Last updated: March 1, 2023
For business owners looking to sell their products online, choosing the right platform to sell and manage their products is important. Etsy and Shopify are major players in the e-commerce game, and they have different offerings that may appeal to different business owners.
For example, with Shopify, you can build a unique e-commerce store that you can customize with your own domain name. While Etsy is more of a marketplace, similar to Amazon, where you can list your products within the platform’s own parameters. The one you choose will depend on the goals you want to achieve with e-commerce.
At Upscribe, we specialize in e-commerce subscription growth for brands using the Shopify platform, so we understand what qualities make a profitable e-commerce solution. In this article, we’ll compare Etsy and Shopify, giving you all the information you’ll need to choose the right tool for your business.
What is Etsy?
Etsy is a global online marketplace founded in 2005 that allows people to create, sell and purchase unique and creative goods. It’s well known for finding special items like uniquely handcrafted collectibles, toys, household items, jewelry, clothing, craft supplies, and vintage treasures.
The platform was created with the mission of emphasizing human connection at the heart of commerce. That’s why Etsy encourages those with creative passions and creations to share their unique pieces on their platform. People looking for alternative or personalized creations often look to Etsy for just that.
Independent business owners who use the platform all create, collect, and curate their products while managing their own orders. Interestingly, Etsy’s independent online seller community has been mainly composed of women. In 2019 they reported that 87% of their sellers identified as female.
Etsy Key Features
Now, let’s look at what significant features Etsy offers its online store owners. To ensure quality and transparency for customers shopping on the platform, sellers are given guidelines for selling their items. Specifically for vintage items, Etsy’s verification process needs sellers to confirm whether their item is 20 years old at minimum.
Advanced Shop Customization
Sellers can access advanced shop customization when they choose Etsy Plus. This feature allows sellers to choose from a wide array of banner options and choose which listings or shop sections to feature on their store home page.
Shop customization is a great way to show customers what your Etsy store is about, and you can highlight your most popular or special products.
Access to Custom Web Address Discounts Through Hover
On the Etsy Plus subscription, sellers can get a discount on custom domains via Etsy’s third-party partner, Hover. By creating a custom domain or web address, it’ll be much easier for sellers to get their store found online and create a distinctive brand.
This service is also quite specific to those who are looking to create a new domain through Hover, but not if a seller already has a domain that they want to plug into their Etsy shop.
Internal Analytics That Empower Sellers
Etsy provides useful analytics for each seller. This helps keep track of orders, revenue, and customers who view and bookmark a seller’s listings. Additionally, sellers will be able to find out how people came to their site and what keywords they used to discover their store listings.
Etsy’s analytics are a step up from selling on an independent website because a seller would have to connect a separate analytics tool, which is more of a cumbersome process. A seller would take a lot of time trying to find the right tool that integrates well without any issues.
Support and Education for Sellers
Etsy has a seller handbook that they provide for those who need some advice on how to better navigate the platform and how to grow their Etsy store. Topics range from photography styles for product listings, shop growth hacks, and pricing advice.
The best part about this ecommerce guide is that it can be applied to when sellers want to move on to their own independent website as well.
To become an Etsy seller, you would need only $0.20 to get up and running with your first listing. Setting up your account comes at no extra cost. Etsy’s fees emerge when you list, sell, and ship your products.
Etsy also offers a Plus plan that would require sellers to pay $10 per month in addition to all the other listing, transaction, and payment fees.
Etsy Pros & Cons
- Simple set-up process
- User-friendly interface
- Built-in analytics
- Users get supportive guidance throughout
- Etsy seller fees can be quite complicated
- The best features (e.g. advanced shop customization and custom web address discounts) are only available if you upgrade to Etsy Plus
- Every listed item has a 4-month shelf-life before it’s sold or deleted
Etsy Alternative: Shopify
Shopify is a global e-commerce platform backed by powerful tools. Shopify helps online store owners find customers, drive sales, and manage their day-to-day listings. The platform allows sellers to streamline their business and integrate necessary tools to bridge functions such as inventory, payments, shipping, and marketing. Shopify is quite diverse because sellers have the option to create an online store or sell in person using a point-of-sale app.
Founded in 2006, Shopify’s e-commerce journey blossomed quite quickly. In 2009 they created their API which provided a way for Shopify apps to be sold on their App Store. Shopify also created a Shopify mobile app to be more accessible to sellers constantly on the go.
