Today is the beginning of a two week series on the blog about Online Shops! Whether you have a shop or are thinking of starting one, some of the tips I've learned along the way might be helpful either way. We'll chat about tips for starting an online shop, updating it, writing policies, dealing with customers and processing orders. But today, I'm going to talk about some of the differences between a Squarespace store and an Etsy store.
Before I get too far though, let me first say that 'Squarespace' (SS) is the content management system that I personally use for my website and my shop. As you're reading this though, when I talk about SS you could replace that with whatever shop or website management system you choose.
I have both online shops: I have a shop through SS within my website AND I have an Etsy store. I've had both for a while now and have noticed that what sells on my Etsy store doesn't really sell on my SS store and what sells in my SS store, doesn't really sell in my Etsy store. Weird, but true! And that's where their differences come in.
If you aren't or haven't been an online shop owner, you probably think that an online store is an online store is an online store. They're all the same. And there really are many similarities: they showcase your work to be sold online; they charge certain fees for money transfer; they make selling online a whole lot easier. But depending upon what you're selling, who you're trying to sell to or what you're trying to build as a business, there are definitely differences between the different avenues.
The Difference: Squarespace vs. Etsy
If you're debating on whether or not to open a shop, and trying to decide what avenue to go with, this might be helpful as it's something I've learned over time. The biggest difference in these two selling platforms is who the customer perceives they are purchasing from. If they buy from SS, they buy from YOU; from your BRAND. They purchase you and the client experience that you provide. If they buy from Etsy, they perceive the seller as ETSY. You are no longer a brand, but just a vendor on Etsy.
For example, I sell tons of Burg Boxes through my SS shop. People purchase them because they are purchasing a local, client experience that I offer through my Burg Box and Twila brand. They also find me via Google SEO because they search 'Burg Box' or something like it. I had the Burg Boxes on Etsy for a year and only sold ONE, and that was probably by chance. To Etsy buyers, the Burg Box means nothing to them; to my SS buyers, they know what it means to purchase a Burg Box.
On the other hand, I sell TONS of wine labels on Etsy: custom, wedding first sets, photo labels, etc. But I barely sell them on my SS site. When people think of something different or crafty like a custom photo wine label or a pack of Wedding Firsts wine labels, they typically think of 'Etsy' rather than a particular brand and therefore go to Etsy to search for that type of thing. When you think of 'Twila & Co.,' most of you would not automatically think 'wine labels.'
Benefits of Squarespace
One of the biggest benefits of SS, especially in terms of branding, is that people are visiting your website for YOU. Every time you sell something, you're building your brand and your client experience. When someone asks where the client got something, they will respond with YOUR business not 'Etsy.'
You get a much better URL when it comes to selling yourself. It's much nicer to send people to 'twilaco.com/shop' rather than 'etsy.com/twilaandco/shop.' To me, it makes it seems a bit more legit and helps me sell my business and not just my product.
It's also nice to have a shop branded to YOU. SS lets you build the shop to match your business and your website in a seamless transition. Yes, you can make edits and add things to Etsy to make it your own, but I love going to my online shop and setting it up the way I want to within my website. It's branded the way I want it and I can make more of the rules myself.
Benefits of Etsy
The biggest reason I still sell on Etsy is because of their search engines. If people are searching for specific handmade and craft type items, they will most likely search on Etsy rather than Googling it. The Etsy search engines are a great and useful tool. BUT you have to make sure your products are the right type of product to have on Etsy. I have a lot of products that sell GREAT on Etsy because it's the type of thing people search for on Etsy: custom wine labels, wedding wine labels, groomsmen labels, etc.
Another thing is the policies. I learned so much through Etsy about writing my return, exchange, processing, shipping, etc. policies. Some of that takes time and the more customers you have, the more you learn and the more you add into your policies (inevitably, the one thing not in your policies is the one thing that gets challenged by a client).
I've heard some talk about why even keep Etsy at all if it doesn't build YOUR brand. And I totally get that. But honestly, I look at Etsy as more of a side job. It doesn't really build my brand or business, but it's a steady source of income that takes minimal time and effort. I've set up my listings well enough with some tricks and tips I've learned along the way (we'll get to that!) that I make extra money each month for doing almost nothing.
If you ever have any questions on running your online shops, I'd be happy to help! Some of that information we'll be covering in the upcoming blogs, but feel free to e-mail me Johnna@TwilaCo.com.
I'm really excited about this weeks blogs about online shops. I've been working with mine a lot, watched a ton of webinars, tried and failed some but ultimately figured out what works for ME, and I encourage you to do the same! I'm in no way the expert on all of this stuff, but I've figured out enough to keep my orders steady and make it worth my time.