Introduction: Ecommerce

Ecommerce, or electronic commerce, is a business model in which companies and individuals sell their products and services on the internet. This can be sales directly to consumers, or to other businesses. Online stores mean lower costs for both seller and consumer, greater accessibility (your e-shop can stay open 24/7), and a wider range of choice in products. 

It’s no surprise that many entrepreneurs turn to ecommerce platforms Shopify and Etsy to host their online stores. This article will go through some of their similarities and differences to help you decide which is best for you.

Shopify

For a monthly subscription, Shopify provides you with the tools and platform to build your own online store. You choose the design, the branding, the marketing strategy. With a user-friendly admin panel, you can set your prices, organize your products, and process your orders. Conveniently, Shopify offers a vast range of integrations with other software you might use to run your business (such as inventory trackers, marketing services, or your NorthOne business banking account).

Small and large businesses alike turn to Shopify from all around the world. With over 218 million users, the platform boasts a total of over $100 billion in product sales to date.

Etsy

Etsy is an online marketplace for makers of handmade and vintage goods, crafts, and visual art. Great for smaller businesses and sellers new to ecommerce, Etsy is highly involved in the buying and selling process. The platform curates lists based on product type (eg. wedding decor, unique birthday gifts), marketing your wares alongside hundreds of others. 

With more than 4.3 million vendors and 39.4 million buyers by the end of 2020, Etsy is an excellent choice for entrepreneurs looking to sell limited supplies of unique items.

What are the main differences? Shopify vs Etsy

Shopify is an ecommerce website builder, while Etsy is an ecommerce marketplace. A Shopify customer will go directly to your business’s website – a bit like going to a specific store at the mall – and this offers greater customer loyalty. An Etsy customer typically starts at the overall marketplace, like walking amongst booths at an arts and crafts fair.

As you dream big and draft your business plan, consider the kinds of products you’re selling, the scale of your business, and who your target audience is. When considering Shopify vs Etsy, it all boils down to what your business needs.

With Shopify, you’ll have more control over your design and branding. For a monthly fee, the platform offers ecommerce sales tools, app integrations, and 24/7 tech support.

Etsy is easier to get up and running. You get access to millions of customers shopping for hand-made goods, and pay Etsy a fee per transaction – meaning no financial risk on unsold items.

Shopify Main features

The main feature of Shopify is that you get your own website. You will have to purchase your own domain, but Shopify provides a simple guide to setting this up. Your website is fully customizable, featuring an online store and a blog. For a monthly subscription fee, you get unlimited bandwidth and product inventory, as well as the ability to track customer data. 

Shopify provides a mobile app and many software integrations, including social media syncing. It includes an SSL Certificate, a standard online security technology used by millions of banks and businesses online.  

Etsy Main Features

Etsy is known as a hub for artists and artisans to sell unique, hand-crafted items. Unlike Shopify, Etsy provides independent sellers with access to millions of potential buyers looking for just their kind of rare goods. 

There is no fee to set up your account. Etsy supports numerous payment options, including credit and debit cards, and Apple/Google Pay, as well as support for troubleshooting issues with shipping. 

Shopify Pricing

There are three main levels of Shopify subscriptions, each with a monthly fee. You can try a 14-day free trial to see if Shopify is right for you.

Basic Shopify: $29/month. Includes your website and blog, unlimited products listing, two staff accounts, 24/7 tech support, multichannel integration, and up to four locations (physical or virtual). 

Shopify: $79/month. Includes website/blog, unlimited products, five staff accounts, up to five locations, gift cards, professional reports, and lower credit card rates.

Advanced Shopify: $299/month. Includes all of the above, plus: up to 15 staff accounts, eight locations, advanced report builder, and shipping rates calculated by third-party carriers.

Etsy Pricing 

There is no monthly fee for Etsy, but it does charge $0.20 per product listing. Etsy charges 5% for every sale, and a processing fee of 3% plus $0.25. While this can cut into your revenue with higher-priced items, you are not charged any fees until a sale is made; therefore there is less financial risk upfront. 

Sellers who would like extra functionality (including listing credits and customization tools) can sign on for subscription package Etsy Plus for $10/month. 

Shopify vs Etsy: Pros and Cons

Shopify

ProsCons
A customizable website of your own, with control over your brandingVast resources of ecommerce tools, including inventory, SSL, integrations24/7 tech supportSuitable for small and large businesses alikeNo limit on product inventory or salesMonthly feesMarketing rests on your shouldersAdded costs for certain app integrationsCustomization limitations

Etsy

ProsCons
Access to a massive customer base through the Etsy marketplaceEasy to set upNo monthly feeSales security and analytics includedTransaction fees4-month “shelf life” for productsStore site not customizable. You can only sell handmade itemsCustomer loyalty tends to be to Etsy, not your brand

Conclusion: Shopify vs Etsy, which is better?

The verdict on whether to choose Shopify or Etsy ultimately depends on what you and your business need. For small business owners eager to host a large amount of products and market a dedicated website of their own, Shopify may be the way to go. For entrepreneurs looking to harness the power of a marketplace and sell unique hand-crafted items, Etsy may be for you.

Regardless of which you go with, make sure you have a small business bank account to keep track of your business finances.

Shopify vs Etsy FAQs

  • Etsy vs. Shopify: what costs more?

Shopify charges a monthly fee, ranging from $29-$299, while Etsy charges $0.20 per product listing and 8% + $0.25 per sales transaction. Depending on the scale of your business and your product prices, Etsy’s percentages can add up! 

  • Can you switch from Etsy to Shopify?

Yes! Shopify provides a detailed guide on how to migrate all your data from Etsy to Shopify.

  • Can you use Shopify and Etsy at the same time?

Absolutely. Many sellers take the multi-channel approach (selling from multiple online stores) to diversify their reach. 

  • Is Shopify good for handmade items?

While Etsy is the go-to place for the crafty and unique, Shopify absolutely has a market for handmade items. Some sellers begin on Etsy, and then introduce their customers to their Shopify site, to build a loyal base.