Etsy vs. Own Website: Which Is Better for Small Businesses?
Whether you’re making candles, BookTok merch, digital products or furniture, you might be looking for a place to sell your amazing goods. If you are pondering between setting up an Etsy shop or your own online store, here’s what you need to know.
Are you a talented crafter or a budding entrepreneur? Are you thinking of selling online? If yes, you might either choose to harness the power of established platforms like Etsy or create your own website and promote your products independently. But how do you know which choice is right for you – Etsy vs. your own website?
An Etsy store and an ecommerce website each have their advantages and limitations. Understanding what sets them apart is crucial for making an informed decision that aligns with your unique business goals. So, let’s discuss the pros, cons and pricing of each option. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will have a clear answer to your question.
- When comparing costs, Etsy’s listing, transaction, payment processing and offsite ad fees can accumulate, while a personal website’s upfront payments are offset by long-term savings and increased autonomy.
- Establishing a strong digital footprint through a personal website is crucial in the era of online shopping, with the potential for better search engine optimization and direct customer relationships.
What is an Etsy store?
An Etsy store is a dedicated shopfront on the Etsy platform where artisans, crafters and vintage sellers can showcase and sell their products.
Founded in 2005, Etsy has grown exponentially to become a leading global marketplace for unique and creative goods. Etsy’s target customer is a seller or buyer who values originality and craftsmanship. Naturally, the success of Etsy can largely be attributed to its niche focus on handmade and vintage items.
In 2022, approximately 95 million active buyers purchased goods from vendors selling on Etsy. This vast community has facilitated the sale of billions of products, ranging from handmade jewelry to vintage furniture.
In 2022 alone, Etsy raked in over $13.3 billion in gross merchandise sales, which highlights the platform’s immense popularity and reach. It’s no wonder so many choose to sell on Etsy.
Undeniably, it is a great ecommerce platform, but is Etsy worth your time? What does Etsy offer? Should you sell on Etsy yourself?
The pros and cons of selling via an Etsy shop
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of selling on Etsy.
- Easy setup: For a beginner, setting up your own shop on Etsy is straightforward and user-friendly. No technical skills are required to start selling on Etsy vs. when selling on your own website. The platform offers user-friendly product listing templates, making store setup free and simple.
- Built-in audience: Etsy already has a vast user base of buyers specifically looking for handmade, vintage and unique items.
- Trust factor: Due to its established reputation and buyer protection policies, Etsy has built customer loyalty. So, more customers may feel more secure purchasing from Etsy sellers (even new sellers) than new sites.
- Community support: As a hub for artisans, crafters and other established sellers, Etsy fosters a collective atmosphere where like-minded entrepreneurs can connect, share experiences and even forge marketing partnerships.
- Integrated payment system: When selling on Etsy, you don’t have to worry about setting up payment gateways, as your Etsy shop includes an integrated transaction system.
- Fees: Etsy’s fee structure includes a $0.20 listing fee and a 6.5% transaction fee, which is quite significant.
- Competition: With more than 7.4 million active sellers on Etsy, gaining brand recognition can be challenging. This pushes competition-driven pricing, which leads to reduced profit margins. In short, you have to compete with other sellers.
- Product authenticity: Introducing dropshipping on Etsy has raised concerns about the authenticity of products, as the platform traditionally emphasizes handmade, custom or vintage items.
- Less branding control: Etsy shops have a standardized look, which means Etsy sellers have limited ability to brand their Etsy shop uniquely.
- Dependence on the platform: If Etsy decided to change its shop policies or algorithms, it can significantly impact a seller’s visibility and sales. In short, sellers are at the mercy of Etsy’s platform policies.
- Limited marketing tools: While Etsy provides some promotional tools, they are not as comprehensive as what one might find with a dedicated website. This can limit growth opportunities.
What is an ecommerce website?
An ecommerce website is a digital platform designed to facilitate buying and selling goods and services.
Unlike traditional websites that might only provide information, ecommerce sites have features like shopping carts, product catalogs and secure payment gateways to ensure smooth transactions for both businesses and consumers.
Between 2019 and 2023, the number of ecommerce sites across the entire globe grew from 9.2 million to 26.5 million. The growth of platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce and BigCommerce has democratized online selling, making it accessible for businesses of all sizes.
So, should you join the ranks and create your own ecommerce site?
The pros and cons of selling via your own site
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of selling via your own website.
- Full brand control: Unlike a shop on a third-party platform, your own site allows for complete customization, which can help you highlight your brand’s unique identity.
- No listing fees: With full ownership of your online store, you do not need to worry about paying for listings, which could help save significantly over time.
- Direct customer relationships: As you run your own site, you can interact with your customers directly without intermediaries. This can lead to better customer service and increased loyalty, which can push you ahead of other sellers when competing for potential customers.
- Search engine optimization (SEO) opportunities: With your own ecommerce site, you are in full charge of optimizing for search engines to drive customers and organic traffic to your site and, simultaneously, increase sales.
- Integrated marketing tools: You can integrate email marketing, content marketing, social media and other digital marketing tools into your site to grow your audience and sales.