One of Shopify’s main selling points is its cloud-based software. So, you can access it from any device with an internet connection, and sellers don’t have to worry about a server crashing. Additionally, it’s a fully hosted e-commerce solution, so sellers don’t actually have to worry about hosting their own website.
Shopify Key Features
Now let’s take a closer look at Shopify’s significant features.
Shopify Online Store
For those looking to create an online store, Shopify makes it much quicker, easier, and more scalable.
Shopify offers sellers a good range of useful reports and features at the back-end of their stores that can provide insights into how the store is performing holistically. The reports include information on which are the best-performing products, the total number of orders, and a live view of your website visitors at any stage of the sales funnel.
The Shopify Markets feature is perfect for those who want to sell their products globally. With this feature, sellers can add new markets and convert international visitors into loyal customers, all from one platform.
Sellers can also:
- Translate their store into different languages
- Adapt store listings according to the market of a specific region
- Customize their store domain for different markets
- Set up custom pricing and payment methods for different markets so local currencies are always considered
Shopify’s integrations allow for third-party apps to be embedded to your website so that sellers can access useful features and functions to elevate their online store. The best part is you can find all Shopify integrations in one place on their App store. Shopify doesn’t actually develop these apps themselves but they are created to work seamlessly with the platform and take care of sellers’ shop data.
For instance, if you were looking to scale your subscription services on Shopify, you can easily integrate Upscribe onto your platform.
Shopify Flow is an interesting feature that allows users to automate their workflows, giving them more flexibility and freedom to focus on the intricacies of their business. Automation can be scheduled so that sellers have the option to choose what actions occur when a customer interacts with their site.
Some great features in Flow include:
- Inventory management
- Fraud prevention
- Loyalty and retention
- Fulfillment management
Shopify offers three pricing plans; Basic ($19/month), Shopify ($49/month), and Advanced ($299/month). You’ll also have the option to try the full platform for 3 days, without having to add a credit card.
Shopify Pros & Cons
- Shopify 3-day free-trial is available to test out the seller experience
- Very simple process to get started
- Shopify is hosted on a cloud network instead of a server, so no worries about your website crashing
- The Shopify App Store has a wide variety of options that you can add to your website
- Shopify’s pricing plans cater to every type of store owner
- It may take some time and experimentation to see major, profitable results from building a Shopify store
- You may need to already have good marketing skills instead of relying on Shopify alone
Etsy vs. Shopify: Key Differences
Shopify is quite superior when it comes to design flexibility. Users can choose from a wide range of templates and customization tool options to help make their store stand out.
On the other hand, Etsy’s customization is quite limited as the platform has full control over sellers’ storefront layouts. The only way an Etsy store can fully stand out is through the products it sells.
In terms of ecommerce tools and features, Shopify takes the cup because the platform is already fortified with powerful tools and an extensive app store. Sellers can tailor their site to work exactly how they want it to with all these useful integration options.
Although Etsy’s features are still good, they’re quite simple, and there aren’t that many for sellers to experience a full-suite e-commerce platform. However, this does make running a store on Etsy a bit simpler.
In terms of website domains, Shopify encourages its users to create unique web addresses so that they can promote their branding in a clear way. However, Etsy’s marketplace doesn’t allow for a unique domain unless you subscribe to their Plus plan and purchase a unique domain from their partner Hover. This means for most Etsy sellers, their website addresses can be harder to remember for their customers.
Payment Options & Fees
With Shopify, you won’t experience any extra transaction fees when utilizing Shopify Payments. Of course, when it comes to credit cards charges still apply. The platform also supports a wide range of payment gateways that can easily be integrated into a store.
Alternatively, Etsy has a range of fees from listings, to all transactions and credit card payments.
Etsy vs. Shopify: Feature Comparison
While both Etsy and Shopify empower sellers to turn their ideas into successful businesses, they each have characteristics that make them quite unique to each other. Based on the e-commerce features offered, Shopify is the superior platform. However, small business owners just starting out would benefit more from Etsy’s offerings.
If you do opt for Shopify, you can consider Upscribe’s easy-to-integrate subscription solution to help you scale. We can help you ensure that the customers who find you actually stay with you. Still not sure? Feel free to read our customer stories and see how you can be one of our success stories too!