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September 7, 2023

When you need to step away from your Etsy shop, Etsy Vacation Mode can be your trusty companion. Before you flip the switch, you may want to consider the pros, cons, and tactics. There’s an art to creating an effective Vacation Mode strategy. To Vacation Mode or Not To…

Any Etsy seller Facebook group or reddit board will have posts about vacation mode. You’ll see that vacation mode is controversial. Some say it ruined their shop because they couldn’t recover from being off search results during their time away. Others will say it’s fine, some say they do recover from any initial search loss.

What Happens When You Use Vacation Mode

Much like Google, Etsy is keeping score of your website. This score is going to account for a lot of things: sales, cancellations, click through rate, and other data. The greater the score, the more that is going to help you all-around. Going on vacation mode is going to mean no sales which ultimately hurts your score once you return.

When you’re on Etsy vacation mode, Etsy will not show your products on search results. Your shop itself will show up if someone searches your shop name. You can control your orders, listings, Etsy plus fees, listing renewal fees, and shop as usual but your products won’t show. You’ll have an email notification sign up and your shop announcement on your page. Etsy ads with unlisted products will be paused.

Factors in Post-Vacation SEO

  • The age of your shop
  • Your sales count, reviews count, and star rating
  • Your rate of returns, cancellations, and refunds
  • Previous metric performance (click through rate, conversion rate, bounce rate, average time spent on page, etc)

Plus, there’s the time for search results to get up to date with your return.

Vacation Mode Alternatives and Why You Shouldn’t Stress

If the horror stories scare you too much, consider these Vacation Mode alternatives. You can mix and match whatever will work for you. Maybe you try two or three ways to handle vacations to see which method works best for you.

  1. Create longer processing times and message current buyers about delay.
  2. Get help: see if you can recruit a volunteer, a family member, or even paid assistant during your vacation. They can handle shipping orders.
  3. Work remotely.
  4. Remove problematic listings. Such as listings that have personalization or made to order listings.
  5. Create longer processing times but use vacation mode for some of the time away.
  6. Deactivate all your listings until you’re ready to return.

Why you shouldn’t stress

  1. Established brands move to new platforms, new domain names, or reconfigure the website structure. They understand that these things affect their SEO so they plan for it. They think about how to minimize the hit and how to bounce back. If they can do this, you can go on vacation.
  2. Your shop traffic will (probably) return with time. Let this be a time to work on other aspects of your shop. Its SEO, your photography, or relax. Businesses have seasons and I won’t judge how you spend them.
  3. There are things you can do to help your shop bounce back sooner
  4. If your business cannot allow for vacation then its not sustainable.

Crafting an Effective Vacation Mode Message

Personalization and Branding

Your Vacation Mode message isn’t only a notification; it’s an opportunity to show your brand’s personality. Don’t believe me? Brands often get creative with their 404 pages. See the different tones between Sofi and Bloomberg?

Bloomberg and Sofi's 404 webpages to compare with Etsy vacation mode announcement
Much like an Etsy vacation mode announcement, these two websites have a unique tone to their 404 pages. Bloomberg is serious, black and white, without imagery. Sofi has a funny image and clever copywriting.

Customize the message to match your shop’s style and maintain your brand voice. Whether your brand is quirky, elegant, or eco-conscious, your message should reflect it.

Clear Communication

Transparency is good. Inform your customers about your absence and set realistic expectations for response times. If they know when you’ll be back or what to expect, they’ll be more likely to return to your shop in the future.

Providing Helpful Information

Don’t leave your customers in the dark. Redirect them to your return date so they know when to check back. Offer alternative contact methods, such as an email address, for urgent inquiries.

If you have high demand, create your own “alert” email notification.

This can be a way to plan for a stronger return by using email marketing. You can plan for a sale or special deal for those who signed up.

Don’t apologize for having time off (And keep it brief too.)

Practice healthy boundaries and don’t apologize for having a life. Instead of saying sorry, you state when you’ll be back or how to reach you about current orders.

