ETSY vs SHOPIFY... Which Platform Should You Start With When Selling Online?
Updated: Sep 23, 2020
So the BIG question you’re debating right now is… should you start with Etsy or should you start with Shopify when selling products online?
Etsy or Shopify? Shopify or Etsy?
Now, I’m no stranger to either of these platforms. I’ve had experience with selling physical and digital products online, both with Etsy and Shopify. So I thought it was time to list out the pros and cons of both so you can make an informed decision on which platform YOU should start with.
Now, in my opinion, comparing Etsy and Shopify is not really a fair analysis.
Well, Etsy is a marketplace. A place on the web where you can upload your products to sell, while Shopify is a commerce platform that allows anyone to set up a store and sell their products online with their own e-commerce store. But as I get so many questions asking what’s better to start with (as a beginner), I thought it would be a great topic to discuss today.
Let's talk about the pros and cons of starting with Shopify
Pros of starting with Shopify:
You can design and create a completely customised online store that can be edited and changed to suit your business and branding. On Etsy, you have some options to update your own branding in the banner, profile image you can add a bit of branding inside the product images themselves, but apart from that you haven’t got much to work with.
Also, in line with branding, on Shopify, you have the option to add your own domain or URL. So instead of having www.etsy.com/shop/ourshopname, you could have www.yourshopname.com - much nicer in my opinion.
If you’re using just the basic Shopify plan, you’re only having to pay the monthly fee of $29.00 (an then any other monthly fees for additional apps), in comparison to Etsy where you’re paying multiple sets of fees, like listing fees every time you add a new product or renew your listings for example.
And the last pro of opening an online store with Shopify is that when people visit your online store, they’re not being shown any other business or brands products, unlike Etsy which has hundreds of thousands of sellers who list products similar to yours and they are shown in Etsy search right alongside your products. Not having to compete for the attention of your audience is another bonus of having your own online store.
Cons of starting with Shopify:
The biggest con, in my opinion, is having to drive your own traffic to your Shopify store. For brand new online stores and online businesses in general, it can take a decent amount of time (and money if you’re using paid advertising) to drive traffic to your own online store. But, if you already have a built-up audience (ahem… like an email list) then it might be worth your time investing in Shopify.
So even though the cost to start your Shopify store might be relatively inexpensive say around $29.00 a month (if you’re not using any additional apps or upgraded features), this doesn’t mean you have an audience who is ready to buy. The cost to invest your time and money into advertising your online store may very well outway the fees that Etsy may charge you for selling on their platform. So this is another thing to think about when deciding on which platform you should start with.
Okay, now let's talk pros and cons of starting with Etsy.
Pros of starting with Etsy:
The BEST things about starting with Etsy is that the platform has an inbuilt audience. This is a huge deciding factor when it comes starting an online store. Because without traffic, you can be seen by potential customers, and if your products aren’t seen by the people who are searching for them, then you’re not going to get sales. It’s that simple.
Etsy already has a huge audience and already have an inbuilt buyer, which means that there are hundreds and thousands of people already searching for the exact thing you’re selling.
And on top of that Etsy’s audience and shoppers already know and trust the brand. Unlike your own online store, where in most cases they’ve never heard or seen your business before, so it can take more time to build up trust.
Etsy in compared to Shopify is a lot easier to set-up. Especially for beginners who’ve never had experience designing and building their own online store. Shopify can take a bit of time to set and there’s so much more to think about when it comes to design, layout and your overall brand and customer experience. Now I’m not saying that it can’t be done, heck I’ve got tones of tutorial videos on this channel sharing how to do set up your own Shopify store. So if it’s something you want to do I encourage you to go for it, but if you want to concentrate on getting your products into the hands of people who want them as fast and easily as possible (for example start making money fast) then Etsy is your best bet.
Cons of starting with Etsy:
Now back to branding and set-up. I guess the pay-off here is that you don’t have the flexibility to customise and brand your Etsy shop like you could on your own online store. You can customise, edit and change just about anything on Shopify but on Etsy you’re limited to your Banner, your profile avatar and a few other areas on your shop. But it can sometimes be a bit more difficult to stand out amongst other sellers on Etsy.
The con I wanted to mention here are the Etsy fees. Unlike Shopify which has one monthly fee starting at $29.00, with Etsy you have listing fees, auto-renew fees, private listing fees, shipping label fees, transaction fees, shipping transaction fees, VAT fees, Offsite ads fees, Etsy ads fees, processing payment fees, not to mention fees for currency conversions. SO yeah, a lot of fees (which can be a lot to get a grasp on - I feel like I’m only now just starting to get the hang of the whole fees and taxes). If you have a lot of product in your shop, this can get extremely costly, but the upside is that you really only pay these fees when you make a sale (excluding advertising of course).
Now the biggest con, in my opinion, is that Etsy is not your business. And although most Etsy sellers don’t classify themselves as running a business, well I believe this is untrue. As long as you are making and selling a product and then receiving payment for that product. You, my friend, are running a business. What if Etsy themselves made changes (like they have with Offsite Ads or their Free shipping guarantee for example) and then this affected the traffic and sales you were once getting to your shop?
Now even though it’s uncommon, but what if you spent months or years building up your Etsy shop, for them to one day turn around and shut you down. What would you have left? Not much. You wouldn’t even have a way to connect with your previous or current customers, because you’ve not got their contact details. This is why I HIGHLY recommend Etsy sellers start building their email list and subscribers from the VERY BEGINNING of starting your Etsy business.
Okay, so now you have a list of all the pros and cons of both Shopify & Etsy. Which one should you choose to start with as a beginner?
Well, this one is a tough one and it’s going to be different for everyone. I guess the question you need to ask yourself is this...
Do you have your own audience? If "yes", then, by all means, start with Shopify and build your own online store. But if the answer is "no", then I would recommend starting with Etsy, build up your audience and then open up your own online store with Shopify and run it side by side with your Etsy shop too.
So I guess my answer here is to start with Etsy, learn how to sell online, learn what it takes to build up your brand, start working on building your audience with an email list, learn how to give your customers the best experience possible and then go ahead and create and open up an online store with Shopify.
Heck, you could even use your Etsy shop than to be your automatic lead generator and drive browsers directly to your own online store to make the purchase, where the fees are much lower and you have a lot more control of the shopper’s experience with your brand.
Okay, so I hope that this was helpful and it’s given you something to think about when it comes to deciding on which one you should start with, Etsy or Shopify.