(On May 31, 2022, Etsy has announced an update of the Star Seller program which affects some of the criteria.)
On July 2021, Etsy introduced Star Seller system to award sellers with good customer service.
But how can you become an Etsy Star Seller? And are there any benefits of being one?
In this guide, we will go through everything from the judging criteria to how to improve your chances of getting the Star Seller badge.
The 5 criteria that you need to satisfy within the last 3 months before your shop is qualified for the Star Seller badge. I've also included the criteria prior to the change in brackets.
There are a few changes to the Star Seller program in the May 2022 update.
One of the concerns about Star Seller was that one shopper may message a shop multiple times. Most sellers logically would choose to answer all the questions in just one of the messages to keep all the information together. However, before the change, only one message is considered 'replied' but the other messages will count as ‘not replied’, which affects the shop's ability to meet the criteria.
After the change, messages from the same shopper will be combined into a single thread, which makes messaging more streamlined and logical.
Another change is that shops need a 4.8 review rating average over the 3-month period, instead of a 95% 5-star review. This reduce the impact of satisfied customers leaving 4-star review.
Before, if you get one 4-star review, you would need a whopping 19 5-star reviews to 'offset' it. After the update, you would only need 4 5-star reviews to 'offset' it.
Etsy lowered the order minimum from 10 orders to 5 orders in the 3-month review period. The order amount minimum is unchanged at $300. This change mostly affect shops that sell higher priced items.
Etsy made an update to allow digital products to be shipped at a later date. So you won't have to list custom digital products as 'physical' and negatively affect the shipping & tracking criteria.
To achieve this, you can choose "digital" as the product type, and "Made To Order" in the "About this listing" section.
The Etsy Star Seller criteria will be evaluated on the first of every month. Etsy will look at the data from your shop of the last 3 months to determine whether you quality for the Star Seller badge.
Although Etsy says that Star Seller won't impact your search ranking at this time, it's very likely that it will affect your search ranking indirectly.
One of the search ranking factors on Etsy is the ‘listing quality score’. It looks at your listing’s conversion rate: how shoppers view, click and purchase your product.
Shop with a shiny Star Seller badge can boost the confidence of shoppers. The shop will appear more trustworthy and the product more appealing than the competitors, making the shopper more likely to follow through with the purchase. This will improve the 'listing quality score' of that shop's product, and therefore push it up the search ranking.
In the future, it's also possible that Etsy will display this badge in search results just like the 'free shipping' badge and 'best seller' badge. Listings with a badge that says 'Star Seller' is going to catch the attention of shoppers more. One of the selling points from Etsy is that being a Star Seller will help you 'stand out from the crowd'. As the shop stand out more, it’s likely that they will be clicked on more, which increases their ‘listing quality score’.
So although being a Star Seller or not doesn’t directly impact your search ranking, it will certainly have implications on it indirectly because of the potential increase of conversion rate.
Because the message response rate only counts the initial reply, setting up an auto-reply is a good idea if you think you can't get back to customers within a day. Some sellers set up auto-reply for 2-3 days over the weekend so that they can take a short break.
To set auto-reply up, go to your Seller dashboard. Under 'Messages', you will find 'Auto-reply' in the top right corner. There you will be able to turn it on, write the message that will be automatically sent to customers, and set the time frame it will run for.
Here's a sample auto-reply message for your Etsy shop:
Thank you for contacting (your shop)! I'm away at the moment and will get back to you in about (time frame).
Shipping on time is one of the criteria for Etsy Star Seller. Although it's tempting to set the processing time as short as possible, make sure it's a realistic time frame that you can actually finish processing the order.
Your processing time should take in account unexpected events that happen once in a while. For example, a sudden surge in orders, running out of raw materials, etc.
Out of all the criteria, getting at least 95% of 5-star review is the hardest.
The hard part is that, not every customer view ratings the same way. One customer may think any decent purchase is worth 5-star, while another customer may nitpick and give you a 3-star because of some small factors that are out of your control. For example, a customer gave my product a 3-star because it's not what they expected (they didn't realise the product is a digital template instead of a physical product even though it is clearly stated in multiple places in the listing).
The most effective (and obvious) strategies include providing high quality products, helpful customer service and timely shipment. It's also useful to set the customer expectation right: photos to show the size/scale of the product, communicating shipping time especially if you ship internationally, etc.
“I ship using etsy labels via Canada post for US customers, but some of my items are small and I just ship them with no tracking because the difference is $12 on a $35 item”, said blu_stingray on this reddit thread
This is especially true for international sellers shipping small and relatively low-priced items, like birthday cards. If they offer tracking to their shipping, it will spike up their prices and make them not competitive in their niche.
As many shop owners choose to take a break in the weekend, they may not be able to meet this requirement because of that. The solution now is to set up and turn on auto-reply on the weekend if you can’t message your customer back within a day.