Friday, July 28, 2017

Better Not Leave Home

I was talking with a good friend of mine about our  blog and she is the most uplifting person I've ever known.  She encouraged me to start writing more in here so  here I am and today we are going to talk about Shopify versus Etsy.

As you may remember in our ongoing drama, Sandy, Linda, and I decided we'd had it with all of the changes on Etsy along with having absolutely NO control of our websites and for that matter, of our promotions or customer relations. And it is damned frustrating as 98% of us know.  The constant "tests" they run, awakening to find a message telling us to do this or that differently, it is NOT ideal. HOWEVER ..... let's look at other places (I'm sorta like a gypsy, roaming around and trying different sites). 

I had read about Shopify for over a year and everything I heard was wonderful.  AND Shopify is NOT bad ... its' the best site I've found but it's only for those who have lots of expendable cash and can BUY every app they offer, and for those of you who have the utmost patience, AND for those of you who are ready to start all over, from scratch, just like starting over at Etsy again.  Remember those slow days, weeks, and months until sales started coming in on Etsy? And then how long it took to get a LOT of sales each week?  Well, I can say from experience, I grew my shoppers much faster on Etsy than on Shopify.  AND we all three had mailing lists and emailed all of our existing customers. 

I did the building and it took me about three months.  IF you are a computer guru (and I'm pretty darned good) you might be able to do it in two months, but I doubt it.  The one GREAT, absolutely GREAT thing about Shopify is their support and service.  I called them more times than I'd ever called my kids when they moved to their first apartments!!  In fact, I'm sure the support personnel knew who was calling when they heard my voice.  It was awful .... I would be flying along, getting one part of the site set up and then I'd hit a snag; time to call.  They would explain what I'd done wrong and would remote in to show me things.  But picture yourself thrown into completely new environment after spending months or years in another -- nothing LOOKS the same, the terminology from the techs is different (small example -- home page, front page, title page are all different there). 

Then I had already tried WIX where you can import your items and which was a disaster ... so we did NOT import at Shopify -- we spent another three months copying our things over.  THEN messages pop up daily about "trying this" or "trying that" to "grow your audience".  AND they are NOT inexpensive. Google is like a big green monster waiting to get you into his/her talons ... been there, done THAT.  There are so many apps which Shopify talks about .... and we did end up paying for one which was in-house marketing --- at this point about six months had gone by. 

The day we opened we emailed our customers.  In the first week we had six sales (between the three of us -- actually between two of  us).  Then we sat.  We sat for months.  We sat for a few more months. I am NOT one to keep emailing my shoppers and neither are Sandy or Linda ... so we sat.  One of Sandy's reeally great customers followed her to Shopify and she DID have quite a few sales to her,  but the shopper herself said she found Etsy easier to use. 

It took me MONTHS to be able to move around in the shop without having to stop and think "now where do I go next?"  BUT the big thing was  NO TRAFFIC. I know Etsy's search is a mess but at least there ARE shoppers who come through every day.  AND if you've built a relationship WITH your shoppers they WILL find you. 

IF you go to another site to build your shop, it's up to YOU AND your POCKETBOOK to drive traffic.  AND sales are always slow in a new place so your pocketbook gets more and more slim.  PLUS no stand alone website is as intuitive as Etsy for the shoppers.    

If you happen to watch "The Sharks", nearly all of the websites of the contestants they invest in are built on Shopify.  BUT The Shark's technical team builds the website and teaches the store owner how to use it.  MUCH easier than on your own and trying to teach two other people what to do .. and two of them findings things and telling me about it.

SO we moved back and I sent another email to my shoppers .... and within a week my sales were back to normal.  Several of them told me they were sorry they hadn't bought in our new shop and all gave the same reason .... shopping on Etsy seems "safe" and "easy".  They hurried to say they did not mistrust me because most of my shoppers have been to my shop a lot more than once ... but they didn't like the idea of "putting their money" into someplace whose name they didn't even know (we had simply called it our website, which is what it was).   

AND I may yet again try Shopify but I've learned one extremely important lesson -- bounce around the internet. Look at shops.  And IF you decide to try another site, have only ONE kind of inventory. I have all of my "categories" in Etsy filled with very different items -- sort of like a department store. THAT does NOT work anywhere on the web (except for Amazon and Etsy).  If you specialize in one item your chances of success are better.  If you have enough money put back to buy into all of the Shopify  apps AND into google, your chances of success are much better.  (and I'm talking LOTS of money --- some of the apps are $100 a month).  AND if you do handmade and you have to sometimes fill "custom orders" forget it.  People shopping on-line are NOT going to wait for a custom order unless you are in Etsy where many things ARE handmade and they are expecting  the delay. 

I am definitely NOT an Etsy fan but after trying (I'm counting) four other sites, with the most time spent at Shopify, I would think long and hard before leaving Etsy.  You may, however, find a shop with my name on it out there it the gruesome internet -- but you will find only ONE kind of item in it!

my shop:  AnnsWhimsey  https://www.etsy.com/shop/annswhimsey


4 comments:

  1. Thanks for all the excellent information. As a frustrated Etsy seller, I too was looking to make the move to a different platform, but unlike Ann I did not have the time or the skill set to do so. It is good to know that in this case the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side. This article is a big service for anyone who is even thinking of ditching their Etsy shop.

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  2. Thank YOU, Patty. I'm glad it helped and thank YOU for inspiring me to write this! Ann

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  3. I was there for a few months. It was HARD to set up. I read their tutorials, Goggled how tos, wrote everything down..pause write..pause write..and got it set up. The shipping was so hard to figure out I ended up doing "shipping included". I made a few saless but it was not worth what I was paying. I discovered driving traffic to my own site is NOT my deal. We sell on Etsy and Ebay and I am considering a Pattern shop..cheaper than Shopify, easier and I can promote it in my Etsy listings and via Pinterest and Instagram. I am hoping Etsy eventually adds live links from our shops to our Pattern shops.

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  4. GOOGLED not goggled..forpetesake..lol

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