- Etsy sellers are talking on social media about leaving the platform.
- Many said they were starting their own websites with Shopify.
- Sellers said fees, competitive search results, and a new badge program were factors in their decisions.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Hannah England was a few months into running her business selling bath and body products on Etsy when she created a TikTok account to help promote her shop.
To her surprise, her videos showcasing her brand, Aspen Essence, took off. Her account, launched in February, now has more than 520,000 followers and has been key to her shop completing 1,200 sales a month on Etsy.
Like some other sellers, England recently decided to expand her online presence to grow sales. She purchased a domain and launched a website using Shopify in August.
When England dropped her first set of products on her new storefront on August 20, she sold out of merchandise within 15 minutes, she said.
“I like having my own domain,” she told Insider. “I feel like I have a lot more brand identity, having my own shop and getting to customize it to look the way that I want.”
England is one of dozens of sellers who have been posting on TikTok, Twitter, and Reddit about leaving Etsy.
Insider spoke with six sellers who said they were either leaving Etsy behind for Shopify or using Shopify’s suite of apps to bolster sales outside Etsy’s marketplace. Sellers described not being able to create a strong brand identity on Etsy, facing competition in search results, and having to pay high fees as some of the top reasons they made the move.
Etsy charges listing and transaction fees in addition to fees for optional services like advertising, shipping, and subscriptions. Shopify has its own subscription fees, though it has different cost tiers. Sellers must also pay to own their domain.
Still, sellers told Insider they were hopeful that running their business through Shopify would be more economical than on Etsy, in part because the fees are slightly lower. Both Shopify and Etsy depend on order volume on their platforms to generate revenue.
Perks of moving to Shopify
The large number of apps and products that sellers can integrate with their stores may make running a Shopify site more complicated than listing on Etsy, but it’s also part of what makes Shopify popular with tech-savvy business owners. The average Shopify merchant uses six apps to run their business, according to the company, and many are free to use.
Shopify merchants with a TikTok for Business account can now add a shopping tab to their profiles, the companies announced on August 24. The integration could make Shopify even more appealing to business owners with large followings on TikTok.
“By bringing shopping to TikTok, Shopify merchants will be able to fully tap into the reach and scale of one of the fastest growing entertainment platforms in the world, which has hundreds of millions of users and is fast becoming a source for shopping inspiration,” a Shopify spokesperson told Insider.
Meanwhile, some Etsy users are feeling unsettled by its new Star Seller program. Starting in September, Etsy said, it will place a “Star Seller” badge on listings from sellers who meet specific criteria: They must respond to at least 95% of customer messages, ship at least 95% of their orders on time with tracking, and have at least 95% of their reviews be five stars.
Sellers told Insider they worried that the guidelines would be too strict and that they would be penalized if they needed to take a day off or if they chose to run their Etsy shop as a side hustle instead of a full-time job.
The program requirements are a large part of what’s driving Anahita Sharma off Etsy’s platform. Sharma said she was working on launching her own Shopify website soon and had done over 1,100 sales through her Etsy shop. She, too, has a significant following on TikTok, with an audience of more than 53,000 users tuning in to her videos.
Sharma said that she has a disability and that the previous flexibility of selling on Etsy was what drew her to the marketplace. The Star Seller program requirements are “taking the power out of the seller’s hands and putting it in the hands of the customer,” she told Insider.
“There are days where I can’t answer messages or days where I can’t send out orders even if they’re supposed to be sent out,” she added. “And my customer base understands that, because they know me from a different platform.”
E-commerce competition is getting fierce
Discussions about the advantages and disadvantages of Shopify and Etsy reflect the growing competition in e-commerce, which soared to new levels during the pandemic. Small-business owners have a lot of choices for selling online, from marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon to software providers like Shopify, Squarespace, and BigCommerce.
Etsy also has a website-building tool, called Pattern, but it’s not considered one of the company’s core services, a spokesperson said.
Still, the company is in no real danger of losing its seller base. Its latest earnings report said it had more than 5.2 million sellers on its platform as of June 30, a 67% increase over the same quarter a year ago. Shopify has 1.7 million merchants on its platform, though it had higher revenue than Etsy in 2020.
For many first-time sellers, Etsy may be the ideal platform, as its marketplace model gives business owners access to a built-in audience. Two sellers told Insider their income was negatively affected when they decided to focus more on Shopify, largely because succeeding as a stand-alone website requires investment in marketing and customer acquisition.
“If you’re just starting out on Etsy or you’re hand-making your products and you don’t really have a good fan base or customer base, then Etsy is a good way to go,” England said. “If you create your listings the way that the Etsy algorithm likes, then there’s a chance that you can get to the top of search results.”
For those able to market themselves more effectively, Shopify may hold more appeal.
“I get a good amount of views, so I think that people will be fine with the switch from Etsy to Shopify,” Sharma said. “I know that most of my customer base is coming from elsewhere and not from Etsy search.”