Etsy Vacation Mode: Should You Use Vacation Mode or Not? And Alternatives!
Should you use Etsy vacation mode or not? This is the burning question.
I've used Etsy vacation mode multiple times with no serious problems, so I say that if you're going away for a short time, or if you need to close for a longer period, you should use vacation mode without being afraid of it.
Here's how to put your shop on vacation mode:
The thing that people are afraid of is that Etsy will ruin your traffic if you close your shop, and it will never come back. This is what Etsy says happens when you use vacation mode:
See the part that says "your items won't appear in search?" That's where the trouble starts.
Problem: Etsy not showing your listings when you return
Vacation mode isn't just a "turn it on, turn it off and get back to normal" situation. When your shop is in vacation mode your listings don't show up in search results, so they lose one of the factors that Etsy takes into account for search placement, namely the "recent activity" components.
The lack of purchases, views, visits and favorites will make it harder for Etsy to determine the placement for your listings until you've returned and your listings have had time to be "woken up" and get back in front of people. It can take a while to get them moving again, and until that happens Etsy might not show them to people as often.
The solution for this is to actively get your own listings moving again by doing a few things as soon as you return.
- Start renewing any listings that expired when you were gone in small groups, a couple of hours apart. This will send Etsy a signal that you're back and working again.
- Write to any customers who have asked you about custom listings or purchases while you were gone. Tell them that you're back and your shop is open and ready for them to purchase. These are quick wins, so take them! Sales will give your shop a jolt.
- List some new items or edit and update some to create some movement in your shop.
- If you don't use promoted listings, you may want to pay for some the week that you get back in order to get your listings seen by more shoppers.
Problem: Your customers don't know you're open for business
If you're gone for a while, customers might have signed up to be notified when you return. If they didn't, though, they won't know that you're back and ready to sell again.
This is something that you'll have to deal with directly, but you can also lay the groundwork before you leave.
- Before you leave, send your mailing list a notification that you'll be leaving for vacation, and all orders will be delayed. Tell them to buy now if they really need something! You can also offer a special or flash sale to bring in some extra money that can help cover some of the sales you'll miss when you're gone.
- When you return, send another email announcing that you're back. If you didn't do a sale before you left, you could do one now to get some quick sales. Doing this can also help to wake your Etsy shop up.
- For the week after you return, post on social media two or three times as often as you usually do to drive traffic to your shop.
Alternatives to Vacation Mode
If you really don't want to use vacation mode, you could use some alternate tactics to handle sales while you're gone.
- Extend your processing and shipping times. If you do this, you'll need to contact EVERY customer who purchases to make sure they realize that your processing will be longer than usual. You can do this using the message to buyer that goes out when someone buys something.
- Only leave things in your shop that you have pre-made and ready to ship so that you can send everything that was ordered out quickly when you return.
- Hire someone to handle your shop if you'll be gone for an extended period.
The downside of doing any of these is you'll have to check your shop while you're on vacation to monitor customer replies and questions, or to deal with employees.
The Hybrid Solution
My favorite solution is a hybrid method of turning my shop off for the majority of my vacation, then turning it back on a couple of days ahead of when I'll be returning.
You can do this and also extend your processing times, and it will give you time when you can truly be away from your shop, but will also cut down on how long that is. For example, if you'll be gone for a week, try turning the shop off for 5 days, then back on for the last two days.
That way, your listings will be in circulation for a couple of days before you return, and if you go through the "back from vacation" checklist of renewing and contacting customers when you come back, you'll already have a little momentum started.
It's a Trade-off
When you decide whether to use vacation mode or not, you'll need to have a plan of attack for when you return. You'll need to realize that if your shop is on the younger side, or doesn't have a solid sales history, coming back from vacation mode will be more difficult and you'll have to work harder to get it moving again.
Shops that are more established won't have as difficult a time getting back in the swing, but should still plan on making an effort. You'll have to do some work to get your shop working again no matter how well your shop was doing before your vacation.
The trade-off between using or not using vacation mode is basically deciding between whether you want to keep the momentum of your shop going, or whether you want to really relax.
Depending on how busy your shop is on a normal day, your vacation might end up being "working in a different place" if you don't use vacation mode.
Or you'll end up being so backlogged when you get back you'll regret ever leaving at all.
If you do use vacation mode you'll just have to be ready when you get back. At that point your mailing list and a sale might be the quick way to get the sales rolling.
This video shows what I did when I got back from vacation mode when I closed my shop for four days. My shop is well-established, but I did everything I listed above and after a day my sales were back to the average for this time of year. Vacation mode DOES NOT have to kill your shop!