Shopify and Etsy are two of the biggest names in ecommerce.
Both platforms are popular, but what makes the two different?
If you’re looking for the answer to this question, I can help you.
In this post, I’ll compare the features of Shopify and Etsy. I’ll also tell you the positives and negatives of each.
Table of Contents
Shopify and Etsy are two popular ecommerce entities.
Shopify is an ecommerce platform for both small and large businesses.
It gives online store owners everything they need to start, like a customizable platform, easy-to-use eCommerce tools, and other features.
Here are my favorite Shopify facts and stats.
- Shopify has 8,000 apps, with Shopify POS being the most popular.
- Shopify powers over 4 million websites.
- Builtwith.com estimates that 65% of the 4 million online Shopify stores are in the US.
- Kris and Kylie Jenner have been using Shopify Plus since 2014.
Etsy is an online marketplace.
Most people come to the Etsy app to buy or sell handmade creations or secondhand items.
The Etsy Marketplace is ideal for solopreneurs and small businesses.
The platform started in 2005 and had over 7.5 million active sellers and 96 million buyers in 2021.
Here are my favorite Etsy facts and stats.
- 86% of US-based sellers on Etsy are female.
- 88% of sellers on Etsy are solo.
- Etsy has 43 product categories.
- Etsy has 377.4 million monthly visitors, per SimilarWeb data.
Here is Shopify vs. Etsy at a glance.
|Which is easier to use?||The Shopify app store is user-friendly. You don’t need technical expertise to build a website.||A non-techie can use Etsy.|
|Which is better for beginners?||Unless you have an existing website, you must start from scratch and create your website, list of products, and layout.||You can start selling after signing up. Adding images and product descriptions are easy.|
|Which requires less maintenance?||If your brand is doing well, you may need to improve functionality to keep up with your growing consumer base.||Once you’ve set up shop, you don’t need to update the website or worry about bugs and plug-ins.|
|Which has better support?||Shopify offers phone and live chat support 24/7. Social media, email, and a help center are also available.||Etsy’s support center answers typical questions. You can email them for more help.|
|Which is more customizable?||Shopify lets you create your ideal website from the ground up. You have total control over your brand.||The Etsy website is already live, and only a few customization options exist.|
|Which attracts more customers?||Shopify is good if you have a following or niche. It may not be the best option for startups.||Etsy’s large online marketplace attracts customers quickly, which is helpful when you have no followers.|
Shopify is a complete online business solution. The platform started as an online store builder, but now it does a lot more than that.
Here’s how you can use Shopify.
- Keep track of your inventory, orders, and shipping
- Market your business with built-in marketing and advertising tools
- Review your analytics to learn how to improve your business.
Once you sign up for Shopify, you have to decide how your own store will look and what it will do, right down to the pages for your products.
On the contrary, setting up an Etsy account is easier and faster. Simply click the “Open your Etsy shop” button and fill in mandatory fields like your name, email address, and shop name.
After that, you only need to upload the products you sell and write their descriptions.
Here’s what you can do with Etsy.
- Boost your visibility and attract customers using marketing tools.
- Accept payments easily.
- Check your shop’s performance statistics.
If you’re starting and don’t have a team to help you, I recommend Etsy over Shopify. It’s easier to set up, doesn’t require technical knowledge or expertise, and has a great community of sellers.
Shopify is a generic ecommerce platform, while Etsy offers a specialized marketplace.
Shopify lets you sell online just about anything. You can sell physical products like clothing or services like photography and design.
On the other hand, Etsy only allows handcrafted goods, vintage items, and craft supplies. You’ll find many artists, hobbyists, and crafters on Etsy.
Shopify is a good choice if you sell mass-produced, commercial products online. Etsy is more suitable if you’re selling creations or crafts.
Shopify allows you to build a brand and customize the look and feel of your online store. It’s similar to deciding every aspect of a brick-and-mortar store.
