Shopify vs Etsy: Which is the best for your business?

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Have a product you want to start selling online, but not sure where to get started?

The first step is finding a way to sell those products virtually. There are quite a few options out there.

Two of those are Shopify and Etsy. Here we will cover everything you need to know about Shopify vs. Etsy, and which is the best choice for you!

Shopify vs Etsy: Which should you use to sell online?

One of the biggest decisions you have to make as an online small business owner is where to house your products. This can dictate your success, and needs to be thought out carefully to decide which is best for you. 

Etsy and Shopify are the two biggest e-commerce platforms, but they are very different.

Etsy is a great option for businesses that are just starting out and are not ready to put in a huge amount of work setting up a storefront. Shopify does take more work on the backend to set up shop, and involves bringing in your own traffic.

The biggest difference between the two is that on Shopify, you’ll be building a standalone e-commerce store that will have it’s own domain name that you can customize. Etsy, on the other hand, is a marketplace similar to Amazon where you can list your products. 

Etsy is not a full-on store, and as you are customizing your shop, you won’t have the same unlimited freedom to design it as you would with Shopify. You are limited to what Etsy has to offer. This is a big reason why the two differ.

Etsy may be the best option for beginners to gain a customer base. If you already have established best-selling products, then using Shopify can help you scale your business. You also have the option to use both platforms in tandem to best promote your products and find new audiences.

So which fits your business better? Let’s cover exactly what each entails and find out which best fits your business!

How is Etsy Different from Shopify?

Etsy is an online marketplace and Shopify is a webstore platform. What do those differences mean?

We are going to cover the main features of each platform and exactly what you need to know to best decide between the two. 

Shopify

Shopify is one of the best e-commerce platforms out there for small business owners, because it has a wide range of tools to help you create a digital storefront from the ground up. It may be a bit overwhelming at first since the number of ways you can customize your shop is expansive. 

You can choose from a large number of professional templates to build your site, and add on your own custom domain. You can set up card payments with no additional transaction fees through Shopify Payments. This is a payment processor powered by Stripe, and is easy for your buyers to use. 

There are many different tools to use beyond just customizing your storefront as well.

For example, integrating with a dropshipping app, connecting to Amazon, fulfilling orders easily, etc. It also offers tips for SEO, can integrate with your social media profiles, has a blog, and can offer customers gift cards or discounts. 

Another great tool that Shopify offers is the Shopify App Store. You can use this to search and download from thousands of apps to do things for your shop like inventory management, product reviews, and upselling. There really are more resources on Shopify than you could ever take advantage of!

Learn how to set up your own Shopify store here!

Etsy

Etsy is definitely the most well-known platform for selling handmade items. What makes it different from Shopify is that it is not ia standalone store, but instead a marketplace where sellers come to list their products. 

It is the perfect place for beginners, or those just wishing to have a business on the side, to come where they won’t have to invest a lot of time or money to sell their products. They won’t have to put work into building a shop and designing everything, as you do on Shopify. 

Instead, on Etsy it is quick and easy to open up a store and start selling almost instantly! You can still customize some of the details of the shop, but it is much quicker and takes less technical skills. 

Similar to Shopify, you are able to manage all of your product listings and orders, message back and forth with your buyers, and purchase shipping labels right through Etsy. But something that is unlike Shopify, is you are only able to take payments directly through Etsy Payments, but this accepts all major forms of payments like credit and debit card, Apple Pay and Google Pay, and PayPal.

The biggest benefit to using Etsy is not having to drive traffic to your shop on your own. You get to take advantage of the large customer base that is already on Etsy and more and more people are heading to the platform. 

It is reported that Etsy has over 90M buyers shopping on the platform. That's amazing and would be very difficult to replicate on your own!

Etsy is different, because rather than being a shop you can host completely on your own and have full customization over, it is instead a marketplace that is set up for sellers to easily come and join to start selling products immediately. 

Should You Sell on a Marketplace or Webstore?

The biggest difference between Shopify and Etsy is that one is a webstore and one is a marketplace.

Etsy, which is a marketplace, is a third-party platform that helps businesses make their products available to the digital world.

Shopify, is an online store that belongs 100% to the business owner. So which should you sell on?

Pros of Selling on a Marketplace

The first pro to selling on a marketplace like Etsy, is that it is easy to get started. Etsy knows exactly the needs that sellers have to properly list and sell their products. You don’t have to worry about purchasing a domain, a host, etc. 

As mentioned already, you also have a built-in customer base by using a marketplace. Etsy has a lot of dedicated buyers that continue to return to the platform, which can include your shop as well. 

