Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Etsy versus My Own .com

Recently, I had 2 polls on this blog.  One of them pertained to my website www.LilacAve.com. In that poll, about 30% of those answering said they feel more comfortable shopping on Etsy.  I had a hunch this was true. After chatting with a friend of mine, she said maybe I should point out some things, so folks feel more comfortable.
Lavender Peppermint Soy Tarts
You may wonder why, as fabulous as Etsy is, a shop would want to branch out to their own .com.  Well there are several answers. 
  1. Would it surprise you to know, around 9-11% of the sales, at LilacAve go to etsy?  Now don't get me wrong.  I love Etsy and the service they give me is worthwhile, I could never complain about the exposure and traffic they've helped me get....they are why LilacAve is here!  But if I were able to make the same sales through my site, that number would be more like 1-2%.  Granted this is ignorant to paypal or Google checkout fees, which are unavoidable.  I would like to think if there were less fees that money could be reinvested into more products, more research, better promotions, and marketing better.
  2. For me, a big reason why I was gung ho, is remember 1000 markets? If not, here is the cliff notes. 1000 Markets was a handmade shopping site, like Etsy, but it was juried.  I think it was a Monday they announced they had sold it, and by Friday the site no longer existed, as it was bought by Bonanza, which is not a handmade site. What is to say one day Etsy is not sold to Ebay?  What if it changes, and drastically affecting my business?  I need to not have all my eggs in one basket. And I don't see Zibbet, Artfire, or any of the zillion others being an advantageous fall back to Etsy. 
  3. Control is another biggie.  I know this is true for many of us, starting our own .coms. If you don't know...on Etsy you are limited to 10 categories, and each item can only be in 1 category.  So for instance my "Tart of the Month" listing is under 'Special Listings'...I cannot also put it under 'Tarts'. Or recently I was asked if I could set up my shop by scent.  Not only would I be limited by the 10 categories...but I could not have a Bath Salt under both Categories, 'Bath Salt' and 'Lavender' for instance. Having your own .com can allow you to do these things.  This does not even begin to get into, the control over the look and feel in entirety of your own webpage.
Now here are the things, that I'm thinkin', are why you have the comfort level with Etsy.
  1. I think you may feel like Etsy will provide you buyer protection. This is actually not true.  If you have an issue with a seller, Etsy will not step in.  However, if you paid with Paypal...they will! Paypal would also step in if you need protection while buying from a .com and paying with paypal.  So no worries there! 
  2. On Etsy you can see the sales number and Feedback. I get this one...I do!  I know I do not have a ticker on my site showing my sales. However, some food for thought may be....websites are not cheap.  I recently spent $200 to get mine set up the way I wanted, and much more if you consider the time I put into it, and the monthly fee.  I wouldn't do this if I wasn't serious about my business. Also websites like Amazon.com, Overstock.com and others don't have sales tickers, yet there is not a physical place to walk into to complain if things go wrong. Small Handmade businesses may not have the mass merchant allure in protection...but I know so many of these sellers, and we are just struggling to get our footing as small businesses.  We want to grow, we want to stand on our own 2 feet one day. And of all the ones I know, we care more about great customer service than these big guys do!  It's personal pride in our work! Not to mention I know a couple folks that actually sell better on their .com than Etsy, so their Etsy numbers are actually deceiving.
Are there other things that hold you back? 
I'm not trying to sway you from buying on Etsy.  I love Etsy, I buy on Etsy all the time. All I'm saying is if you've ever bought from a seller or are a fan on their Facebook page...consider checking out their .com next time around. Take the leap!

Here are some sites of people I know are on Etsy, but also have their own .com:
Lilac Ave
Two Seaside Babes
DB Designs Jewelry
Geek Details


  1. Really great info! I know someday I'd love to have my own .com, though it may be a ways away. I know some people swear by artfire, but ive never true it bc I can't stand how messy it feels looking at it.

  2. ACK. I didn't know that that's how 1000 Markets disappeared! Okay, that's scary. Really glad I have my own site now in addition to Etsy.

  3. Kate, that's why I wrote the blog. I think a lot of buyers are not familiar with the ins and outs of why someone would want to venture outside of Etsy. But we obviously would need the support for that venture to grow.

  4. CORRECTION: Apparently Etsy will under some circumstances protect the buyer.
    However, I personally (after seeing many shops reported, or some with awful feedback still in business) would rely more on Paypal's protection, as it is in writing and systematic. https://cms.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/marketingweb?cmd=_render-content&content_ID=security/online_security_center

  5. I've found paypal more reliable in resolving disputes than Etsy has been. That said, I tend to use Etsy when I've first found a shop. There are some I've never gone back to for various reasons but the ones with great products, service and all the rest, I'll follow anywhere. That's because I've become a return customer and when I'm comfortable with a seller, I'm comfortable with them almost anywhere (particularly if I can still pay with paypal!)

    Personally, I love your new site and I'm happy to see you get more of the profit since you put so much work into it!

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