Amazon vs Etsy vs Shopify: Choosing The Right Platform For Your eCommerce Store
Deciding which platform is best suited for your idea can be daunting.
We’ve stressed over it when choosing which platform to launch on, and want to share our learnings with you. Here is a quick and simple breakdown of the factors we considered before making the final decision to sell our puerh tea on Shopify. How
- Customizing your store: How flexible is the platform
- Website traffic: Do you get the benefit of existing traffic coming from the platform?
- E-commerce: How simple and turn-key is it to sell products (inventory management, taxes, shipping)?
- SEO: How well and how fast can we build equity with Google and start getting organic traffic to our store?
- Ease of use: We’re not technical experts, so is the interface intuitive and user-friendly?
- Fees/costs: How much does it cost to use the platform?
Customizing your store
Customization can be a crucial component when it comes to building a unique brand. A cumbersome user experience or an off-putting design can be the reason a purchase does not get completed.
Amazon: Amazon is the most limited when it comes to design as it manages your layout, so every seller has the same design. It’s really 100% utility and almost zero brand-building.
Etsy: Like Amazon, Etsy also has a fixed layout that needs to be followed. This makes the format of your page the same as everyone else’s. However, you can always create a memorable storefront with compelling images and descriptions.
Shopify: Shopify allows you to create a fully customized website with your own domain name, which you can't do on Etsy or Amazon.
Shopify is our top choice in this consideration, since we wanted to create a credible, lasting brand, and not just sell products.
Attracting customers to your storefront is essential for e-commerce. After spending time and effort creating your ideal website, you want your work to be seen!
Amazon: As a whole, Amazon attracted over 206 million visitors per month in 2018. Amazon listings also tend to show up on the top of Google searches. If you can stand out in the crowd, it can bring a vast influx of customers to your products.
Etsy: Etsy is similar to Amazon in that it's a marketplace, but it's unique because it specializes in handcrafted and vintage items. Etsy's focus on a niche market means its visitors are more likely to be interested in your work if it fits the bill. The downside with marketplaces is the abundance of competitors selling similar products.
Shopify: Your website won't be a part of some broader marketplace, so traffic is dependent on your own marketing efforts.
Each platform offers unique features to help you get ahead. This is not a comprehensive list of every feature within each platform, just some that stood out for us across the three sites.
Amazon: For an additional fee, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program gets Amazon handling the storage, packing and shipping of your products, which can be a big bonus for many. Amazon also has other tools, such as built-in customer service and secure refunds.
Etsy: Etsy has a solid base of simple, yet powerful tools. It offers tools like discounted postage, sharing across social platforms and creating coupons.
Shopify: Shopify has the most extensive and in-depth range of sales tools on the market. To name a few - abandoned cart recovery, powerful inventory system, automatic tax calculation, logo maker, multichannel selling across Facebook and Instagram, email marketing and app integrations that cover a wide range of functions like conversion optimization, referral marketing and product videos.
All three e-commerce platforms come with SEO friendly features to allow you to optimize your site, and drive organic traffic.
Amazon: Amazon lists products with the best keyword matches and highest performance at the top. If you optimize your content with keywords and list an offer visitors want to click and buy, there is no reason you won't score high in Amazon's SEO. Amazon also is continuously optimizing their own SEO, which will result in a high amount of exposure to listings of your product.
Etsy: Etsy’s SEO works in a similar way to Amazon; position is determined by query matching and ranking.Etsy comes with SEO-friendly features like tags and keywords, which allows you to rank higher within Etsy's search engine.
Shopify: Asides from the standard on-page SEO features, Shopify also supports blog articles for building SEO equity, and the ability to redirect URLs for deleted products. Plus, it has many add-on SEO Apps with features like image optimization, advanced meta tag settings, and improving page load times.
Ease of use
All three platforms are designed to make the management process friendly and intuitive.
Amazon: Setup and start selling immediately. No website maintenance, just store description and product pages. Amazon has an Email, Phone, and Chat support system for sellers - although we must warn you, it does not have the highest of ratings amongst sellers.
Etsy: Setting up an account is very quick and straightforward with Etsy. You can be selling products within 30 minutes. Just add a store description and add listings. Etsy has an online help center, but no phone support.
Shopify: You have to create a website before you can start selling. Although Shopify provides clear guidance every step of the way, it can be a little tricky. Shopify has 24/7 support by email, live chat, and phone, an online help center, and discussion forums on every topic.
Fees and additional costs
Amazon charges no listing fees; listings have no expiry date.
If you use FBA there are a range of fees varying from $2.41 up to $137.32 for fulfillment fees (per unit). Then there are monthly inventory storage fees ranging from $0.69 to $2.40 per cubic foot.
If you do not plan to sell more than 40 products per month; The Individual Selling plan doesn’t have a monthly fee – instead you pay $0.99 per item sold. Plus variable closing fees ranging from $0.45 to $1.35.
Professional Selling plan ($39.99/ month)
Professional sellers pay variable closing fees and referral fee percentages ranging from 6% to 25% (an average of 13%).
Fees and additional costs
Etsy has listing fees, transaction fees, and credit card charges. $0.20 listing fee per item plus a transaction fee of 5% on every sale. There’s also a standard 3% + $0.25 payment processing fee.
Etsy Standard (No monthly cost)
Etsy Plus ($15/month) This gives you:
Etsy Pattern ($15/month) — This add-on service allows you to have an e-commerce site using your own domain name and comes in addition to your Etsy storefront, but it does not compare to Shopify.
Fees and additional costs
There is a card processing fee of 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction for every payment gateway.
If you use Shopify’s payment gateway you do not need to pay any transaction fee. If you don’t use Shopify Payments, you’ve got lots of other payment options. These include PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Stripe, etc.
Basic Shopify plan ($29/month) -- Gives you everything you need to set up your store. Unlimited products, multichannel selling, discount code creation, and abandoned cart recovery are just a few of the features included on this plan.
Shopify plan ($79/ month) -- It has everything the Basic Shopify plan has, plus more. Its extra features include gift card creation and professional reports.
Advanced Shopify plan ($299/month) -- This has everything from the first two plans, plus an advanced report builder and third-party calculated shipping rates, and lower credit card rates.Shopify Lite ($9/month) -- This plan does not include a website, but it allows you to sell your products on social media and other websites. (e.g. WordPress or Weebly).
All three e-commerce platforms are fantastic for selling online. Shopify is a powerful platform for creating your own online store. It has the tools you need to start a small business website and to power huge companies like Tesla. On the other hand, Amazon and Etsy are both marketplaces that have millions of users visiting their site daily.
Amazon and Etsy are great if you plan to sell a few products each month. They both come without the commitment of a monthly subscription, the effort of creating and maintaining a website, and the marketing initiatives needed when you have your own website. If your product falls within Etsy's niche, then selling on Etsy is usually less expansive than Amazon, but if not, Amazon is still a superb choice.
If you’re looking to establish a long-standing brand and sell in higher quantities, Shopify is definitely the way to go. It has everything you need, and more, with precise modular designs, easy navigation, and free courses to teach you about every aspect of running an e-commerce store.
Finally, you can always choose more than one. That’s what we did with Just Puerh. We leveraged Etsy's marketplace to raise more awareness of our brand while maintaining a Shopify website to build brand equity and generate organic traffic to our site over time.
We know that trying to make the optimal decisions for a new business can be stressful. We hope this article gave you a little bit more information on what platform is best suited for your business goals. As they say, the most important step to having a successful business is to start. We at Just Puerh wish you the best of luck with yours!