Thursday, July 2, 2015

Pros & Cons: Etsy vs. Storenvy


A few years back, I wrote a comparison of eBay vs Etsy and the pros and cons of both (plus a review of eBay's shop format).  Now, the marketplace has another contender that's definitely worth noting for independent artists - Storenvy.  Time to re-evaluate!

Note: I've left eBay off this list because I don't use it actively anymore and never found it very effective for me as an artist beyond occasionally auctioning off originals using the free monthly auction style listings.  It also hasn't changed much since my last review, except for allowing a higher amount of free auction style listings per month for sellers.  If you have collectible work related to fandoms or people actively seeking to collect your work, eBay might be a good fit for you.  As I have neither of those things in large capacity yet, I find these other marketplaces more suiting for emerging artists.


Etsy - The Handmade Marketplace

Etsy is one of my favorite marketplaces because their whole community encourages people to invest in independent artists (unlike eBay which generally has a flea market mentality).  Etsy is constantly adding forward-thinking features to make the selling experience smooth and efficient.

PROS

Cheap Listing Fees - 20 cents nets you a single item listing on their marketplace, which is low cost, all things considered. You can also claim 40 free listings by using my referral link if you want to try Etsy out with no strings attached.  Even if you already have a username, you can still claim the free listing referral credits if you haven't listed an item for sale before.

- Direct Checkout - Etsy allows a variety of payment methods, including Paypal.  They also allow a user to pay via credit cards through their integrated direct checkout feature so a customer never has to leave the site to checkout.

- Widgets - Etsy allows you to embed your items into your blog or websites, which is handy if you'd rather keep people on your site to browse your items.  They will have to go offsite to the Etsy marketplace if they want to make a purchase, however.

- Pay Per Click Ads - This is a vast improvement over their old Showcase system!  Etsy now lets sellers promote their items in the search engine, where they get priority placement on the items sellers specifically choose to promote.  You only have to pay for ads if a customer clicks on your link, which is a vast improvement over paying a flat fee and means you get more bang for your buck.

- Free Credit Card Reader - As a seller, you can sign up to receive a free credit card swiper that allows you to take payments in person.  The best thing about this swiper is that it keeps track of your stock so if you sell an item from your shop at a show using the swiper, it subtracts from the stock listed in your Etsy shop, which allows for you to prevent the pesky problem of an item selling online while you're out of town.  For a more in-depth rundown of Etsy's reader, see my Etsy Reader review.

Calculated Shipping - While you can still set up shipping classes for flat fee shipping, Etsy now lets you integrate automatically calculated shipping via USPS, which can save you a lot of time and money after you do the setup, which can be a little annoying at first (you have to calculate wait and box sizes).  The initial headache is worth it, however, because it lets customers also choose expedited shipping speeds, which is not available if you use flat fee shipping (most people create an entire separate listing for a shipping upgrade).

Integrated Shipping Labels - You can print your shipping labels for orders directly within your admin panel.  Discounted rates are offered via USPS within this panel.

Integrated Coupon Codes - Handy for hosting sales, though they don't get more complex than free shipping or a certain percentage off of your item.  Many use Etsy on Sale to do more visible sales events in their Etsy shop.

Item Variations Allowed - You can create different size offerings with different price points within a single item, rather than having to create multiple items.  You can also create a two level deep variation, so you could have a selection of size AND color (or, for a more specific example, you could offer an art print with customizable Matting AND Print Size).

CONS

High Competition  - Etsy has really exploded as a presence with high market share now that it has gone public and had a few years to expand its reputation.  High competition means it's more difficult to get seen and almost necessary to pay for ads to boost your views.  Many also worry that because Etsy allows designers to outsource that the small sellers will be quickly overwhelmed by others who can afford to charge less for their items.  This seems to affect 2D artists less than it does those who create jewelry and other such items that can be replicated.

- Not Suited for Digital Sales - While you can sell digital items on Etsy, the file size limit is pretty low at 20MB which means you'll have to break up larger files into multi-part .zip files, but you can only have 5 total attached files, so this can be tricky. (EDIT: Try Gumroad for a digital item shop solution that has no listing fees. Gumroad takes a small commission from any sale.)

