Whether you’re looking to sell the personalised t-shirts, vintage items, or just wanting to explore the world of ecommerce – Shopify and Etsy are the two of the most sought-after platforms to get you started. They both offer great features to help get your site off the ground – but how do you choose between the two?
Shopify is the better choice for online selling. It’s more scalable, more flexible, and offers better ecommerce tools than Etsy.
Etsy has 1.7 million users selling to over 33 million buyers. In 2017 these shoppers spent over $3 billion on Etsy. Shopify boasts an even more impressive figure: over $82 billion has been sold on Shopify.
We don’t blame you for wanting to get in on that action!
Like all ecommerce platforms, there are pros and cons to selling on either one of Shopify and Etsy. This is why we do our research to provide you with everything you need to know to make the best decision for you and your growing business. So let’s find out what platform will work best for you because this is where the selling journey begins!
- Powerful ecommerce tools: Shopify has the best sales tools on the market. Easily manage and grow your business using tools the inventory system, which lets you track, sync and monitor customer orders and stock levels.
- Extremely scalable: Shopify is built for all store types, from the small business right up to big brands such as Penguin. Control your branding, upgrade for more features, or add apps to expand your site’s functions.
- Sell unlimited products with no restrictions: Sell physical goods and services, and add an app to sell digital products. There are no rules on the types of products you can sell!
- Exposure: While marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy have high search volume, customers don’t know if a store was built on Shopify. They need to search for your site specifically. So your traffic is dependent on your own brand, marketing, and exposure.
- Add-ons: Shopify has an impressive app store, which is great for customizing and advancing your store! But adding apps can make your monthly costs creep up, which could be problematic for small-scale sellers.
- Traffic: Etsy is a marketplace, meaning customers search for Etsy and then find your products through this platform. You don’t have to worry about marketing or promoting your brand – you can rely on Etsy’s popularity instead.
- Ease of use: You just set up an account, upload product images and information, and start selling. This basic ecommerce system makes it easy to get started.
- Cost: You can sell on Etsy for no extra monthly charge on the Standard plan. You still have to pay listing fees and transaction fees, but you’re not charged a monthly subscription unless you choose to upgrade.
- Transaction fees: You pay a $0.20 listing fee, plus a 5% transaction fee on items you sell through Etsy. There’s also a standard 3% + $0.25 payment processing fee. These fees can start to have an impact as your sales increase to larger amounts.
- Product restrictions: Etsy has firm rules about what you can sell through its marketplace. Etsy is only for handmade goods, craft supplies, and vintage items (which are more than 20 years old).
- Creative control: Etsy’s format means you don’t have freedom over the layout or branding of your product pages. You can enter your own logo but you can’t create a strong brand image with Etsy.
So just what are Shopify and Etsy, and how are they different?
First of all, Shopify is an ecommerce platform, designed for people to set up and grow their online stores (check out some successful stores built with Shopify). It has a whole bunch of powerful ecommerce tools and apps to help you do this.
You create your very own ecommerce website, upload products and track customer orders. It’s an easy way to build an online store.
Etsy is a marketplace where you create an account and can then sell through it alongside lots of other Etsy sellers. It promotes itself as “a creative marketplace” and only sells handmade, vintage or craft goods.
Etsy has started its own ecommerce platform where you can build a website to sell your products. It’s called Etsy Pattern and has less restrictions on products than the Etsy marketplace.
You can try it free for 30 days. After that, it costs $15 per month. Because this is separate from the Etsy marketplace, you will be responsible for generating your own traffic.
It’s a simple platform – it’s not up to the same standard as Shopify by any means, but is a good add-on if you do choose to sell through the Etsy marketplace.
You must already be an Etsy seller to set up Etsy Pattern – in this article we’ll only be reviewing Etsy as a marketplace rather than exploring its website builder.
- Just starting out? Our Shopify Under the Microscope article gives a great introduction to this popular ecommerce platform, from its history to who it’s best for.
- Read our Shopify Review for a more detailed discussion on Shopify’s features, pricing, design, and more.
- Just want to know about cost? Our Shopify Pricing Review tells you all you need to know about its monthly plans, value for money, and extra fees.
