Print-On-Demand: Etsy vs Shopify

Print-On-Demand: Etsy vs Shopify

Starting out in Print-On-Demand and can’t choose between Etsy and Shopify? Here are 5 reasons why Shopify is Better than Etsy:

1. Click, click, click, click… and click…

Etsy can be a truly wonderful platform to learn the trade of ecommerce and more specifically print-on-demand. But what they don’t do so well is the convoluted listing creation process.

  • Choose your platform. Like Shopify, Etsy can be integrated with many different platforms, but Shopify still gets the nod for integration. It can connect to multiple apps to personalize your business website. Etsy is locked in to their design, not much to personalize.
  • Upload your design(s). Once you’ve picked your platform, you need to transfer those designs to your page. Both can be quite easy here, both offer a certain automation in transferring pics, data and prices/stock between the platforms. However, Shopify maintains the integrity of variants much more consistently I find (as an example, if you modify your variant in Etsy, you’ll have to resync in Printful. Pain. in. the…).
  • Modify your Storefront. Here I have to give some edge to Etsy for the simplicity of modifying the pre-existing website for all Etsy sellers. So we can make easy wholesale changes to prices and such without going through Shopify’s awful Bulk Price Editor.

2. Fees and costs

  • Free to start. You can setup an Etsy shop free of charge. Of course, once you add products, you’ll get charged the listing fee. Shopify gives you a limited 2 weeks free trial, but afterwards, you’re on the hook for almost $40CDN for the most basic plan, and then a selling fee (plus 30 cents).
  • Fee Breakdown. Because Shopify charges only a few well identifiable fees, it’s much much easier to know how much you’ve been charged and for what. Want to waste a weekend? Go digging through Etsy’s fee breakdown and try to make any sense of it. You’ll have to export and parse the data on your pc. Very boo.
  • Bottom Line. This is a split decision. If you’ll have a small number of listings, go with Etsy. But if you plan on having hundreds of items in your shop, those Etsy seller’s fees and listing fees add up very quickly. Pretty soon, you’re matching and surpassing Shopify’s subscription fee.

3. Market Access/Marketing

  • Built-In Audience. This is where Etsy can really shine. If you have a good product, and can write half decent descriptions and keywords, Etsy will reward you with a pretty steady stream of focused shoppers. With Shopify you’re on your own. You have to go find your own customers.
  • Ads. Etsy has internal ads that can boost traffic and sales, but I’ve found them to be a bit hit and miss. Not knowing how the audience is targeted leaves you at Etsy’s mercy. Shopify on the other hand integrates with tons of productivity apps that can help with marketing.

4. Communication/Support

  • Auto Emails. Etsy has internal messaging campaigns for certain events like favoriting an item, or abandoning your cart. Shopify also offers these, but offers much more robust communications tools with the option to add live chat and automated chat responses. And again Shopify’s app integration gives it a large edge in this section.
  • Seller Support. I always find that Etsy treats me like a product, and Shopify treats me like a customer. Heaven forbid you need to deal with customer service with Etsy, or try to dispute a false complaint or a false report for copyright infringement. The HUGE downside of using Etsy is that they can decide to shutter your site without warning, without recourse. That scares me every day…

5. Freedom!

The bottom line in the end is that Etsy is a controlled market. What you gain in improved access to millions of potential customers, you lose in the management of the finer details of your business. It’s about freedom! It’s about the excitement of getting those sales all by yourself! It’s the exhilaration of taking risks and reaping rewards! You certainly get this with Etsy as well, but it feels more sheltered somehow.

So there you have it. Both great options for print-on-demand (we use both!). Both with pros and cons. If you’re starting out and are still learning, setup a free Etsy site and go at your own pace. If you’re ready to start pushing your product a little harder, hop over to Shopify. And in the end, keep both! The more irons in the fire, the more opportunities for success.

For more info, check out these links (none of these are paying me for the link):

.: Etsy
.: Shopify
.: Printful

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