I started testing apps to use for auto-renewing, for tracking traffic and sales, for tracking profit and loss. Those that worked for us, I began to integrate into our shops. Outright.com for taxes as well as profit/loss tracking, Statsy's Clockbot for renewing, Craftopolis used for listing edits, just to name a few.
Then, in November of last year, my business partner was ill and I was left shouldering the work for a bit by myself as well as assisting my sister in starting up and running her Etsy shop. Our holiday rush in our busiest shop starts around November 10th and usually lasts right around until December 20th. So I was left in the middle of our most profitable Christmas ever with no help at all. I struggled through the first two weeks feeling like I was drowning. Then, I got smart and started hunting for more apps to replace some of those that were sufficient when business was slow, but just weren't cutting it when things sped up.
This involved venturing into the realm of paid apps, of which I couldn't afford earlier, but as success has gone from flirting at our heels to actually nipping at them, we can now afford a few apps to help make running things a bit easier and smoother.
I replaced Statsy's Clockbot with EtsyOnSale.com's renewal agent which is very reasonably priced and functions on buying credits which you then use to pay for your usage as you use. This app saved me a lot of time since the set-up is easier and more extensive. You don't have to set each renew individually. When I had the time, Statsy's Clockbot worked great and was wonderfully useful and free. When I didn't have the time any longer, well EtsyOnSale took over and did it all for me after a few minutes of set-up.
I signed up for StitchLabs at the price of $12.00 per month. Now, granted. StitchLabs is actually an app primarily used for tracking one's inventory. Since a lot of our products are OOAK and we also sell on other venues which aren't currently supported on StitchLabs, that wasn't really useful for us. BUT, it did two specific things that I needed badly.
- With Stitch Labs you can set up specific items in your shop to relist automatically when they sell. Very useful for those non-OOAK items.
- I can track multiple shops. If you set up each shop on a different "channel" you can track as sales happen in each shop as they happen. They all show up together on a single spreadsheet in StitchLabs. Combined with the Firefox app "ReloadEvery", I was able to set up that spreadsheet to automatically update (automatically refresh) whatever time duration I wished so that all I needed to do was look in and could see any sales that came through on any of four shops (our three plus my sisters shop). During the holidays this was a huge time-saver for me, since I didn't have to keep logging in and out of each separate account to check for sales.
- A major plus but not one of my decision making factors that had me choose this service, I also hear that they are working on a mobile app which I'm eager to get my hands on.
I integrated my iPod Touch and iPad for Etsy. This was done by setting up the Etsy's iPod/iPad/iPhone app on my iPod and iPad. I then set up an icon bookmark on the home screen of my mobile devices that would take me directly to my StitchLabs orders page with a single click. This way I could check all shops at once with a single click on my mobile device.
I then signed up for Shoeboxed.com and installed the Shoeboxed iPod/iPad/iPhone app as well. This is an app that is for Outright.com, not Etsy. Outright.com, as explained above, tracks profit and loss including all your sales and supply purchases, etc. Shoeboxed.com allows me to take pictures of my receipts right in the store when they are handed to me, send them automatically to Shoeboxed.com, and the app enters that data for me and syncs it to Outright.com. So, essentially.... I take a picture of a receipt and it shows up in Outright.com for me. These changes helped me make it through the Christmas rush and into the new year without any serious hiccups. They functioned as a second person when I didn't have a second person to help due to unforeseeable circumstances.
Since the new year, I've continued to try out and test different apps and one other major change has taken place. I switched us over from using PayPal to print my shipping labels to using Stamps.com. Now, this one change I probably wouldn't have done if I hadn't been forced into it because I've been avoiding Stamps.com for a while due to their hefty $15.99 per month fee. It wasn't really a feasible expense until this last year when you can use Paypal's postage labels for free. Not only that, but Paypal's postage rates are the best I've found when it comes to padded envelope mailing via First Class Mail. BUT, due to my business partner living in Canada and 1099-K confusion, it was necessary for us to change our Paypal account over to a Canadian account, which meant we could no longer print USPS shipping labels. Stamps.com was our answer to resolve this issue. It has turned out to be a remarkable application with an amazing amount of versatility but I have to admit I'm still getting used to it and find PayPal was more convenient even if not as versatile.
On a side note, I'm also looking forward to seeing what the Craft Shoppe iOS application is going to be bringing to the table when they get it up and running. At the moment, it's still in the development stages after a revamp they started prior to the holiday season. But, it looks like it could be the app that bridges the gap between browser functionality and mobile device functionality in running a shop on Etsy.
All in all, I encourage those curious about apps to explore them. There are apps out there for a variety of skill levels and level of needs from someone who just wants to automate a few things and is looking for a free solution to apps that (for a price) can do just about anything you imagine. I also encourage those with mobile devices to look into the free app Etsy offers for shop owners as well as user friendly solutions that can integrate your mobile device to make selling on Etsy easier. Most mobile devices are far more versatile than you may realize and many "limitations" can easily be overcome with a little creativity and a (usually free) app or two. If anyone ever has any questions about the use of apps for Etsy or using mobile devices to help in running your Etsy shop, please feel free to contact me through Etsy convos. I'm happy to help with any questions you may have and if I can't answer them personally, I'll help find someone who can.
Guest Post written by TwisttheLeaf, co-collaborator in Bits n Beads by Gilliauna, The Teardrop Shop and The Beadery Shop on Etsy and a member of the Sellers Assisting Sellers (Team SASsy).