Etsy vs Shopify: Which is Better?

Etsy vs Shopify: Which is Better?

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Overview of Etsy and Shopify
  3. Speed and ease of getting started
  4. Customizability
  5. Features and value-added tools
  6. Discoverability and customer acquisition
  7. Price versus cost
  8. Limitations on what you can sell
  9. When to choose Etsy over Shopify
  10. Conclusion

Etsy vs Shopify: Comparing Two eCommerce Platforms

In today's digital era, having a solid eCommerce platform is essential for any business looking to thrive online. Two popular options for entrepreneurs are Etsy and Shopify. Although both platforms cater to online sellers, they have distinct features and capabilities that set them apart. In this article, we will compare Etsy and Shopify to help you make an informed decision about which platform is best suited for your eCommerce business.

1. Introduction

To begin, let's delve into the differences, similarities, and use cases that should be considered when vetting Etsy and Shopify as your eCommerce platform of choice. We'll explore factors such as speed and ease of getting started, customizability, features for sellers, customer acquisition, price versus cost, limitations on what you can sell, and ultimately, guide you in determining which platform aligns with your products and goals.

2. Overview of Etsy and Shopify

Etsy is an incredible marketplace primarily launched for artisan makers, crafters, and artists to sell their creations. In 2021, Etsy saw over 90 million active buyers from across the world make purchases through their site. On the other hand, Shopify enables over a million regular folks to have their very own website to sell online. In 2021, Shopify-powered websites sold well in excess of $150 billion from every corner of the globe.

From a platform-to-platform comparison standpoint, the most significant immediate difference is that Etsy is a marketplace where every seller competes directly with every other seller in the same environment. In contrast, Shopify is an enabler of independent ownership, where your site truly belongs to you.

3. Speed and Ease of Getting Started

Getting started with selling on Etsy is relatively quick and straightforward. Signing up for an account on Etsy is mandatory, and you can't complete the process until you have created at least one listing. If you have a few photos ready for your products, going from sign up to being sell-ready on Etsy can take just 45 minutes or less.

With Shopify, the process is quite different. It allows you to have your own independent website, which inherently requires a more involved setup process. Although Shopify provides beautiful and effective templates to expedite website creation, the customization process takes more time and thought to represent your brand and products precisely. While signing up for Shopify and creating your site takes longer, it allows for greater control and personalization, resulting in a unique online presence.

In terms of speed and ease of getting started, Etsy takes the lead. Its streamlined process is perfect for those looking for a quick and straightforward start. On the other hand, if you value long-term flexibility and dedication to creating a unique brand, Shopify is the better choice.

4. Customizability

When it comes to customizability, Etsy offers limited options to make your shop stand out. As a marketplace, your products sit within a design aesthetic and user interface set forth by Etsy. You are mainly limited to changing the structure of your collection and product pages. However, a pro tip to differentiate yourself from competitors is to use unique colored and textured backgrounds for your listing photos.

In contrast, Shopify provides nearly infinite customization options. You can choose from dozens of themes, edit code, and brand your website your way. Every aspect, from fonts to images, image placement, pages, categories, and even button colors and shapes, can be fully tailored to your preferences. The addition of a vast catalog of apps and plugins further expands the scope of aesthetic and functional customization.

When it comes to making your online selling presence unique, Shopify stands out as the clear winner. The level of customization available allows you to create a website that truly reflects your brand and product offerings.

5. Features and Value-Added Tools

Shopify boasts a wide range of built-in tools and features. These include abandoned cart recovery, which automatically emails visitors who added items to their cart but never checked out. Integrations with social networks like Facebook and Instagram also enable customers to make purchases directly from their favorite social media platforms. Moreover, Shopify offers a built-in blog for content marketing and SEO enhancement, as well as robust third-party calculated shipping rates for seamless and accurate order fulfillment.

