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Shopify vs. Etsy: Which Should You Choose to Sell Online?


The decision between Shopify vs. Etsy lays the groundwork for your future ecommerce business. Both platforms cater to different types of online sellers, but which one is the right fit for you?

Etsy and Shopify offer unique advantages for those entering the ecommerce space, especially for dropshipping businesses. In this comparison of Shopify vs. Etsy, we’ll examine their key differences, including pricing, store branding, the availability of apps and integrations, and how each platform supports business growth.Whether you’re planning to launch a small, specialized shop or expand your brand online, the first step is to learn about the nuances of Shopify vs. Etsy. Let’s dive in!

Shopify vs. Etsy at a glance

To start with, let’s look at the strengths of Shopify and Etsy—popular ecommerce platforms for businesses and individuals selling online.

Who is Shopify best for?

Shopify is a great choice for businesses looking for a customizable ecommerce platform. It’s particularly beneficial for those who already have a customer base and are willing to invest in a scalable, subscription-based solution.

Shopify dropshipping makes it easy to connect with lots of different suppliers, so you can sell a wide variety of products without having to keep stock. This way of selling is ideal for anyone who wants to offer the latest items in various categories and capitalize on trending products, like tech gadgets or clothing.

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Shopify

Who is Etsy best for?

Etsy is perfect for artists, small crafters, and designers who want an easy-to-use, hassle-free online marketplace. It’s especially good for creatives who are looking to reach customers interested in original, personalized products like custom clothing or home decor.

Even though Etsy dropshipping is more niche, it’s great for sellers who want to offer unique, custom designs across various products without the complexities of manufacturing and shipping. This model allows artists and small businesses to focus on their design work while the dropshipping provider handles the logistics.

a collage of images of clothes and itemsSource: Etsy

Shopify vs. Etsy: an in-depth comparison

In this section, we’ll dive deeper into the Shopify vs. Etsy comparison. We’ll cover everything from pricing differences to the range of features and available integrations, giving you all the information you need to choose between Shopify and Etsy.

When evaluating both platforms, considering the cost implications is crucial for making an informed decision, especially when just starting out.

Shopify

Shopify operates on a subscription-based model with several tiers to accommodate different business sizes and needs. The basic plan starts at $29/month and offers essential features suitable for small Shopify stores.

As businesses grow, they can opt for more advanced plans, like the Shopify plan at $79/month or the Advanced Shopify plan at $299/month, both of which include additional features like advanced analytics and reporting.

If you already have a website and just want to add a way to sell products and accept credit card payments, there’s a smaller option called Shopify Lite for $9/month.

Beyond the monthly subscription fees, Shopify charges transaction fees if you use a payment gateway other than Shopify Payments. These fees vary based on the plan, ranging from 2.4% + $0.30 to 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. 

Additionally, while Shopify offers a range of free themes, premium themes come at an extra cost, ranging from $100 to $180. Many third-party apps available in the Shopify App Store also incur extra fees. Custom domain names add to your expenses as well, though they’re relatively minor. On average, the annual cost for a basic .com domain can range from $10 to $20.

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Etsy

In contrast to Shopify, Etsy fees are charged on a per-sale basis. That includes listing fees, transaction fees, and payment processing fees. Each product listed on an Etsy store incurs a $0.20 listing fee. These listings expire in four months, requiring renewal for another $0.20. 

When an item sells, Etsy collects a 5% transaction fee on the sale price, plus shipping costs. Additionally, there is a payment processing fee, which varies by country, usually ranging around 3% + $0.25 per transaction.

Etsy has introduced an Etsy Plus plan for a $10 monthly fee. Members receive 15 listing credits every month, making it easier to expand or update their product offerings without the added cost.

Overall, Shopify is a more cost-intensive option than Etsy due to its subscription model. Small business owners and individual makers often favor Etsy because it doesn’t charge a monthly fee. However, the cumulative effect of Etsy fees can add up, especially for successful shops with high sales volumes. In those cases, businesses often migrate to Shopify.

Choosing between Shopify’s flexibility and Etsy’s community-centric approach requires understanding the unique audience each platform serves. In the next section, we’ll break down the audiences of both Shopify and Etsy to help you decide where your store will fit best and how to appeal to your potential customers effectively.

Shopify

Shopify appeals to a broad spectrum of businesses, ranging from emerging startups to established large companies. Its users often possess a good understanding of technology or are ready to invest in creating a distinctive online shop. That includes businesses managing extensive inventories, those needing sophisticated ecommerce capabilities (i.e., customized checkouts), and those needing custom features like email marketing or order processing.

