Shopify vs Etsy: Comparison and Review of Online Shops

by | Feb 14, 2019 | e-Commerce | 0 comments

Are you looking to sell goods online but confused by the amount of platforms you can do it on? That’s understandable, given the amount of choices out there right now.

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Etsy and Shopify are two of the most popular choices for selling online. Despite that, they are vastly different platforms. Jumping into one or the other will give you totally different options as a seller. Don’t try to pick one before you’ve got all the facts on these two very different e-commerce platforms.

What is Shopify?

shopify interface

Shopify is one of the largest e-commerce platforms in the world. It hosts hundreds of thousands of businesses and a thriving community of sellers. Shopify has been around for more than a decade and has become a standard among e-commerce platforms.

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It offers a lot of powerful e-commerce tools for large businesses all the way down to individual sellers. Shopify stores are very customizable. You can make them look exactly the way you’d like and you will also enjoy the prestige of being part of the Shopify network.

What is Etsy?

Etsy is a marketplace of individuals. This differs greatly from Shopify. Where Shopify is a large network of stores and shops, Etsy is a marketplace where artists, designers and crafters display their wares. If Shopify is a mall, Etsy is a craft fair.

That doesn’t necessarily make one better than the other, but it certainly means they serve different audiences. Etsy has a huge amount of sellers, 1.8 million by its most recent count. It also claims 30.6 million buyers and hundreds of millions of monthly visitors. So while it sounds like a small indie production, Etsy can be hugely profitable for the right type of business.

How is an Etsy shop different from Shopify?

There are a few key differences between Etsy shops and Shopify stores:

  • Domain name/URL
  • Site design
  • Pricing
  • Types of visitors
  • Marketplace rules
  • Stock and inventory

Domain name/URL: Shopify gives you a temporary URL when you initially sign up. After that, however, you are free to change that URL to something more customized. You can also customize the URLs of internal website pages.

Etsy gives the same style of URL to all its sellers. Everyone selling products on Etsy gets an Etsy URL. It will appear as etsy.com/shop/YourStore. The only part you will get to customize is the “YourStore” piece of the URL. In this regard, Shopify gives you much more flexibility.

Site design: Shopify offers a lot of customizability with themes and templates. You can choose free themes or paid templates. You can also use HTML, CSS and other coding languages to customize your design. Etsy, in contrast, applies a global design to all Etsy stores. Your Etsy shop will look very similar to all other Etsy shops.

Pricing: Pricing will be described in more detail below, but the short answer is that Shopify has a higher up-front fee, whereas Etsy charges per transaction. Etsy can get expensive as those fees add up, but at first glance Shopify is the more expensive option.

Types of visitors: This is a metric that is easy to overlook, but the types of shoppers who search Shopify and the type who search Etsy are very different. Shopify stores almost require marketing plans to make them successful. While some of the apps within Shopify can help with that, you will be responsible for driving most of the traffic you get.

Etsy, however, is well-known as a hub of artists and craftsmen. People already like Etsy and scour it for certain types of goods. If you are selling those sort of goods (mostly handmade craft items), you can benefit from the overall popularity and site traffic of Etsy.

Marketplace rules: Shopifty allows sellers to sell whatever they like, for the most part. It doesn’t matter what kind of store you run, you can put it on Shopify. Etsy, however, has marketplace rules that limit who can sell and what they can sell. Etsy built its reputation and popularity by narrowing its sellers only to people selling handmade items made by the sellers themselves. They also accept vintage goods and craft supplies.

Stocks and inventory: Shopify has systems built into it to manage inventory and process payments. Etsy, by contrast, requires you to take care of inventory elsewhere. It merely lists the products you have to sell.

Etsy Pricing vs Shopify Pricing

Shopify’s pricing differs depending on the complexity of the services you require for your online store.

PlanBasic ShopifyShopifyAdvanced Shopify
Monthly Pricing$29/month$79/month$299/month
Credit Card Rates
Online2.9% + $0.302.6% + $0.302.4% + $0.30
In person2.7% + $0.002.5% + $0.002.4% + $0.00
Transaction Fees
Using Shopify PaymentsNoneNoneNone
Using external payment gateways2.0%1.0%0.5%
Features:
Staff accounts2515
Number of productsUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
File storageUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited

Shopify also offers Shopify Plus for entrepreneurs. This is a good option for large businesses. For smaller sellers and individuals, Shopify has Shopify Lite. It costs only $9 per month and offers simple services that are good for a single person selling only a few items.

Now let’s take a look at Etsy.

Etsy has no monthly fees like Shopify, which can make it cheaper to get started. Each of your listings on Etsy cost $0.20. In addition, all payments will go through Etsy Payments. You will pay a 3.5% transaction fee, as well as 3% + $0.25 payment processing.

