Instead of building your own website, you could sell on a third-party marketplace. A third-party marketplace is a platform that brings sellers and buyers together. It provides several selling capabilities, such as listing your products and allowing buyers to browse a catalog of products offered by different sellers. Etsy is one of the most popular third-popular marketplaces, specializing in handcrafted, vintage, custom and unique products.
Etsy was founded in 2005 in Brooklyn, NY and grew very quickly. Etsy’s 2018 yearly merchandise sales volume (short: GMV) was a total of 3.93 billion U.S. dollars. There are a lot of different sellers on Etsy selling all kinds of products, from jewelry and prints to home decor. At the end of 2018, there were 60 million items listed on Etsy. I sold some of my art prints on Etsy and summarized my personal pros and cons of the platform in this article so you can figure out if Etsy is the right sales channel for you.
Etsy Pros and Cons Infographic
Etsy Pros and Cons
Creating an account and starting to sell on Etsy is very easy and straight forward. The signup process is super fast and listing your products is simple. While it’s up to you how much detail you’d like to provide for each product, it helps potential customers with their buying decision if they can learn as much as possible about your product. Etsy offers a lot of tips and guidelines along the way so you can create the perfect product listing.
Existing Customer Base
Etsy has a lot of customers. As of today, Etsy Connected 39.4 million buyers with 2.1 million sellers. The customers appreciate the handmade vibe and the unique products that are offered on this platform. The large existing customer base makes it easier to get your products in front of potential customers. It’s difficult to bring attention to your own website. On Etsy, people are already searching for the next gift.
Features and Tools
When you sell your products on Etsy, you’ll get access to tools that help you grow your business. You can analyze your store’s sales and check which keywords are used to find your products. You can see the traffic, views, and favorites for each listing. Etsy also allows you to create paid promoted listings to boost your sales. Some other great features are the possibility of creating sales and coupons and setting up social media posts from Etsy.
Selling on Etsy isn’t completely free but in my opinion, their fees structure is fair. Unlike other platforms, there’s no monthly subscription fee. They do however take $0.20 listing fee for each product that you want to list on their marketplace. For each sale, they’ll take a 5% transaction fee and a 3% + $0.25 payment processing fee.
Etsy has a lot of fans and a loyal customer base. Even though each product is sold by a different seller, it’s not difficult to separate the good from the bad sellers. Customers can see how many sales a store had so far and they can also leave a review to share their buying experience.
When you manage your own store and chose your own server, you have to make sure that everything is running correctly. You have to ensure that the server is always up and that people can access your site without problems. With Etsy, you don’t have this problem. Etsy is basically never down and allows people to make purchases 24/7. That’s one less thing for you to worry about.
If you’re looking to expand your sales to other countries, Etsy can help you with this. Etsy has many international customers from all over the world. You can set the shipping charges individually for each destination and also set realistic shipping times. This helps international customers to know what to expect when they place the order and eliminates any uncertainties.
When you decide to sell on multiple platforms, you need to make sure that each sales channel reflects your inventory correctly. Managing multiple platforms at the same time can be very time-consuming.
Customer Service Bound to Platform
When you receive a message from a customer on Etsy, you need to use the platform to respond. It can become tiresome to keep track of all customer service tickets on every platform. In some cases, the notifications don’t come through or arrive late to your email. On top of this, you’re not allowed to market to your previous customers and are not allowed to send messages outside of Etsy.
There are only a limited amount of systems Etsy integrates with. For example, the platform doesn’t integrate with a lot of inventory systems. Since Etsy doesn’t allow e-mail marketing, you also can’t connect to email services like MailChimp. There are also limited integrations to bookkeeping systems, which makes keeping track of your finances on Etsy pretty exhausting.
Changes to Site and System
If you’re using a third-party marketplace like Etsy, you don’t have any other choice than to agree with their changes and adjustments. Etsy makes changes to its system all the time. Sometimes they even change their search algorithm, giving preference to some products over others. Etsy also changes the placement of tools or revises their functions. This can be super annoying if you’re just trying to get work done.
Etsy can be a great way to start selling online if your product fits into their categories. It can be a good extension to your other sales channels. Etsy allows you to connect to millions of potential buyers and can be a quick way to test a new product idea. It’s also a great platform to earn some money from your hobbies. However, I wouldn’t recommend to only rely on Etsy. You’ll be missing out on customers that don’t shop on Etsy and on building a brand that can live and grow on its own.