The Internet is one of the sales channels most widely used by companies and individuals. Along with the physical shop format, distributors and fairs, it is one of the essential economic pillars for many artisans. From large workshops of handmade products to young artisan companies, selling online offers endless possibilities that anyone can access with a minimum budget and an Internet connection. But in this sea of options, all that glitters is not all that glitters and not all options may be valid for your business.
If you are considering selling your handicraft products online, one of the strategic decisions that will mark your path will be to choose the channel through which you want to do it. In today’s post we summarise the main advantages and disadvantages of marketplaces, such as selling on Etsy, or your own shop.
MARKETPLACE, the alternative to the own online shop
The platforms known as marketplaces have a high traffic of visitors, with very diverse profiles and from different countries. They are well positioned at SEO level and are always one of the most visible options. In addition, in a marketplace, users who usually enter have a clear intention to buy, and here they can see and choose from a wide range of products, of different qualities and types.
Selling on Etsy
Among the main marketplaces, Etsy is probably the most prominent one for selling handicrafts online – and the one that all artisans who are just starting out tend to think of. It has a community of more than 25 million users and 850,000 shops. Moreover, opening an account is free, they only charge a commission when a sale is made.
Opening a shop and selling on Etsy is quick and easy. Sellers simply register on the site, enter their business details and the description and images of the product they are going to sell. In less than an hour you can have your shop ready to sell.
Amazon Handmade, better than Etsy?
This is the online commerce giant’s commitment to help artisans sell their products. Here you can find a wide range of categories: decoration, jewellery, furniture… It is a platform to take into account and one that competes directly against the option of selling on Etsy.
We would like to highlight that Amazon Handmade offers 3 additional services that its competitors do not have: you can personalise the product, the possibility of knowing the history of the creator through a file and the guarantee for the customer that they are buying an authentic handmade product (certified through a verification process). A platform for professional artisans that is based on a commission per sale (currently 12%) but where you can create your shop and publish your products for free.
Is it interesting to be in a marketplace?
If you are just starting out, you may want to have a shop on a marketplace to test the market, see which products are popular and familiarise yourself with the online sales process, payment and shipping logistics.
However, uploading a product does not mean that you are going to sell it. Nor are you sure that your audience will be on this platform, so the result of this test may not be very representative. For this reason, you need to know the advantages (and disadvantages) of craft marketplaces:
- Visibility: here you forget about SEO and investing in advertising.
- Cost savings: it is not necessary to pay for an online shop, hosting or the infrastructure that all this entails.
- Ease of purchase: customers pay directly to the marketplace.
- Quick management: you can create your shop and start selling in just a few minutes, without having to install anything.
- Wide variety of products: your customers will be able to find you through keywords or filters, and cross-selling with products from other companies will be encouraged, making it more interesting for your customers.
- The platform takes care of all the necessary infrastructure to manage payment and shipping/returns.
- It allows all companies to be placed on the same level, regardless of their age or number of employees.
- As a seller, all you have to do is ensure that your products are available for your customers and ready for shipment.
On the other hand, there are some disadvantages to be aware of:
- These platforms charge sellers a commission for each sale (based on a percentage that can vary a lot depending on the type of product or which platform you choose) or by a fixed monthly commission. This can be very costly if you end up being successful and sell a lot.
- The fact that the marketplace has a lot of traffic does not guarantee that your customer profile (target) is here or that they will find you easily. In other words, by placing your product at the same level as others with very different characteristics and prices, it is likely that many users will not look at the characteristics of your product beyond the price, location or delivery time.
- A lot of competition. The offer is overwhelming and it is difficult to stand out among saturated categories.
- Traffic analytics are more limited than what your own website can offer you, so you may lose essential information to know your customer and you will not be able to build customer loyalty.
- If you are just starting out and have no sales yet, your visibility on the platform will be overshadowed by those shops that have already made several sales and have more customer reviews.
- Little room for freedom. You will have to adjust to the rules and formats indicated by the marketplace.
- You will need to constantly review your prices and those of your competitors to know where you stand.
- You will be 100% dependent on these platforms: the design, format, payment conditions, visibility, delivery times,… any factor can change without warning and seriously affect your shop. And if for any reason they close your profile, you will lose your source of income.
- In the event of an incident, you will have to deal with the platform and its conditions, which is not always quick or efficient.
Should I have my own online shop?
As you have seen, focusing all your resources on a marketplace can be a risk to your business. It is easy to get carried away with the short-term ease of these platforms rather than focusing on long-term results.
At Labois, we believe that if you really want to make a living from what you are passionate about, it is advisable to dedicate part of your time to building your own website. It is a longer and more expensive process, but the results you can get are much better and will allow you to definitely differentiate yourself from the competition. The advantages of having your own online shop are very interesting:
- Higher conversion rate: the traffic you attract to your website will be because they are interested in what you do. Here they will not be distracted by other offers or products from your competitors.
- Customer loyalty: by having more information about your customers, you can get to know them better, take action to improve their service and encourage them to buy from you again.
- You will be able to make your project known directly to the client. There are no intermediaries or messages from third parties.
- More personal treatment. You will be able to give a plus of closeness, transparency and humanity to your brand.
- Direct control over your brand. Here you decide what to spend on marketing and what values you want to convey.
- Direct management of the entire sales process. From the attraction of the visit to your website to the delivery of the product to the customer or the management of incidents. You decide the timings and protocols to follow.
- Greater flexibility. On your website you can play with the design and text you want, for example, highlighting one collection over another, launching offers for your newsletter subscribers or promoting express discounts.
- Total freedom. With your own online shop you can manage your business autonomously, which is not only more rewarding, but also allows you to manage your day-to-day business in a more direct and efficient way.
We hope we have helped you understand the advantages and disadvantages of selling on a craft marketplace. And you, have you thought about selling your products on Etsy? What sales channels do you usually use? We would love to read your comments.
And remember, if you have any questions about online marketing, Labois can help you.