Comparing Shopify and Etsy is like comparing the Beatles with Bob Marley. Both are distinct with their own identity.

Shopify is an e-commerce platform that enables businesses to build their own online store. Etsy is a global online marketplace for handcrafted, vintage and unique items.

But compare them you must, if you are dealing with unique items and wish to make a huge success of selling them. And that's what we aim now in this blog and this is what you will find here.

Table of contents

Section 1 - What is the basic difference between Shopify & Etsy?

Section 2 - Can we try Shopify or Etsy for free?

Section 3 - Which is easier to use - Shopify or Etsy?

Section 4 - Which is more design-friendly and customizable - Etsy or Shopify?

Section 5 - What type of products can you sell on Shopify and Etsy?

Section 6 - Who draws more traffic - Shopify or Etsy?

Section 7 - Who converts better - Shopify or Etsy?

Section 8 - Who has better e-commerce features - Shopify or Etsy?

Section 9 - How do you manage stock on Etsy and Shopify?

Section 10 - What are the Shipping options on Etsy and Shopify?

Section 11 - What are the payment options on Shopify & Etsy?

Section 12 - Which is pocket-friendly - Etsy or Shopify?

Section 13 - How is the customer support on Shopify and Etsy?

Section 14 - Using both together - Shopify with Etsy

Section 15 - Which is better - Shopify or Etsy?

What is the basic difference between Shopify & Etsy?

Shopify is an e-commerce platform where you can build the site for your online store. You can customize your Shopify website to your taste with its powerful e-commerce tools and apps. Shopify has over 100 themes, 2400 apps and hundreds of tools for you to juggle with. It supports a plethora of payment channels along with its inbuilt payment gateway-Shopify Payments. It has various pricing plans, like Basic Shopify, Shopify Plus or Advanced Shopify. This makes Shopify flexible to handle everything from small business to big corporate brands.

Etsy is an online marketplace dealing with artistic, crafty goods with a unique touch. It is the perfect choice for those Entry-level entrepreneurs who do not have the time or resources to build their own brand and site.  Small-scale merchants can run their shop online on Etsy in addition to having their own individual site.

While Shopify allows you to sell anything and everything, Etsy stresses on the word "unique". Third-party selling and Dropshipping is also available on Shopify. But Etsy wants only "first-hand, creative and original goods". Etsy is very clear about one thing- "YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO SELL ANY ITEM THAT YOU HAVE NOT DESIGNED OR MANUFACTURED."

So, let us narrow down the basic differences-

  1. The first difference is in the nature of the platform. Shopify is an e-commerce marketplace cum website builder. On the other hand, Etsy is only a creative marketplace. If you want to build your online store site, you can move on to "Etsy's Pattern". This new product is for Etsy users to help them build the website for their brand in addition to selling on Etsy. Pattern is an additional site-builder platform and does not replace your Etsy store.
  2. The second is in the products being dealt with. While Shopify allows all products-physical and digital, Etsy is only about  unique handcrafted  and vintage items.
  3. Shopify allows dropshipping while Etsy does not.

Can we try Shopify or Etsy for free?

To start with, you might want to get the feel of the e-commerce platform before launching your store on it.  To do this, you need a free trial. Do Shopify and Etsy have one and if so, how good are they?

Shopify has a 14-day free trial. You don't need to furnish your card details too. But the worst part is it's just a dummy store that you can build. Yes, the store can neither be hosted with a domain and nor will it be fully operative with all e-commerce features. All you can do is just see how it feels to build a site on Shopify.

To have a fully operational Store on Shopify, you must choose among its pricing plans ranging from $29 to $299/month.

Joining Etsy is free. But from then on, you can start listing your products only if you pay 0.20 per listing. These listings are valid for 4 months or until they sell. Once your goods are sold, you pay a 5% transaction fee and a PayPal processing fee.

On the other hand, you can register on Etsy and try Etsy Pattern for free for 30 days. Its monthly pricing is $15/month.

For try-outs, Etsy is cheaper as it at least allows you to sell with marginal charges. With Shopify 's free trial, you cannot really sell your product. You may build your store for free on Shopify but to start selling, you have to opt for a monthly plan.

Which is easier to use - Shopify or Etsy?

