Today we’ve got a big fight on our hands, it’s Shopify Vs Etsy…
The two platforms are actually very different and i’m guessing you’re here because you want to work out which is best for you.
In order for you to be able to decide, we need to look at the strengths and weaknesses of each platform.
This article is going to give you all of the information you need to make the right decision.
So before we dive in, i want to try and summarize the key differences in a few sentences;
This is a bit like comparing an apple to a pear, Shopify is fully hosted solution for anyone that wants to build their “own” online web-store. Etsy in contrast is an online marketplace, it’s an online shopping destination. Entrepreneurs can list their products on Etsy and just like with Amazon they will be competing with other sellers.
I think that summary starts us off on the right foot….
In my opinion both platforms present a HUGE opportunity, a lot of people will have both a Shopify and Etsy store…
It may make more sense for you to start with one and not the other, this is going to depend on your business objectives.
Anyway, let’s get into it.
Shopify – The Basics
Shopify is an all-in-one eCommerce website solution…
You can use the platform to create your very own online store.
Shopify is more than a website builder, it’s more of an ecommerce platform…
Shopify is a software application that allows online businesses, regardless of their size, to manage their online operations.
You can integrate with pretty much anything too.
A lot of entrepreneurs integrate Shopify with Amazon and for good reason too.
With Shopify it’s easy to create you own online store, with a unique domain name very quickly…
When i say it’s easy i mean it, in the video below i set up a brand new shopify store in about 10 minutes.
As you’ll see the online store you create is easy to customize and manage.
I was a complete website building beginner when i first started using it around three years ago.
Whether you are looking for a complete enterprise solution or a platform to help build up your business, Shopify cover all bases.
Shopify is a giant SaaS ecommerce platform that boasts a quick-learning curve suitable for the inexperienced ecommerce practitioners.
Its design and functionality makes it the go-to option for a lot of the new and innovative brands…
Here are some of the biggest companies that currently use the platform
- Tesla Motors
Anyway, let’s take a look at Etsy.
Etsy – The Basics
As mentioned earlier Etsy is slightly different…
I can still see why you may be considering using either Shopify or Etsy both could be suitable for different reasons.
Etsy is a large online marketplace, just like Amazon and eBay.
Ok it’s not as big as Amazon or eBay (Yet) but it should not be ignored.
It’s worth mentioning not all products will be suitable to sell on Etsy.
As a seller you will have to operate within Etsy’s parameters…
In a way they are doing you a favour, Etsy only want certain types of products on their marketplace.
This way they can protect their reputation and ensure that customers come back to the platform.
When i look at Etsy i get a very arts and crafts feel…
When i compare Etsy to Amazon it’s a very different sort of marketplace.
With Etsy you have the chance to either list individual products or set up a mini brand Etsy store…
When comparing an Etsy store to a Shopify store there will be glaring differences.
With Etsy you have less control, this makes sense you are operating on their marketplace.
When comparing Etsy with Shopify your customization options will be much more limited.
If you want to create your own store with no limitation, i’d recommend going for Shopify…
But you will have to be happy to go out there and find your own customers…
With Etsy you’d be able to make use of their existing customer base.
For most people, Etsy is the go-to marketplace for handmade arts and crafts…
They do seem to be constantly adding more categories as the weeks go by, Etsy does have quite a particular feel to be fair.
If you can’t decide which one to use you could consider doing both…
Make a Shopify store as well as adding your products to the Etsy marketplace.
If you are just starting out i’d recommend starting with one first!
Let’s look at the difference in Size between the two platforms.
How Big is Shopify?
Studies show that Shopify is the third-largest ecommerce platform out there…
In 2018 Shopify was one of the top performing ecommerce platforms, on Black Friday along they covered around $1.5 Billion in sales.
Currently they support over 600,000 businesses spread across 175 countries.
Reports from the last 12 months show that Shopify has had about 218 million buyers and 57 million site visits as of June 2019.
But let’s remember, Shopify is a tool – Not a Marketplace.
Each business using the platform will need to find their own customers.
How Big is Etsy?
There is no doubt about it, Etsy is big…
Way to big for you to ignore as an online marketplace.
According to Statista, Etsy is in the Top three online marketplaces after Amazon and eBay.
