Shopify and Etsy are probably the two biggest names you’ve heard of (after Amazon) when you are willing to sell your products online.
Both have their own unique features and advantages, making it difficult for entrepreneurs and business owners like you to decide which one is best suited for their business.
If you are a business owner looking for the right e-Commerce platform, this is a post you won’t want to miss out on.
Shopify vs Etsy at a glance
Shopify is ideal for entrepreneurs seeking a customizable, scalable e-commerce platform to build and manage their online stores by building their audience. Etsy, on the other hand, is perfect for artisans, craft and vintage item sellers who want to reach a niche market with a simple, user-friendly platform that already has a built audience.
Now that you’ve got the basic differences and a quick understanding of what might be a better fit for your business, I’d like to expand a bit further and explain it more thoroughly.
Let’s roll in.
Shopify vs Etsy Key Differences
The main difference between Shopify and Etsy lies in their core offerings: Shopify is a comprehensive e-commerce platform that allows users to create, customize, and manage their own online stores.
While Etsy is an online store - it is a marketplace focused on connecting sellers of handmade, vintage, and unique items with a niche audience, offering a more limited scope for customization and store management.
Another highlighting difference between Etsy and Shopify lies in customer relationship management.
On Etsy, sellers cannot access customer emails directly, which limits their ability to build and nurture a customer base beyond the marketplace. Customers can "heart" an Etsy shop and receive notifications, but direct email marketing is not available unless using Etsy Pattern.
In contrast, Shopify enables sellers to collect customer emails at checkout and send newsletters and store updates, ensuring a direct line of communication. Even if Shopify were to cease operations, businesses would still have access to their customer list for marketing purposes.
Reader: So Aayush, I’ll be straightforward here - this is getting mundane, pretty standard and nothing really like a value bomb I can’t find on other ranking articles.
Me: Ah, makes sense! Just so I understand this perfectly, what you really want to know is:
As a startup / small business, how can you maximize your biz?
Here’s a gold nugget:
You can maximize your business by opening stores on both platforms. Let me explain:
By managing dual stores, you can incentivize Etsy customers to make future purchases through their Shopify store with discount codes or other promotions. As the Shopify store gains traction, you may choose to discontinue your Etsy store to reduce fees and maintain full control over your customer base.
So this is what many Etsy sellers do - maintain a storefront on platforms like Shopify to capitalize on the extensive reach of the Etsy marketplace while retaining direct customer relationships.
Etsy vs Shopify: Major Features Breakdown
Shopify is a feature-rich e-commerce platform that allows you to build and customize a standalone online store. It offers over 90 professional templates, secure payment processing through Shopify Payments or third-party integrations, and a wide range of store management features.
With built-in SEO tips, social media integration, blogging, and customer relationship management tools, Shopify helps you grow your digital presence.
The Shopify App Store and Shopify POS further enhance the user experience, making it a powerful choice for small businesses.
On the other hand, Etsy is a platform that hosts sellers in a marketplace focused on handmade goods, vintage items, and unique creations. It's ideal for side-hustlers and small businesses seeking an easy-to-use solution with built-in parameters. Etsy Payments securely process transactions but lack third-party payment integrations.
The platform's large customer base is a major advantage, but competition can be fierce among its 7.5 million active sellers.
Etsy's built-in marketing tools, third-party app integrations, and the Etsy Seller Handbook offer guidance for sellers looking to stand out in the marketplace.
Free Trials, Fees and Payment Plans
When you are comparing Shopify vs Etsy, one of the things that would matter the most to you is the fees that you’ll be paying. Let’s deep dive in:
- Free Trial: No free trial, but it's free to open a shop on Etsy.
- Listing Fee: $0.60 per item / per year listed, regardless of whether it sells or not.
Note: Etsy listings have a duration of 4 months before they expire, but there is an option to enable automatic renewal. With the auto-renew feature, a fee of $0.20 is charged, resulting in a total cost of $0.60 for maintaining a product listing on your store for an entire year.
