The tumultuous first half of 2017 has left many handmade businesses wondering about alternatives to Etsy. Changes at the top, layoffs, and a spate of new “experiments” all add to the normal level of uncertainty among sellers. It’s never a good idea to rely on a single sales channel for your business, but the question is what to supplement Etsy with? Setting up your own website gives you the best insurance, but marketplaces have their benefits as well. Read on to see how some of the top marketplaces compare to Etsy in terms of quantity, and quality, of customer traffic. Is one right for you?
If you’re going to make the effort to add another marketplace to your handmade business’s selling channels, you want to make sure that all that work will pay off. Online marketplaces are understandably secretive about things like average monthly sales, number of customers, and average revenue per shop. But we can use website traffic to get an idea of how many people visit the different marketplaces, and whether they are sticking around and becoming customers.
This article compares eBay, Amazon Handmade, Aftcra, Artyah, Zibbet, and Artfire to Etsy. You should also consider the expenses of starting and running a shop on each platform, which you can do with my free eCommerce Fee Calculator.
Alternatives to Etsy: Alexa Traffic Rank
You’ve probably heard of Amazon Alexa. No, not that Amazon Alexa, this Amazon Alexa. Long before Amazon decided to call their personal assistant “Alexa”, they bought another company called Alexa that gathers and aggregates data on traffic for thousands of websites all over the internet.
Alexa’s Traffic Rank score is a 3-month running average of daily visitors and pageviews on a website. The best possible score is 1 (Google.com pretty much owns the top position). Let’s look at how the Alexa Traffic Ranks of the different Marketplaces compare to Etsy’s:
It really is no contest. Etsy has a respectable score of 195, while eBay and Amazon are even higher. In the grand scheme of things Artfire’s and Zibbet’s scores aren’t bad, but then we jump down two orders of magnitude to where Aftcra and Artyah are ranked. Their scores are so low that to include them in the chart made Etsy, eBay, and Amazon’s scores essentially invisible.
Now remember, this just measures how many people visit these sites, and how many pages those people view. It doesn’t tell us anything about how many of those visitors actually buy something. The next charts will help us understand that better.
Alternatives to Etsy: Bounce Rate
“Bounce Rate” is, sadly, not as fun as it sounds. It measures how many people visit a website and then leave after viewing only one page. Google can penalize sites with high bounce rates, because to Google a high bounce rate is an indication that the site does not match the expectations of the person searching Google.
None of the sites compared have terrible bounce rates, but Etsy, eBay, and Amazon all have a sizable advantage over Aftcra, Artyah, Zibbet, and Artfire. This is an indication that a relatively high percentage of people are not sticking around on those marketplaces long enough to buy anything.
Alternatives to Etsy: Average Session Duration
Another key measure is how long visitors stay on a site. A long “session duration” means that they are interested in what they see and are taking the time to read pages (or product descriptions).
eBay comes out the winner on this metric at 9 minutes, 50 seconds. Etsy, Amazon, and Artyah, and Zibbet all have good numbers as well. Aftcra and Artfire, however, are not keeping visitors around long enough, on average, for them to make very many purchase.
Note that this (and Bounce Rate) are affected by more than just the quality of the products being offered. The designs of the sites themselves are a huge influence on how long people stick around. A confusing site will send visitors back to Google, while one that makes it easy for people to find what they are looking for, or discover new things they didn’t know they needed, will keep visitors engaged long enough to turn them into customers.
Alternatives to Etsy: Pages per Session
Combining this metric with Average Session Duration gives us a fairly detailed view into visitor behavior, and how likely it is that they made purchases. Many pages over a long period of time means deep engagement, while many pages over a short period of time can indicate user confusion: lots of clicking on the “back” button when pages don’t show what they expect them to.
eBay wins again, but none of the sites show results that are out of line with their Average Session Duration scores. People are confused, dissatisfied, or both by what Aftcra and Artfire are showing them, and I imagine that those emotions are not ones you want potential customers to associate with your products.
Alternatives to Etsy: Which One to Pick?
The data in this article is only one factor in deciding whether to sell on a specific marketplace. As I mentioned above, cost is another. So is competition: rising to the top in large and competitive marketplaces like Amazon Handmade or eBay takes more than it does on a smaller community like Artyah.
All other things being equal Zibbet and Artyah both look like good “indy” options. And if you want to go big, Amazon Handmade has a tighter focus and more positive consumer reputation than eBay. But don’t forget that having your own website along with stores on other marketplaces is the strongest position you can put your handmade business in.
Do you have personal experience with these marketplaces, or with other alternatives to Etsy that I didn’t cover? Send me a note and share your opinions—your stories will help me make this article better.
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