As a handmade business owner, you have about a million decisions to make when it comes to how you’re going to run your business. One of the first is to decide what platform you’ll be selling on. Two of the most popular options for handmade business owners looking to start a website are Etsy and Shopify. Both platforms have pros and cons, making it hard to decide which one is best. Today, we’ll look at the differences between Etsy and Shopify, and help you make an decision about which platform is the right fit for your specific business.
What is Etsy?
Etsy is an online marketplace where sellers can sell handmade products, vintage, or supplies. They have grown quickly as a platform and have over 90 million buyers annually, making it a top option for many sellers looking to start a business.
What is Shopify?
Unlike Etsy, Shopify isn’t a marketplace. Instead, it’s more of a website builder that gives you your own URL to send your customers too. Shopify is definitely the gold-standard for product based business owners looking to have their own website.
Pros and Cons of selling on Etsy
Built in customers
With over 90 million buyers in 2022, there no easier way to get traffic quickly to your products. Etsy buyers often come to the platform to purchase a product that is meaningful, custom, or personalized. And they are searching for every type of product you can imagine.
In addition to bringing millions of buyers to the platform to shop each year, Etsy has some of the lowest fees for any platform. There are no monthly fees required and most sellers pay less than 10% per sale for transaction and processing fees. When you compare the fee percentage to the thousands of customers Etsy can bring you each year, it’s easily apparent that selling on Etsy is a bargain compared to a platform like Amazon where fees are much higher or Shopify where monthly fees can add up quickly. Want to learn more about Etsy fees? Read all about them in the Etsy Handbook here.
Easy set up
You can set up your Etsy shop and create your first listing in less than an hour. The set up process could not be easier. This is great for sellers who don’t have a lot of time or don’t want to spend a lot of time on the tech aspects of their website.
Unfortunately, on Etsy you aren’t able to customize your shop beyond the basic graphics including your shop banner and icon. You can certainly elevate your branding with gorgeous listing photos to make up for the lack of branding customization.
You also aren’t able to customize your listing formatting. For example, you can only have 2 variations on Etsy and can only have 10 photos and one 15 second video.
Another disadvantage of selling on Etsy is the limited control over the platform. As a seller, you are subject to Etsy’s policies and guidelines, which can change from time to time. You also aren’t allowed to sell any product you want on Etsy. Each listing to be handmade, vintage, or a supply.
Pros and Cons of selling on Shopify
One of the most significant advantages of Shopify is the customizable templates. The platform offers hundreds of templates that can be customized to fit your brand and style. This allows businesses to create a unique online store that stands out from the competition. Changing the look of your website dramatically can be fairly simple if you know what you want.
There’s an app for that
If you want do something special on your website like track inventory, add pop ups, create complex listings with multiple variations, add a password protected page for selling wholesale, or create an affiliate program there’s an app on Shopify that can help you with that. Most of these apps aren’t free though, so you’ll want to prioritize your expenses.
Shopify has multiple plans, the least expensive of which starts at $29. This is often very affordable for established businesses, but if you’re new to selling online the monthly fees can be a barrier.
You need to send all of your own traffic
Shopify isn’t a platform that sends customers to you, so you need to send all of your own traffic through marketing, ads, or Google search. This can often be much, much slower than getting traffic from Etsy unless you already have a large audience to send to your listings.
Plan to spend more time getting started
With more customization options comes a lot more set up time. Making a gorgeous website on Shopify can be frustrating when you can customize literally everything. You’ll also want to remember that the choices you make have a direct effect on your website’s conversion rate (how many sales you get per 100 visitors). Mismatched colors and fonts, difficult to navigate menus, and unsearchable collections can cause visitors to leave without purchasing.
Which platform is better for a handmade business?
There is, of course, no cut and dry answer to this question because every business is different. If you are an already established with a big audience who can easily afford monthly fees, ads, to hire a website designer, Shopify can often be the right answer for you.
If you don’t have a social media audience or email list or if you don’t have a lot of extra time or tech experience, Etsy is probably the best option for you. It’s cheap, easy to set up, and can get you traffic easily.
Want help setting up your Etsy shop and earning consistent revenue? Join me inside of The Seller Collective to get help with everything from setting up your Etsy shop to getting traffic from Etsy search. Learn more here.