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    一家小電商的逆襲秘方:搜什么就顯示什么

    王波非(Phil Wahba) 2019年08月11日

    更加精確的搜索結果是這家電商的成功原因之一。

    現在如果你在Etsy.com的搜索欄里輸入“自行車運動衫”,搜到的大多數結果確實是自行車運動衫。

    聽起來就像“狗咬人”一樣算不得新聞。但不久前,如果在出售手工品為主的Etsy.com上輸入同樣的詞,會搜到很多不相關的結果,沒準是繡著自行車的領帶,可能是棒球運動衫,甚至會搜出新澤西的老式自行車牌。Etsy的技術負責人邁克·費舍爾表示,首頁帶動的銷售比例非常高,如果出現無關結果意味著收入損失,“必須迅速縮小范圍,否則就會失去用戶。”

    對Etsy來說,更精確的搜索結果是技術上的勝利,也逐步提振了業績。網站在售商品達6000萬件,有些很普通,如烤箱手套和杯墊,也有一些比較古怪的物品,比如寵物狗的衣服,最近,首席執行官喬希·西爾弗曼就剛在上面給狗狗買了件毛衣。公司成立于2005年,因“保持商業中的人情味”精神以及專注小商家而非大企業,獲得買家和賣家的喜愛。靠著努力達成用戶預期,提供大型企業才具有的持續、可靠的體驗,Etsy業績也變得相當亮眼。

    When you type the term “bike jersey” into the search field at Etsy.com, most of the results you get are, in fact, bike jerseys.

    That may sound like “dog bites man” news. But not long ago, running such a search at this e-commerce site for handmade and craftsy goods would have yielded a torrent of irrelevant results—a necktie covered with tiny embroidered bikes, a baseball jersey, a vintage New Jersey bicycle license plate. Given the high proportion of sales driven by first-page rankings from a desktop search, useless results mean lost revenue, says Etsy technology chief Mike Fisher: “I’ve got to be very narrow very quickly, or else I lose you.”

    Better search results are a technological victory for Etsy—and increasingly a financial one too. The site has 60 million items for sale at any given time, from prosaic goods like oven mitts and coasters to oddities such as clothes for dogs?—like the sweater CEO Josh Silverman recently bought. The company, which launched in 2005, has earned cultlike devotion from sellers and buyers alike for its “keeping commerce human” ethos and its focus on small vendors rather than big corporate conglomerates. But Etsy is enjoying a striking turnaround, thanks in part to an effort to give customers the consistent, reliable experience they’d expect from?…?a big corporate conglomerate.

    Etsy位于布魯克林的總部里,一位員工負責針織項目。Etsy忠實的用戶群體是擊敗競爭對手的關鍵。圖片來源:Photograph by David Williams for Fortune

    轉機主要因為西爾弗曼的領導。50歲的西爾弗曼從事科技行業多年,2017年5月執掌公司以來,已經著手改進搜索、支付結賬,以及送貨服務,這些都是贏得用戶信任的基本要素。Etsy還成功地完成了艱難的任務,即在提高抽成的同時又留住賣家。兩年內收入增長了65%,2018年達到6.04億美元。Etsy實現盈利已經兩年,西爾弗曼任職期間,股價上漲五倍,其市值超過了梅西百貨或諾德斯特龍。

    零售分析師認為有更多上行空間。“有不少很棒的商品具有長尾價值。”市場研究機構Forrester的首席分析師蘇查理塔·考達利表示,所指是并不屬于暢銷商品,但能夠持續銷售,為Etsy貢獻很大一塊收入的商品。Etsy的古怪程度跟過去相比沒有怎么變,仍然可以在上面買一些小眾的東西,比如迷你浴缸里的老鼠標本。但正如考達利指出,網站的感覺越來越不像“跳蚤市場”了。

    Much of that turnaround has happened under Silverman, a 50-year-old tech veteran. Since taking the reins in May 2017, Silverman has moved to improve search, payment and checkout, and shipping—the nuts and bolts that build customer trust. Etsy has also managed the difficult feat of increasing the share of each sale that it keeps for itself without driving sellers away. Revenue has risen 65% in two years, reaching $604 million in 2018. The company has also been profitable for two years, and the stock is up fivefold during Silverman’s tenure, giving Etsy a market cap bigger than that of Macy’s or Nordstrom.

