Selling Handmade Goods Online: Amazon Handmade vs Etsy

As an artisan or crafter looking to sell your handmade creations online, you’re probably trying to decide between two major marketplaces: Amazon Handmade and Etsy. Both have their ardent fans and detractors within the maker community, but it can be tough to cut through the noise to make an informed decision.

I’ve sold handmade goods on both platforms for over 5 years now, so I want to share my personal experiences and insights to help other artists and makers weigh up Amazon Handmade vs Etsy for your handmade business.

A Tale of Two Marketplaces

First, a quick orientation for those unfamiliar with these platforms.

Amazon Handmade launched in 2015 as Amazon’s marketplace for artisans to sell their handmade items alongside the retail giant’s mass-produced wares. Amazon Handmade follows the classic Amazon model of emphasizing convenience and reliability through features like Prime shipping.

Etsy, founded in 2005, made its name as the online marketplace for buying and selling handmade, vintage, and craft supplies. Etsy prioritizes the personal touch through storefront customization and community.

So in summary:

  • Amazon Handmade = convenience, reliability, mass market
  • Etsy = personal, community, handmade focused

Both have their advantages and disadvantages for handmade sellers, which I’ll explore below.

Seller Fees: Amazon Handmade vs Etsy

One of the most important considerations is fees, so let’s look at how Amazon Handmade and Etsy compare on costs for sellers.

Etsy charges a flat 5% transaction fee on each order, plus a listing fee of $0.20 per item. They also take a 3% + $0.25 payment processing fee when you make a sale.

Amazon Handmade has no listing fees, but takes 12-15% in referral fees on each transaction depending on your product category. Your first million in sales each year also qualify for slightly lower referral rates.

For payment processing, Amazon takes a flat rate of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.

Pro tip: If you expect to make a high volume of lower priced sales, Etsy’s flat fees might be lower overall. For higher priced items or a smaller number of sales, Amazon’s percentage fees could work out cheaper.

There are some extra costs to watch out for on both platforms:

  • Etsy Offsite Ads: a 12-15% fee on sales from ads shown off Etsy
  • Amazon FBA: fees for fulfillment and storage if using Fulfillment by Amazon

Reaching Handmade Buyers: Amazon vs Etsy Audiences

When it comes to finding your ideal buyers, Amazon Handmade and Etsy again have very different user demographics.

Etsy has an overall younger, mostly female audience interested in handmade and unique items. Many buyers intentionally go to Etsy to discover and support independent artists.

Amazon of course has a massive overall customer base that heavily skews female but covers a much broader age range. The audience is more mixed in their interests – some seek handmade goods while others just stumble upon them while browsing Amazon.

In my experience, converting Amazon’s general audience into handmade buyers takes more marketing effort. Meanwhile, you’re better positioned for sales on Etsy right from your first listing.

However, Amazon’s scale still allows Handmade sellers to tap into more total buyers. So it offers greater revenue potential along with more unpredictability.

Seller Experience: Pros and Cons of Amazon Handmade vs Etsy

Next, let’s get into the features, pros, and cons of selling on each platform from the seller perspective.

Availability

  • Amazon Handmade is currently open to sellers registered in the US, Canada, Europe, and Japan.
  • Etsy is open to sellers globally.

So Etsy definitely offers more flexibility in where you can sell from.

Account Set Up

  • Amazon has an approval process for Handmade sellers that can take 1-2 weeks before you can list. They also requirebusiness information like your EIN.
  • Etsy has an easier and faster signup that lets you start listing within a day. All you need is an email and credit card.

Etsy makes it quicker and simpler to get started. But Amazon’s requirements provide more legitimacy.

Listing Items

  • Amazon lets you list up to 500 products for free. Additional listings are $0.15 each per month.
  • Etsy provides unlimited free listings.
  • Both platforms allow variations like different colors so these don’t count as extra listings.

Etsy clearly comes out ahead if you sell a high volume of unique products.

Store Customization

  • Etsy has excellent customization options to make your storefront on-brand. You can customize design elements, create banner images, change text, and more.
  • Amazon offers no storefront customization for Handmade sellers. Your products live on the same Amazon listings as mass-produced goods.

If creating an engaging, cohesive brand experience is important to you, Etsy has a clear edge.

Shipping

  • Amazon encourages utilizing Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) where they handle storage and shipping. If you ship yourself, Amazon expects fast handling times.
  • Etsy lets you set your own shipping policies and doesn’t emphasize speed

Amazon pushes sellers towards a more standardized approach to shipping and fulfillment. Etsy offers more flexibility for your business model.

Marketing Tools

  • Amazon provides strong SEO optimization features out of the box. But you have limited ability to drive traffic to your listings or Amazon store. Offsite marketing is crucial.
  • Etsy provides on-site promotion options like special highlighted listings. But you need to optimize titles, tags, and descriptions carefully for search visibility.
  • Both platforms offer paid advertising options.

