Shopify vs Etsy, two of the best eCommerce platforms in the market often have new online sellers/businesses confused – Should you choose Shopify and create your own store or get listed on Etsy to sell products. It’s a long unending debate but in this article, we’ll put an end to this debate.
Shopify is an eCommerce website-building platform where you create your own store and sell your products. Etsy on the other hand is a marketplace like Amazon that lets you list and sell your products. You can also create your separate website using the Etsy pattern. Both online channels help reach potential customers but the underlying methods are different.
Let’s get started.
Overview: Shopify vs Etsy
Shopify is an e-commerce website builder founded in 2004. The platform was developed to allow creative people to become entrepreneurs to create their online storefronts. It is totally up to you how you want to design your store. Shopify has tons of tools that help display the products, define the brand, and promote the products.
Plus, Shopify has many integrations that can further develop your store’s functionality and collaborate with different software. It is suitable for large as well as small businesses. It already has 1M+ entrepreneurs and has processed over $82 billion in transactions.
Shopify has permanently captured its place in the market and taken the world by storm. Well, it’s not surprising as they make it so easy to create an online store and give the infant entrepreneurs a chance to compete against the ”big boy” brands.
Etsy is a platform for the artistic souls, a marketplace for independent crafts and handmade products, and those who like to collect vintage items. It allows you to promote and sell vintage items and handcrafted products alongside many other artisans.
It has 2M+ users who sell to 60M+ buyers and gets a monthly average user traffic of over 350 million. Etsy rules the party when it comes to handmade items in the marketplace. Although it invites sellers of any size, it is best suited for small manufacturers with limited stock.
One thing to keep in mind is that Etsy is exclusively for handcrafted items and unique vintage products. So, if you are not thinking of following this line, you need to search for some marketplace alternatives for Etsy.
Etsy vs Shopify: Pros and Cons
Like every other website, Shopify and Etsy have also got some pros and cons of their own. But this does not mean that one website is better than the other, but rather a more detailed description of what each platform entails so that it is easier for you to choose what suits you the most.
Shopify: Pros and Cons
|Robust Ecommerce features – One of the best eCommerce builders with tons of toolsets including inventory and order management.||No Initial Exposure – It takes months of SEO and marketing work to establish a customer base if starting from scratch. With higher competition, getting found becomes tougher.|
|Complete Control – A user has total control of the store, its design elements, UI, UX, and more.||Limited Gateways – Shopify lets you use its own payment gateway, Stripe. If chosen otherwise, there’s a charge on each transaction.|
|Expandable – Suitable for all sizes of businesses. Sits quite well with small stores having near future expansion plans.||Additional Cost – To make use of additional features, 3rd party apps are available on the App market. But that comes with extra cost, taking total expenses a notch higher.|
|Unlimited Listings – A store can list as many products as they want based on their plans and sell them.||Poor SEO Support – No option to change the URL structure|
Etsy: Pros and Cons
|Immediate Exposure – With an active buyer base of 81+ million, the chances of gaining traction are almost immediate.||Limited Control – Unlike Shopify, you have limited control over the design and your brand in Etsy.|
|Ease of Use – It is a prebuilt store so all you have to do is list your products, and price, and get selling.||No Data Control – No control over customer information or data. Etsy owns everything from your store to customer data.|
|Highly Affordable – Affordable for stores just starting out and tight on budget.||A Little Expensive – Listing and pricing fees are not very pocket-friendly on Etsy but are not too pricy either.|
|Trustworthy – People trust Etsy, and so, in return, they will no doubt your product’s trustworthiness.||Not So Diverse – The major drawback is that only handcrafted and vintage items are sold here. So only people with creative minds and likes for vintage products can use this platform.|
|Huge Userbase – A huge market of 350m+ users is a big market to a greater demographic, hard to ignore.||High Competition – While the customer traffic is huge, over 2M sellers are waiting to snatch away the same customers from you.|
Before going any further, let’s have a look at one more important feature of Etsy.
Pattern by Etsy
Apart from creating and listing products on the marketplace, Etsy also has an e-commerce platform known as Pattern by Etsy. This means that creators of handcrafted items can sell their products in the marketplace and set up an independent storefront of their own with the help of Etsy Pattern. It is free for the initial 15 days, but then $15 per month must be paid.
Etsy’s Pattern is an additional element developed for those already using it as a platform for selling. It is not as customizable and sophisticated as Shopify, but there are fewer restrictions here as compared to the Etsy marketplace, such as:
- You can sell anything you want to and not just handcraft or vintage items.
- There is the sole ownership of the brand and store.
- Full ownership of the customer data.
To create an Etsy pattern store, you need to have one seller account on the Etsy marketplace and have at least one product listed before you go for Pattern.
Shopify v/s Etsy: Ease of Use
If you think you have to be tech-savvy to run an online store, well, this is not the case with Shopify or Etsy.