- Want to compare ecommerce platforms? Head on over to our interactive article that pits the best of the best against each other.
- See how Shopify and Etsy compare when it comes to selling digital downloads.
Who says you have to be a tech guru to sell online? Not Shopify or Etsy that’s for sure!
Shopify is designed to make building your own online store as easy as possible. Ecommerce platforms often struggle with this because of all the powerful tools needed to run an ecommerce business, but Shopify shines in making it as simple as possible.
It gives you everything you need while keeping its interface clean, clear and very user friendly!
Shopify guides you through your set up with action buttons and a really clear menu. Once you’ve entered all your information, Shopify helps manage your store by syncing your inventory, tracking orders, and more.
Etsy is less in-depth but just as easy to use! It’s super simple and straightforward.
All you do is set up an account, choose your store name, stock your store, then make sure you enter your details so you get paid and set up billing.
You’re guided through each step and it’s really easy to fill out each stage:
You can see how close you are to having your Etsy store set up and it even helps you with catered suggestions for your store name if your first choice isn’t available.
Once you’re all finished with the setup process, that’s it! You can start selling! This makes it ideal if you’re a beginner wanting to get selling quickly.
With Etsy, you don’t have to create a whole website like you do with Shopify. Just upload your products with their descriptions and you’re good to go. You could be an online seller within the hour.
Ease of Use: Verdict
It’s a draw!
Both Shopify and Etsy are super simple to use. Shopify is slightly more technical than Etsy but considering its number of powerful ecommerce tools, it really is remarkably beginner-friendly. Etsy is quicker and more simple to set up though.
Have you ever been on an online store and been put off by the terrible design? You’re not the only one: 38% of people will leave a website if the layout or design is unattractive.
This presents both an advantage and a disadvantage with Etsy. Your store page will follow Etsy’s design and layout. All seller pages on Etsy are laid out the same, with your store name, logo, products, and descriptions as your own content.
This means you don’t have to worry about design, which on the one hand is great. You can trust that Etsy use a clean, clear, and attractive design which shows off your products and provides a great user experience.
However, it does make it harder to stand out from the crowd!
Etsy doesn’t give you any room for customization. As you can see from the examples above, all that really separates your store from all the others on Etsy is your products.
You won’t be able to create a really strong brand on this marketplace.
This is absolutely fine if you’re selling a few items or just starting out. But if you want to grow your business you will need a unique and solid brand. And that is just not possible on Etsy.
It is possible on Shopify.
When creating your store Shopify gives you over 60 themes to choose from. These themes form the building blocks of your website. They cover a whole range of industries from furniture to clothing and fashion.
As well as guiding the design of your website, your theme also comes with features to benefit your chosen industry. For example, a product zoom feature for clothing stores.
There are 10 free themes and over 50 paid ones, ranging in price from $140 to $180. They’re all mobile responsive, professional and modern looking, and you can switch themes at any time (you just might need to reformat your content to match).
Most importantly, you can customize to your heart’s content!
The themes are there to help you, so it’s always a good idea to pick one that matches the purpose of your store and has a design that you like. But you can personalize, edit, and rearrange as much as you want!
With Shopify you can create a truly unique brand for your online store.
Design Flexibility: Verdict
Shopify wins design flexibility!
While Etsy’s controlled settings takes the pressure off designing your own page, Shopify offers superb customization and stylish designs to build your website. This means you can create a strong brand to grow and promote your business with.
Domain names are incredibly important if you’re setting up an online business.
A domain name is the website address people use to find your website. For example, our domain name is www.websitebuilderexpert.com. You pay to have that address, and that means nobody else online can use it. It’s unique to your website, making it a powerful part of your brand.
Domains like these, that you choose and pay for yourself, are called custom domains.
Shopify encourages you to use a custom domain. Why? Because a custom domain is essential for creating a trustworthy, professional, and recognizable brand for your business.
Shopify even have an automated setup to make it as easy as possible to get a totally personalized name for your online store.
