So you’ve decided to take the plunge and establish an online business. This can be a fulfilling and worthwhile journey, but it’s not always easy and is filled with difficult decisions. One of the first decisions you’ll need to make for your online business is where you’re going to sell your products. There are tons of different eCommerce platforms to choose from out there, but Shopify and Etsy are two of the biggest names. But which one is better to sell on?
What Is Shopify?
Shopify is an eCommerce platform where people can launch and manage their own online stores. It has a website design feature with over 70 different templates to choose from, and inventory management system, and a point of sale system to essentially give you an all-in-one platform to run your eCommerce business.
Shopify is easily integrated with lucrative social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Thanks to this feature, you’re then able to sell your products on these sites without having to do a bunch of extra work.
Shopify collects and presents valuable analytics based on your business activity that you can then use to adjust and grow your business. Knowledge is power in the business world, and Shopify definitely provides you with all the knowledge you need to make smart business decisions (see also Shopify vs WordPress review).
Pros and Cons of Selling on Shopify
While selling on Shopify certainly is a great option due to many pros, it also has its cons that are important to take into consideration while choosing the best selling platform for your business.
Pros of selling on Shopify:
Shopify has amazing features that allow you to build your own functioning website that will impress all your customers. In addition to your selling platform, Shopify also offers business tools like an inventory system that you can use to run your business better since everything is kept on the same platform.
Shopify is totally customizable and is built to work well for the smallest sellers while still accommodating the biggest sellers. You can choose to go with basic features if you’re just starting out and add more features as you grow without the hassle of having to switch platforms.
Shopify is a diverse platform that accommodates diverse product offerings. You can sell anything from products to services on Shopify without an issue.
Cons of selling on Shopify:
If you’re looking for a platform that will get you exposure, Shopify might not be the best choice. Shopify doesn’t contribute to things like marketing or branding since it’s simply a platform for your site and business. Customers have to search your site specifically rather than finding it on a large marketplace.
While Shopify does offer tons of add-ons and features that you can utilize as your business grows, these things come at a cost. As a result, your Shopify costs can continue to grow, which could become problematic if you’re really looking to use your profits to reinvest in your business.
What Is Etsy?
Etsy is an online marketplace that allows sellers to list and sell their items directly on the site. While you can create your own seller profile on Etsy, it’s not a separate website. Etsy is specifically designed for artists, crafters, and creators that make handmade goods like clothing or resell vintage items.
As a result, Etsy is a great place for people who simply enjoy making things and are looking to earn a bit of extra money from it. You can find just about anything on Etsy, from paintings to custom t-shirts to handmade jewelry. Perhaps one of the best features of Etsy is that it includes tons of custom items that you simply cannot find elsewhere.
People have taken notice of the amazing custom and handmade items available on Etsy, leading to almost 39.5 million buyers on the site in 2018. That being said, with a lot of buyers comes a lot of competition, with over 2 million Etsy sellers listing products on the site. However, Etsy offers marketing features and a seller handbook that can help you achieve success on the site.
Pros and Cons of Selling on Etsy
Like anything, selling on Etsy certainly has its pros and cons that are worth exploring before you decide which eCommerce platform to choose.
Pros of selling on Etsy:
- Etsy is an eCommerce marketplace that is designed to allow customers to discover your store. If you’re looking to increase your traffic without worrying about things like marketing or branding, Etsy is going to be your best bet.
- Etsy is extremely simple to set up and use. It doesn’t involve going through the entire process of setting up a website. Instead, all you have to do is create an account, add your products, and wait for the customers to come to you.
- Etsy is free to use initially -- there’s no monthly plan required if you’re using the Standard plan. Instead, you just have to pay listing fees and transaction fees. As a result, Etsy is a great option for small businesses just starting out that are trying to test out their products before they really jump into selling online.
Cons of selling on Etsy:
Selling on Etsy comes with product restrictions that control what you can and cannot sell on the platform. Specifically, Etsy is designed for sellers of handmade goods, craft supplies, and vintage items rather than mass-produced goods.
Selling on Etsy does not provide you with your own website. Instead, your Etsy page really gives you little room for customization and personalization -- you simply have to use their format. This can make it difficult for brands to set themselves apart from all the competition on the platform.
Selling on Etsy involves a lot of fees that can really add up quickly if you’re not careful. For example, Etsy charges you a listing fee of $0.20 for each item. Then when you sell an item, you’re charged a 5% transaction fee. Finally, you’re charged a standard 3% + $0.25 payment processing fee.
Which Platform Is Better to Sell on?
There isn’t a simple answer to this question. Instead, it really depends on you and your business. For example, if you’re just starting out in your business selling handmade and crafty things, then Etsy is going to be the right platform for you. You can get exposure here and manage your product inventory while keeping it relatively small-scale.
On the other hand, if you’ve been selling for a while and your brand is starting to grow, then using Shopify might be the right move. Shopify can be used as more than just an eCommerce platform as it includes tons of business tools and insights that you can use to grow into the future.
At the end of the day, the choice is up to you. After all, it’s your business! That being said, it’s probably ideal to start out on Etsy to get your products out there and then transition to Shopify to really establish your brand and continue to grow your business.
Alternative Selling Platforms to Consider
While Etsy and Shopify are some of the best eCommerce platforms out there and are definitely solid choices, it’s worth discussing some additional alternatives in case you haven’t yet found the right fit for your online business.
Amazon: We all know Amazon as a place you can get just about anything; why not add your products to the mix? With 310 million active users, you can’t go wrong with selling on Amazon!
IndieMade: This platform is quite similar to Etsy and allows sellers to list homemade goods online. You only have to pay a monthly fee for this platform rather than tons of little fees that add up quickly -- with plans starting at just $4.95 a month.
Big Cartel: This platform allows you to make your own online store for free. Specifically designed for artists and craftsmen, Big Cartel offers plans based on how many products you list -- starting out with five products totally free of cost.
Wix: This platform allows you to create and manage your own website or online store with free options to try out. This platform also hosts your website, optimizes for mobile access, and gets you into SEO.
Finally, if you need professional legal advice when setting up a business on one of the eCommerce platforms, check out following formations services and registered agents services to help you in advance with what to expect.
Reliable Business Formation Services
Nolo is a well-known service that remains a force in the industry as it continues to provide legal help and legal document requirements. If you're looking for a personal service through phone, though, Nolo isn't the service to call upon for your business needs. They have massive library of legal forms, you can customize relevant documents needed, or lease paperwork.
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Compared to other services, ZenBusiness gives you more value for your money. They make the entire process straightforward and are not looking to charge you additional services. Also, their ZenBusiness Pay-It-Forward program for women and minority-owned businesses is fantastic.
Apart from competitive and admirable plans that offer options that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else, IncFile offer their services for free with their starting package which is nothing short of amazing. Incfile is one of the most affordable online services, extremely reliable, and they bring to the table great deal of features that are needed when starting a business.
When it comes down to choosing between Etsy and Shopify, you can’t really go wrong. They are both amazing eCommerce platforms. Hopefully, this information helps you make the best decision for your business.