Shopify and Etsy are two of the most popular platforms when one wants to create an ecommerce website. These allow businesses to advertise and sell their products to millions of customers. But which option is the best for your business?
While Shopify is a website builder specifically designed for eCommerce, sellers can also use Etsy to create a digital storefront. Choosing between the two options can be difficult, but understanding the significant differences between Shopify versus Etsy is imperative to building the best site for your products.
In this article, I’ll walk you through how Shopify and Etsy operate, including the strengths and weaknesses of each platform. I’ll also guide you through a detailed comparison between the platforms, covering everything from pricing to marketing features, so you can make an informed decision about which works best for your eCommerce needs.
Let’s dive in!
What Is Shopify?
Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms, boasting over 1.75 million merchants who use the site to sell their products and services. The platform is geared towards entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes and is highly customizable and user-friendly.
Shopify is easy to use and intuitive, allowing users to create their own online store in little time. The site provides users with a customizable Shopify store, a shopping cart, and tools to process payments. The best part? You don’t need any coding expertise or experience selling products online to get started—Shopify makes it easy to build a beautifully designed digital storefront without the hassle.
Once you’ve designed your storefront, you can start listing your products, pay for advertising campaigns, and work on your marketing efforts. Shopify has many additional features and perks, which I’ll outline soon. But first, let’s take a look at the different plans you can choose between.
Shopify offers a 14-day free trial, so you’ll be able to access all the features and customize your Shopify store without any initial upfront costs. However, keep in mind that you’ll have to enter your card information to take your store live.
There are three tiers of Shopify plans: Basic, Shopify, and Advanced.
Basic Shopify Plan:
At $29/month, the basic plan is ideal for smaller businesses and new entrepreneurs. This plan is the most affordable and gives you access to a Shopify store, 24/7 support, shipping discounts, and more.
The Shopify plan is great for established businesses interested in moving their inventory online or expanding their digital reach. It costs $79/month and includes all features of the basic plan, plus standard reports, more inventory locations and staff accounts, and bigger discounts.
Advanced Shopify Plan:
If you’re a larger enterprise and need more advanced analytics, the advanced plan might be right for you. For $299/month, you’ll have access to advanced reports, eCommerce automations, and third-party calculated shipping rates.
Before deciding which plan is right for you, check out my article on the pros and cons of the three Shopify plans. Now that you understand the basics of how Shopify operates and the pricing options, I’ll walk you through the advantages and drawbacks of using Shopify so you can get a better idea of whether the platform is right for you.
Pros Of Shopify
Shopify is one of the leading eCommerce sites for a good reason—they offer affordable plans, beautiful store designs, and 24/7 customer support. Let’s take a look into more benefits of Shopify.
Your storefront will be the first thing customers see when they visit your shop, so making an excellent first impression is essential. With Shopify, you can customize your storefront to match your brand and style. Using the Shopify theme store, you can choose from dozens of paid and free themes.
Shopify makes it easy to customize your store with simple drag-and-drop tools. Once you choose your theme, there are various elements that you can customize, including the layout, fonts, colors, and images. You can also add a logo, custom pages, and social media icons.
The best part is that you don't need any design experience or coding skills to make changes to your storefront. You can update your theme at any time and there is plenty of room for personalization when adding photos, videos, and even blog posts to your Shopify store.
Integrated Checkout Process
Shopify has quickly become one of the most popular ecommerce platforms with small business owners due in part to the company's integrated checkout system. The Shopify checkout process is straightforward and efficient and makes it easy for businesses to process payments and track sales.
Shopify offers a wide range of payment options, including PayPal, Apple Pay, and Shopify Payments. The variety of choices ensures that customers can find a payment solution that meets their needs without any hassle.
Inventory Management Features
Shopify’s inventory management is a great feature for businesses of all sizes. It allows you to track inventory levels, set up alerts when stock runs low, and create purchase orders to restock your inventory. You can also manage your inventory by location, product type, or supplier. This tool makes it easy to keep track of what you have in stock and ensure you always have the products your customers need.
Customer Data Collection
One of the benefits of using Shopify is the ability to collect customer data. This data can be used to create targeted marketing campaigns and build a loyal customer base. Shopify also allows you to collect contact information from your customers. You can use this information to send updates about your business via email marketing and solicit feedback from your customers.
