Let us take a moment to state the obvious: online shopping is extremely popular. Many standard storefronts have suffered from the presence of online shopping over the last decade, which has left many smaller businesses only one option. They have to go into online sales themselves. Many smaller businesses have made a name for themselves successfully by selling online. This statement is especially true for businesses that work in handmade crafts and other related goods.
Currently, most of these small business owners go through Etsy to sell their craft-made wares. This method of selling is rather cheap as far as overhead is concerned, and it has brought many businesses the chances to increase their profits in ways that they might not have been able to do so previously in a storefront. What many people do not realize is that there are other websites out there that offer just the same chances to sell wears as Etsy does.
Here are a few alternatives to consider to Etsy's model.
Advantages of Selling on Etsy
Some people might look at this statement about going with alternatives to Etsy and ask one simple question: why move away from what works? After all, there are many advantages to working through Etsy for most small businesses. The largest benefit to selling on Etsy is the fact that it is so popular.
Etsy has become synonymous with handmade crafts above other website options, so many shoppers have flocked to it greatly over the last few years. As a matter of fact, most customers seeking handmade crafts check this site first among other options out there. The site also has a great reputation for treating the business owners well by letting them take part in such a large movement of traffic.
Another reason why people like to use Etsy is because of the international status it hosts. Small businesses owners can sell their wares to anyone in the world, which is a factor that a traditional storefront simply does not offer to them. Therefore, these business owners are able to expand their customer base greatly through Etsy simply by taking part in the international community it has created.
Disadvantages of Selling on Etsy
Unfortunately, there are a few downsides to selling on Etsy. The popularity of the site for the sake of drumming up a great deal of traffic to all of the different shops it hosts for buyers also means that there is bound to be a lot of competition out there, too. Because Etsy operates on a global scale, it is important to note that it hosts hundreds, maybe thousands of shops. This statement is even true for business owners who think they are carving a niche market out for themselves.
After all, there really is not any such thing as a new idea anymore, or so the old saying goes. Business owners have to find a way to compete on this global scale with ease, and that means maintaining a top-notch product with prices that are more than reasonable. Sadly, some business owners might be annoyed to find out that there is some other seller out there outdoing what they have to offer.
Since business owners are likely going to have such a difficult time selling their product on merit and pricing alone, a large amount of their time has to also be devoted to marketing their product and business. In order to increase the visibility of a shop in search results both on Etsy's website and through search engines like Google, learning how to perform search engine optimization (SEO) is an absolute must for the sake of survival.
The Google algorithms can change frequently, so adapting to the demands in order to keep up with the current trends in SEO can be a challenge in and of itself. Again, it is also rather time consuming. Most business owners can find information about how to remain on top of SEO strategies with ease through several websites and blogs online, so finding the information is not all that difficult. Learning to implement it, on the other hand, is the real trick that needs to be focused on.
It almost goes without saying that opening a shop through Etsy is rather inexpensive where money is concerned. It certainly is a lot cheaper than running a website elsewhere or operating through a traditional storefront. However, it is important to note that Etsy does not offer its services to business owners for free.
There is a 20 cent fee for every item listed, regardless of whether or not they are sold.
These listings are also only good for four months, so in the case of where an item does not sell within that time frame, it has to be added back to the listing. Yes, this situation means that 20 cents must be paid again. It must be paid each time an item is listed. It is also important to note that Etsy charges a fee if the item does not sell, which is 3.5 percent of the item's sale price.
Another feature that many business owners might not like is the fact that Etsy does not offer a great deal of customization to their shops. This factor can be harmful to business owners who desire to tie their marketing strategies to a certain brand or logo. Therefore, looking for a site that offers better customization options might interest some business owners more than others.
Give a Multiplatform Strategy Some Consideration
As referenced previously, Etsy has several pitfalls that might be unappealing to some business owners. These factors have encouraged these business owners to find other platforms to focus their selling tactics through. Therefore, some of them might look into selling their wares across multiple platforms. However, an understanding must be made about this tactic: it takes a great deal of time and organization to pull off successfully. The time investment is more than worth it, though, as it can generate a great deal of popularity and referential clout for any business.
There are some things to consider when looking at alternatives to Etsy or even when considering what other online methods to combine with it. First and foremost, a focal point needs to be what is being sold and the demographic information of the typical customer for those items. The demographics found on other platforms might be able to meet these requirements better than other options. At the same time, consideration needs to be given to the type of competition on those websites as well.
The most important point to take away from this matter is one, simple fact. Energy is better spent on flushing out a couple of business fronts on a few platforms than spreading the prospects too thinly over many websites that only receive minimal attention on a regular basis. There are many websites out there that operate in a similar manner to Etsy, but there is a few that standouts as the best options.
These platforms are WooCommerce, Shopify, 3DCart, and Weebly. There are advantages and disadvantages to each platform, and they will each appeal to different types of businesses based mostly on the business's size and the type of products they sell. Here is each of the platforms for further consideration.
