Shopify vs Etsy: Which is Best for Your Print On Demand Store?

Shopify vs Etsy: Which is Best for Your Print On Demand Store?

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Choosing Between Shopify and Etsy 2.1 Similarities and Differences
  3. Simplify vs Customizability 3.1 Etsy: Simplicity and Limited Customization 3.2 Shopify: Extensive Customization Options
  4. Prices and Fees 4.1 Etsy: No Upfront Cost but High Transaction and Listing Fees 4.2 Shopify: Monthly Payment with Lower Transaction Fees
  5. Benefits of Etsy 5.1 Explore Page and Natural Search Algorithm 5.2 Good Option for Beginners
  6. Benefits of Shopify 6.1 Extensive Customization Opportunities 6.2 Lower Transaction Fees and More Profit Margin
  7. Drawbacks of Etsy 7.1 High Transaction and Listing Fees 7.2 Potential Loss of Customers to Other Products
  8. Drawbacks of Shopify 8.1 Complexity and Overwhelming Options 8.2 Monthly Payment Burden for Beginners
  9. Which Platform is Best? 9.1 Etsy: Ideal for Beginners and Quick Start 9.2 Shopify: Suitable for Establishing Brands and Long-Term Growth
  10. Conclusion

Choosing Between Shopify and Etsy

When it comes to starting an online store, the decision between choosing Shopify or Etsy can be a daunting one for beginners. Both platforms have their own set of advantages and disadvantages that make them stand out in their own ways. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive breakdown of these two e-commerce giants, discussing factors such as simplicity, customizability, prices, and fees, as well as other benefits they offer. By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of which platform is better suited for your specific needs and goals.


Starting a print-on-demand business can be an exciting venture, but with so many e-commerce platforms available, it can be overwhelming to decide where to begin. Shopify and Etsy are two popular platforms that have gained considerable attention in the print-on-demand community. While there are other options available, we will focus on these two platforms specifically, as they offer unique features and benefits that make them worth considering.

Before we dive into a detailed comparison, it is important to note that both platforms have their strengths and weaknesses. The choice ultimately depends on your preferences, goals, and level of experience. Let's explore the key factors that differentiate Shopify and Etsy, starting with simplicity and customizability.

Simplicity vs Customizability

Etsy is an excellent choice for beginners who have never set up an online store before. It offers a straightforward and easy-to-navigate interface, making the store setup process a breeze. However, when it comes to customization options, Etsy falls short. There are limited options to personalize your store, which can be a drawback for those looking to create a unique brand identity.

On the other hand, Shopify stands out for its extensive customizability. It allows you to create a fully customized website, where you have control over every aspect of its appearance. From the template to the source code, you can tailor your website to reflect your brand's personality and aesthetics. However, this level of customization can be overwhelming, especially for beginners with little to no experience in website creation.

Prices and Fees

When it comes to pricing, both Etsy and Shopify have distinct fee structures. Etsy is technically a free option as it doesn't charge a monthly or yearly fee to use its platform. However, Etsy does impose fees on each sale you make. Currently, there is a 6.5% transaction fee, a 3% processing fee, and an additional 25 cents per purchase. Furthermore, there is a 20 cent listing fee, which can quickly add up and significantly impact your profit margins.

In contrast, Shopify operates on a subscription-based model. After the free trial period, you will be required to pay a monthly fee. This fee can be a burden for beginners, especially if they haven't started making consistent sales yet. However, the transaction fees on Shopify are significantly lower compared to Etsy. The transaction fees depend on the plan you choose, but even the highest transaction fee option is only 2.9% plus 30 cents per sale. This allows you to keep more of your profits and potentially save money in the long run.

Benefits of Etsy

One of the key advantages of Etsy is its explore page. This feature acts as a search algorithm, allowing potential buyers to discover your products based on their search terms. By optimizing your product titles and descriptions with relevant SEO terms, you can increase the chances of your products appearing in search results. This is particularly beneficial for beginners who may not have an established social media presence to drive traffic to their store.

Additionally, Etsy provides a user-friendly platform for those starting their print-on-demand journey. The simplicity of the setup process makes it easy to get your store up and running quickly. Furthermore, the lack of extensive customization options can be seen as a positive for beginners who might feel overwhelmed by too many choices.

