Recently I hit 1000 orders at both Not on the High Street and Etsy, which felt like a bit of a milestone, especially since I don’t really promote either site. Orders are a pretty irrelevant thing to track though since it ignores a lot of other information like how many items were bought per order, whether the buyers come back again and how much profit you make per sale. Either way, it seemed like a good time to do a bit of a compare and contrast on all my online shops.
Not on the High Street
NOTHS is different to the other big marketplaces as you have to pay to join, but it has absolutely been worth the initial investment. I held out over a year after applying until I got a good offer from them, but in retrospect I should have joined earlier even if cost a bit more. November each year has been crazy busy, I usually get an order or two a day even during my usually slow months and I’ve hit 1000 orders within 18 months of setting up shop. The downsides are that the seller admin site is horrible to use, the commission is pretty high and it all seems very impersonal. As mentioned before, I feel very little connection with my buyers and I also get way more grumpy feedback and (unreasonable) complaints than I’ve had on all my other sites put together.
Etsy is my favourite site to sell on at the moment, which has surprised me. These days I would close every one of my other shops before Etsy. Their backend is the best of all the sites I sell on, with things like instant downloads, credit card payments, shipping profiles and stats working exactly how I need them. Most importantly, the buyers are overwhelmingly positive and friendly, leaving nice comments on orders and with a huge percentage taking the time to leave feedback (over 800 people, compared to less than 100 on NOTHS). Sure, the site is rife with trash, copying and underselling and Etsy itself makes some baffling design and business choices, but for me it’s worth it. I think because I no longer sell many actually handmade things, I’ve been less bothered than some about Etsy’s shift towards becoming a sort of nicer Amazon. If they keep spending all their millions on such excellent new seller tools, I’m all for it. NOTHS do far less for all their supposed championing of entrepreneurs.
I’ve been with Folksy since the very beginning and the staff and sellers are all lovely people who care about craft and handmade and having conversations and getting people involved. The problem is that I sell virtually nothing on there any more and I’ve also not had a single person leave feedback since 2012! I would shut my shop, but I have a few loyal buyers there that make it worth the listing fees for a small selection of products, plus I have the honour of being the longest-running Folksy shop. The seller backend has been improving slowly and I would still recommend it to new sellers, especially if you make everything by hand or have a very British appeal.
DaWanda has also been in a bit of a slump for me, but I keep it going as having all my listings available in French, German and Dutch, and promoted heavily in Germany, means almost all the orders I do get are from EU countries and from customers that might not buy from me otherwise. It also has some other great EU-focused features like adding Wirecard for localised credit card and bank transfer payments. I would only really recommend DaWanda if you have the ability (or the relatives!) to translate your listings into a few languages.
My own store has been quiet lately, though it’s still the shop with the most orders overall. A lot of those are for free downloads, but it’s also where my most loyal customers shop, placing much larger orders than other sites. Plus having complete control over almost every aspect of my store means I can try out lots of different things, add fun features and offer buyers better deals. Shopify have been making some really annoying choices with the backend lately, but it’s still definitely worth the investment.
Would be interested to hear if other sellers have the same experience or if different sites are working for you.