The Ultimate Guide to Shopify vs Etsy (2023)
As a business owner getting ready to sell your products online, one of the many important decisions you’ll need to make is which e-commerce platform is best for your physical and digital products.
So far, out of the several available platforms, you’ve narrowed them down to two of the very best – Shopify and Etsy.
Easy to use
Plenty of templates & apps
Great for dropshipping
14 Days free trial
Could be expensive with add ons
Easy to Use
Flexible payment gateways
No monthly fees and low listing fees
Integrates with dozens of apps & platforms
Higher than average transaction and payment processing fees
If you’ve never sold products online you may want to investigate what these two platforms offer. It’s safe to say that you’re on the right track as they’re both easy to set up and beginner-friendly.
However, depending on your requirements, you’ll find that they’re also very different in setup processes, target audiences, customization, etc.
Esty is generally associated with selling all things artsy, including quirky arts and crafts, vintage items, and handmade products.
It might be a better platform for a new business or one selling a small collection of articles that doesn’t require a dedicated store. On the other hand, Shopify offers you the option to build a stand-alone e-commerce store, complete with a customizable domain name.
You’re on the right page to help you decide which e-commerce platform is best for your business. Here you’ll find an extensive comparison of the two, including their primary differences and which platform wins regarding features, ease of use, pricing, support, and much more.
So, without further ado, let’s dive in.
Shopify vs Etsy: Introduction
Shopify is an e-commerce website builder that simplifies the development of a DIY online storefront. The look and feel are entirely up to you — with customizable design options. More than a website builder and e-commerce platform, they offer many tools for displaying your products and helping define and market your brand.
In addition, Shopify offers hundreds of additions to expand the functionality of your store (Shopify app store) and allow collaboration with different software. This is valuable if you currently use several programs to run your online store. For example, if you do in-person cash or check sales, its point of sale (POS) system can easily integrate all your payments.
Shopify is suitable for small to large businesses. Merchants sell thousands of products to millions of people worldwide via Shopify. Its multiple pricing tiers allow you to start a somewhat small operation, with the capacity to grow into handling hundreds or thousands of transactions per minute.
Etsy is a marketplace featuring numerous online vendors via its storefront. Etsy market is incredibly competitive since retailers’ goods are of an arts and crafts nature. It started in the handmade crafts arena, which is still its primary mission as it transitions into a multifaceted e-commerce platform.
In recent years, although Esty has included the option for sellers to work with third-party creators and fulfillment suppliers, it continues to stand out in the e-commerce industry by selling all kinds of handcrafted items, vintage items at least 20 years old, and crafting supplies. With a business model that continues to be successful, Esty boasts over 1.7 million vendors that sell to more than 33 million customers around the globe.
The platform encourages independent sellers of any size to join. However, as essentially an entry-level shopfront, it’s best suited for smaller operations with exclusive items.
The Key Differences
The main difference between Shopify and Etsy is that Shopify is like opening a boutique store where you can attract and develop your customer base. In comparison, Etsy is like taking your crafts to a fair and displaying them for arts and crafts enthusiasts to see.
Shopify’s Pros and Cons
- It offers one of the best toolsets for online sales around, including an intuitive inventory system to track, sync, and monitor your orders and stock levels.
- It’s exceptionally scalable and caters to all store types, from small businesses to large brands. In addition, you’ll be in control of your branding and can upgrade your account at any time for more features.
- You can sell a limitless number of products. There are no rules for how much or what kind of products you can sell.
- It doesn’t help in getting your business in front of your target customers, and they’ll need to enter a search to find you. In addition, you may need to use Facebook and Google ads and email marketing strategies for additional exposure. Therefore, without an established customer base, you may not see traffic as quickly as you’d like.
- The use of additional plugins and apps will increase your monthly running costs, which is something to factor into your budget.
And for Esty
- Etsy offers excellent exposure as a marketplace with an established customer base. As a result, its popularity can be relied on to drive visitors your way.
- Setting up an account is pretty straightforward. You just need to upload images, products, and descriptions, and you’re ready to sell.
- They offer low running costs. Although you’ll need to pay listing and transaction fees, there is no additional monthly charge on the standard plan (more on this later).