WooCommerce and WordPress
Probably one of the most popular platforms for small businesses online after Etsy is WooCommerce. This platform is actually a free plug-in that comes with WordPress. Originally, WooCommerce was created by the WooThemes team and launched in 2011. Within only three years' time, this plug-in saw almost 380,000 users. This number indicates that almost 18 percent of all e-commerce businesses preferred to use WooCommerce and WordPress. It has only grown in popularity since this time.
In order to build your WooCommerce website you will need WordPress web hosting, I recommend BlueHost, but you can follow my simple guide on how to start a WordPress website
This plug-in needs to be downloaded from WordPress's website in order for it to be used. Once the plug-in has been installed, then there is an option automatically added to a WordPress account for it to be utilized in selling products. Pictures, prices, descriptions, and more can be added to the product listing. Essentially, all the information needed to make it easily found by customers is right there for the taking.
A major attraction to using WooCommerce is the fact that it comes as a free plug-in. Unlike Etsy, there are not any service fees for using it as a selling point. The payment methods being used might charge fees for using them, though. This factor includes percentages charged for using credit cards. There is also the option to set up an entire website using WordPress to showcase what a business has to offer. This allows for the chance to implement brand and logo features that might be important to a company. At the same time, using this feature is less time consuming than using Etsy once a person becomes acclimated to it.
It can be difficult for brands to differentiate themselves outside of the banner logo that Etsy allows businesses to use on their pages. WooCommerce goes far beyond this type of customization. There are many WordPress themes available for anyone looking to create a certain brand appeal for their businesses. At the same time, WordPress is easily changed into a customized brand feature beyond those themes, and doing so does not take much time to accomplish.
WooCommerce is a great outlet online for people who already have a customer base or for people who are just starting out on their own. At the same time, the overhead costs for running the business are minimal if not non-existent. It truly offers the chance for businesses to customize their online shop into one that is memorable for customers.
For people who make use of Etsy, WooCommerce is a great avenue to take in partnering two types of shops together into one business.
Shopify is another great option for small businesses that focus on handmade crafts. Originally launched in 2004, it did not really become popular until somewhere between 2009 and 2010. There is also a downloadable app that business owners can use to manage their shops from a smartphone or tablet, negating the need to log into the website on a computer for every interaction that occurs. According to data gathered in 2014, there are more than 120,000 retailers that make use of this platform, and it has been growing in popularity ever since.
Unlike WooCommerce, Shopify does cost a little bit of money for the business to operate. There are a few, different service packages to pick from, and they fill a range between basic and complex with ease. Honestly, knowing the needs and demands of a business will dictate which package to go for in the long run. As part of the package deal, a website dedicated specifically to one business will be generated through Shopify's website.
However, the option does exist for a business owner to purchase their own, specific domain.
There are plenty of themes to pick from on this platform, and they can be easily modified into something new. For people who might have a little bit of insight into programming will be able to generate a shop that is specifically glued to a specific brand image or logo. Shopify also offers something that the other platforms mentioned thus far do not: 24/7 customer service and support. For business owners who are new to the site or new to online selling in general, this feature is an absolute must to access.
Beyond the basic package, there are plenty of options when it comes to finding downloadable plug-ins for businesses using Shopify. More than 1,100 free and paid apps exist within Shopify that can be used to help with various aspects of running an online business: from marketing tools to social media operations and even customer service. It is also important to mention that all of Shopify's businesses have access to a mobile feature that is built-in. Therefore, people are easily able to navigate a shop from their phones or tablets without requiring the business owner to do a bunch more programming. Another feature that might interest some businesses is the reminder feature that Shopify sends to customers who place things in their cart but who do not check out.
Unfortunately, Shopify can be a great deal more expensive than other options out there, so it might only seem appealing to business owners who have been selling online for quite some time. Their packages range from monthly prices of $14.00 to $179.00 plus transaction fees related to payments being made.
Going with a basic package does not pose much of a challenge for even those who have limited knowledge of creating a business online. This factor is lessened even more considering the aforementioned customer service availability. It can take a great deal of time to make decisions on the themes and plug-ins that Shopify offers, though. Therefore, a shop owner going with this platform needs to be prepared to make the necessary time investments for setting up their shops. Establishing payment methods alone can take a few days.
There is one, overarching attraction to using Shopify, though. Similarly to how WordPress operates with WooCommerce, Shopify offers a wide range of diversity when it comes to customizing a website to a business's needs. There are more than 100 themes that are either free or that can be purchased for a fee, and many of these themes are tailored to specific, specialty shops. There are many website-creation businesses that will also come in and set up a Shopify website for businesses for a small fee, too.
In comparison to Etsy, Shopify does have one, major downfall. Shopify does not offer a feature for customers to search across multiple shops at one time. Therefore, all of the marketing must be done by the business owner in order to create an online presence for a store through Shopify. Outside of selling rare or niche items that can be easily found using a Google search, a great deal of SEO must be performed to make a Shopify shop show up in Google's highest ranking search results. There are some resources that Shopify offers to help with this task, namely through their blog that gives tips on e-commerce in relation to marketing and Shopify SEO.
