If you’ve come looking for a comparison of Etsy and Shopify, chances are you're a budding entrepreneur selling something quintessentially creative. Whether it's quirky print designs, knitwear, handmade figurines, or anything else artsy, Etsy is the first platform that springs to mind for selling crafts. But, comparing Shopify and Etsy isn't that simple – which is why we've written this Shopify vs Etsy review.
Shopify provides you with your own website to host your customer’s shopping experience and acts as an online shopping cart, whereas, Etsy is a creative marketplace, showcasing hundreds of artisans alongside you.
Nonetheless, if you want to start selling online and your budget limits you to one platform (at least to begin with), you’ll be curious about the services and tools these two solutions provide and how their features compare.
With that in mind, let’s dive right into this comparison: Shopify vs Etsy – when should you pick and use either?
Shopify vs Etsy: What's the Difference?
First things first, let's start with a brief overview of who these platforms are and what they have to offer...
Shopify: A Quick Intro
Shopify is an ecommerce website builder that was first founded back in 2004. This platform makes it simple for you to create your own online storefront. The design of which is entirely up to you. Shopify provides tons of tools to help you display products, define your brand, and market yourself.
Plus, Shopify offers hundreds of integrations that extend the functionality of your store and permit the collaboration of different software. This comes in handy if you're already using several programs to run your online store.
Shopify is suitable for larger businesses as well as smaller ones. Merchants across the globe sell thousands of products to millions of people using this platform. In fact, Shopify has processed over $82 billion in transactions!
Etsy is an online marketplace that features several online vendors on its ‘storefront.’ All retailers share something in common…their wares are of an artsy and crafty nature, making the Etsy market fiercely competitive. Etsy’s involvement in the buying process is front and center for your shoppers.
Etsy’s unique twist on the ecommerce industry is that they sell everything; “handcrafted, vintage or unique.” And that model's worked – they boast over 1.7 million vendors that sell to more than 33 million buyers around the world.
Etsy invites independent sellers of any size to sell on their platform. As such, it's often an entry-level shopfront, best-suited for new sellers with limited stock and unique items.
Pattern by Etsy
In addition to being able to create and publish listings on its marketplace, Etsy also has its own ecommerce platform, Pattern, by Etsy. Here you can build your own website and sell products directly from it. It's free for the first 30 days, then subject to a fee of $15 a month.
It's nowhere near as sophisticated or as customizable as Shopify because it's an add-on for those already selling through Etsy. But, there are fewer restrictions than those set on the Etsy Marketplace.
Shopify vs Etsy: The Key Differences
The following scenario highlights the main difference between Etsy and Shopify. Etsy is a bit like taking your crafts to an art fair and displaying them at a booth for all the craft-enthusiasts to see. Whereas, Shopify is more like opening a boutique store where you have to attract and grow your own customer base.
Now, let's take a look at the subtler differences in greater detail…
Comparing the Pros and Cons
We'll start with Shopify…
Shopify Pros 👍
- Powerful ecommerce tools: Shopify offers one of the best toolsets for online sales on the market. This includes an intuitive inventory system that tracks, syncs, and monitors your orders and stock levels.
- Shopify is extremely scalable: It's built for all store types, from small businesses to big brands. You can control your branding, upgrade to access more features, and add extra plugins.
- You can sell an unlimited number of products: From physical goods to services to digital products, there are no rules for what or how much you can sell.
Shopify Cons 👎
- Shopify doesn’t help you with exposure. Your customers need to search to find you, or you have to get in front of them some other way (Facebook ads, Google ads, email marketing, etc.), so if you don’t have an established customer base, you might not see traffic quickly.
- Apps and plugins can ramp up the monthly cost: For small-scale sellers, the platform might quickly shoot beyond their budget.
Etsy Pros 👍
- Exposure! As an online marketplace, Etsy comes with an established customer base from the get-go. You can rely on Etsy’s popularity to draw visitors in your direction.
- It's easy to use: You simply set up an account, upload your products, images, and product info, and start selling.
- Low Cost: While you have to pay listing fees and transaction fees, you don’t have to pay an extra monthly charge on Etsy's standard plan (more on that in a bit). So for anyone just dipping their feet into the world of online selling, Etsy's a safe platform to experiment with.
Etsy Cons 👎
- You lack creative control: You can’t modify the look of your storefront or alter your branding. You also have less control over the shopper’s buying process, and overall, there are also fewer tools available to help you grow your following.
- Product Restrictions: Etsy has rules on what can and can’t be sold. Obviously, they gear themselves towards niche items and handcrafted, vintage, and unique products. So, if you wanted to branch out and sell wares outside this remit, you wouldn't be able to.
