If you have are already have an Etsy store, you might be thinking of setting up your own ecommerce store outside of Etsy.
Why should you consider this? What are some Etsy alternatives? And what are some strategies to funnel traffic from your Etsy store to your own ecommerce store?
This article will give you a bit more direction and strategy about how to approach your business to have more control over your brand.
There are no absolute right or wrong answers, but there are a number of issues you should think about to see there are any alternatives to Etsy.
Before we get into discussing some tactics on how to leverage Etsy to grow your own online store, and what are some good Etsy alternatives, let’s get into the pros and cons of using Etsy to get things started!
Pros & Cons of using Etsy
Why having your own Online Store Makes Sense
Pros of Using Etsy
1) Easy to Setup Your Store Front
Etsy is a fantastic platform to start and grow your online business. It allows you to quickly get a store front up and running and gives you the tools to sell your products.
You don’t have to worry about getting your own hosting services, have your website designed and built, setting up payment processors, or any other technical mumble jumbo that’s reserved only for super computer users!
2) Exposure to Shoppers
Furthermore, Etsy is frequently visited by a lot of visitors who can potentially be your customer – so you don’t have to worry as much about sourcing your own prospective customers! A lot of these visitors are ready to buy. Pretty darn awesome platform if you are just starting out, don’t you think?
Cons of Using Etsy
1) Etsy Fees
So what are some drawbacks or limitations of using Etsy? Most users would agree that fees are one of the top concerns.
Even though you can set up a storefront for free, Etsy charges you a 3.5% fee for each sale you make. There is also a $0.20 listing fee (for each product you list) which has to be renewed / paid again every 4 months. Although individually these fees aren’t high, they really start to add up once you start to add more products and sell more.
So in a way, it’s not really “free” to set up your shop with Etsy – the saying of “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” holds true here. But it’s not unreasonable given that they are providing you a great service and platform.
2) Increasing Competition / Branding Challenges
While having a store on Etsy gives you exposure to shoppers, as more merchants create stores on Etsy, it becomes more challenging for you to stand out from other merchants.
Why? Each Etsy store looks almost the same, making it difficult for you to stand out from your competitors – you know exactly what I’m talking about!
Even if a shopper sees your Etsy store, it’s challenging to really make them remember you (especially if there are others selling similar products as yours).
With your own online store (separate from Etsy), you can control your design, flow, layout and ultimately, your own branding. Design is so important when it comes to marketing your business, and a good design can help you bring back shoppers.
Let’s face it, most shoppers don’t buy on impulse, and takes a few visits before they open their wallets. So what can you do?
3) Etsy Can Shut Down Your Store Without Notice
If you inquire as why they shut down your store, their reasons could also be vague, as it is really up to you to read and understand their terms. This is one of the risks of depending on a marketplace to operate your business. The same risk exists if you are operating an Amazon store.
(See the full story at Ladypreneurleague.com)
Your Own Online Store Strategy (Together with Etsy)
We’re not saying that you should completely ignore Etsy, but one alternative, which we’ve seen a lot of successful Etsy store owners do, is to build a separate online store to sell your products.
So basically, your customers can purchase your products either through your Etsy store or through your own separate, online store that you create.
Here are some strategies for doing this:
1) Funnel Traffic from Etsy to Your Own Online Store
One easy strategy to take advantage of Etsy visitors is to make sure you let the shoppers who visit your Etsy store know that you have a separate store that they can visit.
You can let them know through a variety of ways:
- Insert your online store link under the “Related Links” section
- Mention your online store in your “About” page
- Mention your online store in the “Announcement” section
(This Etsy store “Designed by Lei” (the image directly above) was featured in Entrepreneur.com. She built her ecommerce website outside of Etsy using Shopify, and have grown her business to over $100,000 in sales while attending university. More about her story below.)
This way, you increase the chances of them going from shopping on Etsy to shopping on your online store where you can “wow” them with your unique website design, versus seeing you as just another cookie cutter store on Etsy.