For someone looking to expand their shop based on versatility and a specific design, though, Shopify is really a great investment. Minimal programming knowledge is needed to set up an e-commerce site, and the same can be said for providing customization to that website. This option does require a great deal of investment of money and time, though. For people who do not have a strong customer base or who do not work with rare or niche items, it might not be the best idea to start with Shopify right out of the gate as even more time will need to be devoted to advertising tactics. For people who have a loyal customer base, though, transitioning to Shopify might be a good idea.
Another platform that is rather similar to Shopify is 3DCart, but it is not as widely known. Therefore, it is able to focus its packages on smaller to mid-sized businesses. There are packages that have to be purchased, and any one of five can be picked between. These packages are solely based on how many items that a business owner figures they will sell in a month. The basic plan allows businesses to list up to 25 items, which will cost about $8.49 monthly. At the other end of the spectrum sits the professional plus plan, and it is the most popular at $84.99 each month with the granted ability to make unlimited listings.
Each plan allows a website for a business to be customized. There are over 100 themes to pick from, so people who do or do not have skill with HTML can start with one of these options for designing their shops. At the same time, 3DCart also takes care of payment methods internally.
Like Shopify, this platform does not charge a transaction fee as Etsy does no more than it uses a listing fee. While 3DCart is a little cheaper on the wallet than Shopify, it does not offer nearly as many plug-ins, and it also does not come with an app that allows businesses to be managed from a phone.
Working with a template through 3DCart is rather easy, and customizing it does not take very much extra time. With this platform, there is not any real need to spend extra time focusing on programming or spending money on hiring someone to do the task instead. Any template can be modified to meet the needs of any business. Therefore, creating an brand or logo image is rather easy. Additionally, it comes with customer support for users to establish their shops, and it can be accessed either online or on the phone.
Due to the smaller sized businesses that 3DCart focuses on, it is able to help those businesses out with some marketing and advertising items. Most Etsy shop owners need to perform marketing and advertising on their own through social media and the search feature that Etsy offers. 3DCart goes a step further and helps business owners to share information to various types of social media options, and they can also create newsletters to share with customers while also sending them coupons. Furthermore, there is a blog option tied to each website. All of the sites within 3DCart also come with SEO features that have been built right into their platform, which will help with increasing visibility of shops through search engines. However, it is important to note that it will not necessarily make a business rise over the competition. The competitors still exist, so some more time will need to be spent on marketing and advertising, but not too much more.
For people who want to list as many items as they wish on their website, they will likely find that 3DCart is a little more on the expensive side than Etsy. It is important to note that smaller and mid-sized businesses will be catered to with this platform, and the options for help with marketing and advertising almost override the fact that there are not as many plug-ins or apps like the ones found with Shopify.
One of the most popular website building and hosting services online is Weebly. This platform originated in 2006, and it was created by a group of college students. Since this time, there are many of websites that find themselves hosted by Weebly. Most people use this website generator for blog purposes or for sharing pictures and videos, but it is also widely utilized as an e-commerce platform – learn more in my Weebly Review.
There are four different plans to pick from with Weebly, and they range in price from free to $25.00 each month. The paid plans come with a domain name that is good for one year, and it also features the ability to create an unlimited number of pages and unlimited storage. The most basic starter plan allows business owners to post 10 items at a time, while the pro plan allows for 25 items to be listed. There is a business plan at the top of the ladder that offers posting of unlimited products at any given time.
When a plan is purchased, one of 25 different themes can be chosen, and there is also the chance to make a domain name that is specific to the business owner's needs. Furthermore, Weebly offers a menu of elements that can help with creating a layout in any page. These items include text, images, maps, and more. These items just have to be dragged and dropped into place, which negates the need to do a great deal of HTML or CSS coding. Another feature to consider is the App Center, where businesses can find free and paid apps that help with marketing, connecting to social media, and focusing on advertising campaigns. At the same time, listings can be connected back to an Etsy shop with ease.
While Weebly is cheaper than Shopify and 3DCart when it comes to packages, it is important to note that they do charge a transaction fee at three percent of every product's price. However, for businesses that connect back to Etsy, they will only have to pay the fees that Etsy charges. Depending on the number of items that are listed and the sales that are made, Weebly can cost almost as much as the other platforms that have been listed previously. It depends mostly on how fast and how much product is moved through sales with the platform.
However, business owners need to be aware of the fact that there is no way to search through shops in Weebly with just one search engine. Advertising and marketing through Google search and SEO must be performed in order to make the shops easily found.
For people looking to start with online businesses, Weebly is a wise choice because of how easy it is to use. The drag and drop features alone make it attractive to many business owners who are running their websites by themselves without outside help. For those businesses owners who just want to expand on their Etsy shops, this platform is just a natural extension to consider.
When it comes to deciding between one of these four platforms or a combination of them, a business owner really needs to sit back and look at the size of their business and the how many loyal customers they have. While Etsy is a great platform to start with, it might not be the best option for all time, especially for business owners who want to create a specific, brand image. These platforms will allow that task to be accomplished and with an ease of use and packages that will not break the bank.
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