Etsy – is the global marketplace, which has initially won worldwide popularity as a platform to sell unique handmade products and goods. The system currently has over 323 million buyers across the globe, who are looking for unique items. It works great for creatives, who are involved in making DIY products for sale and wish to grow their customer base by launching a website to showcase their items.

Whether you are fond of knitting, making home decor items or extraordinary products out of various materials, Etsy may become the top notch destination to start a profitable business and present your creativity to the audience. But is it really easy to create anonline store with the platform? Are the web stores launched with the system really functional and do they come up to your expectations? Let’s try to answer these and other questions you might encounter during the web design process now.

1. Ease of Use

Setting up a web store with Etsy is quite easy, even if you are not a web design pro. To sign up for the system, you may use your Facebook, Google+ account or email. Having completed the sign up procedure, you’ll be offered to specify your shop preferences (language, country, place of residence, sale intentions). The next info to provide is your shop name (check if it is available first). Finally, you may proceed to submitting product listings and filling out payment details.

The main usability criteria are centered around proper filling out of listings, product photo uploads, selection of location and niche parameters. This takes a couple of minutes only and doesn’t cause any problems due to the simple, intuitive and understandable dashboard of the system, no matter what your web design skills and experience are.

How does Etsy Work?

Launching a web store with Etsy is not complicated. You just have to follow the guidelines the system generates and watch the result. But what’s next? How does the system work to bring you the desired profit?

What you should know is that each Etsy listing you submit is live for 4 months and has to be renewed afterwards if the product is not sold. To make it simpler for buyers to find your listing among those offered by your competitors, you have to fill out SEO settings, add keywords, select product category etc.

If you do everything right and the product is in demand with customers, the system may even feature it on the homepage in the curated collections section. As soon as the item is sold, the platform will charge the pre-defined commission fee.

Your responsibility is to calculate the shipping expenses and deliver the product to the buyer, who will further rate your service and leave a feedback on your page. The money you earn will be deposited either into your PayPal account or your bank account. This usually takes around 2-3 business days.

2. Feature Set and Flexibility

Unlike the majority of popular eCommerce platforms, Etsy has specific marketplace rules, which go down to the specification of users, who can sell their products there as well as to the items they can sell. If you are going to create a web store to sell ordinary clothes, toys, electronics, food etc., then Etsy won’t work for this purpose at all.

This is the platform that has built its reputation due to its strong focus on selling handcrafted items the sellers make themselves as well as vintage products and craft materials. These rules define the major feature set of the system and its usability terms.

Etsy Add a Product

The first thing you notice when getting access to the system is that it is subdivided into two major parts. These are the user account and web store backend. User account is the place, where you should submit your personal details and web store parameters. Having done that, you may proceed to online store management – adding and setting up products, adjusting their parameters and details.

Etsy dashboard comes with listing settings, order management options, statistics preview, conversations, shipping, payment and marketing options. Let’s have a closer look at the feature set of the platform.

The system allows adding up to ten photos for each product, when creating a listing. You may select the main cover photo to present a product in the most favorable light and upload other images to let a customer look at the item from different angles.

Etsy Product Listing Details

What’s more, you are free to specify listing details, such as name, keywords, description, author, material a product is made of, date of creation, category an item belongs to, renewal options (if any), type, description, section, tags etc. The more details you add, the better impression of your product potential buyers will have.

Etsy allows adding inventory and pricing options, including the amount of products available for sale and their cost. An advanced SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) feature will help you keep track of your inventory and identify how many available items you have in stock. As a result, you won’t accidentally run out of products, when your customers will be ready to buy them.

Specification of shipping and delivery parameters (shipping origin, location or destination choice, selection of the preferred order processing time, fixed shipping costs, international and local shipping carriers, preview of final shipping costs, delivery notification set up etc.) is a must to notify customers about the expenses they may encounter when placing an order. By the way, your buyers will have to provide their personal data prior to proceeding to the checkout.

Etsy Shipping Preferences

To increase your chances to get noticed, Etsy has enabled synchronization with popular external services like Google Shopping, Bing, Shopstyle, Polyvore, Facebook.

You can also set up Google Analytics to your online store to keep track of statistics and set up the major parameters.