- You have to pay transaction fees: This amounts to 5% on each item you sell, as well as a $0.20 listing fee. These can make a pretty significant dent in your profits once you start generating more and more sales.
Shopify vs Etsy: Ease of Use
Both Shopify and Etsy provide an intuitive and straightforward experience for online vendors.
Shopify‘s comprehensive and easy-to-use toolset makes designing and maintaining your store a breeze. Not to mention, they guide you through the whole process of setting up your online shop, including:
- Action buttons
- Syncing your inventory
- Tracking your orders
And so on, and so forth.
But what about Etsy? As we've already said, Etsy is straightforward to use. For starters, it's less in-depth than Shopify. You just sign up and upload your products and information, and you’re ready to go!
💡 You should note: To set up an Etsy store, you need to upload at least one product during the signup process.
This requires a lot of info and can take a while. But the details can be reapplied to other products, and it also prompts you to set up your shipping process, which again, you'll use time and again later down the line. Despite that, Etsy's overall setup process is less time-consuming than Shopify.
Shopify‘s a lot more technical due to its breadth of features. But both platforms are well documented and shouldn't be difficult for newcomers to set them up and get going.
All in all, Etsy has the edge over Shopify if you’re looking for a faster and easier way to start selling online.
Shopify vs Etsy: Customizability and Design
Intuitive and attractive web design is an essential part of any online store’s success. A sloppy looking site can turn a visitor away immediately, so it's crucial to methodically layout and customize the aesthetic of your store.
Etsy lets you upload your own logo, but that's where its customizability starts and ends. So, for those inexperienced with web design, this may be an advantage. As you don't have to worry about that too much.
But the majority of entrepreneurs view this as a massive drawback because you won’t have the ability to stand out, brand yourself, or inject much personality into your listings. Those with a clear vision of what they want their ideal store to look like might find this frustrating.
Where customizability and design are concerned, Shopify sits on the other end of the spectrum — the options are nearly endless. You'll get access to the backend of your website, where there are over 60 themes to choose from.
Ten are free, and the other 50 are paid for, and they're optimized to cover a variety of industries. Some of these templates even come with zoom-in features, which is fantastic if you have a furniture or clothing store. Once you’ve selected a theme, you can personalize, edit, and rearrange it to your heart’s content.
Of course, if you’re not much of a designer and don’t intend to enlist the help of one, risking too much customization could throw off your design. But thanks to the variety of Shopify's compelling themes, you shouldn't go too far wrong.
The verdict on customizability is clear: Shopify's the winner. With Shopify, it's easy to customize and establish your own brand.
Shopify vs Etsy: Domains and URLs – How do People Find You on the Web?
The storefront you create with Shopify needs a home on the web, so you'll have to register and use your own domain. Again this is excellent for establishing your brand. But, it does come with the additional cost of paying for hosting and the rights to the domain. Shopify makes this simple with its structured web domain sign up process.
💡 Top Tip: Pick something short and snappy to help make your store more memorable and easier to search for.
As you may have already guessed, Etsy doesn’t allow you to use your own domain. Instead, your store is a subdomain of the Etsy marketplace and will look like the one below:
For those sellers that want to keep things small and simple, this is an easy way to sell without paying for your own domain. Perhaps you’re not ready to run your own website, in which case an online marketplace might be sufficient for you. However, if you want to build a personal brand, a domain of your own is essential.
That's why Shopify also takes home the victory when it also comes to domains and URLs.
Shopify vs Etsy: Pricing and Payment Options
When you’re looking at the price of running an online store, there are a few potential pitfalls to consider. Some platforms have monthly subscription costs that seem transparent. Still, often, there are hidden costs you need to be aware of, like transaction or listing fees and apps offering extra functionality.
As we’ve already mentioned, the standard Etsy plan doesn’t charge a monthly fee. It does, however, charge a listing fee of $0.20 per product. This covers the cost of publishing your listing, which is active for months (or until the item is sold).
You can liken this fee to the cost you would pay to an art fair to secure yourself a table.
Etsy also charges a 5% transaction fee and an additional 3% plus $0.25 for payment processing on every item you sell.
On higher priced orders, this can significantly cut into your profits.
Yes, payment processing fees are standard in the e-commerce industry, but Etsy’s rates are a little higher than the average.
Again, if you're selling on a smaller scale, Etsy’s transaction fees shouldn’t lower your profits too much and would easily balance out the cost of running your own online store with a monthly subscription.
In the end, you only get charged on Etsy when you make a sale, so if you’re unsure about the popularity of your product, you don't take on any financial risk.
