In this day and age, any reasonable person would use the power of the internet to sell their products online, whether through an online marketplace or an online store.
And whether you’re a small business owner looking to grow your brand, an individual looking to sell your products, or a big agency that wants to establish an online presence, you could definitely make use of Etsy or Shopify.
Etsy is more like a marketplace where you’re presenting your products side-by-side with other competitors on the same platform, while Shopify is an eCommerce platform where you build your own brand and work on its individuality.
Each of them comes with its own set of features, advantages, and of course, drawbacks. But which one is the right one for you? Let’s find out in this Shopify vs Etsy comparison.
Shopify or Etsy?
If you have a lot of inventory to spare, many products to sell, and want to customize your online store to bring out your personality, you should opt for Shopify. As long as your products are not crafts, art, or vintage, that is.
On the other hand, if you’re on a relatively small budget, aren’t concerned with customizability, and want to benefit from a large influx of traffic to sell your crafts or art, you should definitely opt for Etsy.
Shopify vs Etsy: Which Software Suits Whom
If you use Shopify, you’ll be utilizing a robust eCommerce platform to grow your small to midsize business. It serves many purposes, including doing cash or check in-person sales thanks to its point of sale (POS) system, which easily integrates Shopify payments.
It’s an excellent platform for starting a small business and gradually growing it into a larger one with hundreds or even thousands of transactions per minute.
Alternatively, an Etsy shop is the ideal platform for selling handmade crafts. It’s pretty much an online marketplace where you have the ability to work with third-party manufacturers and fulfillment providers.
But you should keep in mind that despite the functionalities that have been added since its founding in 2005, Etsy is still only suitable for relatively small operations. So, it’s the best method to get started, but not ideal for steady and long term growth.
Shopify vs Etsy: Comparison
Ease of Use
Both Shopify and Etsy provide you with an intuitive interface and straightforward experience. Shopify’s toolset facilitates designing and maintaining your store, making it as smooth as a hot knife through butter.
Shopify also guides you through the process of setting up your online store through action buttons, menus, inventory syncing, and order tracking.
Etsy, on the other hand, is less in-depth than Spotify. All you have to do is sign up and upload your products with their information, and you’re good to go. It’s worth mentioning, however, that to set up an Etsy shop, you must upload a minimum of one product during the signup process.
Though this could consume some time and requires a lot of info, it’s possible to apply the details to other products. You’ll also have to set up your shipping process, which you’ll be using recurrently down the line.
With all that on the table, setting up an Etsy shop is still less time-consuming than setting up a Shopify store. This is because Shopify has a wider variety of features, and the brunt of customization is left to you.
So, if you’re looking for the fastest and easiest way to sell your products online, I’d definitely recommend using Etsy.
Design Flexibility and Customization
What you have to sell and your content are what compels the online shopper to stay, but without the proper web design and user interface, they might be turned away faster than to check either of those aspects out. That’s why design and customization are super important.
Shopify gives you a huge range of customizability. The options are pretty much endless. It gives you access to the backend of your website, where you’ll find over 60 themes to choose from.
Ten are free, whereas you have to pay for the other fifty, which are industry-customized. Some templates come with zoom-in features, which is ideal for those who are selling clothing or furniture on their Shopify store.
Once you’ve selected a theme, you can edit, rearrange, and personalize it according to your very own style and unique brand. However, I’d advise you not to go all out on customization if you’re not much of a designer as it may throw off the final design.
On the other end of the spectrum, Etsy allows you to upload your own logo, and that’s pretty much it. If you have no experience or curiosity whatsoever when it comes to design, this is a huge advantage.
However, if you’re an entrepreneur that’s looking to build a brand, it’s more of a drawback as it leaves you no room to stand out. So, if you have a vision regarding the design of your ideal online shop, you might find this limiting.
Domain Name and URL Structure
Your Shopify store will require a home on the web, which necessitates registering and using your own domain name. Again, this is incredible for establishing your own brand. However, it does come with additional expenses related to hosting and rights to the domain.
The best policy for naming your domain would be to keep it short and snappy to make it easier for people to memorize and search for your Shopify store.
It’s quite apparent that Etsy doesn’t give you the ability to use your own domain. Instead, it integrates your store as a subdomain of the Etsy marketplace, with a URL that looks something like this: www.etsy.com/shop/’name-of-your-store’
This is pretty good for someone that merely wants to get started and wants to keep it simple. It’s also practical to use until you’re ready to run your own domain with all the business considerations you have to take into account, like transaction fees and logistics.
eCommerce Tools and Features
Renowned for the wide variety and quality of its online sales features, Shopify is the ideal choice for small businesses that want to grow a customer base and create a brand for themselves. Shopify has a great app store on which you can add a myriad of functions you need.
