If you've decided to launch your own online store, the first significant choice is where to set up shop. When it comes to online sales, Shopify and Etsy are two of the most popular options for aspiring entrepreneurs.
But how do you know which to choose? The answer to the Shopify vs. Etsy debate isn't necessarily "Which choice is better?" but "Which is the right choice for your unique needs?"
We'll clue you in on everything you need to know with a detailed Shopify vs. Etsy comparison. By comparing the features of each, you'll come away with a better idea of which is the right choice for your online store.
Ecommerce platforms like Shopify are designed for retailers who want to sell from their own unique website. Etsy is an online marketplace that features lots of different retailers.
Shopify and Etsy are places to sell Print on demand (POD) products, but they have different pricing models and features.
Shopify tends to be best for larger retailers, while Etsy is a great choice for smaller or independent sellers.
The main difference between Shopify and Etsy is that Shopify is an ecommerce platform, while Etsy is an online marketplace. At this point, you may think, "Okay, great, but what's the difference between an ecommerce platform and an online marketplace?"
Glad you asked! Here's a quick breakdown:
An ecommerce platform like Shopify enables individual sellers to accept payments online. You can use Shopify's tools to build your website or integrate it into an existing one.
An online marketplace like Etsy features the products of multiple sellers all in one place. Think of Etsy as an online mall, whereas Shopify is more geared toward helping you open your standalone online store.
While Shopify and Etsy come with unique features to help you start selling online, each utilizes a different approach. Let's take a closer look at everything from the type of products each tends to feature to the pricing, marketing, and advertising tools of Shopify vs. Etsy.
The Etsy marketplace is designed to center around custom or handmade goods, vintage items, and craft supplies. In other words, while you won't have a hard time finding an Etsy seller who offers custom-made t-shirts, an Etsy shop isn't the type of place you'd go to look for used designer jeans.
Etsy users tend to be very creative and offer one-of-a-kind, customized products you can't find anywhere else. Etsy is a great place to set up a shop if you plan to sell anything from print on demand clothing and accessories to phone cases or wallpaper that features your unique designs.
On the other hand, Shopify users can sell pretty much anything they'd like. Since ecommerce platforms like Shopify are geared toward helping retailers sell goods from their websites, a Shopify store might offer clothing, jewelry, food, or anything in between.
While some Shopify stores offer handmade goods or craft supplies, they're not required to stick to the same niches as Etsy sellers. Shopify is a good choice if you want to offer both POD products and non-customized products.
Another critical factor to consider is that Shopify and Etsy use different pricing models. Let's take a closer look at each.
How much does Shopify cost?
Shopify has three basic subscription options, all of which you can try for free for three days or $1/month for your first free months. After that, you'll begin paying for the plan of your choice on either a monthly or a yearly basis, which will score you 25% off.
As we compare Shopify plans, keep in mind that several different fees are associated with each. All plans include a subscription fee and a payment processing fee.
Basic Shopify plan: $39/month, 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction
Shopify: $105/month, 2.6% + 30¢ per transaction
Advanced: $399/month, 2.4% + 30¢ per transaction
While these prices may seem steep, check out the plan features of each. For the right ecommerce business, they may be worth the trade-off.
How much does Etsy cost?
Unlike Shopify, Etsy does not charge a monthly subscription fee, though the online marketplace does offer two optional upgrade options. While both are worth looking into, it's entirely possible to get an Etsy shop up and running without either.
The first is Etsy Plus, which you can upgrade to for $10/month to enjoy more customization options and online marketing features. The second is Etsy Pattern, which allows you to build a website that features your listings under your own domain name for $15/month.
If you choose to forgo your own domain and stick to offering your products for free in the creative marketplace, you'll need to be aware of the fees Etsy charges. These include:
Listing fees: Each of your Etsy listings will cost $0.20 to add to your store and remain active for four months unless it sells before then. It will cost an additional $0.20 listing fee to renew Etsy listings after they expire or to add more of the same product after each sale.
Transaction fees: While Etsy pricing doesn't include a subscription fee, you will be charged transaction fees for each sale. Each time a customer makes a purchase, Etsy charges a transaction fee of 6.5% of the product's total value.
Payment processing: While Etsy fees can vary based on bank location, you'll be charged 3% + $0.25 in payment processing fees for all transactions in the US.
The good news is that Shopify and Etsy make it easy to get your online store up and running. Shopify offers an online store builder that makes creating and launching your own store easy.
The Shopify app store also offers thousands of integrations, while Shopify POS offers retail businesses an easy way to manage everything from staff to inventory. Overall, Shopify offers a wide range of resources and is very user-friendly, as the platform will walk you through the entire process.
Setting up an Etsy store is even more straightforward. You can create an account with your Google, Facebook, or Apple account and get started right away.
Customer service is an incredibly important consideration regardless of the platform you use to start selling online. There's nothing worse than finding out your customer base is experiencing issues and having no idea how to fix them.
Luckily, both Shopify and Etsy have your back when it comes to customer support. Shopify offers resources like:
Etsy also offers support for online stores through several different contact options and resources. Find the answers you need with options such as:
Another important consideration when choosing between Shopify vs. Etsy is the marketing tools offered by each. While online selling can be very lucrative, it's also a very competitive business that can hinge largely on a seller's marketing and advertising efforts.
The platform offers countless marketing apps and resources designed to help with search engine optimization, sending out email marketing materials, social media advertising, and more. Even if you stick to a basic Shopify account, you can still enjoy free advanced Shopify features such as marketing automation, a free SSL certificate, abandoned cart recovery, and more.
