Shopify Vs. Etsy: Which One Is Best For Your Business?

Carter McCue

6 mins read

With steadily increasing sales over the past decade, the ecommerce industry, especially here in the US is only getting bigger. Thus, there’s no surprise that many entrepreneurs are looking to get a piece of the pie by starting their own online shop.

And if you’re one of these aspiring players, you’ve probably encountered Etsy and Shopify in your search as two of the most popular ecommerce platforms out there.

But, of course, you can’t just go ahead and create an account on either platform without first figuring out which suits your business best. Thus, in this article, we’re pitting these two ecommerce giants against each other to help you decide which is the right platform for you and your business. Let’s begin!

What Is Etsy?

Let’s start with Etsy. With over 96 million users and 89 million active shoppers, there’s no doubt that Etsy is one of today’s largest online marketplaces. It’s a platform known for selling handmade, vintage, and craft items—think of it as the ecommerce version of your local arts and crafts fair.

However, Etsy is not just for small businesses and individual sellers. In recent years, the platform has begun to attract bigger brands, especially those selling eco-friendly, sustainable, and personalized items.

Who Is It For?

As mentioned, small businesses and solo entrepreneurs make up the majority of Etsy’s seller base. And if you fall into any of the following categories, then Etsy is likely the platform for you:

  • You sell handmade goods
  • You sell vintage items
  • You sell craft supplies
  • Your business is environmentally friendly or eco-conscious
  • Your products are personalized or customized
  • You do commission-based artworks like portraits or jewelry design

What Is Shopify?

Now, let’s move on to Shopify. While Etsy is an online marketplace, Shopify is a comprehensive ecommerce platform that gives you the tools and features you need to create and run your very own online store.

Shopify is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms out there which powers almost 4 million websites in 175 countries. And similar to Etsy, the platform has also begun to attract bigger brands in recent years.

In fact, some of the world’s biggest brands like Sephora, PepsiCo, and Red Bull use Shopify to power their ecommerce stores.

Who Is It For?

There’s really no limit to who can use Shopify. Whether you’re a small business, a medium-sized enterprise, or a big corporation, Shopify has the features and tools you need to run a successful online store.

And because you can design and customize your shop to match your brand identity, Shopify is perfect for businesses of all niches and sizes who want to create a unique and branded shopping experience for their customers.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Etsy and Shopify

By now, you pretty much have an idea of what each platform is all about as well as who they’re for. But before you make your final decision, there are a few more factors you need to take into consideration. These include:

Ease of Use and Setup

The key difference between Shopify and Etsy is that the latter is a marketplace while the former is an ecommerce platform. Pretty confusing? Let’s break it down.

This simply means that Etsy is like your typical all-in-one, online marketplace where you can create an account, list your products, and start selling right away. Just like Amazon and eBay!

Shopify, on the other hand, is a bit more complicated. While listing your products is a relatively easy process, you’ll need to put in some time and effort to design and build your online store first.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Shopify is difficult to use. In fact, once you get the hang of things, you’ll find that it’s actually quite user-friendly and easy to navigate.

Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a platform that you can start selling on right away with little to no learning curve, then Etsy is the better option for you.

Design and Functionality

If you’re good with design and coding, then you’ll be happy to know that Shopify gives you full control when it comes to customizing the look and feel of your online store.

You can either hire a professional to help you with the design or do it yourself using Shopify’s theme editor. You can also purchase page builder apps like Shogun and PageFly to craft eye-catching web pages by just clicking and dragging.

However, if designing isn’t your forte or you don’t have the time to do it yourself, then Etsy’s interface will probably suit you just fine.

While it doesn’t give you as much freedom when it comes to design, Etsy’s marketplace has a clean and user-friendly interface that’s easy to navigate. Perhaps, what you can do to still stand out is to carefully curate your product photos and descriptions, and have an attractive banner for your shop.

Your Store’s Visibility

Of course, any new business wants to be seen and found by its target market. And this is where Etsy and Shopify differ quite a bit.