For added functionality, Etsy Plus can be purchased at $10 a month.
To recap, Etsy’s standard fees are:
- No monthly cost
- A listing fee of $0.20 for each product
- A 5% transaction fee
- A 3% + $0.35 payment processing fee
- $10 a month to upgrade to Etsy Plus
Shopify has higher upfront costs but offers much more in terms of customizability and functionality. This certainly comes in handy for scaling your business. There are three different pricing plans to choose from, as well as a 14-day free trial:
- Basic Shopify: $29 a month: This comes with an ecommerce website and blog, you can list unlimited products, register two staff accounts, access to 24/7 support, and multichannel selling.
- Shopify: $79 a month: Upgrade to five staff accounts, gift cards, professional reports, lower credit card rates, and point of sale extras.
- Advanced Shopify: $299 a month: With this plan you get, 15 staff accounts, an advanced report builder, third-party calculated shipping rates, and lower credit card rates.
The basic monthly price is significantly higher than Etsy, but it's certainly worthwhile if you need the extra functionality. Shopify's ‘Basic' plans provide you with everything you need to run a small to midsize online shop efficiently. Shopify's more expensive programs mostly offer greater scalability for larger businesses with lots of staff.
Read more about Shopify pricing here.
Shopify has a variety of payment options to choose from, including its own in-house payment gateway called Shopify payments.
Shopify payments don't charge transaction fees (yay!), only a card processing fee starting at 2.9% + $0.30 on the Basic Shopify plan. This fee gets lower if you upgrade to the Shopify (2.6% + 30¢) or Advanced Shopify plan (2.4% + 30¢).
All of these transaction fees are significantly cheaper than Etsy’s. Other payment options Shopify offers include Stripe, PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay, and many more.
- Monthly plans range from $29 to $299
- Zero transaction fees (if you use Shopify Payments).
- Shopify provides an impressive variety of payment methods to choose from
So who wins the pricing comparison?
Shopify definitely offers better options in terms of payment and transaction fees, but of course, to unlock these, you need to invest $29 a month.
Overall, the pricing between the two is somewhat of a draw. Shopify provides excellent value for money, and signing up to its plan should cover everything you’ll need to run an online store, however, if you’re a small vendor and looking to sell your products cheaply, Etsy empowers you to do so. Depending on your needs, both are priced reasonably and provide good value for money.
Shopify vs Etsy: Their Ecommerce Toolkit and Features
Etsy prides itself on providing easy-to-use yet powerful ecommerce tools to help you market and grow your influence. Etsy gears you up with a basic toolkit that includes everything you need to manage your Etsy shop with ease.
You can use the ‘Sell on Etsy app’ to manage your store and sales on the go, which comes in handy if you're always on the run. It also has marketing and advertising tools you can use to increase your customer base, draw in new followers, and get found online.
Not to mention, you can also share your Etsy store on social platforms like Instagram and Twitter and use third-party tools like Google Shopping to increase your exposure.
Etsy even provides a tool that allows you to create and manage coupons, and you can buy and print discounted postage labels, which, as you've probably guessed, saves on shipping costs.
If you upgrade to Etsy Plus, you can expand your toolkit, which provides you with:
- More options to customize your store, like banner templates
- Discounts on marketing materials like business cards
- Email alerts to notify customers when an item is back in stock
- Advertising credits
- Deals on your own web domain name
Etsy's paid plan makes up for some of the drawbacks we've previously mentioned, but all in all, the tools remain simple and not as far-reaching as its competitor. For example, Etsy doesn't offer an inventory management tool, so you're responsible for tracking and managing your entire stock.
Shopify, in contrast, is renowned for the breadth and quality of its online sales features. This makes it an ideal choice for businesses looking to grow and use various tools to market and promote their brand. Shopify also has a great app store, so you can add any extra functions you need (please note, these plugins sometimes come at a cost) to what's already a versatile toolset.
Here’s a list of some of the features all Shopify plans come with:
- Discount codes
- Gift cards
- Shopify POS (point of sale) app
- Fraud analysis
- Third-party calculated shipping rates
- An abandoned cart recovery tool
- A free SSL certificate
- Multichannel selling tools across ten different social platforms
- Guest checkouts
- SEO tools
- Inventory and order management tools
- A built-in blog
Multichannel selling is an essential tool for growing your customer base and making the buying experience more accessible.
The free SSL certificate signifies your site is safe for visitors to make purchases on, which goes a long for building trust and credibility with prospects.
