If you do any kind of online shopping, I am sure you have come across an Etsy store, these are often more arty and crafty looking stores which use calming pastel colors….you know the drill 🙂 Surely, each one of these stores is put up by people hand making their wares, right? Well, you might be surprised to find out how many of these stores are in fact NOT setup in this way! Today we will answer some major questions “How to dropship on Etsy?” and “Can you even dropship on Etsy?”. If you are interested, read on 🙂
To start with, does Etsy allow drop shipping?
Well, this is a complicated question because the answer is both yes and no. I will show you how to dropship on Etsy, but I will explain more about this later.
If you are a dropshipper, you certainly want to have more exposure. Today, I will teach you the following:
- What is Etsy
- Dropshipping policies on Etsy
- Steps to dropship on Etsy
- How to market your Etsy store
In the end, you should have enough information about how you can dropship on Etsy; you will even know whether Etsy is the right place for you to dropship or not.
What is Etsy?
Etsy is an online marketplace like Amazon and eBay. Here, sellers post their items, and the buyers surf through the various offerings.
The main difference between Etsy and other marketplaces is that Etsy is focused on unique items—items that the seller made by hand. On Etsy, you cannot sell mass manufactured goods. What this means is that you cannot sell anything that was made by machines.
So, what can you sell?
You can sell art, handcrafted goods, stickers, and art and handicraft materials. Etsy is a niche-based marketplace, not a generic marketplace like Amazon.
Etsy has been around since 2005. It was founded in Brooklyn, New York, and it highly values peer to peer or customer to customer sales. The company was built to support micro-businesses, not giant manufacturers.
This is why dropshipping on Etsy is reserved to products that are made per order, not mass manufactured. Ideally, the product must be made by the seller, but this principle does not apply all the time.
Dropshipping policies on Etsy
Etsy does not have specific policies about dropshipping, unlike eBay. Amazon, on the other hand, does not mind dropshipping.
Etsy is not entirely against dropshipping. Here are some of the things that you need to know:
- Your product must not be mass-manufactured by companies
- Your product must be a work of art, or it must be a vintage piece
- Your product must be handcrafted
If your product does not meet any of these specifications, you may get into trouble. If you are a dropshipper, you will not be able to sell a wide range of items on the platform.
When we say vintage, it has to be at least 20 years old, not vintage-looking. In this case, you must be a real antique collector to be able to sell on Etsy.
On the other hand, you can still sell products that you did not make, provided that you designed these items. A good example is print-on-demand products.
Print-on-demand, or POD, are products where the supplier prints the item. You, the seller, are responsible for designing the item.
The POD business model looks this way:
- You sign up for a POD account – an example is Printful
- You create designs on Printful
- You create the mock-up
- You build your store on Etsy
- You post your products on Etsy
- Customer buys
- You order the item from the supplier
- Supplier prints the item
- Supplier ships the item to your consumer
As you can see, this business model is going to work. You do not need any capital because POD companies do not charge you money. You only pay for the item if you place an order. On Etsy, this model is allowed.
Because you are still an artist. The products you sell are not mass manufactured. In the POD business model, it is you who design the product, and they are made ONLY AFTER an order is placed.
Now, even if you do the POD business model, there are things that you cannot dropship on the platform. Let us take a look at each of them:
- Drugs or tobacco paraphernalia – you cannot sell handcrafted goods on Etsy for anything that falls under this category.
- Dangerous Items – even if you can find POD suppliers for knives, you cannot sell it on Etsy.
- Hate items – you cannot sell any item whose design glorifies hatred; what this means is that the designs of your POD products must be neutral and must not incite hate
- Promoting illegal activity – if you sell mugs or shirts in a POD business model, the print must not promote illegal activities like drugs, prostitution, murder, etc.
- Mature content – you cannot sell any handcrafted item that has mature content, pornography, and child pornography or anything related to it.
Also, you cannot sell anything that inspires violence. If you sell hoodies and blankets, they must not have any content that tells people to hurt others.
As you can see, you can dropship on Etsy. However, your options are pretty limited. You will need to be creative to make this happen. Your best bet if you want to make money in Etsy via dropshipping is print on demand.
Pros and Cons of Dropshipping on Etsy
Before you decide whether you should dropship on the Etsy platform or not, let us take a look at the pros and cons.
- Large market – there are 45 million active buyers on the platform. Since Etsy is a niche marketplace, the people who come here have an intent to buy—they are looking for something in particular. They want handmade items, and this is your opportunity to dropship to these customers—you no longer have to build your own traffic.
- Analytics – the platform has built-in analytics for sellers. As such, you can make decisions based on data, not speculation or guess work. The dashboard allows you to view your stats and your sales. You can also view stats per product, not as a group.
- Easy to set-up – if you build your own dropshipping store, you need to choose a platform that you know how to use. You can build on several platforms like Shopify, Wix, and even on WordPress with WooCommerce. The problem with these platforms is that you need to build the store from scratch. You need to understand web design to be able to build a professional store.
- Limited products to sell – on Etsy, you cannot sell anything you want. As discussed earlier, you can only sell handcrafted and vintage items. You can also sell crafting materials, but Etsy will question you about the source of these products, and whether or not they have a bad environmental impact.
- You have to pay fees – there are fees that you have to pay. Each listing costs about $0.20. if you make a sale, Etsy is going to take 5% of your sale. This 5% is for the total gross sale. If you charge gift-wrapping and shipping fees, Etsy will still charge 5% from that. If you choose Etsy to process payments for you, it will charge 3% of the transaction plus $0.25. The same fee applies if you charge your customers via PayPal.