For marketing, Etsy likely edges out Amazon for novice sellers. But both require active promotion for success.

Policies and Support

  • Amazon has a much more strict and authoritative approach to managing sellers. Changing policies and sudden account suspensions are a risk. Support can be hit or miss.
  • Etsy generally offers good support and a more collaborative approach with sellers. But policy enforcement can seem arbitrary at times.

Amazon’s rigidity offers predictability but less flexibility. Meanwhile, Etsy tries to keep a personal touch but sometimes falls short.

Volume and Sales Potential

  • Amazon’s incredible traffic and buyer base allows for higher volume sales potential. But it can take time and marketing to gain visibility.
  • Etsy is better for testing ideas and earning organic sales early on. But scaling a single shop to extremely high volumes can be difficult.

So in summary, Amazon offers greater upside potential while Etsy provides a more supportive launching pad. Combining both platforms can allow you to maximize your reach.

Can I Sell on Both Amazon Handmade and Etsy?

A common seller question is whether you can have shops on both Amazon Handmade and Etsy at the same time. The answer is yes, you absolutely can sell on both platforms concurrently.

I’ve maintained both my Etsy and Amazon Handmade shops for years and many other sellers do as well. There are a few tips to make successfully selling on both platforms easier:

  • Harmonize your branding and product listings across the two sites to provide a consistent customer experience.
  • Avoid simultaneously running the exact same ad campaigns on Amazon and Etsy to prevent bidding against yourself.
  • Adjust your production and fulfillment workflow to handle an increase in orders across multiple channels.
  • Link your shops where possible so buyers can easily find you on both sites.

With the right preparation, selling on both Amazon and Etsy can allow you to maximize your audience reach.

Success Stories From Amazon Handmade and Etsy Sellers

To provide some inspiration, here are a few real-world success stories of sellers who have found prosperity on Amazon Handmade, Etsy, or both:

  • Emily Jean Jewelry grew from a hobby into a full-time business earning over $150k per year on Amazon Handmade. Her delicate jewelry resonated with Prime buyers.
  • WoodLightPottery pivoted to Etsy from local craft fairs when the pandemic hit. They leveraged Etsy ads to drive a 5X increase in sales.
  • BeadingSupplies found selling specialized products like clasps and leather cords faced too much competition on Etsy. But these supplies are a hit with Amazon’s broader audience.
  • HappyRainbowPaints built loyalty and a following on Etsy before expanding successfully to Amazon. Their monthly revenue has doubled since adding Amazon Handmade.

The common thread is understanding and playing to each platform’s strengths – convenience and volume for Amazon, specialization and community for Etsy.

Handmade Jewelry Selling Guide: Etsy vs Amazon

For sellers focused specifically on handmade jewelry, should you choose Etsy or Amazon? Here are the key factors:

  • Etsy attracts more buyers actively searching for unique, handmade jewelry. But competition is high.
  • Listings with unique personal storytelling perform better on Etsy.
  • Amazon has broader general reach but jewelry gets lost among mass products.
  • Playing up craftsmanship and techniques resonates with Amazon Handmade shoppers.
  • Prime shipping speeds are expected by Amazon buyers but not mandatory on Etsy.

Overall, most jewelry artisans find more success starting out on Etsy. But once you’ve refined your brand, expanding to Amazon can help scale your business.

Consider focusing on your best-selling and highest margin pieces on Amazon while using Etsy to test new product ideas.

Shipping and Returns on Amazon and Etsy

Shipping and return policies can greatly impact profit margins for handmade sellers. Here’s an overview of how Amazon and Etsy compare on key logistics factors:

  • Amazon incentivizes their Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program with benefits like Prime eligibility. With FBA, Amazon handles receiving, storage, packing, and shipping your products.
  • Etsy does not yet offer a comparable fulfillment service. So you need to handle your own shipping unless using an external service.
  • Etsy simply recommends sellers offer fast shipping without mandating it. Amazon pushes for 1-2 day handling and delivery.
  • Both Etsy and Amazon hold sellers to customer-friendly return policies. But Amazon enforces returns more strictly.
  • Amazon’s buyer demographic tends to expect faster, cheaper, more hassle-free shipping and returns.

Overall, selling on Amazon likely means higher logistics costs and effort. Etsy offers more flexibility to balance profitability and buyer satisfaction.

New sellers should carefully factor fulfillment requirements and costs into any Amazon Handmade plans. Having your own shipping operation helps keep Amazon costs in check.