Abandoned cart recovery also helps to entice customers that were about to make a purchase, but decided to leave the checkout page (for whatever reason). But the tool where Shopify really trumps Etsy is its inventory system. You can either upload products in bulk or one at a time, track and manage your stock, and analyze your sales.
Once again, looking at features alone, Shopify wins the trophy. Of course, all these additional tools come at an extra price. So, if you’re considering both platforms, think carefully about what features you're likely to use. After all, there's no point paying for extra functionality if you have no use for it! For selling small amounts, Etsy’s basic toolkit is perfectly adequate.
Shopify vs Etsy: Help and Support
Although both Shopify and Etsy are very user-friendly, you'll probably need some support somewhere down the line — especially if you're new to e-commerce. So let's compare the standard of both Shopify and Etsy's customer care…
Shopify offers 24/7 phone and live web chat support, so if you experience an issue in the middle of the night, you can call them up whatever the hour. They also offer support via their social media profiles, forums, and email, as well as video tutorials — these come in handy for answering more commonly faced issues and questions.
With Shopify's more expensive plan, you also have access to advanced specialist support, which is usually only relevant to larger enterprises.
The Shopify Help Center is clear and easy to use. It provides a large variety of self-help articles and guides to assist you through most problems. You can access this resource via the Shopify editor. Here you'll find a help menu that directs you straight to the relevant page in the help center.
Not to mention, Shopify's forum isn't to be smirked at. As this platform is used across many industries, its active community has likely encountered similar issues before. As such, the answer is probably already there in one of the forum threads.
Etsy also has a Help Center that's laid out clearly and cleanly. There's a search function you can use to help you find the answers you're looking for. That's as well as a forum where you can benefit from and join community discussions and ask questions. For further help, you can email Etsy’s support staff or schedule a phone call.
Who's the winner?
All in all, although Etsy offers excellent customer care, Shopify offers more immediate 24/7 support. You can connect with a real-life live advisor near-on instantly, and therefore, Shopify wins the help and support section.
Shopify vs Etsy: Growing Your Business and Attracting Customers
To run a flourishing online store where your beautiful products fly off the virtual shelves, you’ll need a steady flow of customers.
It’s easy to get lost amidst the sea of your competitors, so to avoid this fate, let’s look at how Shopify and Etsy can help you grow your audience.
Etsy has the benefit of shining a spotlight on your store. With over 33 million buyers looking for handmade items and creative designs, you instantly catapult your product(s) in front of buyers who have an interest in what you're offering.
That being said, there's no guarantee your store will stand out to buyers on the Etsy marketplace – there are over 50 million products on Etsy, so drawing attention can be difficult, especially with their limited customization options.
In contrast, Shopify provides plenty of tools to promote your store. As you don't have the benefit of having a pre-established audience that comes with a marketplace, you’ll need to run your own marketing campaigns, mailing lists, and social media presence.
All the SEO (search engine optimization) is down to you – so your growth is entirely dependent on your ability to market yourself.
If you know what you’re doing, everything you need is at your fingertips. But, if you're new to online marketing, getting started with Shopify is easy. This platform comes with tons of apps, guides, and tools you can use to help plan and execute your digital marketing campaigns. It doesn't matter whether that's building and nurturing an email list or multichannel selling, Shopify has all the resources you need to do the job justice.
Yes, Shopify's more work – but you have full control over both your brand and your marketing efforts. In the end, you're not at the mercy of the whims of a marketplace’s algorithm. Instead, you can be proactive about growing your business.
Who's the winner?
BUT, when looking at the platform’s ability to attract customers by itself, Etsy wins. For a small business, this might just be enough to get their brand noticed for the first time. When it comes to accumulating traffic, Shopify does none of the work for you.
But as we've already alluded to, it's swings and roundabouts because, with Shopify, you have more control to create a unique presence online. But of course, nothing good comes easy. To get the kind of traffic Etsy boasts of, a lot of work, patience, and analytics is required.
Shopify vs Etsy: User Reviews
Etsy vendors enjoy the perks of being exposed to a broad audience and how simple the setup process is to start selling.
But, some users criticize Etsy’s neutrality in regulating seller behavior. It's often said that Etsy shifts the responsibility between buyers and sellers and doesn’t take an instrumental role in disputes. As such, its allegiance is unclear, which can sometimes lead to a breakdown in the trust Etsy vendors have with the platform.
Many also note that these days, the market is simply too saturated to compete on. Therefore selling with Etsy today is much more complicated than it would have been a few years ago.
With regard to Shopify reviews, they're generally praised for its functionality, ease of use, and scalability. But Shopify faces criticism over the extra cost of many of its add-ons. Users also lament that, if they're unable to use Shopify Payments, they face payment processing fees on top of the monthly costs — not cool.
