You’ve built up influence online, you have followers that value your social brand, and now you’ve started monetizing that following through eCommerce. For many beginning entrepreneurs, the first step into digital selling happens via Etsy. While Etsy is a powerful platform with broad name-recognition, it is not necessarily the best option for growing and sustaining a business over the long haul, especially if you have large amounts of traffic coming straight from your social channels.

Read on for an exploration of the ups-and-downs of the Etsy platform, and three reasons to send your followers to an independent online store instead of an Etsy listing.

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1. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle

Etsy’s interface is built to advertise Etsy, not your specific storefront. This doesn’t mean you can’t make sales, but it does cut into one of the key elements of growing an online store: repeat business. Remember, returning customers account for 40% of all sales. Large marketplaces like Etsy will advertise similar products from other stores next to yours.

In the space of a few clicks, a potential customer can move from your merchandise to a completely unrelated seller. At the same time, because Etsy stores are only lightly customizable and your branding can only be applied lightly, customers may or may not differentiate you from your competition.

Think of it this way: have you ever asked where a friend bought a product and gotten the response: “from Etsy”? The marketplace is built for this response. So, even if you are sending your loyal followers directly to YOUR Etsy site, they may be easily distracted by the other fish in the pond, causing you to lose sales.

A standalone store, on the other hand, can be crafted to show off your unique branding and easily host a blog, videos, and other content marketing to make you stand out and drive more sales. It will be easier to track clicks from your Instagram profile that turn into sales, plus you’ll have the ability to create repeat business from those sales.

Check out this beautiful clothing store built on Selz:

how to start an online clothing store

2. Lack of integrations means that you’re flying blind

In a brick-and-mortar business, you interact with your customers and figure out their needs face-to-face on a daily basis. Online selling operates differently.

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.

SEO is another key way to get the word out about your product online. Again, a no-go with Etsy. Without this strategic inbound opportunity, you are essentially banking on how Etsy chooses to show your listings and how users are searching for products.

We know what you’re thinking: why do I need things like list-building and SEO capabilities if 90% of my sales come directly from Instagram? While it’s great to have a single form of traffic where you have so much control, it’s vital to think long-term. Social media followers can be fleeting, and while you may have a group of really loyal followers, can you count on them being loyal CUSTOMERS for years to come?

Starting on Instagram is one of the best places to gain consistent traffic to your store, but what happens when someone clicks through to your Etsy store, gets distracted and leaves? Without features like abandoned cart emails, that sale is completely gone. With an independent store, however, you can grab that person’s contact information and have an automatic email sent out reminding them about your amazing products.

Keep in mind that your Instagram followers are most likely browsing on their smartphones, making it easy to be distracted by other notifications, phone calls, or real life. There are so many factors that can lead to a lost sale and the ability to reconnect with those leads is a real game-changer for your business.

However you choose to approach selling online, you need a platform that can grow with your business. Early on, you may decide to keep things simple and focus on your product line. Over time, though, you may find yourself fighting uphill to maintain your level of success as your followers become less engaged. Integrations with MailChimp, ShipStation, WordPress, Convertkit and other convenient online tools streamline the process of running a unique store, while massively expanding your reach.

3. Fees add up and cut into your profits

Etsy doesn’t require a monthly service fee, so on the surface it can appear to be one of the more affordable eCommerce options. And, if you’re only selling a couple of inexpensive items a month, it is relatively cheap to list your items (though you’re still missing out on tons of features). The moment you begin to move more product, or sell higher cost items, however, Etsy starts to become more pricey. Etsy now charges a 5% transaction fee, a 5% fee on shipping costs, and a 3% checkout fee.

To put this in perspective, let’s say that you sell twenty items in a month at the price of $20 a piece, and each product costs $5 to ship. You would be charged $20 in transaction fees, an additional $5 for shipping, and $12 in checkout fees.

In this example, that adds up to 9.25% of the total, or $37 out of $400, assuming that you’re not making a profit on shipping. Keep in mind that larger and more delicate items are significantly more expensive to ship, and the 5% fee will dramatically impact profits on items like furniture, home accessories, and properly insured jewelry.

$37 a month is dramatically more than the approximate cost of using a Selz Standard Annual plan, and even more than Selz Pro Annual Plan, without the benefit of a unique site, custom domain, abandoned cart emails, integrations with email marketing platforms, Google Analytics and so much more.

 

So, if you have a business on Etsy but we’ve convinced you it’s not the best place to send your followers, what’s the alternative? Creating an independent online store and dealing with things like web design and custom domains may sound daunting, but with Selz it’s extremely simple. The Selz platform makes is easy to get a beautiful storefront up and running in no time using a professionally-designed theme and our drag’n’drop store builder.

If you’re not ready to jump ship on Etsy, don’t fret! It’s also 100% possible to maintain a combination of 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.

Selz makes eCommerce seriously simple. From our beautifully crafted, easy-to-use themes to our dedicated 24/7 support, we’re here to make entrepreneurship attainable for more people. Sign up today and get a FREE 14-day trial and start building your unique store.