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From Etsy to Shopify: The Dawn of New Brands

Digital transformation does not only concern large organizations. Small businesses now feel the urge to leverage digital at its fullest.

A good example is how some Etsy vendors are transforming. Many of us use Etsy, love Etsy, and are very happy to see how the community grew over the years.

As a customer, we now have a plethora of choices and it is even sometimes difficult to narrow down as some vendors offer the same products so usually you go for those that are showing up in the first few pages.

As a vendor, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get visibility. Vendors from overseas, vendors who are offering products that are not handmade, and vendors who are selling similar products as theirs are all trying to find their way in this vast pond. What tactics do these small businesses have available to them?


We see more and more of these vendors building their own sites. Esty actually developed for them the eCommerce platform called Pattern that helps them easily create a site of their own and connect to their Etsy store inventory.

Pattern advantages:

  • Easy to do it yourself

  • Connect with Etsy store quickly

Pattern drawbacks:

  • It is extremely limited

  • You continue paying the Etsy listing fees

  • Monthly fees


Others decide to take on the full transformation and develop their own eCommerce business on Shopify.

Shopify advantages:

  • No Etsy listing fees

  • Inventory is maintained into Shopify and can be updated in real-time with your Etsy store

  • All eCommerce functionalities you may need, including international

  • Scalable

  • Cheaper in the longer run

Shopify drawbacks:

  • You need to be willing to make a commitment

  • Implementation fees

  • Monthly fees

Below is a cost comparison of the two platforms:


The next step in the transformation is now to put the brand on the market and start with digital marketing. There is no magic wand to this one. Some might be lured by some Ads on Facebook saying that they have the magic formula to grow the business, just buy their course and you will get the miracle recipe (By the way, I find it unethical to sell such things to small businesses that are doomed to fail. If I take a welding course, it does not make me an expert of it) but marketing is actually becoming more difficult with digital. The three main drivers of digital marketing are:

  1. PERSISTENCE: no marketing will create miracles for a business in a couple of weeks. The brand needs to be present where customers are, meaning on different channels (Display Ads, SEO, Social, Affiliates, PR…), and stay consistent over time. There used to be the rule of 7, saying that a customer needs to be exposed to the brand 7 times before they buy the product. With digital, this number is higher because customers are bombarded every day with ads. I estimated that this number is probably higher than 10 times today. More importantly, it is about how the message is delivered to the customer. Not all supports and formats are alike.

  2. TESTING: Brands need to find what works best and where, for each customer. It is therefore important to test and test again, different copies, different positioning, different images, on different channels, for different audiences. People react to different ‘’sentiments’’, presented to them at different times. To get the customer, you need to be at the right place, at the right time, and with the right message. Testing is a very important component of digital marketing as you never know where the customer is.

  3. RETARGETING: I think that retargeting is also extremely important. If a customer took a single action in favor of your brand (clicked on one of the ads and got redirected to your site, for example), they need to be reminded about your brand very quickly and very often so that it stays top of mind. Once you get your customer to take a minuscule action, you should never let them go. Having a strategy to retarget customers based on the actions they are taking is what CRM systems are helping brands do. If you have fewer means and cannot afford a CRM, nothing prevents you from retargeting and reconnecting with your customers at different points of their journey.

At this stage of transformation, other components need to be considered, one being shipping. Many years ago, I was already saying how important free shipping was. I still believe it is at the heart of the war for lots of e-tailers. Free shipping equals more sales. The ROI might not seem that compelling in the very short term but it will be in the longer run. Customers want to get, more and more, what they want and when they want it. If they think about getting product A now, they will order it and if tomorrow they think about B they will order it too. If now, they have to think about grouping their orders, you are giving them more time to look somewhere else, to rethink their order, and to let their need wind down.

Amazon has always been the king at delivery and it is obvious how much emphasis they put on it (multiplication of warehouses, drones delivery, Prime…). These past months, you can see that they are also pushing more for overnight delivery by dropping the overnight price to $2.99. For such a bargain, everyone will be ready to pay this extra amount to have their product delivered faster. In this era of the ‘’right there, right now’’, customers will go with who gets it to them the fastest. If picking it up at the store is faster, they will do so. Most will even look for where they get the product faster before they sometimes even do a price comparison. The pricing war is no longer easy to win but the delivery is still achievable (that said, not for very long).

The great advantage that these small brands have is Generation Z coming to maturity as consumers. They like non-conformism, they prefer smaller brands, they favor brands with values, and are looking for personalized quality products. A large transformation to move from an Etsy vendor to a brand does make more sense than ever.

Note: Ask us how DeadBrandWalking started its transformation as an Etsy vendor.


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