- You’ll lack creative control, as Etsy doesn’t offer the option to change the look of your storefront or branding. Overall, fewer tools are available to help grow your following, and you’ll also have less control over your customer’s buying process.
- Etsy has restrictions on what kind of products you can sell. Known for selling handcrafted, vintage, and unique items, if you want to sell other types of products, you may not be permitted to.
- Fees are payable, including transaction fees, amounting to 5% per item sold, plus commission, as well as a $0.25 listing fee. These fees can significantly reduce your profits once you generate more sales.
Shopify vs Etsy: Features
Shopify and Esty offer the same essential online sales and inventory management capabilities. However, they have distinct differences in advanced functionality and the ability to scale up as your business grows.
Here are some key features that make Shopify stand out:
- Shopify’s features are designed to ramp up and supercharge your conversions if you have big ideas for your online sales. They will also assist you in implementing your plans.
- Thanks to the POS system, in addition to your online e-commerce website, you’ll have the ability to access various sales channels. In addition, you can use this system to bundle all your card transactions in one system.
- Shopify also offers easy integration with Instagram and Facebook to sell your products via those platforms. In addition, if you’re an Amazon seller, you can manage your Amazon and Shopify products using a single interface.
- Shopify offers reporting information designed to support you in making smart business choices. Including basic info like sales over a particular period and KPI details by sales channels, individual products, average revenue per order, and much more.
Esty caters to small businesses or sole proprietorships selling on a small scale. However, its features are easy to use, and instead of offering a stand-alone website for your store, you’ll have a storefront via Esty’s website.
Here are some of Etsy’s key features:
- Etsy has a prominently displayed search bar. Thus, the amount of traffic you could potentially receive via Etsy’s homepage is enormous. And when it comes to website traffic, Etsy is one of the most highly ranked globally. They’re always in the top 150 worldwide, which will help reduce your acquisition cost per unique customer.
- They offer an add-on option called “Etsy Pattern” that allows you to create an e-commerce website to supplement your storefront.
- You can also encourage sales via Facebook. However, setting this up will require at least one third-party app.
- Esty sticks to the basics when it comes to analytics and sales reports. As a result, you’ll find the information you need to know regarding traffic, product listings, revenue, etc.
Winner for Best Features: Shopify
Shopify is a clear winner here. It offers many more features to help you increase your revenue through several sales channels. In addition, its robust reporting features go a long way in assisting you in your business strategy.
Shopify vs. Etsy: Customizability and Design
One essential method of achieving a successful online store is an attractive and intuitive web design. If you present a lackluster website, visitors are likely to be put off and go elsewhere. Therefore, a welcoming website with customized aesthetics and a logical layout is crucial.
Etsy allows you to upload your logo to display, and that’s it. If web design is not your forte, this may work out to be an advantage, as it keeps things simple.
However, many entrepreneurs see this as a significant problem as it hinders your business’ ability to brand yourself, stand out, and limits how your product listings are written. This can be frustrating if you want your store presented in a certain way.
What makes Esty such a fantastic e-commerce platform is the excitement of selling on a marketplace instead of creating a store from the ground up. On the one hand, you are saved from possibly making costly mistakes caused by your website design. But on the other hand, there’s no way to make your store stand out from the different sellers and develop a presence aside from your logo.
The silver lining here is an Esty store page looks flawless. They are clean and easy to use. All the information is logically placed and fits perfectly on the screen. You know your customers won’t have difficulty finding the product information they need.
However, as a new online business owner, you must find a way to stand out from the crowd. Your customers need to easily find you amongst the other merchants selling products in the same category as you. Unfortunately, Etsy makes it almost impossible to develop a loyal brand following as there is no way for you to make your online store memorable.
On the other hand, Shopify is on the opposite end of the spectrum for customizing and design. As a result, you’ll be spoiled for choice with an almost infinite selection of options.
With back-end access to your website, you can choose from over 60 website design themes optimized for various industries. Some templates even include zoom-in features, ideal for clothing or furniture products. Once you’ve decided on a theme, you can edit it, personalize it, and rearrange the layout as much as you like.
Shopify’s themes will act as the foundation of your website. If you’re not into designing but prefer to set up your site yourself, you’ll likely find this part straightforward with the help of Shopify’s themes.
