Selling handmade items online is always a challenge, one that requires a much different approach than selling branded goods. Selling your own creations online brings with it many unique questions and considerations, and requires you to make complex decisions to ensure that you can price your items competitively while taking into account the materials and time you’ve invested in making them. By far the biggest decision you’ll face, however, is deciding on which platform you want to sell – choosing the right platform when weighing Amazon Handmade vs Etsy is a very important decision that will have a significant impact on every aspect of your business.
In this article, we’ll review the pros and cons of selling on Amazon Handmade vs Etsy, and examine each platform from multiple perspectives, including inventory management, shipping and order fulfillment, fees, advertising, and more, so that you can make an informed decision and choose the best platform for selling your handmade goods.
A General Overview of Amazon Handmade and Etsy
Amazon Handmade and Etsy are the two largest ecommerce platforms dedicated specifically to selling handmade goods. Each marketplace has its benefits and downsides, and while one may be right for your business, the other may not be as good a fit. To see which one is best for your handmade business, we’ve put together a short overview of each marketplace, and a list of product categories so you know what you can sell on each one.
What is Amazon Handmade?
From a seller’s perspective, Amazon Handmade operates as a completely separate ecommerce platform within Amazon, and is dedicated solely to sellers selling handmade goods. Similarly to how Amazon Pharmacy has its own interface, application process, and policies that are distinct form Amazon’s more general retail platform, so does Amazon Handmade. Sellers looking to sell on Amazon Handmade will need to submit an application and wait for approval, and are subject to audits in order to ensure that the items they list are genuinely handmade.
Types of Products You Can Sell on Amazon Handmade
Amazon Handmade offers a select few product categories of handmade goods that can be sold on the platform. These are:
- Shoes and Handbags
- Jewelry and Watches
- Beauty and Personal Care
- Kitchen and Dining
- Outdoor and Home Care
- Pet Supplies
- Toys and Games
- Stationery and Party Supplies
- Sporting Goods
Note the absence of all Digital & Downloadable Products, including downloadable art prints and sewing patterns, as well as Food & Grocery items and Electronics. You may still be able to sell some of these items on the broader Amazon platform, but you won’t be able to sell them via Amazon Handmade. Learn more about getting started on Amazon Handmade here.
What is Etsy?
As opposed to Amazon Handmade, Etsy is an entire ecommerce platform dedicated to handmade goods, vintage items, and craft supplies. As a marketplace, it was founded as an online take on traditional craft fairs, and since its founding in 2005, it has remained true to those roots. For sellers, Etsy offers a much broader selection of product categories to choose from when compared to Amazon Handmade, and has no vetting process for your items.
Types of Products You Can Sell on Etsy
Etsy enables sellers to sell more items on the platform in comparison to Amazon Handmade. On Etsy, you’ll be able to sell items in the following product categories:
- Books, Movies, and Music
- Home and Living
- Toys and Games
- Craft Supplies and Tools
- Art and Collectibles
- Electronics and Accessories
- Bags and Purses
- Paper and Party Supplies
- Pet Supplies
- Bath and Beauty
While Etsy does enable sellers to list a greater variety of items on a broader selection of product categories, the platform does prohibit the sale of certain items, restrict the sale of others including certain services, and stipulates specific guidelines on what qualifies as vintage.
Comparison of Amazon Handmade vs Etsy
Both Etsy and Amazon Handmade are great options for sellers looking to sell their handmade creations, but each platform has its own unique features, benefits, and limitations. Amazon Handmade is a specialized section that’s part of an already robust, well-known, and well-trusted marketplace, but it can be hard getting your foot in the door. On the other hand, Etsy has fewer barriers of entry for sellers, but that can also mean increasingly fierce competition with new sellers.
Below, we’ll compare the two platforms on several important points to help you make the best choice for your business.
1. Potential Customers and Market Share
When choosing a platform for your online store, it’s important to analyze potential platforms to see if their market share and customer base are a good fit for the products you’ll be selling. In this section, we’ll look at Amazon and Etsy’s market share, analyze each marketplace from the perspective of their respective customer base, and examine what buyers look for on each platform.
As previously mentioned, Etsy is the largest marketplace specifically created for selling handmade, vintage, and craft-related goods. As such, Etsy is oftentimes the go-to for buyers looking for handmade items, with over 96 million active buyers on the platform. While this is a significant chunk of buyers looking for handmade goods, it also means a significant amount of competition from the platform’s ever-growing 7.5 million-strong seller base.
