Etsy is doing really well. It’s also selling some truly weird stuff

An investigation found miracle cures and medieval weaponry are selling on Etsy. The company is working hard to change that.


May 4, 2021

In Q4 2020, masks made up 4% of all purchases on Etsy.

Any other year, that might’ve been a bit odd. But right now, masks are far from the weirdest thing sold on the platform.

When we say ‘weird stuff,’ we mean weird stuff

A new Insider investigation found ~800 products that fell into nearly all of the company’s banned product categories, including:

  • Miracle cures: “Remedies” for COVID-19, erectile dysfunction, and weight loss, and magical “spells” for wealth, love, and health
  • Ivory and animal parts: A $4.9k tusk, a $14k taxidermic elephant head, cat skulls, and mummified goldendoodle puppies
  • Weaponry: Longswords, necklace-knives, brass knuckles, resin daggers, cane swords, a steel-spiked trench club, and a 4-bladed “apocalyptic ripsaw mace”

Despite bans, there were also listings for fake designer products, Confederate flags, cars, drug paraphernalia, porn, and uranium ore.

Etsy’s workin’ on it

In 2020, Etsy saw a 400% jump in noncompliant listings as the platform’s listed-product count hit 92m.

Now, Etsy’s putting in the work to improve:

  • It doubled its trust and safety team head count
  • It tasked an engineering team with building new AI detection tools
  • It will invest at least $40m in 2021 to continue enhancing product enforcement

In general, Etsy’s doing really well

In 2020, $10.3B worth of product was sold on Etsy (a 107% year-over-year jump), and revenue rocket-launched 111% to $1.7B.

Etsy now has 4.4m sellers and 82m active buyers. In 2020, the company scored 60m+ new buyers, 17% of which made 4+ purchases.

As long as those weren’t purchases of steel-spiked trench clubs, all is good.

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