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When starting/running an online e-commerce business, many are confused about where to sell their products. Shopify and Etsy both allow you to sell your products, but they all come down to the type of business you have, and your future goals for your brand. If you’re already on Etsy and reading this post, you might be running your store and wondering if Shopify is the next step. My answer is, yes. I’m here to show you the pros and cons of both platforms to help you decide which platform you should sell on.
To summarize and voice my opinion, Etsy is a creative marketplace built for selling crafts, handmade and vintage items and is a great place to start a new business when you are selling on a small scale. It lists your products alongside other sellers. It’s simple to set up, but if you intend to sell your products full time, sell in-person, and grow your brand – I’d suggest switching to Shopify.
Shopify is one of the best e-commerce platforms in the world that provides you with your very own online store. When you’re shopping online, their website is probably on Shopify! Companies like Fashion Nova, Kylie Cosmetics, Gym Shark, and Pura Vida Bracelets, to name a few – all have Shopify websites for a reason. Nothing beats it (in my opinion). You can sell in multiple places, including web, mobile, social media, markets, physical stores, and manage all of your inventory/payments all in one place. Shopify is better for scaling your business and offers better e-commerce tools to grow your sales.
Even though I recommend Shopify, it all comes down to your business, budget and future goals. If you plan to stay small and not looking to have your own online store, Etsy is a great option.
Having your own website to call your own is the best feeling in business. It’s only yours and no one else. You have full control over the design, SEO, and marketing.
Many consumers want a great design when shopping for products. Sure, you can customize Etsy and include your logo, but you will not get a lot of flexibility. You can create a unique, memorable brand experience through your website.
On a Shopify website, you can change anything to fit your branding. The colours, fonts, navigation, layout, shopping experience, etc. You can add as many pages as you’d like and create unique product pages that will entice consumers to buy! They offer great themes for an affordable price if you want to start off with one of their designs.
With your website on Shopify, it displays only your products. No competitor products will pop up.. When you gain a follower on social media or gain a new email subscriber, it’s because they’re fans of your brand. They clicked on your website to view your products only, not to browse through with 20 other competitors.
If it shows that you’ve put time, money and effort into your brand – this attracts sales. It is a lot better than just uploading a few pictures on Etsy and calling it a day. Having a Shopify website helps with customer referrals, and it’s more memorable for them. There has never been a time where I remembered a company I ordered from through Etsy… to be completely honest. Not only do customers take you more seriously, but the media as well. The media only wants to promote brands on their own, not through Etsy.
If you’re not familiar with website design, it can be hard to create a Shopify store. To create a unique website, you’ll need to hire someone for help (like me!) that knows how to set up a shopping cart, how to make your site load quickly, knows how to increase your SEO and go into the back end to make some final touches. However, Shopify offers great affordable themes to get you started until you’re ready to invest in advanced website design.
Having a Shopify website means a bigger marketing plan to get people to visit your site. Your traffic depends on your brand and exposure. You’ll need an SEO strategy, social media presence, advertisements and more marketing strategies to keep the word out. It’s not as simple as searching up a product name on Etsy and seeing your brand amongst other businesses.
Shopify has over 2400 apps to choose from, which is fantastic for advancing your store. Some apps have monthly costs, which can get expensive as a small business owner. However, you don’t need these apps to have your store – only if you’re looking for advanced features.
An Etsy store can be pretty easy to set up compared to a Shopify website. There is no startup/account fee, and you upload your product content onto the platform. There’s no need to wait for a website designer & developer to bring your website to life, or any marketing preparation to be done.
Etsy attracts lots of visitor traffic per month. Since you’re selling your products on a trusted marketplace, you’re using all of Etsy’s marketing and business development to get some exposure. You just rely on Etsy’s popularity instead of getting sales.
Etsy can do whatever they want and your listings, because you don’t own your store. Let’s say Etsy ends up shutting down or go bankrupt (extreme example). Then you go down with them. All of your listings, reviews, and business growth will have been for nothing.
When you sell on Etsy, you need to follow their policy changes and new decisions. I’ve heard of popular sellers having their shops shut down and lost everything they have built. Etsy can also decide to change their search algorithms, and you may lose most of your traffic and sales.
Have you ever been to an online store, and their outdated design made you click out? When you use Etsy, you’re pretty limited on how your shop will look. It can be challenging to grow your brand and make it stand out from your competitors, as everyone’s page looks the same except for the logo and product images. You can’t market your brand with email list signups, call to actions, and have visitors learn to trust your company with other pages and a blog. The only way to stand out from competitors on Etsy would be your product photographs. If you decide to get Pattern by Etsy, this is an additional $15/month, and it looks like a cookie-cutter website with limited design options and features.
There are so many times that I found a product on Instagram from an Etsy shop that I wanted to buy. I clicked to buy the product, see their competitor’s advertisement right next to it, and purchase it from someone else. Let’s say you tried hard to get customers to buy your product, only to have them turn elsewhere for a better price or product. It can be frustrating! When you visit a website, you stay only on that website. But vising an Etsy store, you can quickly go to another online shop with related products. It seems they are also biased by showing top sellers and not paying attention to the smaller businesses just starting off, in my opinion.
People head to Etsy because they’re a fan of Etsy, not your brand. They may choose who has the lowest price, free delivery, etc.
Email marketing is the best way to market as an e-commerce business, and you’re unable to have a signup form in your Etsy shop. You’re missing out on so many potential customers!
Pricing is usually the most significant factor for people wanting to open an online shop. If you don’t have a big budget, you may not have a choice to choose.
Etsy has no monthly fees, but you are paying for listing fees, transaction fees and payment processing charges for every product. Many of my clients have come to me for a Shopify website after watching their Etsy fees increase. You pay a $0.20 listing fee, plus a 5% transaction fee on items you sell through Etsy. There’s also a payment processing fee, but this is the same fee for most platforms. The listing fee and transaction can start to be expensive when your sales are increasing. To add Pattern by Etsy, that is an additional $15/month, but it’s limited on the design and features.
Shopify has a monthly fee, but you get what you pay for. It’s going to be more beneficial for you to be selling on their platform with their great e-commerce tools and app store. You get great value for your money because of all of the features and scalability. Their basic plan starts at $29/month, which is perfect for those just starting; it gives you everything you need to set up. More advanced plans are $79/month & $299/month.
In summary, Etsy is the cheaper option, but Shopify offers you so many features starting at only $29/month, and you get everything you need that it’s worth the cost. If you’re just getting starting and finding the confidence to sell your products, Etsy is great to start! However, once you had more products and sell more, Shopify will be more cost-effective for you.
I hope this post has helped you understand the differences between both platforms, but ultimately, your decision where to sell. Also, who says you can’t have both? I had a client reach out to me for a website alongside her famous Etsy shop, and she still keeps both. You can add Shopify and Etsy together for an additional $60/month!
Same with me, I sell my website templates on my website and on Creative Market (similar to Etsy but for designers) to reach audiences that I can’t do with my website.
Starting a business and need your products up and ready to sell quickly? Click here to sign up for Etsy.
Want to try out Shopify to grow your business or sell products that are not handmade or crafts? Click here to try it out with their free trial. I also offer Shopify Website Design if you’re interested in working together to build your dream online store!