When you’re starting to sell online, you might find yourself wondering if it’s better to sell on a marketplace (like Etsy) or to launch your own online store via a platform like Shopify.
If you search for “Etsy vs. Shopify”, you’ll get more than 10,000,000 results with different reasons tipping the balance in favor of one of them.
The real question is: Does it have to be either/or?
Table of Contents
Testing the Entrepreneurial Waters with Etsy
There’s no way around it—starting your own business can feel intimidating and scary. Going down the entrepreneurial road means entering uncharted territory, and it can bring several challenges.
As a result, many merchants decide to start with an Etsy store. Sellers list their products within the platform’s established marketplace as a product discovery tool to help buffer some of that risk by making it easier for customers to discover their brand and its products.
Founded in 2005, Etsy is an ecommerce platform focused on sellers offering handmade or vintage items and craft supplies (although today, you can find almost anything there.)
In 2019, Etsy’s annual merchandise sales volume (GMV) amounted to $4.97 billion, up from $314 million in 2010. It’s still growing rapidly, too: According to DigitalCommerce360, in the first six months of 2020, Etsy’s sales grew 71% year-over-year.
Solidifying Your Business with Shopify
As sales grow, merchants start thinking about launching their own standalone online store.
Aside from the product restrictions, Etsy also has basic features that are enough at the beginning, but as you scale your online business, opening your online store is the next logical step. There’s more flexibility and more advanced features on Shopify that can help expand your operation and boost customer satisfaction.
Shopify is built for all store types, from small businesses to enterprises. The advanced platform insights allow merchants to make data-driven decisions based on metrics that report the performance of their online store.
Omnichannel Retailing: Reach your Customers Wherever They Are
Even though merchants might feel pressure to choose between Shopify and Etsy, the truth is they are not substitutes. Shopify is a webstore platform, Etsy is an online marketplace, and they offer different benefits. Let’s look at a few in more detail.
- Etsy gives you access to more buyers — As of Q2 2020, there are 60.27 million buyers on Etsy. What’s more, their buyers are often repeat customers. More than 40% of Etsy buyers purchased more than one item in 2018. Opening an account on this marketplace means getting more eyeballs and exposure to millions of loyal Etsy buyers.
- No technical skills are required to start selling on Etsy — Setting up an Etsy account is simple and straightforward. You have to go through a five-step process, and then you’re ready to start selling.
- Shopify offers more features — Etsy has basic ecommerce features that sellers can upgrade if they choose Etsy Plus. However, suppose you’re looking for more advanced tools to fuel your business growth. In that case, Shopify is packed with abandoned cart recovery, detailed reporting, third-party integrations, as well as Shopify POS for those that want to open a brick and mortar location.
- Shopify allows customization — There’s no denying that Etsy gives you access to millions of potential buyers. However, you are one of the 2.5 million active sellers. All sellers’ pages on Etsy have the same design and you’re limited to pictures and product descriptions. On the other hand, Shopify gives merchants unlimited possibilities to customize their store design, and include rich merchandising features.
- With a Shopify store, you build your brand image — If you’re trying to create a recognizable brand, having an Etsy account is not enough. Despite the fact that Etsy has many buyers, they are loyal to the marketplace, not specific brands. With Shopify, you get a custom domain that helps you establish a strong brand image.
These are just some of the distinctive benefits that make it clear that considering Shopify and Etsy as alternatives is like comparing apples and oranges. Shopify and Etsy give you access to different target personas and many successful companies that started their journey with Etsy, scaled with Shopify while keeping the Etsy store.
In today’s omnichannel world, the key to success is being present wherever your customers are. Instead of trying to cut down channels, make sure to understand their unique advantages, and find a way to incorporate the ones that will boost your growth.
Omnichannel Retail Challenges
If you decide to embrace omnichannel retail, you have to be aware that it comes with a specific set of challenges, such as:
One of the biggest hurdles when it comes to omnichannel retailing is keeping track of inventory. By selling across different channels, merchants may come across issues such as product visibility, order accuracy, constrained inventory, and other things that can jeopardize business continuity. To streamline inventory management, you have to keep SKU codes consistent across channels and make sure to have real-time data on stock levels.
The essence of omnichannel retail is creating a single customer experience across channels. That’s why sellers should ensure that product information is consistent everywhere their brand is. However, as the business grows, it gets increasingly complex to unify product details.
Overstocking / Overselling
Failing to manage inventory effectively can jeopardize your working capital. Overstocking happens when merchants stock products that they can’t sell. Products that are stuck in your shelves collecting dust can hurt profitability. On the other hand, not having real-time information about orders can lead to overselling and frustrated customers. Either one is bad for your business.
Today’s path-to-purchase is everything but linear. Customers have the information they need to make data-driven decisions, and they often switch between channels before clicking the add-to-cart button. Being able to capture orders and process fulfillment across different channels is one of the biggest challenges for online merchants. Having an omnichannel ecosystem plays a critical role in improving customer experience and increasing customers’ lifetime value.
Stay on Top of your Omnichannel Game
The first step towards omnichannel retail is the realization that customers don’t think in terms of channels — they expect the best possible shopping experience across channels and platforms.
It’s up to you to overcome the challenges and streamline processes.
The good news is that now you can integrate Shopify and Etsy and make the most out of both channels by automating workflows such as:
- Sync Etsy online store listings and inventory with your Shopify store
- Notify various departments whenever a new order has been created on your Etsy online store
- Delete a listing after the products go out of stock to avoid overselling
- Catalog all receipts at the end of the month or update a listing if a product on your Shopify store has been created.
Connect Shopify and Etsy Using Mesa
Using Mesa’s visual workflow builder, you can define the automation workflow unique for your Shopify store.
Follow these three easy steps and get connected in a few clicks:
- Install Mesa on your Shopify store
- Sign up for Etsy, if you don’t already have an account
- Jump straight into Mesa’s workflow builder or use a pre-made template
Still hesitating whether this is the right move for your business? Get started with a 14-day free trial.
We watch for the latest Shopify apps then package them up into a neat little email sent every Tuesday.