Shopify offers over a thousand templates, and you can add up to twenty themes to your Shopify account.
It also varies by industry or niche. For example, you can center your website’s motif and aesthetic around coffee if you sell coffee beans.
With Shopify, you can create custom discounts or promos for returning customers—such as a buy-one-take-one promo or free shipping.
Shopify lets you make your website as interactive as possible, but Etsy doesn’t offer this option.
Etsy has a standard design and layout, meaning every seller’s storefront looks the same.
Shopify gives you more control over branding and user experience. You can customize your website to improve the customer experience.
While Etsy is simple to navigate, it has limited options for branding. You can only add text or change the color of your storefront.
Apart from being an ecommerce platform, Shopify is also a website builder. It lets you design your website from the ground up, even if you don’t know how to code.
You can choose from many templates and themes to create your website the way you want. If you’re a fan of customization, this is right up your alley.
By contrast, Etsy is more streamlined and minimalist in its design. It doesn’t have as many customizable features for your website but has a cleaner look.
Shopify’s design possibilities surpass Etsy’s. You can customize your website as you like.
With Etsy, you can pick layouts and colors, not landing pages or product lineups.
Etsy lacks Shopify’s functionalities and only offers basics like customer account creation and order tracking.
It lacks advanced inventory features like in-store checkout and wholesale programs.
However, Etsy does have a seller app where you can manage orders, edit Etsy listings, and respond to Etsy buyers.
Shopify’s feature set is more comprehensive than Etsy’s. It includes customizing your online store’s look and one-time payments.
Shopify stores are also a lot more scalable. Here are some of the features you can get on Shopify:
- SSL certification
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Gift cards
- Discount codes
- Manual order creation
- Marketing automation
- 24/7 support
One thing that sellers don’t know much about is the marketplace’s website builder called Etsy Pattern.
Etsy Pattern makes it easy to set up a website for your brand outside of your Etsy shop. It doesn’t replace the Etsy shop you already have.
If you choose to set up a website, Etsy will import most of the content and items from your shop for you. From there, you can change it to fit your site’s needs.
Any changes you make to Etsy Pattern won’t affect your existing online store.
With Etsy Pattern, sellers can sell things or services that don’t meet Etsy’s rules about being handmade or vintage.
Since your Etsy Pattern site is separate from the marketplace and has a different URL, getting people to visit will be up to you.
Etsy Pattern will give you the tools to succeed.
Here are some business management tools you can use on Etsy Pattern:
- Shop Manager
- Unlimited listings
- SSL certificate
- Website analytics
- Secure payment processing
- Email marketing with MailChimp
- Social sharing
Shopify’s ecommerce features do a lot of the heavy lifting for you—it practically manages itself after you set your own shopify store.
Etsy’s simple features may suffice if you’re just starting or selling as a hobby.
The Shopify store dashboard is full of eCommerce tools and tips.
Here is helpful information you can find.
- Sales totality
- Visits totality
- Orders totality
- Average order value
- Rate of conversion
- Rate of repeat customers
The dashboard can look different depending on which version of Etsy you use. The following information is usually on the Etsy dashboard.
- Shop advisor for alerts, reminders, and tasks that are due soon
- Recent orders, reviews, and favorite activities
- Open and unpaid orders
- Orders, sales, views, and Etsy listings stats overview.
You can use reports and analytics for both platforms to make business decisions.
Shopify’s reports are more extensive and may be preferable for growing businesses and online marketing.
Both Shopify and Etsy offer payment options but differ in how they accept and process payments.
Shopify has Shopify Payments. It’s their proprietary payment system and doesn’t charge transaction fees.
You do have to pay the card transaction fee, which begins at 2.4% plus 30 cents. Shopify supports the following payment methods.
- American Express
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
Those without a credit card or PayPal account can use Shopify’s free Shopify Pay app to transfer customers’ funds via Venmo or Stripe.
Shopify is also PCI-compliant and supports 3D-secure checkout.