- Transaction Fee: 6.5% of the item price (including shipping and gift wrapping) for each sale.
- Payment Processing Fee: 3% + $0.25 per transaction for Etsy Payments in the US (varies by country).
- Subscription Plans: Optional paid plans – Etsy Plus ($10/month) for 15 listing credits and $5 credits per month for Etsy Ads, and Etsy Pattern ($15/month) to create a standalone website.
Etsy's primary advantage is the absence of monthly fees for the basic listing version, which makes it a cost-effective option for small sellers or those just starting out.
However, Etsy's transaction fees are considerably higher than Shopify's. Etsy Plus is an affordable alternative for businesses seeking additional features.
For larger businesses requiring extensive customization and advanced features, Shopify Advanced or Plus is the preferred choice.
Shopify vs Etsy: Ease of Use
I have found that both Etsy and Shopify offer ease of use for e-Commerce novices, with distinct learning curves and experiences.
When I signed up for Etsy, the onboarding process guided me through the key steps needed to start selling. It was a relatively simple process, as I only had to add listings to an existing online marketplace. However, I still needed to give careful consideration to product copy, imagery, and pricing (being accustomed to Keywords - thanks to me being an SEO, all that was pretty quick).
While Etsy does provide online resources and video tutorials, some of the videos seem outdated.
On the other hand, Shopify required me to build an entirely new website from scratch. Again given my tech background, things were relatively easy for me. Anyone else will have to familiarize themselves with creating their own brand, customizing templates, building web pages, and mapping domains before even adding products.
Although Shopify has a more extensive collection of resources and tutorials, there was a steeper learning curve for someone new to web design and e-Commerce.
For managing stores on the go, both platforms provide you with mobile apps: 'Shopify' and 'Sell on Etsy' (available for iOS and Android). These apps allowed me to create or update product listings and manage orders with ease.
Probably worth noting here: The Shopify app scored 4.5 out of 5 on the iOS app store and 3.9 on Google Play store, while the Etsy (Seller) app had respective scores of 3.6 and 3.6.
Branding and UI/UX for Shopify vs Etsy: Creating a Memorable Online Presence
Shopify offers extensive customization options for branding and UI/UX design, making it an ideal choice for businesses looking to establish a unique online presence. With a wide range of professionally designed themes, Shopify enables users to create a customized website even without coding knowledge.
Using Shopify's drag-and-drop builder, you can easily implement your branding, adjust colors, add logos, and modify various aspects of your site. Shopify's extensive collection of templates is designed to cater to specific industries, providing highly relevant designs and additional features tailored to your niche.
In contrast, Etsy offers limited branding and customization options. With a standard Etsy storefront, you can only add a custom logo and banner.
While Etsy ensures a consistent shopping experience that customers are familiar with, it lacks the flexibility to create a bespoke shopping experience. The only way to access more branding options on Etsy is through the Pattern by Etsy builder, which offers a few templates but not as many as Shopify.
Shopify is the superior choice for customization and branding, providing a more bespoke shopping experience tailored to buyer personas, markets, or locations.
Etsy's Pattern platform, while cheaper than Shopify's Basic plan, lacks many of the e-Commerce features that Shopify offers, such as abandoned cart savers, built-in email marketing, advanced SEO features, and dropshipping. Despite this, Pattern may suit some users, as it integrates well with the main Etsy platform and offers a lower-cost solution for those on a tight budget.
Shipping and Dropshipping
Comparing Etsy and Shopify's shipping and dropshipping options is crucial for understanding the differences between the two platforms.
Shipping in Shopify vs Etsy
Shipping goods with Etsy
- Etsy focuses on handmade and unique items, with many merchants shipping their own products.
- The platform allows users to print postage labels directly, avoiding post office visits.
- Discounts on postage labels are available, with savings of up to 30% on USPS, FedEx, and Canada Post labels.
- Third-party fulfillment services like Shipstation and Amazon FBA are compatible with Etsy.
Shipping goods with Shopify
- Shopify offers flexible shipping options based on product weight, price, quantity, and more.
