eCommerce has always been the way of the future, but it seems like that future has arrived.
The lower operating costs of an eCommerce store versus a brick-and-mortar retail outlet are staggering.
Business owners can sell things online in minutes without dealing with the hassle and expenses of physical storefronts.
However, not all eCommerce platforms are created equal; some provide more excellent long-term value depending on the type of product you sell.
In general, there are two ways to build your eCommerce website: using a hosted platform or creating your eCommerce site from scratch.
If you’re looking for a user-friendly solution that doesn’t require any technical skills, a hosted website like Etsy is your best bet.
What is Etsy?
Etsy is one of the most popular eCommerce websites on the internet today. But unlike most eCommerce brands, which allow the listing of products in almost every category from hair to fashion and even sporting goods, Etsy is focused on the arts and crafts market.
Even though it is a niche marketplace, the money it generates each year is in the billions. Etsy made over 1.7 billion dollars in revenue in 2020 alone, with a large portion of that money going into the pockets of people like you.
It is also the leading shopping app in the United States by monthly active users as of 2023.
There has never been a better time to enter the eCommerce space than now. This comprehensive post will help you sell on Etsy like a pro and successfully turn your shop into a profitable eCommerce business.
Getting Started on Etsy
To make the most of selling on Etsy, you must first understand what sets it apart from other eCommerce platforms such as Amazon or eBay.
Etsy is distinct in that it is a marketplace that caters to sellers of unusual (or, niche) goods.
A glance at the platform as a customer reveals an array of artsy goods ranging from toys to party decorations that are frequently unavailable elsewhere.
Etsy introduces you to willing and eager customers who may be interested in purchasing your creation.
Just getting started on Etsy? Check out the most popular Etsy alternatives to see if there’s another selling platform that better fits your needs.
Other Benefits of Selling on Etsy
Still not convinced that Etsy is the right eCommerce marketplace for your small business? You might want to consider the following benefits.
1. Etsy Helps You Find and Engage Your Target Customers Quickly
It is relatively simple to get started on Etsy. All you need to know about technology is how to use a web browser or the Etsy app (which is also user-friendly and intuitive).
This means that you can use this marketplace to claim a piece of eCommerce real estate and get your products online quickly.
To put it in perspective, Etsy is home to 60 million+ active buyers, and 40.1 percent of those buyers are returning. That’s a lot of potential eyeballs on your store.
Of course, you might be concerned that you will have to compete with other sellers because it is so simple to open an Etsy shop.
That’s true. The barrier to entry is relatively low.
However, Etsy provides excellent customization tools that you can use to distinguish your storefront from the competition.
After all, design is a crucial eCommerce element. How you present your products influences your customers’ experiences and builds trust. The more a customer believes you, the more likely they will purchase from and return to your store.
Etsy customization tools allow you to control how your Etsy store appears and how your customers interact with it.
2. Etsy Lets You Build Brand Awareness With Offsite Promotions
“Build it, and they will come.” Or perhaps not.
Whether you choose a self-hosted or a hosted marketplace for your eCommerce store, marketing is essential for driving sales. The good news is, as a vendor on the Etsy platform, you can still execute and have complete control over your marketing efforts outside of the site.
As a bonus, you can collect your customers’ personal information (with their permission, of course) to fuel your offsite promotions. This includes collecting email addresses and redirecting Etsy traffic to your social media pages.
You can also maximize cross-platform social media marketing by linking your Instagram page, Twitter feed, and other social media platforms to your Etsy store.
However, if marketing isn’t your strong suit, you might want to look into Etsy’s Offsite Ads, which help you promote your products on Etsy and other Offsite Ads-approved websites.
Like Google’s pay-per-click model, you’re only charged if a customer interacts with your ad and then purchases something from your store within 30 days.
Etsy also has strong vendor support. This means resources to help you amplify your brand name and build a large audience, all of which positively impact sales and the bottom line of your business.
3. Etsy Helps You Sell More With Flexible Payments Options
One of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on retail behavior is consumer demand for greater flexibility and freedom on the buyer journey. Most notably, in payment options.
