eCommerce Tips & Trends

Shopify vs Etsy - Understanding The Differences

Jules Plume

by Jules Plume

On 2017 M11 7

by Jules Plume

Welcome to the second post in our series, "Shopify Vs.", where we compare Shopify against other online store platforms and marketplaces!

In this post, we explore how Shopify fares against Etsy, everyone's favorite artisan marketplace.

What to consider

Based on what you want to achieve with your online store, either platform could work for you.

However, comparing Shopify and Etsy based on their functionality and purpose is like comparing vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets. Both have their own benefits and drawbacks, but choosing between the two depends on your requirements and choice.

Both are eCommerce platforms, but when you dig a little deeper, there are fundamental differences.

Shopify is a B2B platform that's a website/e-shop builder, while Etsy is a marketplace and B2C platform. In other words, using Shopify is like subletting a shop, while Etsy is like borrowing a place in an exhibition.

The general consensus appears to be:

  • If you want more control over your store, don’t mind building your online presence, and want to sell things that are not just handmade or artisanal, Shopify is best for you.
  • If you want guaranteed site traffic when you start, are fine with following marketplace rules, and don’t want to pay monthly fees right away, Etsy is best for you.

Pricing

Keep in mind that pricing should be compared to what functionality the platforms provide and what you want to achieve by using them. Comparing numbers without context wouldn't be fair. Evaluate them for the business model you have or the monetary investment you are willing to spend for your online business.

Shopify pricing

Shopify offers a 14-day free trial so that you can be sure that this is what you are looking for. Note that you won’t get all the features in the free trial but at least you'll have the opportunity to get a good feel of the platform.

Paid packages include "Basic Shopify", "Shopify", and "Advanced Shopify" for monthly prices of $29, $79 and $299 respectively. The difference in the prices is because of the features like a number of staff accounts you can make, file storage, shipping rates, label printing, cart recovery, and report printing, to name a few.

Etsy pricing

Etsy is a very affordable marketplace if you want to sell a few handmade products. They charge you $0.20 for each product you list. Also worth noting is they also charge 3.5% commission on every transaction done – if you're serious about selling many products and ramping up sales in the future, you should do the math and consider if this pricing structure will hurt your profits in the long term.

In conclusion, Etsy is affordable for a few products. But, if you want to do it regularly and have a large number of products to be listed than Shopify might be more affordable for you, as the price you pay on Shopify is monthly, quarterly, or yearly versus each product you list and sell. Shopify lets you list an unlimited number of products in the same monthly rate of your package.

Comparing features

Products you can sell

You can sell almost anything on Shopify (with the exception of financial/professional services, regulated and illegal products, event tickets, or high risk businesses. For more details, check out their Payments Terms of Service.) With Etsy, this isn't the case – you are restricted to selling handmade and vintage products.

Setup

On Shopify, it's easy to set up and host on your domain. They have a strong team that provides all the technical and customer support that you would need to set up and run your online business, available 24/7. Using Etsy and setting up your account is also very easy, especially since you only need to upload photos of your product and write out the description. However, this leads to the next topic...

Customization

Shopify gives you a lot of power and control over your website, and best of all, simplifies it for you. If looks and design is very important to you, you will appreciate Shopify more. While it's very easy to set up a seller account on Etsy, you relinquish a lot of control over how your products are presented. Again, you are restricted to only uploading product photos and descriptions – you can't change the layout of how your product page is presented, or get a domain name.

Guidelines

On Shopify, you run your own store and you are allowed to set your own rules of how you run your business. Etsy is a community of sellers, so there are marketplace rules that you will need to adhere to.

Site traffic

As you are an independent seller on Shopify, you are responsible for marketing your business and building your online presence. A benefit of being part of the Etsy community is that they are well marketed – approximately 1.8 M sellers and 30.6 M buyers are active on this platform, and it's easy to get traffic to and raise awareness for your products. However, this isn't a targeted audience, so in terms of conversion this could be an issue.

Shopify vs Etsy - Key Differences

So, who wins?

If you’re testing the waters for your products and they happen to be handmade/artisanal, Etsy is a good platform.

If you still like the idea of Etsy but are not too enthused about the restrictions or fee structure, there are other platforms that can be used as an Etsy alternative. Choosing an Etsy alternative depends upon what you want to sell and how often. There are marketplaces like Handmade Amazon, Art Fire, Aftcra, and BigCartel; however, none of them beat the popularity of Etsy.

Still, we maintain that if you are very serious about investing in your online business, Shopify is the best platform because the fees end up cheaper, you have more control, and you have access to many tools to take your store to the next level. We've even got a guide to help you with the shipping part.

There are also experts out there who say it’s beneficial to use both. If you go this route, the good news is that Easyship can sync multiple sales channels, and both Shopify AND Etsy can be easily integrated! Here’s how to connect your Etsy store or your Shopify store.

Don’t have an account yet? It’s free; sign up today!
For more on our "Shopify Vs" series, check out Shopify vs Squarespace.