What To Look For In an Etsy Alternative

While Etsy is a good platform for basic selling, it doesn’t do much in the way of building your brand and controlling your own business. There’s a lot of things you lose out on by using a third-party platform, so these are some things I suggest you keep in mind when searching for an Etsy replacement. But the first thing I recommend doing is assessing your needs.

Assess Your Needs

Your eCommerce platform should fit your business needs, not the other way around. This means that it’s smart to fully assess your needs in terms of how you want to merchandise your items before you even consider comparing different options.

For example, if you’re selling handmade greeting cards that come in multiple colors and papers, your eCommerce platform must offer multiple product variations and photos so you can highlight each option.

You will also want to consider how you prefer to interact with customers. Do you want to send them emails to stay in touch and offer exclusive information? Do you want your customers to be able to leave overall ratings and product reviews? What about shipping and order management? What exactly do you need and what can you live without so that you can keep your process simple and efficient?

Once you know what your needs are, it’s time to look at the features of each eCommerce platform you may be considering.

Evaluate Features

Some eCommerce platforms offer features that others don’t, so take a close look to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck and you won’t be missing out on key business tools.

For example, you might need features like batch order processing, one-page checkout, a mobile-friendly storefront or recurring billing to effectively manage your store.

Also evaluate the platform’s marketing features, including search engine optimization (SEO) tools, coupons/discounts, and daily deals.

So, you might be thinking right now, “Alisha! That’s a lot of stuff to consider!” and I would agree with you. To help you get the wheels turning, I expanded on a few key aspects that should help get your ideas going about what you want in your Etsy alternative and what you can live without.

Control or Convenience?

Etsy is the choice for a lot of folks because it is so convenient. Amazon Handmade and eBay are right in line with this super fast and easy way of getting your items up for sale online. However, this convenience is a tradeoff with how much control you have over the many aspects of your online shop and product listings.

There are options all along the spectrum from completely convenient to completely under your control. The table below includes some common platforms along with a Commercial Real Estate column so you can have a visual comparison in mind if you aren’t familiar with some of the platforms.

TradeoffeCommerceCommercial Real Estate
100% ConvenienceEtsy
Vendor Booth
80% Convenience
20% Control
PayPal Button
Shared Space (e.g. Spa or Salon)
50% Convenience
50% Control
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

When you are trying to stand out in a sea of competitors, having the ability to customize your selling space matters. That’s likely one of the main reasons you want to move away from Etsy – it has over 2 million active sellers!

Owning your own domain that matches your business name or what you offer is one more opportunity for you to increase awareness and trust in your business. It also confirms that you are an independent and professional company they can feel safe in doing business with.

From cohesion with color themes to logo placement, the best way to stay in the customer’s mind is by standing out from the rest. With your own eCommerce website, you can align your online store with your brand vision and have a more cohesive representation of your business.

Fixed or Variable Costs

You’ll have to pay some monthly or annual fees for setting up and running your own eCommerce store if you chose to move away from Etsy, but the total you spend is up to you. Plus, they are usually fixed costs that you can plan for, allowing you to make more confident business decisions.

Etsy makes most of its money from variable fees that are based on percentages, so it can vary drastically from month-to-month as you likely know. Etsy is also known for changing the amount or the policies surrounding the fees on a regular basis so if you have estimated what you’ll owe, it could change dramatically with little notice.

Typical DIY Website Cost

Getting started with your own website doesn’t have to be expensive. You can always start small and improve or expand on your ideas as your sales increase. If you keep the scope of your website small and use some budget-conscious options, you can expect to be up and running with your own website for around $2,000 per year.

Potential DIY Website Cost

If you’re really want to go big with your new website, you can spend quite a bit more. If you’re interested in things like membership sites and other complex functions, you’ll spend closer to $5,000 per year on your website. This is a rough estimate based on potential costs and it could be much less or much more depending on your situation and your needs.

Customization & Organization

Easily organizing your store and inventory how you want it to be organized can make a big difference in how easy it is for you and your customers to interact with it. As with everything mentioned here, the more convenient it is, the less customizable it will likely be.

How intuitive it is to find or filter items is a big deal to a lot of shoppers who are used to having this feature on almost every online store they visit (think amazon). If you have a lot of products and a lot of different kinds of products, you may way want to opt for less control so you can give your customers a better user experience – and make more sales in the process.

Customer Analytics & Marketing

Building a business means you need to stay aware of your customers’ buying habits and be able to stay in close contact with them.

Sure, with Etsy, you can message buyers, but you can’t manage the customer journey or have any significant metrics available for tracking the consumer life cycle, which you can with Etsy competitors.

With your own e-commerce store, you can see sales and customer metrics, and have the ability to do more meaningful marketing, such as in-depth e-commerce email marketing.

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

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