As a result, the BNPL (“buy now, pay later”) payment model has started trending in the eCommerce community.
In today’s commercial battlefield, taking advantage of “buy now, pay later” is critical to winning big. The reason is simple: providing more payment options to your customers will increase your sales while also building trust.
There are risks involved in setting this up on your own, but as an Etsy store owner, you can test out this model without any risks, reaping all of its business-boosting benefits.
4. Etsy Helps You Reach Your Customers on Mobile
It’s a well-known secret that smartphone usage has skyrocketed in the last decade. According to Brightedge statistics from 2017, mobile devices account for an average of 57 percent of all web traffic worldwide.
This percentage is even higher because an increasing number of customers use tablets and smartphones to conduct online research and purchases.
In 2022 and beyond, a smooth, mobile-friendly eCommerce experience is non-negotiable.
Most customers will abandon a website that isn’t mobile-friendly within three seconds. That means potential customers leave your website and go to your competitors instead. The percentage of mobile traffic to eCommerce sites has surpassed web traffic and continues to grow year after year as the number of mobile users increases.
However, creating a mobile-friendly eCommerce site takes time and money, both of which you may not have as a small business owner. The good news is that Etsy gives you the tools you need to launch a mobile-friendly website quickly.
How to Open a Storefront on Etsy
To begin, go to Etsy.com and create an account by entering personal identifying information such as your email address, name, and so on. Because the website is very intuitive and straightforward, the setup guide below is intended to provide you with best practices for the critical parts of the process.
Stage 1: Selecting a Store Name
Choosing a shop name that conveys everything your business stands for can be a simple or complex process, depending on how creative you are.
Regardless of your feelings about the process, here are some best practices to follow as a guide:
Go for simplicity – there should never be any doubt about what your store has to offer at a glance.
Make it descriptive – make sure the name you choose sells your brand’s identity and increases brand recall.
Make it easy to remember – as a general rule of thumb, aim for a name with no more than 20 characters.
For example, “StayFinePersonalized” is a top-ranking store that sells personalized wallets and leather goods.
It’s simple, descriptive, and memorable.
Finally, adhere to common business naming conventions. This means that the name you choose for your shop should not contain any blasphemous or offensive words.
Also, avoid using phrases similar to those of other businesses, such as GoZaddy, a rip-off of the web hosting company GoDaddy.
Stage 2: Optimize Your Storefront
Write a Standout ‘About’ Section
The key to getting this right is ensuring your Etsy store’s ‘About Section’ creatively outlines your value proposition.
Consider (and answer) the following questions in your About section:
- Why should prospective customers buy from you?
- What sets your store apart?
- What are your products’ best features?
It can be a powerful conversion tool when your shop’s About Section is adequately written. However, the tricky part is fitting everything you need to say into a few sentences. Consider the following writing tips:
- Use emojis instead of words to save space and make the most of your character limit. In addition to saving space, emojis help present a warm and informal brand image and provide that personal touch that modern buyers value in a brand.
- Exclamation marks, arrows, and other symbols can help you direct the user’s attention to the specific elements in your bio that you want to highlight, such as the CTA.
- To make your store’s biography more reader-friendly, use bullet points to design and organize it into different lines.
Features to Note
Story: Everyone enjoys a good story, so tell yours in your About section using the Etsy story feature. What motivates you to create your wares? What do you like about the products displayed on your storefront?
Pro Tip: include links to your social media pages in this section.
Message to Buyers: You can use this feature to add a message that you want your buyers to receive before, during, or after a purchase, such as a thank-you note after a purchase or a notice on special offers and deals.
Manufacturers: This section only applies if your creations are produced by a third-party vendor. Etsy has some specific policies in this regard, which we’ll touch on later in this guide.
Seller Information: This section should contain your location and contact information, as well as anything else your customers may be interested in learning about your brand.