According to Statista, Etsy is one of the top three online marketplaces, after Amazon and eBay.
As of 2018, Esty had more than 2.1million sellers selling on the platform…
There is a reason why so many sellers are making use of this marketplace.
Reports also show that currently there are more than 39 Million active buyers on Etsy.
In June 2019 Etsy revealed that over 60% of their sellers are from the US…
It’s not all US sellers though…
Reports show that they have sellers from more than 234 countries across the globe.
Let’s finish this section on the finance side of things.
In 2018 Etsy’s generated more than 600 million in revenue.
Experts were predicting revenue growth of 22% between 2019 and 2021…
It’s definitely a platform that’s growing in popularity.
Anyway moving on, let’s take a look at some of the key differences between the two sites.
Shopify Vs Etsy – Which Is Best For You?
Before you answer this question for yourself you’ll need to be sure of your capabilities and objectives.
The decision will rest on your business strategy…
Do you want to add products to an existing marketplace?
This would be a sensible option for anyone that doesn’t have an existing audience or the expertise/budget for driving traffic.
Or do you want to create your own website from scratch?
This would be a great option for anyone with existing customers or a good plan to get people to come to your store.
If your products are suited to Etsy, i’d consider adding them to the marketplace anyway.
By leveraging an existing marketplace you don’t have to worry about the cost and operational demands that come with setting up a new store.
Etsy could be the perfect starting place if you have the right sort of products.
If you find success you can always consider setting up a Shopify store later down the line.
Start making profit, then invest in your own shopify store.
Shopify is an excellent option for anyone looking to truly scale a business…
If you’ve got the expertise of course.
The Shopify platform also works well for individuals venturing into dropshipping…
If you are interested in dropshipping the following article covers everything you need to know from a shopify perspective.
Shopify also working really well for individuals venturing into the Amazon FBA business.
This is what i have been doing full time for sometime now!
The video below runs through how you can make the most out of Shopify and Amazon FBA.
I think he above video summarizes everything i love about Shopify… It works with pretty much anything!
Once set up, i’d integrate with the following marketplaces:
- Amazon US
- Amazon Europe
The list goes on but i’d start with the above first.
So Etsy is a marketplace, we know that now…
But they have also recently introduced their own eCommerce platform, let me introduce you to Etsy Pattern.
Etsy Pattern features fewer restrictions compared to the Etsy marketplace.
If you have an existing Etsy store, you could consider using Etsy Pattern.
Pattern is a website builder for anyone with an existing Etsy Store.
It’s a good move in my opinion but for me it shouldn’t be substituted for Shopify.
Shopify is a well established, fully-fledged eCommerce platform, Etsy pattern is a micro solution in comparison.
Also please note, you must have an Etsy account, and you must be an Etsy seller to set up an Etsy Pattern account.
How It Works – Shopify vs Etsy
Ok, let’s look at how these two platforms work, i’ll warn you they are very different.
How does Shopify Work?
Shopify is very easy to use, that’s one of the biggest selling points in my opinion.
To start a store you need very little IT experience….
It follows these simple steps:
- Pick your preferred Shopify plan, one that matches your budget and feature/functional needs.
- Point the domain name (previously bought from a domain name registrar like GoDaddy) to the Shopify Store created.
If you don’t have a domain name yet, you could buy one from Shopify.
- Next, choose the template/ design/ theme for your new store. You get to edit the template to your specifications by adding your logo and other branding features. Editing and customization are made possible by the drag-and-drop tool.
- Add products to the page and incorporate interesting but concise product descriptions.
- Add the page content and your payment options.
- Start marketing.
How to Use Etsy
Etsy allows you to sell handmade jewelry, paper goods, and crafts, as well as vintage clothing and also antiques.
Etsy are actually pretty strict about what’s sold on their website.
Their official policy wording states that everything listed must be handmade, vintage or a craft supply.
There is usually a little bit of confusion around the word “Handmade”…
You don’t have to physically make or create the items by hand…
Handmade items are items that are made and/or designed by you, the seller.
I thought this was an important point to cover.
If you are selling vintage items, the items that you are reselling must be over 20 years or older.
Here are the steps to take when starting an Etsy store.