Etsy is very different. Because you’re selling through Etsy’s marketplace, you don’t get your own domain name. Instead, your domain will look something like this: www.etsy.com/shop/your-store-name-here.
You can’t have a custom domain because you’re under the umbrella of Etsy. You can only connect your own domain if you’re using the Etsy Pattern builder. This isn’t ideal if you want to create your own brand, but shouldn’t matter for individual sellers wanting to keep things small and simple.
Domain and URL Structure: Verdict
Shopify wins the domain round!
You have a custom domain with clear structure. Your website address is completely your own, which establishes your brand and looks professional. Etsy doesn’t have the option of a custom domain, making your business harder to identify.
- Want to learn more about domain names? Read our beginner’s guide on What is a Domain Name for everything you need to know.
Design and domain names are all very well, but if your site has poor ecommerce tools you’ll run into trouble fairly quickly, no matter how snazzy your website address is!
Etsy has basic but good ecommerce features to make managing your shop easy. You can use the ‘Sell on Etsy App’ to stay on top of things on the go.
You can use your Etsy account to easily buy and print discounted postage. This will help you save on shipping costs as well as speeding up the process.
Etsy also has marketing and advertising tools to increase your customer base, get found online, and draw in new followers. Share across social platforms such as Instagram and Twitter, create coupons, or use third-party tools such as Google Shopping to get found by more people.
Remember you can only sell handmade goods, vintage products and craft supplies on Etsy. If you want to sell something that falls outside of these areas, then Etsy is not the right choice for you.
If you want more sales tools than the ones available on the free plan, you can upgrade to Etsy Plus. This gives you:
- Customizable options such as banner templates
- Deals on your own web address
- Discounts on marketing materials such as business cards
- Email alerts to send customers once an item is back in stock
- Advertising credits
Because Etsy is a marketplace rather than an ecommerce platform, your inventory is not included in your store account – you have to keep track of this yourself.
Overall, Etsy sums it up nicely with its “simple, powerful tools”. They’re not the most impressive ecommerce features out there, but for small scale selling of homemade and craft products, it’s a good range.
When it comes to being the best on the market, Shopify ticks all the boxes. In our research, it came number one for sales features. This makes it ideal for any business which is looking for growth.
You can sell unlimited products on all of Shopify’s plans, and there are no restrictions on what you sell either.
Shopify has an extensive app store so you can add whatever you want to your website. This gives you ultimate customization and a whole load of powerful extras to choose from!
Here’s a list of just some of the features you get across Shopify’s plans:
- Multichannel selling across 10 different social platforms
- Discount codes
- Free SSL certificate
- Abandoned Cart Recovery
- Gift cards
- Third-party calculated shipping rates
- Fraud analysis
- Shopify POS (Point of Sale) app
Multichannel selling is extremely important for widening your customer base and giving your customers an easy buying experience. The free SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate means your site is safe for visitors to enter their payment details through, and is essential for any online store.
Abandoned Cart Recovery sends emails to customers who have abandoned their products at checkout, and encourages them to return. This can recover 12 to 15% of customers!
One of Shopify’s best sales features is its inventory system. Unlike Etsy, Shopify has an extensive inventory. You can upload products in bulk or one at a time, and provides in-house stock management tools, so it’s easy to track and analyze your sales.
Ecommerce Tools and Features: Verdict
Shopify wins sales features!
It has everything a growing business could need, and is much more advanced than Etsy. But you don’t want to pay for tools you won’t use, so choose wisely! Etsy’s basic features make it ideal for selling small amounts.
- Read our Shopify Review for a more in-depth look at Shopify’s sales tools and features
On some platforms, transaction fees can be the monster hiding under the bed waiting to jump out and give you a shock at the last moment. Neither Shopify or Etsy charge prices like these, but it’s still always a good idea to get an idea of payment options and transaction fees before you sign up to a platform.
While Etsy doesn’t charge monthly fees, it does charge listing fees at $0.20 per product. This is the cost to publish your listing, which is active for four months or until the item is sold.
When you sell a product, (congratulations!), there is a 5% transaction fee, plus a 3%+$0.25 payment processing charge. That’s a lot of numbers, so what does it actually mean?
