Shopify vs Etsy: Dont Be Conned By Youtubers?

| |

When it comes to starting an online business, choosing the right platform can make all the difference.

The platform you use will most likely determine the strategy you will need to follow to be successful. Etsy SEO vs Google SEO. Organic Traffic Vs Paid Ads.

Whilst both enable you to sell online, they are VERY different in what they offer and the traffic strategies required to make sales.

Choose the wrong one for the business you want to build and you could have an Etsy store or Shopify store that gets no traffic and makes no sales.

Choose the right one and you could have a booming business on your hands.

Can you use both….? In this Shopify Vs Etsy comparison, I’ll let know when this works and when it doesnt.

This blog post contains affiliate links. I may receive a commission if you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link on this site. This does not cost you or impact your purchase in any way.

Shopify

  • Need To Drive Your Own Traffic
  • Customizable
  • Additional Apps Can Be Costly
  • Steeper Learning Curve
  • You Own the Customer
  • You set the rules
  • You have to build trust
  • No Restrictions

Etsy

  • Lots of organic traffic
  • Not Customizable
  • Fees Can Add Up
  • Very Simple to Start
  • Lots of Competition
  • Etsy Owns the Customer
  • Etsy’s Rules Restrictions
  • Etsy Brand Builds Trust

What Are Shopify and Etsy

When it comes to selling products online, two of the most popular options are Shopify and Etsy. While both are e-commerce platforms, there are some key differences between the two.

Shopify is a standalone website builder hosted in the cloud. Shopify gives you the functionality to build an ecommerce store. Whilst there are many Shopify alternatives, it remains the market leader.

Etsy on the other hand is an online marketplace that offers the ability to build an Etsy shop on that marketplace.

In short, a Shopify website is out in the wilderness whilst an Etsy shop is like a market stall in a local market.

Obviously, there are Shopify alternatives and other online marketplaces to consider, but for this article, we’ll just focus on these two.

Cost Comparison: Shopify vs Etsy Fees

When it comes to selling products online, one of the most important factors to consider is the cost. In this section, I will compare the cost of using Shopify vs Etsy to help you make an informed decision.

Etsy Homepage

Etsy Fees

Etsy fees can feel a little bit complicated to understand.

Etsy doesn’t charge monthly subscription fees for selling on the Etsy platform (unless you chose Etsy Plus or Pattern by Etsy, but for the sake of this article I’m not including those).

Etsy makes its money by charging sellers (in the US and Canada) the following:

  • Listing Fee: 20 cents per listing which lasts for four months
  • Transaction Fee: 6.5 percent of the total selling price
  • Payment processing fee of 3% plus 25 cents
  • If your sale came from one of Etsy’s Offsite Ads, Etsy also charges you a 12% offsite ads fee.
  • Regulatory Operating Fees are also charged in some countries

Seems cheap, but once you start selling at any sort of scale, those fees add up.

For example, if you sold 50 Hoodies at $50 each inc shipping, the fees would be:

  • $0.20 re-listing fee
  • $3.25 Transaction fee
  • $1.75 Etsy Payment Processing fee

Total Per hoodie = $5.20 fees per hoodie.

Total 50 hoodies = $260. That’s quite high, right?

Shopify Homepage

Shopify Fees

Unlike Etsy, Shopify charges a monthly fee for using their ecommerce site builder / platform.

Earlier this year, Shopify increased their prices to $39 per month for their Shopify Basic plan. For most people that plan will be sufficient.

Payment processing is 2.9% + $0.30 if you use Shopify payments.

Shopify Pricing

If we look at the fees that you would pay if you sold 50 hoodies at $50, the fees would be:

  • $39 subscription for the basic Shopify plan
  • $1.80 payment processing fee per hoodie

Total Charges = $129

Winner: Etsy... Not so fast. There are two more considerations when comparing the cost of using Etsy and Shopify for your ecommerce business; functionality and traffic.

Traffic

Traffic On Etsy

Etsy is a marketplace of individual shops. Etsy, invested approximately 581 million U.S. dollars in its advertising and marketing activities to bring buyers to the platform. 

This significantly and I would say removes the need for you to spend any money on external advertising.

You do however have to master Etsy SEO which I strongly recommend you use Etsy SEO Tools for to ensure you get organic traffic and make the most of being on the Etsy marketplace.

You could boost your organic traffic by using Etsy Ads, but I’ve never been that impressed by their effectiveness.

The other way of getting traffic is through building a following on social media and directing your audience to your Shopify shop.

