Etsy – is a worldwide selling platform developed for merchants who want to sell crafted items or add another channel to distribute their goods online. Launched in 2005, the platform was initially designed with a focus on small shops and independent merchants who do not want to handle the process of website building. It makes it easy to add products within the existing eCommerce ecosystem and start selling without the need to clarify such terms as hosting, domain, coding, or web designing.
Today, the system hosts thousands of different digital stores located globally. Merchants sell a variety of items that may range from designer bags and clothes to jewelry, toys, pieces of art, supplies, etc. The platform comes with simple product management and a set of eCommerce features in a pack. However, some users state that it will work only for small shops without the opportunity to scale.
In this review, we are going to check if it is true and what limitations you may face when using the digital marketplace.
1. Pros and Cons
Etsy offers a fast and simple way to start selling online without building a store from scratch. It is a good place to start. On the other hand, the control panel may look a bit confusing at first, while getting started with the first shop may take some time. So, here is the list of major pros and cons to look for:
| ✔ A free-to-use eCommerce platform.|
✔ Fast access to the global buyers’ audience.
✔ No coding or web designing skills are needed.
✔ Integrated reports and analytics.
| ✘ Transaction and other fees.|
✘ Designed to sell handmade products only.
✘ Limited merchant options.
✘ Requires lots of promotion to succeed.
✘ Limited payment options.
2. What Is It Good for?
Non-technicians and newbies will find it easy to work with Etsy. It was developed with beginners in mind. It will suit those who are not eager to deal with more complex website builders or CMS systems, buy hosting, register domains, etc. Users get a simple and straightforward solution where they only need to add products with some details, customize the shop a bit, and start selling items.
At the same time, Etsy will make no sense for bigger merchants as well as medium and large business representatives. The system does not reserve a place for scaling and growing a store. As stated earlier, it makes it possible to sell handmade and self-produced goods that may include designer clothes, handmade toys, jewelry, so on. In other words, the market could be a bit more saturated. For now, it mainly meets the needs of individual and independent merchants who are satisfied with the features currently provided.
3. How Does Etsy Work?
As mentioned earlier. Etsy was developed with newbies and non-technicians in mind. It means hassle-free settings and configurations to get started. However, some users may find it hard to configure their first shop, although the process consists of several baseline steps.
To access the digital marketplace, you will need to complete an easy and fast registration process. You may use either your email and password or try to log in with any of the available social media or Google accounts.
At the next stage, you will need to highlight your future shop preferences. They include currency, location, language, and other store personalization details. Besides, the platform will ask to indicate additional data such as local bank currency, type of seller you are (full or part-time), etc.
The last step here is to give your shop a name. The ad news is that users will not be able to experiment with the name, as the system restricts it to not more than 20 characters, which does not look long enough, especially if you want to sand out from thousands of other Etsy users with a bright and stunning name. What’s more, your shop name is not supposed to contain special characters, trademark infringements, and other identification features. It seems like the system wants every shop to look and sound the same.
Once you have completed the initial configurations, you will need to add products. The process will depend on the type of items you plan to sell. Etsy makes it possible to distribute not only physical but also digital products. Users will be able to add up to 5 photos, a video review, title, description, and other details that might have interest for potential buyers. The process is very simple, as it does not require special skills.
Here you will also need to decide on how you are going to receive payments. The choice is not quite rich. You may select from integrated Etsy payment solutions that come with extra fees or connect an existing PayPal account. The last stage is to submit your billing info with a credit card number to receive payments. It will be also used to withdraw transactions and other fees automatically.
Edit and Go Live
Although Etsy is not originally a website builder, it still offers several baseline editing tools to customize the template and change some design elements before going live. Here you may add photos, links to social media channels, etc. What’s more, the system will automatically assign a default domain.
4. Features & Flexibility
While being a digital marketplace, Etsy does not spoil its users with a bunch of eCommerce features. You may expect only baseline functionality with some must-have features any merchant’s platform should have. Otherwise, it must never be considered a merchants’ platform after all.
We have already discussed the process of adding products in the previous paragraph. We should add that the system makes it easy to add either separate goods or items’ listings. It helps to create collections or seasoned offers. To highlight products, users may add 5 photos. The task might be a challenge, as the system will not accept them in case the mages do not meet default requirements.
