Etsy vs. eBay – which online marketplace is best for your Shopify store?
Updated: Jul 8, 2021
Whether you are a start-up or you resell products, marketplaces are a key place to go to sell your products. Marketplaces should be considered in your digital marketing, as having your very own shopping cart can be limiting when it comes to reaching your audience. There are quite a few options today, and we will talk about a few briefly, and then we will then dig in further on Etsy vs. eBay when it comes to comparing both and how it is the best approach to your various options when it comes to pairing your Shopify store with a marketplace such as Esty or eBay.
Marketplaces will not follow your website design, brand color palette, or value proposition. The marketplace has its own graphic designers, therefore there is no web design to consider other than product placement with its content marketing. Your digital channels share information when it comes to inventory and should be linked to your store. This will enhance your brand awareness, improve your social media marketing on your chosen social media platforms. Your overall digital marketing strategy will encompass all aspects of the digital world to reach your internet users.
Etsy: Generally seen as the marketplace for small, hand-made crafts, custom or vintage products that are not mainstream, where keywords are not as descriptive for a product category in search engines.
eBay: Great for resellers where their product-set is diverse, can be branded or unbranded, and benefit from keyword searching with mainstream products.
Amazon: If you are looking to start your brand off the ground, and want to sell items to an audience that has your products already in mind (known keywords), it is a great place to start.
Shopify: With established, or aspiring rising brand recognition with Social Media/PPC advertising campaigns, having followers and a customer base makes this marketplace a next step in establishing your brand.
Much depends on your business model, such as if you have resellers, or you are just based online and are looking to expand into a new marketplace. There are several considerations to factor into which marketplace might be best for you when it comes to expanding a Shopify Store’s audience.
Product Presence and Price
The price of your goods is essential to retain a level of control if you have resellers so they do not undercut your sales if you reserve the right to sell online. This is done through a reseller agreement; however, enforcement can be at times difficult if your own products end up in the marketplaces you are looking to expand into. It is therefore important that you establish a presence in the various marketplaces so as to retain control of your product's presence and price control if it is a core strategy for your business. This is important when it comes to your brand and your customer experience as well.
New vs. Used and Sales models
Etsy is primarily a marketplace where anything can be sold within their policy, new, used or craft is fair game. With eBay, very strict guidelines are given when it comes to representing a new vs. used product, where craft is not as prevalent. Craft is a category where quality and craftsmanship can be ambiguous when it comes to defining the item as “new” given the artist qualification and delivery of reliability is not regulated. eBay restricts items of 20yrs of age – while this policy is in place, items have found their way past these limits where Etsy is unrestricted in this space, giving them free rein of anything that can be on sale such as antiques.
With the above in mind, the sales of products have different methods. With Etsy, a price is determined and is a place on a product with supply and demand dictating its value whereas eBay has several methods of engaging a sale – Bidding, Fixed Price (Buy Now), Offers, and Discounts. eBay has features such as “watching” which creates a “follower” grouping for a certain product, to which you can market with a discount to see if you can get an engagement and conversion. Sales engagement on eBay with regards to “Offers” is often a good negotiating tool to arrive at a settled price. The buyer gets up to 3 attempts in order to see if the seller is willing to part with their product at a discounted asking price.
Etsy Pros: With a large audience with a slant to unique products, crafts, and handmade items or vintage products – you can pretty much obtain what you are looking for, and sell anything on that marketplace. The mindset of the marketplace is positioned to be differentiated as a product so as to obtain a personal touch, a conversation piece, artistic in its presentation whereas eBay leans towards mass consumption and is bargain based.
If you are a new seller, it is an easy platform to set up your brand, load in your products, and ready your store with payment options, shipping and you are off to a good start, without any technical expertise to get you there. With a strong community and support from forums and customer service, setting up might just take you a couple of days.
Etsy Cons: Fees are high when you figure the commission taken by Etsy as a Final Sale Fee. eBay also suffers from the same experience unless you get a lucky break on a promotion.
Differentiating your product can be challenging when it comes to customer experience since you are locked into the product imagery and descriptions. Making your product stand out above and beyond the competing products requires imaginative presentation and wording to capture the attention of the buyers.
Knock-off products can easily emerge if your product idea is attractive for others to copy and sell in competition to yours. Given the creativity of the marketplace, it won’t take much for some to look at what you have and see if they can do better for less. Be ready to face this issue head-on if you aren’t taking precautions before entering the marketplace.
eBay Pros: An easy way to list and display your products, without needed requirements or structure, and can easily advertise beyond the confines of the marketplace. As long as your product is a searchable one, it will get views, it will get watched, and if you choose the bidding option, it would usually get attention.
With well over 100’s of millions of users on the platform, you have a global audience that searches every type of keyword. Given you have several sales methods at your disposal; getting the price that demand will support is a lot easier than within Etsy (finding the price sensitivity). You can do a test without investing in branding to see how your product is perceived with less risk of being copied or reverse engineered by just appealing to the interest of the audience.
With PayPal being integrated as well as other payment methods, it gives buyers an easy experience since their buyer protection is on their side – therefore they will buy with confidence – more willing, and with less hesitation or doubts for the quality of sale.
eBay Cons: eBay Fees plus PayPal fees can add up, and if you didn’t calculate your shipping costs, they can eat into your profits too. The platform delivers very well, but make sure you calculate upfront the various charges you will have to endure. This is why pricier items make sense on eBay since it has to make sense beyond the fees.
eBay and PayPal have policies slanted towards buyers to ensure the buying confidence remains high. With Seller Reviews and Product Reviews to enhance the confidence even further to ensure if the buyer is ready to purchase, then the conversion will take place. PayPal has a “Pay after Delivery” program for those that qualify, which a 14-day delay to pay for the buyer so as to ensure the product reaches them before the money actually leaves their bank account. The Seller does not see this and receives their cash with fees factored in at the point of sale with the reservation of customer receiving their item timely and in the condition expected.
eBay’s conversion puts an additional risk on the seller, which has its own category over Etsy. Unreliable Buyers – where a buyer commits but does not settle the payment. This takes the product out of the marketplace, yet, the seller is waiting for hours or days before realizing that the commitment will not yield a payment. Also called time-wasters, these sketchy individuals will get bad reviews and after so many strikes will be approached by eBay with penalizing their accounts. However, eBay sellers see a lot more upside than this type of issue.
Etsy and eBay can be positioned as a starting point of your business, or as an enhancement to widen your audience. When it comes to brand equity, having your own eCommerce store with either Shopify, WooCommerce or other platform becomes a must, since only in your store you can imprint your brand, customer experience, and journey. After all, only when you have an audience directly with your store, will then give you greater control over owning your customers, being able to service their needs and message them when it comes to new products and services. Direct Marketing is the most effective and cost-efficient method of selling goods and services, where Etsy and eBay take a cut, and PayPal also will cut you down further. The marketplaces can add to your sales volume when promoting your own store, but great care to not be undercut, be copied, or have competition target you as you grow and get established.