Traffic On Shopify

Whilst you could learn SEO for eCommerce and bring in organic traffic, it is a very slow process and could take months if not years to get a steady stream of people to your store.

Many successful Shopify stores already have a following and they use that to bring people to their stores. However, that often isn’t enough and paid ads are also required.

You can spend lots and lots of money on paid ads and struggle to make sales, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. However, you can also be very successful.

Features and Tools

When it comes to features and tools, both Shopify and Etsy offer a range of options to help you run your business effectively. 

Both platforms offer the basics of:

  • Store Builder
  • Inventory management
  • Analytics 
  • Google Analytics Integration
  • Customer Messaging Capability for orders and follow-ups
  • Ability to run sales and offer coupons and vouchers

One area in which Shopify outdoes Etsy is with its sales channels. Through simple integrations, you can sell on Facebook, Google Shopping, and directly on Instagram. That is something that isn’t possible with Etsy.

When it comes to other additional functionality you can have pretty much anything you can think of as Shopify allows you to add features and functionality via the Shopify app store. However, it comes at a cost as many additional features come with a price. 

You can do some truly amazing things with a Shopify store, but it is very easy to spend $100 per month on apps.

Winner: Shopify because of the additional sales channels

Ease Of Use

Shopify Ease of Use

Creating an ecommerce store with Shopify is easy because of its drag-and-drop design tools. They also have hundreds of templates to choose from, along with customization options to make your store unique to your brand. 


Given the popularity of the platform, there are many youtube videos and free courses that can help, like this one by Joe Robert: POD Ninjas

Etsy Ease of Use

Setting up an Etsy store is super simple, even my mum could do it. She hasn’t, but my Aunty has.

A few simple clicks and some info added and that’s it.

One area where Etsy really helps its sellers is by collecting and submitting sales tax. This can be a really complex matter, so the fact Etsy does this for you really makes running a shop easier.

Winner – Etsy, it’s less taxing (see what I did there?)

Design and Customization

Any ecommerce store needs to look professional and luckily both of these ecommerce platforms make that pretty simple to do.

But, when it comes to implementing a cool design and customizing your store there is a big difference in what these platforms offer.

Etsy Customization

As standard Etsy allows you to customize your store with:

  • Shop Name
  • Shop Logo
  • Shop banner
  • Profile Picture

And that’s pretty much it. But then, that’s all you’d pretty much expect of a market stall.

Etsy does offer Etsy Pattern which is a standalone website like Shopify that enables you to sell your products on your own Etsy powered site. It provides more scope for customization but it’s not in scope for this article.

Shopify Customization

The options are pretty much endless with Shopify customization, especially if you know how to code. You do not need to know that though to sell on Shopify but it can help if you want to set up your store with some non-standard options.

Shopify provides a wide range of free and paid-for customizable themes that allow you to choose from a selection of pre-designed templates, and then customize them to fit your brand. 

These themes are mobile-responsive, meaning they will look great on any device, and you can also use the Shopify Theme Editor to customize your theme’s layout, colors, and typography further.

Comparing Shopify Vs Etsy on customization and design doesn’t feel like a fair fight to be honest.

Winner: Shopify by miles

Freedom & Control

Let’s assume that everyone plans to stick to the law when running their shop to enable a simple comparison of which platform is best for your business.

With that out of the way let’s look at the restrictions (or freedom) of selling on these platforms.

Etsy 

As I’ve already said, if you sell on Etsy you have to stick to their rules as it’s their marketplace.

They own the customer and restrict how you are allowed to contact them. You can’t contact them to market to them for example.

Etsy is very strict (or at least they think they are) about what products you are allowed to sell on the marketplace. The items have to be handmade, vintage, or designed by you.

One of the other kickers about being an Etsy seller is that you can not sell your store or transfer it to someone else. So if you create a very successful Etsy shop, you will at some point have to close it unless you plan to run it forever and ever and ever.

Shopify

Shopify, themselves do not restrict what you can sell using their website builder.

It’s your store, you own the customer, and you can market to them however you wish.

What’s more, if you build a successful business you can even sell your store 

Winner: Shopify wins as Shoppify allows you to sell whatever you wish.

Support and Help

When it comes to running your online store, having access to reliable support and help is crucial. Both Shopify and Etsy offer various resources to assist their users, but there are some differences to consider.

Shopify Help

As a Shopify user, I have found their support team to be knowledgeable and responsive. They offer 24/7 support through live chat, email, and phone. 

