I want to start this post by saying this is not a platform bashing party. There have been many things flying through my mind about both Etsy and Storenvy. I've had many shop owners ask me my thoughts and so here they are. The purpose of this post is to layout the pros and cons of each based on my personal experience.
Have you been thinking about opening an online store? Have you been wondering which platform is best for your business or products? Or have you been selling online for a while but are itching to try something different?
I'm there with ya. It's confusing when choosing a platform for your business because in the beginning it ALL sounds great. The real truth won't be revealed until you actually dive in and try something out. There is nothing I can say that beats your own experience. However, here are my two cents anyway since this is my blog and I can do whatever I want (ha!)
Known for it's trendsetting ways, many creative folks flock to Etsy from all around the world. I started dabbling in the Etsy ocean in 2010 and there have been many changes (good and bad) to the platform since then. Many shop owners find huge success while others are lost under the current. Here are some pros and cons based on my 4 years selling on Etsy:
- Community. Etsy has always been known for it's diverse community of like-minded crafters. Oh you like antlers and anchors? Me too! Wow I love your hoop art, I'll add it to my next Treasury! You are guaranteed to connect with someone else who loves what you love. With the benefits of Etsy Teams and Forums, you can not only share your products but also find that one-of-a-kind (or OOAK for you Etsians) doily scarf for your Aunt Lucy.
- Exposure. With the power of community comes the added exposure your shop can receive. Not only from people browsing the marketplace but Etsy is now a household name and has been featured in some of the top Home Decor/ DIY magazine as well as popular television shows.
- It works. Sure it takes a lot of hard work and time but the bottom line is if you follow the Etsy formula, it works. Though every shop is different and may not thrive the same, Etsy does give every shop owner enough tools to turn their dreams into reality. The less time you devote to your shop, the less likely you'll see an increase in sales and vise versa.
- Fees. Obviously we know we have to spend money to make money but the amount of fees included with running a shop can sometimes be daunting. Yes, it is only .20 cents to list an item but if you list enough times during one day to stay on top of the product pages, it can get expensive. Not to mention the nice percentage Etsy takes from each sale. Learn more about their fees here.
- Trend driven. While this may seem like a pro to some, I list being trend driven a con because trends fade over time. If you want sales, look at what people are adding to their treasuries and you'll be sure to see a pattern. Antlers. Anchors. Mustaches. Chevron. Hoop art. Your unique products can find their own place but it might be hard to find a spot at the cool table.
- Not shopper friendly. When I looked for a different platform to sell from, it was because I actually had customers tell me they were confused with how to buy! Okay, if you are already on Etsy and have an account, it's easy. But what about the average customer who browses Google and finds your amazing product? I love selling to other sellers but being really successful is making sure everyone else can get your product in their hands.
Like many small businesses, we often feel like the under dog in a corporate run world. Storenvy gives handmade shop owners more freedom to create a storefront and brand they not only love but are proud of. While this platform is still fairly new, it's popularity is growing due to their humble beginnings and desire to give small businesses a voice.
- No fees. Seriously. No catch. You can upload up to 500 products at no cost to you. Storenvy gives you the option of adding a custom domain url as well to your shop for only $5 a month but if you don't want to spend that, you don't have to. You can just use the url they provide when you sign up. There are also other add-on options such as super discounts for customers (besides coupon codes) that also have a fee but again, don't use them if you don't want to. For more information, read more here.
- Customizable. Running an online shop is not only about the products but about a first impression. While Etsy has a lot more shop keeper tools, Storenvy allows full customization for your storefront. You can choose to alter one of their templates, purchase/download a custom template from a designer or if your HTML savvy, have at the code. So many possibilities for creating a shop that speaks about your brand. I actually purchased a premade template from Dana +Wonder Forest in her Envye design shop. Take a look right here.
- Simplicity. Yup. This platform is so simple and easy to use, as well as shop from. It took me a few months to get one sale on Etsy but with Storenvy it was only a matter of weeks. The tools available are great plus the 3rd party integration features is not as confusing as some may think.
- Still new. One thing about being part of a newish platform is that community is being established and exposure is on it's way. You do have to work a bit harder at sharing your products/shop. Also, people may be a little apprehensive about shopping with a platform they haven't heard of.
- No forums. While Storenvy allows you to watch stores, create product collections and envy (instead of heart) items, I do miss forums. On Etsy, I have to rely on forums to bring internal traffic to my shop. Sharing my product link within Teams helps bring exposure to my shop. Getting used to not having a place within the platform to chat with other shop keepers is a bit of a challenge, although they do have a great Facebook group.
- Kinda techy. Even if you want a basic storefront, in order to be a success, you have to be somewhat techy or be friends with someone who is. Customization is definitely a pro but how to get there might be a turn off. The basics provided are great but you will soon realize it may not be enough. You'll start to want to branch out ideas and grow your brand. Brush up on your HTML skills and get simple coding down. You will need it eventually.
Honestly, I have both right now. One of the best things you can do as an online business owner is keep all avenues open. The more opportunity you give people to see your products and experience your brand, the better. While I can't afford Etsy fees all of the time, the money is well spent as my items get exposure and I can be a part of a larger community. And while Storenvy is still new, it still provides me full control over my brand, how to create my storefront and is easier for my customers to purchase from.
I've been using the Storenvy platform more now because of the amount of traffic it's getting. The shop is well linked to my social media platforms and this blog. My product sales have doubled since switching the majority of my inventory to Storenvy. However, I have made sales in the last couple of months on Etsy so I keep it open and list items that would appeal to that audience.
We should never throw these two in a ring and say "fight." The handmade community as a whole can benefit by coming together and bringing forth good quality products made from the heart. I truly believe both platforms stand for the same things and I fully support them. So think about your shop and what you'd like to accomplish. Write down your goals and a financial plan. Take a look at what is beneficial all around for your brand and choose that way. In the end, handmade still wins!
Check out my shops and tell me your thoughts in the comments.