Etsy allows sellers to accept Etsy payments from buyers using credit cards, debit cards, and bank transfers.
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
The Etsy marketplace also has Etsy credits and Etsy gift cards. You can redeem them when you checkout.
However, not all online stores accept gift cards or Etsy credits. So, you still need more traditional payment methods when selling online.
Shopify beats Etsy in payment options and security.
Domains help generate organic traffic. And with a unique brand name, your online store becomes more memorable.
You can create a custom domain name for your Shopify store. Purchasing through Shopify makes it your own store’s primary domain.
Shopify can also create a subdomain, a separate URL used for your store’s email address, or other purposes like analytics.
Etsy only allows you to redirect your existing domain URL to your Etsy shop URL. You can’t change your shop’s domain.
The upside is that Etsy Plus subscribers save on custom domains from its partner, Hover.
Your own domain name is crucial to establishing customer trust and credibility. If you want to grow your brand, Etsy’s not the ideal place because you’re sharing a space with other sellers.
Shopify features 24/7 chat, email, and social media customer assistance. You could drop them a line, and they’ll respond.
If you like digging for answers, you’ll like Etsy’s help. Etsy has a help center with an FAQ section.
If it’s not there, then you’d have to contact them. However, Etsy isn’t as accessible because representatives primarily respond by email.
Still, Etsy offers an active community forum where you may ask about store settings or features like uploading products, and experienced users will aid you.
Even if Etsy has a large community, nothing beats getting real-time, accessible customer service support.
The Shopify website is secure as it is PCI DSS Level 1 compliant, meaning the platform meets the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard’s regulations.
Shopify also uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption. It establishes a secure link from the website to browsers and ensures your data is safe from malicious third-party apps.
Shopify’s SSL certificate is valid for three years, which means it’s more secure than Etsy’s.
The average lifespan of an SSL certificate is one year, but Shopify offers a free SSL certificate for all of its plans, including the free one.
Etsy doesn’t provide a free SSL certificate. You can only get one if you pay for their Pro Plan or Enterprise Plan.
The Etsy platform is a reputable site, but watch out for suspicious buyers and sellers.
You can’t trump the platform’s strict data privacy and security standards.
Generating web traffic on a Shopify website can be challenging if brand recognition isn’t on your side. Without brand awareness, attracting customers can be a burden.
Even with targeted advertisements, emails, and SEO, you must still make a significant effort on Shopify.
On the other hand, Etsy already has a lot of online traffic.
You have an audience base, so it’s easier to attract buyers on Etsy. It’s just a matter of making your online store easy to find.
You don’t need to spend much on Etsy because the site markets itself.
You don’t need to spend hours marketing your products on Etsy. Sellers can wait for interested buyers to find their shop.
Shopify facilitates order fulfillment, enabling businesses to ship orders directly to customers.
It works with major shipping carriers and lets you set shipping rates by product and customer location.
Shopify makes it easy for merchants to handle customer requests on their platform by automating returns and exchanges.
Merchants can ask for a return or exchange, look at the order history, and refund or exchange the order.
Etsy’s integrated shipping label system lets sellers buy and print a pre-paid shipping label for USPS, FedEx, or Canada Post right from their Etsy store.
Etsy is a marketplace where independent sellers run their shops. Each seller handles their refund, exchange, and return policies.
Different shops will have different rules.
Shopify is the clear winner in this comparison because it gives you more options and control over shipping and returns.
Shopify is ideal for dropshipping. It has over 500 suppliers and offers international and local shipping alternatives.
Shopify has its own fulfillment network to handle shipping and storage in North America. You can also connect to AliExpress and Amazon.
Etsy isn’t as good for dropshipping. Remember, Etsy’s selling point is handmade items or products, so it makes no sense to store or source them elsewhere.
If you sell personalized jewelry or clothes, creating them on a made-to-order basis is ideal, right?