- 'Shopify Shipping' provides significant shipping discounts depending on your country (up to 88% with certain carriers).
- Shopify connects with third-party fulfillment services for those who don't want to handle fulfillment themselves.
Dropshipping in Shopify vs Etsy
Shopify is better suited for dropshipping, as it has been designed with this sales model in mind.
- A large number of dropshipping apps are available from Shopify's app store.
- Connect your store to 460 apps (at the time of writing) without major investment.
- Access marketing and advertising tools to promote your products.
Pro-tip: For those interested in dropshipping, Shopify's dropshipping starter kit provides free access to the platform and resources to launch a successful dropshipping store.
- Due to its focus on handmade, vintage goods, and craft supplies, Etsy doesn't facilitate dropshipping easily.
- It's possible to use fulfillment services like Printful and Printify with Etsy for products you have designed.
- Etsy is not ideal for traditional dropshipping but can work for specific print-on-demand products.
Domain, URL Structure, e-Commerce Tools & Features
When comparing Shopify and Etsy, it's essential to consider the differences in domain, URL structure, and e-Commerce tools and features each platform offers:
- Allows you to use your own custom domain (e.g., www.yourstore.com) or purchase one directly from Shopify.
- Offers a free myshopify.com subdomain during the setup process (e.g., yourstore.myshopify.com).
- Does not offer custom domain options; your shop URL will follow Etsy's domain structure (e.g., www.etsy.com/shop/yourstore).
Shopify Provides a customizable URL structure for products, collections, and pages, improving SEO and user experience.
Etsy on the other hand offers a fixed URL structure for individual listings and shop pages, limited to the Etsy platform (e.g., www.etsy.com/listing/123456789/your-product).
Tools & Features
- Comprehensive e-Commerce tools, including inventory management, advanced shipping options, and a wide range of payment gateways.
- High customization with themes, apps, and custom code.
- Built-in marketing and analytics tools, with additional integrations available.
- Offers POS system integration for brick-and-mortar stores.
You can check all of them on Shopify’s website.
- Basic inventory management tailored to individual artisans and sellers of unique items.
- Limited customization of store appearance and shop policies.
- Integrated shipping labels with limited carrier options.
- Offers Etsy Payments and PayPal for payment processing.
- Basic shop analytics and promotion tools.
If you are interested in diving deep, etsy has written a wonderful post that you can check out here.
Overall comparing etsy vs shopify for small business
Shopify does stand out as the best choice for businesses seeking a customizable and unique online presence, while Etsy caters to those who prefer a more standardized and familiar shopping experience.
Sales: Getting Your First Customer
Attracting customers to your Shopify or Etsy store is crucial for the success of your online business. With Shopify, you can utilize built-in marketing tools, as well as a wide range of apps and integrations to promote your store through email marketing, social media advertising, and content marketing.
You can also optimize your store for search engines to increase organic visibility. Etsy, on the other hand, has a strong niche audience, so sellers benefit from the platform's existing user base.
To attract customers on Etsy, focus on creating high-quality product listings with detailed descriptions, appealing images, and relevant keywords. You can also leverage Etsy's promotional tools, such as Etsy Ads, to boost visibility and drive traffic to your store.
Overall, when it comes to getting in those first few sales, Etsy easily wins as it already has a big selling audience. With a few clever sales techniques you can tap into the first sales easily.
So if you are looking to get into sales immediately, Etsy is the clear winner here.
Etsy vs Shopify SEO
When it comes to SEO for Shopify and Etsy, understanding the differences between the two platforms is essential for success. While both platforms can benefit from SEO efforts, the strategies and focus may vary.
For Shopify stores, Google is the primary search engine to target, as it handles around 93.37% of all search queries. Optimizing your store for Google involves researching and implementing the best SEO techniques for your domain, such as focusing on keywords, metadata, and content optimization.
