Etsy is an online market place for handcrafted goods and related specialist objects. They present some of their business data here in their monthly Weather Report which is – in my opinion – quite a nice idea. I’d like to see more companies, and not just in the internet start up branch do something similar rather than just waiting for filing time.

Etsy was the first company I started thinking about for this project for various reasons – first of all, they totally drove their market and are still the market leaders globally in that zone despite some local competition in smaller market areas. What they do, they do very, very well. But they are not necessarily high profile companies like, for example, the Netflixes and the Groupons. They do, however, have some interesting ideas in terms of organising their market and their staff. Their process of increasing their numbers of female engineers was a master case in not paying lip service to something they wanted to change.

According to Amazon, Etsy get their web log data processed on MapReduce, and actually, Etsy have blogged about that here and it is well worth a read if you are interested in data analytics and the requirements of companies in the new economy.

But that doesn’t answer the question as to what I would do if I had access to their data and let’s be honest, Etsy are pretty hot in terms of dealing with their data themselves so whatever I suggest, they may well have it covered.

The first thing I would do is look at data for Etsy outside America. I’m interested in international sales. Sales from America to France, from France to Germany, from Australia to Italy. If you pushed me to the wall and said “Guess”, I’d be willing to assume that a significant proportion of Etsy’s business sales are intra-United States. I’m interested in the breakdown in sales outside that piece of their business because to some extent, that may well be where much of their growth comes from. Etsy has done some very interesting localisation of their site – see here (yes, they blogged about that too) but I’d like to drill down into the numbers of pages they are serving in their locales (currently, in addition to English(US) and English (UK) they are providing localisation in German, French, Italian, Spanish and Dutch) and additionally what is getting hit by google translate, whether it is English pages or any of the other locales. From a currency point of view, they are providing pricing in significantly more currencies – I’m interested in seeing how the currencies line up with the language and locales. Right now, Etsy recognises that I speak English, that I live in Ireland and that I like my prices in Euro. But I could have them in Thai baht if I wanted.

I’m interested in how Etsy’s non-US market is playing out. Whether there’s a dependency on English for those languages which do not have language content localised – for example Japanese, or whether much of it gets streamed through Google Translate, how much trade not featuring US sellers or buyers is happening, and what networks are cropping up again and again in those sales; whether there is an obvious leaning for many people in Japan to buy handcrafts from, say, Australia. Whether Italian products are going down particularly well in Denmark.

I’m interested in changing life for people who might buy products through the site. Part of this is by making it easier to identify lower and higher delivery charges – for example, intra Europe is less expensive than US-Europe. So I’d like to find a way of setting up search/product offerings in Etsy that can be done on the basis of likely postal charge. Currently, I don’t think this is possible – the search is limited on the basis of whether a product will be dispatched to your location or not, and not sorted according to possible cost – but it could be done by setting up banding based on the delivery charges in the store fronts, potentially. I’d also like it if, underlying, the system which serves storefront pages to possible customers could learn when a particular product created in one part of the world seems to have a particular following in another part of the world. I’d be interested to see what Etsy are doing in terms of localising demand beyond the need to serve products which can be dispatched to your country of location or not and whether this can be used to drive market penetration outside the US.

In summary then, I’m interested in Etsy’s non-US data. I’m interested in extra-US sales activities, I’m interested in measuring whether the localisation they have done so far is matching how their international markets are moving. I’m interested in using this data to tweak how products are served to potential customers, and I’m interested in enhancing the available information to a customer in terms of delivery issues, for example. I particularly interested to see how Etsy is doing in the UK compared to other non-English language locales on a similar scale (say Germany, France, Italy). I’m very interested to see how Etsy is doing in Japan and India and what the trends there have been over the last 2-3 years for example. I want to see if particular locales are showing organic growth and I’m interested to see what the company is doing to drive growth outside the US heartland.

This is what I would do with some of Etsy’s data if I ever got my hands on it. Also, I’d implement a wishlist. Please can I have a wishlist.


ETA: Etsy’s localised newsletters are great and yes, they have some very decent localised search well. I am completely impressed.




If I had access to your data…

Some time ago, Hilary Mason of Bit.ly did a blog post on the sort of questions she asked when she was recruiting data scientists. There was some interesting stuff there, and since then, other people have done similar things via LinkedIn, for example.

One of the ones Hilary raised went along the lines of “Well look, you know a bit about our data now, so, what would you do with it that we aren’t doing at the moment”.

I liked that question a lot and have been thinking about it since, particularly with a view to the data available to other companies – not just Bit.ly – and have decided to do the occasional blog post on what I’d do with available data in different companies. Hence, there will be the odd entry which starts IIHA2YD which will cover that. I see some benefits to this – it allows you to sit down and consider what sort of data companies might truly have. And because you are looking at it from a company perspective, it’s likely to be less silo’d than if you were looking at it from the point of view of analytics in support of a particular function.

I foresee fun.