Etsy is a well-known online marketplace for handmade goods and vintage items. Etsy boasts nearly 10 million buyers per month and is a well-recognized and trusted brand, making it an ideal platform for anyone looking to sell handmade or vintage products. However, it is not your only option. There are many other online marketplaces that may be a better fit for you and your products or offer an additional market you can expand into.
Although it is a great option, there are limitations to selling on Etsy. For example, they own your customer list, which greatly limits your opportunity to build your own brand, retain customers, and to market to past customers. There are also limits on how you can advertise your Etsy store.
We’ll explore the pros and cons of selling on Etsy and 5 popular alternative online marketplaces – Amazon Handmade, eBay, IndieMade, Bonanza, and Big Cartel.
What is Etsy?
If you’re looking for an online marketplace to sell handmade and vintage items, Etsy is a great option. Headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, Etsy got its start in 2005 and has been a leading global marketplace for selling handmade products, vintage items, and unique gifts.
Etsy charges lower fees than many of its competitors, making it a good option if you’re looking for a low-cost website to launch your business on.
Pros and Cons of Etsy
Etsy is a great marketplace for handmade goods and certainly has its benefits, but it doesn’t suit all needs.
There are many advantages to selling handmade items online on Etsy. As of 2021, Etsy reached nearly 100 million active buyers, giving sellers a large base to market to.
Etsy has built-in invoicing software and credit card processing, meaning you can get set up and be ready to sell products on day one.
They also make it very easy to set up and maintain your storefront with Pattern, their website builder.
While Etsy has its own unique selling points, it also comes with several cons that should be taken into account.
Fees charged by Etsy are also relatively high when compared to alternative platforms. They charge both listing and transaction fees, which can eat into profit margins.
With its popularity among buyers also comes the fact that there are over 2 million sellers on the platform, which means some segments of the market are already flooded with products, making it difficult for new sellers to break through.
Etsy used to have an option that said “other items from this seller” at the top of listing pages making it easier to increase your average order size and build customer loyalty. That option was removed.
Etsy also pits sellers against one another by recommending other sellers who offer similar items at the bottom of a product page.
One of the biggest cons of using Etsy is that they control your customer list. That makes it very challenging to build your own brand or to retarget customers who have bought from you in the past.
Why Sellers May Be Looking For Etsy Alternatives
If you’re a handmade seller on Etsy, you know that the platform can be pretty saturated with products. One way to expand your business, can be by selling on alternative online marketplaces. These platforms offer sellers a similar platform with similar features, such as the ability to sell vintage items and crafts, without some of the cons Etsy presents.
Sellers want to stand out from the crowd.
There are countless handmade items for sale on Etsy, and it can be hard for sellers to make their products stand out from the crowd. To make matters worse, if you do manage to get a potential customer to one of your product pages, Etsy is working against you by recommending other sellers selling similar products at the bottom of the page.
There are many great marketing channels you can use to get traffic to your products such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, pay-per-click advertising, and even influencer marketing, but it is hard to justify the time, effort, and cost of those channels when you are also potentially advertising for your direct competitors as well.
Sellers want additional marketing channels
Etsy restricts sellers from being able to engage in a lot of traditional ecommerce marketing strategies. For example, there are no options for Facebook remarketing campaigns and sellers are not permitted to collect buyers’ email addresses. Sellers are not even permitted to communicate online with customers after the completion of a sale. This really limits the ability to grow a brand and to nurture potential customers.
Sellers want to expand into non-handmade items.
Sellers love Etsy for its handmade items. However, some may want to branch out into other product categories or explore new sales channels.
The Top 5 Best Etsy Alternatives
Etsy may be the top online marketplace for handmade goods, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only option out there. If you’re looking for an online marketplace to sell your handmade goods, there are several alternatives you can explore.
If you’re looking for a great online store to shop handmade products, look no further than Amazon Handmade. This may be the best Etsy alternative available. Amazon already dominates many areas of retail, and although Amazon may not be the first place people currently think of when they are considering handmade items, Amazon has thrown its hat in the ring.
Amazon Handmade provides shipping through Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), no listing expirations, analytics, and the ability to run Amazon sponsored ads. They also offer their Amazon storefront for makers to build a simple ecommerce experience for buyers.
Amazon Handmade is a little more expensive than other marketplace platforms, with Amazon taking a 15% cut on each transaction as well as charging a monthly membership fee depending on the number of items listed.
Like Etsy, Amazon owns the customer relationship and does not permit sellers to take the relationship outside of its platform.
FBA does offer a certain level of convenience to new sellers, but may not be the best option. If you are looking for a more personal touch on your order fulfillment for handmade products, Shipbuddies can offer that.
Undoubtedly a giant in the industry, eBay offers another option for anyone looking for Etsy alternatives. When most people think of eBay they think of people selling used items. Like the world’s largest yard sale. However, eBay also allows sellers to sell unique and handmade items just like Etsy.
With eBay you pay a final value fee, which is often structured in tiers based on the item category. You also pay a subscription fee to setup a store. That can be paid monthly or annually. Prices range from about $5 per month to close to just under $3,000 per month.
If you want to sell through Etsy on your eBay store, you also can pay an insertion fee to import those items.
The biggest advantage of eBay as an alternative to Etsy for sellers is the large user base. It sits behind only Amazon and Walmart in total online sales.
Bonanza functions similar to eBay, but like Etsy it focuses on the sale of unique items such as arts, crafts, vintage pieces, and collectibles. Like Etsy, there is a built-in market in place for sellers to take advantage of.
Unlike Etsy, Bonanza lets you create a standalone store.
Bonanza does not charge a listing fee to add items.
Bonanza allows sellers to directly import their items from Etsy, making getting started a breeze. As an added benefit, it will also create automated listings on Google Shopping, eBay, and Nextag.
The downside of Bonanza right now is although it does offer more freedom and marketing options for sellers, it does not have anywhere near the same amount of users. It is growing, but is a much smaller marketplace than Etsy today.
Another potential downside of Bonanza is that haggling prices is not only accepted, but pretty much expected. If you decide to utilize Bonanza, you may want to keep that in mind when setting your prices.
Big Cartel prides itself in catering to artists and handmade craft sellers.
It offers the option to use your own domain and set up your own online store using one of their templates that can be customized to match your brand.
Like other alternatives to Etsy, Big Cartel is a great tool to help sellers get set up online and start selling their handmade items, but it does not provide a built-in audience like Etsy does. Sellers will need to have their own marketing plan to get visitors to their store.
Ecwid isn’t so much a marketplace to sell your items as it is a tool to make it easier to sell your items on other marketplaces. It is designed to market your products on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. It can also integrate with eBay and Amazon, for just $35/month. Keep in mind, you will be responsible for any transaction fees or listing fees those platforms charge.
The catch with Ecwid is that you have to have your own website. They do provide you with tools to start a simple shop on their platform for free. It also has ready made integrations with WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix.
Etsy is a marketplace website that allows handmade, vintage, and artisan goods to be sold to the public. While it has many advantages, it is not the only online marketplace available. These five Etsy alternatives offer features and options that are just as good in some cases, if not better, but also have some disadvantages. If you’re looking to sell unique handmade gifts, your own art, or vintage items, these alternative online marketplaces are worth checking out!