Benefits of Shopify

While Etsy excels in simplicity, Shopify shines in its customizability. Shopify allows you to create a fully customized website that reflects your brand's unique identity. From the layout to the color scheme, you have complete control over the design of your store. This level of customization not only enhances your brand's professionalism but also allows you to stand out from the competition.

In terms of fees, Shopify's lower transaction fees offer better profit margins compared to Etsy. This becomes especially advantageous as your sales volume increases. With Shopify, you have the potential to save money in the long run, particularly if you are making a significant number of sales per month.

Additionally, Shopify offers a wide range of plugins and apps created by developers, enhancing the functionality and appearance of your store. These plugins can add features such as pop-ups for email list subscriptions or sales counters, which can boost conversion rates and overall sales.

Drawbacks of Etsy

One of the major drawbacks of Etsy is its high transaction and listing fees. These fees can significantly eat into your profits, especially if you are selling products with low profit margins. Furthermore, Etsy's platform shows related products alongside yours, which can potentially divert buyers' attention and result in lost sales.

Drawbacks of Shopify

The complexity of Shopify can be overwhelming for beginners. With numerous customization options, it can be easy to get lost in the maze of settings and features. Finding and making changes to your store can be a challenge, particularly for those unfamiliar with website creation or Shopify specifically. Additionally, the monthly payment required by Shopify can seem like a burden, especially for beginners who may not be generating consistent sales yet.

Which Platform is Best?

In all honesty, both Shopify and Etsy have their merits and are well-suited for different scenarios. As a beginner starting their print-on-demand journey, Etsy offers simplicity and affordability. It serves as a good starting point to get your feet wet without the burden of upfront costs. Furthermore, the explore page and natural search algorithm can potentially bring in your initial sales, especially in the absence of a strong social media following.

However, once you have established your brand and have a growing presence on social media platforms, it may be time to make the switch to Shopify. Shopify's extensive customizability allows you to create a professional and unique website. With lower transaction fees and the potential for significant profit margins, Shopify becomes a more profitable option for those generating consistent monthly sales.

By focusing on creating a brand rather than just a short-term print-on-demand store, you increase the longevity and scalability of your business. Ultimately, the choice between Shopify and Etsy depends on your specific goals, preferences, and stage of business growth.


Choosing between Shopify and Etsy for your print-on-demand business is a crucial decision that will impact your success and profitability. Understanding the differences and advantages of each platform is essential in making an informed choice.

Etsy, with its simplicity and lower upfront costs, is ideal for beginners looking for a quick and easy setup. The explore page and search algorithm can help drive initial sales, making it a valuable platform for those starting out.

Shopify, on the other hand, offers extensive customization options, lower transaction fees, and the potential for better profit margins. It is more suitable for those looking to establish a brand and achieve long-term growth.

Consider your level of experience, budget, customization needs, and growth goals when making your decision. Ultimately, selecting the right platform will set you on the path to building a successful and profitable print-on-demand business.


  • Etsy and Shopify are popular choices for beginners starting their online stores.
  • Etsy offers simplicity, while Shopify provides extensive customizability.
  • Etsy has no upfront cost but imposes high transaction and listing fees.
  • Shopify requires a monthly payment but has lower transaction fees.
  • Etsy benefits from a natural search algorithm, while Shopify allows for professional brand-building.
  • Drawbacks of Etsy include high fees and potential loss of customers.
  • Drawbacks of Shopify include complexity and monthly fees.
  • Choosing between Etsy and Shopify depends on your goals and stage of business growth.


Q: Is Etsy or Shopify better for beginners? A: Both platforms have their advantages, but Etsy is often more beginner-friendly due to its simplicity and free setup.

Q: Does Shopify or Etsy offer better customization options? A: Shopify excels in customization, allowing you to create a fully customized website. Etsy has limited customization options.

Q: Are the fees higher on Etsy or Shopify? A: Etsy has high transaction and listing fees, while Shopify has a monthly payment but lower transaction fees.

Q: Can I switch from Etsy to Shopify? A: Yes, many sellers transition from Etsy to Shopify as their businesses grow and they seek more customization and lower fees.

Q: Which platform is better for building a brand? A: Shopify is more suitable for brand-building due to its extensive customization options and professional appearance.

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