The good news is the ability to indicate item thumbnails making them more recognizable for potential buyers. What’s more, users will have a chance to describe products in detail. You may add information about the build date, manufacturer, type of product, and more. Users may set an auto-renewal feature to update product information. However, you will need to pay for the services in addition to all fees charged by the platform.
To track orders, manage customers, and monitor sales, Etsy offers a built-in dashboard with all major stats and measurements generated automatically. Here you will find all launched, running, and stopped ad campaigns along with stats in references to a particular item or product listing.
Promotion tools appear to be the only way to make your shop a bit more recognizable and notable. While Etsy does not offer SEO tools, you will have to do much work using integrated Etsy gift cards. The main downside here is that customers will have a chance to use them only when shopping inside the platform. Not third-party marketplaces or shops are involved. Additionally, users may launch dynamic ads on social media. Not much for an eCommerce platform.
Users will have two major options to get paid. The first one involves PayPal. Simply connect the shop with your account and start selling. However, a single payment option is not enough for demanding shoppers, who require enhanced flexibility in terms of payment possibilities. This is where Etsy Payments will help.
It is a custom, built-in, multi-currency environment to process transactions globally. Potential customers will have a wider option with credit and debit cards, Google Pay/Apple Pay, Klarna, Discover, and other methods included in the list. The main downside here is that, as a seller, you will not get paid instantly after a transaction. Etsy Payments use a scheduled depositing system, which means you will receive funds as per schedule. What’s more, you are supposed to have a valid bank account. This fact definitely adds some hassle.
5. Templates & Design
Etsy is not a website builder although it still offers store templates to choose from. The bad news is that all templates look the same. It does not matter what layout you are going to utilize. Your digital store will hardly stand out from thousands of other competitors within the marketplace.
Of course, users are free to indicate more info about the shop, add a bio, make product pages more engaging, etc. However, some of these features are paid for. The good news is that users may still change the layout structure and rearrange some of the page elements. Besides, they will have a chance to create additional navigation bars and sections without coding.
6. Customer Support
Users should not expect much from customer support, as it does not include a Live Chat feature or phone. You may find the answer to the question in a pretty rich knowledge base located in the Help Center. Use the navigation bar to find the issue quickly. The Help Center is divided into two major categories. The first one refers to shop management and configuration. The second one applies to the selling process.
If you are stuck and fail to find the answer to the question, the Etsy community may come in handy. It comes in the form of a global forum, where you may find experienced users, start new threads, or ask questions directly.
7. Plans & Pricing
Esty does not have traditional subscription-based plans. It charges different types of fees depending on the tools you use and product volume sold. What’s more, the fees may vary depending on your country and type of product. The three major types of fees include:
- Listing Fees – they are charged NO MATTER if you sell the product or not. The system will redeem $0.20 from every item you add to the listing. On the other hand, you will pay only for the products listed and available for sale. Shop pattern items are not charged.
- Transaction Fees – they refer to every sale you make. Once a customer has purchased a product from your shop, the platform will deduct 5% from the transaction cost. What’s more, get ready to pay an extra 2.5% fee in case you need to convert currency.
- Advertising and Promotional Fees – they include ads and offsite fees including a 15% attribute fee and ad campaign costs depending on the budget limit, bids, and some other factors.
8. Shop Examples
Here are several Etsy stores examples to see how your future shop may look like. As stated earlier, they all look quite the same with some slight differences. The idea was to show the types of products and the way they can be listed on-site.
StayFinePersonalized – handmade shops and watches
CaitlynMinimalist – jewelry
BusyPuzzle – toys for kids
Amylucydesigns – kid’s clothes and toys
SweetBasilCo – personalized gifts
TheDancingWick – soy candles and flavors
Etsy is a simple and easy-to-use digital marketplace with its custom eCommerce ecosystem. It offers simple tools to start selling handmade products online fast without special skills or background. It comes with integrated analytic and promotion tools along with an intuitive product management system. The system is a good destination for small and independent sellers who do not want to deal with website builders.
Despite all simplicity, the platform does not allow enough flexibility to scale, grow, and promote your future shop. It will make no sense for medium and large businesses. What’s more, a set of promotional tools looks also pretty limited. We could say it is a good option to get started and see if your products will have success if it was not for high fees. Maybe, you might want to look for more flexible options.