Etsy is an online marketplace for independent sellers of handmade, vintage and craft products. For a fee, creative entrepreneurs can open their own ecommerce shop on the Etsy platform to sell goods and services. But it’s not the only platform artists and craft makers can use to sell their wares. Amazon Handmade, Depop and Zibbett offer similar marketplaces, while eBay is for sellers of all types of goods, not just handmade ones, and has size on its side. Or, you could rely on your own ecommerce site through a provider like Shopify.
We’ll break down the Etsy alternatives so you can determine the best way to share your handmade products.
Selling on Etsy: When to stay and when to go
Stay: Business owners who don’t yet have a customer base.
Etsy has more than 2,300 active sellers on the platform and more than 42,000 buyers; according to Jesse Tyler, marketing director of Classy Llama, an ecommerce agency based in Springfield, Missouri, entrepreneurs just starting out can benefit from that built-in audience that Etsy provides.
Sellers have the opportunity to be featured on the site, as Etsy handpicks shops to highlight throughout the marketplace. If selected, you could benefit from being exposed to hundreds of potential customers. Sellers could also promote their listings through paid ads on the site.
However, Etsy’s sellers are also bound to its policies and must keep up with changing rules to rank high in search results on the site. For instance, Etsy announced in July that it would encourage sellers to offer free shipping for orders totaling at least $35. Shops that don’t make the change to offer free shipping won’t receive priority placement in Etsy search results.
Stay: Those with limited time for site setup.
For creative entrepreneurs looking to sell goods online, Etsy could be an attractive starting point. Etsy provides tools to set up an online store, taking the burden off the business owner to build a site from scratch, Tyler said.
“If you’re using Etsy, it’s about leveraging what already exists,” he said. “There’s a lot less responsibility and a lot less work to get set up.”
If you’re not tech savvy or don’t want the hassle of constructing an ecommerce site, Etsy provides tools to quickly set up a shop. You’d need to provide information about your business and products, as well as how you want to accept payments, and Etsy would populate a website for you to manage. From there, you could rearrange items on your page to customize your store.
Etsy charges fees for listing and selling items — a $0.20 listing fee, 5% transaction fee and 3% plus $0.25 for payment processing — but in exchange Etsy takes on the technical aspects of running an ecommerce site.
Sellers must also adhere to Etsy’s policies, including restrictions on the type of products you can sell and shipping requirements, as mentioned earlier.
Stay: Entrepreneurs with limited marketing budgets.
Generating an audience for a new ecommerce site can be challenging, Tyler noted, especially if you don’t invest in advertising. Selling on Etsy would give you access to the high volume of people who visit the marketplace.
“If you’re a small seller and you’re not spending money on ads, you’re going to be better off sending them to Etsy and letting Etsy do the work,” he said.
Associating the business with Etsy could also increase the credibility of your brand, Tyler said. People may be more willing to interact with a business that appears on a trusted platform, like Etsy. Kickstarter would be a similar example, he said, and these platforms are often an effective “marketing engine” for new businesses.
The longer you sell on Etsy, the more reviews you would collect from customers. Positive reviews can boost your ranking within the Etsy marketplace, increasing the exposure of your shop, said Tyler. A positive reputation on Etsy can be immensely valuable to sellers.
“If you’re doing well on Etsy, it might not ever make sense to leave,” he said. “Your reviews and repeat customers, those are things that are kind of hard to replace if you go.”
Consider an Etsy alternative: Small businesses with greater ad budgets.
If you want to invest in advertisements, it would be best to direct customers to your own website rather than an Etsy domain, Tyler said. Instead of using Etsy’s paid ad campaigns, consider other, free ways to increase your Etsy ranking.
A new site would require you to make a significant marketing investment to gain traction. But if you were already planning to advertise your business, it could make sense.
Consider an Etsy alternative: Own your customer base.
When selling through your own ecommerce business, you could collect valuable information from your customers, such as email addresses. Etsy doesn’t allow sellers to collect email addresses from buyers to conduct further communication. But as a business owner, obtaining addresses allows you to directly connect with customers and generate new leads.
Operating outside of a marketplace like Etsy would allow you to control your communication with current and potential clients.
5 Etsy alternatives for crafty entrepreneurs
Etsy is considered a consumer to consumer (C2C) marketplace, meaning it serves as a neutral platform to sell goods. Etsy facilitates transactions and takes a percentage of sales, and other marketplace platforms do the same. On the other hand, software as a service (SaaS) providers give users their own URL and control of their domain in exchange for an ongoing fee.
Whether you’re looking for another marketplace in which to sell your products or a site to host your own store, here are a few Etsy alternatives to check out for your small business.
| ||Etsy||Shopify||Amazon Handmade||Depop||Zibbet||eBay
|Subscription fee||No||Yes||No, for 40 items or less||No||Yes||Yes
|Starting cost||Listing fee: 20 cents/item|
Transaction fee: 5%
Payment processing fee: 3% plus 25 cents
|Subscription: $29 to $299/month|
Credit card fee: Starting at: 2.7% plus 0 cents (in-person rate); 2.9% + 30 cents (online rate)
|Referral fee: $1 or 15% of the total sale price, whichever is higher||Flat fee: 10% on each item sold|
Payment fee: 2.9% plus 20 cents
|Subscription: $5 or $6 per month, per channel (2 minimum), plus channel fees||Subscription: $4.95 to $349.95/month
Insertion fee: 5 cents to 30 cents/item
Final value fee: 2% to 10%
|Choice of payment option||Yes||Yes, for a fee||Yes||No (PayPal only)||Yes||Yes
Shopify is an ecommerce platform that allows business owners to create a cloud-based online store. Users can buy their own domain name or connect an existing URL to their store. Shopify’s store builder tool makes it easy to design a site if you don’t have web development experience.