Another pro is that marketplaces have mobile apps to utilize and find your products as well. This helps expand your user base as so many people now prefer to shop on their phones, rather than sitting at a computer.

Marketplaces also have a wider range of payment methods available to buyers, which can help to reduce the rate of cart abandonment. 

Cons of Selling on a Marketplace

Selling on a marketplace has a lot of pros, but it does have a few cons as well.

The biggest con are the fees that come along with selling on Etsy. Since you are using a third-party platform, they take a portion of your profits to run their marketplace. They have fixed fees, and all of these fees can add up.

Buyers can also purchase from your shop and not fully realize who they are buying from and just associate Etsy with the purchase. This disconnects them from the actual business and rather focuses on Etsy itself. 

Pros of Selling on a Web Store

When selling on a web store, there are a lot more features than you would have on a marketplace. This means more customization of your shop, order management tools, pricing features, etc. These can all be completely managed and customized by you. 

The appearance of your store can also seem much more professional and give a great first impression to your buyers. And this is all done completely to your liking and branding!

Something that can be done differently than on Etsy is creating a customer base by utilizing email marketing.

It is easy to integrate your email marketing platform with your web store and grow relationships with your customers. This means you can upsell your products to more qualified customer groups. 

There are also less fees when you have your own web store. There is no third-party platform taking portions of your orders. The main cost you have to worry about is the store’s upkeep cost, which with Shopify entails a monthly or annual plan

Cons of Selling on a Web Store

The biggest problems with running a web store can be the amount of time and work it takes to get it started and running smoothly. For a beginner, this can be overwhelming and make them want to choose a different route. 

There is so much more to take into account that Etsy already has figured out for you and made easy, so this can be stressful for small business owners just wanting to get their product out there. 

Another con to selling on a web store would be having to bring traffic to your shop page. This means focusing on SEO, social media, etc. to bring those customers to your shop. This can also be overwhelming if you aren’t sure how to best do this. 

Although selling on a web store means more freedom, this also means more work on your end.

Is Etsy Cheaper than Shopify?

Okay, so what do the costs look like for each? Let’s cover what the fees, or cost, of each platform is to decide which platform is actually cheaper. 

Cost of Shopify

To run a store on Shopify, you have to pay a monthly subscription. This will be a flat fee to keep your shop up and running. You will also pay credit card processing fees for each sale.

You don’t need to worry about a listing fee, which means you can list an unlimited amount of products for however long you want without racking up extra money.

There are three plans you can choose from with Shopify:

  • Basic
  • Shopify
  • Advanced

Basic is $29/month plus 2.9% + 30 cents for online credit card sales, 2.7% for in person sales or 2% for other payment processors. This plan is best for those just starting out and still trying to build their business. 

The Shopify plan is $79/month plus 2.6% + 30 cents for credit card sales, 2.5% for in person, and 1% for other payment processors. This plan is better for larger and more established businesses that want some more detailed reports and smaller fees.

The Advanced Shopify plan is $299/month plus 2.4% for credit card sales, 2.4% for in-person sales, and .5% for other payment processors. This is definitely for large businesses that need higher shipping discounts and very detailed reports. 

Each plan also receives shipping discounts, but with each plan the discount gets higher. 

The great thing about Shopify is you can try it out for free for 2 weeks to decide if you like the platform and want to continue using it. 

Cost of Etsy

The standard plan for having an Etsy shop is completely free.

They do offer a Plus Plan for $10 per month. This plan includes a monthly budget of credits for listings and Ads, a discount on a custom web address, restock requests, advanced ways to customize your shop, and discounts on custom packaging. 

Whichever plan you choose though, you will pay three different fees on Etsy. A listing fee that costs $.20 per item. These last for four months or until the item sells out. 

A transaction fee is 6.5% per transaction on Etsy. The third fee is a payment processing fee of 3% + 25 cents.

The listing fees are inexpensive, but it’s additional fees could outweigh the fees on Shopify.

Depending on your products and sales, you may actually end up spending more for your Etsy shop than you would on a Shopify subscription.

So the answer to the question is, it depends!

Cost of Marketing

Etsy sellers benefit from the 90M+ buyers on the platform. Shopify sellers must bring their own leads to their shop. The expense of bringing your own leads can be in the thousands through Facebook and Instagram ads (or just your time promoting on social depending on the size of your shop).

Marketing cost on Etsy is paid either through paid ads or through fees. Shopify marketing costs can vary but since customers are responsible for driving leads – this might actually be more expensive than using Etsy.

Can I Put my Shopify Store on Etsy?