Payment processing fees are applied by the payment provider (such as the credit card company), or the payment gateway sending the transaction. This is really common and comes as standard, although Etsy’s rates are slightly higher than average.
Etsy’s fees certainly aren’t the cheapest out there. But they shouldn’t lighten your pockets too much if you’re selling on a small scale. It’s only once you start pulling in the big bucks that you’ll start to feel the burn of that 5% transaction fee.
If you are seeing dollar signs, Shopify might actually work out as better value for money depending on the size of your business.
Shopify has different payment options to choose from. It has its own in-house payment gateway called Shopify Payments, which doesn’t charge any transaction fees. On Shopify Payments you only have to pay the card processing fee at a rate of 2.2%+20p, much less than Etsy.
If you don’t use Shopify Payments, you’ve got lots of other payment options – over 100 in fact! These include PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Stripe, and more.
If you’re using one of these payment options instead of the Shopify Payments gateway, the highest transaction fee is 2%, and the lowest is 0.5%. So comparing the two, Shopify has much cheaper rates than Etsy.
Payment Options and Fees: Verdict
Overall, Shopify wins!
It offers lower rates and has 0% transaction fees if you use its in-house payment gateway. Shopify has higher upfront costs, but Etsy’s more expensive fees can set you back in the long run if your sales increase.
Once you’ve spent time uploading stunning product photos and writing detailed descriptions, your store deserves attention. You don’t want your website to be hidden in the backwoods of the internet.
Etsy will definitely shine a beautiful spotlight on your store. It’s an extremely popular marketplace with over 33 million buyers. People don’t need to be looking for you specifically. They simply search Etsy and find your products primed and ready to be bought.
The drawback of Etsy is there’s no way to guarantee those visitors will end up on your store. There are over 50 million products on Etsy – so standing out from the crowd is important!
In contrast, Shopify gives you the tools to promote yourself. Visitors won’t even know your store was built on this platform, so they won’t try to get to it by searching for anything other than your own store name.
You need to handle your own search engine optimization (SEO) to rank in Google, promote yourself on social media, and build up your brand to attract more customers.
If you’re thinking you wouldn’t know where to start with any of that, don’t worry. Shopify gives you all the tools you need, from SEO apps and guides to email campaigns and multichannel selling across Facebook and Instagram.
Although it’s more work, you’re in total control of connecting with your customers and creating kick-ass marketing campaigns. You don’t have to sit around and wait for visitors to stumble across you.
Attracting Customers: Verdict
Etsy wins this round!
All you have to do is sit back and relax – and hope people pick your products out of millions. Shopify gives you more control and a more unique presence online, but requires its own marketing and SEO wrangling.
- Read our review of the 3 Best Website Builders for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – it gives a good introduction to SEO and even gives Shopify a mention!
- 12 Online Business Ideas – learn more about how selling via ecommerce websites and online marketplaces can help you generate a serious income.
What happens if all your product images disappear at 2am? Do you panic? No! You contact your very own support team!
Your business never stops, and Shopify knows it. That’s why Shopify has 24/7 support so you’re covered all day, all night, all week. Here’s a list of all the different support options you can choose from:
- 24/7 phone
- Social media
- 24/7 live chat
- Video tutorials
- Advanced specialist support (on Plus plans)
So whether you’re a total phone-phobe or love a community forum, Shopify has something to suit everyone. The Shopify Help Center is clear and easy to use, while providing an extensive range of help articles and guides.
One of the best parts of Shopify’s support is when you ask for help in the editor – Shopify takes you straight to a relevant help page in the Help Center. This saves you time and leaves you headache-free!
Etsy also has a Help Center. It’s laid out in a clean and clear way, and also has a search function so you can get straight to the answer if you know what you’re looking for.
Etsy also has a forum where you can read and join community discussions, ask questions, and follow Etsy announcements. You can email Etsy’s support staff or schedule a phone call if you need further help.
Help and Support: Verdict
Shopify wins help and support!
It’s much more comprehensive than Etsy, so that you’re covered even if things go wrong at 4am. Etsy has a good help center and community forum, but it can’t compete with Shopify’s more personal and in-depth support.