- Not Very Customizable - You get a header image, an avatar, and an About page that you can somewhat customize.  Otherwise, you are stuck with Etsy's very orange branding.

Storenvy


Storenvy is a newer online marketplace so it doesn't have the market share of eBay or Etsy yet, but that may change if they can keep their marketplace afloat!  What it does have over the others, however, is a clever setup in which sellers can open a shop for free.  A seller gets a private custom shop which they can then choose to display on their public online marketplace.  Storenvy makes their money from a commission they take out of sales made via the public marketplace and the many add-ons they offer to extend your base shop's functionality.  Unlike Etsy, it does not cater just to handmade markets, but allows mass produced items as well.

PROS

No Listing Fees - Yup, completely free and unlimited amount of listings allowed!

Customizable Storefront - You get access to CSS templates and the ability to create custom html pages.

Coupon Codes - Same as Etsy in that you can create simple percentage discounts (but no free shipping coupon codes).  You would need to purchase an add-on service in order to create free shipping offers and other specialized coupons (ie. buy one, get one free, etc.)

Item Variations Allowed - You can create different size offerings with different price points within a single item, rather than having to create multiple items.  However, unlike Etsy, variations are not very deep and only allow you to customize one level of options.

CONS

Low Traffic - Compared to Etsy, the traffic I've gotten from within and outside of Storenvy has been very minimal and I've had a shop on Storenvy for a couple of years now.  It's worth noting, however, that they've only recently rolled out their public marketplace, which means this traffic may go up as they expand their functionality and reputation.

No Integrated Shipping - You have to buy an add-on with a monthly subscription fee in order to create shipping labels.  Otherwise, you're in charge of creating your own labels with your preferred service.

No Digital Sales - You have to purchase an add-on with a monthly subscription fee in order to host digital files on your Storenvy shop.

No Paypal - Currently, Storenvy uses Stripe exclusively EDIT: It seems I missed that the public marketplace shops do not allow Paypal, but the custom shops DO!  Thanks Roma over at AANI for the correction.

No Widgets - As far as I have discovered, there's no way to embed items from Storenvy into a blog or website. There is a paid add-on that lets you build a catalog you can share online, but it requires a subscription fee.

FINAL THOUGHTS
I actually use both of these marketplaces.  I generally use Etsy to host my small originals, limited edition prints, and other things that have a special element to them, which seems to suit their gift and wedding focused marketplace.  Greeting cards and other items that have an additional use also do well on this market.  My handmade masks and jewelry do the best out of any of my items, making it
especially suited for those artists who create wearable art.

(Shameless plug! If you'd like to have 40 free listing credits to try Etsy, feel free to use my referral link! You help me by earning me 40 free listing credits too when you list your first item for sale. This referral link works even if you already have a username, but haven't listed an item for sale yet.)

As for Storenvy, I use it for my Angelic Shades shop because the high dollar original paintings don't sell very often on Etsy and I'd rather not have to pay a constant relisting fee on them.  Storenvy is a great option if you have slower moving items, have a low budget, and don't require any deep features to your selling experience.

Don't be afraid to test different markets and see what works for you!  Both Etsy and Storenvy cater to different audiences, but also provide a stable place to host your shop, which is a great option for beginners to start before they move on to investing in a self-hosted shop.

More on the topic of self-hosted shops in a future article!  Till then, happy selling!

Did I leave anything out?  Let me know in comments!

5 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Excellent insight right here. Like you, I'm fond of how Etsy promotes independent artists and how it keeps their "mechanisms" up to date for fluid transactions. Thank you for sharing this, and I hope this'll help others in need of a good second opinion on this matter. Cheers!

    Brenda @ Firs Marketing

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  3. headphones
    Thank you very much for the sharing! COOL..

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  4. This is SO useful Angela!! Thanks for taking the time to write it :D

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  5. Thanks for the info, this is very helpful!

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