Finding an Etsy Alternative in 2020

While Etsy is a good platform for basic selling, you may be realizing there are a lot of things you lose out on by using a third-party marketplace.

Here I cover are some things you can keep in mind when searching for an Etsy alternative in 2020.

The first thing I recommend doing is assessing your needs.

Assess Your Needs

The first thing you’ll need to do when you’re looking for an Etsy Alternative is to assess your needs. You probably know what you like and don’t like about Etsy. So here’s some questions you may want to ask yourself to get the process started.

How are you wanting to merchandise your products? Is it how Etsy has them done or do you want to do something new and different? Would you prefer to interact with your customers in a certain way? 

Do you want to allow people to leave product ratings and review? If so how much control do you want over that? 

How are you planning on shipping your products and managing orders? Have you grown used to using the post office for example and you definitely want to offer that as a shipping option. Or are you fine using anything? 

Then also how you’re managing the orders? How much detail do you want to get into?  Again how much control do you want in that process? 

What do you need to keep the buying and selling processes running smoothly As an Etsy seller you probably had a few glitches here and there and learned a few things about what makes things run smoothly versus what doesn’t. So keep that in mind when you’re assessing your new needs for a platform and whether they can accommodate that.

Then most importantly, sometimes it’s better to look at what you don’t want than what you do want. If there are some things that Etsy offers that just feels like a distraction or that’s really not adding any significant value to my life or to my buyers’ lives. Then think about what you can live without. Just look as if you want to keep things simple. Then keep that in mind when you look at looking at the different platforms. 

Evaluate Features

Once you know more about what your needs are you’re going to want to evaluate the platform features. Does it offer you a way to automate your order confirmation in your status emails? If you’re used to Etsy doing that. Does it offer a way for you to post blogs or videos or relevant product information, in a way that Etsy hasn’t let you do before?  

If you’re really interested in kind of telling more of your story or sharing videos about how people are using your products or how you make your products. Make sure that the platform allows you to do that. 

Can your customers continue to use coupons or exclusive discounts that you want to offer? Etsy’s very good about that and it does incentivize people to buy more. Or to buy something that’s a little higher price than they would have considered. So if you know that works for your customer base make sure that you can continue to do that.

How does their rating and review system work and what does it look like? Do they give you an option of not posting something that you don’t think is fair? Did they give you a way to respond to something that’s going to be effective?

Again going back to shipping. If you have a specific shipping service that you really like or a system that you’re already using. Then make sure that that platform can help you continue to do that.

Which marketing features does it offer or give you control over? As you move away from large marketplaces like Etsy.  You’re going to definitely be doing a lot more marketing. So make sure that whatever your strategy is you can control it in a way that makes it effective. Also that it’s even offered. If you’re planning on doing certain things make sure that all of the integration will work and that it’s going to be a relatively simple process. 

Control or Convenience?

One way to kind of distill this down into two different areas, that I feel are important to most business owners, is how much control or convenience you’re gonna get. I’ve made this little table showing the different percentages of convenience or control that different e-commerce platforms offer. 

Then also comparing that to commercial real estate in case you’re someone like me who has to visually think of something. It’s not all just virtual stuff. If you want a hundred percent convenience that’s probably why you’re on Etsy or other marketplaces like Amazon or eBay that’s comparable to a vendor booth. You basically just show up, you present your products and they provide most of the traffic and all of the structure needed to make that process happen.

Or maybe you want a little bit of control but mostly convenience. You can go with some pre-made websites or even commerce platforms like Squarespace, Wix weekly. Or even just like a PayPal Button on an HTML site. 

Or whatever that’s comparable to a shared space like salon-like hairdressers who have to rent their chairs in a salon. They have a little bit of control over their individual space. But, for the most part, the business is providing them the convenience of giving them a lot of perks by being in that space. 

If you’re wanting a balance like a 50/50 balance of convenience to control. Some things to look at might be Shopify, BigCommerce, or Volusion. They’re comparable to like a mall store. So you have a little bit more control over your branding. You know what happens when people are working with you or buying from you. But you do have a lot of convenience with their structure and their partnerships and the ways they get traffic to your site.

If you’re looking for a lot of control and a little bit of convenience WordPress in WooCommerce or a self-hosted Magento site might be something you want to consider. That’s comparable to like a standalone store and maybe a strip mall. You can distinguish them from the other ones but they’re grouped together. They have a lot more control but there is the convenience of a shared parking lot for example. 

If you want complete control then you’re probably gonna have to do a custom build like on a dedicated server. That’s comparable to like somebody who goes and builds a custom build store. Like all alone, that’s very fancy and you know they paid a lot for it. But it really does speak to the success of your business and your brand.

So if you want a lot of control, excuse me for a second, and you have the money to do it. Custom Builds, of course, are always an option. But you’re probably gonna have to hire somebody to do that for you.