If you wish to move your web store to/from Etsy, the system provides CSV product file export/import and data management option to help you with that. If you feel that your shop lacks functionality or wish to give it extra performance, new apps from Etsy developers (Etsy Prototypes) might be helpful to you.

Etsy Shop Preferences

Other features that make Etsy a good choice for newbies include privacy policy set up, two-factor authentication, language and region selection and what not.

3. Designs

Number of Themes:No Themes
Responsive Design YES
Sort by Industry: NO
CSS Code Editing: NO

When it comes to design options, Etsy doesn’t have much to boast. Almost all web stores created with the system look pretty much the same. What you can change here is color schemes, background, logo, layout and other suchlike parameters. These customization options, however, are done within the strict parameters of the system and, thus, do not have serious impact upon general website design.

Etsy doesn’t offer any template change or CSS code editing options. Likewise, you cannot upload your own layout. What you can is create a standard project that will differ from the rest of web stores by the unique About the Shop part, icon, header banner and title. It’s also possible to upload high quality unique product photos, web store history review and other info that adds individual touch to your online store and boost its search engine results. That’s it.

There is no much place for imagination and creativity here. You have to stick to design customization options the system offers.

4. Customer Support

Etsy definitely lags behind the renowned leaders of the eCommerce niche in terms of customer support options. When you start working on your web store development, you can search for the answers to your questions in the “Community and Help” section available in the left low corner of the website dashboard. This is where you will get access to popular articles, general help topics and seller help topics.

These sections abound in helpful and informative posts providing tips, recommendations, guidelines and instructions on how to get the most out of using the system. If you still can’t find the info you need, you are welcome to reach the community forum section to search the answers there.

There is the search filter option here, where you can type your question and get immediate results, thus, cutting down the search time. Etsy doesn’t have lots of educative materials, live chat or 24/7 tech support assistance.

5. Pricing Policy

Etsy doesn’t offer paid plans with a fixed cost. Instead, it charges fees for listing publication and web store management.

The cost of adding one listing constitutes $0.20, no matter how profitable it eventually is. The cost remains fixed, irrespective of the resulting sales and the profit you generate. A listing expires every 4 months and you have to make another payment to renew it. This means that the eventual sum you’ll have to pay will depend upon the number of listings submitted. The more products you sell – the higher the cost will be.

Apart from that, Etsy charges commission fees for every successfully complete sale. The fee is fixed and constitutes 3.5% from the overall cost of the sold item.

Mind that the commission fee does not cover the delivery cost.

You can get your commission fees in person on the first day of each month. To make a monthly payment, you should reach the Billing Section in your account to see the cost. You will additionally get a notification about the upcoming payment date. If you don’t manage to make the payment by the 15th day of the month, your web store may be closed.

6. Pros and Cons

Just like any other eCommerce platform, Etsy has its pros and cons that can matter a lot, when it comes to the choice of the service. Let’s have a look at them now.

Strong focus on selling unique and originally designed handmade products;
Сoupon codes and other promotion offers for loyal customers;
One-click CSV product file import/export;
Easy listing management;
Unlimited number of product listings to be added.
Inability to sell other products except for handcrafted ones;
You can’t delete users comments after they are added;
Lack of customer support assistance;
Poor website design customization;
Lack of tools and features to build a large online store.

Bottom Line

Ease of Use:8/10
Tech Support:8/10
Overall Score:6.6/10

Etsy is a nice eCommerce platform, when it comes to selling handmade products. It is a good place for creatives hoping to sell their author masterpieces and getting inspiration for further works. It’s possible to launch a small website for your personal marketing needs with it. As your brand will start gaining popularity, you’ll realize that the functionality of the system is not enough to cover a broad spectrum of eCommerce web building tasks.

What’s more, you’ll have to comply with the strict system rules that will limit your web design and marketing intentions. In other words, the platform cannot offer serious and long-lasting perspectives for sellers. It may only come up to the needs of newbies, who are just starting their handmade businesses. If you have more serious aspirations to build a decent eCommerce website for effective marketing and promotion, you’ll have to look for the alternatives.

Howard Steele
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About the Author

I'm Howard Steele, the founder and editor-in-chief of this website. With over 10 years of web building I know how complicated and tiresome this task can be for a non-IT person. Can’t decide which service to choose? Feel free to ask me for advice. Just describe your website needs, and I’ll gladly help you.

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