comparing e-commerce platforms for makers

emoji stamps in progress wipAfter more than eight years, I’ve decided to close up my shop on Etsy. Lately I’ve just had more negative things to say about the service than positive, and I figured it was time to put my money where my mouth was and move on. (I’ll probably write something more about while I left later, but Abby Glassenberg — who loves Etsy, for the record —has a comprehensive list of the common Etsy complaints here.)

To find a new home for my handmade shop, I spent the last few days creating this chart comparing ecommerce options for makers & designers. It includes the major craft marketplaces as well as standalone ecommerce platforms that let you set up a standalone shop fairly simply, without needing your own website or host. I also calculated the fees each of the various platforms charge for four separate sales scenarios. I found it very interesting to dig into the numbers and check out my options, and there are definite trends that come up when you compare the fees for small volume sales to high-volume sales.

Dec. 22 update: I’ve added a column noting whether the service has made any statement or offered advice about VATMOSS and the 2015 European value added tax rule changes.

February 2015 update: You likely arrived here from my piece on How Etsy Alienated Its Crafters and Lost Its Soul. Welcome! I hope you find the information useful. 

October 2015 update: Amazon just launched its Handmade vertical, so I’ve added that to the list. 


  1. rachael {imagine gnats}

    I’ve been super happy with the woocommerce plugin for wordpress. I’ve previously used etsy and bigcartel, and I like that once the plugin was purchased, I only have to pay credit card processing fees. even any other bells and whistles I wanted to add have been one-time fees rather than recurring charges, and they’ve been super reasonable (like $20 for a custom data exporting plug-in, for example). I was even able to add an affiliate program to my shop and wholesale ordering capability both for no additional charge.

  2. fgivings

    Had you heard anything about, out of Milwaukee? I haven’t made the leap yet, but can’t help being enticed by their encouragement to cry “aftcrap” upon spying an item/shop that doesn’t appear handmade (and I refer to the definition of handmade prior to Etsy’s redefining the word). Anyway, between that and no listing or shop set up fees, wondering if you see any pitfalls.
    Faith of

  3. kitenswithmittens

    Reblogged this on Kittens with Mittens and commented:
    Yes, I agree with most of these comments.
    However No, I am not closing my Etsy shop.
    I have considered other options, and feel that Etsy is working out alright for me at this point. I sell some physical products, but mostly downloadable patterns for knitters. Overall my experience has been positive. My clients have been both pleasant and happy. The purchases I have made from Etsy shops have been both professional and timely. So yes I hear all the negative comments, I understand vendors concern about competition with wholesale non-crafters and I empathize. I would point out that the wholesalers are not necessarily direst competition with all handcrafters. A unique item will always find a market. I can also add that I am happy to buy my supplies from wholesalers no matter where they are located, and Etsy provides a platform for me to find items not available to me locally.

  4. sidefxny

    Grace’s article still has legs on Etsy and is constantly being cited in the forums, as recently as the other day. There is a lot of of great info and I think many sellers are grateful to learn there is at least some justification for our feelings about what’s happening. In addition to having two Etsy shops- one for vintage and one for my hand painted silks- I also have a brick and mortar store on Main Street in a cute little tourist town just up the line from NYC in the Hudson Valley. All retail has taken a huge hit and the truth is that it’s become impossible to make a living selling stuff if you’re not one of the Big Guys. I see absolutely gorgeous specialty shops open on Main Street by young couples with stars in their eyes who invest hundreds of thousands of dollars, only to sit there waiting for customers to come in. Think about it- the first $3000 you make every month does not belong to you- it goes to overhead including rent, insurance, etc.
    So Etsy and other online venues look pretty damn good if you’re like me and have experience in the real world. That being said, I also know that my Etsy shops are not real businesses; they are hobbies where I sell the occasional painting or piece of vintage jewelry and get to connect with other buyers and sellers in a nice community.
    99% of the sellers on Etsy cannot make a living, let alone become millionaires. As long as you accept that truth, then you’ll do just find.

  5. Mindy

    I’m surprised that BigCommerce didn’t make that insanely detailed and helpful chart you made (thanks a bunch, by the way!). Any particular reason you chose to leave them out (or maybe you just didn’t know they existed)? I’ve got my eyes on both Shopify & BigCommerce but am just not ready to pick one over the other.

    1. gracedobush

      BigCommerce just didn’t pop up on my radar — I’ve gotten probably a dozen of emails this week from marketing people with even more ecommerce alternatives, but I can’t include everything, sadly. I won’t rule out adding more sites in the future, though.

  6. Pinegrove Leather (@PinegroveLeathr)

    Impressive spreadsheet! Well done. I use Volusion as well as Etsy. Reliable and feature rich. However I was horrified to learn that anyone who looks at the mobile version of my Volusion site using a smartphone cannot change the currency that prices are displayed. On my main site there is a drop-down option for customers to use, and is important as I sell worldwide.

    Looking around at other providers for an hour, I found they were all the same. Lovely mobile templates, but no multi-currency support. Arg!

    Otherwise, a rating of the providers’ support for smartphones would something worth adding to your excellent spreadsheet.

    Rod Boyes
    Pinegrove Leather

    1. gracedobush

      You should be able to download an XLS of the spreadsheet from the Google Sheets file to edit and use as you wish. I just ask that you please not republish my work as your own. Thanks!

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