If you are an Etsy Seller, you are likely well-versed in the controversy that has surrounded the popular hand-made goods juggernaut. Since 2005, Etsy has provided a valuable forum for sellers worldwide offering handmade products to a vast audience. While there have been occasional flare ups over the removal of branding, non-handmade goods being resold on the platform and the like, this ecommerce platform has continue to increase in popularity. However, with the flooding of low-priced, Chinese and other cheap goods flooding the previously untapped Etsy market, many shop owners who have depended on Etsy for their livelihood are being forced to find other sales channels to remain afloat. While some have touted the end of the made in China era, it is still alive and well on popular shopping engines.
Having brushed shoulders with several ecommerce clients and working closely with Etsy stalwart Bliss Stamped Jewelry, I have witnessed firsthand the serious implications that these Etsy changes can have on a shop owner. With that in mind, we have helped Bliss transition to selling direct, and would advise that other Etsians consider the same. There are many reasons why it is advantageous to sell on your own eCommerce site, but we will address some of the primary benefits here.
Benefits of Selling Direct
While the appeal of a marketplace like Etsy is a strong one, there is tremendous value to be had in creating your own ecommerce site. You may not have the built in audience that Etsy provides, but you also will not have to compete with millions of other sellers or fight to preserve your branding. You will also be able to craft a unique customer experience to go along with your unique goods. Here are a few of the benefits you may be missing out on as a pure Etsian:
- Remarketing Capabilities
o Sites such as Etsy restrict direct content with customers. This can make it more difficult to close a sale, follow up on abandoned carts, notify customers of sales and promotions, or retarget them with Google Display or other ad retargeting networks. Using an E-commerce web platform allows you to easily implement retargeting solutions and maximize conversion rate and site sales.
- Customer Loyalty
o With the minimization of branding for your Etsy store, it is very difficult to provide a unique experience for your customers or to foster repeat purchases. This becomes especially difficult when you are not given direct contact with the customers. It is difficult to differentiate yourself with quality customer service or maximize customer value over time. E-Commerce platforms like Bigcommerce, Shopify, and Volusion provide in-depth analytics and customer information to help you figure out who your customers are, what they’re buying and the information necessary to contact them with promotions, review requests etc.
- Direct Interaction
o The inability to contact customers directly through Etsy diminished the personal touch that should come with hand-crafted goods. High touch products often require high-touch customer service, particularly with custom goods. It can become a pain to correspond with customers and get them what they want when they want it. And, with so many built in alternatives on Etsy, this can have a tremendous impact on conversion rate.
- Integrated Marketing
o Your website allows you to interact with customers in a variety of ways. With links to your social profile, capability for newsletter sign up, promotional banners etc., your website it the hub for all internet marketing communications. It also allows you to keep your branding consistent across all your social and sales channels, to increase brand equity and recognition. When customers navigate from channel to channel, they will recognize your colors, fonts, slogans and more. The website brings it all together.
- Save on Fees
o While there are still fees associated with an ecommerce website (platform membership, credit card processing, design etc.) these costs are fixed and predictable, and listings are free. Many sellers will create custom orders and then have to pay to list them on Etsy so that the customer can purchase them through the site. Each time a product is added, relisted, changed etc., you incur a fee. In the handmade goods niche, changes happen all the time. Why should you have to pay a premium to make your product unique?
While I will certainly not advocate the abandonment of Etsy, I would suggest taking some of your hard-earned cash and funneling it into your own e-commerce website. If you can harness multiple sales channels effectively, you might just find yourself in the same conversation as other surprisingly successful businesses. There are many benefits to selling direct and the volatility of Etsy is not conducive to a scalable and repeatable business model. Don’t ignore the writing on wall. Be proactive and start selling direct.
I assume you want to say, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”, and that might be good advice, if you deal with tens of thousands of eggs. Meanwhile, if you just deal with a few dozen, respectfully allow me to suggest, keep those eggs in one basket, and *watch that basket*!
Having your own platform makes 120% sense if you’re making 6 digits or above. At an average of $1,000 per Etsy seller, that is not most of us. Then spend 5 digits in a great platform. Anything less than a few grand will be crummy. Server, theme, databases… Unless you’re a computer wizard, you’ll have to pay some clever folk to do it for you. it adds up.
An example: a cheapo,cheapo e-commerce offer I received recently wanted $200. So that’s 1000 listings at 20 cents each before any are “free”.
OK, Etsy does limit things. Like font effects (italics, bold) additional images, or links to other websites. That is somewhat inconvenient, but compared with the complications of running my own server, or the cost of paying some sweet soul to do it for me? Bottom line, until I hit, say, $50,000, the return on investment simply isn’t worth the trouble. That’s a few Etsyers, a very tiny proportion (0.1%? in 2009 only 3 sellers made more than 100 grand each)
As my dad used to say, keep it simple to start, we can always complicate it later.
Best to you!