Can we help? Read any of the following guides for helpful tips, tricks and answers to Frequently Answered Questions. We’re here to help, so get stuck in!
- Our guide on How to Sell Online gives a helpful checklist and step by step guide on setting up your online store
- Read our guide on How to Build an Online Store for 11 easy steps to get you started
- Discover the nine simple steps in our guide on How to Start an Online Boutique
- Find out How to Make Money on Instagram, with tips on the best ways to sell through this popular social platform
- Check out our guide on How to Sell On Pinterest for three effective ways to make money
- Read about the 10 steps to success in our article on How to Start an Online Clothing Store
When it comes down to it, pricing is often the thing that draws us to – or puts us off – products. This is especially true if you’re on a tight budget or looking to make money rather than spend it!
Etsy has very little upfront costs. On its most basic level, the Standard plan, Etsy has no monthly fees – only the listing fees, transaction costs, and payment processing charges applied to products.
You can upgrade with Etsy to unlock more features. The Plus plan costs $10 per month and gives you a wider set of tools to help grow your store, such as more customizable options and email alerts.
Shopify has higher upfront costs, but you get what you pay for. Shopify has three price plans, plus a 14-day free trial. The prices range from $29 to $299 per month, and you unlock more advanced features as you scale up.
Basic Shopify ($29/month)
- Ecommerce website & blog
- Unlimited products
- 2 staff accounts
- 24/7 support
- Multichannel selling
- Manual order creation
- Discount codes
- Free SSL certificate
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Fraud analysis
- Shopify POS App
- Standard credit card rates
- Everything from Basic Shopify
- 5 staff accounts
- Gift cards
- Professional reports
- Lower credit card rates
- Point of Sale extras
Advanced Shopify ($299/month)
- Everything from Shopify plan
- 15 staff accounts
- Advanced report builder
- Third-party calculated shipping rates
- Lower credit card rates
Save Up to 20% on Your Shopify Plan
Save 10% on your subscription when you sign up for one year, and save 20% when you sign up for two years.
That means, with 20% off, you’ll save $16 per month on the Shopify Plan, and $60 per month on the Advanced plan!
The Basic Shopify plan costs $29 per month and gives you everything you need to set up your store. Unlimited products, multichannel selling, discount code creation, and abandoned cart recovery are just a few of the features included on this plan.
The Shopify plan provides everything you need for growing your business at $79 per month. It has everything the Basic Shopify plan has, plus more. Its extra features include gift card creation and professional reports.
The most expensive Shopify plan is the $299 per month Advanced Shopify plan. This has everything from the first two plans, plus an advanced report builder and third-party calculated shipping rates, and lower credit card rates.
These are Shopify’s main price plans – there’s also Shopify Plus which has custom pricing and is for the big businesses of the ecommerce world.
Although they may seem a lot compared to Etsy’s low prices, Shopify’s plans offer great value for money because of the tons of features and long-term scalability that come with them.
Etsy’s prices can creep up with its transaction fees, and Shopify’s monthly cost can increase with the use of third-party apps.
It’s a draw!
Etsy is the cheaper option, but Shopify offers amazing value for money with all its features. This really depends on your budget. Etsy wins for individual sellers, Shopify wins for businesses who have the budget to start scaling.
- Read our Shopify Pricing Review for an in-depth look at its prices, plans and value for money
- Compare the prices of all the Leading Online Store Builders
- Wondering where to start? Read our two-part guide on the Cost to Build a Website (Part 1) and How Much Should a Website Cost? (Part 2) for a definitive guide on budgeting for your website.
If you’ve been reading this and are still torn between the two, we have great news. You can have the best of both worlds!
By using the Shopify App Store, you can integrate the Etsy marketplace with your Shopify store. Real-time synchronization makes sure you avoid confusion or overselling by syncing your Etsy and Shopify stores whenever you make any changes.
You can have this integration free for seven days. After that it costs $60 per month and includes custom features and unlimited product upload.
This is a great option if you have a Shopify store and want to diversify your online presence. By integrating with Etsy you can reach a new audience and make the most of this popular marketplace.
