Thinking of setting up an online store? We’ve put together some pros and cons before you decide and press start.
When you want to take your homegrown craft, specialty product, or hobby to potentially lucrative new heights, Etsy often comes up as one of the first options. Etsy is a great launchpad for starter craft businesses, offering an easy platform to display your items, a quick way to set up, and opening access to a large market of shoppers who search the site regularly for interesting new finds.
However, is an Etsy website really the best for your business? Before you decide on using it as a platform, be sure to know the pros and cons of Etsy. You need to be aware early on whether it’s better to set up shop on Etsy vs your own website. There are no easy or straightforward answers as to whether or not an Etsy website is better for you. You need to weigh the pros and cons of Etsy and decide whether they are in alignment with your current business goals.
What is Etsy Website
Before you proceed, it’s best to take a refresher course on Etsy. The Etsy site began as the brainchild of three entrepreneurs: Robert Kalin, Haim Schoppik, and Chris Maguire. The three founders envisioned a new brand with a unique name. The Etsy site name can be understood in different languages, or at least be interpreted loosely in certain languages based on how it’s pronounced. It can be understood as “what if” in Latin and French. Etsy can also be interpreted as “eh si” in Italian, a loose variation of “oh yes.” These familiar yet flexible associations would make it easier to popularize the brand with many different markets.
The premise behind the Etsy website business model is that a collective of sellers with various products has a bigger draw on consumers than if they were to sell individually on their own sites. It is a single storefront where many different brands and products can be perused and bought. This simple yet revolutionary idea brought many niche and small sellers together, combining the draw of their unique items into a site that offered more than just simple eCommerce--it offered novelty and convenience in a one-stop-shop package.
The Etsy website value proposition attracted many buyers. Over time, Etsy solidified its following by improving its platform and hiring more engineers to expand its functionalities. Etsy also expanded into international territory, competing against giants such as Amazon and Ebay. While the Etsy site declares sales that are a small percentage of its rivals, it has captured a more specific market and has a well-defined product offering in which it is the clear leader. The Etsy website is specialized in unique items, whether handmade, custom, artisanal, or vintage, and dominates the market for these items.
Pros and Cons of Using Etsy Website for your Business
Now that you’re familiar with Etsy’s brand, company history, and captured following, you can get started on evaluating whether it’s right for your particular business. When you search “website Etsy” you’ll likely land on various articles explaining the advantages and disadvantages of using the site.
Here’s a concise guide to the pros and cons of Etsy:
Pro #1: The Etsy website allows you to reach a big audience.
The Etsy site already has a captured following. This is pretty much a no-brainer. Setting up a store on a platform that reaches over 45 million buyers gives your business a massive opportunity to sell your product to a global market.
Reputation-wise, you can’t really go wrong. Etsy is a globally recognized and trusted brand for eCommerce, with a specific and identifiable niche. The Etsy website is the go-to place for niche, handmade, artisanal, or any kind of unique item that would otherwise not attract interest in sites that focus on factory-made, mass-produced items. It has a strong brand that compliments the kind of items that homegrown business owners sell.
Etsy’s popularity also means that your shop will instantly be included in an ecosystem of similar brands with users actively searching for those items within one platform. The marketplace is ready and easy to navigate.
Pro #2: Easy store setup.
Etsy also provides users with a website builder called Pattern, which allows first-timers and aspiring shop owners to put up their own Etsy websites without much difficulty.
You don’t need to worry about the expense of hiring a developer to create a site for you. It is as simple as identifying your brand, uploading your items, creating descriptions for your items, and picking keywords. Etsy websites are a shortcut to an online presence. They save time, development costs and marketing costs when done right.
Pro #3: Availability of web analytics tools.
Data always forms the crucial basis of sound business decisions. In eCommerce, it goes hand in hand with running a proper online store. Etsy has the advantage of providing you with built-in analytics that tracks important sales metrics such as traffic, orders and number of visits. It also allows you to track revenue per visit.