The thing is, while there are also millions of Shopify users all over the world, Etsy has the upper hand when it comes to visibility. How come? Well, simply because it’s a marketplace.

People who are looking for products that are sold on Etsy will most likely go to the Etsy website or app instead of typing in the URL of an Etsy shop. And because of its ads, rankings, and search engine optimization, it’s very likely that they’ll find your store once they search for a particular product or keyword related to your business.

On the other hand, while Shopify is also a well-known ecommerce platform, it doesn’t guarantee that your store will be visible to people who are looking for products that you sell. Unless you put in the time and effort to drive traffic to your store or invest in paid ads, there’s a chance that your target market will never find your online shop.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Shopify is a bad platform. In fact, many Shopify users have reported success in driving traffic to their stores using various marketing strategies. It just takes a bit more time and effort to make your store visible on Shopify.

Price and Other Fees

When it comes to the costs, there’s also a significant difference between Etsy and Shopify.

To sell on Etsy, you’ll need to pay a listing fee of $0.20 per item. The product will be posted for four months or until it’s sold, and you can renew it after that for another $0.20. Every time you make a sale, you’ll also need to pay a transaction fee which is 6.5% of the displayed price plus all the other costs like shipping and packaging. And if you want your listings to be more visible, you can also opt to pay for Etsy ads which start at $1 per day.

Meanwhile, to use Shopify, you’ll need to pay a monthly subscription fee which starts at $29 per month. For this price, you’ll get access to Shopify’s platform and features, as well as unlimited product listings.

When you make a sale, you’ll need to pay Shopify’s 2.9% + $0.30 transaction fee, as well as other costs like payment processing fees, shipping, and taxes. You also have the option to purchase or subscribe to different Shopify integrations or apps to improve the functionality of your online store. All in all, the costs of using Shopify can add up to a significant amount, especially if you’re just starting out. But once everything’s set up, you can just let your store run on autopilot.

Marketing and Store Management

When it comes to marketing and managing your store, both platforms are pretty good. But if we’re going to compare the two, then Shopify definitely has more features and tools that can help you streamline and maximize your business.

Shopify, for one, comes with built-in SEO features and tools that can help you improve the visibility of your store on search engines. It also has a wide range of marketing and advertising apps that you can use to reach out to your target market, whether through social media, email, or even offline channels.

Meanwhile, Etsy also has a few marketing and management features, but not as comprehensive as Shopify’s. For instance, it doesn’t have its own email marketing tool. Instead, you’ll need to use a third-party app or service to send out your marketing emails.

Etsy also doesn’t have as many integrations and apps as Shopify. This can be a problem, especially if you want to automate certain tasks or improve the functionality of your store.

Your Target Audience

Of course, while all the said factors are important, at the end of the day, it all boils down to your target audience. After all, you’re not going to invest in a platform unless you’re confident that it can help you reach your target market, right?

Etsy, for one, is perfect for artsy individuals or those who like to browse and buy unique, handmade, or vintage items. If your target market is composed of people who are looking for one-of-a-kind items, then Etsy is definitely the platform for you.

Shopify, on the other hand, is perfect for every shopper who likes convenience and a streamlined online shopping experience. What will set your Shopify store apart from other online retailers is the way you market and position your brand. If you can do that through your social media channels or even offline, then Shopify can definitely help you reach your target market.

So, Which One’s the Best for Your Business?

Choosing a platform for your online store is not a one-size-fits-all decision. It all depends on your business, your target market, and your goals.

If you’re just starting out and you want to test the waters first, then Etsy is definitely the way to go. It’s less expensive and it has a built-in audience that you can tap into.

But if you’re confident about your business and you’re looking for a platform that can help you scale, then Shopify is the better choice. It might be more expensive, but it comes with a lot of features and tools that can help you streamline and grow your business.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to your preference. And as the owner of your business, we know that whichever platform you end up choosing, you’ll definitely make it work for you!

*Please note that Etsy is a trademark of Etsy, Inc. This content is not created or endorsed by Etsy, Inc.

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This blog contains some affiliate links. We may earn a commission if you use these links to buy something (at no added cost to you).

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