- First, register your Etsy account. The shop account setup involves setting up the preferred language, country, currency, as well as the name for your shop. Make sure that the name is unique, but also easy to remember. The name you settle on should conjure a strong mental image, and beware of the names used by your competitors.
- Next, create your product listings. Here, you need to pay lots of attention to the detail of the products. Also, pay attention to colors, sizes, materials, texture, and variations.
- Set the price for your items and off you go.
My advice is always pretty straight forward, keep it simple and make a start.
Once you start to build momentum you can improve your store by working on the following aspects:
- Marketing Images
- Customer Service
Remember, keep it simple… The most important action for you to take is to get started.
Ease of Use
You don’t have to be a tech guru to sell products online….
I hope you know that by now.
You can teach yourself to do pretty much anything using things like YouTube or a blog like this.
This means you can start a Shopify or Etsy store without any professional skills.
Shopify has made it easy for its users to build their own profitable online stores easily and without hiring expert help.
This is why i started using Shopify in the first place, i was certainly not a tech guru!
Shopify makes things simple, if you get stuck they have a huge support network to set you off on the right track.
When you are building a website there is a lot more to think about on the Tech side of things…
This goes without saying really, you are building your own website after all.
Etsy is different in this way, it’s much more straight forward IF you have the right products.
All you need to do is set up an account, the process is much less involved simply because it’s just a marketplace.
Design Optics and Flexibility
Did you know that potential customers could leave your website or online store because of poor design?
According to reports, as many as 38% of site visitors leave unattractive and poorly designed sites almost instantly.
In the industry this metric is measured by something called a “bounce rate”…
Websites with a high bounce rate will have visitors that arrive and leave pretty quickly.
Your aim is to keep people on your site, the search engines will reward you for it….
So if you want to start an online store you need to make it look as good as possible.
Your site design should be attractive, flexible, user friendly, optimized for mobile and appealing to your target audience.
When it comes to site design there is a clear winner between Shopify and Etsy.
Shopify offers much more design flexibility.
Currently there are more than 60 themes(10 free themes and 50 paid themes).
Your Shopify theme can be thought of as your stores building, what sort of impression does your customer get when they look at your store?
The customization options are almost limitless…
All the themes offered by Shopify are mobile-responsive, modern, and professional-looking.
I’ve used other website builders in the past and it’s been much harder to create a good looking site.
Let’s look at Etsy for comparison….
Etsy keep it pretty simple.
When you sign up for an Etsy account you’ll have a very similar layout to other sellers on Etsy.
Etsy want to keep the customer experience consistent and i can appreciate that!
This means that the only thing that will differentiate your products from those of your competitors is the layout and the design of your store.
Well and your products of course.
Take time to curate a good looking logo and design your store, give your customers a reason to choose you.
While Etsy doesn’t require much in terms of effort, you’ve got to put in some work to ensure that your page/ store and your products stand out from the rest of the products on the site.
On the downside, customization with Etsy is very limited.
If you are only just starting out, with few products, the lack of customization shouldn’t be a big deal.
Your choice between Etsy and Shopify will very much depend on your ambitions…
If you are looking to create a big name brand, you should consider using Shopify.
If you want to capitalize on an existing marketplace, use Etsy.
To be honest i’m not sure why you wouldn’t just do both!
Shopify for scaling and design flexibility.
Etsy for individuals with the right sorts of products.
Comparing The Different Features
By now i think we have established that we are dealing with two very different beasts here.
I think it’s worth us looking at the different features offered by each, that way you have all of the information you need.
What features do you actually need?
The answer to this question is going to depend on your business objectives.
Shopify is an ecommerce platform that integrates with pretty much anything… Even Etsy.
With Shopify you can sell pretty much anything that isn’t illegal.
There is also no limit to how many products you can display in your online store.
This makes sense, it is your own website/web-store after all.
The extensive Shopify app store is chock-full of all the resources you need to ensure the proper running of the website.
With the app store, you have access to a load of powerful extras and customization options.
The other features you will access include:
- Discount codes
- Fraud Analysis
- Multichannel selling
- Free SSL Certificates
- Gift Cards
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Third-party shipping rates (pre-calculated)
- Shopify POS app
It’s not really fair to compare the features against Etsy but i’m going to do it anyway.