While Etsy’s analytics is useful and adequate for a starter online business, there are better alternatives--platforms with comprehensive features for eCommerce, such as Strikingly--that provide you with an even better overview of site traffic with the added advantage of a full-featured website.
Con #1: Massive competition.
While it is quite easy to set up your business on the Etsy website, many brands have been there before you. This creates a saturated marketplace that might drown out your items and your brand. It is likely that you will also be competing with similar or exactly the same items on the same site. With the sheer number of shops already on board, a newcomer will have an uphill challenge in attracting buyers.
The competition is not just in the kind of items being sold, but also in price. The Etsy website offers similar items at a wide range of prices. While your business might find it easy to compete in terms of quality, you will find many other sellers willing to compete with your item category for a lower price. Joining a marketplace with hundreds of thousands of sellers already posting their wares is daunting and might not be the ideal starting point if you want instant or steady sales coming in.
Con #2: Extra marketing effort.
Your online shop won’t get clicks or sales without a marketing hustle.
While setting up your own shop might be easy, converting your posts to sales might not be that simple. This means you will have to exert extra effort in trying to stand out from the horde of sellers already on Etsy. It is becoming increasingly difficult to market your brand within the platform.
Etsy site sellers usually spend a lot of time on marketing to make up for the visibility issues. One helpful tip is to learn SEO techniques to help your shop gain visibility on Etsy or on other search engines. You also need to be agile about the current SEO algorithm being used, as these things tend to change often. Improving photography, branding, copy, and overall product selection will help too. Sellers often find that this is a trial-and-error process that gets to be increasingly time-consuming as more shops join the platform and search algorithms evolve.
Whatever you save on your starting cost on the Etsy website, you make up for in time and labor. That may or may not be an encouraging prospect for a small business owner who is looking to maximize time and effort, apart from resources.
Con #3: Oh no, transaction fees!
While setting up a basic store may be free, Etsy does charge you for listing fees and transaction fees. Listing fees are charges for listing an item for sale on the Etsy site. For a small business owner, this might be an added burden to the costs of setting up an online store. Not everyone on the massive directory of Etsy websites is willing to shore up more dollars for every new item they sell. The transaction fees mean that the Etsy website charges you for every sale too. Talk about a double whammy. This might not be the best value proposition for small sellers looking to make the most out of their selection of homegrown products.
Some e-commerce platforms, like the Etsy site, charge sellers additional fees to process credit card payments.
Another problem with Etsy is that they charge you additional fees for credit card payments. All of these fees might add up and force sellers to make their products more expensive. Markups, in turn, imply that there might be an additional difficulty with setting a competitive price—all of these need to be factored in when setting up your online store.
Are there alternatives?
Now that you’ve read the pros and cons of Etsy, it’s time to consider the alternatives out there that may give you more value for money and save you time and effort as well.
Strikingly’s Simple Store is a platform that is an excellent alternative to an Etsy website. It has several advantages over Etsy. Simple Store doesn’t charge separate transaction fees for selling items on its platform. It also doesn’t burden you with additional transaction charges that take from your margins.
It cuts costs, saves time with intuitive templates that suit a variety of businesses. Strikingly offers an entire library of designs that offer you a wide range of options in order to select the best fit for your brand. Once you’ve carefully chosen a strategic free domain name, you can be sure that customers can find you more easily. It also provides convenient features like app integration to ensure that you have the best tools to enhance your store experience.
It’s important to be clear about your sales objectives before you decide on a platform to launch your business. As an entrepreneur, you may be faced with resource and time constraints, and those should be factored into the decision. The Etsy website is a good marketplace to launch the first store. It’s the typical kind of platform you use as you start your journey and navigate the world of eCommerce. Its popularity and massive following make it a good starting point in getting your business off the ground as soon as possible.
Just remember that there are options out there that provide you with a broader range of functionalities. Be mindful and clear about your business objectives, and choose the platform that allows you to limit your setup costs while allowing you to expand easily and optimize profit. It helps to know that as your business grows, there are convenient new solutions and services beyond Etsy that allow it to reach its full potential.