Shopify vs. Etsy: Which Platform is Best for Your Online Store?

If you’re considering opening an online store to drop ship products or sell unique products you make, you might have considered Shopify vs. Etsy. These eCommerce platforms are two of the most well-known and popular in the industry, and each comes with its pros and cons for sellers. The one that’s best for you depends on what you sell, how you run your business, and the goals you have for your business.

In this guide, we compare the platforms to one another based on their pricing, product management features, sales and marketing tools, customization options, and ease of setting up an account. We’ll also cover:

What is Shopify?

Founded in 2006, Shopify is an eCommerce platform to help business owners sell products or services online. The platform provides an all-in-one solution for hosting and building a website, managing products, and marketing an online store.

What is Etsy?

Etsy was founded in 2005 as an online marketplace to buy and sell vintage and handmade items. Sellers can open shops to sell items on the platform.

Shopify vs. Etsy: Which Should You Use for Your Online Store?

Shopify and Etsy are each excellent at what they do. With that said, they’re designed for different purposes. While Etsy provides a more managed solution for online business owners to sell their products online, Shopify places full control into the hands of sellers.

Although there are several similarities and differences between the two, we’re focusing our comparison on the following features, which are among the most important to consider when choosing the right platform:

  • Account and store setup
  • Customization
  • Product management
  • Sales and marketing

Setting Up an Account and Store

Shopify offers a free account setup where you can trial the service for three days before buying. To start, simply enter your email address on the website home page and fill in a few details about yourself and your business. 

This process is easy, but setting up your actual store can take more time. With Shopify, you’ll need to customize the look of your store, like its pages, navigation, and product collections. You also must purchase and set up a domain name if you want to have a unique URL for your store, like yourstore.com. These steps take some time and can be challenging for people who aren’t tech-savvy.

Etsy, on the other hand, is virtually as easy as setting up an online account. After you name your shop and fill in a few details, Etsy takes care of everything in the background as your store becomes Etsy-hosted.

Winner: Etsy. Because Etsy takes care of the technical setup of an online store on its website, there’s no coding for sellers to worry about. They can simply set up their accounts and shop to start selling almost immediately.

Customization Features

Etsy is somewhat limited in customization because Etsy manages shops on the platform. While you can change your product descriptions, store logo, and a few other details, you don’t have full control over your site.

Meanwhile, Shopify does offer that control, from tweaking menus and navigation to setting up sales funnels to move customers from leads to buyers. Shopify also includes several themes to help you customize the look of your online store to match your company branding. Additionally, you don’t need much coding experience to do so if you use Shopify’s built-in website builder.

Winner: Shopify. If you have a good idea of how to customize a website, you’ll find that Shopify has a lot more to offer in terms of customization, including integrations, themes, and shopping experiences.

Product Management

Shopify stores allow up to 100,000 items, including variations of specific items. Meanwhile, Etsy doesn’t appear to have a cap on the number of items a shop owner can list. However, it does charge a 20-cent fee per listing. Shopify’s listings are included with your plan.

Both platforms allow shop owners to organize their products. In Etsy, you can place items in different categories for customers to sort through. Shopify also offers categories as well as tags to break down sorting further.

Etsy doesn’t quite catch up to Shopify in its inventory management, though. Shopify’s backend system lets shop owners access inventory tracking, adjustment, and history to keep tabs on everything in stock.

Winner: Shopify. Its inventory management features and more granular categorization give shop owners more control over their products.

Sales and Marketing Features

Etsy actively promotes listings on its platform, but there’s no guarantee yours will be promoted unless you purchase ads yourself. Sellers can also offer discounts to encourage people to come to their shop.

Meanwhile, Shopify is as much a marketing tool as it is an eCommerce platform. Shopify has built-in SEO tools, optional advertising, built-in blogging for content marketing, and customer contact methods, like live chat and web forms. Shopify apps can also help you get the sales and marketing tools you need, like abandoned cart funnels, product reviews, and email marketing.

Winner: Shopify, which has numerous sales and marketing features for virtually any kind of online business, either as standard features or optional add-ons.

Pricing

Shopify uses a subscription-based model for stores, ranging from $39 to $399 per month or $29 to $299 per month if purchased annually. Additionally, subscribers pay credit card fees, which are lower with higher-priced plans.

Etsy sellers can get a shop for no monthly fee. However, Etsy does have listing, transaction, and payment processing fees. An Etsy Plus account is available for $10 per month, giving shop owners ad credits, listing credits, advanced customization, and additional features.

Winner: Tie. For small business owners, Etsy’s pay-as-you-go format might be more affordable. However, larger sellers will probably enjoy the all-in-one solution Shopify’s subscription provides.

Whatever platform you choose to build your online store, make it easy for customers to help generate some buzz about your business by installing social media share buttons on your store’s website. They’re simple to install in just minutes, allowing your visitors to share your product pages and blog posts with a single click.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is it cheaper to sell on Etsy or Shopify?

If you aren’t a large-scale seller, Etsy might be more affordable, as you can start a shop with no monthly fee and pay fees as you sell. Meanwhile, Shopify’s more all-inclusive monthly subscription might be more affordable for higher volume sellers.

Is Shopify or Etsy better for beginners?

Etsy is straightforward to set up, as your shop gets hosted by Etsy itself and has limited customization options compared to Shopify. However, if you have some experience setting up websites, Shopify probably won’t feel too foreign.

Should I use both Shopify and Etsy?

You could sell on both Shopify and Etsy. If you do, it’s a good idea to use a Shopify app to connect your stores together. This way, you can track and manage inventory for both shops in one space.

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