They do have impressive features that can help you increase your customer base and sales.
Etsy also have an App, this makes it easy to keep on top of your Etsy account.
With Etsy it’s easy to share your products across different social media platforms, including Instagram and Twitter.
You can also create coupons and make use of third-party tools like Google Shopping to help increase your reach.
If you are considering setting up an Etsy or a Shopify store, i’d encourage you to get involved within your niche.
Let’s say you are selling products within the Wedding niche…
Join forums and Facebook groups and help people out with no expectations.
People will soon want to connect with you and at that point you can share details of your store and wedding related project.
This is the art providing value without expectation, people will find you and your products.
Create your Etsy store and get active on social media…
Anyway, Etsy do have more features but you’ll need to upgrade to an Etsy plus account.
This account offers additional features such as:
- Deals on your web address
- Customization options like banner templates
- Email alerts to customers once an item is back on stock
- Discounts on business cards and other marketing materials
- Advertising credits
My advice with Etsy is start small and build yourself up.
Once you are making sales you can reinvest some of your profit into improve your store.
Maybe at that point you can consider upgrading to Etsy plus.
Etsy is simple to use and a powerful online marketplace you shouldn’t ignore.
Domain/ URL Structure
If you are setting up an online business, then you understand the importance of a domain name.
A domain name represents the web address that people use to find your website.
Shopify allows and encourages the use of custom domains since these customized options are trustworthy, recognizable, and professional.
You don’t have to use a customized domain name but in my opinion you should.
Shopify make the process very easy, here is a guide for complete beginners.
Etsy doesn’t have these options – you don’t get a domain name since you will be selling on the Etsy marketplace.
If you want your own website that’s truly yours you’ll want to use shopify.
Payments and Fees
Let’s talk about the important stuff! Getting paid!
I have written another article detailing everything you need to know about getting paid on Shopify.
When it comes to payments, Shopify has an in-house payment system/ gateway, the Shopify Payments.
This gateway doesn’t charge transaction fees, and you only pay the card processing fees.
The highest transaction fee charged by Shopify is 2%, and the lowest charged is 0.5%.
It’s all detailed in the above article.
Etsy charges $0.20 in listing fees, per product and it also charges a 5% transaction fee, as well as a processing fee of 3%+$0.25.
So yer on this side of things Etsy is more expensive than Shopify.
Shopify also give you the option to integrate with other payment gateways…
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
The list goes on but i’ll leave it there.
With Shopify, you have to do all the work to get customers.
SEO, social media marketing, and running email campaigns is all on you.
With Etsy you don’t, it’s an existing marketplace which millions of people visit on a monthly basis.
There is of course competition within any marketplace…
The levels of competition will depend on the niche you are in and the products you sell.
I’ve always had a good experience with Shopifys customer service team, they are on hand 24 – 7.
I’ve had less experience with Etsy’s customer support team but with what i’ve experience Shopify offer more.
With Etsy most sellers rely on the Etsy support group to trouble shoot any issues they are having.
The basic plan offered by Etsy is free, but you have to pay $20 per month for the Etsy Plus account.
Shopify is slightly more expensive plans start at $29 but for shopify plus you’ll pay $299/month.
If you want to use Shopify be Saavy like me and make use of a free trial.
Shopify Vs Etsy: Who Comes Out On Top?
To be completely honest i don’t think i can say that one is better than the other.
I mean i could but it might not be for you.
The winner of the match up is going to depend on what you are trying to do with your business.
Etsy is a marketplace that’s incredible for certain types of sellers.
Shopify is (in my opinion) THE best website builder out there!
Shopify and Etsy both provide online entrepreneurs with a huge opportunity.
If you want to make money online you need to get out there and start selling.
If you have products to sell Shopify and Etsy should both be considered.
If it makes sense for you to set up a Shopify store, do that! Then create an Etsy store too!
If you can i’d do both.
Create a shopify store, then integrate and list your products on the Etsy marketplace…
I mean why wouldn’t you do that?
If you do use the above link and you end up taking out a paid plan i will make a commission, it’s how we keep the blog going 🙂
I hope you found this article useful!
More from me soon!