If you are thinking about selling online, I am sure that you have considered multiple ecommerce solutions (I know I did!) but today we are going to talk about two that I use…Etsy and Shopify.
While I do have a shop that sells physical goods on Etsy, I only sell digital products on my Shopify site so I will stick to just talking digital today!
there are affiliate links for both products listed in this review…for both you will receive a bonus (either free listings or a free trial!)
>> Related post: Should Etsy Sellers Have A Separate Standalone Ecommerce Shop?
I started my ecommerce empire on Etsy, with my Paperly People shop. Prior to this I had a couple of products for sale on my website using Infusionsoft and Paypal, but that was definitely a lame effort that I did not aggressively promote. When I set up my Etsy shop I was definitely trying for “proof of concept”…seeing if anyone would buy my digital products in a quantity that would make sense to continue doing!
Thus far I have made over 250 sales and almost $1,000 in just under 6 months so I am pleased with those results!
- There is no monthly cost
- The cost to list an item is $.20 each
- There is a transaction fee of 3.5%
- If you are using direct checkout there is a 3% + $.25 charge (some old sellers like me have our payments going to PayPal where we just get charged the normal PayPal rate)
So one of my $3.50 marketing worksheets actually nets me $2.84. While that is great for digital products, make sure you are minding the numbers if you are selling a physical product with margins.
Selling Digital Products
Alright, here is where the rubber met the road for me! I had a site that did have a membership function that could allow access to directly download digital products. That said, it took three different systems and about an hour to list each item. Then the failure rate for someone to actually get logged in was about 50% so I was busy chasing logins rather than making new products.
I originally found out that Etsy allowed digital products by finding some cool ones for my personal planner. That is when the light went off…wah, wah!
If you have never done ecommerce before and have a product that is suitable to list on Etsy (handmade, vintage or supplies), I would definitely go for it to start.
Adding products is very nice with Etsy. They walk you through the process well and you can “copy” listings rather than having to start from scratch each time.
Sales & Delivery Process
Etsy handles all of the ordering and fulfilling of the product. Only once in 250 sales did I get a message that the person had not received her order (and later she found out she did get it!)
I have been over the moon happy with the process and think the simplicity is one of the main reasons I am going forward so strongly with my ecommerce efforts.
If you do not already have an email list, website traffic or a customer base, you should DEFINITELY think about starting with Etsy. Etsy has a user base that is already in “buy” mode and if you do your Etsy SEO correctly, you WILL get views to your items!
In hard numbers I have gotten 19,025 views to my products since I started. 9,700 from Etsy.com and 3,646 from the Etsy app. That means that 70% of the traffic that my products have gotten has come from Etsy!
My two websites, google, email and social media comprise the other 30% of my traffic. If you don't have the ability to generate traffic to your products yourself, having Etsy there to show your items to potential customers is a huge plus factor!
I an relatively happy with the reports that Etsy gives in general but I am over the moon thrilled with the keyword report they keep running. Years ago you could get this kind of information from Google, but they stopped sharing it. For this reason alone I will continue to sell through Etsy!
Nowhere else can I get this direct data about keywords and search volumes. Additionally, the promoted listings show the correlation between keywords and sales (it is klugy but there!)
Advanced : SEO
.04% of traffic has come from Google (not sales, just traffic)…sigh. That is not stellar by any means. One of the problems is that when people do a search for “printable planner pages” on Google, the result that comes up for Etsy is directed to the Etsy search.
So, to get traffic from a Google search I have to hope that someone clicks the Etsy link and then rank highly enough in the Etsy store that they might see my listing. That is a really not a great source of traffic for me!
Advanced : Additional Selling and Tracking
This is where Etsy falls down rather hard. There is no way to do any retargeting or tracking of the customers who come through Etsy. Additionally, according to the terms of service, you are not supposed to contact them any way except for “convos” within the Etsy ecosystem.
These are well and truly Etsy's customers not yours and if you want to stay in Etsy's good graces you better be respectful of that fact!
There are HUGE upsides to Etsy for both new and old ecommerce peeps.
If you already have a proven product line that matches Etsy's demographic, why wouldn't you market to this huge audience? Getting set up is super easy and the rewards are limitless.
If you are a brand new ecommerce seller I would SO start here instead of trying to grow an online empire AND a shop at the same time. I am getting decent referrals from my websites, but I have a large audience already.
I can't get around the fact that Etsy owns these customers. I cannot add them to my email list to stay in communication or market to them using retargeting or any other form of online marketing.
