Whether you’re a brand new small business owner ready to build an online store or you’re an experienced small business owner with an established ecommerce presence but are thinking about other options, the “Shopify or Etsy?” question is likely one you’ve already encountered.
An early version of my cat toy shop, Chester & Pearl, opened on Etsy in late 2018 while this stand-alone Shopify store opened over three years later.
But this Shopify store doesn’t replace Chester & Pearl’s presence in the Etsy marketplace.
Shopify and Etsy serve different purposes and I’m excited to grow my business by offering both.
Here are the reasons why I chose to continue to run two ecommerce solutions for my business and why you may want to consider both Etsy and Shopify as well.
Is Etsy Worth It?
While I have opened a separate stand-alone online store, continuing to maintain an Etsy shop is definitely worth it for one key reason:
Etsy introduces so many new customers to my brand!
Etsy’s own search engine generates 79% of the traffic the shop receives.
That means the remaining 21% of visitors find the shop as a result of my efforts - posting on social media, sending emails, meeting in person at pop-up markets, etc. Clearly, these marketing methods require ongoing time and effort.
Meanwhile, Etsy is generating five times as much traffic without any continuing effort on my part. After optimizing the shop overall and then intentionally posting optimized listings as new products are developed, the Etsy shop pretty much runs itself.
No marketing is required with Etsy.
This is why it may be ideal for you. With its strong name recognition, customers know they can go to Etsy to find unique handmade items. Etsy will then send those customers to your shop and, while you certainly can market your shop yourself for additional traffic, it’s not essential because Etsy is already doing the work for you.
Etsy is particularly ideal for new online shops. When you’re starting out, you can simply concentrate on making your product and learning how to be a small business owner while Etsy sends customers your way.
Additionally, an Etsy shop is relatively simple to build. There are no custom templates to purchase or design. All of your content feeds through the same template as all other Etsy shops. There are so many decisions to make when you’re a small business owner and Etsy makes the process much simpler!
But are Etsy fees worth it?
In my opinion … yes! And here’s why…
Etsy charges several different fees including credit card processing fees, transaction fees, and 20-cent listing fees.
Of course, you’ll be paying credit card processing fees everywhere you accept credit card payments. There’s a minor fluctuation in the exact rates across different platforms, but they’re basically equal.
Etsy’s 6.5% transaction fee that is applied to each order has been somewhat controversial, but is still a bargain for my shop.
Keep in mind what Etsy is offering.
Etsy provides a virtual marketplace for you to display your items and generates traffic for your shop. This is what your fee is covering.
This isn’t unlike pitching a tent at a pop up market or craft fair where you’ll be charged a vendor fee in order to participate in the physical marketplace and benefit from the traffic the organizer sends your way.
Personally, the vendor fees for pop up markets where I vended in the Spring of 2022 translated to 8-19% of my net sales for what I consider “good” markets and over 30% for markets hampered by bad weather or insufficient marketing.
And if you’re planning on selling in retail shops and offering wholesale, pricing begins at 50% of the retail price.
So, yes, for the marketplace and traffic that Etsy provides, its 6.5% transaction fee is extremely reasonable considering the alternatives.
Etsy’s pricing structure is especially ideal for newer or lower volume shops because you only pay when you make a sale. Etsy does not charge monthly fees. There are only transaction fees when an order is placed.
Why did I open a Shopify store?
So, if Etsy has been so great, why open another online store?
As good as Etsy has been for my small business, the plan was always to eventually grow beyond being just one of millions of shops in Etsy’s online marketplace to having my own stand-alone online store with Shopify on my own domain.
Shopify allows greater control, customization, and independence that will allow my brand to grow.
On Etsy, every shop uses the same templates where content is displayed in the same places.
On Shopify, the options for fleshing out a brand are virtually endless.
For example, I’m now able to expand on the inspiration behind the cat toy designs and better convey their purposes without being limited by Etsy’s templates. I can write a blog post about the rescue kittens that inspired the Foster Kittens collection and link it directly to the product listings for cat toys with those kittens.
The shopping experience is improved with Shopify by listing products both by type and collection without creating duplicate listings as required on Etsy.
And there’s freedom to expand Chester & Pearl beyond merely being a store … whatever that may be!
Think about your own marketing plans. Even if Etsy generates a solid amount of traffic for your shop, you may have bigger goals for growth and no longer want to send the results of your marketing efforts to a marketplace full of distractions.
I mean, seriously, who doesn’t get lost in Etsy browsing all the amazing products?
Ideally, you should send those you meet at pop up markets, your Instagram friends, Pinterest pins, and email list subscribers to an online store that’s 100% yours. With Etsy, it’s certainly not ideal to send your marketing efforts to a website that literally places links to dozens of other locations before displaying the first piece of your shop's content on the screen!
Having Shopify AND Etsy
Even though this stand-along Shopify store is the now and future of Chester & Pearl, it would be silly to shut down an Etsy shop that’s still generating so much traffic and sales, essentially on auto-pilot. Why close something down that’s already working?
So, I’m leaving my Etsy shop open even as this store becomes the new focus for Chester & Pearl.
Etsy will continue introducing new cat lovers to my small business while I direct all future marketing efforts to the Shopify store.
And you may want to consider the same. A Shopify store may be your primary ecommerce solution, but leaving an Etsy shop open as an additional online marketplace presence may be beneficial, not unlike wholesale products sitting on retail shelves or your temporary presence at pop up markets.