Choosing a home for your handmade business is a tough decision. But if we’re going to put in the time to get our SEO, product descriptions, and photographs right, it’s important that we’re doing it on the right platform. But how do you choose? For this article, I’m comparing the Etsy marketplace to Shopify as a webstore and exploring which platform is best for your handmade biz.
Marketplace vs Webstore
To truly understand the Etsy vs. Shopify debate, you have to understand the main difference between these platforms. Etsy is a marketplace. A marketplace is an online destination where the product information is provided for multiple sellers. The marketplace model is popular – think Amazon and eBay – and one of the biggest perks is that payment and site infrastructure is handled by the owner of the marketplace. In the case of Etsy, their marketplace focuses on the handmade and vintage niche, so those customers can go to one place to find gifts or craft products from many different shops.
By contrast, Shopify is a webstore. Webstores are online ecommerce locations, specifically designed to help business owners market their product without having to build a website from scratch. Along with Shopify, other webstore services you might have heard of include Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly. Webstore providers offer hosting services, design features, payment processing, and typically have integrations for other services like shipping and blogging. You get your own URL for your very own site and plenty of freedom for customization.
Etsy vs Shopify: Exposure
One of the greatest perks to a marketplace is the opportunity for exposure. As a marketplace, it has it’s own search functions, making it easy for your shop/product to get found. Unless you have amazing brand recognition and your customers already to know visit your website, driving traffic to your webstore can be an arduous task. Proper marketing and constant calls to action are crucial to make your webstore successful.
Etsy vs Shopify: Product Selection
The Etsy marketplace focuses specifically on handmade and vintage product. If what you offer falls into those categories, it could be the perfect place for you. I have to note that Etsy has gotten watered down with the amount of mass manufactured product that has been added to the site in recent years. While handmade reins supreme, be ready to compete with shops offering low cost but poorly made alternatives to your goods.
As a webstore, the possibilities for Shopify are unlimited. If it’s a product or service, you can sell it on their platform. There’s no competition with other products and you can customize the look and feel of the site to match your product.
Etsy vs Shopify: Design Control
Etsy itself is a brand, and that’s evident across their marketplace. While they have nearly 2 million sellers on their platform, each shops looks very similar. The design style of the site is consistent and sellers get little say in the actual look of their store’s navigation. I will say that the seller tools have gotten better over the years – there are a few more fields that you can edit to improve your SEO. But when it comes to the actual design of your site, you’re pretty limited.
Shopify, however, is a novice web designer’s paradise. Sellers get to choose from hundreds of free and paid templates, navigation menus and brand elements when setting up their sites. I’ve had fun tweaking my site over the last two years, adjusting fonts and placement of different elements of the pages. I feel like I finally have a site that meets all of my needs while still being clean and easy to use. Check out my Shopify site here: www.tlyarncrafts.com.
Etsy vs Shopify: Pricing and Fees
When choosing between a marketplace and a webstore, the costs of doing business is often the deciding factor. Here’s the breakdown:
- Listing Fee, $0.20 – charged each time you create an item or renew an item. Items must be renewed at least every 4 months to stay active. It is good practice to renew items regularly to improve their SEO, but it costs $0.20 each time.
- Transaction Fee, 3.5% of sale – goes to Etsy as a fee for selling on their platform.
- Payment Processing Fee (a.k.a. Etsy Payments), 3% + $0.25 for U.S. sellers.
- Basic Plan, $29/month – includes webstore, 24/7 support, shipping labels, and basic blogging
- Shopify Plan, $79/month – includes all the perks of the Basic Plan, plus gift cards, abandoned cart recovery, and detailed reports.
- Advanced Plan, $299/month – includes all the perks of the Shopify Plan, plus calculated shipping rates and more advanced reports.
While Etsy does not charge a monthly fee for having a shop, the incremental fees add up over time, especially as your shop gets more successful. According to this article, Etsy becomes more expensive than the $79 Shopify plan once you hit $2,260 worth of sales monthly (not including payment processing fees and the $0.20 Etsy listing fee.
And the winner is…
Both Shopify and Etsy. It’s tough to pick a winner here since the services offered are so different. In my experience, Etsy is a great place to start your handmade biz, but it should always be your ambition to eventually move to your website. If you’re too nervous to strike out on your own, Pattern by Etsy is Etsy’s solution for a webstore with your own URL that imports product from your website. I tried Pattern myself and found it was still a bit restrictive in the design department. Currently, I offer product via Etsy and my Shopify webstore, TLYarnCrafts.com. Selling on both platforms is great for me – customers can find me easily on Etsy while I get the freedom to showcase TLYC’s personal brand on my webstore.
Ultimately, every handmade biz has to decide what works best for them. Do you have a handmade business? If so, what platform do you sell on? And what are some pros/cons that you’ve experience? Put your answers below in the comments!