    Retail analysts see even more upside. “There’s a lot of great merchandise in the long tail,” says Forrester principal analyst Sucharita Kodali, referring to products that aren’t bestsellers but whose consistent sales contribute a big chunk of Etsy’s revenue. Etsy is no less quirky than it was—you can still buy, say, a taxidermied mouse posed in a tiny bathtub. But as Kodali notes, it’s starting to feel less and less like a “flea market.”

    ****

    西爾弗曼是20世紀90年代互聯網明星公司Evite的創始人之一,2001年他賣掉公司賺得可觀的利潤,后來在易趣和美國運通擔任要職,也獲得了扭虧為盈高手的聲譽。他頭頂略禿,留著胡須,說話的聲音很舒緩,連心理醫生都會羨慕。

    在應付剛入職的混亂局面時,他的沉穩性格發揮了作用。雖然Etsy用戶很熱情,但一直在賠錢。商品銷售總額(GMS),即產品銷售總額增長大幅放緩,激進投資者Black-and-White Capital一直鼓動Etsy調整業務,要么就出售。在西爾弗曼上任的幾周內,公司解雇了近四分之一員工。從高層意見和實際情況來看,西爾弗曼要么選擇出售Etsy,要么就得走大企業路線。

    這位新任首席執行官稱自己的使命是冷酷地愛。“Etsy的核心業務很棒。”他說。“只是需要喘口氣。”他發現導致公司窒息原因之一是項目過多。公司員工不足1000人,進行中的業務發展計劃卻多達約800項。西爾弗曼的團隊迅速撤掉其中一半,包括雄心勃勃開創第二個在線市場的Etsy Studio計劃。剩下的計劃中啟用了“救護車”制度,符合要求的想法可以獲得優先權,數周內即可實施,不用等上數月或數年。

    Silverman was a cofounder of 1990s Internet darling Evite, which he sold for a tidy profit in 2001. He later held top roles at eBay, where he earned a reputation as a turnaround artist, and at American Express. He’s a bald, bearded man who speaks in a soothing voice that any psychotherapist would envy.

    That trait came in handy amid the tumult surrounding his arrival. Though Etsy had a passionate following, it was losing money. Growth in gross merchandise sales (GMS), the aggregate value of products sold, had slowed sharply, and an activist investor, Black-and-White Capital, was pushing Etsy to fix its business or sell itself. Within weeks of Silverman’s hiring, the company had laid off nearly a quarter of its staff. The sense in the rank and file was that Silverman would either sell off Etsy or make it go corporate.

    The CEO describes his mission as doling out tough love. “The core of Etsy is amazing,” he says. “It just needs the opportunity to breathe.” One of the things suffocating it, he found, was an excess of projects—there were some 800 business development initiatives underway at a company with a staff of fewer than 1,000. Silverman’s team quickly eliminated half of them, including Etsy Studio, an ambitious plan to create a second online market?place. Among those remaining, the team created “ambulances,” ideas whose paths could be cleared so they could be implemented in weeks rather than months or years.