TradeoffeCommerceCommercial Real Estate
100% ConvenienceEtsy
Amazon
eBay
Vendor Booth
80% Convenience
20% Control
Squarespace
Weebly
Wix
PayPal Button
Shared Space (e.g. Spa or Salon)
50% Convenience
50% Control
Shopify
BigCommerce
Volusion
Mall Store
20% Convenience
80% Control
WordPress + WooCommerce
Self-hosted Magento
Standalone Store
100% ControlCustom Build + Dedicated ServerCustom Built Standalone Store
eCommerce Platforms | Convenience versus Control

Creative Ownership & Branding

One way to kind of distill this down into two different areas, that I feel are important to most business owners, is how much control or convenience you’re gonna get. I’ve made this little table showing the different percentages of convenience or control that different e-commerce platforms offer. 

Then also comparing that to commercial real estate in case you’re someone like me who has to visually think of something. It’s not all just virtual stuff. If you want a hundred percent convenience that’s probably why you’re on Etsy or other marketplaces like Amazon or eBay that’s comparable to a vendor booth. You basically just show up, you present your products and they provide most of the traffic and all of the structure needed to make that process happen.

Or maybe you want a little bit of control but mostly convenience. You can go with some pre-made websites or even commerce platforms like Squarespace, Wix weekly. Or even just like a PayPal Button on an HTML site. 

Or whatever that’s comparable to a shared space like salon-like hairdressers who have to rent their chairs in a salon. They have a little bit of control over their individual space. But, for the most part, the business is providing them the convenience of giving them a lot of perks by being in that space. 

If you’re wanting a balance like a 50/50 balance of convenience to control. Some things to look at might be Shopify, BigCommerce, or Volusion. They’re comparable to like a mall store. So you have a little bit more control over your branding. You know what happens when people are working with you or buying from you. But you do have a lot of convenience with their structure and their partnerships and the ways they get traffic to your site.

If you’re looking for a lot of control and a little bit of convenience WordPress in WooCommerce or a self-hosted Magento site might be something you want to consider. That’s comparable to like a standalone store and maybe a strip mall. You can distinguish them from the other ones but they’re grouped together. They have a lot more control but there is the convenience of a shared parking lot for example. 

If you want complete control then you’re probably gonna have to do a custom build like on a dedicated server. That’s comparable to like somebody who goes and builds a custom build store. Like all alone, that’s very fancy and you know they paid a lot for it. But it really does speak to the success of your business and your brand.

So if you want a lot of control, excuse me for a second, and you have the money to do it. Custom Builds, of course, are always an option. But you’re probably gonna have to hire somebody to do that for you.

Fixed and Variable Costs

The other thing to consider is, of course, the fixed and variable cost of the options you’re considering. A lot of them offer a way to pay monthly or annually for their service fees. That’s helpful if you want to spread the cost out over time. 

If you’re used to Etsy and just kind of paying for what you’ve sold. It can be kind of a hard hit to know that you have to pay upfront on some of these. But if you want to pay monthly or annually, just more of like a subscription-based thing. Then make sure that the platforms you’re considering will offer that.

There are also fees for additional features that they offer. For example like Shopify. You have to pay for the apps if you want additional features in addition to the basic stuff they offer. But if you’re doing that every time you turn around to build a space that works for you. Those fees can kind of build up over time. So make sure you’re factoring that into your budget.

There’s also variable transaction and shipping fees so make sure that you’re working that into your pricing structure. Or there is a way you can work that into the pricing structure on the platform.

 If you’re going with an all-inclusive custom package it can certainly simplify the process but you’re probably going to front-load the cost. An example is hiring a developer to make a WordPress site or something. It’s likely they’re gonna want money upfront, at least a deposit. But they might do a lot of things for you that you wouldn’t be able to do through other platforms. Also, make sure that you’re factoring in the marketing and promotional fees. It may not cross your mind because you’re so focused on choosing a platform. You are definitely going to have to do more marketing and promotional activities if you’re moving away from a marketplace. 

I mean, that’s really one of the big advantages of working with Etsy is they’re doing a lot of that stuff for you. That’s what you’re paying for technically so make sure you’re factoring that in. 

If there are other fees that your Platform charges because you want to do marketing or promotion through their platform. Make sure that that’s something that’s a line item in your budget. 

One way you can kind of slowly ramp up on some of this and keep the costs under control is just to do some gradual growth. I personally prefer to do that because it gives me the sense of control that I need. It also gives me the opportunity to monitor what’s working and what’s really adding value to my business. 

Normally what I’ll do is I’ll add a little feature and then I’ll see how it works. You know, if it does help me connect with people or it helps people understand me better or to buy my service. Then it’s a way for me to see whether that decision was a good one. 