Additionally I cannot see paying for traffic to a site that has all different kinds of distractions available once they get there. Imagine paying for a Facebook ad for your planner and then sending them to a site with hundreds of competitors. Online advertising is hard enough without adding that problem!
Last month a client was over and she suggested that I start a Shopify store in addition to my Etsy store and I said definitively, no way! That would be twice as much work and I wasn't even sure how much it would cost to do. But it started me thinking, there are things that I don't like about using Etsy and why not take a peek.
Long story short, I opened the Marketing Artfully Shop on Shopify (I have since closed this shop…. I did much better on Etsy)! While it has not been around as long, I am pleased with my sales so far and the ease of setting it up.
Monthly cost $29.00
No cost to list unlimited items
Credit card rates 2.9% + $.30
Additional Paypal/Stripe fee 2%
So one of my $3.50 marketing worksheets paid with a credit card nets me $3.09. Paid with Paypal it nets me $3.02.
Selling Digital Products
While I have sold fewer items on my Shopify store, no one has mentioned any problems at all with the process (and some of my customers WOULD tell me so that I could fix it!)
To sell digital products you have to add an app to Shopify but it was easy peasy and just an extra step, not a horrendous problem.
Adding products is very nice with Shopify. They walk you through the process well and you can “copy” listings rather than having to start from scratch each time.
Sales & Delivery Process
Shopify makes delivering the products easy. The only complaint I have here is that you can only deliver one file so you have to zip up your items. Etsy allows up to 5 files to be delivered so they definitely win that one.
Okay, here is where I love Shopify but it could trip up people who do not already have a big website or social network in place. Because I am driving all the traffic to Shopify from my website or email list, the traffic is converting at a much higher level than on Etsy. On Etsy I get views and favorites but a much lower rate of converted sales (.008) than I do on Shopify (5%).
This is because they have been “warmed up” by reading a blog post or email before they get to the sales page. They already know like and trust me before I try to sell them something.
BUT, and this is a big old but, if you do not have a way of driving traffic to your Shopify store, you will have a really hard time making sales.
The reports that you get from the basic account that I am using ($29 per month) are terrible. You have to basically track your sales using some other method and there is no data available about top sellers or anything else useful. Sigh.
I get that they want to have you pay more for the next tier, but paying $79 to receive data about my account seems like a really big jump. You also get Gift Cards and Abandoned Cart Recovery with this level, but my volume is not high enough right now to really feel like this is an option.
Advanced : SEO
I have checked and my Shopify items are in the Google index. I have not been doing this long enough to expect any kind of rankings in “real” Google yet and figure that the only reason they are there at all is that I am “passing” some of my Google love from this site when I list them on a page for sale.
There is a free plugin that will help with your SEO on your Shopify store if you are not good at that yourself.
Advanced : Additional Selling and Tracking
Whoo whoo! You can add any kind of tracking script you want to your Shopify store! This is awesome since it allows you to use Google Analytics and also avoid retargeting people who have already purchased from you (or TO retarget people who already love you).
I have been super happy with my Shopify store so far. Now, it is much newer than my Etsy store so it might have some of that “new car” glow about it, but for now I think it does exactly what I want it to!
Additionally it allows me to send people to the store or even sell directly from my website using the “Buy Button” feature. This was a really pleasant surprise that I found after I had everything set up!
Additionally, in comparison to Etsy, I net more money whether or not they use the Shopify checkout or PayPal.
The only downside that I found so far is the reporting functionality and I could fix that by paying more money monthly so overall I have to say that Shopify definitely comes out on top for me!
Why Have Both?
Okay, here is the skinny on why I continue to have both shops!
- I LOVE the market research I can do on Etsy. It would be REALLY hard to generate that kind of traffic to a stand alone site like my Marketing Artfully Shop and it is interesting to see what gets Favorited and sold.
- Etsy gives me the keyword data for actual searches that people are doing on their site to get to my products. This is invaluable for developing products and writing blog posts that will be popular.
- Last but not least, Etsy exposes me to an audience that might not necessarily be looking for marketing but who buy once they know that is what they want.
- I have the Shopify site so that I can drive sales from my site directly to a single product or only my products instead of pre-selling people and then losing the sale when they get to Etsy and see a million different other options.
- I also am going to be doing some paid advertising and there is no way that I will pay to drive traffic to my competitors or a sales platform that doesn't allow me to use the customer data.
I know that having two shops is not the easiest thing to do (especially if you are selling physical products with inventory) but I find it to be totally worth it. It would be great if there were one perfect solution, but there isn't and I like the ways that I can use each of them to drive sales and increase my market knowledge!