Customize Your Shop’s Settings
This bit is pretty straightforward. Choose a default language, your location, preferred trade currency, and more. Paying special attention to:
Your Shop Policies
Create policies specific to the sale of your items. That is the set of terms and conditions that govern each purchase made by a buyer. This includes the following:
A Refund Policy
Even if you’re tempted not to offer returns at all, it’s an important part of running an online business, especially if you’re a small business owner looking to build consumer trust.
Buyers today expect online retailers to make it simple to return items that are damaged, do not fit, or do not meet expectations.
However, you are still in control of returns and can protect yourself from unnecessary credit card chargebacks and returns that could result in a loss: this is why you need a detailed refund policy.
Describe (in detail) eligibility requirements for a refund and provide instructions to assist both you and your customers. In this context, a requirement could be:
- How will your customers receive their refund? Will you provide a replacement or store credit?
- What is the return deadline? That is, the number of days in which the products must be returned.
- Who is responsible for any shipping costs incurred during the return process?
A Shipping Policy
One of the most important aspects of running an eCommerce store is, without a doubt, shipping. It is the final step in ensuring that your customers receive the products they order from your store.
A shipping policy is an excellent way to manage your buyer’s expectations regarding wait times and everything in between, including tracking goods in transit. In general, it should include information such as:
- The shipping costs for each product. Pro Tip: You might want to look into Etsy’s shipping options and see if they are advantageous for where you are as a business.
- The time frame it takes to process and ship out an order after it is placed
- The shipping methods you employ (such as mailing services or couriers)
- The destinations to which you ship
As well as any other information your customers require to fully understand how and when their orders will be delivered when they shop at your Etsy store.
Note: If someone else handles manufacturing for your business, you should probably carefully consider their shipping policies as well.
You’d want to make sure that the shipping policies you outline on your storefront correspond with the shipping policies of your suppliers to avoid a potential breakdown in the supply chain, which could negatively impact how customers perceive and respond to your business.
3. List Products On Your Shop
When creating a product listing on Etsy, you must fill out the following fields. This is done to give your potential buyer as much information about the product you’re selling as possible. This is also an excellent location to include on-page eCommerce SEO elements.
They are as follows:
Like other eCommerce websites, products on Etsy are grouped under broad categories and subcategories.
Some of the more popular categories include:
- Handmade goods
- Arts-and-craft supplies
- Vintage items
- Party decorations
- Digital Goods
Choose the category and subcategory best suited to each product you’re listing.
This product listing information is similar to that found in the product category section.
The only difference is that it is intended to differentiate between physical and digital creations, as Etsy allows both types of products to be sold on the platform.
For example, if you are selling an informational product, such as a mini-series on “How to Sew a Shirt Button,” the best category to choose is “digital product.”
This is the part you want to take your time with, just like when you were choosing a name for your store.
Make an effort to be as descriptive as possible
Consider how a potential customer might look for that listing. Include details and relevant keywords such as the product’s color, material type, and so on.
For example, instead of creating a product listing with a title like “crop top,” you could list it as a “blue crochet spaghetti strap crop top.”
Note: If you’re listing a product that comes in multiple colors, you can skip including the colors in the product title because Etsy only allows “one listing” per product, even if it has multiple variations.
Instead, you could include a note about the other variant in the listing’s About section—more on this in a moment.
Alternatively, you could include details like color for listing with variations if it all fits within Etsy’s product title character limit of 55 characters.
Using the previous example, a product title like “crochet spaghetti strap crop top – blue, black, and red” would suffice because it is within the character limit.
About Product Listing
This should include what some may consider dull details about the product you’re listing, such as the date of manufacture, location of manufacture, manufacturer details (if applicable), and so on.
Product Price and Quantity
It is best to factor in all of your business variables before filling out this form, as this will allow you to set the ideal sale price. You must not underprice your product, or you will lose money, and your product may be perceived as inferior or cheap.
If you are overpriced, you risk pricing your business out of the market.
To put it another way, you need a pricing strategy. The options available to you include target costing, price skimming, penetration pricing, dynamic pricing, value-based pricing, cost-plus pricing, and competitor-based pricing.
However, the best pricing strategy for your products will be determined by the type of product you are selling (digital or physical), among others.
