I'm Calling You Out Etsy! (But Not Because of that Puny Pink Ribbon Debacle.)

Earlier this month the Internet was in high dudgeon… in the way that only the Internet can be… because someone accused Etsy of pink washing. In its Daily Finds newsletter Etsy had bundled together several items with a pink hue in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month from its vast web of items. And, the story goes, some of the items had only the loosest sort of connection to breast cancer or breast cancer charities.

I swear, sometimes the Internet is such a hothouse environment. It can be like the worst parts of high school.

But this momentary blip in the Twitter feed did prompt this idea. Why doesn’t Etsy just bake cause marketing capability right into its API?

That is, why doesn’t Etsy offer its shopkeepers the ability to trigger a transactional cause marketing promotion on demand according to terms they set?

For example, if you sell flag-themed purses and you want to make $3 donation to the Wounded Warrior Project when people buy your stars and stripes purse in July, Etsy oughta make that capability super easy and free for their shops.

I’m not a programmer, but it seems to me that Etsy’s people wouldn’t need to break any new ground doing this. Many sites have figured out how to sign up multiple participating charities, so that’s very doable too. There could be some challenges with local government charitable solicitation rules. I’m not a lawyer, but I’ll bet those aren’t insurmountable either. Payment transfers to the charities? NBD.

Why would Etsy go to the trouble and expense?

Well, there’s a short list of reasons including: increase sales; give its shops a way to stand out; and build its own competitive bulwark.

But I think the main reason is pride. Etsy can rightly claim that it democratized the world of the small crafter and opened whole new markets.

Etsy could, with its shops, democratize the world of small cause marketing, too. 

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