    首席執行官西爾弗曼大幅削減公司的業務發展計劃以來,Etsy的增長速度加快。圖片來源:Photograph by David Williams for Fortune

    “救護車”制度中包括一些簡單調整。許多購物者對在Etsy上使用信用卡心存疑慮,于是公司添加說明讓用戶放心:“賣家看不到您的信用卡信息。”之前網站搜索框沒有自動更正功能,現在已經加上。公司還將許多技術資源轉移到谷歌云,解放技術團隊,專注維護Etsy.com。“我不想讓數據中心的員工一直盯著服務器。”費舍爾說。“他們應該開發更多功能。”

    后來出現了更引發爭議的舉措。西爾弗曼要求賣家使用Etsy支付平臺。如此一來,Etsy可以從每筆交易中獲得手續費,從其他支付提供商手里搶占收入。網站還要求公司規范結賬,提高客戶服務水平。2018年7月,Etsy將每筆交易傭金從3.5%提高至5%。

    一些賣家非常憤怒,認為網站在搶錢。“天吶,如果有競爭對手達到Etsy的市場份額,我就跳槽過去。”去年,在Reddit留言板上的一條評論寫道。但賣家的不滿并沒有影響Etsy增長。西爾弗曼接手以來,賣家數量從180萬增加到220萬。去年年度商品銷售總額增長達39億美元,回到20%的范圍內,2018年Etsy的抽成收入占比為15.4%,比2017年增長了近2個百分點。

    在網絡零售業,Etsy培養用戶忠誠度方面堪稱一絕,其他網站往往只注重低價不考慮其他方面。分析人士說,Etsy格外重視小企業和手工制作的商品,感覺更像社區,即便作為企業效率提升后氛圍也能夠保持。很明顯,Etsy已經搞定電子商務領域的重大挑戰。亞馬遜在2015年曾經推出手工商品頻道,號稱要成“Etsy殺手”,但基本吸引不到供應商或用戶,產品種類僅占Etsy的一小部分。

    Those ambulances included some easy fixes. Many shoppers were wary of using credit cards on Etsy, so the company added a message reassuring them: “The seller never sees your credit card information.” The website’s search box didn’t have autocorrect; now it does. The company also started moving many of its tech resources to Google Cloud, freeing up its tech team to focus on Etsy.com itself. “I don’t need people in data centers racking servers,” says Fisher. “I need them building more features.”

    More controversial moves followed. Silverman required sellers to use the Etsy Payments platform. That allowed Etsy to garner processing fees from each transaction, capturing that revenue from other payment providers. It also let the company standardize checkout, improving customer service. In July 2018, Etsy increased its separate, per-transaction commission rate to 5%, from 3.5%.

    Some sellers fumed, seeing the moves as cash grabs. “Jeez if another competitor ever gets the market share of Etsy, I’m jumping,” read a comment on a Reddit board last year. But that discontent didn’t dent Etsy’s growth. The ranks of sellers have risen to 2.2 million from 1.8 million since Silverman started. Growth in annual GMS, $3.9 billion last year, is back in the 20% range, and the share of sales captured by Etsy as revenue was 15.4% in 2018, up nearly two percentage points from 2017.

    Etsy’s success in cultivating loyalty stands out in online retail, where low prices often trump all other concerns. Its emphasis on small businesses and handcrafted wares, analysts say, makes it feel like a community, even as it becomes more efficient as a business. It’s telling that Etsy has so far shrugged off a challenge from the 800-ton gorilla of e-commerce. Amazon Handmade, launched in 2015 and touted as the “Etsy killer,” has had little success wooing vendors or customers, and its product assortment is a small fraction of Etsy’s.

    ****

    學會如何從社區中獲利之后,Etsy下個挑戰便是壯大社區。Etsy有4100萬活躍買家,所謂活躍是指過去一年至少有一次購買行為的用戶。然而,60%的“活躍買家”一年也只買一次,平均消費僅為100美元左右。

    公司正在將部分收入投到為賣家提供更好的在線銷售工具方面,例如跟蹤訂單和簡化支付的控制面板。為了推動業務增長,“Etsy確實要向供應商提供支持。”Gartner的研究主管奧維斯·卡茲表示。Etsy一項重要的改進就包括搜索引擎優化。技術負責人費舍爾說,去年改進搜索結果之后,商品銷售總額增加了數千萬美元,仍然有進一步提升的空間。長期以來,Etsy的搜索算法比較傾向低價商品,因為訂單成交頻率更高。現在網站打算提升價格更高質量也更好的商品搜索權重,此舉可提升Etsy的品牌檔次,而且在發現消費者搜索臺燈時也能夠順便推薦書桌。