When it comes to listing product quantity, if you keep physical inventory, make sure you have an accurate stock count before putting a number on the listing for each product.
This is another excellent section for incorporating SEO elements. We continue to provide SEO tips throughout this guide because an Etsy store that is search optimized can set you up extremely well for eCommerce success.
Platforms like Etsy are designed to run like miniature versions of search engines like Google because of the sheer number of pages it has indexed to connect sellers to buyers.
As a result, following search engine optimization (SEO) best practices when writing out your product description is a great way to optimize each of your Etsy product listings.
This includes incorporating valuable keywords (including long-tail keywords) to help your store appear right in front of potential customers when they search for the type of products you sell.
If you’re having trouble determining these keywords, you can use tools like the Google search bar to learn about what people are actively searching for in your specific niche.
Pro tip: Pay attention to Google’s suggestions as you type your search query. Another place to look is in Google’s results page’s “Also searched for” section.
However, if you use difficult terms, you will be defeating the purpose of writing a product description.
One last thing, don’t forget to highlight your unique selling point (USPs). What are the features that make your product unique?
One of the disadvantages of online shopping that buyers complain about is the inability to physically inspect a product before making a purchase decision. They are unable to smell, see, or touch the item in question.
As an eCommerce store owner, your next best bet for replicating this experience online for your customers is to upload images or videos of a product with each listing.
Aim to upload at least one image, but we recommend that you upload up to ten (the maximum allowed). More so that your customers have a clear picture of what they are purchasing, especially if there are multiple options for the same product on a listing.
Your customer’s decision to purchase your Etsy product will be heavily influenced by how they perceive these images.
Also, aim for eye-catching, high-quality images and videos as a general rule. This is how you can make your product listings stand out from other Etsy vendors selling similar items.
More Product Photography Tips
It may be best to hire a professional photographer to take all of your product photos if you have the funds.
However, as a small business owner, that may be out of the question. As such, if you’re going to shoot your own product photos, start with three crucial elements: proper lighting, selecting the right camera, and shooting in high enough resolution.
Then, make sure your images have enough detail, especially if you’re selling jewelry or clothing because buyers expect to be able to see it up close.
This reduces the amount of time (and money) you have to spend on post-production work.
Before uploading an image, consult Etsy’s image size guide to ensure that your images are optimized for use in thumbnails and product category pages.
One final tip — don’t forget to include Alt tags with your images. This way, when visually impaired customers visit your storefront, they are not excluded from any aspect of the shopping experience.
Using relevant keywords in your product listing’s alt tag will also help your SEO efforts, as images appear in Google image search.
What exactly are Alt tags? Alt tags are similar to product descriptions, with the image you upload serving as the product in question.
Even though your Alt tag is hidden most of the time, when your customers hover their mouse over a product image, they will see it, so make it accurate and descriptive.
Also, use distinct alt tags for your main images and thumbnails to ensure that your main images are indexed and appear in search results.
Select Your Payment Method
Etsy integrates with a number of the popular payment methods that most shoppers are familiar with, including PayPal and more recently Klarna( for US vendors and shoppers).
There’s also Etsy Payments which is the preferred choice for most sellers on the platform. Etsy Payments enable sellers to receive funds via methods such as Etsy gift cards, store credits, debit and credit cards.
Pro Tip: opt-in for as many payment options as possible to increase your chances of completing a sale.
Preview Product Listing
Before going live with a listing, click on the Preview button to see how it would appear from a buyer’s perspective. Then, make any necessary changes to your listing to improve it.
Legal Requirements for Etsy Sellers
The legal requirements for establishing and operating an Etsy store vary depending on the country in which your business is located. Legal requirements for US citizens also vary depending on which state you live in.
However, you will need to obtain a business license in many cases. If you are selling edibles, you will need to follow government and health regulations regarding the sale and packaging of food for sale, as outlined in the Etsy Seller Guide.
As a result, it is prudent to become acquainted with all of the legal requirements for selling on Etsy as they apply to your business to remain compliant.
Otherwise, you may face a fine for failing to comply with one of the terms, such as the collection of sales tax.
