Can Etsy Shut Down My Shop – 5 Steps To Stay Safe
One of the biggest questions that many Etsy shops have is can Etsy shut down my shop? The truth is that Etsy can do with your shop whatever they want.
It is their platform. It is their marketplace. Not only do they make the rules, but they also get to enforce them.
Having a successful Etsy shop shut down can be incredibly painful. I’ve read so many heartbreaking stories and I really feel for anyone who had this happen.
The fact remains that if you do nothing wrong then you have nothing to worry about.
Most of the time when Etsy shops get suspended there is usually a good reason. If your shop was suspended wrongfully then you can appeal the suspension and it will most likely be reinstated.
You do not want to be ignorant when it comes to Etsy’s seller guidelines. Just because “everyone else” is doing something (wrong) does not give you license to do the same.
At any given time, you can find at least a dozen stores that break Etsy’s rules. It might last a week, or a month or even a year but eventually Etsy will suspend these stores.
The golden rule is to always have a thorough and up-to-date understanding of what you are or aren’t allowed to do as an Etsy seller.
Can Etsy Shut Down My Shop Without Warning?
So, can Etsy shut down my shop without any warning? Yes, of course, they can! It is their marketplace and they will police is however they see fit.
Whenever Etsy suspends a store, they make it very clear that they do not reveal the criteria for which the store was suspended. This translates to: we can interpret the rules in any way we see fit.
Etsy is of course not a bunch of evil dictators. They simply have their interests at heart.
Etsy has made it abundantly clear that they never use algorithms to do swooping account suspensions.
If your store gets suspended then it was done through a manual review in some shape or form.
Just like selling on Amazon or Ebay, you are at the mercy of Etsy. It takes a lot of work to build a successful Etsy store.
You do not want to jeopardize your business in any way by being ignorant to the rules.
The way it works when Etsy shuts down a shop is that they will suspend the shop first based on some breach of their policy.
If it is a minor issue, it can be fixed and you can appeal the suspension and get your account re-instated. If its a more severe issue then your appeal of the suspension won’t be successful and you will lose your store for good.
The majority of times, suspensions are permanent and won’t be overturned by Etsy. They usually only suspend accounts if there are more serious issues.
Most of the time Etsy stores simply do not understand the rules fully and they feel hard done when their stores get closed down.
I absolutely feel for anyone who loses their Etsy store and their income.
It is serious business.
I think Etsy understands that for many Etsy sellers this is their livelihood and shutting down an Etsy store can quite literally evaporate someone’s income.
This only highlights the importance of understanding the rules, what is expected of you as a seller and above all make sure you do not build your Etsy store on a shaky foundation.
Many Etsy stores are built on a shaky foundation. Their products are borderline compliant and they are just one manual review away from getting shut down.
Why Does Etsy Shut Down Shops?
The main reason why Etsy shuts down shops is to protect its customers and the integrity of their market place. Etsy is a huge business with an impeccable reputation.
People buy on Etsy because there is a lot of trust. This helps everyone – including you (the seller).
Anything that threatens this trust and integrity could harm Etsy as a business and that is why they fierce police the marketplace to make sure that sellers fully comply with their guidelines.
There are a lot of reasons why Etsy would suspend a shop. Some of it is just very obvious and most of the bad actors know that they are breaking Etsy’s rules.
Selling stuff that breaks Etsy’s rules is often much “easier” because you are the only one selling it which allows you to stand out.
This is a shortcut that never lasts.
Do not tempt fate by going for the easy way.
Does staying within Etsy’s rules protect you 100%?
The real concern for legitimate Etsy sellers is getting suspended for issues that are not that obvious.
If you are serious about your Etsy business you should take 2 hours and carefully go through all their seller guidelines to make sure you have a thorough understanding of Etsy’s expectations.
I will cover the main issues below. As long as you comply with this you “should” be fine and not have to worry if Etsy can shut down my shop overnight.
1. The Products You Sell
Understanding what you can and can not sell on Etsy is incredibly important. Trying to sell something that is not allowed on Etsy will almost certainly cause an instant and irreversible suspension.
Etsy is a marketplace for unique handmade items that can not be found anywhere else. This means that everything you sell has to be either designed by you or made by you.
You can not resell commercial products. If that’s your thing you can sell on Ebay or Amazon.
Etsy is for unique and handmade products. There are two exceptions.
Vintage items – they must be at least 20 years old.
Craft supplies – can be commercial but must be material with the primary purpose of creating another item.
If you are using a print on demand service like Printful then you must disclose the fact that you are using a production partner.
I would also encourage you to only use production partners that comply with Etsy’s standards. I prefer to stick with the bigger print on demand providers (Printful, Printify and Gooten) that are known to Etsy to avoid any potential issues.
Another big no-no on Etsy is trademark and copyright infringement. This will usually lead to a permanent suspension.
What is a Trademark and Copyright Infringement?
Copyright (indicated by the symbol ®) is a trademark that is registered with the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office).