Etsy sellers won’t get much out of dropshipping unless their product is in high demand. They could outsource but must sustain demand.
Sellers have more shipping and dropshipping options with a Shopify store.
Etsy’s more personalized approach makes it challenging to find a supplier to store and deliver the products.
- Scalable for any business, regardless of size.
- Feature-rich, which is a must for ecommerce.
- Customizable in terms of layouts and functions.
- The ideal platform to market your brand.
- You can sell anything as long as it doesn’t involve finances.
- Better suited for SEO.
- It doesn’t attract many customers. Unlike Etsy, you’d have to actively promote your brand if you want them to visit your own website.
- Upgrades and plugins can be costly. You’ll want to change the design and add more functions as your business expands.
- The user interface is intuitive but has a learning curve. Building and testing a website takes time.
- Affordable. Even with transaction fees, Etsy is low-cost.
- Beginner-friendly. Setting up shop is a breeze and only takes a few minutes.
- Low maintenance. You don’t need to patch your website, install plugins, or overhaul the interface, even for established stores.
- Free advertisement. The website’s high traffic makes it easier to reach and attract customers.
- Limited website design options and functions.
- Limited customization. Unfortunately, what you see is what you get with the website. It means you can’t make specialized product pages or create special functions for promos.
- Your product needs approval before you can sell it.
In this round, Shopify is better than Etsy if you want to scale your business. You can get started with a free trial.
Shopify has three pricing plans.
Shopify Advanced ($299 monthly)
The most expensive plan is the advanced Shopify plan, which has all the features of the other plans except for app analytics for mobile apps. It’s also useful for high traffic or snowballing.
Shopify ($79 monthly)
The standard plan from Shopify is great for small businesses that want to focus on customer orders instead of managing inventory or making unique storefronts.
This Shopify plan has no setup fee. If your business is so tiny that getting traffic from Google Ads is enough for you, then this plan may be all you need.
Basic Shopify ($1 monthly)
This Shopify plan is suitable for beginners exploring Shopify before upgrading. It has inventory, shipping labels, and online sales reports.
Shopify still charges fees for things other than these plans.
When merchants sell in more than one currency, they pay both the regular Shopify Payments processing fee and a currency conversion fee.
Etsy is the best venue for solopreneurs to sell their goods. It lets you sell antique or handmade goods online without worrying about shipping or inventory.
Etsy has two plans: Etsy Standard and Etsy Plus.
Etsy Standard (Free)
The standard plan is Etsy’s most basic. It’s free and is the default account for all sellers.
Etsy Plus ($10 monthly)
The Etsy Plus plan may be a good choice if you want additional features. It includes 15 listing credits and $5 in Etsy ads.
You can get your domain name from its partner, Hover, with a discount and customize your shop.
US, Canadian, and UK residents can obtain box savings. The printing firm Moo will discount your business cards and other printables by 30%.
However, Etsy still charges listing, transaction, and payment processing fees for all plans.
Remember, Etsy charges a $0.20 listing fee and a 6.5% transaction fee on the goods’ price, shipping, and gift wrapping. Renewals cost another 20 cents.
Transaction costs are 3–5% of the transaction price. Depending on your Etsy payment type, the payment processing fee is 2-3%.
You’ll need to attract customers regardless of which platform you choose. Whether you’ve settled on Etsy or Shopify, your problem now is directing people to your storefront.
How you promote your store depends on where you’ve decided to sell.
For example, you’ll need to be much more hands-on with your marketing strategy in Shopify. People aren’t likely to know the brand name of a newly-opened online store.
Promoting your Etsy shop is a matter of optimizing your page.
Conduct market research, including competitor analysis and determining your target market.
Sponsored ads are an excellent way to gain traction and attract traffic to your website. You can run advertisements on Google, Facebook, Instagram, and other relevant social media accounts.
It will also initiate the marketing funnel and generate brand awareness. However, this will only work if you have the budget to spare.