Shopify makes building your e-commerce store a breeze. It has all the tutorials and tools to help you set up the store in an efficient manner. There are a lot of steps involved in setting up your online store but Shopify's user-friendly interface can have you start selling in no time. And the end result is perfect.

With Etsy, all you need is to create an account, declare a store name, fill up the stocks, and enter the payment details. That's it-  you are good to go- start selling!

Etsy is quicker and faster to get you selling but Shopify is more meticulous in creating your brand and store.

Which is more design-friendly and customizable - Etsy or Shopify?

Stanford's Web Credibility Research  claims that

  • 75% of the internet users judged the company's credibility based on the website design.
  • It takes 0.05 seconds for a user to form a first impression about a website.
  • First impressions are 94% design-related.

If this is not enough to convince you that the design of your e-commerce website is a crucial factor that sways a customer's  purchase intent, then nothing will. If you are convinced, you will start analyzing which is more design-friendly - Etsy or Shopify?

With Etsy, you have no option but to tow the line when it comes to your site design. You have to follow Etsy's design layout for store design, product descriptions, etc. The consolation you have is that Etsy, by itself, has a great design layout. But your store on Etsy will be depicted just like any other without much difference.

With Shopify, you have endless options for designing your online store. Choose from free or paid themes from the Shopify App Store. Use tools and apps to enhance the look and feel of your store website.

When it comes to customizing your website, Etsy, at best, allows you to put up your own logo. But with Shopify, you can change almost anything on your site with apps like LayoutHub, Sales Pop, Loox, PageFly, JudgeMe , etc.

In design and customizability, Shopify is supreme.

Can you have your own domain on Shopify and Etsy?

If a person wants to buy your product online, he must first locate it. This needs a URL A separate URL for your storefront  establishes your brand better online. It also makes it easy to search for the product. Do Shopify and Etsy help you create your own domain name and URL?

With Shopify, you get a temporary URL on signing up. This is yoursite.myshopify.com. Later, you can link your Shopify site to your custom domain and URL. So, customers see it as "yourownstore.com."

With Etsy, you cannot have your own domain or separate URL. Your store will be listed under Etsy. Customers can find it as etsy.com/Shop/Your-store. So for the customer, you will be first known as an Etsy store.

Etsy Patterns does allow you to have your domain and URL but with many limitations.

Having a separate domain name and URL is possible on Shopify but not on Etsy.

What type of products can you sell on Shopify and Etsy?

If you see the product categories on Etsy, you have Craft Supplies and Tools, Home & Living, Jewelry and Bath & Living. Even these products are classified into All, Handmade or Vintage. There is no scope for selling other products on Etsy. So, if  you plan to sell something other than these, Etsy is not the option for you.

Shopify, on the other hand, allows you to sell physical and digital products and even services. Digital products include eBooks, photo images, video footage, music files and albums, sound and visual effects etc. You can even bundle these digital assets and sell a subscription to these exclusive items. You can sell even digital templates and tools like software, plug-ins, apps, icons, fonts or UX kits. To sell digital products, you have to download an app like Digital downloads, Sendowl, SkyPilot, Single or FetchApp.

Selling on Etsy is limited only to handcrafted and vintage items. Shopify allows you a universal scope to sell.

Who draws more traffic - Shopify or Etsy?

You have a fabulous online storefront with a bevy of products depicted on beautiful themes. Will that suffice to get the cash registers ringing? Nope. You need customers to visit your site and buy your products. To do this, you have to draw traffic to your e-commerce website.

There are many ways to lure customers to your site. And one of them is by catering to a niche market - like Etsy. Etsy caters only to a specific product segment and focuses on originality. This makes a premium site for hand-crafted goods. With such an image, Etsy is able to draw nearly 33 million buyers to its site seeking unique handmade items.

A snapshot of etsy.com's web traffic

To get traffic on Shopify, you have to develop your own e-commerce marketing strategy. Shopify helps you with all the apps and tools.  But the total responsibility of  driving customers to your site is yours.

Etsy, on the other hand, advertises and drives the traffic and customers directly to your Etsy shop. Remember, the customer is already set on shopping on Etsy and that is why he searches on its site. So, the customer is already at your doorstep. If you have what you want, he will enter your store or move onto the next Etsy store.

