When it comes to ecommerce, Amazon is still king, but it’s no longer the only viable option for online sellers. Companies like Shopify and Etsy have stepped up their game over the years and are now strong alternatives to the everything store.
In this article, we’ll pit Shopify and Etsy against each other to find out which one is the best for you in 2023.
What are Shopify and Etsy?
First and foremost, you should be reading this article already with a good understanding of these two ecommerce platforms and how they work. For a refresher, check out our dedicated articles on Shopify and Etsy and come back to this one later on.
Both platforms function essentially the same, but they also have unique features and advantages that you want to take note of to make sure you choose the right one—of course, this has not stopped many seasoned sellers from leveraging and selling on both platforms.
The table below is a quick glance of Shopify and Etsy against each other.
|Highly customizable store builder||Free, simple, and and quick to set up, but limited customization options|
|Great scalability and brand building||Instant exposure to existing customer base|
|Relatively high learning curve and tougher customer acquisition||Caters mainly to niche product categories|
Which Is the Better Place to Build a Brand? Shopify or Etsy?
When it comes to customization and branding, Shopify easily comes out on top. With Shopify’s customization options, you have complete control over your store’s design, layout, and branding. This has enabled many sellers to craft unique brands without the help of marketing professionals and savvy designers.
Etsy, on the other hand, despite being a niche marketplace for handicrafts, vintage, and similar items, has a more standard approach. It offers pre-designed templates and the customization capabilities are not as robust as that of Shopify’s—and understandably so, because Etsy is primarily a marketplace like Amazon, while Shopify is an online store hosting service that’s widely used by ecommerce sellers.
Shopify Standalone Store vs. Etsy Marketplace
Expanding on the previous section, Shopify is mainly a tool that lets sellers create standalone online stores, giving them complete ownership and control over their brand and customer relationships. This flexibility allows sellers to target a broader market and implement their marketing strategies independently. For sellers seeking a more expansive reach and greater autonomy, Shopify is a no-brainer.
Etsy is primarily known as a marketplace that caters to handmade and vintage products, attracting a specific niche of buyers. This means that sellers come to Etsy to benefit from its existing customer base, built-in web traffic, and oftentimes to compete in the same marketplace as sellers in the same niches.
This all means that Etsy is friendlier to startups and small-scale online businesses, while Shopify is more tailored to experienced sellers who may be expanding out of Amazon or have enough working capital to build their brands and grow their own customer bases independently of these online marketplaces.
Which Helps Sellers Scale Better? Shopify or Etsy?
When it comes to scalability, there’s no question that Shopify is the winner. Its robust features and integrations that cater to businesses of all sizes and allow you to create your very own branded space. It comes with a wide range of plugins and integrations that help sellers enhance not only their day-to-day operations, but also the overall buying experience for customers who shop on their online stores. Since you own the entire store with Shopify, you have full access to customer emails for upselling your products, sending newsletters and store promotions.
Conversely, Etsy is ideal for small-scale sellers or even just hobbyists because of its limitations when it comes to scaling a business. Make no mistake, though, customers often still flock to Etsy when shopping for niche products on its marketplace. In other words, its relatively loyal consumer base who are already usually interested in the products sold tend to make up for the lack of growth opportunities for its seller base.
Also worth noting is that Etsy, very much like Amazon, does not give sellers access to customer emails, which basically means you cannot build your customer base except by standing out in the marketplace.
Which is More Expensive? Shopify or Etsy?
Considering the features already discussed, it’s no surprise that Shopify is the much more expensive choice. It operates on a subscription based model with various plans and pricing tiers, with each higher tier granting access to more tools and features. As of writing, Shopify has $29, $79, and $299 per month plans.
Etsy, on the other hand, works in the same way that Amazon does (though it does also have an Etsy Plus subscription package for more seller capabilities). It charges sellers a fee per listing along with other selling and transaction fees. Of course, even though Etsy has lower costs on paper, they can still add up as you scale business or attain higher sales volumes.
Which has Better Customer Support? Shopify or Etsy?
At the time of writing, Shopify comes out ahead with its 24/7 support available via chat, email, and phone. On the other hand, Etsy requires you to select a phone-based problem within its customer service tree to get a phone number.
Shopify or Etsy: Which Is Right for You?
Shopify and Etsy are two of the most popular alternatives to Amazon for ecommerce sellers. While they have a lot in common when it comes to enabling online entrepreneurs, they have marked differences and cater to different kinds of sellers.
If you're a seasoned seller looking at the long term and who leans heavily on brand building and marketing or are looking to expand your business out of Amazon and grow your own customer base, Shopify is no doubt the obvious choice. If you’re just starting out, trying to make money out of your hobby, or sell niche products, Etsy’s marketplace and existing customer base gets you immediate exposure and thus makes it the more solid choice, especially if you find Amazon too complex or saturated.
Many seasoned ecommerce sellers however, both run their brands on Shopify and Etsy in order to maximize customer reach and brand exposure. In any case, evaluate your brand thoroughly to make sure the service or marketplace you are using aligns well with your business objectives.
Have you tried selling on either Shopify or Etsy? Let us know in the comments below.