I'm happy to announce my shopify store is up and running! Actually it has been up and running for a short while but I'm still working out some of the kinks and I'm still deep in my learning curve. I signed up for shopify and it took me about a year to learn in between all the other stuff going on, and pull the "publish" trigger. But today is the first day I'm listing a product that is NOT on etsy and is only at my shopify site. It's a shift for me and I'm quite excited.
I've been on etsy for a number of years. And etsy has been a good place for me to be. I will STILL continue to have my shop there as well. I have no plans on shutting my etsy shop down because I know some people are comfortable shopping there. However, I knew there were some ways that etsy was starting to feel like it wasn't the right fit for me as my only avenue to have a shop.
So what wasn't fitting so right? There are some great reasons why you want to start on etsy. But there are some great reasons to grow and evolve beyond etsy too. These are some of my main reasons to expand to the shopify platform.
1. Fees. First off there is a listing fee on etsy of 20 cents per item and every time that item sells and another "same" item is up in the que, you pay another 20 cent fee. And then there is a percentage fee that etsy takes on the cost of each sale. In 2018 etsy increased that fee from 3.5% to 5%. That increase starts to add up over time. And it adds up a lot on larger ticket items. And etsy started charging 5% fees on shipping costs as well. A shipping cost is something I pay to ship something. It is not profit. So to pay a 5% fee on a cost I pay to ship goods is problematic. It's not till you really look at the numbers and see what you are paying in fees each week that it becomes REAL. Kinda like paying taxes. The actual numbers sting a little even though you are thankful you are making a living.
2. Analytics. Knowledge is power and the more you can figure out where your traffic comes from, the better. And truth be told, very little of my traffic was coming from within etsy. It can be well worth it to pay for real estate in a well traveled neighborhood that brings in a lot of customers "finding" you because you are in that location. But looking at my analytics showed me that very little of my customers come from within etsy. Most come from direct links, my website, linktree or pinterest. And it was frustruating to see that now the analytics have changed and direct traffic is combined with "etsy app" so it is harder to figure out that number. With the "etsy app" part of "direct", a direct link could have opened up within someone's etsy app on their mobile device when they clicked on a link. That doesn't mean they "found" you through etsy. I question why they are lumped together when it seems to only muddy the factual information of what etsy is really bringing to me in searches. If some of the increased etsy fees were justified with ideas of improving the search features, that wasn't really applying to me since that is not what drives the majority of my traffic.
3. Loss of control. Every time a company changes an algorithm or decides to implement a new pricing strategy or changes their business goals, it directly impacts your business as a shop owner. But it feels like it happens to you without having any control over it. My best example of this is craftsy (which is now Blueprint.com). I had quilt patterns for sale on craftsy.com and I made sales there. Then I got the email, 6 days before Christmas 2018 with the line "On 12/28, your pattern store will be removed from Craftsy.com" with an explanation that they were changing their marketplace and editing down the individual stores. Honestly, one week is not a lot of time for notice that your shop will be closed, not to mention it being the week before Christmas when you get the news! And it was their decision and not yours. It is THEIR platform and they have the right to do that. And its business. It is not personal. Some designers got to keep patterns up and for sale but craftsy decided which ones and the designers did not have control over whether or not they could add more. I'd assume some kind of approval process was implemented for that but I didn't pay much attention since my shop was on the "delete" list.
This was a gift really. I learned that I feel better if I have more control over my own business. It gave me a kick in the bottom to work on that shopify site. Yes, it still took me another 6 months to get it open but I felt fortunate to have other solutions. Fortunate that I had already researched what online platforms I liked. Fortunate that all my eggs were not in ONE basket.
4. Connection to buyers. Yes, etsy gives you the ability to communicate with your customers through a conversation. But the email address of a buyer is theirs unless a customer gives you permission to contact them otherwise. I have no desire to send a ton of annoying emails to customers or abuse a relationship we may have. However, when I discover I've made a mistake on a pattern, it sure would be nice to have an email list from those buyers whom I could tell there is a correction. Or the ability to ask if you want to be kept up to date on my shop info through a newsletter correspondence. Privacy rules are in place for good reasons, but etsy doesn't let you ask people if they WANT that type of correspondence from you. If I want to let people know about an upcoming sale or a new line coming out, I hope they follow me on the blog, on instagram, on facebook, because I can't really do it with the efficiency of a newsletter on etsy. Etsy essentially "owns" the contact information.
5. How it looks. Etsy doesn't look bad. But I'm a designer and I like to have more control over how something LOOKS. I like to decide the decor in my home, the way I dress, the color on my walls, along with my company logo and how my images are shown. Etsy has a pretty uniform shop setup and its not so easy to mold that to a different look or have your own branding be more important. As a design-driven company, I wasn't so sure that fit with the directions I am headed and how I want to explore my company look and presence.
6. The ability to customize. There are some options for Drop Ship, direct Print-on-demand products but its limited. Having more partners with your products and offerings? There are lots of companies that will integrate and work with shopify and some of the other online storefront platforms. More choices. More areas to grow into if you decide to. My shop is still pretty basic. But I like that it can grow and change more easily to include more options and customizations.
With all that said, I hope you understand why I opened up my RobinPickensInc.com shop which is hosted through shopify. Its my store and I can manage it more to my liking. Perhaps you are a quilter or designer and are struggling with some of the same issues I mentioned. A wonderful article about why you should consider moving beyond etsy is "Why building a business solely on etsy is a bad idea (and what to do instead) by Sarah Peterson. She has excellent points that I have not covered here and I think it is a really interesting and informative read.
I did a lot of research to make sure shopify had staying power, processed payments securely (we all know that is very important!) and was scalable and worked for larger companies who couldn't risk being an experiment. I pay to have a shop on shopify and I believe I am getting a good value for my dollar, just as I want you to have. I wondered if I would sell enough to justify the costs but I believe in a case like a business store, you have to pay for quality and security. Just make sure you are paying for the things that help YOU as a business and not just the platform company.
As I mentioned earlier, my etsy shop will still be open. But as my business evolves and I grow, my shop must be allowed to grow with me. My plan is I will have my kits, including ones I can put together with my fabrics that are out of print, listed here through robinpickens.com (linking to my shopify store) which takes you to https://robinpickensinc.com. I also hope to have some other sewing and design related products showing up soon to add some color and smile to your creative space! You can still find quilt patterns, both in print form and digital downloads through my etsy shop along with them being on the shopify store. There are currently some kits offered on etsy and I will continue to offer the new patterns. But if you want to see more of my designs and kits, sign up to stay connected to the shopify site and my newsletter and I am happy to keep you in the loop! I hope this was helpful to you and explained part of this transition. Thank you so much for your support and keep creating!
Designer of colorful florals for Moda fabrics. Modern to transitional quilt designer. Illustrator, sewist, crafter.
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