A Trademark (indicated by the symbol ™) is for companies that have not yet registered their brand name with the USPTO or who are waiting for acceptance from the USPTO.
Copyright protects a brand from the distribution of its creative works (selling fakes). Trademarks protects a brand for everything that makes up that brand. This includes logo’s, colours, fonts, words ec. It is everything that makes up a brand’s identity.
Between copyright and trademarks, there is no way of creating products that either reference to another brand or that implies them in any way. Even just using the same colours in a way to invoke another brand can be deemed an infringement.
A simple test is this: does your product reference to anything that gives it meaning or value? If it references to something that has a trademark or copyright then you are infringing.
Infringement is a big issue on Etsy. Within 10 minutes I can find at least 100 products on Etsy that violate some sort of copyright or trademark.
Do these products sell well? Yes! They do sell very well because it leverages someone else’s work.
Are there a lot of Etsy sellers selling these types of products? Yes!
Do they get away with it? Yes. Many do and some even sell on Etsy for years without getting caught.
The challenge is that there will always be the risk of getting your Etsy shop closed because you sell infringing products.
That is NOT how you build a sustainable business on Etsy.
Just because others are doing it and getting away with it does not mean that you can do it. You can have hundreds of hours of work wiped out overnight.
On top of that, you can get in more serious trouble. Companies like Disney have Etsy on their radar now. Selling products that infringe on any Disney movie or character can land you in hot water as a seller.
Etsy won’t take the hit. You as a seller will. Just because you sell on Etsy does not make them responsible for what you sell.
You could be liable for damages that usually range between $750 to $30,000 per item you sell. If sales exceeded these amounts then you could be liable for even more.
Selling products from Etsy’s list of banned products will almost instantly get you a permanent suspension.
2. Representing Yourself
Etsy demands transparency from its sellers. You should always represent yourself accurately as a seller.
This means that you always be truthful, honest and accurate about yourself as the seller. You do not try and deliberately hide any details about yourself in any way.
The main reason for this is that bad actors on the Etsy platform usually revert to using fake details. This allows them to get away with bad behaviour without any personal accountability.
A lot of legitimate Etsy sellers get caught on the crossfire of this rule.
Most Etsy stores that get wrongfully suspended is because of this. You need to pay very close attention to this rule to make sure you do not break the rule unknowingly.
Here are some key pointers.
- The About section in your store needs to be 100% accurate, up to date and you need to leave nothing “blank” in this section.
- If you have more than one Etsy store then make sure that all the About sections in every store are exactly the same. You do not want to come across as hiding the fact that you have more than one store.
- You need to fully disclose everyone involved in marketing or working on your store. This is super important! If you have a VA (Virtual Assistant) in the Philippines, you need to add them to your store.
Simply go to Settings >> About your shop >> Members > Add Shop Member
4. Multiple Etsy Shops in One Household
Having more than one Etsy shop is perfectly fine and 100% within Etsy’s rules. If you and your husband both have Etsy shops you need to be very thorough in your store setups though.
If you have 2 stores that sell completely different products then there will be no issues.
If you have two (or more) stores that sell the same or similar products then you need to disclose this. The best way to do it is to have both of your profiles connected to both shops.
Don’t try and hide the fact that you are in the same household or are related. Simply add each other as Shop Members on all the stores.
Above all, you want to make sure that any two stores do not copy or re-list the exact same products or use any of the exact same listings as any other store.
3. Communicating With Etsy Members
Online privacy has become a big issue and like all other marketplaces, Etsy handles a lot of personal and even sensitive information.
One of the great things about selling on Etsy is that you do not have to worry about handling any sensitive information. Etsy takes care of all that.
You do however have certain responsibilities in terms of privacy.
Using common-sense will suffice. Don’t do stupid shit like harassing members or send unsolicited advertising or promotions.
All the discussions you have with your buyers are strictly confidential. Don’t go posting screenshots of these messages anywhere to vent your frustration.
Trying to deliberately jeopardize a competitor on Etsy will also land you an instant suspension. This includes clicking on their ads or trying to solicit negative reviews on a competitor’s store.
4. The Content of Your Store
When it comes to your listings and the content of your Shop there are a few basic rules you need to follow.
Again, common-sense will suffice but there are few things to watch out for.
The first is to never copy images or listings from another Etsy store. This goes without saying but it happens.
You also want to avoid publishing any images or using any language that is obscene or vulgar. This is often an easy way to get clicks on your listings by using the “shock factor”.
You also need to make sure that none of the images or descriptions in your listings or products discriminate against anyone in any way.
I see this quite often with sellers who try to capitalize on controversial events. It usually gets you a lot of attention but it is rarely something you can capitalize on in the long term.
Make sure that nothing about your shop or your listings violate someone else’s privacy. When you upload product images, do not use any Etsy testimonial images unless you have direct permission from the Etsy member who posted it.
Etsy requires that you only upload original product images that accurately represent your products.
Do not use any stock photography. Do not use computer-generated renderings of products. Do not copy products from other Etsy stores or from other online stores.