Additionally, Shopify has an extensive Help Center with articles, videos, and tutorials covering a wide range of topics. They also have an active community forum where users can ask and answer questions.

Etsy

On the other hand, Etsy’s support options are a bit more limited. They offer email support and have a Help Center with articles and tutorials. However, Etsy does not offer phone or live chat support. Instead, they have a community forum where users can ask for help and advice from other Etsy sellers.

Winner: Shopify wins with support that you can actually speak to easily.

I feel that Shopify‘s support options are more comprehensive than Etsy’s. While both platforms offer helpful resources, Shopify‘s 24/7 support and live chat make it easier to get quick answers to any questions or issues that may arise.

Etsy vs Shopify Print On Demand

You can use Etsy and Shopify to sell print on demand products.

A few years ago Etsy did not allow Etsy store owners to sell anything that wasn’t made and designed by sellers unless it was vintage. However, they changed the rules so that store owners can use Print On Demand companies to manufacture items they design themselves.

Shopify lets sellers sell print on demand products and more POD suppliers integrate with Shopify than they do with Etsy.

Shopify is the better choice if you are building your online store using a POD supplier that doesn’t integrate with Etsy.

Winner: Shopify as more POD suppliers integrate with them.

Comparisons with Other Platforms

As I consider the best platform for my business, I have also looked into other options in the e-commerce space. Here are some other platforms that I have researched and how they compare to Shopify and Etsy:

  • Amazon: Amazon is the largest online marketplace in the world, and it offers various e-commerce solutions. However, Amazon charges a referral fee, which can be as high as 45% for some categories. Additionally, Amazon’s platform is not as customizable as Shopify, and it is not as focused on handmade or unique products as Etsy.

  • Square: Square is a payment processing company that also offers an online store platform. While Square’s platform is user-friendly and offers many features, it is not as robust as Shopify. Square also charges a transaction fee on top of payment processing fees, which can add up quickly.

  • eBay: eBay is another large online marketplace that allows individuals to sell products. However, eBay’s fees can be relatively high, and its platform is not as customizable or user-friendly as Shopify. Additionally, eBay is not as focused on handmade or unique products as Etsy.

  • Facebook and Instagram: Facebook and Instagram offer e-commerce solutions through their Shops and Checkout features. While these platforms are free to use, they are not as customizable as Shopify, and they do not offer the same level of support and features as Shopify or Etsy.

  • Google: Google offers Google Shopping, which allows businesses to list their products on Google’s search results. While this can be a useful tool for increasing visibility, it does not offer the same level of customization or e-commerce features as Shopify or Etsy.

  • TikTok: TikTok has recently launched a feature called TikTok Shopping, which allows businesses to sell products directly through the app. While this can be a useful tool for businesses with a strong presence on TikTok, it is not as robust as Shopify or Etsy’s platforms.

Pros and Cons: Etsy Vs Shopify

When it comes to choosing between Shopify and Etsy, there are several pros and cons to consider. As someone who has used both platforms, I can share my experience and knowledge to help you make an informed decision.

Pros of Shopify

  • Customization: Shopify provides a lot of flexibility when it comes to customization. You can choose from a wide range of themes and apps to tailor your store to your unique needs.
  • Scalability: Shopify is a great option if you plan to grow your business. It can handle a large number of products and orders without slowing down.
  • Payment options: Shopify offers a variety of payment options, including credit cards, PayPal, and Apple Pay. This makes it easy for customers to pay for their purchases.
  • SEO: Shopify has a built-in SEO feature that helps optimize your store for search engines. This can help increase your visibility and drive more traffic to your store.

Cons of Shopify

  • Cost: Shopify can be expensive, especially if you use a lot of apps. The pricing plans start at $39 per month, and you’ll need to pay transaction fees on top of that.
  • Learning curve: Shopify has a steeper learning curve compared to Etsy. It can take some time to get used to the platform and all its features.
  • Marketing: Shopify doesn’t have a built-in marketplace like Etsy, so you’ll need to put in more effort to market your store and drive traffic to it.

Pros of Etsy

  • Built-in marketplace: Etsy has a large built-in marketplace where customers can easily find your products. This can help increase your visibility and sales.
  • Low cost: Etsy is generally cheaper than Shopify. The listing fee is just $0.20 per item, and there are no monthly fees.
  • Community: Etsy has a strong community of sellers who can provide support and advice. This can be helpful if you’re just starting out.
  • Ease of use: Etsy is easy to use and doesn’t require much technical knowledge. You can quickly set up a store and start selling.