All the Shopify plans come with a versatile marketing and advertising toolset, like:
- Discount codes and gift cards
- Analyzing fraud
- Shopify POS (Point of sale) app
- Third-party calculated shipping costs and rates
- Free SSL certification
- Abandoned cart recovery tool
- SEO tools and analysis
- A built-in blog
- Tools for managing orders and inventory
- Guest checkouts
- Multichannel selling tools for ten different social platforms, including Pinterest
The most interesting ones are the SSL certification that signifies that your site is safe for visitors to buy from, which gives you credibility and makes your domain trustworthy in the eyes of prospects.
To provide a more accessible buying experience, you need multichannel selling, which is essential for growing your customer base.
Finally, a very essential feature is the Abandoned Cart Recovery. This one helps you entice customers that opted out of purchasing just when they were on the checkout page by providing more information and analytics regarding this issue.
The inventory system is also quite superior as it allows you to upload products in bulk or one at a time, track and manage your stock, and analyze your sales.
One of the best things about Etsy is that it combines ease of use and effective market growth. With Etsy, you get a basic tool kit that comes with everything you need to manage your Etsy shop.
You can also use “Sell on Etsy app” to manage your sales and business on the go, which is super helpful if you’re a busy person with an Etsy shop as a side hustle. With its marketing and advertising tools, you’ll increase your customer base, get found online, and gain followers.
Another great option is that Etsy allows you to use a social platform like Twitter and Instagram to share your Etsy shop. You can also increase your exposure with third-party tools like Google Shopping.
Moreover, Etsy gives you the option to create and manage coupons as well as buy and print discounted postage labels, which saves on shipping costs. With an Etsy Plus upgrade, you’ll be able to expand your toolkit to include:
- More customization options like banner templates
- Discounts on marketing materials like business cards
- Ad credits
- Receiving email alerts to notify customers when an item is back in stock
- Deals on your own web domain
When you get the paid plan by Etsy, you’ll avoid some of the drawbacks associated with selling on Etsy (more on that later). But even then, you still don’t get some tools as Etsy doesn’t offer an inventory management tool, so the brunt of shipping and fulfillment still falls on you.
In other words, Etsy leaves you with all the responsibility of logistics and of tracking and managing your entire stock.
If you want your online business to flourish, you’ll need a consistent influx of customers. This could be pretty hard with all the competition out there, and that’s why you need effective tools and strategies that work on attracting customers. So, who does this better, Shopify vs Etsy?
Shopify gives you plenty of tools to promote your online business. Since you don’t have the advantage of a pre-existing audience, you’ll have to run your own mailing lists, create your own leads, marketing campaigns, and establish a social media presence.
With Shopify, all the SEO (search engine optimization) is left to you, so the way your business grows is entirely up to you and depends on your own ability to market yourself.
This could be a great advantage if you know what you’re doing. However, if you’re new to the world of online marketing, you might face some issues. Shopify makes it easier, though, with the apps, guides, and tools that help you execute your digital marketing campaigns.
Admittedly, it’s more work than Etsy, since you have full control over both your marketing efforts and your brand. But the best part is that you aren’t a willow tree twisting to the whims of a marketplace’s algorithm.
With over 33 million buyers already in the market for handmade items and creative designs, your chances of getting more exposure and traffic are way better using Etsy vs Shopify. In terms of solely attracting customers, Etsy definitely wins.
However, there’s no way to be sure that your Etsy shop will stand out to buyers on the Etsy marketplace since the product choices are as extensive as the buyers. This means that drawing customers can be difficult, especially with what limited customizability Etsy has to offer.
Shopify gives you five plans to choose from after you’ve tried free Shopify for 14 days, which you don’t need to provide any credit card info to obtain, only your email address.
The first option is the Basic Shopify plan for $29 plus 2% transaction fees per month, the second is the Shopify plan for $79 plus 1% transaction fees per month, and the third is the Advanced Shopify plan for $299 plus 0.5% transaction fees per month.
Then, there are two more customized plans. One is the Shopify Lite plan that costs only $9 per month. The other is the Shopify Plus plan for enterprises whose costs vary according to region but are typically around $200 per month.
Etsy has the edge over Shopify when it comes to getting started as its Standard plan doesn’t have a monthly fee, as opposed to Basic Shopify. This means that you can start selling right away.
However, keep in mind that in order to sell on Etsy, fees of $0.20 per product must be paid, which covers the cost of publishing your listing, which stays active for months or until sold.
On top of that, Etsy charges a 5% transaction fee and 3% plus $0.25 as processing fees on every item that you sell. While this 5% transaction fee may not seem much for a product that costs a few dollars, it can affect your profits if you get a higher-priced order.
And although transaction fees and payment processing fees are a standard of the eCommerce industry, those imposed by Etsy are evidently higher than average.
Etsy Standard doesn’t impose a monthly fee beyond the transaction fee and payment processing cost. But it does offer you some monthly plans to increase sales or help you with some branding.
You could opt for the Etsy Plus plan, which costs $10 per month to create a budget of credits for listings and Etsy Ads, getting a custom address for your Etsy shop, more customization options for your Etsy store, and access to discounts on custom packaging as well as promotions.