Shopify’s interface is designed to provide you with simple and convenient tools to build your storefront as easily as possible. Ecommerce platforms often have a complex set of tools to work with, and because of this, they struggle with attracting users. But Shopify leads through all of them and makes it an enjoyable and convenient journey for sellers.
You can access your account information from the dashboard itself. The menu on the left corner shows you all the areas you would want to access, such as products, orders, customer data, analytics, sales, etc.
Other advanced features such as email marketing integration, tools for inventory management, and other valuable reporting tools create a deeper learning curve.
On the other hand, Etsy is simple, straightforward, and easy to use.
All you have to do is first set up an account, then choose a name for your store, stock all the products, and at last enter your account details so you can get paid and set up billing. There is easy guidance provided at every step, and you won’t have any problem completing any step.
Etsy’s dashboard provides you with similar information as that of Shopify. List of the products, customer statistics, and order details. While Shopify has some advanced features, on Etsy, what you see is offered to you. It is as simple as that.
Ease of Use: Verdict
We can say it is a draw. Shopify has some advanced features to work on, but being an online store-creating platform is convenient. Etsy, on the other hand, is very simple and straightforward and remains the same throughout.
Shopify v/s Etsy: Pricing
When choosing a plan, you need to be very careful about it. You don’t want to choose a plan in which you require any more features in the future, and you also would not like to waste your money on tools you will not use in the near time. And don’t forget about the monthly subscription fee you will be charged for.
- Shopify Lite at $9/month: In this plan, sales can be processed through the same website or Facebook. For each transaction, 2.9% is taken by Shopify along with another $0.30.
- Shopify Basic at $29/month: A website of Shopify and the transaction fees same as of Shopify Lite. In this plan, users can also benefit from the provided two employee accounts and can also use the discount codes.
- Shopify a $79/month: There is a drop in the transaction fees in this plan which is 2.6% and $0.30/transaction. Get all the features of basic Shopify and accounts for five employees plus gift cards.
- Advanced Shopify a $299/month: Transaction fees are reduced to 2.4%, along with $0.30 for every transaction. You also get accounts for fifteen employees plus advanced reporting options to level up your sales performance.
- Shopify Plus: This is for sellers with a high volume of sales and a huge amount of transactions in a minute. The fees and all other associated costs are flexible and vary from seller to seller and his needs.
Etsy has the same transaction fee for every plan: 5%/transaction along with a $0.25 processing payment with an additional commission of 3%. The commission will be charged from 12% to 15% for sales generated from Etsy’s offsite ads.
- Etsy Standard: No additional cost except for transaction, listing, and advertising cost, which is there for every plan.
- Etsy Plus at $10/month: A monthly budget of credits for ads and listings, discount for your Etsy shop, customization option for your shop, and discounts on other customization options are included in this plan.
- Etsy Pattern at $15/month: Along with an Etsy storefront where you list your products and sell them. This feature allows you to create and build your brand and store and take ownership of it.
Although Etsy is winning the game with transaction fees and costs, for the features Shopify offers you being an e-commerce platform, the prices are still quite reasonable.
Shopify v/s Etsy: Audience and Traffic Source
As a beginner starting their store in Shopify, one of the main problems you will face is attracting your store’s audience. This can take up a lot of time and can be done in a lot of ways.
Google ads, Social Media, or optimizing your site (SEO) to take advantage of free Google traffic can help bring traffic to your store. Shopify has many tools and guides, such as email marketing, through which you can get started on your store. It is not easy to achieve that, but once you get a hold of it, the growth will be limitless.
Etsy shines a spotlight on your store with approx. 33M buyers interested in handcrafted items and vintage products. As soon as you are finished listing all your products, you are all set to attract your store’s buyers. This is a major advantage of Etsy over Shopify.
Although you get customers lined up, you don’t need to get their attention. Etsy has over 50M products and hundreds of sellers, so drawing the attention of buyers can be a bit difficult with limited customization options.
If you are a first-time seller and have no to little experience selling online, I would recommend you first try your luck with Etsy and try out your products. Once you feel confident enough and get a knack for online selling, then you can try Shopify and build your store.
Shopify v/s Etsy: Integration with Other Software
Ecommerce platforms cannot provide you with everything. So, while working on one, it is not surprising that you would require a third-party app, plug-in, or integration for the capabilities you need.
Shopify operates on a large-scale platform and has a robust app store in which it has over 4000 its own and other third-party options available. Choose from over 1793 apps to help you design your store and others to help you with email marketing, finances, reporting, orders, inventory turnover, etc.
One more advantage is that you can search for all the apps available with a plan before you finalize with any one of them.
The major strength of Etsy is that it is simple and straightforward to provide an easy learning curve. This also indicates that you will need extra third-party apps to achieve what is your mission.
Just like Shopify has Shopify POS for in-person sales, Etsy requires you to have Square in conjunction with it to customize and do the same thing.
But one very annoying thing about Etsy is that it asks you to create and build your storefront using Etsy Pattern before allowing access to the integrations and available apps. If you don’t want to access them but just look at what apps are offered on Etsy, you can search them on the internet.