- Unlimited listings: When you build your own ecommerce site, you do not need to restrict the number of products or services on offer. You can scale your ecommerce business as you please.
- Data ownership: You can access customer data and analytics without restrictions to gain insights to help you create targeted marketing campaigns and make better-informed business decisions.
- Initial setup costs: While platforms like Etsy have minimal setup costs, building a website involves paying for domain name registration and hosting. You might also have to invest in web design and development.
- Hosting fees: Hosting charges vary depending on your website’s size and traffic. Moreover, it is an ongoing cost that must be factored into a budget.
- Maintenance: A successful website that functions well requires regular updates to ensure the site continues running smoothly and securely.
- Learning curve: Managing and optimizing a website might require learning new tools and platforms or hiring experts to do it for you.
- Payment gateway setup: Unlike Etsy, which has an integrated payment system, you must set up and manage your payment gateway, which might come with extra charges.
- Customer capture: You may have to implement specific strategies to acquire customers.
Etsy vs. own website – which is cheaper?
Both Etsy and personal business ecommerce sites have fees that must be covered. Here’s a quick rundown of what Etsy charges and what kind of charges you’d have to cover when building your own site. These specifics can help you determine which option might be more cost-effective for your business.
|Etsy’s fees||Own website costs & fees|
|$0.20 item listing and renewal fee||$10-$30+ annual domain registration fee (average estimate)|
|6.5% transaction fee from the sale||$10-$100+ annual hosting fee (depending on the hosting plan)|
|3-6.5% payment processing fee + flat fee per order (calculated based on the location of a bank account) + Etsy’s direct checkout fee||$0-$10,000+ one-time website design fee (depending on whether you use free web design services or hire a web design agency)|
|12-15% Offsite Ad fee on attributed orders||$5-5,000 monthly maintenance fee (depending on maintenance type and whether you have a small or big company website)|
|+ additional conversion, in-person selling and fees Etsy takes related to its own website builder||+ payment gateway fees and transaction fees (depending on the payment gateway)|
As you can see, the sum you spend creating a website can be significant compared to setting up an Etsy shop. However, once you launch your shop and start making sales, over time, the cumulative Etsy fees can quickly surpass the initial investment or annual maintenance expense of owning an ecommerce site. This grows more true the more you sell.
When you sell via an ecommerce site, you’re not constrained by additional Etsy listing fees as you scale. There is also the autonomy to drive direct traffic without incurring offsite ad fees. Moreover, you can improve the effectiveness of your store and boost your ROI by integrating it with several powerful ecommerce marketing tools.
Fortunately, you do not have to spend a fortune to launch a professional site for your ecommerce business. It is possible to cut down the overall personal ecommerce site price by taking advantage of free web design services.
The WAcademy solution: Free ecommerce website design
Building an ecommerce site can save you money in the long run. However, hiring a professional designer to design your website can be capital-intensive for many small business owners just starting out.
To help you solve this problem, WAcademy is proud to introduce free website design services supported by motivated and innovative web design interns.
Since 2017, our interns have designed over 30,000 websites for free. And we continue on our mission to support local businesses by offering professional website design services at no cost. Powered by WooCommerce, our ecommerce websites are fully functional and ready to accept paying customers.
What is WooCommerce, and why do we build e-shops using this ecommerce platform?
WooCommerce is an open-source ecommerce plugin for WordPress. This tool enables us to transform WordPress websites into fully functional online stores that can help you promote and sell your products or services successfully.
WooCommerce was launched in 2011 by a WordPress theme developer, WooThemes. Since then, it has grown into the world’s most successful ecommerce software platform in 2023 that, today, takes 39% of the total market share.
Top benefits of running your ecommerce website with WooCommerce
- Customizability: WooCommerce offers unparalleled customization options that allow us to create a custom-made store tailored to your unique brand requirements.
- Extensive features: WooCommerce comes with amazing features for running an online shop, from inventory management to secure checkouts.
- Scalability: Whether you’re selling ten products or ten thousand, WooCommerce can handle it, growing with your business.
- Integration with WordPress: WooCommerce integrates seamlessly with the platform since it’s built for WordPress. This means you can leverage the power of WordPress’s CMS capabilities alongside your ecommerce functionalities.
- Large community and support: With a vast community of developers and users, finding solutions to problems or ways to enhance your store is never challenging.
- Extensions and plugins: There’s a plethora of free and premium plugins that can add almost any functionality you can think of to your online shop.
Rest assured that once we design your ecommerce website, we take no transaction fees, and 100% of your proceeds go directly to you. We do not take a cut from your earnings either, which means you get to retain maximum profit from your store proceeds.
Please keep in mind that the WAcademy web design project is limited to free web design services. Hosting and domain name registration are outside our scope, and you need to cover domain and hosting expenses yourself. Our partner, Getspace, offers a cost-effective hosting package that includes WordPress hosting, data backup, SSL certification, professional email inboxes and an Elementor Pro license.
Curious to learn more, or perhaps you already have decided to join the program? Click the button to access the registration form.