Why Etsy Sellers Need a Separate Website
Entrepreneurial artisans around the world rejoiced when Etsy came on the scene.
This online marketplace gave craftspeople an avenue to sell their handmade products and vintage items online and establish a foothold in the world of e-commerce. Now one of the leading social commerce platforms, Etsy has more than 45.7 million buyers actively searching for unique items on its site.
At face value, it seems an Etsy store is a great way to make money. And to be honest—it is!
Not only is it intuitive for shop owners and gets your products in front of millions of people who are actively seeking items like yours, it’s a good way to get your feet wet in e-commerce, learn the ropes of managing an online business, and build a following.
Starting a business on Etsy is a terrific first step in developing an online presence and monetizing your hobby. However, if you want to stand apart from the competition and sell your products full-time, then an Etsy shop is just one of many tools you should have in your sales and marketing arsenal.
Sellers who want ultimate success should consider creating a separate, professional website to broaden their reach, raise brand awareness, and generate more sales.
Pros and Cons of Etsy
Like any business platform, there are both positives and negatives when running an Etsy shop.
No single sales system is perfect, which is why it’s beneficial to use multiple tools when maintaining an online business. Etsy is a fantastic platform for the artisan community, but there are several elements to consider before deciding to rely on it as your sole means of income.
Benefits of an Etsy Shop
While Etsy offers many benefits to shop owners, here are its three greatest advantages:
1. Built-In Audience
One of the appeals of Etsy is that its shops sell unique items that fit a specialized niche market.
Etsy’s total revenue for the third quarter of 2020 was a whopping $451.5 million. Its unique offerings have increased the site’s popularity among people searching for handmade goods that can’t be found anywhere else.
It’s difficult for large stores to cater to special-interest groups because the demand isn’t enough to outweigh the costs. Etsy is a perfect channel for these specific needs. Not only is there enough demand to be profitable, but sellers can also serve a large geographical audience with minimal effort.
No matter how unusual your products may be, there’s a good chance that Etsy has a community of buyers who are interested in them.
Luckily for you, people who come to the site are actively searching for items just like the ones you sell. They don’t just like your products—they’re usually ready to make a purchase.
By managing an Etsy store, you’re immediately reaching a huge audience of targeted buyers.
Etsy is great for start-ups because it’s free to set up and extremely easy to use. Sellers don’t have to have any web design experience or skill—you can have an entire e-commerce shop up and running in a matter of minutes. All you have to do is create an account, enter some information, drop images into a template, and you’re open for business.
Whether you want to create a new shop or simply add a new listing to your current store, Etsy empowers sellers to maintain the site on their own with ease and efficiency.
3. Builds Instant Trust
Because Etsy has become a household name, it’s an e-commerce platform people trust. When a consumer visits your site, they feel they can shop with confidence.
Etsy shops must follow some house rules in order to remain eligible on the platform. From products sold to sanctions and trade restrictions, sellers who fail to meet ethical standards for quality and customer experience will be removed from the site.
Additionally, shoppers’ personal data and payment information are secure. While each store is in charge of its own sales and transactions, Etsy has policies in place to protect buyers and sellers in the event of an issue.
All of this helps to give shoppers the assurance they need to shop freely on the site.
Maintaining a personal website can be as easy as maintaining your Etsy site.
Disadvantages of an Etsy Shop
The biggest problem with running an Etsy shop is your lack of control over your store’s operation.
It’s true that you’re responsible for maintaining your shop’s appearance, keeping information current, processing transactions, and shipping orders. But as a store owner, you’re basically renting space on Etsy’s website. They’re hosting your shop, but they’re really the ones in control of your business.
Here are two major instances where lack of control is a problem for store owners:
1. Vulnerability to Technological Glitches
Despite efforts to provide a seamless e-commerce experience for sellers and buyers alike, sometimes technological glitches happen.
For instance, in 2020, Etsy experienced an unfortunate glitch in its shipping tool which caused a decimal point in the shipping cost to be moved several spaces to the right. Suddenly, items that were supposed to cost $0.30 to ship were now costing buyers $30.00.
The worst part? Sellers didn’t know this was occurring until they were billed.
Imagine this happening with multiple purchases, and the seller eventually learning they’re on the hook for thousands of dollars in shipping fees. Or worse, sellers set up with automatic withdrawal whose bank accounts were mistakenly emptied because of the error.
For a small business, a blunder like this can be detrimental.
In this case, as Etsy worked to resolve the issue, they didn’t maintain transparency or communication with their shop owners. Sellers complained of:
- Disconnected customer service calls
- Intermittent, unexplained shipping refunds
- No website disclaimer
- No formal explanation
Among sellers, it’s hard to say what was most disconcerting: that the glitch happened in the first place, or Etsy’s response (or lack thereof) in this dire situation.
