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The Difference Between Shopify and Etsy

Both Shopify and Etsy are the biggest platforms in existence. They may seem as if they offer identical services, however, by diving deeper, we discover that there are significant differences between Shopify and Etsy. Let’s take a look at what each offers. 

What Is Shopify?

Founded in 2006 in Canada, Shopify is a “fully hosted solution” that enables you to easily launch your e-Commerce store. As one of the best e-Commerce platforms on the market, Shopify boasts that it supports over 5.5 million websites. It has all the essential tools you need to not only operate your store but also build your brand. 

In order to manage the performance of your business, it also has all the necessary integrations for “analytical report tools”. Setting up your online store is a snap as you do not need to know how to code.  

What Is Etsy?

Launched in 2005, Etsy is a popular online marketplace to display your products. The way it works is that online merchants sign up for “online kiosks” in which they share space with other sellers. 

It is estimated that over 125,000 merchants use Etsy to sell their wares online. There are also around 90,000 active websites found. Etsy is perfect for those artisans who want to sell handmade pieces, craft supplies, and even vintage items. 

Shopify vs. Etsy: How They Compare

One of the key differences between Shopify and Etsy is that Shopify enables users to create their own “branded space”. Etsy is considered more of a “marketplace”.

As an e-Commerce platform, Shopify is set up to help merchants not only launch but grow their own online stores. It is a powerful platform that enables omnichannel selling. Merchants can sell directly through the website, on social media, in person, and through third-party marketplaces. 

It also includes e-Commerce software and a suite of business tools that allow you to manage payment processing, e-mail automation, hosting services, CRM, and abandoned cart recovery. 

With Etsy, the barrier to entry is low. Etsy draws independent sellers, regardless of their size, to sell on their platform. So this platform is best suited for new sellers, with a low inventory, yet unique products. Etsy does have its own e-Commerce platform called Pattern by Etsy. With this add-on, you can create your own website and eventually sell products directly from it. However, it is not customizable like Shopify, but it does have fewer restrictions than the Etsy Marketplace. 

Another way that the difference between Shopify and Etsy can be described is that Etsy is like taking your homemade crafts to sell at an art fair by setting up your own booth and having many craft enthusiasts see what you are selling. On the contrary, Shopify can be likened to more of a new boutique store being opened on Main Street, where you would need to attract and eventually grow your customer base over time. 

Pros And Cons Of Both Shopify and Etsy

Before you can choose which platform would best suit your business, let’s dive deeper into the pros and cons of each platform.

Pros For Shopify

  • Robust e-Commerce tools: Shopify offers an “intuitive inventory system” that has the capacity to track, sync, and monitor all your orders as well as your stock levels. 
  • Scalable: You can keep your store small or scale it up to a massive brand. You have full control of your branding. Upgrading means more access to even more features. You can also add extra plugins. 
  • Unlimited sales: Shopify does not restrict you on the number of sales you make. This applies to digital products, physical goods, and services. 

Cons For Shopify

  • Shopify doesn’t help with traffic: You really need to build your customer base from scratch, (i.e. Google ads, e-mail marketing, Facebook ads), so traffic, in the beginning, could be slow or non-existent. 
  • Apps and plugins cost: The cost of adding these additions can quickly eat away at your monthly earnings, especially if you are a new business. 

Pros For Etsy

  • Lots of publicity: Since Etsy has an already built customer base, you don’t have to work very hard to get eyeballs onto your store. The fact that Etsy is so popular means that it will just be a matter of time before you are discovered. 
  • Intuitive: It can’t get any easier than setting up your Etsy store. All you need to do is set up your account, upload the products you want to sell, pictures of these products, and product information, and then you can start selling. 
  • Affordable: Etsy is a great place to start when you are new to e-Commerce. You don’t have to pay an extra monthly charge through Etsy’s Standard Plan. However, you will need to pay transaction fees and listing fees. 

Cons For Etsy

  • No creative control: Etsy is not the place for growing your following, or for that matter, scaling your business. You don’t have any control over your customer’s buying process. You can’t change the branding or change the look of your storefront. 
  • Restrictions on products: Etsy prides itself on selling handmade items as well as vintage and unique products. Therefore, if what you want to sell does not fall under this category, you would not be allowed to sell on this platform. 
  • Transaction fees: There is a $.20 listing fee as well as a 5% transaction fee on every item you sell. As your sales begin to grow, this would definitely impact your profits. 

Choose The Best Platform For Your Business

Although anyone unfamiliar with these platforms can easily guess that both Shopify and Etsy are identical, nothing could be further from the truth. 

Both platforms serve a specific purpose for a particular type of business. If you want to create a brand that you have full control over, then Shopify would be your pick. 

If your desire is to simply sell your hand-made goods in what seems like virtual arts and crafts fair, then Etsy would be the best platform for you. 

It all comes down to the type of business you wish to create.

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