The responsibility of attracting customers falls on the shoulders of Shopify store owners, meaning the specific audience each store targets can differ greatly, shaped by the store’s particular niche and marketing strategies. Overall, Shopify is great for brands with an existing customer base, offering a robust platform for businesses seeking independence from marketplace-driven traffic sources like Etsy.

Etsy

The Etsy marketplace resonates deeply with those passionate about creativity, individuality, and sustainability. Its audience primarily consists of shoppers in search of unique, handmade, or vintage items, each with a story to tell. These consumers value the personal connection and authenticity behind each product, from bespoke jewelry and custom art pieces to personalized gifts. 

Etsy shoppers champion small businesses, artisans, and crafters, showing a strong preference for purchases that reflect their ethical and eco-conscious buying habits. Likewise, Etsy attracts a similar type of seller audience, often individuals or small teams creating their products. The platform’s ease of use and minimal startup costs make it a favorite among hobbyists turning their passion into a side hustle and full-time creators looking for a supportive, like-minded customer base.

a woman looking at a tabletSource: Pexels

Shopify and Etsy offer different avenues for branding and establishing your online store’s identity. Below, we’ve gathered key considerations depending on the level of customization you seek for your online business.

Shopify

Shopify provides complete control over the look and feel of your online store, allowing for extensive customization of your storefront’s design, layout, and user experience.

If you’re looking to establish a strong brand identity, this degree of control helps with creating a cohesive brand experience throughout the customer journey. In addition to a customized layout, you can integrate branding elements like logos and fonts.

For example, a high-end fashion label can design a sleek, minimalist Shopify store that reflects the brand’s aesthetic, incorporating a curated color palette and photography.

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Shopify

Etsy

While more limited in customization than Shopify, Etsy still offers opportunities for branding within its marketplace framework. Etsy stores can personalize their shop’s appearance, including the banner image, profile picture, and listings, allowing for a cohesive visual identity.

For instance, a home decor Etsy store can use its banner and listing images to showcase its unique style, whether minimalist, boho, or vintage. By carefully selecting these visuals, along with a consistent photography style and branding elements like a logo, sellers can create a recognizable brand presence. 

However, Etsy’s uniform store layout means that individual shops can’t drastically change their storefronts’ overall look and feel as they can on Shopify. This limitation is a trade-off for the ease and accessibility of setting up a shop on Etsy.

The functionality of an online store should be a key consideration for sellers of all sizes, as it directly impacts everything from customer experience to back-end logistics. In this context, the variety of apps and integrations that a platform offers become crucial factors in your decision-making process. This is where Shopify and Etsy present two distinctly different options.

Shopify

The Shopify App Store hosts thousands of apps covering a wide array of functionalities, from marketing and sales to shipping and inventory management. This ecosystem allows sellers to extend the capabilities of their Shopify store to meet evolving needs, improve customer experience, and streamline operations.

For instance, dropshippers can integrate apps like Printful for print-on-demand order fulfillment. App integrations can help automate various aspects of the business, from sourcing products to engaging with customers.

Etsy

Etsy’s approach to apps and integrations is more limited compared to Shopify, primarily due to its nature as a marketplace. Etsy does offer some integrations, but these are generally more focused on marketplace functionalities rather than extensive ecommerce operations.

Etsy’s integrations include tools for shop management, marketing, and analytics. For example, sellers can use Etsy’s marketing tools to promote listings or integrate with social media platforms to reach a broader audience.

Importantly, Etsy also supports integration with Printful, providing sellers the opportunity to offer print-on-demand products. This integration allows artisans and creators on Etsy to diversify their product offerings without the complexities of inventory and fulfillment management.

Generally, Etsy’s options for third-party apps and custom integrations are limited. That’s partly because Etsy controls the customer experience to a greater extent, ensuring consistency across its marketplace.

When evaluating Shopify and Etsy for an online business, let’s look at how each platform can accommodate growth and adapt to changing business needs over time.

Shopify

Shopify is renowned for its scalability, catering to businesses of all sizes—from solo entrepreneurs to large enterprises. Its tiered subscription plans allow businesses to start with a basic setup and gradually upgrade as they grow.

The platform’s ability to integrate with a wide array of apps means that Shopify can accommodate these changes as the demands evolve—be it in marketing, inventory management, or customer relationship management. 

Gymshark is a great example. Starting as a dropshipping store, Gymshark has now built a massive online community of nearly 7M Instagram followers, all while using Shopify as their ecommerce platform.

a man and woman posing for a pictureSource: Gymshark

Etsy

Etsy, while an excellent platform for small businesses and individual sellers, faces limitations in scalability compared to Shopify. It’s ideal for small-scale Etsy shops, but as businesses grow, they might find Etsy’s capabilities restrictive. The platform’s structure is designed for ease of use and community engagement rather than high-volume sales and advanced customization.

