As of May 2016, Etsy reported that there are 1.6 million sellers on their platform. With a Free “store” and fees of just $0.20 to list for 4 months and 3.5% Etsy fee and 3% +$0.25 Transaction fee, it is very easy for a beginner to test the waters without much investment. To break that down, you’ll pay 6.5% +$0.45 assuming your listing sells within 4 months. Creating a more personalized store will run you $15/ month after the free 30 trial period. If you’re already selling on Etsy, you probably know these numbers well. If your store is a hobby and you don’t really care to make much money, keeping your store on Etsy is probably best.
Why sell in your own eCommerce store instead of Etsy?
- Cost: Depending on the platform you build your website on, your break-even point will vary based on what your monthly fees are. Let’s say that you don’t pay for a custom store on Etsy so your only costs are listing, Etsy and transaction fees. For an eCommerce store like 3dcart that charges $19.99/mo for your store and no transaction fees, you’ll come out ahead after selling at least $571.59 in product each month. If you’re currently using a custom design on Etsy ($15), you only need to sell $143.31 in product each month to save.
- Ban Risk: You may have read about the many horror stories from Etsy sellers who had built up their business, investing time and money only to get banned. Etsy has a zero tolerance policy for copyright infringement/ intellectual property as part of your product or even keywords you use and strict rules about not selling anything mass-produced or similar to what another seller is selling. It becomes very easy for your competitors to report you or for you to accidentally use a keyword that relates to another company’s keywords and BOOM!, you’re done. All the time and effort that you applied is gone and you’re starting from scratch. Etsy usually takes the reporter at their word and have been largely unresponsive to appeals so it can be tough to beat a violation report.
- Control: Even with a custom store on Etsy, your designs are very limited. It’s tough to add options and customizations except through messages. Having your own store means that you can design your site any way you want and utilize more advanced features that Etsy doesn’t offer.
- Marketing: While Etsy provides traffic to their site for you and includes your store in their search features, it’s tough to stand out. Even if you operate social media pages/ accounts for your store, you send them to your Etsy subdomain where they can easily be distracted by other products and sellers. Having your own brand, URL, etc shows customers that you’re a legitimate business.
What can you do about it?
- First, determine what your online store is to you. If it is something that is or you want to be your full time job, consider making the switch. The last thing you want to do is tell your boss to shove it because your Etsy store is doing well only to get banned because of an unfounded report the next week.
- While your Etsy store is still up, try a few platforms free to see what you like best. Shopify, 3dcart, Zoey, and FoxyCart are some great options for non web developers to create a good looking and functioning site. Again, try more than one. They each offer a free trial period to test it out.
- When/If you decide to make the jump, you can keep your Etsy store up. Be sure to manage inventory so that you don’t sell the same unique item on both sites.
- Build your website and get feedback from others. You can ask friends, family or use a consultant like Ecommerce Advice Club.
- Watch your business grow now that you aren’t burdened with listing fees, plain store design, and the ever looming threat of being banned