Sample Etsy Vacation Mode Messages

  • Message for Short Vacations: “Taking a short break to recharge! We’ll be back in [number] days.”
  • Message for Extended Absences: “Exploring new horizons! We’ll return on [date].”
  • Message for Seasonal or Occasional Closures: “Our annual winter hibernation is here! We’ll be back on [date].”
  • Tease a sale: “Taking a brief sabbatical- we’ll be back on [date]. Want an exclusive 25% off coupon code? Sign up to get notified when we’re back.”

Tips for a Smooth Etsy Vacation Mode Experience

Updating Inventory

If you’re going the “extending processing time” route, ensure that your listings accurately reflect your inventory. If you have limited stock, consider removing low-quantity items to avoid overselling. It sucks to message customers that you have to cancel their order because you’re out of stock.

Managing Customer Expectations

If you have open orders, communicate with your buyers. Let them know about the delay and give them the option to cancel if they can’t wait. Managing customer expectations before going on vacation mode on Etsy is essential.

Communication Tips and Steps:

  1. Set Clear Vacation Dates:
  • Log in to your Etsy seller account.
  • Go to “Shop Manager.”
  • Click on “Settings.”
  • Under the “Options” section, select “Vacation Mode.”
  • Choose the start and end dates for your vacation.

  1. Create a Shop Announcement:
  • In “Shop Manager,” navigate to “Settings” and select “Info & Appearance.”
  • Scroll down to the “Shop Announcement” section.
  • Have a message that says you’re absent (or temporarily prolonging processing times), when you’ll be back, and how to best reach you.
  • Simplify your message before saving.

  1. Use Etsy’s Vacation Auto-Responder:
  • Enable the vacation auto-responder to automatically reply to customer inquiries during your absence.
  • Your message should include the vacation dates, return date, and expected response time.
  • Link to your FAQ or/and to where customers can see the current status of their order
  • Mention the sale if you’re planning a return event.
  • Save. Then edit and simplify your message. Save again.

  1. Update Shipping and Processing Times:
  • Extend your processing and shipping times to reflect the duration of your vacation. This prevents customers from placing orders with unrealistic expectations.

  1. Set Inventory Levels:
  • If you have limited quantities of certain items, adjust your inventory levels to prevent overselling while you’re away.

  1. Temporarily Deactivate Listings:
  • You can deactivate specific listings or your entire shop to prevent customers from making new purchases. This can help avoid delays and missed orders.

  1. Communicate with Existing Customers:
  • Contact customers who have recently placed orders about your vacation and what to expect with their order.
  • Provide them with an option to cancel their order or offer a revised estimated delivery date if possible.
  • You can apologize for this since they may affect them. If they’re upset or concerned, offer a coupon code or discount if it’ll help placate them. Do not let yourself be bullied though.
  • If they’re a potential bully, I’d rather cancel the order if it hasn’t already shipped.
  • How do you know you have a customer who will take advantage of the situation or be unreasonable? It’s mostly a gut feeling you’ll need to listen to. Also using the Custoemr Check can help.

  1. Manage Open Orders:
  • If you have open orders to fulfill, ensure you have a plan in place to complete and ship them as promised.

  1. Set Up Automated Email Responses:
  • If you have customers who email you, consider automating an email response. You’d set it up in much the same way as you would your Etsy automated response.

  1. Monitor Conversations:
  • While on vacation, check your Etsy messages and respond to urgent inquiries or issues. You can ignore non-urgent issues until you get back.
  • Add to your shop announcement and auto-responder that your response time may be longer than usual.

  1. Promote Your Return:
  • Update your shop announcement and auto-responder to reflect your return.
  • Consider offering a promotion or discount to welcome back customers and encourage new sales.

Handling Orders and Fulfillment During Vacation

How Etsy sellers not using vacation mode can handle orders while they are on vacation:

Set Clear Expectations in Your Shop Announcement:

  • State the dates when you’ll be on vacation and when customers can expect normal order processing times to resume.
  • Inform that they customers can place orders but there is a longer processing time.

