Shopify vs. Etsy - Which is Best... Why Not Both?

Shopify vs. Etsy - Which is Best... Why Not Both?

Do you have products that would be a good fit for Etsy and also on a standalone eCommerce shop?

Are you trying to choose one platform over the other?

Depending on where you are in your eCommerce journey, the choice could be one over the other, and sometimes it can be both.

In this post, we’ll go over the differences between Etsy and Shopify for sellers, when you should use one platform over the other, and also the times it makes sense to utilize both platforms.

Software vs. Marketplace

The first thing to know: Shopify is software to help you build your eCommerce store, and Etsy is a marketplace for selling handmade products.

That means your Shopify store is an eCommerce site like any other out there (including Amazon, Walmart, Nike, and all other sites that sell products), while Etsy is a marketplace where you sell your individual items on the platform to an existing customer base.

Costs: Etsy vs Shopify

Running your business on each site has its own unique pricing structure. Since Etsy and Shopify both function as the back-end of your business, they will process credit card payments for a fee and will charge in different ways for you to host your product listings.

Shopify’s Costs

  • Listing products: $29 per month starting 
  • Transaction fees: No transaction fees
  • Credit card payment processing fees: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
  • Other costs: Apps to boost the functionality of your store can cost upfront $ or require a monthly subscription.

Etsy’s Costs

  • Listing Products: $0.20 per product listing fee… also an “Etsy Plus” option for long-term sellers to avoid some product listing fees– $10 per month.
  • Transaction fees: 6.5% of every product sold
  • Credit Card payment processing fees: 3% +  $0.25 per transaction
  • Other costs: 15% of a transaction if an ad run by Etsy leads to your product being purchased

Etsy really charges for the privilege of granting you access to their customer base, and will even charge you a whopping 15% if they attribute a sale on your store to one of their advertising campaigns.

So in the end, if you’re worried about costs being a sustainability factor for your business, Shopify is the clear winner here.

Winner based on cost structure: Shopify;

Flexibility of Each Platform

Shopify is software to help you sell whatever product you may want to sell. As long as it’s not illegal to sell, it’s fair game to sell on your Shopify store.

Etsy, however, is a marketplace that focuses on selling “handmade” products, so if the products you sell don’t fit in their guidelines, then you can’t sell it.

Also, marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon tend to have a lot of rules that are always changing and are very picky about what kind of products you can and can’t sell, what words you use, and how you display your products to potential buyers.

You are essentially always at risk of having your listings, or even your entire store, taken down at any time when you sell at a marketplace, whether the reason for being punished is your fault or not.

Also, marketplaces typically have a “punish first, figure it out later” approach to dealing with their sellers, which can be absolutely catastrophic for your business.

If you are worried about restrictions and being able to sell what you want, brand how you want, and hate the idea of having your listings shut down arbitrarily, you should definitely stick with Shopify.

Winner on flexibility: Shopify.

Starting Your Business: Etsy or Shopify?

When starting your business, this is a time when choosing between Shopify or Etsy actually matters and you should choose one to focus on over the other.

Sure, you can expand to more selling channels later, but spreading yourself thin too early is not a great idea.

In general, marketplaces are much easier places to start businesses. This is because there is an already existing large audience that converts well.

Also, in marketplaces, it’s possible to start a business with a smaller set of launch products (as low as one), while in a traditional eCommerce store your potential customers might expect a more fleshed-out product line.

Beginning your eCommerce business on a marketplace can also be a faster way to get things set up so you can focus on marketing and product development. Marketplaces tend to have simple product listing creators, they will handle transactions and checkout, and they will even send purchased sales straight to your account. These back-end tasks take a lot of time and oversight, which is another plus for marketplaces when starting out.

The only reason you should really start on Shopify is that you really want to and don’t like the idea of marketplaces.

Winner for which platform to start your business: Etsy

Which Platform to Sell On Long-term?

Since Shopify is for creating your own standalone eCommerce shop, and Etsy is a marketplace whose customers you would not have access to unless you list your products on their site, it is entirely possible and even beneficial, to sell your products on both platforms (if you can).

If you started on Etsy and your product catalog is getting large enough and your products are popular enough to start selling on your own, you can totally expand into a Shopify store to start building your brand outside of a confined marketplace.

If you started on Shopify, you can easily create listings on Etsy (or even Amazon) to expand your product line to a group of people who may have never seen your products otherwise. One thing a lot of Shopify-only sellers don’t realize is that if they abstain from selling on Amazon or Etsy because they don’t see the value in it, someone else will piggyback off the branding built up for those products and take those easy sales. 

At the end of the day, the answer to this question is much like anything in eCommerce: It depends.

It depends on your product mix, the type of product you sell, its category, how specialized it is, how niche it is, and how passionate the community behind it is. Knowing this information will let you know if you need to stick to one channel to sell, you should build a brand, you should go omnichannel, and you should expand your product line or boost the sales of your existing products.

Look at what you’re selling and see all the possible options out there, create a business plan, then execute that plan and grow your business!