    搜索調整也可以幫助Etsy解決另一個痛點:送貨。目前賣家確定運費方面比較自由,公司認為會影響買家購買。約30%的商品可以享受免費送貨,即便可能惹惱賣家,西爾弗曼也希望實現100%包郵。7月,Etsy宣布推出35美元以上的訂單即可免費送貨。網站不會強迫賣家包郵,但Etsy的算法將提升包郵產品和賣家的排名,從而有效地推動賣家配合。

    盡管西爾弗曼在Etsy大刀闊斧調整,也很注意保護公司年輕且充滿理想的文化。Etsy在布魯克林的總部有不少便利設施,例如自行車車庫,自助餐廳里提供當地食品等。今年2月,公司宣布了抵消送貨導致二氧化碳排放的計劃。最近訪問Etsy網站時,“暢銷”列表中還有包括對LGBTQ人群友好的兒童木制彩虹拼圖,還有為年輕情侶提供“約會之夜”創意的盒裝卡片。

    西爾弗曼表示,所有調整措施的目標都是方便用戶找到稱心的商品。網站會突出推薦“經常讓顧客滿意的賣家,”他說。“要想買得好,就得拼實力。”(財富中文網)

    本文另一版本登載于《財富》雜志2019年8月刊,標題為《Etsy卷土重來》。

    譯者:馮豐

    審校:夏林

    Having learned how to profit from its community, Etsy’s next challenge is to make that community bigger. Etsy has 41 million active buyers, which it defines as people who bought something on at least one day in the past year. However, 60% of “actives” shop only once a year, and the average shopper spends a relatively modest $100 annually.

    The company is plowing some of its revenue into better online tools for sellers, such as a dashboard to track orders and streamline payments. To grow, “Etsy really needs to offer vendors that support,” says Oweise Khazi, research director at Gartner. And some of Etsy’s most important plans involve its search engine. Fisher, the technology chief, says improved search results added tens of millions of dollars to GMS last year, but there’s room for improvement. Etsy’s search algorithm has long favored lower-priced items, since they tend to sell more frequently. The site now intends to give higher-priced and better-quality goods more weight in search rankings—?making Etsy’s brand more upscale and encouraging shoppers to also consider buying a desk when they’re searching for a desk lamp.

    Search tweaks will also help Etsy attack another sore point: shipping. Sellers currently have great leeway to set shipping fees, something that the company believes can turn off buyers. Some 30% of items are eligible for free shipping; Silverman wants to push that figure toward 100%, even at the risk of upsetting sellers. In July, Etsy announced a push to make free shipping standard for orders of $35 or more. Sellers won’t be required to waive shipping fees—but Etsy’s algorithms will give ranking priority to products and sellers that comply, effectively forcing their hand.

    For all the rigor he has brought to Etsy, Silverman has been mindful not to mess with its youthful, idealistic culture. Etsy’s headquarters in Brooklyn has amenities like a bike garage and local food offerings in the cafeteria. In February the company announced a plan to offset its shipping-related carbon dioxide emissions. On a recent visit to the website, meanwhile, items on the “bestseller” list included an LGBTQ Pride–friendly wooden rainbow puzzle for kids and a box of cards featuring “date night” ideas for young couples.

    The goal of all of Etsy’s improvements, Silverman says, is to make it easier to find the good stuff. The site wants to prioritize a seller “who really delights customers regularly,” he says. “You’ve got to earn your way to prominence.”

    A version of this article appears in the August 2019 issue of Fortune with the headline "Crafting a Comeback at Etsy."

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