The advantage to Shopify is that their payment structure is more straightforward. If you are a small seller you will almost certainly save money by going with Etsy, but it’s hard to say exactly how much you’ll pay to sell on Etsy because it will change for every seller based on how much they’re selling and the fees involved.

Etsy Look and Feel vs Shopify Themes

etsy store

As mentioned above, all Etsy shops look the same. They are all branded with Etsy’s look and feel. For some, this might actually be a benefit. You won’t have to worry about designing a website. You can just get down to selling your products while benefiting from Etsy branding.

shopify store

Shopify store

Those who want more freedom to customize however should go with Shopify. With Shopify you can choose free and paid Shopify themes. These come with styles that you can apply. That alone offers a lot of options for customizing how your store looks. You can even use HTML and CSS to customize the finer details.

However, this customizability certainly comes at a cost. Some Shopify themes cost nearly $200, on top of the monthly fee you already pay. If you are on a budget, Etsy will save you a lot of money.

Etsy Coupons and Coupon Codes

A nice feature of Etsy is that the site itself can offer Etsy coupons and Etsy coupon codes to customers. However, sellers can also offer coupons and sales on Etsy.

Etsy has built-in tools that allow sellers to make special offers. You can customize the details of your discount or coupon and view statistics about your sale while it is running. Etsy even offers some promotion tips for people who are new to selling online.

Etsy Login vs Shopify Login

Etsy has a pretty standard login. You can even choose to link your Facebook or Google+ account directly to Etsy to make logging in simpler.

Shopify has a similar login on its main website. However, Shopify also offers an app. If you download this app and log in to it, you can check up on your store’s performance no matter where you are. This is a good feature for sellers with higher volume who need to constantly keep an eye on how their store is performing. Those who don’t need this constant check in will find Etsy’s login sufficient.

Etsy Stock vs Shopify Stock

Recently, Etsy stock has been valued around $21. This has been fairly consistent for a few months. However, stock prices are very fickle and can fluctuate wildly at any time. While it is tough to say with much certainty what will happen to stock prices, Etsy’s has been fairly stable.

Shopify stock is much more valuable, which is no surprise given that Shopify Inc. is a larger brand that hosts larger sellers than Etsy. They are valued around $105. In the past five years, Shopify stock has generally trended upward, though it’s hard to definitely say how any stock will do in the long-term future.

Etsy Store vs Shopify Apps

One of the trades you will have to weigh when deciding between Etsy and Shopify is the Etsy store vs Shopify apps.

Etsy shops are all Etsy branded. They don’t come with a lot of flexibility. However, the Etsy brand is well-established and broadly popular. Etsy as a brand can help boost your sales. If you are willing to trade flexibility, you can benefit from Etsy even as they benefit from having you as a seller.

But Etsy does not come with the bells and whistles that Shopify offers. Those bells and whistles include dozens of apps that can integrate with your store to help you run it and help customers use it. Many Shopify apps are free, including ones like MailChimp that help with organizing email and Google selling apps.

The paid apps are generally inexpensive and serve specific purposes. If you do end up using Shopify, it is definitely worthwhile to check out the apps they offer and see which ones work with your store.

How to Sell on Etsy vs How to Sell on Shopify

Etsy is an easier place to get started selling items. Because there is so little customizability, you can quickly get a site up and running and start selling your products. You don’t need to design an entire website in order to start selling with Etsy. If you have products and images of those products, you’re good to go.

Shopify, while more complicated, is still very easy to set up. You will need to invest more time and money in order to get started, but once you have your store up and running you will not need to spend much time maintaining your Shopify store.

Etsy Support vs Shopify Support

Shopify has many support options. Because it has so many users, it can offer a thriving community where users help each other out. This is sometimes quicker and easier than dealing with support staff. However, Shopify also has a support helpline that you can call if you need help. Another interesting feature of Shopify support are the video tutorials it offers as a way to help people troubleshoot problems.

The Etsy support center can assist with most questions you’ll encounter. Like Shopify, Etsy has a support community where you can go to ask questions. However, Etsy’s support site can be a little confusing. The help center serves both seller and buyers, so finding an answer to your particular question can take some digging. It can also take some digging to manage to contact Etsy itself. There is no obvious phone number available for Etsy support, if you want to get help from an actual person.

Our Pick

Shopify is a massive e-commerce giant while Etsy is a smaller company tailored specifically to artists and creators. Both have advantages and ultimately the right choice comes down to what you are selling and how much you are selling.

Choose Shopify over Etsy if:

  1. You have a lot of inventory
  2. You sell a lot of products
  3. Most or all of your products are not crafts, vintage or art
  4. You want your store to be fully customizable

Choose Esty over Shopify if:

  1. You have a smaller budget
  2. You are an artist or crafts maker
  3. You want the benefit of Etsy’s brand
  4. You aren’t concerned with customizability

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