This article is part of a larger series on Retail Management.
If you are a small business or creative entrepreneur looking to start your online store, you might be comparing Shopify vs Etsy. While both can be considered ecommerce platforms, Shopify’s ecommerce tools are more advanced and have options for multichannel selling, whereas Etsy’s are basic, with its existing audience providing more of the advantage than its store feature.
- Shopify: Best for small retail businesses and growing an online store
- Etsy: Best for easily selling handmade and vintage products and craft supplies
Effective April 11, 2022, Etsy increased its transaction fee to 6.5% up from 5%, prompting thousands of Etsy sellers to go on strike.
When deciding between Shopify and Etsy, you’ll need to weigh how much Etsy’s marketplace and built-in customer base are worth to your business and make sure your profit margins can sustain Etsy’s transaction, listing, payment processing, and ad fees.
In this guide, we compared the two platforms on price, ease of use, customer attraction, marketing tools, and customer support.
Shopify vs Etsy at a Glance
Retail businesses and growing a standalone store
Creative vendors wanting to sell handmade goods easily
Limited to handmade, vintage (20 years), and craft supplies
Starts at $29.95
✕ (if using Shopify Payments)
6.5% from each sale (item price + shipping fee), plus listing fees
Point-of-Sale (POS) system (for in-store or offline sales)
✓ (Shopify POS)
✓ (Square integration)
Multichannel selling (Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
Ease of use
24/7 live chat, email, and phone support
Email, phone support by schedule
When to Choose Shopify
|Robust ecommerce tools||Exposure can be limited if not marketed to target market|
|Unlimited products||Add-ons/apps can get expensive|
|Extremely scalable||No free plan (but has free trial)|
|POS for in-person selling|
|No transaction fees (Shopify Payments)|
Shopify is better than Etsy for small businesses that want a standalone store, sell retail products online and in person, and have intentions to grow their online store. In particular, it is best for:
- Businesses with online sales as a profit driver
- Online stores that would like to sell on social media
- Multichannel retailers
- Entrepreneurs wanting to try a dropshipping model
While it requires a monthly subscription, you get what you pay for with a customizable online store, embeddable buy now buttons, plenty of integrations, a POS system for in-store purchases if needed, and multichannel capabilities. Shopify is our top-recommended ecommerce platform because of its ease of use, stellar ecommerce features, and scalable pricing plans.
If you wish to have full control over your ecommerce store, Shopify is the better choice. You can sign up for a Shopify 14-day free trial, no credit card required.
When to Choose Etsy
|Pre-built audience due to Etsy’s marketplace||Listing and transaction fees|
|No monthly fees||Product restrictions; limited to handmade items|
|Quick setup||Limited branding and creative control for your online store|
If you are a creative entrepreneur planning to sell handmade items or craft supplies, Etsy is your best bet. Etsy beats Shopify with its little to no upfront costs, quick setup, and most importantly, huge audience. The traffic alone from Etsy’s marketplace is enough, especially for small-scale vendors. With this setup, you can rely on its popularity instead of marketing your own brand.
Etsy is also easier to use outside the box. Store setup takes a little over an hour, and you can start selling with no setup costs or monthly charges—unless you upgrade to a paid plan. You still have to pay listing fees and transaction fees, though.
NOTE: Etsy has its ecommerce platform, Pattern by Etsy, where you can build a website to sell your products. It costs $15 per month and comes with a 30-day free trial. Pattern by Etsy is not integrated with the Etsy marketplace, so you will be responsible for generating your own traffic.
It is not as robust as Shopify’s platform but is an alternative if you wish to keep selling within the Etsy platform. In this guide, we’ll only be comparing Etsy as a marketplace rather than exploring its website builder.
Best for Affordability: Etsy
Takeaway: Etsy wins because of its free plan and zero to little startup costs. You can upgrade to its Plus plan for $10 a month for additional features such as more customizable options and email alerts. Although Etsy’s listing and transaction fees are significantly higher than Shopify’s, the tradeoff is exposure through Etsy’s marketplace. With a Shopify store, you need to invest in building a following and driving traffic to your site.
Depending on the merchant’s needs, though, both platforms are reasonably priced and offer good value for money. Shopify lacks a free plan and has higher upfront costs but provides value in the long run with scalable ecommerce tools and lower transaction and processing fees, which can allow for greater profit margins.
It has higher upfront costs, but you certainly get what you pay for. Its pricing includes three plans, ranging from $29 to $299 per month. It also has a Shopify Lite plan ($9 per month) that allows you to embed Buy Now buttons in existing websites, emails, and social media channels. It doesn’t offer a free plan, but you can sign up for a 14-day free trial.
Read our ultimate guide on Shopify pricing plans.
Comparing Shopify fees vs Etsy fees, it may seem Shopify’s costs do not even come close to Etsy’s low prices. If you plan to set up a Shopify store, expect to pay $250 to $500 in startup fees and around $50 to $100 in monthly fees at the start, including add-ons. However, Shopify’s plans offer great value for money because of the many features and long-term scalability that come with them. Remember, too, that with Shopify, you are not only listing your products but also building a website.
Best for Ease of Use: Tied
Takeaway: Both Shopify and Etsy are straightforward and easy to use. Etsy is quicker to set up, but both platforms are very beginner-friendly.
Shopify is a bit more technical because you are setting up a standalone website and in-depth ecommerce tools; however, its user interface is intuitive and beginner-friendly. It takes you through a setup wizard when you first configure your account. Afterward, you see action buttons, a simple navigation menu sidebar, and standout callout links that open to detailed instructions on a particular setup.
Even its ecommerce tools—such as inventory, order management, and product listings—are set up in a way that makes it very easy to navigate, track orders, and update product listings and inventory. Read our guide on how to set up a Shopify store.