As you’re likely aware, Amazon has the largest market share of all online platforms – 37.8% of the entire ecommerce market in Q4 of 2022 – but that impressive market share doesn’t necessarily translate to Amazon Handmade. Amazon recognizes this, and has decided to lean into this boutique niche by taking measures to ensure that its Handmade platform allows only sellers selling certifiably handcrafted items. Because of this, it may be more difficult for you to get started on Amazon Handmade, but it also means that you’ll be targeting a more niche customer base when compared to Etsy – one that’s willing to pay a premium for their very own unique handmade piece.
2. Inventory and Listing Management
Inventory management may not be the first thing on your mind when selecting a platform to sell your products, but it’s a significant factor that will affect every aspect of your day-to-day store management. If you’re not currently using a third-party listing management system like ExportYourStore, you’ll need to carefully consider the inventory management tools each marketplace has to offer, and see how they fit into the unique needs of your business.
As a platform, Etsy offloads stock management on to sellers – sellers can upload whatever listings they want, and it’s up to the seller to ensure that the items they’re selling are indeed available. Furthermore, while using SKUs is entirely optional on Etsy, it is highly recommended even if you’re just starting out to ensure easier management and more seamless scalability. If you have more than an order or two a day, however, you’ll likely want to take advantage of a third-party inventory and listing manager to completely manage your inventory and listings from one place.
Like Etsy, Amazon generally does not provide a platform for sellers to manage their inventory. The only exception is for sellers who’ve chosen to partner with Amazon through the Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) program. For sellers who don’t use FBA exclusively for all their inventory and fulfillment needs, a third-party inventory and listing management system is a great way to stay on top of inventory.
3. Shipping and Order Fulfillment Requirements
Another important thing to consider when choosing your selling platform are how it helps sellers fulfill and ship orders, as well as the shipping and fulfillment requirements you’ll need to meet in order to sell on the platform. In this section, we’ll take a quick look at the order fulfillment solutions each platform offers, and touch on some of the required shipping and fulfillment guidelines you’ll need to adhere to in order to sell on each marketplace.
Etsy has a shipping partnership program known as Etsy Shipping, which offers sellers on Etsy a handful of perks and benefits when it comes to shipping orders out to their customers. Etsy has partnered with USPS, FedEx, and Canada Post to make the process of generating labels with these shipping services easy and seamless, directly through your Etsy selling account. The rates offered through the Etsy Shipping program can help you save up to 30% on shipping costs, with available shipping to 150 countries worldwide. Plus, Etsy lets you configure (and even bulk configure) shipping profiles – preset shipping templates for certain items – so you can more easily manage shipping and fulfillment as your store grows.
In terms of requirements, Etsy requires you to input an estimated delivery date (calculated as processing time plus transit time) for each listing. And while you won’t be required by Etsy to input a tracking number for your orders, it’s recommended that you ship every order with tracking for two reasons: (1) Star Seller eligibility and (2) qualification for Etsy Purchase Protection.
In addition to the Fulfillment by Amazon program mentioned above, where Amazon holds your stock at their fulfillment centers and ships it out to your buyers when an order comes in, Amazon offers sellers who fulfill orders themselves (known either as MFN or FBM) the option of purchasing shipping labels directly through Amazon via the Amazon Buy Shipping program. Amazon Buy Shipping will automatically suggest the most efficient and low-cost shipping service that meets your delivery commitment to your buyer, and comes with a slew of added shipping-related seller protections. Plus, you’ll enjoy automatic tracking uploads to your orders, saving you a good bit of work on closing orders and marking them as shipped.
4. Advertising & Marketing
No matter what you’re selling and no matter which platform you choose, advertising your brand and your products is a great way to give your online business a leg up. Amazon and Etsy both offer robust advertising and marketing solutions for their sellers, both on and off each respective platform.
In this section we’ll do a quick rundown of what each platform offers in terms of marketing and advertising, and help you determine which platform is a better fit for your business.
Etsy’s advertising program is known as Etsy Ads, and it offers sellers a largely hands-off solution to product advertising. You determine your daily budget, and Etsy will optimize this budget for the highest return. Etsy recommends letting your ads and budget run for a minimum of 30 days undisturbed to allow the algorithm to collect enough data from users in order to best optimize your ads.