Perhaps you don’t want to use Etsy or Shopify. That’s okay, we’ve got you covered!
- Compare the Best Ecommerce Platforms
- Check out our article on the Best Etsy Alternatives to discover your best options, whether you’re moving on from Etsy or just starting your online business
- Take a look at our review of the Best Shopify Alternatives and compare its top competitors to find your perfect builder
Shopify and Etsy may seem similar at first, but they’re very different selling platforms. This article has looked at the key differences between them, and what that makes them good for.
Shopify provides everything your business needs to succeed. It has powerful sales tools, scalable plans, and no limits on what you can sell. On the other hand, Etsy comes with product restrictions and basic features. Still, it’s simpler and cheaper, making it better for small-scale sellers with a niche.
To sum up, here’s an overview table to give a quick-glance summary:
|Ease of Use|
|Shopify makes it super simple to set up a powerful online store.||Etsy doesn’t involve any technical tasks – simply set up an account and get selling.|
|Shopify gives you a range of templates and offers tons of customization.||Etsy limits your customization and manages your layout so you can’t create a unique design.|
|Domain & URL Structure|
|You can have a custom domain to create a unique website address and promote a clear brand.||Your domain is Etsy’s rather than your own, meaning your website address is harder to remember for customers.|
|Ecommerce Tools & Features|
|Shopify comes packed with powerful tools and a massive app store to add functions to your site.||Etsy has good but few and simple features to make running your business as easy as possible.|
|Payment Options & Fees|
|No transaction fees (just usual credit card charges) with Shopify Payments. Lower transaction fees than Etsy. Supports hundreds of payment gateways.||Etsy has listing fees, transaction fees, and credit card charges.|
|Shopify gives you all the tools to create and promote your business, but you are responsible for driving traffic to your website through marketing, SEO, social media, and campaigns.||Etsy is an extremely popular platform with millions of buyers. This gives your products great exposure and means you don’t have to work hard to get visitors to come to your site.|
|Help & Support|
|Shopify has a wide range of support options, from 24/7 phone and live chat to email and an extensive help center.||Etsy has a clear and useful help center, as well as a community forum. You can email or request a call with Etsy’s support staff.|
|Shopify has three price plans ranging from $29 to $299 per month. There’s a 14-day free trial.||Etsy currently has two plans – the free plan and the $10 per month Plus plan. There is a Premium plan set to be released in 2019.|
Shopify is a dedicated ecommerce platform and is the best option for any small business looking to grow their size and establish themselves in the ecommerce market. It has higher upfront costs than Etsy,but is jam-packed with powerful features, plus an impressive app store.
Etsy is a marketplace which is perfect for individual and small-scale sellers. It’s a lot more basic than Shopify, but has no monthly subscription (apart from its product fees). This makes it a great option for trying out your hand at ecommerce without any commitment.
Which is cheaper, Shopify or Etsy?
Etsy is cheaper when you look at upfront cost. If you’re on a tight budget or only want to sell a few items, Etsy will definitely be cheaper than Shopify. But if you’re earning a lot of money in sales, Etsy’s 5% transaction fees could become expensive, making Shopify cheaper in the long run.
You can learn more about Shopify’s plans and fees in our Shopify Pricing Review.
Or, if you’re looking to budget, check out our article on the Best Free Ecommerce Platforms to compare free trials and even free plans.
Why should I sell on Etsy?
Etsy is a popular place for both buyers and sellers! It has over 33 million buyers, which is a large market you don’t want to miss out on. Only sell through Etsy if you’re selling homemade goods, vintage products, or craft supplies. We only recommend it for very small-scale sellers.
If you’re looking for something a bit more advanced, take a look at our Online Store Builder Comparison Chart, or explore our in-depth guide to How to Sell on Etsy.
Which is better for scaling my business, Shopify or Etsy?
Shopify is better for scaling an ecommerce business. It has tons of features and an impressive app store to expand your site and attract more visitors. Shopify caters for small businesses all the way up to large brands such as Penguin. You can read our Shopify Review for more information.
Found our Shopify vs Etsy review helpful?
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