Yes, you can put the link to your Shopify store on your Etsy page.

This is as long as you are not encouraging your customers to purchase your items there rather than purchasing on Etsy.

This would be against Etsy’s terms and conditions. They want to keep their customers on their platform. But it is okay to have links to your website or social media platforms. 

You can also integrate your Shopify store with your Etsy shop.

Why would you want to do this?

Reasons for integrating your Shopify and Etsy stores are to:

  • Manage inventory
  • Manage shipping information
  • Track financial information for your business in one place
  • Migrate products from your Etsy shop to Shopify or vice versa

You can find more information on integrating Shopify with Etsy here.

Why are Etsy Sellers Leaving for Shopify?

Etsy fees and rules can be frustrating to some sellers especially if they have built their own audience and no longer need Etsy to bring traffic.

With 90M buyers, Etsy can bring lots of traffic to your shop and that is something that can be a huge boost to any seller though. The fees help pay for that marketing exposure which many sellers may undervalue.

Some sellers are turning to Shopify to cut out the middleman and put more money into their pocket (they think). Yes, they still have to pay a monthly subscription, but this is a flat fee that they can be prepared for, rather than getting something subtracted from each sale. 

Sellers should do the math though when considering this move from Etsy to Shopify!

Marketing leads must come from somewhere and many Shopify sellers are investing in paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram which also is expensive.

That fee can be unexpected and some companies can spend thousands of dollars trying to bring the same level of traffic that Etsy can bring for just the transaction fees. Businesses run on leads and the lead acquisition cost must come from somewhere!

Another reason that sellers are leaving Etsy is simply having something that is your own. They want something not associated with another platform. Shopify gives you complete control by having your own domain, your own design, and much more freedom. 

Sellers are moving to Shopify for these reasons. This does mean more work, and for many more money, but for some this is worth it.

Etsy vs Shopify for Artists

What about artists? Which platform is best for these sellers to best display their work and bring in sales?

There are pros and cons for both platforms of course. 

On Etsy, artists are able to get their artwork in front of a large audience. They are already going to Etsy for unique and high-quality products. This takes away some of the work away from marketing and driving traffic their way more easily. 

There is a wide range of artwork already on the platform so there are many buyers that know to check Etsy for their art needs.

A downfall of using Etsy as an artist, is it may not be where the high-paying buyers are looking for artwork.

Many buyers on Etsy may shy away from the high price of original artwork. So you may see less sales in your shop. 

On Shopify, you are able to build a higher quality brand for yourself.

Fully customize your whole website and shop page to attract those buyers that are looking for artwork like your own. Being an artist, you want your branding to draw attention to your artwork. With Etsy you may not have the opportunity. 

The downfall of Shopify would be having to do the marketing and SEO to bring in that traffic to your products.

You would need to find ways to get eyes on your website and this can often be difficult. But having the freedom to run the page and make it your own is worth it. 

Is it Worth Having Etsy and Shopify?

Okay, so why not have both of these platforms? That’s definitely an option! Yes, it will be more expensive, but it may in turn result in more sales and income for your business. 

You can even try out having both and do the work to bring in sales for each. If one is doing better than the other then you can cut one out. 

It really depends on which platform you enjoy and prefer to work with as well, and if one is best for you and how you work, then choose that! Either platform can help you to get your products out into the world and start bringing in an income!

Etsy shops can be ported over to Shopify in one click fairly easily if sellers want to sell on both!

Shopify vs Etsy: Final Thoughts

Hopefully our in-depth discussion between these two e-commerce platforms has helped you to decide which may fit your business better, if not both! But if not, be sure to take time to try out each and see if one better fits your products and how you want to run your business.

Don’t be afraid to get started selling your products in the digital world today!

Want to learn how to make printables to sell on Etsy? Check out our E-Printables course!

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Katrina Waardenburg

Katrina Waardenburg

Katrina is an Etsy seller and content writer who was formerly a teacher. In her own words, "Being a mom of two girls, I work hard at growing this business and helping others grow as well so I can provide for my little family.”
Katrina Waardenburg

Katrina Waardenburg

Katrina is an Etsy seller and content writer who was formerly a teacher. In her own words, "Being a mom of two girls, I work hard at growing this business and helping others grow as well so I can provide for my little family.”

Learn how to start a business selling printables on Etsy!

Meet Julie & Cody

Julie Berninger and Cody Berman of Gold City Ventures have made thousands selling printables in digital downloads in their Etsy shops and on Shopify. They help others start printable businesses with their programs and templates.

Learn how to start a business selling printables on Etsy!

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