To have a better understanding of the traffic generation on Etsy, you must go granular. Etsy generates traffic through the Etsy app  and “Other Etsy Pages”. Other pages on Etsy.com include the home page, category pages, Editors' Picks, favorites, forums, and more. It also includes visits and listings to your store from the app or through ads on the app. Etsy marketing draws traffic through offsite ads from Google, Bing, or through SEO from other channels like FB, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.

Apart from this organic traffic to Etsy, you can funnel the traffic to your Etsy shop by using Etsy’s seller tools,  and SEO techniques like keyword  research and competitor research. Blogs and social media posts can also drive traffic to your Etsy store. Networking with other websites to have mentions of your Etsy store featured on them is also a brilliant idea to generate traffic to your Etsy store.

Traffic breakup of a store within Etsy

To amplify this, we can equate Etsy to a craft bazaar and Shopify to a department store or boutique. People come to the craft bazaar trusting that they will get great vintage and arty pieces here. they will eventually end up scanning your shop. Whether they buy or not depends on the products and prices. But you are assured that people will come to the bazaar as they know it is the artisan hub- like Etsy.

On the other hand, Shopify like the department store or boutique is a stand-alone unit which may or may not attract customers on its own. So, it is for you to ramp up its signage, advertising, facilities, etc to attract customers.

Etsy is definitely more powerful in generating traffic and its advertising brings customers directly  to its site and you. Shopify gives you all the tricks of  the trade but it is up to you to draw the traffic with your own e-commerce marketing plan.

Who converts better - Shopify or Etsy?

It is great to have a lot of visitors to your e-commerce storefront. But how many of them actually buy from you? - This depends on your conversion ratio.

It may come as a surprise to note that Etsy is able to convert more customers than Shopify. This may be because it is a niche market or because it has a dedicated audience who are preset on buying from Etsy.  

Who has better e-commerce features - Shopify or Etsy?

Etsy mobile app

Etsy has efficient tools and apps for e-commerce starting with its app -"Sell on Etsy". This helps you to manage orders, respond to customers, post on social media and do much more. Apart from this, Etsy has apps like LeadDyno, Marmalead, Outfy etc to make the most of e-commerce and social media marketing.

Snapshot of Etsy SEO app Marmalead

Right from the logo maker, storefront sign designer, discount calculator, gift certificate template, there are many tools on Etsy. They help you in marketing, advertising, printing offer coupons and even discounted postage stamps. Some of the free apps are Vela, Etsy Theme Shop, FotoFuze, Order Desk, Taxjar, etc that help you improve your store's performance.

Apps on Etsy

Etsy allows you to even gain visibility by featuring your store on social media like Instagram or Twitter or on Google Shopping. If you upgrade to Etsy Plus, you can avail more marketing benefits like email alerts, advertising credits, discounted business cards,etc.

Marketing tools on Etsy

When it comes to e-commerce tools and features, none can beat Shopify as all these are built-in to its platform. Shopify is SEO-friendly, has AMP, and hundreds of apps to promote your store.

Shopify has an endless list of e-commerce features. Free SSL certificate, built-in blog, Abandoned cart recovery, Automatic tax calculator, in-built inventory and reporting to name a few.

Etsy's e-commerce features and tools are good enough to manage a small handmade goods business. But if you want to aim big, it's Shopify you must count on.

How do you manage stock on Etsy and Shopify?

Ever-efficient Shopify has an in-built inventory system. You can monitor stocks, view transfers between suppliers and locations and generate reports. In addition, you have Stocky to help you manage the stock of your brick-and-mortar stores and forecast inventory levels Stocky is included for free only if you have subscribed before May4, 2020. This POS tool can be downloaded if you upgrade to Shopify POS Pro.

Sadly, Etsy lags behind in inventory, relying upon 3rd party tools and apps to manage stocks. Tradegecko, Zoho, CraftyBase etc are tools to manage inventory on Etsy.

Shopify has in-built inventory tracking. Etsy uses third-party apps for stock management.

What are the Shipping options on Etsy and Shopify?

With Etsy, order-fulfillment is both easy and affordable. You can use postage labels to get discounts while shipping  via USPS, FedEx or Canada Post. You can use Delivery Profile Bulk Editor to set up this process for multiple or same-priced items. Tracking orders is easy on Etsy by including it within the postage labels.