For a small business focused on unique, personalized items, Etsy can continue to be a suitable platform, especially if growth is in expanding product lines rather than scaling up operations.

Etsy does offer tools for growth, such as Etsy Ads and the Etsy Plus subscription, which provide additional promotional features. However, businesses that experience significant growth in product volume might find Etsy limiting. In such cases, transitioning to Shopify is often the next step to accommodate evolving business needs.

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When managing an online store, it’s essential to have access to timely and effective support. Shopify and Etsy both offer support structures, but they differ in how they assist their users.

Shopify

Shopify is known for providing reliable support to its users. Shopify offers 24/7 customer support through various channels, including live chat, email, and phone, ensuring users can get assistance whenever needed. That’s especially useful for resolving urgent issues that could impact sales, like checkout problems or site downtime.

Additionally, Shopify provides a wealth of online resources like detailed guides, tutorials, and a community forum. These are particularly valuable for users looking to solve common problems or learn how to use the platform more effectively.

Shopify also has a network of Shopify Experts—professionals who can be hired for specialized assistance like custom design, development, or marketing strategy.

Etsy

Etsy’s support system is geared toward its community of sellers, offering resources tailored to the needs of small businesses. Etsy provides direct support through email and its help center, which contains a comprehensive collection of articles, guides, and FAQs. While Etsy doesn’t provide live support via phone or chat, its emphasis on online resources encourages sellers to find answers independently.

Etsy also has forums where sellers can connect, share experiences, and offer advice to each other. This peer support is a unique aspect of Etsy, facilitating a sense of community and shared learning. Additionally, Etsy offers workshops to help sellers improve their online sales strategies.

Even though Etsy’s direct line of support isn’t as immediate as Shopify’s, the platform’s user-friendly design and comprehensive online resources make it relatively straightforward for sellers to manage their shops independently. For specialized needs, Etsy users often turn to community forums or external resources for advice.

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Etsy Help Center

When it comes to marketing your online store, particularly through search engine optimization (SEO), Shopify and Etsy offer distinct advantages based on their platform structures.

Shopify

Shopify offers extensive SEO capabilities, giving store owners significant control over factors that influence search engine rankings and traffic. It’s possible to customize key SEO elements like title tags, meta descriptions, and URLs, which are crucial for improving visibility in search engine results. This is especially helpful for businesses aiming to target specific keywords relevant to their products or niche.

Additionally, Shopify stores can be optimized with a blog, an effective tool for content marketing and driving organic traffic. High-quality, SEO-friendly blog content improves online visibility and positions the brand as an authority in its niche.

Shopify also supports integration with various SEO apps and tools, further improving the ability to monitor and boost search engine performance. For instance, apps like SEO Manager or Plug in SEO help identify issues and optimize overall site structure.

Etsy

Etsy’s approach to search traffic is different, largely influenced by it being a marketplace. While individual shops don’t have the same level of SEO control as a standalone website, sellers can select keywords for titles, descriptions, and tags, aligning with what potential customers might search for.

Etsy also has its internal search algorithm, which factors in listing quality, customer experience, and shop policies, among other things. That means sellers also need to focus on maintaining high-quality listings and a good track record of customer service to rank higher in search results.

However, outside of Etsy, shop owners have limited control over driving traffic. Unlike Shopify, where store owners can leverage a variety of marketing channels and SEO strategies, Etsy sellers primarily rely on the platform’s traffic, built-in marketing tools like Etsy Ads, or social media. Etsy does promote listings online, but individual shops have less autonomy in directing external traffic to their store.

For sellers whose products align well with Etsy’s niche market and who can optimize effectively within the platform, Etsy provides a steady stream of traffic. But for those looking for more control, Shopify is a more suitable option.

The bottom line: Shopify or Etsy?

When comparing Shopify vs. Etsy for your online store, the decision boils down to the scale of your business and the kind of products you’re selling.

If you aim to build a lasting brand with full design and operational control, Shopify might be the way to go. It provides an extensive array of ecommerce tools, giving you the power to shape your store to match your vision perfectly.

Conversely, Etsy represents a vibrant, bustling marketplace brimming with online stores that sell unique items. It’s perfect for individuals and small businesses looking to join a community that celebrates originality. For those offering best-selling print-on-demand products like custom t-shirts and personalized gifts, Etsy’s audience is especially appealing.

Whether you opt for Shopify’s expansive, customizable platform or Etsy’s community-driven online marketplace, both offer exciting opportunities for running a successful online store. Remember, the best choice is one that aligns with the goals of your business and helps you connect with your audience. Best of luck in your ecommerce journey!



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