Cons of Etsy

  • You Have To Play By Etsy’s Rules: You’re selling on their platform so have to stick to their policies, whether you like them or not. Buy a nice design and want to sell it on a t-shirt, using print on demand, you cant because you didn’t design it.
  • Limited customization: Etsy has limited customization options compared to Shopify. You can only choose from a few themes and can’t install apps to add more features.
  • Limited scalability: Etsy is not as scalable as Shopify. You may run into issues if you have a large number of products or orders.
  • Fees: Etsy charges a 6.5% transaction fee on each sale, in addition to the listing fee. This can add up if you have a lot of sales.
  • SEO: Etsy’s SEO is critical to success but Etsy’s SEO is not as robust as Google’s. You may need to put in more effort to learn Etsy SEO to make sure you benefit from the Etsy organic traffic.

Overall, both Shopify and Etsy have their pros and cons. It’s important to consider your specific needs and goals when choosing a platform.

The Strategies

Start With One and Stick With It

If you want to start an Etsy store then you need to:

  • Build your Etsy store
  • Master Etsy SEO & optimize your store
  • Build a social media following
  • Build an email list on your Etsy store and inform your customers of new items in your shop

Build The Biggest Business You Can

In its simplest form if you wanted to start with Etsy then you’d:

  • Build your Etsy store
  • Master Etsy SEO & optimize your store
  • Build a social media following
  • Once established, consider branching out and building a Shopify store as well as Etsy
  • Build an email list on your Etsy store and direct them to your Shopify Store
  • Use Ads to drive more traffic to your Shopify Store
  • Sell Your Store

If you wanted to start a Shopify store then the high-level strategy would be:

  • Build your Shopify Store
  • Learn and use paid ads (Facebook or Google) 
  • Optimize your store for Google SEO
  • Build a social media following
  • Sell Your Store

Conclusion

Shopify and Etsy are both online ecommerce platforms but are very different from each other.

If you choose Shopify to sell on:

  • it’s your store,
  • you can design it as you wish, 
  • you can sell what you want and even sell your store, 

But you need to 

  • Drive your own traffic 
  • Will need to build trust with your visitors to get them to buy from you.

If you choose Etsy

  • You benefit from their brand and advertising
  • You gain organic traffic 
  • Can get started with pretty much no learning curve.

But you need to

  • Stick to their rules,
  • Pay their fees
  • Run your shop forever or close it as you can’t sell it on no matter how successful

But here’s the thing. You don’t have to choose. You can use Etsy to test out designs and niches cheaply. If that works, set up a Shopify store and run both together.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which platform is better for selling handmade goods, Shopify or Etsy?

Both Shopify and Etsy are great platforms for selling handmade goods. However, Etsy is more focused on handmade and vintage items, while Shopify is a more general e-commerce platform.

If you are just starting out and want to sell handmade goods exclusively, Etsy may be the better choice. However, if you plan to expand your product range in the future, Shopify may be a better option.

When should I consider switching from Etsy to Shopify?

If you are looking for more control over your store and want to expand your product range, you may want to consider switching from Etsy to Shopify.

Shopify offers more customization options and more advanced features than Etsy, and it is better suited for businesses that want to grow and scale.

What are the differences between Shopify and Etsy for selling digital products?

Shopify and Etsy both allow sellers to sell digital products. However, Shopify has more advanced features for selling digital products, such as automatic delivery and the ability to offer subscriptions.

Etsy, on the other hand, is more focused on physical products, and its digital product features are not as advanced as Shopify‘s.

What are the advantages of using Shopify instead of Etsy?

Shopify offers more advanced features and customization options than Etsy. It also has lower transaction fees and offers more payment options.

Shopify allows sellers to create their own branded online store, while Etsy only allows sellers to create a shop within the Etsy marketplace.

Which platform is more cost-effective for small businesses, Etsy or Shopify?

The cost-effectiveness of Etsy versus Shopify depends on a variety of factors, such as the size of your business and the volume of sales you expect to make.

Etsy has lower upfront costs, but it charges higher transaction fees than Shopify. Shopify, on the other hand, has higher upfront costs but lower transaction fees.

You will need to weigh the costs and benefits of each platform to determine which one is more cost effective for your specific business needs.

Is Shopify Better Than Etsy?

Yes, Shopify is better than Etsy if you are planning to use advertising to drive your traffic to your store and want to own the customer.