With Shopify, everything is organized to help you fulfill your orders. You have 3 options- shipping, local delivery and local pickup.  Shopify allows you to add your shipping rates and discounts to its settings and manage them from there. Shopify carriers like USPS , UPS and DHL offer free packaging while others do not. So, you might have to include the packaging costs too.

Instead, you can opt for Shopify Shipping. Shopify uses USPS , UPS and DHL for the U.S. For Canada, it uses Canada Post and for Australia, it uses Sendle.

When it comes to Shipping, both Etsy and Shopify are even as they are well-organized in their own way.

What are the payment options on Shopify & Etsy?

Shopify has its own app-Shopify payments to help you avail zero transaction fees. Apart from this, it supports 100 payment gateways like Square, Stripe, PayPal,  etc. For card payments, it charges extra.

Etsy allows sellers to get paid by credit card, debit card, bank transfers. For this, you have to enroll your store on Etsy Payments. It allows third-party payment gateways like PayPal, World Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Adyen etc. But all these incur a payment-processing fee.

Which is pocket-friendly - Etsy or Shopify?

Shopify works on a monthly pricing plan, Etsy does not.

Shopify has 3 pricing plans-

  • Basic Shopify- $29/ month
  • Shopify - $79/month
  • Advanced Shopify- $299/month

Etsy works with a difference charging 3 fees for each sale.

Etsy charges= Listing fee + Transaction fees + Payment processing Fee

  • Listing fee= $0.20 per item for 4 months
  • Transaction Fee= $5 per purchase
  • Payment processing = 3-5%

Etsy has 2 plans-Standard Etsy and Etsy Plus.

In Etsy Plus, you pay $10 per month to get an additional set of tools to expand your business. Other charges remain the same per sale.

Etsy is definitely cheaper than Shopify  for small businesses and suits individual sellers best. But if your online store is big with many products and needs scaling at a future date, it is best to opt for Shopify.

How is the customer support on Shopify and Etsy?

Shopify goes all out on customer support. It offers 24x7 phone and live chat, email, tutorials, social media forums and communities, etc. Advanced support is also available on its higher plans.

Etsy has a well-organized Help Center with tutorials and search topics. You can email Etsy or schedule a call for further help.

Shopify is much more supportive than Etsy with its 24x7 phone and live chat facilities.

What do the customers say of Etsy and Shopify?

All said and done, everything rests on customer satisfaction.  Here are some of the customer reviews on Etsy and Shopify. These reviews can be found on the Etsy community forum

As you can see, small-scale entrepreneurs seem very happy with Etsy. As you grow bigger, you might find that you are paying more to Etsy for transaction and payment processing. as your business volume grows, you end up shelling out more to Etsy.

Shopify works very well for both small and big businesses. Their pricing is on a monthly basis and this helps in clear budgeting. Sellers see more value for money on Shopify due to its enhanced tool set.

Etsy's pricing is cheaper only for small businesses. Shopify is priced right for all businesses-  both big and small.

Using both together - Shopify with Etsy

Shopify allows you to integrate your Etsy shop to your Shopify store. You can do this using Etsy Marketplace Integration app. It allows you to link your Etsy products to your Shopify site to avoid duplicate listings. Its product management is elaborate allowing bulk uploading of products. It has a currency converter to help buyers. It has an error-reporting system to notify inventory, order and shipping issues. It allows you to create seller-friendly templates to store price values for order and shipping.

Install a Multichannel importer app if you want to sell your Etsy products on Shopify Plus. Use the Kit app to do your omni-channel marketing. Integrate with Shipstation to ease out deliveries.

Using Shopify with Etsy can be a deadly combination. combine the efficiency of Shopify with the exclusiveness of Etsy. Expand your business by increasing visibility on both marketplaces and widening the scope for better sales.

Which is better - Shopify or Etsy?

In reality, this question cannot be answered directly. The reason is Etsy is an online marketplace like Amazon or eBay. Shopify is a website builder and online storefront. So, their basic characteristics differ.

But if you want to draw parallels, we can put it like this.

If you are starting small with a few products or a niche craft segment, go for Etsy.

If you want to build a brand, have your own store, and scale it bigger later, it is best to use Shopify.