Security And Data Protection
Shopify takes security and data protection seriously with a team of dedicated security experts who work to protect your data from unauthorized access, alteration, or destruction.
All your data is stored in secure facilities, and Shopify encrypts your information as it travels between your computer and its servers, ensuring that it remains confidential. Additionally, Shopify regularly conducts vulnerability scans to identify potential security risks and take steps to mitigate them.
Shopify App Store
The Shopify App Store offers a variety of applications that can help you run your business. Apps are sorted into categories based on their function, making it easy to find what you're looking for. You can also browse by rating or the number of users an app has. With over 3,000 apps to choose from, you’ll be able to optimize your Shopify store by integrating social media sites, partnering with shipping companies, setting up email marketing, and much more!
Shopify Learn provides users with access to a wealth of resources, including tutorials, support, and an active online community. You can sign up for free courses to learn about everything from SEO optimization to using social media for brand awareness. This resource is fantastic for learning how to navigate Shopify and connecting with successful Shopify store owners.
Cons Of Shopify
While Shopify has tons of fantastic features, you should consider a few drawbacks before opening your Shopify store. I’ll detail a few cons of Shopify below so you can make an informed decision before committing to the platform.
Migrating To A New Platform Is Difficult
Migrating to another platform can be difficult for Shopify store owners. Moving your store to another site, like BigCommerce or Magento, can be complex and time-consuming, since Shopify makes it tricky for you to switch to their competitors.
It would be best to consider a few things before making the switch, such as the cost of the migration, how you will transfer your data, and whether or not you will need to hire a developer to help with the transition. Additionally, you’ll need to make sure that your new platform can support all of the features and functionality of your old one.
Expenses Can Add Up
Expenses can quickly add up for Shopify merchants. You’ll have to pay for Shopify's monthly subscription fee, which ranges from $29 to $299 per month, depending on the features you need for your business. There are also additional fees for processing credit cards and transactions.
If you want to optimize your store, it’s also essential to consider that many Shopify apps are paid. While the app store is a great resource, integrating applications with your store can be an added cost.
Limits On Customization
A significant benefit of Shopify is that the platform is easy to use for beginners, and you don’t need any coding experience to get started. However, if you are more tech-savvy, you may find the platform limiting. For example, Shopify does not allow users to create their own themes. All of the themes available on the platform are created by Shopify, and users cannot make any significant changes to them, which means your storefront may look similar to other sites.
Despite these limitations, Shopify is a fantastic option if you want to build an online business. If you’re ready to start your journey with Shopify, check out my article on how to sell on Shopify for beginners.
What Is Etsy?
Etsy is an online marketplace where people can buy and sell handmade or vintage items. Etsy is designed for independent crafters and artisans who can sell their work on their digital store. Currently, there are more than 4.3 million active sellers on the platform.
Due to the significant number of users and the accessibility of the site, Etsy is one of the most popular hubs for those who want to sell their crafted or vintage goods. For shoppers, the benefits of Etsy include the ability to buy unique items, support small businesses, and find handmade gifts.
Starting a store on Etsy is straightforward (and free!), making it an awesome option for entrepreneurs who want to commodify their hobbies or tap into a more niche market. Now, let’s get into how much it costs to start an Etsy store.
Starting a shop on Etsy is free, but there are a few fees to take into account before you start. There are three main fees: listing, transaction, and payment processing fees.
The listing fee is incurred every time you add a product to your Etsy shop. It is a flat fee of $0.20 per listing, and you have to pay the fee regardless of whether or not your product sells.
On Etsy, you’ll be charged a transaction fee whenever you make a sale. Etsy takes 6.5% of the order amount, including the product cost and shipping fees.
Payment Processing Fees:
Payment processing fees vary by country but always include a set rate and a percentage of product’s price.
As you can see, the pricing for Etsy depends on how much you sell, the cost of your items, and what country you operate in. You can purchase an Etsy fee calculator online to get a better idea of what your monthly costs will look like. Now, let’s move on to the pros and cons of using Etsy.
Pros Of Etsy
Using Etsy has many benefits, including built-in analytics to track your progress, accessible communication with customers and other sellers, and more. In this section, I’ll detail all the pros of using the Etsy marketplace so you can determine if the platform is right for your business or side-hustle.