2) Motivate Traffic to Visit Your Independent Online Store
In addition to telling shoppers that you have your own non-Etsy online store, one very effective way to “encourage” them to visit your store is to let them know that you have a broader product selection that is only available in your online store (the products are not listed on Etsy).
This is a solid strategy to gain their curiosity, lead them to your own store, and an opportunity to build your brand to stand apart from your competitors.
3) Email Your Etsy Customers to Visit Your eCommerce Store
One thing you can do is sign up your Etsy customers to your newsletter series automatically.
Good businesses have newsletters where they send regular emails to customers (or people who have expressed interests) to highlight complementary products, new products, seasonal discounts, or just cool tips and tricks as part of their overall marketing and branding exercises. Keeping in touch with people is one of the most effective ways of generating new or repeat business.
Aweber is a very powerful newsletter tool where you can write newsletters and set a specific date and time when you want the newsletter to be automatically sent out to your list of subscribers. So they make it very easy for you to keep in touch with your subscribers.
Aweber can be easily integrated with your Etsy store as well (here’s the tutorial). So whenever you generate a sale through Etsy, your customers (if they agree) can be added to your pool of newsletter subscribers. Once they are added, you can now send an automated email to them, telling them to visit your standalone ecommerce store that is outside of Etsy.
This is a very effective way of introducing existing customers to your ecommerce store, to further build your brand and reduce your economic dependence on Etsy.
4) Build Your Relationship with Shoppers
So now that they’re visiting your own online store, what can you do?
Aside from impressing them with your website design, and introducing them to more products that you don’t have on Etsy (which will also save you some listing fees, by the way), it’s time to start building your relationship with them.
Let’s face it, not all shoppers are impulsive, and takes a bit of courtship / relationship building to get them to trust you, and ultimately, buy from you.
There are 2 recommended ways to do this:
- Create a blog and write about interesting topics around your industry (which presumably is what they’re interested in). Write about home decoration tips, fashion advice, wedding checklists, or whatever is relevant to your industry. Create value, generate interest and build trust with these visitors. When they’re ready to buy, you will be in the front of their minds.
- Create a newsletter series where they can sign up and receive emails from you. You can send them updates on your blog (so they know when to return to read your content), and after building that trust, you can start to promote your products to them.
As they say, once someone trusts you, likes you, they’ll more likely buy from you. Treat this as an investment of your time, to turn visitors into customers.
It’s so important to build a relationship with your visitors / customers. They will most likely visit your website directly next time and hopefully, become repeat customers. Not to mention, if you build a good relationship with them, they might even share your business with their social circles!
How Do You Build Your Non-Etsy Online Store?
So now that you know a few methods of how to funnel Etsy shoppers to your own website, and some useful tactics on how to build your relationship and brand with these potential customers, how do you build your own Etsy alternative store?
What if you don’t know how to code, or you just don’t have time to worry about all the technical aspects of creating your ecommerce store?
There are a number of potential options for you. All of these are drag and drop online store builders, making it very easy for you to launch your own store outside of Etsy – You don’t need any coding knowledge at all.
Furthermore, these ecommerce store builders have product import functions, so you can import products from your Etsy store directly into your new online store!
Let’s get into our 4 recommendations.
ALTERNATIVE #1 – WIX
See Wix.comWix is one of the best, pure drag and drop website builder in the website building market today. They enable you to create your own customized looking website without knowing how to code at all.
The reason why we recommend Wix is because they have an App that will enable you to fully synchronize / integrate your Etsy store into your website.
The major benefit here is that if you add / remove products from your Etsy store, these updates will automatically be reflected on your website – saving you a ton of work.
You don’t have to update Etsy, then log into your website to update the products on your website. You can synchronize your products with a click.
While the other website builders we discuss below also allow you to quickly import your Etsy products into their website builder, they don’t continuous synchronize with your Etsy account, so once you make updates to your Etsy store, you’ll have to go through the importing process again.
With Wix, the synchronization is continuous, making it easy and convenient for you.