2. Shop Closures and Limited Visibility
Relying solely on Etsy to sell your products can be a risky proposition. After all, when you focus all of your efforts on one source, and something happens to that source, you could be in real trouble.
As an Etsy seller, it’s your responsibility to uphold your agreement to the company’s policies and regulations that are in place to protect its buyers and sellers. If at any time you are in violation of their policies, Etsy has the power to shut down your shop—for good.
Typically in these instances, Etsy will reach out to the shop owner to try and resolve the issue. However, the ultimate decision about whether a shop can stay in business is up to the company.
Some shut-downs are understandable. For instance, if you broke copyright laws or didn’t pay your bills, then you’re in direct violation of Etsy’s house rules.
However, some stores have been shut down or hidden due to having too many open orders. An open order typically means a seller is in communications with a buyer, but the buyer hasn’t committed to the purchase.
This could be for a number of reasons. Maybe the buyer is confirming measurements to ensure they buy the right size, or maybe they’re buying as a gift and need to check with the recipient about a shipping address.
Whatever the reason, if Etsy feels there are too many outstanding purchases, they’ll keep people from finding your store.
The bottom line is that Etsy maintains overall control of your store and can limit your visibility or shut you down as they see fit.
Discover the cost-effectiveness and the many benefits of a personal website in addition to your Esty site!
Advantages of an Additional, Professional Website
Despite some general concerns, Etsy is a great tool for artisans who want to sell their goods online—but it’s even more effective when paired with another website.
A website is like a digital business card and is often a consumer’s first impression of your company. It gives people the chance to learn about your business, see your offerings, and decide whether they want to become a loyal customer.
Even if you don’t want to actually sell on another platform, a website can be a really useful tool. You can use it to promote your Etsy shop, your goods, and build brand awareness. People can browse your site without competitor distractions and, with their focus on buying a particular item, be directed to your Etsy shop to make a purchase.
Here are the many benefits of coupling a separate website with your Etsy store and the freedoms it affords:
Although an Etsy store has zero start-up costs, there are seller fees to consider.
Store owners pay additional costs for listing items, selling products, and promoting featured offers. While the costs aren’t unreasonable (especially considering all of the features they provide sellers), the fees do add up.
Maintaining your own website is extremely cost-effective, making it a great addition to your Etsy shop as a sales tool.
WordPress and WooCommerce are the leading e-commerce platforms. They’re both free and open source products, so their availability will continue as long as they’re in use. As for the design aspect, there are tons of free or low-cost customizable themes to create a quality site that promotes your brand’s identity.
Once your site is up and running, the only costs to consider are a minimal monthly hosting fee and credit card processing fees (which are typically much lower than Etsy’s seller fees).
An eCommerce Fee Calculator shows that a business with 150 products selling 100 items every month at $25 each would pay nearly twice the fees on Etsy as on their own WooCommerce website. The more sales made, the more money saved.
2. Control of Ownership
When you maintain an Etsy shop, you have no control over the long-term future of your business.
If one day Etsy closes its virtual doors, or makes a drastic change to their business plan and shuts down your storefront, your business would be gone without warning.
Think about those store owners who were shut down for too many open orders. If your Etsy shop is your sole source of income, where would you be if it was gone overnight?
Kind of scary to think about!
When you own a website, you have more stability and reassurance that your shop will still be in operation tomorrow, a month, or even a year from now.
Coupling a website with your Etsy store spreads your opportunity for sales and provides you a safety net. If either platform were to fail, you’ve got a back-up source of income.
A website puts you in charge of the destiny of your business and grants you insurance for continued revenue.
3. Ability to Develop Brand Identity
50% of consumers expect great design and consistency from a company’s brand.
An Etsy site, while a helpful tool to sell your products, is extremely limiting in its design capabilities. There’s very little you can do to personalize your store and customize the shopping experience for your customers.
A website, however, gives you free rein to fully express who you are as a business. This is critical in developing brand recognition among your followers.
Your brand is essential to your overall success. After all, it’s what connects people to your products. Visual elements like your business’s colors, fonts, and tone of voice tell your audience who you are as a company and can influence whether they’ll buy from you.
A website whose design elements align with your brand identity helps solidify your company’s position in the minds of your consumers.
While Etsy’s template-based system is easy to use, it’s also somewhat limiting. With a website, there are unlimited design options that help provide customers with a positive shopping experience.
As you learn more about your audience and their shopping behaviors, you can adjust your layout so information is positioned in a way that better suits their needs.
Present products as static images or dynamic carousels that engage your viewers as they shop your offerings. Post videos of tutorials or recommended product uses to connect with your audience and provide useful information.
All of this helps build brand awareness and customer loyalty, and that translates to higher conversions and increased revenue.