Unique Niche Market
There are several pros to selling items through Etsy’s unique niche market. Because Etsy is a curated site, buyers know that the products are high quality and unique. The specificity of the market gives your products an edge over those sold on other sites.
You can tap into trends and use your creativity to find an audience looking for customized, handcrafted goods. While the products you can sell are limited to artisan and vintage products, Etsy is the best-known site for these kinds of products—in fact, there are over 39 million active shoppers. Therefore, you benefit from a large customer base without being overwhelmed with competition selling the same product as you.
One of the best things about Etsy is its ease of use. The interface is straightforward, so you can have a store up and running in minutes, and there are no complex technical requirements. The easy set up makes Etsy a fantastic option for entrepreneurs who are just starting out.
Additionally, Etsy offers a wide range of features that can help you grow your business once you launch your store. Additional perks include marketing tools, like Etsy Ads, access to analytics, and shipping integrations.
One of the most significant benefits of opening an Etsy store is the sense of community on the site. Etsy provides an online platform that is supportive and friendly for both buyers and sellers alike.The ease of communication with customers allows sellers to build trust and rapport with buyers, resulting in repeat customers and more referrals. Additionally, many shoppers are drawn to the ability to support independent businesses. Etsy sellers can also connect using Etsy forums, a valuable resource for troubleshooting and reaching out to other Etsy store owners for advice and guidance.
Etsy Stats can help you track how well your shop is doing and what you can do to improve your sales. You’ll be able to see metrics, like the number of visits and orders on your site, to see how your store is growing over time. You’ll also be able to access information on how shoppers found you to see how your marketing and SEO efforts are performing.
When it comes to advertising your Etsy shop, you can use a few different methods. One of the most popular methods is through Etsy ads. Here are a few pros of using Etsy ads:
Cons Of Etsy
While running a store on the Etsy marketplace comes with tons of benefits, there are also a few drawbacks to consider before jumping in. I’ll walk you through some of the downsides of running an online store with Etsy.
Fees And Commission
As I mentioned, starting an Etsy store is free, but sellers need to keep fees and commission costs in mind. In order to list an item for sale on Etsy, sellers are required to pay a $0.20 listing fee and a 6.5% commission of the total sale price. This commission fee is in addition to the cost of shipping and handling, which Etsy also charges.
While this may seem like a small price to pay for the exposure that comes with being part of the Etsy marketplace, you may find that the fees are too high to make a decent profit.
Although the popularity of Etsy is ideal for attracting a large customer base, some sellers may find that the market is too saturated. With such a large number of sellers, it can be difficult for individual shops to stand out, leading to a lot of competition and making it difficult for sellers to attract buyers.
Additionally, because so many shops are competing for buyers’ attention, you may find that advertising on Etsy is essential to bring traffic to the site. These marketing costs can discourage sellers who don’t understand how to navigate the advertising aspect of business, or don’t want to pay additional fees.
One drawback of using Etsy is the lack of options to customize your shop. If you want more freedom in designing your store, you’ll have to pay for Etsy Plus, which gives you access to more features. With Etsy Plus, you’ll be able to edit your shop with advanced banners, add more images, and advertise featured products. However, these benefits come at the cost of $10/month.Another option is to use Etsy Pattern, a website builder that allows you to seamlessly sync your product catalog on your own independent storefront. Etsy pattern also gives you the option of selling goods that aren’t permitted on Etsy. However, you can't integrate your Etsy pattern site with Etsy’s search engine, and you’ll have to pay an additional $15/month for the service.
Shopify vs. Etsy: Which Platform Is Better?
Now that you understand the basics of how each platform operates, it’s time to decide which is the best for your business: Shopify or Etsy. In this section, I’ll walk you through a detailed comparison of the two sites, so you can determine which is the perfect fit for your online store. Let’s dive in!
Shopify vs. Etsy: Ease Of Use
Both platforms are fairly accessible for beginners, but there are some key differences to consider. While Shopify offers more flexibility when it comes to design and integrations, you might need to spend more time and money on designing your online store upfront. On the other hand, Etsy has a more user-friendly and quicker startup process since there are fewer options to customize your storefront.