However, if you plan to run your Etsy store as a casual Etsy user, crafter, or hobbyist, there are some exceptions.
We recommend using this option to get a feel for the market before going full throttle.
The Cost of Doing Business on Etsy
Setting up a shop on Etsy is free, but you will have to pay a fee to use certain services on the platform.
Not to worry, some of these fees are only charged after a successful sale and amount to a cost-of-doing-business tax that is far less expensive than setting up and running a Self-hosted eCommerce site or managing a physical store.
A summary of these fees is provided below:
This is usually the first fee you’ll have to pay as a first-time Etsy vendor, and it’s one of the only fees you’ll have to pay before you make a sale.
The standard listing fee for putting up a product for sale on the platform is $0.20. It is important to note a validity period; this fee is only valid for four months before being automatically renewed at $0.20.
You can disable automatic renewal, but if you do, you must manually renew your listing to keep it active.
Congratulations, you just made a sale! Etsy charges a 5% commission (transaction fee) on the total sale price (this includes the shipping price).
Payment Processing Fee
If you choose to accept Etsy Payments, you can expect to pay a processing fee of 3 percent + $0.25 on each item you sell.
On the plus side, once you’ve signed up for Etsy Payments, you’ll be able to accept payments via all of the site’s other payment options, including:
- Debit cards
- Credit cards
- Etsy credit
- Etsy gift cards
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
Please keep in mind that you are only charged a processing fee when a buyer checks out of your store using Etsy’s payment system.
These include fees for converting sale proceeds into your local currency (if your default currency option is not USD) as well as any sales tax owed.
More Tips for Selling Successfully on Etsy
1. Keep Track of, and Regularly Review Your Financial Records
For several reasons, regardless of the size of your business, you must keep financial records. The most important of these reasons is to understand where your company stands financially. Are you making a profit or losing money?
Proper recordkeeping will also allow you to make more informed decisions about growing and running your Etsy store.
You’ll be able to identify your best-performing products, fine-tune your product promotion strategies to favor campaigns with the highest ROI and conversion rates, and optimize your company’s overall performance.
On that note, keeping track of your financial records does not have to be a chore; there are numerous accounting tools available to assist small eCommerce business owners in keeping track of their cash flow. Examine the top choices carefully to find the best fit for you.
2. Offer Your Customers The Best Service Possible
Great customer service is the backbone of any business, and it is unquestionably one of the ways you can distinguish your Etsy store from the competition. Treat your customers with dignity, and they will return.
When they ask questions, respond politely and as quickly as possible (this includes questions that may already be answered in a section of your product listing, like your refund policy).
After collecting email addresses from buyers, avoid inundating them with messages. Sending out a large number of emails is not the way to go. It can come across as spam, which is a huge turnoff for most buyers.
Don’t forget to send out a thank you note when someone buys an item from your Etsy Shop.
3. Keep an Eye on Your Inventory
If you hold physical stock for your eCommerce store, this advice is for you.
Inventory management for your small business is a best practice that can help you gauge your company’s health and plan for the future.
An example is knowing when you are overstocked on a particular item or understocked on a highly requested item all at a glance.
This assists you in planning, preparing, and putting things in place to ensure the smooth operation of your business.
Managing inventory, however, can be a time-consuming task, even for large businesses. As a result, mistakes can happen, resulting in costly problems later on. Fortunately, you can avoid making mistakes by implementing an accurate, seamless, and scalable inventory management process.
Therefore, investing in an inventory management system is a smart business decision in today’s fast-paced world, where consumer trends and product demands can shift in an instant.
And keeping up with the market’s ups and downs would be nearly impossible on your own, which could result in you missing out on valuable data that could help your Etsy store grow.
On Etsy, there is almost no limit to the success you can achieve for your business.
Not only are you given best-in-class tools for running a successful eCommerce business, but you also have a lot of say over how your brand looks and how it connects with your target audience.
Not sure if Etsy is the right platform for your business? Check out these Etsy alternatives to find out if another channel is the right fit for your business.
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