I have been stalling for a few weeks to see if my issues against Heartsy would dissipate as I continued to ignore it, but instead it seems to be simmering up into a rant. My issues stem from the general concept behind Heartsy; I have no knowledge of the inner workings of buying and selling on Heartsy.
The general concept of Heartsy is a sort of Groupon for handmade items and Etsy sellers, with discounts of at least 50% off. Therein lies the bulk of the problem. Heartsy deals undermine the essence of handmade in various ways:
1. Heartsy creates an atmosphere of pressure for sellers who are desperate for exposure and sales to take a severe cut in profits. Buyers then come to expect lower prices and better deals, thus infusing the online world with the flea market aspect that is already plaguing in-person handmade bazaar events.
2. Handmade artisans should never have to do weeks of work for mere pennies of profit. Take a common Heartsy deal for 68% off of an item. You get 32% of the price, minus the listing fee, minus the Etsy seller fee, minus the Paypal feel, and minus the shipping charge. Oh, wait. Don't forget to subtract the supply costs used to create the item. What are you really left with?
3. Most Heartsy customers won't come back to your shop and pay full price for your items in the future; they are after the deals, not the unique aspects of a particular artisan, item, or shop.
4. As it is, the handmade Etsy world is priced so competitively that many sellers are unable to venture into wholesale pricing without either increasing their Etsy prices by 30-50% and taking a cut in the number of online sales they make, or taking a 30-50% profit loss in a wholesale/consignment order, which is an expected discount in most instances, especially if the wholesaler knows your site and pricing structure. Why take that even further with an additional 50% cut on Heartsy?
5. Keeping the above statement in mind, it is difficult, if not impossible, for a seller to provide a large enough handmade inventory for those who bought Heartsy vouchers with only half the supply money. Further, ordering in bulk to fill the voucher orders is a bigger risk for a seller, especially if not all of the vouchers are redeemed.
6. There are a multitude of handmade categories that simply cannot be mass produced. While Heartsy may help sellers who have moved into line work (but then...is it really still handmade?) or certain categories such as bath & body, there are even more who simply cannot mass produce items. Think of the seller who hand sews a dress from scratch, with no production help. The artist who creates hand thrown ceramics and pottery. Most jewelry artists. Fine artists. Sculptors. Almost anyone in fiber arts. Textiles. Needlecraft. Old fashioned letterpress and printmaking.
7. Heartsy doesn't seem to recognize when they are sponsoring reseller items, supplies, mass-produced items, or items produced unethically. This also loops us back around to number 1 in this list, adding even further pressure for those who truly create handmade, unique items to take a cut in order to get exposure in the vast sea of items that are being offered dirt cheap.
Much of Etsy is made up of individual crafters and artists. We make this stuff by hand, most of it very tediously and with great care. The Groupon business model works great for services, but not handmade items. It may serve the buyer, but it compromises the heart of handmade to a saddening degree.
Obviously, Heartsy will thrive as long as there are handmade artists willing and desperate enough to give those kinds of discounts. People can make their own decision on whether to buy or sell there. I'm personally not willing to undermine handmade, and so my mantra is and will remain: Just say NO to Heartsy!