Additionally, if you're new to the eCommerce world, Shopify may be a better option because it has more tutorials and support options than Etsy. While Etsy has forums, they are not as comprehensive as Shopify Learn’s tutorials and guides.
Shopify vs. Etsy: Customizability And Design
Both platforms offer customization, but Shopify offers more varied design options (you can see a comparison of the two layouts above). Shopify has a broader range of features and templates, which gives sellers more possibilities for building a more unique, professional-looking online store.
Etsy does not offer as much flexibility with your storefront design unless you upgrade to Etsy Plus or use Etsy Pattern. Since there aren’t paid themes available on Etsy, your site may look similar to other stores. But you also won’t feel as much pressure to pay for a theme as you would on Shopify since everyone is on an even playing field.
Shopify vs. Etsy: Platform Features
Shopify has the following features that make it ideal for running an online business:
Etsy also has many helpful platform features, including the following:
Shopify vs. Etsy: Marketing And SEO
Shopify uses SEO (search engine optimization) techniques to attract customers to your store. You can customize your store with headings, meta tags, and keywords. Regarding marketing, you’ll be able to easily integrate with Facebook and other social media sites to create advertisement campaigns. You’ll also be able to offer customers discounts and run promotions to build customer loyalty—and if your shoppers are happy, you can feature their reviews on your storefront.
Etsy has a built-in search engine which is useful for driving customers to your page. You can tweak your page name and listings to drive the right customers to your online store, and Etsy makes this process easy since the site is already optimized for SEO. In terms of marketing, you can use Etsy Ads campaigns and advertise your store independently on social media sites.
Shopify vs. Etsy: Audience Size And Traffic
Etsy has an average audience size of over 39 million shoppers, while Shopify has around 457 million. The larger audience size on Shopify is likely due to less limitations on what users can buy and sell, but also means more competition.
In terms of competition with other sellers, Etsy has 4.3 million merchants, and Shopify has 1.75 million. When it comes to driving traffic, Etsy has a built-in search engine, while with Shopify, you’ll have to rely on your own marketing to increase traffic.
Shopify vs. Etsy: Pricing And Profit
When it comes to the cost of starting a Shopify store, Shopify has higher upfront costs since you’ll have to choose a plan to take your store live. These costs range from $29 to $299 a month. Etsy is free to use unless you upgrade to Etsy Plus ($10/month) or use Etsy Pattern ($15/month). In terms of additional fees, though, Shopify is cheaper—transaction fees are 0.5% to 2.0% depending on your plan, plus debit and credit card rates. Etsy, however, has a 6.5% transaction fee.In terms of profit, Shopify stores vary case by case, so it can be challenging to determine the average yearly income for a Shopify merchant. However, the average revenue per customer is $72. If you want to gauge your potential profit, you can use Shopify’s profit calculator for a better estimate. The average Etsy seller makes around $45,000 a year.
FAQ: Shopify vs. Etsy
Since there are no upfront costs when building an Etsy shop, at first glance, it may seem like the more affordable option. However, when accounting for higher commission and transaction fees, Shopify could be more cost-efficient over time, especially if you are selling a large volume of products.
Yes, you can sell on both platforms simultaneously and even list the same products. However, you’ll be limited to selling handmade and vintage goods on Etsy’s online marketplace, while Shopify has more flexibility regarding what you are authorized to sell. Using both channels may be costly but may be worth it if you want a larger audience and the benefits of both platforms.
Conclusion: Shopify vs. Etsy
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of whether Shopify or Etsy is the better platform for running an online store. Both platforms offer unique benefits and drawbacks, so it ultimately depends on the needs and preferences of your business. And if you’re not sold on either option, don’t worry—there are plenty of other eCommerce website builders that I cover in my article about eCommerce CMS for online business.
Shopify is a good choice for businesses looking for a more comprehensive, customizable ecommerce solution. The platform offers a wide range of features, including an easy-to-use storefront builder, built-in payment processing, and extensive marketing tools.
In comparison, Etsy is popular among artists and crafters who want to sell their creations online. With various Etsy dropshipping options, it is a more niche market and a better option if you crave a tighter-knit community and more customer interaction. Regardless of what you choose, both options are fantastic resources for opening your own store. Happy selling!