In the digital world, SEO is everywhere. An optimized page gives your own website more credibility and moves you up in the search rankings.
SEO is also free, but you’d have to learn it yourself if you don’t want to hire SEO experts.
Unlike Etsy, you get to send newsletters to your customers. That’s the beauty of having your own domain.
You can send personalized offers or promotions based on your buyer’s behavior. You can tell them about sales, restocks, and new products to get them back.
Marketing on Shopify may require more work. However, you have complete control over your marketing campaign and social media.
What do you do when you need creative inspiration? You go on Pinterest!
People look to Pinterest for inspiration, whether it is an idea for their bedroom decoration, nail art design, or even tattoos. You could redirect that traffic to your own online store.
If you’re an Etsy seller and you own a Pinterest account, you simply need to click on “Settings” and click “claim.” You’ve now linked your Pinterest account to your online store!
From here, whenever people save your pins, it will redirect them to your store. It’s undoubtedly a unique marketing strategy.
Marketing on Etsy is a lot less straightforward than it is on Shopify. You also have to market to focus groups.
For example, you could join a Facebook group for knitting enthusiasts to discuss the craft and sell your handmade mittens, scarves, or blankets.
People most likely can’t find your online store or products because they’re hard to find. Perhaps you don’t come up in search results.
Product labeling and categorization may be your culprit.
For example, if you’re selling scented candles on Etsy, you could add a “scented candles” tag.
You can also be more specific and use tags with long-tail keywords, like “hand-poured scented candles.”
Super-specific categories or labels narrow searches and make it easier for people to find you.
You can use SEO on Etsy. It’s just not as extensive as what you can do with Shopify.
You can use related keywords for your brand. You could also use related keywords for your product.
Ultimately, marketing your Etsy store entails making sure your products are easily searchable. It also requires networking by joining social media groups and online communities to drive up your store’s traffic.
Here’s a rundown of everything I’ve discussed so far.
- Shopify and Etsy are excellent ecommerce platforms for small business owners.
- Shopify sells anything ranging from physical products like consumer goods to services like appointments or consultations.
- Etsy is more straightforward and generally caters to handmade goods, specialty crafts, hobbyists, and unique, one-of-a-kind items.
- Both are easy to operate, but Shopify has the edge in terms of scalability, customization, logistics, and payment.
While the overall review makes it seem like Shopify has the advantage over Etsy, it also depends on your needs.
If buyers need handmade items like planner inserts, sticker templates, and journaling supplies, they’ll go to Etsy.
People will shop on a Shopify website if they need commercial goods like a skincare product, a grocery item, or clothing.
Shopify is best If you:
- Lean more toward commercial consumer goods and services.
- Want to grow your brand and attract more website traffic
- Want a dedicated space to put up your online storefront
- Want to send exclusive marketing and promotional emails
- Or want a flexible online platform you can customize according to your business needs.
Shopify is suitable for people who want more control over their brand, storefront, and how their websites work.
Its features are unparalleled, and it seamlessly integrates with third-party payment providers and even websites if you already have one.
However, some sellers don’t have the patience or know-how to start on Shopify.
Etsy is best if you:
- Are a hobbyist or crafts enthusiast
- Need a platform to sell handcrafted creations
- Need a platform to interact with other people and see what they’re selling
- Are not particular about branding and website traffic.
However, the sheer number of choices on Etsy can be overwhelming.
It can be challenging for Etsy users to sift through dozens of sellers. Some sellers don’t like paying Etsy fees, even for something as low as three dollars.
Shipping costs can also sometimes be insane.
I hope I’ve explained the differences between Shopify and Etsy well and made it easier for you to decide which is best for your ecommerce business.
Remember, one is not necessarily better than the other. It depends on your needs, goals, budget, and the products you want to sell.
Some entrepreneurs use both ecommerce platforms for online selling.
To start and grow your eCommerce business beyond Shopify and Etsy, you should also learn about the best ecommerce platforms for small businesses.