When it comes to the marketing materials available on Shopify vs. those you'll find on Etsy, things are more limited yet incredibly straightforward. You'll find a "marketing" tab under the Store Manager menu in your Etsy store that will give you several options.
You can connect various social media platforms to the Etsy marketplace, enabling you to create and share product ads right from your storefront. You can also create discounts or promo codes for your products.
Or you can sign up for Etsy Ads, a paid advertising option that allows you to run ads within the Etsy marketplace. Etsy also automatically runs off-site advertising around products from certain Etsy stores in exchange for a percentage of sales they generate, but there's no way to know when or if you'll be selected.
Customization involves designing your website or storefront in ways that are unique to your own brand. You can incorporate your brand logos, colors, and fonts to make your storefront instantly recognizable to your established customer base.
Since ecommerce platforms are designed to provide tools for running your standalone online store, it's perhaps no surprise that Shopify offers an excellent range of themes to help you build your customizable website. Shopify also integrates with plenty of third-party apps, offers rearrangeable layouts, and a mobile app lets you manage your store from anywhere.
Etsy also offers several integration options and the ability to stay on top of your store from the Etsy app. But, much like other online marketplaces such as Amazon, it only offers a little customization outside of the ability to upload your profile photo or cover image.
That's why using high-quality images in all your listings is imperative to attracting customers and setting yourself apart from the competition. Here are some more great resources filled with strategies for attracting Etsy buyers.
Scalability is the art of expanding your customer base as your business grows. This may be less of a concern if you plan to sell handmade goods that take a great deal of time to create than if you want to start selling print on demand products like wall art, customized cards, or apparel.
In general, a Shopify store may be the way to go if you want to attempt to scale an online store from your own website over time. You'll find far more customization choices, app integrations, and subscription tier options on Shopify vs. Etsy.
While an Etsy store can be great for selling vintage items or print on demand products, there may come a point when you outgrow its limited customization tools, transaction fees, and listing fees. At that point, it's worth doing the math to see if you're pulling in enough revenue to justify opting for a Shopify subscription or at least an upgrade to Etsy Pattern.
Analytics allow you to track your sales and get a behind-the-scenes look at your store's visitors. They can give valuable insights into customer behavior and helpful hints for retaining and attracting customers.
Both Shopify and Etsy offer great analytics tools that are worth getting familiar with once you start selling. Shopify's analytics and reports offer vital data such as visitor and sales tracking and custom reports if you upgrade to Advanced Shopify.
Etsy offers access to key metrics such as store visits, orders, conversation rates, and more with Etsy Stats. Additionally, Etsy's Search Analytics is a great marketing tool that can give you insights into where your sales are coming from and which marketing materials are performing the best.
Regardless of what type of products you choose to sell online, you'll need to make sure you offer your customers easy payment options. If you opt for a Shopify store, you can use Shopify Payments to accept all major credit cards.
You'll also have the option to accept accelerated payments from Paypal, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, and Apple Pay. It's even possible to integrate third-party payment processors to accept payments in other forms, such as cryptocurrency.
While Etsy's payment processing capabilities don't allow you to integrate third-party providers, they offer plenty of payment options for your customers. Etsy Payments works with all major credit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Paypal, and more.
As you can see, both Shopify and Etsy have plenty of features that make either a great place to start selling print on demand merchandise. One of the critical considerations of Shopify vs. Etsy is that Shopify is an ecommerce platform that's an excellent resource for selling from your own website. At the same time, Etsy is an online marketplace with an established audience.
A Shopify store may be better suited for larger POD companies that need more marketing tools, features, customization abilities, and room to grow. Etsy is best suited for independent and smaller retailers looking for a straightforward way to sell online.
Now that we've looked at both online selling sites, let's break things down with a side-by-side Shopify and Etsy comparison. This should make it easier to choose which is suitable for you.
|Best for selling on your own website|
Best for selling on your own website
Best for selling in a popular marketplace alongside other retailers
|Sell any product you like|
Sell any product you like
Sell customized products, craft supplies, and vintage items
|Monthly subscription+payment processing fees|
Monthly subscription+payment processing fees
No monthly subscription fees but higher payment processing and transaction fees
|Easy to use, but can be highly customized|
Easy to use, but can be highly customized
Even easier to use, but with fewer customization options
|Countless marketing app integration options|
Countless marketing app integration options
Social media marketing integrations and optional on-site paid advertising
|Designed for scalability|
Designed for scalability
Best suited for smaller or independent sellers
|Analytics tools offered by subscription tier|
Analytics tools offered by subscription tier
Impressive set of free analytics tools
|Shopify Payments + third-party integration options|
Shopify Payments + third-party integration options
No third-party payment integrations, but Etsy Payments offers all major payment options
|Great customer service options|
Great customer service options
Great customer service options
The bottom line is that Shopify and Etsy are great places to start selling online. Deciding which is suitable for your online store depends on your budget, needs, and goals.
No matter which side of the Shopify vs. Etsy debate you land on, Gelato covers all your print on demand needs. We offer Shopify and Etsy integrations that make connecting your Gelato account to your ecommerce business easy.
Simply select which of our products you'd like your custom designs printed on. Then upload photos to your online business site and wait for the orders to roll in.
When you select Gelato as your print on demand partner, you can sell your custom products worldwide. Gelato works with the world's largest network of local print on demand sites to ensure we can fulfill and deliver your products faster, all while reducing waste and carbon emissions.
Ready to get started? Sign up for a Gelato account today to start selling online in no time.