Shopify vs. Etsy: which is right for you?
As a small business owner looking to sell products online, you’re sure to encounter these two platforms.
Both Shopify and Etsy allow you to sell handmade goods, but they work in different ways. You need to know that Shopify is an ecommerce platform while Etsy is an online marketplace. As such, there are differences in their features, pricing, and user experience.
In this Shopify vs. Etsy comparison, we’re going to look at all the essential aspects of both platforms, so you can make an informed choice and start selling online quickly.
(Disclaimer: Oberlo is a part of Shopify inc. media properties. We aim to publish objective, factual, and accurate information, but may be biased in certain assessments).
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Shopify vs. Etsy: An Overview
Before we compare Shopify and Etsy head-to-head, let’s do a quick overview of both platforms.
Shopify is one of the world’s most popular ecommerce platforms. Individuals and businesses can use it to build a custom online store without requiring any knowledge of code. Shopify allows you to sell most physical goods, including handmade or vintage items and craft supplies.
You can even sell digital products and create a download link for your customers. Moreover, you can use one of Shopify’s excellent themes (and its intuitive theme editor) to customize the look and feel of your store.
Etsy, on the other hand, is an online marketplace for creative professionals. You can sell everything from custom-made art to vintage items on this platform.
However, Etsy brings challenges in that it doesn’t offer a way to brand your marketplace store. Every Etsy store has the same design and layout, making it difficult to stand out from other businesses.
That said, millions of people visit Etsy each month to find unique supplies, so it could potentially increase your sales faster.
Shopify vs. Etsy: How They Stack Up
Now that you have some idea of both platforms, let’s look at how they compare in terms of features, pricing, and more.
Ease of Use
You don’t need years of experience building websites or coding checkout pages to succeed with Etsy or Shopify. Both platforms are simple to use for beginner entrepreneurs.
Shopify has everything you need built-in, so you can start attracting buyers from day one. You can design an attractive website with access to beautiful themes, customize your store with plugins, and even access helpful content to guide you.
Shopify will hold your hand through most of the building process, with tips on using the drag-and-drop builder and access to customer service when you need it. The interface is wonderfully clean and intuitive too.
Etsy takes a slightly different approach to Shopify for your online store. Rather than building a new website from scratch, you’ll use Esty to create a storefront on an existing marketplace. This means many business leaders will be able to get started a lot faster with Etsy. However, you don’t have quite as many options for designing and branding.
Etsy will guide you through each stage of setup, so you can start selling as fast as possible. The catered suggestions offered as you move through the building experience are great for beginners.
Plus, the Pattern by Etsy solution will allow you to design a complete website that syncs with your website, although this service has a slightly higher learning curve than the standard Etsy experience.
Both solutions offer an equal level of ease of use for new store owners.
Branding and Design
Part of building a successful business online is creating a memorable brand image. You want your customers to recognize you and your products instantly.
Shopify users will have no problem building a wonderful website. There are dozens of beautiful themes to choose from, so you can start designing immediately, even if you don’t have much coding knowledge.
Alternatively, users can skip the themes and design from the ground up if they prefer. You get a convenient drag-and-drop builder, making it extremely simple to add new functionality to your website and implement your branding. You can adjust colors to suit your business, add your own logo, and adjust the appearance of various segments of your site.
The great thing about the themes available from Etsy is many are designed to suit specific industries. This means you get highly relevant designs, as well as extra features to suit your niche.
But Etsy doesn’t have nearly as many options for brand development and customization. If you’re building a standard Etsy storefront, you will be able to add your custom logo to the page, but that’s about it. Etsy supports things like product descriptions and images, but you don’t have the option to change your domain name, change site colors, or anything else.
The only way to get more branding options with Etsy is to use the Pattern by Etsy builder. However, this relatively new service still only allows for a handful of customization options. You can access a handful of templates here, but not as many as you’d get with Shopify.
Ultimately, Shopify is the best choice for customization and branding.
Domains and URL
Your domain name is how your customers remember you. A good URL can work wonders for your site’s SEO.
Shopify allows business owners to purchase their domain name along with their store, and you get free, unlimited configuration and control as standard. You can choose the name that’s right for you and pay for hosting with an annual fee. Shopify combines domain hosting with free unlimited subdirectories and subdomains. You’ll even be able to create an email address for your new domain.
Etsy, unfortunately, doesn’t allow for a domain of your own. The only way to get a domain with Etsy is to purchase the Pattern by Etsy product to build your own website. Unfortunately, this means you won’t access the marketplace benefits Etsy has to offer.
Shopify is easily the top choice for those looking to get a custom domain and clean URL for their storefront.
Probably the most important consideration for anyone choosing between Etsy and Shopify. The right solution needs to make it easier to sell to your target audience.
Shopify is a versatile platform renowned for its huge range of sales features. From the moment you set up your store, you’ll be able to create custom product pages, unique checkout experiences and even offer your customers a range of payment options. Free SSL certificates are offered as a standard to keep stores safe too.
Shopify enables quick and convenient online selling, with an inventory and sales section to help you track your company’s growth. You can also link third-party sales solutions to your Shopify store. For instance, you might link your store to a Facebook or Instagram page or connect to an eBay store.
All Shopify plans also provide access to:
- Discount codes and gift cards
- Automatic carrier shipping rate calculations
- Support for all major credit cards
- Free SSL certificate
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Fraud analysis and customer protection
- Shopify's POS
- Multi-channel selling tools
- Social media connections
- Blogging for content marketing
- Flexible shipping rates
- Multiple language options (50+)
- Customer profiles
- Customer accounts
- Google Ads credits
Moreover, Shopify offers inventory management tools, bulk import/export, and a host of product organization options.
