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This is my attempt to answer a question that has nagged at many Etsy sellers at one point or another in their selling journey.
Is Shopify Better Than Etsy?
I won’t save the best for last so I’ll just go ahead and say upfront, “No, Shopify is not better than Etsy”.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that it isn’t a good tool to have in your arsenal of online selling tools, but is it better than Etsy? For most sellers, and especially for new Etsy sellers, no, I don’t think it is.
This is would be a good place to state that the opinions expressed in this blog post are mine and mine alone.
Most importantly, they are just that… My opinions.
But I will back them up with observations I have made over the past seven-and-a-half years of talking with a wide array of Etsy sellers both on and off the podcast, as well as my own personal experiences running my own ecommerce website.
The annoying but more politically correct response to this question is “it depends”.
That’s because it really does.
Shopify vs. Etsy For Ecommerce Newbies
If you are new to the world of online selling then for sure I advocate finding an established platform with an audience of buyers who already flock to that platform and set up your shop there.
This is a good way to get initiated in the ins and outs of selling online (which are quite different from selling in person) as well as a good way to do some proof of concept testing for your product(s) or ideas.
The marketplace on an established platform will help you figure out quickly what buyers do or don’t want and by interacting with customers within the safe confines of a trusted marketplace, you can actually refine your product offering based on customer feedback or potential buyer requests.
Bottom line for newbies: Start on Etsy
Shopify vs. Etsy For Veteran Sellers
Okay, this is where it gets a bit more interesting because as a veteran seller, ideally you’ve grown a following/”fan base”, if you will and probably have some repeat customers.
These are people who come back to buy from you because they like or love what you sell and they want more from you from time to time.
At this point it makes sense to find a way to stay in touch with your customers, you’ll probably want to keep them informed of new products or product lines you have, give them sneak peeks into your behind-the-scenes processes, and start connecting with them more personally.
The key is, you want them coming back to you and not getting distracted by other shops or products along the way.
Unfortunately, Etsy doesn’t make it very easy to do this and since repeat buyers are easier to sell to than new customers, you’ll want to keep the lines of communication with them open.
Now is when you want to start exploring the possibility of setting up your own website. This is when you want to start looking for a platform that will make it easier for you to stay connected with your customers (yours, not the marketplace’s) and have the flexibility to collect their emails in an easier way so you can continue to communicate with them directly.
Bottom line for veteran sellers: Expand the tools in your toolbox… Consider setting up a Shopify (or other freestanding) website.
“Shopify or Etsy” OR “Shopify & Etsy”?
It’s not a trick question.
You know that you shouldn’t put ALL your eggs in one basket but you also realize that expansion means less attention being paid to each platform you’re running on.
I advocate owning your own space on the internet so as you might guess, I am partial to the “Etsy & Shopify” side of the equation, but this takes a LOT of hard work because there are many more things to take into consideration that you will be responsible for when you run your own website.
These are things that you don’t have to think about when you sell exclusively on the Etsy marketplace.
Things to Consider When Opening Your Shopify Ecommerce Site
- Traffic – are you ready to become your own search engine optimization (SEO) expert? If you’re setting up your own website you should be ready to be just that because you’ll need to spend a significant amount of time doing SEO to drive traffic aka “buyers” to your website.
- Trust – you can direct your current customers to your new website and because they already know and like you and your products, they will likely already trust you as well. This will not be the case with people who don’t already know you. You’ll have to work to convince them (these random people searching on the internet for what you’re selling) to trust you enough to spend money on your site… That they don’t really know.
- Security – Google is all about secure sites now and especially when it comes to ecommerce sites and sites that accept payments from visitors/customers. Your site will get penalized (and basically thrown into cyberspace oblivion) if it isn’t https secure. Do you know how to set that up and keep it up-to-date?
- Payment systems – on Etsy you only need to link your existing bank account to your Etsy account to receive income you earn on the site. When you run your own Shopify site you have to do some backend setup of payment systems such as PayPal, Stripe, or something else, in order to collect money from your buyers and in order to receive the income you get.
Alright, I know that sounds like I’m coming down heavily against opening up a Shopify store but in actuality if you’re ready to grow your business and as a business owner (and as an ecommerce seller in particular), learning the ins and outs of running your own website is a great thing.
I’ve done it myself and even though it hasn’t always been easy (I’ve lost lots of sleep, some hair, and I think maybe even a little bit of my mind for a little while), I have learned so much about running a successful website that I wouldn’t change the experience for anything, and I certainly wouldn’t dissuade anyone from learning what I have for themselves.
So I mentioned earlier that I am partial to the “Etsy & Shopify” side of the equation more than the “Etsy or Shopify” side.
The good thing is that setting up one after the other doesn’t have to be a tiresome and tedious process thanks to some apps out there that make it easy to cross-post your Etsy listings into your Shopify store and vice versa.
Etsy & Shopify Marketplace Integration Tools
The Etsy Marketplace Integration tool offered in the Shopify apps store allows you to sell products you have in your Shopify store in your Etsy shop as well. This app also tracks your inventory across both platforms so if you sell out in one shop you don’t have to worry about having a product that no longer exists being available for sale in the other shop.
Is there a downside?
Yes, the app costs $60/month, but you can consider this as part of the cost of doing business.
There’s a quick video below that goes into more detail about other features that this app provides sellers who want to run their business on both platforms. Check it out:
Other apps in the Shopify marketplace that do pretty much the same include:
- Etsify – $69/month after 5 free listings
- Sellbrite – $19/month to begin with, then it goes up from there depending on what features you use
- Borneo Migration – $0.10/product after your first 10 free imported products (yes, with this tool you import products from your Etsy shop into your Shopify store). These folks also have a video about how their system works. Check it out:
Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any of the Etsy shop integration apps mentioned above, I only learned about them through research I did on my own. I do not recommend any one over another as I have not had any personal experience using any of them. I am merely just sharing information I have gleaned from doing my own research into the topic.
If you don’t have the budget, or you don’t have a large volume of inventory, then you can probably manage by doing the cross-listing manually.
And there you have it.
This is my opinion about whether or not Shopify is better then Etsy, but I’d also like to hear what you think.
Do you have a preference for one over the other, do you agree that both are equally important, or do you think it doesn’t even really matter?
Let me know in the comments below.