An important thing to note before trying out Etsy ads is that, in order to get the most out of your ad campaigns and budget, your Etsy listings absolutely must be search engine optimized. This is because Etsy uses all the SEO data you input into your listings, such as product tags, to determine in which searches your ads will appear. If you do not optimize your listings appropriately, you run the risk of getting your ads placed in irrelevant search queries and rendering them ineffective.
Etsy also has a robust offsite ads program, which has the added benefit of requiring no work at all from you. All sellers are automatically enrolled in the program, and sellers whose stores made less than $10,000 USD in the previous 365-day period are eligible to opt out of offsite ads. Fees are determined by your store’s 356-day revenue period: stores that made less than $10,000 USD in that period will be charged a 15% fee for an order than resulted from an offsite ad, while stores that made more than the $10,000 USD threshold will be charged a 12% fee for each resulting order. Read more about Etsy’s offline ads here.
Amazon offers a wide range of advertising and marketing options for a variety of sellers, and it may initially seem overwhelming trying to parse through all the information to get just what you need. We’ll take a look only at the advertising programs that will be relevant to you as a seller selling your own handmade goods, and help you make sense of Amazon’s selection of advanced advertising programs.
First, we’ll take a look at the most basic and straightforward advertising program, a CPC (also known as PPC) product advertising program called Amazon Sponsored Products. This program lets you select the product listings you wish to promote, input your bid (that is, the maximum amount you’re willing to pay to have your ad displayed), and define the duration of your campaign. Read more about Amazon Sponsored Products here.
Working on the same CPC model, Amazon’s Sponsored Brands is a great tool for sellers who sell their own branded handmade goods. This program works much in the same way as Amazon Sponsored Products, but with one major difference – you’re promoting your entire brand, not just select listings. You’ll be able to create custom ad creatives, which, when clicked, will direct buyers to the store landing page you designate (home page, best-selling products, etc.). Read more about Amazon Sponsored Brands here.
For an option that includes offsite ads too, Amazon offers the Sponsored Display Ads program. This program works either on a CPC-basis or on an impressions-based vCPM basis (cost per thousand viewable impressions). This program includes both automatically generated and custom ad creatives, allowing you to choose exactly what will be displayed to potential buyers. Read more about the Sponsored Display program here.
For sellers interested in establishing their brand, Amazon’s storefront option is a great way to make a great first impression on buyers. This program allows you to create and customize your very own storefront on Amazon, helping you establish your brand’s look and feel. Paired with the aforementioned Amazon Sponsored brands, this is a great tool for establishing brand trust and awareness. Note that this option is available only to sellers who are enrolled in Amazon’s Brand Registry, however.
5. Pricing and Fees
Pricing and selling fees are usually the first thing people consider when deciding whether they should sell their handmade goods on Amazon Handmade or Etsy. As you’ve probably gathered by now, there is not a simple answer as to which one is better or cheaper – it’s very dependent on your selling volume and associated costs.
Etsy has a flat listing fee of $0.20 per new or renewed listing, yet it has no fee for opening an Etsy store. For every sale you make, Etsy will take a transaction fee of 6.5% from the total of your sale (item, shipping, and gift-wrapping). If you use Etsy Payments, you’ll also have to pay a payment processing fee, which is calculated based on the location of your store’s associated bank account.
You can read about additional fees for opt-in programs on Etsy, as well as country-specific fees, here.
Sellers who wish to sign up for Amazon handmade can only sign up for the Professional selling plan, which costs $39.99 per month for sellers on the platform. On Amazon Handmade, this fee will be waived for approved artisans after the first month.
Additionally, you’ll pay what is known as a Referral Fee. This fee is Amazon’s cut from each sale, and is determined by the category of the item sold. For all categories eligible for Amazon Handmade, the referral fee is 15%.
Pros and Cons of Amazon Handmade vs Etsy
If you’ve made it this far, your head is probably spinning from all the information you’ve just read. There are so many factors to take into account, with endless opinions and perspectives on each.
To try to make sense of all this information for you, we’ve put together a table comparing selling on Amazon Handmade vs Etsy on several points. This table is not meant to be an exhaustive comparison, but rather a useful tool to help you compare the two platforms on several key points.
Providing Customer Service on Amazon Handmade vs Etsy
Whether it’s during the setup of your store, resolving a buyer claim, or fixing a technical issue, you’ll find yourself needing support from your marketplace of choice sooner or later. No matter the marketplace, you’ll find sellers from each one complaining about the lack of support for sellers, the slow response times, and the difficulty getting assistance with complex issues. Unfortunately, this is a reality of selling online – getting good seller support is a complete crap shoot.