On the other hand, Etsy requires a different approach. Sellers must primarily focus on Etsy's internal search engine, which is designed to present search results to buyers who are ready to purchase. To optimize your Etsy store, you'll need to understand and apply SEO techniques that work best within the Etsy platform. You can refer to resources such as Printful's guide to Etsy SEO for guidance.
However, Etsy stores also present a unique opportunity in that they offer two ways to approach SEO traffic. Since your Etsy catalog can be crawled by other search engines, including Google, you can optimize your product listings for both Etsy's internal search engine and external search engines like Google. This dual approach can potentially increase your store's visibility to a wider audience.
The negative point for Etsy is that the URL structure is fixed, and your store is hosted within the Etsy ecosystem, which may limit your ability to rank as high as you could with a standalone domain for a specific niche. Additionally, Etsy's customization options are limited compared to Shopify, making it more challenging to implement advanced SEO techniques.
Author’s note: As an SEO Strategist at Logeix, I have-had extensive experience of working with various e-Commerce stores, and I can confidently say that Shopify offers a significant advantage over Etsy when it comes to Niche-focused SEO.
What it Feels like to Sell on Shopify vs Etsy (My Experience)
As an Ecom enthusiast and an SEO expert, I've had an in-depth experience with both Shopify and Etsy, each offering unique ways to sell products.
Shopify gives you more control - it feels more like renting a space to set up your own shop. According to Builtwith, over 6.5m stores are powered by Shopify at the time of writing. So for me it provided control over my store, from the domain name to my brand presentation, store appearance, and sales process. However, it also required more effort to configure and attract customers.
On the other hand, selling on Etsy can feel like opening your store in a Shopping mall - with its 7.5 million merchants and 95 million customers, it can feel like having a store in a big Shopping Mall. The customers are already there - but so is the competition. The trick to sell here is to make products stand out.
How to sell on Shopify and Etsy
Shopify allows you to sell almost anything, as long as it is legal. Etsy, however, limits you to handmade items, vintage products (at least 20 years old), and craft supplies. While Etsy was great for selling digital download products ( - this is what I experimented with), I did find a lot of restrictions on the types of products I could sell outside of this.
If my products didn't fit Etsy's criteria, Shopify was the better choice. However, if I had handmade or crafty items to sell, Etsy's existing audience was a significant advantage.
In terms of ease of use, both platforms had their learning curves. Shopify involved more setup and configuration, but it gave me more control. Meanwhile, Etsy was more straightforward with setup, but I had to find ways to stand out among the competition to sell more and sell faster.
Shopify vs Etsy: Pros and Cons
Shopify Pros and Cons
Etsy Pros and Cons
Results and What I feel
I’ll keep this section short and crisp.
In the initial scaling phase, Etsy provided much better results - so for artisans and products that may have a trend - Etsy would be my go to option since they already have a customer base, but in the long haul Shopify is something that I’d like to stick with for everything else because of the ease of doing business, lower fees, and multiple apps to help with scalability.
After carefully examining the differences between Shopify and Etsy, it's clear that each platform caters to different business needs.
However, as a customizable and scalable e-Commerce platform, Shopify is ideal for entrepreneurs who want to create and manage their online stores independently. Its powerful sales tools, app integrations, and support make it a strong choice for businesses looking to grow.
On the other hand, Etsy is a marketplace tailored for sellers of handmade, vintage, and unique items. Its major advantage is the absence of monthly fees for its base service and access to a large, built-in audience. Etsy is an excellent option for small-scale sellers or those just starting out in niche markets.
In conclusion, both Shopify and Etsy offer distinct advantages for different types of sellers. When making a decision, it's important to consider factors such as fees, customization, target audience, and desired level of control over your online store.
Ultimately, you don't have to choose just one platform—many sellers successfully use both Shopify and Etsy to reach a broader audience and maximize their selling potential. Assess your business goals and requirements to determine the most suitable option or combination of platforms for your needs.
Own a Shopify store? You might find these articles interesting:
- Keyword Research for Shopify Stores
- Can you change the Shopify URL Structure?
- 3 Workarounds for the Shopify 100 Variants Limit
- Shopify Link Building