, describing a procedure to follow:
1.) Make sure to edit each individual listing to add the English titles, descriptions, and tags to the “Translations” section located at the bottom of each listing page.
You have to make this for all your listings, including the draft ones that were imported from ALM.
Before you publish, you’ll be able to preview your listing in each language.
2.) If your listings are expired, sold out, or inactive, you will need to renew these in order to edit them. Alternatively, you can delete listings you no longer need.
That was positive. Etsy realized it was a problem and replied. In the meanwhile, more complaints were posted on Etsy forums. Seemingly more ALM sellers have been affected. Noone was happy. It all happened without any warning nor consent. We trusted upon Etsy and ALM to complete the A Little Market transfer to Etsy without major problems. Of course, there can always be some bugs and errors, but not vital ones which threaten the shop functionality.
To restore the full functionality of my Etsy shop asap I started working on the Etsy proposal. As the original plan was to keep the French texts as translations only, I decided to copy paste them manually, since in order to download the CSV file you need to activate these drafts first. I just dragged the texts to a Word table. After that, I was planning to delete the French drafts and leave only those which will be published on Etsy later under English titles. A good cleanup is never wrong after all. In the copy-paste process, I discovered many more bugs. Though these bugs were less crucial to overall functionality, they were biting and annoying.
A Little Market transfer to Etsy: full of other bugs, not critical but still annoying
Though my listings were transferred completely in number, they were damaged too during the migration, i.e. they did not come over 1 to 1. There were lots of spelling issues.
Especially the tags. Many of them were truncated, misspelled or simply lost. The words containing French accents, such as é or ê … these letters became an a. Tête became Tate in English.
Création became Craeation.
To be honest, my French is not perfect and there were spelling errors made by myself too. I would have needed to check spelling before posting anyway. But the disappearing accents are quite a nuisance, even for native French speakers (and mainly for them).
Since ALM did not have the limit of 20 characters per tag, of course, many tags used on the ALM were above this length (and French words are longer as such). So logically, these tags disappeared in the transfer. But many were simply corrupted during the migration.
Another disappearance were the materials since the algorithm of ALM could not be copied to Etsy of was incompatible with it.
The shipping profiles got messed up too. All shipping profiles moved from the ALM showed France as the domicile. So if you opened an ALM shop as a Belgian, now all your shipping profiles looked as if you were shipping from France. Happily shipping profiles can be easily changed on Etsy.
Some of ALM functionalities, like sub-descriptions, are gone too. ALM warned about it before the transfer. Some of them can be missed easily. Others not. Such crucial things as customer reviews, evaluations and comments could not be taken from ALM to Etsy either. And this is a huge commercial miss for a shop. Material and moral as well.
Coming back to the language issue: I noticed that the migrated drafts still have French text even in the field of the English translation. Does not make much sense to me, to have French both as the main text and the English translation. The ALM sellers who want to continue their shop on Etsy in French will need to remove/ translate these French texts into English. Otherwise, they encounter the searchability problem stated above (wrong languages in wrong boxes).
Probably there are some other snaps and failures which are not seen at a first glance. I guess the ALM sellers need to do a lot of work to bring their shops in conformity with Etsy standards. A large part of this work could have been saved if the transfer has been 100% failure-free.
Update: It took some time and communication with Etsy support team, but after 3 days my shop has got its language back. I followed the above algorithm. All is well what ends well.