Shopify vs Etsy: Security
This section is short and sweet! Both Shopify and Etsy are PCI compliant systems, offering site-wide SSL certificates — so you don't have to worry about online security with either of these platforms.
Even if you’re using Etsy Pattern, your transactions still go through the Etsy platform, so you'll benefit from Etsy’s tight security when you make a sale.
Shopify vs Etsy Which to Choose?
Now that we know a lot about both platforms, let’s do a quick review of what we've compared so far:
- Etsy is an online marketplace for artisanal products whereas, Shopify is an online store builder that's suitable for any business size or industry.
- Etsy attracts 33 million customers to its online marketplace, whereas Shopify users need to build their own brand and drive their own website traffic.
- Etsy doesn’t have any monthly costs, but Shopify becomes more cost-effective once you start generating a higher monthly income.
- Shopify has a more versatile toolkit and features.
- Shopify's vastly more customizable and lets users design their own brand
- Shopify boasts 24/7 live chat and phone support, superior to Etsy’s less flexible customer care system.
- Shopify has more payment options to choose from
- Shopify allows you to use your own web domain, whereas your Etsy store will always be a subdomain of Etsy.
As we said, if you’re simply counting the benefits and functionality, Shopify wins the comparison hands down. But not everyone has the money to invest nearly $30 a month when they first launch their business, nor the time to make use of all the customization and features Shopify has to offer.
Shopify is an exceedingly scalable platform, so if you're a growing or a larger business, it makes sense to use this solution. But as we've previously highlighted, there are many good reasons why a smaller seller might wish to use Etsy.
When to Use Etsy?
Etsy should be your first call if you're a new seller with a minimal inventory, selling handcrafted and unique items. If you’re making your own products, chances are you won’t (at first) have an extensive catalog, and each piece might be unique.
In that case, Etsy connects you to an audience that's already interested in the types of things you're creating, and you won’t face any up-front costs to sell your products online. As such, it's a low-risk model if you’re unsure how well your products will do.
As long as you only sell the occasional homemade item, Etsy will suit your needs perfectly. It's easy to use and certainly caters to all the needs of a small and creative business.
When to Use Shopify?
If you’re a growing business with a more substantial inventory, Etsy won’t be a good fit for you. Whereas, Shopify provides you with a high-quality inventory system that allows you to better track and analyze your stock.
It also gives you the freedom to build a brand and market yourself from the convenience of your own web domain.
Of course, Shopify is more worthwhile once you start making a decent bottom line every month. Once the monthly subscription fee becomes a valuable investment, you know that Shopify is the better choice for your business.
You'll never go through the hassle of switching from Shopify to another platform as it grows with you as you scale your business. With Shopify, you could potentially become a large company and sell thousands of different products so, if that's your goal, Shopify's undoubtedly worth considering.
Shopify is also the best option for you if you want to branch out from the arts and crafts niche and move towards selling other products, as Etsy will be too restricting in this regard.
Using Etsy and Shopify
If you’re still torn between the two, there's a third option that doesn’t require you to choose either. Thanks to the Shopify App Store, you can integrate Etsy's marketplace with your Shopify store. This synchronizes your orders and inventory in real-time, so rest assured, there won't be any confusion between the two stores.
This plugin is free for the first seven days and then costs $60 per month after that. This allows you to upload an unlimited number of products to both your Etsy and Shopify store.
For low budget vendors, this might not be an option, but for those prepared to make a more significant investment in your business, it means you enjoy the best of both worlds. You can customize, grow, and brand your own store while using the Etsy Marketplace to diversify your online presence and reach the massive audience Etsy's already established — win-win!
Use Etsy as a Stepping Stone
If you don’t have that kind of money, again, there's no need to worry! Perhaps Etsy is the more cost-effective option for you right now, but nothing is stopping you from using the platform as a stepping stone. Once you start generating more sales, you can then build a Shopify store later down the line.
If you’re shipping handmade products with Etsy, you can still build a customer base that's familiar with your brand, and later on, you might be able to convert those same customers on your new Shopify store.
Shopify vs Etsy: In Summary
These two platforms might seem similar at first, but we hope that after reading this, you have a distinct idea of where they differ and in which scenarios each platform shines.
Since Etsy is free, we recommend giving it a go. You have nothing to lose by getting a feel for the platform and seeing whether it suits your needs. You should also give Shopify’s 14-day trial a go for the same reasons.
Give them both a try and see what you think! Whichever you choose, you're taking a significant first step towards selling online, and we wish you the best of luck with that journey. Let us know in the comments box below how you get on!