Adjust Processing Times:

  • Extend your processing times to account for the duration of your vacation. This prevents customers from placing orders with unrealistic expectations.
  • You can update processing times in “Shop Manager” > “Settings” > “Shipping settings.”

Temporarily Deactivate Listings:

  • Consider deactivating individual listings or your entire shop to prevent new orders during your vacation.
  • To deactivate listings, go to “Shop Manager” > “Listings” > select the listing > “Edit” > “Listing status” > “Draft.”

Manage Existing Orders:

  • Fulfill and ship orders that were placed before your vacation as per your usual turnaround time.
  • If you cannot do this, message the customer to explain the situation and offer them the option to cancel their order.

Utilize Vacation Mode and/or purchase Auto-Responder:

  • Enable the vacation auto-responder to reply to customer inquiries during your absence. Mention your response time range.
  • You don’t need to tell them when things will go back to normal in this circumstance since you’re still technically present.

Partner with a Trusted Helper:

  • If possible, designate a trusted friend or family member to manage your Etsy shop while you’re on vacation. They can fulfill orders and respond to customer inquiries on your behalf.

Update Shipping Labels and Notify Customers:

  • If you use Etsy’s shipping labels, update the ship-by dates for your orders based on your adjusted processing times.
  • Notify customers about any changes in shipping dates due to your vacation.

Consider Offering a Vacation Discount:

  • As a gesture of goodwill, you can offer a discount code to customers who place orders during your vacation. This may encourage more sales and understanding.

Remember that effective communication with your customers is crucial. It’s about being clear and setting expectations.

Leveraging the Opportunity to Optimize Listings

If you’re experiencing a slow season when you’ve returned, take advantage of this time. You can use your time away to optimize your product listings. Or improve your photography. Create an email newsletter. There’s a lot of things you can do while on during any slow season.

Financial Planning and Shop Maintenance During Vacation

  • Budgeting: Take into account any ongoing shop expenses, such as subscription fees or advertising.
  • Inventory Management: Assess your inventory levels before going on vacation. Make a plan on your return if you may need more supplies or more inventory.
  • Etsy Ads and Promotions: Pause or adjust your Etsy Ads and promotional campaigns to avoid unnecessary expenses during the vacation. If you do not need purchases right now, don’t pay to invite that.
  • Customer Notifications: Set up Etsy and/or Email auto-responders and notifications

Announcing Your Return

Updating the Vacation Mode Message

When you’re ready to reopen, update your auto-responses and announcement message to let customers know you’re back.

Engaging with Customers Post-Vacation

Besides holding a sale, you could also simply announce your return via your email list.

Tactic Idea: Create a Return Event

To celebrate your return and boost engagement, consider these ideas:

  • Release a mini-collection or limited edition product.
  • Share a free resource, like an ebook or printable sheet.
  • Hold an exciting sale with a campaign to build-up interest
  • Launch a teaser campaign with a countdown.
  • Host a contest or giveaway.
  • Get creative with your offerings – offer a free 15-minute consultation with each purchase over the weekend.

Other Things You Can Do Post-Vacation Mode

  • Hold a sale
  • Bring off-site traffic to your shop via email newsletter, social media, etc.
  • Do the things Etsy loves: sales, free shipping, good photography, etc.
  • Create more listings. You can have more than one listing for different products. This also gives you an opportunity to try different tags, description, featured image, and title.
  • Create bundled listings. Create more listings by bundling products into one.
  • Improve photography
  • Collaborate with another shop

Conclusion: Make Etsy Vacation Mode Work For You

Only you can decide whether or not Etsy Vacation Mode works for you. No matter what, you have options in how to manage your time off. What’s important is to do it professionally and understanding that there may be consequences but it’ll likely be fine. Set reasonable expectations, take care of yourself, and do right by your existing customers’ orders.

Enjoy your vacation!

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