So, how does Etsy compare? Etsy makes it quick and easy for business leaders to start selling straight away from a pre-made marketplace. You can use the Etsy app to manage sales and store requests on the move and track your inventory within the Etsy user interface.
The platform also offers plenty of tools to boost your chances of sales, like gift cards and discount codes. You can also print discounted postage labels to help with fulfilling orders. Upgrading to Etsy Plus gives you more options for store customization, advertising credits, and email alerts.
If you’re planning to use Pattern by Etsy, you’ll also have access to things like Facebook Pixel advertising.
Ecommerce tools from Etsy include:
- Access to an existing audience
- Shipping labels
- Discount codes and vouchers
- Advertising opportunities
- Email alerts to notify customers when items are in stock
- Discounts on marketing materials (like business cards)
The biggest benefit of selling with Etsy is that you already have an audience on the marketplace to connect with. Alternatively, Shopify allows you to sell all kinds of products in various ways, including offline. You can also add integrations with other channels and services to boost your number of sales avenues.
Marketing Your Store
One of the biggest challenges business owners face today is attracting customers to their store. Fortunately, both Shopify and Etsy have tools to help you grow.
Shopify offers content marketing and SEO tools out of the box. You can start a blog on Shopify and help people find your products with SEO features to optimize meta descriptions, title tags, and item details.
Shopify also lets you integrate your store with a host of marketing tools. You can build cross-channel promotion strategies for social media and convince customers to sign up for email newsletters.
Moreover, you’ll get $100 towards Google advertising, access to product reviews, site map generation, and more when you sign up for Shopify.
Other marketing features include:
- Product reviews
- Generated sitemap.xml
- Sell on Facebook
- Gift cards
- Social media integration
- Built-in email marketing
- Analytics to guide your marketing strategies
Etsy, on the other hand, doesn’t offer any such tools for extending your reach. Etsy has many guides to assist you with SEO and marketing, but you’ll have to build your campaigns on your own. There aren’t any built-in marketing tools unless you use the Pattern by Etsy solution.
Pattern by Etsy comes with access to social selling and email marketing tools. There’s also a “Plus” Etsy service which helps you stand out with new ways to customize your shop, tell shoppers when items are in stock, and more. You can even get credits towards Etsy Ads from the Plus package.
Overall, Shopify has a wider range of marketing features, but Etsy may help you sell products faster due to the many visitors it attracts monthly.
Customer support is an important consideration when building your online store. You need to ensure you have help on hand if something goes wrong.
Shopify offers 24/7 live chat and phone support, so it’s easy to get answers to your questions. You can reach out over social media and email. If you want to opt for self-help support, you can also access a range of resources like the Shopify community forums, help articles, and video tutorials.
Etsy offers a decent level of support too. Like Shopify, you get 24/7 live chat with guidance from a human advisor. However, there aren't as many ways to get in touch with Etsy support advisors as there are with Shopify.
For sheer flexibility and range of contact options, we’d recommend Shopify for running your ecommerce business.
Shopify vs. Etsy Fees
As an online business, the less you spend on transaction fees and other costs, the better.
Shopify requires you to pay a monthly subscription fee plus a transaction fee for processing payments (unless you use Shopify Payments).
Transaction fees start at around 2.9% plus 30 cents. More expensive packages do come with a small discount on transactions, however. Monthly packages include:
- Basic Shopify: $29 per month for basic features, like unlimited product listings, 24/7 supports, multiple sales channels, and your SSL certificate.
- Shopify: $29 per month for all the features of Basic, plus up to 5 staff accounts, inventory locations, a discount on your transaction fees, and standard reports.
- Advanced Shopify: $299 per month for Shopify features, plus up to 15 staff accounts, advanced reports, and third-party calculated shipping rates.
You can also use “Shopify Lite” to add a shopping button to an existing store for $9 per month. Alternatively, Shopify Plus is available at a custom price for businesses selling high volumes.
Etsy doesn’t charge anything for setting up your account, but you will have costs to manage when you stock your store and begin selling. For instance, costs include:
- Processing fees: 3% of the total transaction plus $0.25 for each purchase
- Transaction fees: 5% of the total charge, including shipping fees
- Listing fees: $0.20 for each item listed.
So Etsy could quickly get expensive if you’re making high volume sales each month. While the initial startup costs are lower for Etsy stores, Shopify may be more cost-effective as your sales volume grows.
Selling on Shopify vs. Etsy
Both Shopify and Etsy have various options for online sales.
Shopify is one of the most versatile solutions on the market for ecommerce. You can sell everything from cosmetics to foods and services. Once you create your store, you can add as many goods and services as you like and set up payments for your customers.
Etsy is intended entirely for selling physical products – often handmade or creative items like custom jewelry. Though you can sell services through Pattern by Etsy, it’s not possible to do this on the official Etsy marketplace.
So if you plan to offer various kinds of products to your customers, you should go with Shopify as it is more flexible in terms of what you can sell.
Summary: Shopify vs. Etsy Comparison for 2021
As you can see, Shopify and Etsy both have features to help you sell online.
Shopify is the better choice if you want to have the most control over your brand image. A lot of merchants trust Shopify for creating an online brand. You can apply a custom theme and even personalize the checkout page, which isn’t possible on Etsy at this time.
But Etsy can’t be ruled out due to the instant access to a large audience. You can get your first sale early by listing your products on the online marketplace. If immediate customers sound like just what you need right now, Etsy lets you tap into a visitor pool as soon as you publish a listing.
Ideally, you can combine both platforms to boost the reach of your business. If you create a Shopify store, you can install an Etsy app from the Shopify App Store to sync order tracking and product details. If you have an Etsy shop and want more control over your branding, you can migrate it to Shopify, brand your storefront, and then add Etsy as a sales channel to get the best of both worlds.