The one exception is that if you use a print on demand production partner you can use product mockups but be sure to disclose that you use a production partner.
5. Managing Your Store
Being a responsible store owner is imperative. Etsy’s demands great customer service from its sellers.
If you provide poor customer support then that reflects badly on Etsy. If you have a poor or slow response rate to messages then it will be flagged.
If your customers have to contact Etsy because you are not responding to messages then you will get flagged.
While this might not lead to an Etsy store suspension it most likely will get you a warning. Multiple warnings will most certainly lead to a suspension.
If you are unresponsive or inactive on your Etsy store for some time then Etsy can actually intervene and place your store in Vacation Mode.
The biggest issue to avoid at all costs is with returns and refunds. You need to honour your store’s policies 100%.
If you do not and your customers have to reach out to Etsy for a refund or a return then you will most likely get your store suspended.
If you get int a dispute with a customer I would urge you to always take the higher ground and give the customer the benefit of the doubt.
Even if you are “right” a customer dispute almost always looks bad on YOUR shop.
Lastly, we need to address reviews. Customer reviews are an incredibly important part of Etsy and how they can gauge the quality of your products and your service.
If you rake up a bunch of poor reviews (3 star or below) then you will get flagged. You need to work really hard at maintaining a “perfect score” and go out of your way to keep your customers happy.
Because reviews play such an important role in Etsy algorithm (similar to Amazon) it can be tempting to do something dodgy like buy reviews.
DO NOT buy fake reviews and do not try and discredit a competitor with reviews.
The Etsy review system is sacrosanct and they will come down hard on anyone who tries to interfere.
Etsy Suspended My Shop, Can I Reopen It
One of the big questions I see often in Etsy Facebook groups and even in the Etsy seller’s community is: Etsy suspended my shop, can I reopen it?
The obvious answer is to simply open a new store if your store got suspended. This is often the knee jerk reaction that actually causes more problems.
You should always try and communicate with Etsy and try everything you can to get your store back.
Starting from zero can be a long way back and the biggest issue is that your new store could be found out and suspended quite quickly.
When Etsy suspends your store your account is still connected to that store. When you open a new store with any of the information connected to the old account then they can instantly identify you.
If you try and reopen an Etsy store that was suspended then it is fairly easy for Etsy to find it – especially if you try and sell the same products again.
When you appeal a suspended store, here are some important tips:
- Take great care in crafting your response. You will most likely only have one shot at it. Be very thorough in your appeal and make it clear that you had no intention of violating or circumventing their policies.
- Identify the issue. Read through Etsy’s seller guidelines carefully and identify potential issues. Let Etsy know that you have addressed this violation in your appeal and make it clear that you will refrain from it in the future.
- Don’t open any new stores or accounts while your store is suspended.
- Make sure you continue fulfilling open orders and answering customer messages while your store is suspended.
While your stop is suspended you won’t be able to get any new order and Etsy will also remove your listings from appearing in Etsy search results.
If you are unsuccessful at getting your suspended Etsy store re-instated then and only then can you start thinking about reopening your suspended shop.
To reopen a suspended Etsy shop will always come with risk and the threat of being closed down again will always be looming.
Here are some key pointers to reopen a suspended Etsy shop:
- Close the suspended Etsy shop and also close the Etsy account that was associated to the shop.
- Wait at least a month after closing the Etsy shop and the Etsy account before opening a new one.
- Never open a new Etsy account or a new Etsy shop with any information that was related to the suspended shop. Get your mom or your cousin to open the account and the shop for you and use their account to run the shop.
- Make sure the new store does not replicate the issue why your initial shop was suspended.
- If you are selling the same products, make sure you use new product images and product descriptions that can’t be cross-referenced to the suspended shop.
Can Etsy Shut Down My Shop – Conclusion
Can Etsy shut down my Shop? Yes, they can but usually not without a very good reason. If you comply with all Etsy’s guidelines then you have absolutely nothing to worry about.
This assumes that you know all Etsy’s guidelines and know what is expected of you as a seller. Not knowing the rules and then breaking them is not an excuse and will most certainly not get you any leniency from Etsy.
Can Etsy shut down my shop even if I did nothing wrong?
Mistakes can happen but in most cases, your store will not be permanently suspended without a proper manual review.
There is always room for interpretation of rules and unfortunately, Etsy gets to police and enforce their own rules.
This is why it is never a good idea to do anything that pushes the boundaries or that is walking a tightrope in terms of compliance.
Once your Etsy store is suspended you may have to go find somewhere else to sell.
But if Etsy suspended my shop, can I reopen it?
You can try. Trying to replicate something that broke the rules in the first place will most likely only have the same outcome.
If you can resolve all the issues that caused the shop to be permanently suspended then you stand a chance. You will need to make sure that you leave no footprint that can trace you back to the suspended shop.
This can be difficult as Etsy is very good at detecting suspicious behavior.
Ultimately Etsy wants to protect their integrity and the trust that they have build with shoppers. This is what makes Etsy a great place to sell on in the first place.