New users can try Shopify for free for 14 days. Shopify requires users to purchase a monthly subscription, offered starting with its entry plan:
- Basic Shopify subscriptions start at $29 per month and include an ecommerce website and blog, space for unlimited products and full-time customer support. Basic plans include account access for two people and a 64% shipping discount. Shopify charges a fee to accept online credit card payments — 2.9% plus $0.30 for the Basic plan.
As you advance to more expensive subscription tiers, available site features increase, and credit card processing fees decrease.
2. Amazon Handmade
The Amazon Handmade marketplace is designed for artisans and craft makers who sell products online. Sellers must submit an application before setting up a shop. Upon receiving approval, you would choose your business name, payment method and provide your credit card information. You can then list products in categories such as artwork, beauty and personal care, clothing, jewelry and watches, among others.
You would need to register for a Professional selling plan, which is free, though if you plan to list more than 40 items in your shop, you would be subject to a $39.99 monthly fee. All sellers would owe a fee on each item sold. Amazon charges either 15% of the total sale price or $1, whichever is higher.
Depop is an app-based marketplace for creatives with a social component. Users can see what products others are liking, buying and selling. As a seller, you would create a Depop profile that would be featured in the app. You would need to provide a description of what you’re selling and your policy on shipping and returns. Sellers need at least four items to list when launching an account. Depop uses PayPal to facilitate transactions and you would need to connect a PayPal account for Depop to verify before you can accept payments.
Although sellers don’t have to pay listing or subscription fees, Depop charges a 10% flat rate on each item sold. Because Depop partners with PayPal to conduct secure transactions, sellers are also subject to a fee of 2.9%, plus $0.20 for payments. You can ship through Depop and choose whether you or the buyer would be covering shipping costs. You can generate a shipping label through the app, then drop off the item at a post office or with another courier.
Zibbet allows creative entrepreneurs to sell in the Zibbet marketplace, as well as through other sales channels — for example, Zibbet can connect to other platforms, including Etsy, letting you manage your sales in one place. Zibbet gives users the ability to customize their shop, list unlimited products and run sales and promotions. If you’ve connected your Zibbet store to other sales channels, all order details would be imported to Zibbet for you to manage, and any changes made to your store through your Zibbet dashboard would be updated on all channels.
Zibbet offers a 14-day free trial for new users. After that, the platform costs $5 per month if you choose to receive a yearly bill, or $6 per month if you’re billed monthly. Each channel that’s connected to your Zibbet account — there’s a two-channel minimum — would cost an additional $5 or $6, depending on your billing schedule. Zibbet doesn’t charge listing or transaction fees, but you would be subject to fees from other channels. For example, if you connect your Zibbet store to Etsy, you would owe Etsy’s fees.
eBay offers a personal or business account, depending on what you plan to sell. A business account is best if you want to sell large amounts of items, handmade products or items that you bought with the intention to resell. Similar to other platforms, eBay allows you to create listings for items you want to sell, including shipping options and how customers will pay you. eBay’s Seller Hub provides tools like sales tracking to help business owners manage and grow their online store.
eBay charges a monthly subscription to run a store, which offers more listings and lower fees than selling without a store. There are a range of subscription tiers, including its entry plan:
- Starter subscriptions costs $7.95 per month, or $4.95 per month if you sign up for a yearlong plan. The Starter plan also comes with 100 free listings, with each additional listing costing $0.30 per month. eBay also charges all sellers a percentage of each final sale. The final value fee ranges from 2-12% for Starter subscribers. Sellers also get a monthly allocation of “zero insertion fee listings,” which are items you could list for free.
Combining Etsy and alternatives
You can open both an Etsy shop and an ecommerce store on another platform, and it could be a smart strategy to do so, said Tyler. For instance, large enterprise companies typically sell through multiple channels, such as retail stores and their own store or website, he said.
You could take advantage of Etsy’s built-in audience while working on your own ecommerce site. You would likely have more freedom to design and customize your own domain, though you would need to make sure it appeals to customers. People can be hesitant to trust a new site, Tyler said, and it could help if you also have a presence on Etsy.
“If you set up a shop yourself and it doesn’t look great and there’s not a lot of reviews, people might be apprehensive about buying from it,” he said.
There are several places for business owners who want to sell handmade or craft products online to set up shop.
Creating your own ecommerce site on a hosting platform like Shopify would give you an independent domain for your business. You wouldn’t be associated with a larger marketplace and you wouldn’t need to compete with other sellers on the same platform.
But it takes time and commitment to bring people to a new website, and you may find that consumers can be wary of a startup ecommerce brand.
“A Shopify site might bring disappointment,” Tyler said. “You have to do a lot of work to bring traffic and build an audience.”
A marketplace with name recognition, like Etsy, could be a better starting point for new entrepreneurs. Etsy provides tools to simplify the process of setting up an online store. Though you would have to pay listing fees and face high competition, your brand could benefit from the exposure that Etsy provides, Tyler said: “If you haven’t built an audience, this is a great, safe place to do that.”
Still, keep in mind that you could sell products through Etsy and a secondary ecommerce site to see which is best for your small business. As Tyler put it, “it doesn’t hurt to have both.”