Etsy also offers a set of tools and features, although they are more limited compared to Shopify. They have a mobile app for managing your store on the go, as well as options for paid add-ons like Etsy Plus and Pattern by Etsy. While the tools provided by Etsy are useful, Shopify offers a broader range of features and more substantial flexibility. Its extensive ecosystem and app marketplace make it the winner in this category.

6. Discoverability and Customer Acquisition

One significant advantage of selling on Etsy is its existing customer base of millions who actively search for unique crafts and art. While competition on the platform can be fierce, the fact that your products are potentially discoverable by a large customer group already immersed in a buying mindset is invaluable. However, it's crucial to stand out from the crowd to fully benefit from the free traffic Etsy provides.

With Shopify, you have more control over your marketing efforts. As the owner of your website, you can leverage built-in marketing features, apps, and SEO tools to drive traffic and build your audience. Shopify allows you to create online marketing campaigns, including email marketing, Facebook ads, and Google smart shopping, enabling you to reach the right audience. The ability to own your marketing gives Shopify an edge in terms of discoverability and customer acquisition.

7. Price versus Cost

When comparing the cost of using Etsy and Shopify, it's essential to understand the difference between price and cost. Etsy offers a free basic plan with a 20-cent listing fee for four months. However, they charge an additional 6.5% transaction fee, and the credit card processing fee is around 3% with a 25-cent charge per sale. On the other hand, Shopify's basic plan costs $29 per month, but it provides a zero transaction fee when using Shopify Payments. You only pay the standard credit card processing fee of 2.9% plus 30 cents per charge.

While it may seem that Etsy has a lower price, the additional transaction fee can significantly impact your profits as your business scales. Shopify's transparent pricing structure ensures that you retain a more substantial portion of your earnings. Additionally, Shopify offers higher shipping rate discounts, further benefiting your bottom line.

In terms of price versus cost, Shopify emerges as the clear winner. Its pricing model offers more value over time, especially if your business is projected to experience growth.

8. Limitations on What You Can Sell

Etsy has relatively strict rules regarding what you can sell on its platform. Only handmade goods, vintage items at least 20 years old, and craft supplies are acceptable. Selling items like newly released sneakers or products made by a third party, like screen-printed t-shirts, is prohibited on Etsy.

In contrast, Shopify has fewer restrictions on the types of products you can sell. While there are common-sense guidelines and a list of restricted items to follow, the platform allows you to sell virtually anything, as long as it complies with legal requirements.

Etsy's commitment to providing a marketplace for artisanal creators makes it a preferred choice for artists and makers who want to sell their handcrafted products. However, if you desire the freedom to sell a wider range of products, Shopify offers more flexibility.

9. When to Choose Etsy over Shopify

While Shopify has a multitude of advantages, there are specific scenarios where choosing Etsy as your eCommerce platform makes more sense:

  • If you are an artist or maker who creates products by hand without outsourcing any production processes.
  • If you consider your crafts more as a hobby or a side hustle and don't have immediate plans for significant growth.
  • If your forecasted sales volume is relatively low, and the additional 6.5% transaction fee from Etsy won't significantly impact your finances.
  • If your sticker price and profit margin are exceptionally low, making Shopify's monthly subscription fee less economical.

For everyone else, Shopify is undoubtedly the better choice. Its features, customizability, marketing capabilities, and long-term flexibility make it the ideal platform for entrepreneurs of all sizes. Many current Shopify users started on Etsy as casual side hustlers but migrated to Shopify once they were ready to scale their business.

10. Conclusion

Choosing the right eCommerce platform is crucial for the success of your online business. While both Etsy and Shopify have their strengths, Shopify emerges as the clear winner in terms of customizability, features, marketing capabilities, and long-term scalability. However, for artistically inclined entrepreneurs with modest sales projections, Etsy provides an excellent marketplace to sell handcrafted products.

Ultimately, the decision between Etsy and Shopify depends on your goals, products, and growth plans. Take advantage of Shopify's free trial to explore its features and determine if it aligns with your business aspirations. Remember that as your business expands, having control over your brand and a scalable platform like Shopify will be invaluable.

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