- Too saturated – there are over 2 million sellers on the platform. What does this mean? The ratio is 22 to 1. For every 22 customers, there is one seller. This makes the platform too saturated. Because of this, your only real chance in succeeding is by selling crafted goods that are really unique. But if you will sell chandeliers and common stuff like jewelry, you may not make it big on the platform.
Etsy is a great marketplace. But just like any marketplace, there is serious competition here. Before you jump the gun, you have to take a long hard look at your product. Investigate if other people are already selling the same on the platform.
When you find competition, try to see how much the items are being sold for. Ask yourself if you can offer something better, or if you can compete against the price.
Steps to dropship on Etsy
A friend of mine asked me, how do I dropship on Etsy? I have decided to share my answer not only to him but also to you.
Now, let us talk about how you can go about building your Etsy dropshipping store.
Decide on a product – the first thing you have to think about is your product. I have discussed in detail what is allowed and what is not allowed. You can only sell handcrafted materials, supplies for arts and crafts, and products that you designed, even if you did not make them.
Find a supplier – for hand crafting supplies, your best bet is AliExpress. However, make sure that you brand your products. You need to find a supplier who will brand your items as yours. The last thing you want is to get reported by an Etsy buyer as an AliExpress dropshipper. If you want to do print-on-demand, the two biggest companies you can check out are Printful and Printify.
Build your store – the last step to take is to build your store, and I will show you the step-by-step process in how to do it.
- Create an account – go the Etsy homepage. At the bottom, click on the link that says Sell on Etsy. This is going to open a new page. Scroll down a little bit and then click on a button that says Open Your Etsy Shop.
- Select preferences – here, you need to select your preferred currency, language, and the country you are in. It is also in this process where you will choose your shop name. Once done, hit save and continue.
- Set-up your shop – this is the last step where you upload your shop’s banners. You can also set up your shop banner where you can put an announcement, such as a welcome message. Do not forget to put content in your About section.
Once this is done, your next step is to upload your product images or videos. You must also put the product description, as this helps your buyers understand what you are selling. You need to upload your products one by one. Again, the fee per listing is $0.20.
Before you go live, you must also ensure that you have set-up your shipping rates. You can do this in the Etsy settings area. Ideally, you need to dropship in one country at the start only. Many dropshippers get too excited selling their items internationally, and then they get into all sorts of issues. Keep it simple at first and then scale to other countries later.
If you have shop members, you can add their profile in your own profile. Buyers will be able to see that you are a team in your store. Also, you have to take the time to create your shop policies.
What is this?
A shop policy is a set of rules. For example, you can tell your customers about your refund policy. You can specifically say how long your product takes to process, and how long the shipping normally takes. Make sure you cover all aspects of expectations on this page to prevent customers from returning your items.
After all of these have been setup, you can proceed with marketing your Etsy store.
How to Market your Etsy Store
Just because Etsy is a big marketplace does not mean you do not have to do marketing. You still do.
Believe me, your store will get drowned under the products of 2 million other sellers. So, here are some ways by which you can market your Etsy store and improve your conversion rate.
- Social Media – still one of the best marketing tactics out there, social media is free, and you can redirect your followers to your Etsy store. In social media, you should not do hard core selling because people nowadays seem to shun marketers. Instead, focus on publishing content that shows people a lifestyle. You can publish your product photos from time to time, and you can use tools like Hootsuite to schedule your posts.
- Bundling – in Etsy, you can offer a bundle of your products. What you have to do is to take three products and offer them for a lower price. This is one of the most effective techniques because people love to save money. Even big corporations like McDonald’s use bundling as part of their service.
- Paid Ads – if you have the budget, launching paid ads is the fastest route to success. This, however, is best done by experienced marketers. If you are new to this, do not spend a large sum right away. You have to experiment on the platform of your choice, such as Google, Instagram, or Facebook. You also need to do A/B split test. Launch two ads and see which one performs better. Scale up on that ad.
- Influencers – you can go to Instagram and find influencers who will promote your products. Look for micro-influencers, or those who have 1,000 followers. They are more affordable than those who have one million followers. Reach out to the influencer and give a free product in exchange for a shout out. In other cases, the influencer is going to ask for cash.
- Create Freebies – free stuff is always attractive. You can always give something away for free in exchange for a purchase. It is completely up to you what free stuff you want to offer. In a print on demand service, you can offer free shipping or even free small trinkets if your customer buys your main product.
- Create a blog – the last effective way to build an audience is to build a blog. A blog is an asset that will be there forever. You do not have to spend money for a blog—WordPress is free. In your blog posts, put some links to your product description. This should redirect your reader to your Etsy store, and you can make a sale. This does take time to gain traction though.
You should not use all of these marketing techniques, especially if you are just starting out. What you need to do is to select only two or three marketing activities, and then focus our effort on those three. If those three did not work, you need to re-assess your strategy, and then start over again.
So Should I Dropship on Etsy?
If your products fit the Etsy ethos explained in this article, you totally should!
Etsy is a huge marketplace. It has two million sellers, and all of these are selling unique goods and services. Dropshipping is not allowed in general, but there are some kinds of goods that you can dropship.
The key here is to hand-craft your items. Bog standard mass produced AliExpress items are definitely out—but still, you can sell handcrafted or individualized items on the Etsy platform.
If your dropshipping strategy is to sell ready-made products, you can forget about Etsy. It is not the right place to dropship. It is a place where people can sell their unique items. It is not your typical marketplace.