Another branding problem with Etsy is that people associate their purchases with the overarching company rather than the individual stores from which they bought. A website allows you to raise awareness about your store’s name and associate it with your products.
4. Professionalism and Legitimacy
There’s no question that Etsy storefronts are effective and certainly serve their purpose.
But because Etsy features people who handcraft their items, there’s a level of uncertainty in the minds of shoppers as to the legitimacy of the business.
Literally anyone can create an Etsy shop.
While the same can be said for websites, since a website affords more opportunities for customization, they paint a clearer picture about what consumers can expect from a business. If a company’s site has misaligned body text or contains broken links, what does that say about the attention to detail they put into their work?
An e-commerce website is an opportunity to establish a level of professionalism. Use it to show your consumers that you take pride in the quality of your work and stand behind the products you sell.
When a website is designed well with beautiful product shots, clear descriptions, and a smooth checkout process, a company builds credibility with its shoppers. It lets people know your company should be taken seriously and increases the likelihood of repeat business.
Expand Your Brand Awareness!
5. Direct Prospects Away from Competition
When shoppers visit Etsy’s homepage, they typically enter a keyword into the search bar. Etsy will then provide a listing of stores that match that search.
This is really convenient for shoppers, but not so great for store owners.
Even if your store is listed among the top of the results, you’re still fighting for priority among similar shops selling products like yours.
Once you do get customers to your store, Etsy still lists competitor products in the sidebar, which can make it difficult to keep a buyer on your page.
A company that solely sells on Etsy can easily get lost among the sea of competitors and fall victim to distracted shoppers. With a separate website, you can attract visitors through email campaigns or social media posts.
When they arrive to your site, you can use a link to send them directly to your Etsy store. This allows you to bypass all the competitors vying for your customers and secures you more sales.
6. A Memorable URL
For a consumer to find you online, they need to be able to remember your URL or find it without having to search too hard.
Because Etsy is essentially hosting your e-commerce site, your store’s URL isn’t completely your own.
In other words, rather than simply being www.shopname.com, you have to follow Etsy’s format of www.etsy.com/shopname.
While it’s awfully clunky and could potentially be fairly lengthy, it isn’t too bad if you’re putting it on a business card. But when you try to tell someone you meet in passing, chances are they won’t be able to recall it later.
With your website, you own the URL and can name it whatever you want. This allows you to follow the best practices of choosing a domain name, which include:
- Keep it short: Three to four terms are easier to remember and type.
- Room for keywords: By eliminating excessive characters from the domain name, you’re able to optimize your URL for useful keywords.
- Brand name: Your domain name plays a role in brand identity and helps with brand recognition.
7. Unlimited Marketing Opportunities
Etsy markets strictly to Etsy. It offers very little opportunity to develop meaningful content that resonates with your audience.
A website allows you to gain a better understanding of your audience through demographics and customer behavior. You can use this information to create various marketing campaigns to connect with your audience, generate interest, and drive traffic to your e-commerce store.
Websites allow you to create various calls-to-action based on what information you want to gather from your followers. Maybe you want them to sign up for your email list or join a customer loyalty program.
Reach people with a targeted email campaign that provides information they’ll find useful and builds a lasting relationship of trust and credibility.
When you own a website, you have more options for targeting your audience and reaching them with the right information at the right time.
In the third quarter of 2020, online purchases were responsible for 14.3% of total sales. As more people shop online, cybersecurity is a growing concern for consumers, and rightfully so.
With recent trends of digital data security breaches on the rise, people are often hesitant about sharing sensitive information online. Personal details like date of birth, address, and credit card information could lead to identity theft and financial ruin if they were to fall into the wrong hands.
To encourage people to share their payment information with your online store, they have to feel confident that their data is safe.
Luckily, making your website secure has never been easier or less expensive. SSL certificates help to encrypt information so it’s more difficult for cyber criminals to hack into the data. Most SiteGround website hosting provides free SSL certificates to help protect shop owners and consumers.
You can build your website and feel confident that the information your shoppers share will be safe and secure.
Is it Better to Sell on Etsy or Your Own Website?
Really, the answer is: both! Through cross-marketing, you broaden your reach by casting a wider net.
Your Etsy shop and website can work in tandem to help drive traffic across multiple channels and improve company awareness, solidify brand identity, build a better customer experience, and generate more sales.
If you’re an Etsy seller who is uncertain about developing a separate website, you’re probably concerned about the time required, the expenses involved, and the responsibility of maintaining and managing a site.
No worries! When you hire a professional web developer like myself, I handle the design and set-up, so you can invest your time in sales. My plans start at under $1,000 to keep you on budget, and technical support is free and available 24/7. I provide assistance in any area, including marketing, for a nominal fee (at most).
Ready to brainstorm ways to incorporate an additional, professional website with your Etsy store?
Let’s get started! Click here to tell me about your business today.