The Shopify themes will be mobile responsive, so you know you’ll be able to reach your target customers via any device and offer them a smooth user experience.
Winner for Customizability and Design: Shopify
While Etsy’s controlled design options help to reduce your risk of making a design error that could cost your digital presence, you won’t have the freedom required to create a unique website. On the other hand, Shopify is far more flexible in creating a memorable brand image.
Shopify is a clear winner when it comes to customizability and design. They make it easy to customize your storefront for brand establishment.
Shopify vs. Etsy: Software Integration
No e-commerce platform will be able to do everything you need. You may need to use third-party apps, plugins, or integrations for precise capabilities. While some apps offer a free trial period or are free, many of them will come with a monthly subscription fee.
Shopify operates with upper-tier plans. In addition, it offers a respective and robust app store with 4,000 plus third-party options.
If you need assistance with your store design, you’ll have at least 1,793 apps to choose from that can help. With hundreds more to help with your marketing, finance, orders and fulfillment, inventory turnover ratio, and productivity.
In addition, you’ll be able to look at all available apps before signing up for a plan. This will ensure that you’ll be able to set up precisely what you need your site to do before parting with any money.
One of Etsy’s advantages is an easier learning curve with basic functionality. However, at the same time, this means you’ll need multiple add-ons to customize your store for your needs. For example, Shopify includes point of sale (POS) for in-person sales. To do the same via Etsy, you’ll have to use Square.
Also, one inconvenience of choosing Etsy is that you’ll need to create an account and set up a storefront before seeing the available apps and integrations. One way around this is to conduct an online search for articles detailing Etsy’s most popular apps.
Winner for Software Integration: Shopify
Shopify also wins this category – hands down. Its straightforward transparency of available apps, as well as a wide range of capabilities, is superior to Etsy’s “we’ll show you what apps are available after you create your store” approach.
Shopify vs. Etsy: Ease of Use
How easy an e-commerce platform is to use is particularly important. You’ll likely prefer to spend your time growing your customer base and making sales instead of spending a lot of time learning how to use it.
Both Shopify and Etsy offer an intuitive and uncomplicated vendor experience. They are both well documented, and thus, shouldn’t be problematic for new business owners to set up. Let’s look at a few details.
Shopify has an all-inclusive and easy-to-use toolset to make designing and maintaining your Shopify store a breeze. They also walk you through the entire process of setting up your store, including how to sync your inventory, track orders, etc.
The dashboard has a simple layout and is full of helpful information. It includes many different areas you’ll want to access, such as products, analytics, and customer order information. The dashboard’s other helpful information contains your total sales, sales by channel, and customer sessions.
Shopify’s breadth of advanced features makes it a more technical platform. However, it’s granular reporting, e-commerce email marketing, and other valuable tools ultimately create a steeper learning curve.
The Etsy platform has less depth in comparison to Shopify. All you need to do is sign up, upload your products and information, then you’re good to go. The dashboard provides information similar to Shopify’s customer orders, statistics, and product listings. However, for more e-commerce capability, you’ll need to use third-party integrations.
For pure simplicity, Etsy’s pricing comes out on top. Shopify’s pricing is steeper – it’s $79 per month plan is likely what you’ll need if you have more than minimal sales. Esty provides more modest pricing to access the features you need.
Winner for Ease of Use: Etsy
Etsy has won a category, as it has the edge over Shopify if you want an easier and quicker way to start selling online. Shopify’s platform design is more complex to facilitate your scale-up over time. The design of Etsy’s online store builder and dashboard is built to be easy to use.
Shopify vs. Etsy: Pricing
You need to be incredibly observant to avoid choosing a plan that leaves you needing more features when it comes to pricing. At the same time, you don’t want to pay for the things you won’t need to start with. Also, in addition to a monthly subscription cost, you’ll need to cover a transaction fee per sale.
At the time of writing, Shopify has the following five plans, all including unlimited customer support:
- Shopify Lite for $9 per month. This plan allows you to process sales via your website or on Facebook. However, Shopify will take 2.9% of each online transaction, plus $0.30.
- Basic Shopify for $29 per month. You’ll have a Shopify website here, including the same transaction fee as Shopify Lite. With the option of having two employee accounts and using discount codes.