Then I can either scale back or keep going with that. But then I can add on to it. So it’s not just like boom all this big costs at one time. You’re consciously monitoring and evaluating as you go. 

So that money, I think,  that your spending is usually better spent because you’re making sure that it’s worth the cost.

Customization and Organization

Customization and organization is something you may or may not have thought of. but is super important to understanding whether a platform is going to work for you. You want to be able to consider how many and how much variety your products have. How that number and variety are going to be represented. If you have a lot of different products and a lot of different customizations in your products. 

You want to make sure that the platform is going to give you a way to easily and intuitively show that to your customers. So that they can find what they need and buy it. I don’t know about you but if I can’t filter down to what I’m looking for and there’s thousands of products on a page or a website. I get really frustrated and I usually leave. 

So make sure that you’re able to represent the variety and number of your products in a way that is easy for someone to filter and view. You want to give them control over that process so that it’s more interactive. They feel like they have a lot of control in the process of finding what they want to purchase. 

Of course, managing and updating your inventory in real-time can make a huge difference for everyone. People want to know that okay, you have it in stock. It’s going to be shipped in a couple of days. It’s going to be here in time for you know, Tammy’s birthday.

That’s a big difference if they purchase and you’re like, Oh crap I don’t have any more of those. You have to go back to them and say I’m sorry but we don’t have this in stock. It’s not an ideal situation. It’s manageable but it’s not ideal. So make sure that you have a way of easily managing and updating your inventory in real-time. So that you don’t have those silly things happen. 

Making it intuitive and easy for you is just as important. Especially when it comes to organizing things. Making sure your inventory is managed and updated and just all the things that help you keep things straight in your head. So that you can save your sanity. I mean, there’s nothing worse than getting a new customer and then not being able to satisfy that new customer. 

So if the platform is not going to make it easy for you to do business or for you to live a stress-free life. Keep that in mind when you’re looking at the different platforms.

Customer Analytics and Marketing

Customer analytics and marketing. Here is an important, I’m ending with this because it’s so important. Etsy does give you a lot of analytics. You know you have an understanding of kind of what they’re doing for marketing. You can integrate that into your Etsy shop. 

But if you’re looking to use a different platform. This is going to be taken to a whole other level. You’re going to be able to stay aware of your customers’ buying habits using a lot more data than Etsy will provide. Then you can use that feedback to optimize all of your marketing and promotional activities. 

You’ll have more control over managing that customer’s journey which will definitely help you stand out amongst your competitors. Because everybody likes to feel like they’re being taken care of. Especially if you know there’s fun or unique ways that you can do that. 

Also if you’re looking at a lot of the analytics or just marketing data. If you start seeing some odd behavior like you know 10 people have put 10 things in their cart and they don’t buy. There might just be a glitch you know, there might be an issue with your website. Or something in the platform that is preventing them from clicking. 

So it’s great to be able to see all of that back in data. It’s a great way to help you define the issues and then process and fix them. Because it would suck to not realize that a button is not working or it’s taking them to the wrong page. Or there’s some confusion on their part with the process. 

Then noticing trends can definitely help you stay ahead of the curve and become an industry expert. So as you’re getting all of this feedback in it’s kind of feeding your creative processes. You’re seeing trends and you’re noticing that people are really digging this one product or this one color or this one you know whatever. 

It gets your noggin thinking and you start wondering. I wonder if this is trending elsewhere?  So it helps guide you to be a better business owner and also to be a better artist. Or you know, an artisan that is noticing the trends. If you decide to you can stay ahead of that curve and be an industry expert for other artisans. Help them in that way to notice those things. 

Adapting to the changing needs of your customers is always going to help your business grow But it’s difficult to do that if you don’t have a lot of data and you’re not doing a lot of your own marketing. Because you just don’t have that feedback loop. So that is a lot to consider I know.

Creating a Powerful Online Presence with Etsy AND a Website

One last thing that I really hope that you keep in mind when you’re looking for an Etsy alternative – you don’t have to completely move away from having your own Etsy shop to create a powerful online presence. You can use both. You can keep your Etsy shop and then build on another platform. 

Use those consecutively to build different parts of your business. So you don’t completely turn off that flow from your Etsy shop while you’re experimenting with getting a new e-commerce website set up and going.

You know your income stream’s not going to completely shut down. Your feedback’s not going to completely shut down. You’re gonna just kind of be flowing into a new platform while the one that’s working continues to work. Then you can get this one up and running. There’s lots of different things that you can do to help them work together. 

So that’s my final thought for finding an Etsy alternative in 2020. I hope this video has been helpful to you. If you have questions or you’re more interested in learning more about how you can create this powerful online presence. I would love to help you build on your Etsy foundation and help you future proof your brand and sell on your own terms. 

Now that you know more about what may be a good fit for you, click here to read my Top 5 Etsy Alternatives for Artisan Selling Online in 2020.

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