When Etsy rolled out their new “Pattern by Etsy” service, everyone in the crafting/artist/maker community’s first question was “What is this? And should I be using it?”.  It was a reminder that, as we’re constantly being told by our ever-increasing cable bills, any number of inspirational decorative pillows, and that cool snack at Trader Joe’s that’s not there any more, the only constant thing in life is change. Especially on the internet. Part Etsy, part Shopify, Pattern changed the whole eCommerce equation again. Or it seemed like it did, anyway. But is the post-Pattern world really that different from the world we lived in before? Is it worth using Pattern by Etsy? And who should use Pattern by Etsy, anyway?

Before we get any deeper into this, let’s review what Pattern by Etsy is. Pattern is a new way for Etsy merchants to display their goods. It’s different in 3 key ways:

  1. The URL can be customized, either as http://yourstore.patternbyetsy.com/ or as your own domain name.
  2. A Pattern store can use one of a handful of unique themes that don’t carry any of the usual Etsy branding or navigation. Sellers can customize the color schemes, typography, and logos on these themes (within limits).
  3. It costs $15 per month on top of Etsy’s regular listing and processing fees.

For existing Etsy users it seems like a pretty sweet deal, right? For a small monthly fee and about half an hour’s worth of work you get your own domain name and a branded storefront of your own, all tied to your existing Etsy catalog. Indeed, the list of pros is mostly about convenience.

Ways in Which Pattern by Etsy is Awesome

  • A Pattern store has access to the same catalog of items as your “regular” Etsy store, so you can have a store under your own domain name with your own branding without having to list everything twice.
  • You can use a Pattern store to sell anything you want—even items that aren’t permitted on “regular” Etsy. Plus, any items that are only sold in your Pattern store are exempt from Etsy’s transaction and listing fees.
  • Pattern stores look to be insanely easy to set up, due to Etsy limiting the configuration options pretty strictly.
  • Pattern stores get to take advantage of Etsy’s payment processing and order fulfillment services—no need to set up and configure third-party payment gateways or shipping label software.
  • You get two stores in one: your regular Etsy store (now with a customizable header image) and your Pattern store. People who only know you as That Cool Print Maker on Etsy can still find you while you build your own brand under your own domain name.
  • Pattern has built-in MailChimp integration, so you can add an opt-in field for your mailing list (and you do have a mailing list, right?) to your checkout form.

So far so good. Unfortunately the biggest thing in Pattern’s favor—it’s still Etsy behind the scenes—is also at the heart of its biggest drawbacks.

Ways in Which Pattern by Etsy is Kind of a Bummer

  • As soon as a customer clicks “Buy Now” they’re back in Etsy-land. Customers must have an Etsy account to make a purchase, and the checkout pages are 99% the same as typical Etsy checkout pages. They have your logo on them but the visual design doesn’t match your Pattern store theme.
  • The $15 a month doesn’t include a custom domain name. Unless you buy one yourself your Pattern site will go online as http://yourstore.patternbyetsy.com/.
  • Pattern only supports tracking and analytics using Etsy’s own service and Google Analytics. So that means no Facebook remarketing pixels or advanced analytics packages.
  • You still have to pay Etsy’s listing and transaction fees on top of the $15 a month fee for any items that are also listed on your regular Etsy Shop. This can make Pattern get expensive quickly.
  • Your options for customization are very limited. That means no custom themes, no plugins or add-ons, and no custom coding.
  • It’s still Etsy behind the scenes, which means that your store still ultimately operates at the pleasure of Etsy. If Etsy changes their terms of service, or pricing, or features, or anything else, you have to live with it or start over somewhere else (this is of course a drawback of any hosted service, but Etsy’s goal with Pattern is to lock their users in even further so it bears repeating).

Who should use Pattern by Etsy?

Pattern is good news if you are an Etsy superstar, making most of your revenue on your Etsy shop. If you’ve registered your own domain and have it redirecting to your Etsy store or you have another site with a duplicate product catalog, bringing it back home to Pattern will make your life easier and will further cement your presence on Etsy. For those people it might be worth using Pattern.

On the other hand, if Etsy is just one piece of your sales, or if your Etsy fees are getting out of hand, or you’re finding that Etsy isn’t sending you the customers you want, or if you don’t want your store to be dependent on the good graces of a single company, Pattern doesn’t look like such a hot deal.

How does Pattern by Etsy stack up against other eCommerce Platforms?

Let’s say that you’re a seller on Etsy, you’re doing well, and are looking to take the next step in growing your business? Is Pattern the right move or should you start looking elsewhere? Let’s go to the chart!

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Over all, Pattern doesn’t change my advice for picking the right eCommerce platform. It’s not sufficiently better than a regular old Etsy store to make it a credible alternative to Shopify, Squarespace, or Weebly, and it can’t match the ultimate in independence—a self-hosted store using a combo like WordPress and Woocommerce.

Since Pattern has the same fees as “classic” Etsy, which can be a big chunk of your revenue if you sell a lot of low-priced items or a small number of high-priced items. Check out my free eCommerce Fee Calculator to see how fees for Etsy, Woocommerce, Shopify, and 9 other eCommerce platforms would affect your own store and see if it’s worth switching your store to another platform.

So just remember the other life lesson that keeps being hammered into our heads by a fleet of refrigerator magnets, the evening’s local news broadcast, and the fact that you never remember to move your car on street sweeping day: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Free Report for Etsy Sellers: Build Your Own eCommerce Online Store Today

Migrating your listings from Etsy to WooCommerce is only one piece of building your own eCommerce store. Download my free guide to all the tools and services you’ll need to build yourself an amazing website and eCommerce store. These are the very same tools, programs, and services I use to build sites for my clients. With this report you’ll be all ready to take your business beyond Etsy and into its next phase of growth:

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Photo by jmawork via Flickr. CC-BY-2.0.