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Ecommerce is booming, and with that market expansion comes a huge variety of options for building and hosting an online store. Looking to start or grow your business, and not sure how Etsy may limit your growth?

Read on for an exploration of the ups-and-downs of Etsy, plus information on alternative methods of selling online.

3 Reasons Selling Digital Downloads on Etsy May Limit Your Growth

1. Etsy May Limit Your Growth with Minimal Branding Options

2. Etsy Offers Limited Marketing Opportunities

3. Etsy May Limit Your Growth with High Fees and Subtle Added Costs

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Etsy, best known for handmade products, is one of the top options for entrepreneurs breaking into the digital market. While Etsy has many upsides, it’s not ideal for all kinds of stores- particularly those who drive traffic from social media.

1. Etsy May Limit Your Growth with Minimal Branding Options

The upside of the simplicity of the Etsy platform is the ease in getting started. Because all stores look essentially the same, you can focus on your product descriptions and images, making it totally possible to start a new store in a matter of minutes.

While this simplicity is helpful when first taking the step of building the store, it can quickly become a downside as you begin selling on Etsy. It is incredibly difficult to make your store stand out in a marketplace of identical storefronts. At the same time, Etsy will advertise similar products on your page, making it dangerously easy for interested customers to click away and lose your store in the shuffle.

When creating your own site, you have significantly more control over your click funnel. Building a beautiful, eye-catching storefront is easier than ever before, so with only a little more time, you can put together a professional-grade store that establishes a degree of trust with potential customers.

Check out the simple Selz store builder:

Keep in mind that selling your products on Etsy (or anywhere) generally depends to some degree on the personality behind the product. Whether it’s a workout plan, pet accessories, or jewelry, the credibility of the creator and brand has a huge impact on sales. Your own site can include videos, blogs, and other content establishing you as a reliable source of information.

2. Etsy Offers Limited Marketing Opportunities

One more time with feeling: repeat business accounts for 40% of sales. Retaining customers is vital to surviving in the digital marketplace, but it is significantly more difficult on larger, more anonymous eCommerce hubs.

Think of it this way: do you remember the name of the store where you last bought a product from Amazon? Have you asked a friend where they bought an accessory and gotten the response: “from Etsy”? To be successful online you need referrals and customer engagement, and for that to happen, you need a memorable, easily accessible site, ideally with a unique URL.

Features like list-building, abandoned cart emails, and customer info retention let you keep an eye on both individual and broader shopping habits and reach out to your customer base in a more specific, targeted way- i.e. offering discounts for repeat shoppers. Etsy is not built or integrated with platforms for this kind of tracking and engagement.

If a customer purchases your product off of Etsy, you have no contact information to retain that customer. Repeat business is the lifeblood of eCommerce. Through targeted messaging, you can create customers who not only come back for more, but end up promoting your store to their friends (cool, huh?). This is the biggest drawback for Etsy users and truly limits your growth potential.

Additionally, SEO is huge for bringing your store to new eyes- another Etsy no-go. When you create your own online store with Selz, you can add multiple pages and a blog to the site free of charge. This means you can create content and pages that lead brand new users to your site through SEO and targeted advertising. Without this strategic inbound opportunity, you are essentially banking on how Etsy chooses to show your listings and how users are searching for products.

In a nutshell, your online store needs a combination of word-of-mouth, good marketing, and solid internal mechanisms to thrive. Control over brand, messaging and customer engagement is what leads businesses to thrive. Etsy makes the process of getting started simple, but from there you’re pretty much a small fish in a big, distracting pond.

selling digital downloads on Etsy

3. Etsy May Limit Your Growth with High Fees and Subtle Added Costs

On the surface, Etsy seems very affordable- and starting out it is. Because there is no monthly fee for use, and just a small charge to list new projects, getting going on Etsy is incredibly cheap. Over time, though, Etsy’s fees can add up and take out significant chunks of your revenue.

Etsy takes 5% of the sale price for every item you sell, plus checkout fees (another 3%), meaning that 8% of every sale goes directly to Etsy. The more inventory you move, the more this ends up costing. For example, if you sell an eBook of recipes for $20, $1.60 of each sale will go to initial costs. Sell twenty copies in a month and you’re already up to $32.

Etsy recently announced that their 5% transaction fee will also be applied to the cost of shipping going forward, meaning that if you charge $10 to ship an item, Etsy will charge you $0.50. Again, let’s say that you sell twenty items in a month. You’re already out another $10.

The big problem here, again, revolves around the difficulty of standing out in a crowded marketplace. In the example above, your store would be paying more than the approximate cost of using a Selz plan without the benefit of a unique site, custom domain, abandoned cart emails, integrations, Google Analytics and more.

selling digital downloads on Etsy

Let’s be clear- Etsy is a great marketplace. For many creators of handmade products, it’s a good way to get their work out there and make a little income on the side. For entrepreneurs who drive traffic from social media, in particular, the limitations of the platform can be stifling.

With Selz, you can build a unique store, integrate shopping features into an existing site, and sell on social media. Payment processing, digital fulfillment, and customer relationship management are all part of the package.

If you’re not ready to jump ship on Etsy, don’t fret! Selling just on Etsy may limit your growth but it’s also 100% possible to maintain both an Etsy store and a personal website.

There are tons of sellers who maintain a presence on Etsy to cash in on the consumers scrolling the marketplace, but direct their social media traffic straight to an independent Selz store where they can control the customer engagement/retention and profit from their sales at a higher rate.

So, what’s holding you back? Now is the perfect time to set up your own online store and start growing your brand! Sign up for Selz today and receive a free 14-day trial of the platform to get acquainted with our simple store builder and start building your enterprise.

About the author

Bryce Patterson

Bryce Patterson

Bryce is a writer and content marketer at Selz, and a freelance writer for tech companies including Churn Buster and Evergreen. He gives ecommerce business and non-profits a more human, relatable voice. He has written a novel, worked on a comic book, and played in a handful of bands. Bryce lives in Colorado.

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