- Shopify for $79 per month. With this plan, your transaction fee drops to 2.6% plus $0.30 per online transaction. In addition, it includes all the Basic Shopify features, this time with five employee accounts, and the option for customers to use gift cards.
- Advanced Shopify for $299 per month. Here your online transaction fees are reduced to 2.4% plus $0.30 per sale. In addition, with the advanced plan, you’ll be able to radically scale up your sales and capabilities, plus 15 employee accounts and advanced reporting.
- Shopify Plus is a quote-based plan for high-volume sales of up to thousands of transactions per minute. The fees and other costs will depend on your specific requirements.
On the other hand, Etsy’s fees remain the same for all their plans, 5% per transaction plus $0.25 to process payments and 3% commission on top of that. A commission fee of between 12% to 15% per transaction is required for sales resulting from Etsy’s offsite ads. In addition, there is a periodic $0.20 per listing fee payable every four months.
On high-priced orders, the fees can significantly cut your profits. Etsy’s payment processing fees are in line with e-commerce industry standards. However, their rates are a little higher than average.
At the time of writing, Etsy offered the following three plans:
- Their Etsy Standard plan requires no additional costs other than product listing, transaction, and advertising fees applicable to all plans.
- Etsy Plus is $10 per month. This plan offers a monthly budget of credits for Etsy Ads and listings, a discounted custom web address for your Etsy shop, including advanced shop personalization options. You will also have access to discounts on traditional packaging and promotional materials.
- Etsy Pattern for $15 per month. This is an add-on service allowing you to have an e-commerce site via your domain, in addition to your Etsy storefront.
Additional functionality can be purchased at $10 per month.
Etsy will only charge you when you’ve made a sale, which is great if you’re unsure how popular your product is, as you won’t be taking a financial risk.
Winner for Pricing: Shopify and Etsy
Generally, pricing between both platforms is a tie.
Shopify does offer excellent value for your money, and signing up for one of their plans should provide you with everything you need to run your online store. On the other hand, as a small vendor wanting to sell your products affordably, the Etsy platform supports you in doing so. Depending on your requirements, both platforms are reasonably priced and can offer a good value for more.
Shopify vs. Etsy: Help and Support
Customer support is vital when moving into e-commerce. Throughout your journey, and especially at the start, you’ll find yourself needing help. With Shopify, for example, even with a background in web design and development, you’ll benefit from some assistance to guide you through the numerous levels of setup.
Here is a summary of the customer support they offer:
- 24-hour access to a support team via phone, chat, and email.
- A dedicated Help Center with user guides, answers to frequently asked questions, and tutorials.
- Access to official Shopify experts for e-commerce design, development, and marketing.
- Discussion forums.
- “E-commerce University” as an online Shopify community.
Etsy merchants can acquire help in the following ways:
- Access to their customer support team via phone or email.
- Tips on how to improve your store through their “Etsy Success” newsletter.
- A frequently updated “Etsy Seller Handbook.”
- Community forums.
Winner for Help and Support: Shopify
Shopify and Etsy both offer essential help resources necessary to support you in maintaining a smooth-running store via their platform. However, Shopify has a slight edge with its 24-hour access to e-commerce experts and online chat feature.
Shopify vs. Etsy: Winner Overall Is Shopify
Shopify’s ecommerce platform is our overall winner as it has all bases covered to support the success of a new online business. Choosing the Shopify platform to house your business means you can take advantage of their tools and expert advice for growth and scale. You’ll have access to an abundance of options to customize your storefront and establish your branding to stand out. In addition, Shopify’s 24-hour customer support is built into all pricing tiers to ensure you’ll get your queries answered and be supported at any time.
However, Etsy is suitable if your products are of an arts and crafts nature or you want to dip your feet into the pool of online selling. Its barebone design makes it easy to use and quick to get started. Although it offers more potential to attract visitors and develop a customer base, its support for customization to create a memorable storefront is weak. In addition, its fees per sale significantly impact your takings when your sales increase. Overall, we feel it doesn’t support business growth nearly as much as Shopify.
This article brought you a comprehensive comparison of the Shopify and Etsy ecommerce platforms to help you decide which is best for your new online store. We wish you all best!