Choosing the Best Platform for Your Print on Demand Business

Choosing the Best Platform for Your Print on Demand Business

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Understanding Print on Demand and Etsy
  3. Choosing Between Shopify and Etsy
  4. The Pros and Cons of Shopify
  5. The Pros and Cons of Etsy
  6. Factors to Consider in Choosing the Right Platform
  7. Budget Considerations
  8. Market Validation and Target Audience
  9. Profit Margins and Product Selection
  10. Conclusion



Welcome to this comprehensive guide on starting a print-on-demand business using either Shopify or Etsy. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of each platform, as well as provide key factors to consider when choosing the right platform for your business. We will delve into the budget considerations, market validation, and product selection, to help you make an informed decision. So, let's get started and find out which platform is best suited for your print-on-demand venture.

Understanding Print on Demand and Etsy

To begin, let's gain a clear understanding of what print-on-demand is and how Etsy fits into this model. Print-on-demand is a business model where products are manufactured and fulfilled as orders are placed, rather than producing items in bulk and holding inventory. This allows sellers to offer a wide variety of unique designs without the hassle of managing stock.

Etsy is an online marketplace that originated as a platform for handmade and unique items. Over time, Etsy opened up to print-on-demand sellers, allowing them to offer personalized and unique products on the platform. This expansion has created new opportunities for small businesses, individuals with disabilities, and those seeking additional streams of income.

Choosing Between Shopify and Etsy

When it comes to starting a print-on-demand business, choosing the right platform is crucial. Both Shopify and Etsy have their advantages and disadvantages, so let's delve into each platform and evaluate their pros and cons.

The Pros and Cons of Shopify

Shopify is a popular e-commerce platform used by sellers worldwide. There are several key advantages to using Shopify, such as:

  1. High Traffic Control: Shopify allows sellers to scale their stores efficiently, thanks to its built-in traffic control. This platform is ideal for drop shippers, merch and inventory sellers, and handmade businesses.

  2. Greater Control: Compared to Etsy, Shopify offers more control over your online store. As a seller, you have more autonomy and are less vulnerable to account suspensions or limitations.

However, there are also some drawbacks to using Shopify:

  1. Higher Costs: Starting a Shopify store typically requires a higher budget compared to Etsy. With Shopify, you may need to spend a few hundred dollars on store setup, ads, and marketing.

  2. Market Validation Challenges: As a new seller, validating your market on Shopify can be more challenging. Testing products, targeting the right audience, and finding winning designs can be time-consuming and expensive.

  3. Skill and Design Requirements: Shopify demands more design skills and expertise compared to Etsy. While outsourcing design services is possible, it adds additional expenses to your budget.

The Pros and Cons of Etsy

Etsy, on the other hand, offers unique advantages for print-on-demand sellers:

  1. Built-in Traffic Source: One of the biggest advantages of selling on Etsy is its built-in traffic source. With millions of active buyers, Etsy provides a platform where sellers can tap into an audience looking for personalized and unique gifts.

  2. Beginner-Friendly Platform: Etsy is ideal for beginners with limited budgets. Starting an Etsy store can be done with as little as five to ten dollars, making it an accessible option for new entrepreneurs.

  3. Market Validation Opportunity: Etsy serves as a market validation tool, allowing sellers to test different niches, products, and designs. Through Etsy's analytics, sellers can gain insights into what is selling and discover their target audience.

Despite these benefits, Etsy has its own disadvantages:

  1. Difficulty Scaling: Scaling an Etsy store can be more challenging compared to Shopify. The Etsy algorithm and marketplace saturation can limit the growth potential unless you actively market and promote your store.

  2. Risk of Suspension: Sellers on Etsy face the risk of being banned, suspended, or shadowbanned due to unresolved customer issues or intellectual property infringement. Additionally, Etsy can change transaction rates and product listing fees at any time, impacting profit margins.

Factors to Consider in Choosing the Right Platform

Now that we have explored the pros and cons of both platforms, let's discuss the key factors to consider when deciding between Shopify and Etsy.

  1. Budget Considerations: Evaluate your starting budget and determine whether you can afford the initial expenses of setting up a Shopify store. If you have a limited budget, starting with Etsy might be the wiser choice.

  2. Market Validation and Target Audience: Consider whether you have already validated your market and identified your target audience. If you require more market validation or want to test different niches, Etsy provides a conducive platform for such experimentation.

  3. Profit Margins and Product Selection: Assess your profit margins and the types of products you intend to sell. If higher profit margins are crucial to your business, Shopify might be a better option. However, if you are comfortable with lower profit margin items and wish to benefit from Etsy's built-in traffic, selling on Etsy is advisable.

It's important to note that both platforms can complement each other. Starting with Etsy to gain market validation and then expanding to Shopify once you have identified winning products can be a successful strategy.


In conclusion, the choice between Shopify and Etsy for your print-on-demand business depends on various factors. Analyzing your budget, market validation needs, and profit margin expectations will guide you in making an informed decision. Whether you start on Etsy or explore the possibilities of Shopify, remember that both platforms offer different advantages and can be utilized to create a successful print-on-demand business.

By understanding the pros and cons of each platform and considering your specific requirements, you can embark on your print-on-demand journey with confidence. So, assess your needs, take the plunge, and start building your online business today.


Q: Can I use both Shopify and Etsy for my print-on-demand business? A: Yes, you can use both platforms. Starting on Etsy to gain market validation and then expanding to Shopify can be a strategic move.

Q: Which platform is more beginner-friendly? A: Etsy is considered more beginner-friendly due to its lower startup costs and built-in traffic source.

Q: Can I sell high-profit margin items on Etsy? A: While Etsy is known for lower-profit margin items like t-shirts and prints, it is still possible to sell higher-profit margin products by finding the right niche and marketing strategy.

Q: What are the risks of selling on Etsy? A: Sellers on Etsy face the risk of account suspensions, bans, and intellectual property infringement issues. Additionally, Etsy can change transaction rates and listing fees, affecting profit margins.

Q: Do I need design skills to succeed on Shopify? A: While design skills are beneficial on Shopify, you can outsource design services if needed. However, having some design knowledge can help ensure a cohesive brand and product offering.

Q: Can I use social media to promote my Etsy or Shopify store? A: Absolutely! Social media can be an effective marketing tool to drive traffic and increase sales. Consider utilizing platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook to promote your products and engage with potential customers.

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