Etsy’s setup, meanwhile, does not require as much time and effort, so you can expect to have a working Etsy store in a few hours if you have a product ready to sell. Since you do not have to set up a whole website, the process is more straightforward.
You just have to start by opening an Etsy account, choosing a store name, and setting up products, payment, and billing options. Read our guide on how to sell on Etsy to learn more about setting up a store.
Best for Attracting Customers: Etsy
Takeaway: Etsy is the fourth-largest ecommerce site by monthly visits in the US (over 5.2 million active sellers) and has the edge for customer attraction (90.5 million active buyers). If your products are handmade and generally compatible with what the majority of Etsy buyers are looking for, you have the target market.
However, ensuring that your products stand out from the competition is the challenge. Product quality and uniqueness are needed to make sure you capture Etsy’s vast audience. Read our tips for selling on Etsy to stand out from the competition.
You can also use its advertising tools such as Etsy Ads and Off-site Ads. With Etsy Ads, your listings are more visible in Etsy searches. With Off-site Ads, Etsy advertises your listings on Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Bing, and when you make a sale from those ads, you pay an advertising fee on that sale.
In contrast, you don’t have the benefit of having a preestablished audience in Shopify. You need to configure your SEO to rank in Google, promote yourself on social media, and build an email list to attract customers. Fortunately, Shopify has built-in promotional and marketing tools that make it easy to promote your store—such as SEO, email campaigns, and social media integrations.
You can easily tell that Shopify requires more work. If you are just starting out as a small business, Etsy’s existing audience might just be enough to get your brand noticed for the first time. While Shopify does not give you this advantage, you have full control over creating your brand online.
Best for Growing Your Business: Shopify
Takeaway: Shopify wins by a mile due to its unlimited product listings and scalable ecommerce features. It’s the perfect option for you when you are just starting out—all you need is your inventory and a smartphone. As you grow, you can seamlessly transition into Shopify’s higher-tiered plans. Take note, however, that certain sales features (such as those you find in the Shopify App Store) come with monthly fees. It can easily add up, so think about which features your store needs before buying.
Etsy offers a basic ecommerce toolkit that includes everything you need to manage your Etsy store easily. These features include:
- Sell on Etsy mobile app, so you can manage sales and the store on the go
- Etsy and Off-site Ads
- Create and manage coupons
- Discounted postage labels
You can choose to upgrade to Etsy Plus for $10 a month and get advertising credits, more store customization options, discounts on marketing materials, email alerts for customers when an item is restocked, and a store domain name through Hover.
Even with an upgrade, Etsy’s ecommerce tools are limited and not fit for a scaling business. For example, Etsy doesn’t offer an inventory management tool, so you need to track inventory on your own.
Shopify, meanwhile, gives you all that you need to grow your ecommerce business. You can sell an unlimited number of products even on the basic plan. The abandoned cart recovery feature—which is mostly offered on higher plans with other ecommerce platforms—is also included in the entry-level plan (Basic Shopify at $29/month).
Multichannel selling is a huge advantage for an online store. Shopify gives you the ability to seamlessly sell on different channels and use its platform as a central inventory, order management, and payment platform.
If you plan to sell products in person, Shopify has a first-party POS system called Shopify POS. You can use a POS with your Etsy store but it is a third-party provider, Square, that offers it.
If there’s something your store needs, it’s a near certainty that you’ll find it in Shopify’s app store. It has over a thousand third-party apps that you can integrate with your ecommerce store.
Best Customer Support: Shopify
Takeaway: Although Etsy provides an extensive help section and community forum, Shopify offers immediate 24/7 support—something you might need, especially if you are just starting your online store. A majority of users even commended its team for being professional and very competent.
Shopify also provides helpful beginner guides, and its help page tries to give answers to commonly asked questions with tips and how-to articles before recommending you contact its support team.
While Etsy also has a comprehensive help center and active community seller forum, it does not have 24/7 support. You can schedule a phone call with Etsy’s support staff or send an email if you have any concerns. The turnaround time is usually within 24 hours.
Using Etsy & Shopify Together
There are plenty of integrations in the Shopify App Store that allow you to connect a Shopify store to Etsy and list, manage, and sync your products across both platforms.
There will be some apps that require additional fees for you to use them, but you can get the best of both platforms—Shopify’s powerful ecommerce tools and Etsy’s huge online marketplace.
Shopify vs Etsy Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Which is cheaper: Shopify or Etsy?
When comparing Shopify fees vs Etsy fees, your ultimate consideration is the number of products you intend to sell. While Shopify has upfront costs like a monthly subscription, there are no product listing fees, and it allows you to sell an unlimited number of products. Etsy has quarterly listing fees from unsold listings, and it can add up if you have a large product collection.
Which is better for selling artwork: Shopify or Etsy?
Shopify. Unlike Etsy, there are no listing fees when you sell artwork on Shopify. Plus, you can sell more quantities of original artwork in a Shopify store.
Which takes the most of sales: Shopify or Etsy?
Etsy. Shopify doesn’t charge listing fees or transaction fees (when using Shopify Payments). Credit card processing fees still apply on sales for both platforms, though.
It seems that Shopify wins over Etsy in most aspects. Why should I sell on Etsy?
We recommend Etsy for small-scale sellers that offer homemade goods, vintage products, or craft supplies. Etsy’s audience base is very huge—you don’t want to miss out on that.
Even if Etsy has an edge over Shopify in attracting customers, Shopify wins in almost all aspects. When choosing an ecommerce platform, work with what you have now (e.g., a small budget or limited tech know-how), then scale as your sales grow. On both counts, Shopify can help.
If you have a business that you want to keep small, Etsy is a good option. But if you plan to grow your business, Shopify is the platform that will best serve your needs.