If you’re a small business owner who makes physical products but who has never sold online, Etsy is a great place to get your feet wet. This popular online marketplace helps sellers of handcrafted, vintage, or unique factory-made products connect with interested buyers. Once you’re successful at selling on Etsy, you’ll be well-prepared to bolster your online presence with a dedicated e-commerce website for your business.
The advantages of getting started with online selling using Etsy include:
Community of potential customers. Etsy boasts more than 30 million registered users and over a million sellers. By becoming a seller on Etsy you have instant access to the users registered on the site who have a liking for handcrafted, vintage and uniquely manufactured products. You still need to make products that appeal to these potential customers and offer them in a compelling manner, but it’s a great place to start figuring out what works.
Easy to get started. You don’t need to be technically savvy to create an account and start selling on Etsy, which provides simple templates you can use to get started.
Don’t need to spend on marketing. The Etsy website’s online prominence means that if your products sell well there, your account likely will start showing up in Google searches for search terms related to your product. You can save a pretty penny on paid search campaigns to get that visibility for your space.
When to consider building a dedicated website
Once you’ve had some success on Etsy you should plan on taking your business to the next level by creating an independent web presence. The best time to create your own website is after you’ve found some loyal customers who love your business and adore your products. That will give your business an engine of growth beyond the Etsy platform.
Here are some reasons why you should consider creating an independent website after you have a strong set of loyal customers:
Take control of your brand image. Creating your own website lets you create an online presence exactly in line with what you want it to look like. Many larger customers (like corporate clients) also will take you more seriously if you have invested in creating a web presence of your own. Etsy provides easy-to-use templates to get you off the ground, but they are not very customizable. Many website building products, including GoDaddy Online Store, offer more customizable templates to get the right “feel” for your business.
Avoid dependence on a single vendor for your online presence. Etsy is a great marketplace with millions of potential customers, but it does reserve the right to allow you to continue selling on their site. You’ve got control of your future with your own online store.
Don’t give away a bite of your profits. Etsy's fees are 20 cents to list each item; and then when your item sells, Etsy charges you 3.5 percent of your product's price. It’s worth paying Etsy this premium early on when you’re setting up your business online, but when you have a set of loyal customers it might make sense to consider creating your own web store. Many online stores cost $25 to $50 per month. When searching for online store vendors, you also should factor in the merchant account fees for receiving payments on their website (some vendors use innovative payment platforms like Stripe, which significantly reduce credit card payment-related fees).
So if you’re a small business owner who has had some success on Etsy, it might be worth considering creating an online store. It won’t be easy – you’ll be responsible for your own marketing. But with a little care and by building a good relationship with your existing customers, you can take your business to the next level.