Comparing customer service on Amazon Handmade vs Etsy, both platforms have largely similar customer service options. Etsy lets you contact support via chat, phone, or email, but the communication options you’ll have available are determined by the nature of your query. Amazon, on the other hand, only offers support via phone or email. Phone support is also available through the Amazon seller app, which offers a slightly more convenient process than navigating through the desktop version.
Both marketplaces have robust help centers with thorough articles that cover a variety of topics, and active seller forums where you can request help from other sellers.
Product Quality Comparison Between Amazon Handmade and Etsy
While both marketplaces specialize in similar products, only Amazon Handmade vets and audits the products on their platform. As such, buyers on the platform can be mostly certain that what they’re buying was made by hand. There are still sellers who will try to pass off mass produced goods as handmade, but Amazon makes a proactive effort to mitigate this problem.
Etsy, on the other hand, has had an influx of dropshippers in recent years. Although it is explicitly against marketplace policy, these sellers will resell low quality, mass-produced items and try to pass them off as genuine handmade goods. Buyers are becoming more aware of this type of seller on Etsy, and the marketplace’s reputation has suffered somewhat as a result. The other side of this coin, however, is that sellers who sell genuine and high-quality handmade goods are already ahead of the curve!
Final Thoughts: Which one is Better?
Both Amazon Handmade and Etsy are well-established marketplaces for selling handmade goods, with each one being a good fit for different types of sellers. If you’re just getting started in the ecommerce world and want to get a taste of selling your handmade items online, Etsy offers an easy and straightforward process that you can start today. If you’re interested in establishing and protecting your brand, however, Amazon Handmade is the way to go. You’ll spend more time getting vetted and verified, but you’ll enjoy a more brand-focused selling experience.
FAQ for Selling on Amazon Handmade vs Etsy
Q: What is the difference between Amazon Handmade and Etsy?
Amazon Handmade is a subset of the larger Amazon marketplace that specializes in selling exclusively handmade goods. All sellers who wish to sell on Amazon Handmade must first go through an approval process, and are restricted to selling in a select few product categories.
Etsy is a standalone marketplace that was modeled after traditional craft fairs and specializes in handmade goods, vintage items, and craft supplies. Etsy has a wider range of categories to accommodate a larger range of artisans and sellers, and does not require verification in order to start selling.
Q: What type of products can you sell on Amazon Handmade and Etsy?
Amazon Handmade restricts sellers to selling products in the Artwork, Clothing, Shoes & Handbags, Jewelry & Watches, Home, Beauty & Personal Care, Baby, Kitchen & Dining, Outdoor & Home Care, Pet Supplies, Toys & Games, Stationery & Party Supplies, Sporting Goods, and Accessories categories.
Etsy has a wider range of categories, and lets sellers list products in the Accessories, Clothing, Home & Living, Shoes, Toys & Games, Weddings, Craft Supplies & Tools, Art & Collectibles, Electronics & Accessories, Jewelry, Bags & Purses, Paper & Party Supplies, Pet Supplies, Bath & Beauty, and Books, Movies, & Music categories.
Q: What are the fees associated with Amazon Handmade and Etsy?
Etsy has three basic fee categories: listing fees, transaction fees, and payment processing fees. Listing fees are a flat rate of $0.20 per listing. Transaction fees are 6.5% of the total order amount. Payment processing fees are a percentage plus a flat rate that varies by country. For US sellers, the rate is 3% + $0.25 per payment.
Amazon Handmade charges a 15% referral fee on each item sold. There are no listing fees or payment processing fees. Your monthly $39.99 Professional seller account fee will also be waived after the first month.
Q: Can I sell my Etsy store products on my Amazon Handmade store?
Not all products eligible for sale on Etsy are also eligible for sale on Amazon Handmade. Vintage items, digital downloads, and certain craft supplies that are fair game on Etsy cannot be sold on Amazon Handmade, so you’ll need to ensure that the Etsy items you wish to cross-list are eligible for sale on Amazon Handmade in advance.
Q: Can I sell handmade jewelry on Amazon Handmade?
Yes! Amazon Handmade has a specific Jewelry category, with many subcategories divided by material, type of jewelry, and metal type. Note that you’ll need to have your jewelry authenticated as truly handmade before you’re able to list it on Amazon Handmade, however.