ALTERNATIVE #2 – SQUARESPACE
Their design templates are very stylish, polished and are all responsive (so your online store will look great across all mobile devices).
In addition to being able to create a very beautiful storefront for you, Squarespace also allows you to have full control over product variants, upload unlimited products, manage your inventory, coupon generation, set up and control sales taxes, configure shipping options and costs, manage your customer email list, and other helpful tools for you to build a comprehensive online store.
Squarespace makes it easy for you to import your existing Etsy products into a Squarespace website. Here are some step-by-step instructions (and a video tutorial) on how you can quickly and seamlessly do this.
ALTERNATIVE #3 – WEEBLY
Their user interface is very simple, but don’t let that fool you as you can build a very functional online store using their drag and drop builder.
You can insert multiple products with multiple variations of the same product (such as color, size, etc), have a fully integrated shopping cart in which your shoppers never leave your website to ensure a fluid, consistent shopping experience, as well as simple integration with popular and secure payment processors such as Stripe, Authorize.net, and PayPal.
Weebly makes it very easy for you to import your products from Etsy into your Weebly store. You just have to export your product listing from Etsy into a CSV file (here are instructions on how to do it), and import the file into the Weebly “Import Products” function, found in the “Store” tab.
ALTERNATIVE #4 – SHOPIFY
Not only do they have attractive-looking templates, they also have an App store which you can add a lot more advanced tools to your store as your business grows.
Adding your Etsy products to Shopify is not as quick and easy as with Squarespace and Weebly, as they have dedicated import functions.
Their tools include functions to help you automate sales & marketing, bookkeeping, fulfillment, label printing, etc. You might not need these tools yet, but as your business grows, you can lean on these Apps when you need to.
In fact, one of the Etsy stores that we highlighted above, the owner built her ecommerce website using Shopify. She was actually featured in an article on Entrepreneur.com. This just goes to show you how you can combine the power of Etsy and your own ecommerce website to grow your business.
Shopify is a much more advanced online store builder than Squarespace and Weebly, and so if you have a desire to build a very advanced, complex store, Shopify is a good candidate to consider.
With Shopify, you have to export your Etsy products in a CSV file (sort of like Excel), then import it into Shopify. It’s not rocket science either, and here are some instructions from Shopify on how to do this.
CONCLUSION – ETSY ALTERNATIVES
There’s nothing wrong with operating your business entirely on Etsy, as Etsy is a good platform that makes it easy for you to set up shop while exposing your Etsy store to a lot of potential customers.
But we do see a lot of users finding alternatives to Etsy, and start to build their own online stores away from Etsy – and for good reasons.
By creating your own online store, you have much more control over the design and layout of your store, which helps you build a stronger brand. With Etsy, your creative input to your Etsy store is quite limited – you’ll most likely end up looking the same as your competitors.
There are also a few strategies on how you can funnel your Etsy traffic to your own online store, and how you can engage them in a more meaningful way to build your brand. We mentioned a few of these strategies above.
By building a deeper relationship, they are more likely to buy from you, and also tell their social circles about you. On Etsy, it’s really challenging for you to stand out from your competitors (you look like just another merchant selling “stuff”).
There are really quick ways to create your own online store outside of Etsy – even if you don’t know how to code.
Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly make it really easy for you to import your Etsy products directly into their platform. All of them are drag and drop website builders, so you don’t need to know how to code in order to set up your stores. Specifically, Wix integrates / synchronizes your Etsy products with your website, so it is by far the most interesting option here.
Shopify is an advanced choice to build your online store. Although they don’t have a direct Etsy product import function, it’s not too challenging to get your Etsy products over into Shopify. They are a very powerful, focused online store builder.
At the end of the day, we’re not suggesting that you abandon your Etsy store, as there are very strong merits to keeping your store on Etsy. But branching out to build your own non-Etsy store, and grow it alongside with your Etsy store can have a very strong complementary effect to your business.
Studying some ecommerce success stories and examples can also give you some inspiration on how to imitate other online store’s success.
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