Setting Up Shop on Etsy and Amazon

For sellers ready to take the plunge, how easy is it to actually get started on each platform? Here’s an overview of what’s involved with opening a handmade shop on Etsy vs Amazon:

Etsy Shop Setup

  • Create an Etsy account with your email and password
  • Add your credit/debit card for payment processing
  • Open an Etsy shop in just a few clicks
  • Personalize your shop name, create titles and descriptions
  • Upload product photos and listing details
  • Set your shipping profiles, payment options, policies
  • Add sections like “About” and “Profile” to engage visitors
  • Promote your shop and listings with built-in options

Etsy makes opening a fully customized shop a breeze. You can start selling within a day, while refining things later.

Amazon Handmade Shop Setup

  • Submit an application to join Amazon Handmade
  • Get approved to sell, usually within 1-2 weeks
  • Register business details like your EIN, bank account
  • Set up your Seller Central account
  • Create product listings with titles, descriptions, photos
  • Get UPC codes for products you want Prime eligible
  • Set shipping rates and inventory for FBA or self-fulfillment
  • Enroll in Brand Registry to customize brand name and logo

The approval process creates a delay. But otherwise, Amazon makes listing products fairly straightforward. Just know branding options are limited.

Finding Handmade Success on Amazon and Etsy

While every handmade business is unique, some product categories tend to thrive on each platform:

Top Selling Products on Etsy

  • Jewelry
  • Arts and craft supplies
  • Home decor items like wall hangings and pillows
  • Ceramics like mugs, bowls, and vases
  • Vintage and antique items
  • Clothing and accessories, especially niche styles

Etsy customers embrace unique, artistic products alongside practical items that showcase craftsmanship.

Top Selling Products on Amazon Handmade

  • Toys and games
  • Kitchen accessories like pot holders and aprons
  • Pet products like collars, leashes, and beds
  • Home organization tools and storage
  • High-quality specialty foods
  • Unique home electronics like Bluetooth speakers

Amazon shoppers gravitate towards fun, functional products that solve problems. Quality and good reviews are valued.

Customer Reviews on Etsy vs Amazon

Customer product reviews and seller feedback are crucial sales drivers on both Amazon and Etsy. But there are some key differences in how reviews work on each platform:

  • Amazon prominently displays a product’s average rating and review count at the top of listings. Reviews greatly influence purchase decisions.
  • Etsy has focused more on building trust through seller profiles and policies. Ratings and reviews are secondary.
  • Amazon buyers expect multiple detailed reviews, preferably verified purchases. Just a few reviews can hurt conversion.
  • Etsy buyers rely more on policies and overall shop reputation than ratings. Even one or two reviews provide social proof.
  • Amazon makes filtering products by 4+ or 5-star ratings easy. Highly rated competitors can undermine you.
  • On Etsy, reviews influence search rank less directly. More reviews help, but great photos and descriptions also matter.

Understanding when and why buyers consult reviews helps inform marketing strategies on both platforms. Optimize accordingly.

Go Global: International Selling on Etsy and Amazon

Looking to expand your customer base? Here’s what to know about international selling on Etsy vs Amazon Handmade:

  • Etsy allows you to sell to buyers worldwide right from the start. You can set per-country shipping rates and policies.
  • Amazon Handmade is currently limited to approved seller accounts in the US, Canada, Europe, and Japan. Other countries don’t have access yet.
  • Both platforms provide translation options to be found by international shoppers. Etsy translates listing details. Amazon translates reviews.
  • You deal with customs forms and duties yourself on both marketplaces. Neither platform takes responsibility.
  • Currency conversion happens automatically based on buyer location on both Etsy and Amazon.
  • Listing prices in USD is recommend on Etsy. Amazon translates currencies directly.

In summary, Etsy provides more global opportunity today. But in the future, Amazon Handmade’s international expansion could open huge new markets.

The Verdict: Should You Choose Amazon Handmade or Etsy?

So what’s the final verdict – should you sell your handmade goods on Amazon Handmade or Etsy?

The short answer is…it depends on your business goals and products.

But here are my top tips for deciding which platform is better for your handmade shop:

If community and branding are your top priorities, start on Etsy. List on Amazon later once you’ve built awareness.

For fast sales velocity and volume potential, start on Amazon. Use your profits to perfect branding for Etsy.

For customizable, creative products, lean towards Etsy, at least to start. Unique goods get drowned out on Amazon.

If convenience and reviews drive your success, Amazon Handmade is likely better. Prime shipping and a 5-star rating are key here.

For globally appealing goods, consider Etsy first to tap into their worldwide buyer base.

To test ideas without commitment, Etsy’s the place. Getting visibility on Amazon takes more upfront effort.

And remember – you don’t have to choose just one! Many sellers find success by smartly leveraging both platforms.

I hope this breakdown of selling on Amazon Handmade vs Etsy has provided clarity and inspiration as you plan your own handmade business. Let me know if you have any other questions! I’m always happy to share my experiences.

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