Finally, for $15 per month, you can opt for the Etsy Pattern service that allows you to create an eCommerce platform using your own domain name, in addition to your Etsy storefront.
If between Shopify vs Etsy, you found you weren’t big on either platform, you might like some of the alternatives. Each platform has different alternatives as they serve different purposes. Now that we’ve cleared this let’s delve into the options.
A good place to host your website instead of Shopify would be BigCommerce. For starters, they don’t have any transaction fees beyond the payment processing ones. They also allow you to have unlimited staff accounts. But they lack an important feature -the abandoned cart recovery.
3dcart is another great choice with plenty of built-in features and provides you with over 100 payment processing options. Not to mention, it only costs $19 for the Startup Store plan, which is a lot more affordable than Shopify payments for their basic one.
However, you might need some experience editing themes with HTML or CSS, which only adds to the list of tasks you need to handle when you want to start selling on an eCommerce platform.
Finally, WooCommerce would serve you well with its open-source solution that enables you to edit the source code and customize your site in ways that Shopify can’t hold a candle to. However, being a WordPress plug-in, it only works with WordPress websites.
If you’re having trouble with Etsy imposing a payment processing and transaction fee on every item you list, you could opt for other options. One of those is Zibbet, which is a middle ground between selling in a marketplace and a self-hosted site.
Bonanza is an excellent marketplace alternative to Etsy. It has both a wide reach and the opportunity to create a stand-alone online site, giving you the best of both worlds.
Another option is IndieMade, which gives creative entrepreneurs some freedom in terms of how they sell their products. It allows you to create your own website with content like videos, blogs, audios, a calendar, or an integrated shopping cart. You can also transfer your products from Etsy, or use a specific plan to directly connect your site to your Etsy shop.
There’s also Amazon Handmade, which is a viable alternative to Etsy. However, it’s not as fast or as cheap as what you’d expect from Amazon services. It does give you added benefits like Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)m sponsored ads and more.
Shopify vs Etsy: Pros and Cons
- Robust set of eCommerce tools
- Incredibly scalable
- Allows you to sell unlimited products without restrictions
- Personal domain name
- You have to generate your own traffic and exposure
- Cost of necessary add-ons can build up
- Plenty of traffic
- Very easy to use
- Costs to get started aren’t high
- Etsy Pattern can provide you with a higher degree of customization
- Several transaction fees
- Restrictions on what products you can sell
- Doesn’t allow much branding or customization
Is It Better to Sell on Etsy or Your Own Website?
Traffic and a customer’s list are the two things you must think about when you’re asking this question. If you get a good influx of both, then you’re good to start your own website and let go of the Etsy shop.
However, if you’re in the first stages of creating a brand or still trying to get your products to be popular, an Etsy store is essential as it will provide you with plenty of traffic -which you direly need at this stage.
What Is Etsy Pattern?
Pattern is the Etsy website alternative to creating your own online store and domain name. After being aware of the fact that plenty of people with an Etsy store would like to have their own website, Lallouz -the product lead-, created the Pattern service which allows you to do just that.
In a matter of minutes, you can register a web domain from within Pattern and choose from five existing themes. Some of those themes focus on a seller’s brand and story, while others list the products for sale front-and-center.
It’s the ideal method to get the benefits of both an Etsy shop and a personal domain where you can grow your own products and business. It even shows you analytics for your Etsy shop and your website on Pattern side-by-side on the same dashboard.
Is It Safe to Sell on Etsy?
In terms of privacy and personal information, you’re 100% safe when you’re involved in Etsy selling or buying. The support is also incredibly helpful when it comes to either sellers or buyers and sides with the party that’s proven to have been wronged.
However, seeing that an Etsy shop is not your own, you’re not in total control of what happens to your products or business. Like the case with most online marketplaces, you could have your Etsy shop shut down in the blink of an eye, so you must be careful when you’re selling on one.
Does Etsy Integrate with Shopify?
Yes, you definitely can integrate both Shopify and Etsy. All you have to do is install the Etsy Marketplace Integration app in your Shopify or Shopify Plus store. Then, you can import all or desired products on Etsy. You can even customize the product info before sending it to Etsy.
Shopify vs Etsy: Final Thoughts
At first, both a Shopify vs Etsy battle may seem vague and hard to figure, but when you look into how each platform works, you’ll be able to make a choice quite easily.
Since Etsy is basically free, it would be wise to give it a go and see whether or not it suits your needs. You can also get a feel for Shopify’s platform through the 14-day free trial. But the obvious answer would lie in whether you already have a customer’s list or not.
If you don’t, you should opt for Etsy. It already comes with a customer base where people are looking for exactly what you have to offer, so you don’t need to manage marketing campaigns or anything of the sort.
On the other hand, if you’ve already got a vision for your brand and want to build your own website, making it unique to your product and what you have to offer, you should use Shopify instead.
A great route would be using Etsy as a stepping stone to get quick income, build a customer base, and build trust in your brand and product. After that, you can integrate Shopify with Etsy and get selling on both.