Shopify is the clear winner in terms of app integration. The apps available there, along with their wide-range capabilities, is far more useful than Etsy.
Brand Exposure and Customer Trust
Shopify lets you build your store however you like with its elegant themes and customizations compared to Etsy. It also has the biggest store for third-party apps to meet your needs.
Although Shopify has a ”no darling” approach and is still young when it comes to recognition, the rise in the e-commerce industry has led many small entrepreneurs to fulfill their dreams.
Shopify can benefit from the e-commerce revolution and help many businesses sell online without them having to do any expenses on software development from scratch.
Shopify is also gaining customer trust now that it is being recognized on a global platform.
Many people knew of Etsy before and now also do. If someone is thinking of a handmade gift or a vintage item to gift someone, Etsy automatically comes to mind. As a result, Etsy has a good brand reputation, and someone thinking of selling online for the first time can surely benefit from this brand recognition.
The catch here is, that Etsy has millions of products listed and thousands of users selling the same category of items. Attracting traffic to your store can be a tedious task and can take up some time. The algorithm of Etsy is designed in a way that prioritizes the older products/stores.
This platform is not to build your brand but a platform for early exposure for your brand, which you will most likely get here and test your products.
Etsy has solid customer trust because people know it for a very long time. There is a point to be noted that you need to compete with many other products listed and many competitors, which is not an easy task.
On the other hand, Shopify has a disadvantage over Etsy regarding customer trust and traffic on your store. But once you get the audience’s attention, then not only your products get noticed, but your whole brand gets that attention which is important if you want to start your online store.
Shopify v/s Etsy: Selling
Selling on Etsy and Shopify is very thrilling and dynamic. In recent years, Etsy has partnered with social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google to promote your products. Shopify has been doing it for a very long time. The advantages are:
- There is no upfront cost, and you have to pay only for advertising and transactions. Say if you get 150 clicks on your store but did not make any sale, you will not have to pay a single penny.
- The more clicks you get on your store, the more chances you get a sale from those same customers. You will only pay when you make a real transaction of sale.
You can simply opt-in or out from Etsy if you have sales of $10,000 per year. Any other seller with more sales than $10,000 is enrolled automatically from the Etsy ads on different social media sites.
Shopify allows you to sell on these platforms and advertise your products. Still, you can simply opt-out of them whenever you like without any conditions.
Both platforms have varied opportunities and vast reach to attract new customers. Still, Shopify is very flexible, and you can sell and promote your products on different social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google, and even Etsy.
Shopify v/s Etsy: Help and Support
Although both the platforms are very user-friendly, support is needed somewhere down the line. Let us compare both Etsy and Shopify to see what kind of support system they have.
Shopify has a 24/7 live chat and phone support option. So, if you face any issue in the middle of the night, you can give customer support a call anytime you want. They also answer your queries through their media profiles, online forums, and video tutorials, which is very convenient for first-time sellers facing issues that need to be addressed face to face.
If you take up a more expensive plan, you get access to support from the advanced specialist, which is relevant for larger enterprises. The help center has many guides and articles that list all the common problems and their solutions to access from the Shopify editor.
Etsy also has a laid-out help center. The search bar is there, which you can use to search for any query that you have, and a forum to discuss with the community and ask questions. You can even directly email them or schedule a call with their support staff.
While Etsy also has a clear and defined support system and is user-friendly, Shopify has immediate support 24/7. You can even connect with a live advisor on video support almost in an instant. So, Shopify wins the round.
Shopify v/s Etsy: Which One to Choose?
Let us take a quick recap of what we have discussed so far:
- Etsy is an online marketplace for artistic people producing handcrafted products and selling vintage items. At the same time, Shopify is an online store website developer that is relevant and suitable for any “business or industry of any size.
- Etsy has over 33 million customers, which all the sellers take advantage of, while Shopify vendors have to build their brand and attract customers on their own.
- While Etsy doesn’t have any monthly cost, Shopify becomes very cost-effective once more monthly income starts generated.
- Shopify has more advanced and versatile features.
- Shopify is more customizable and has its own Shopify store to use third-party applications to let sellers design their brand.
- Shopify has a more advanced support system of 24/7 hours than Etsy, which is less flexible.
- There are more payment options to choose from in Shopify.
- Shopify gives you the ownership of your store, whereas Etsy only gives you the freedom to sell your products.
- Shopify lets you use your brand domain, whereas a store in Etsy is a subdomain of Etsy.
If you are just comparing and counting the functions, Shopify wins the debate. It is more scalable and is right for you if your business is growing or if you are a large enterprise. But, not everyone can spend nearly $100 every month for a business they are just starting. To top it off, if you want to start small and just want to try out your products how they do in the market, then maybe Etsy is the choice for you.
Overall, Shopify emerges as the winner since its scalable for every business size. With loads of features and extreme customization compared to Etsy, gives Shopify an edge, hence making it an ideal choice.