When it comes to selling handmade products online, there are two very popular platforms: Amazon Handmade and Etsy.
Both offer unique benefits and drawbacks, so it can be difficult to decide which one is the best choice for you.
In this blog post, I will give you insight to Amazon Handmade vs Etsy, and help you decide which platform is the best fit for your business based on the types of products that can be sold as well as the overall selling experience.
Read until the end to see the platform I recommend and why!
What are Amazon Handmade and Etsy?
Amazon Handmade is a separate platform from the main Amazon site that helps artisans, crafters and DIY experts sell their products to online shoppers.
It is unclear how many sellers are on Amazon Handmade, but from the 6.3 million reported sellers on the entire Amazon landscape reported by A2X, Handmade sellers are included in that figure. They launched in October 2015.
Since Amazon Handmade had a much later launch than Etsy, many are familiar with Etsy when it comes to selling handmade products.
Aside from handmade products, Etsy is one of the top e-commerce platforms for vintage goods, craft supplies, and a variety of artwork across many categories. It is estimated by Marketplace Pulse that they have 5.20 million sellers. Etsy sellers are most often small businesses that are completely managed by the owners.
Product Categories on Amazon Handmade vs. Etsy
As long as they’re handmade, Amazon allows the sale of products in these categories:
- Artwork / Home Decor
- Beauty & Grooming
- Clothing, Shoes & Accessories
- Handbags & Totes
- Electronics Accessories
- Health & Personal Care
- Jewelry & Watches
- Gifts & Keepsakes
- Pet Supplies
- Home and Kitchen & Dining
- Sports & Outdoors
- Stationery & Party Supplies
- Toys & Games
- Planters & Plant Décor
Read about each category’s guidelines in their Seller Central Help article here.
Slightly different from Amazon Handmade, Etsy provides a list of Top Level categories and a very long list of subcategories.
You will discover that they offer much more than what they market themselves as. In fact, I have been selling on Etsy for almost 4 years now and the products in my store are not handmade.
Etsy’s Top Level categories are:
- Art & Collectibles
- Bags & Purses
- Bath & Beauty
- Books, Movies, & Music
- Craft Supplies & Tools
- Electronics & Accessories
- Home & Living
- Paper & Party Supplies
- Pet Supplies
- Toys & Games
To see Etsy’s subcategories, visit their website here.
Pretty much anything you can think of to create handmade items for is allowed for sale on Amazon Handmade and Etsy!
Consider the available categories for each and which platform is more popular for the category you want to sell in before making a decision!
How is the Selling Experience Different for Each Platform?
Sign Up Process
On Amazon Handmade, hopeful sellers have to undergo a similar process that they would on the main Amazon platform.
However, they have an additional audit process to ensure that their pool of sellers creates genuinely handmade products. You can read about their program eligibility requirements here.
Applying does not guarantee acceptance, so there have been numerous people who report that they get denied selling privileges without understanding or being informed why.
If approved, sellers start by exploring Seller Central and listing their products. If they will be making use of the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) service, then they will create their FBA Shipping plan.
To learn more about FBA for Amazon Handmade, read about it here.
It is significantly easier to sign up as a seller on Etsy than Amazon Handmade.
On Etsy, all you have to do is create an account, open up your Etsy shop with your currency and location, set up your preferred payment method for both paying fees and receiving payments, set up your shop, and finally start listing products through Etsy Shop Manager. You have the option to also invest in advertising on the platform.
You can read more about starting an Etsy shop and their seller policies here.
Just like listing on the main Amazon platform, Amazon Handmade charges a referral fee for each product sold. The referral fee is either a flat percentage rate at around 15%, or a per-item fee which is around $0.30, whichever is greater.
However, FBA fees or shipping charges are separate from the referral fees.
The difference between Amazon Handmade and the main Amazon platform is that the Professional selling plan fee of $39.99 is waived for Handmade sellers once they get approved to sell.
There are several fees involved to sell on Etsy that you have to think about. All of Etsy’s fees are listed exclusive of any value-added tax (VAT) or similar taxes that may apply.
The most significant fees for Etsy shop owner hopefuls include but are not limited to:
- Listing Fee – For each new item listed on the platform, Etsy charges $0.20. This applies regardless of whether the item was posted on their main website or through the mobile app. It is charged whether or not the product sells, and the listing exists for a four-month period. If the seller chooses to renew the listing, there is a $0.20 relisting fee.
- Transaction fee – For each sale on Etsy, sellers are charged a 5% transaction fee of the price that the item is displayed for, plus whatever amount the seller charges for wrapping and shipping the item.
- Payment processing fee – In the US and Australia, Etsy charges 3% + $0.25 per transaction for payment processing. There is a different amount for this fee depending on the country of the seller.
To learn more about the fees not mentioned above, we recommend that you read about them directly in Etsy’s Fees & Payments Policy.
Handmade sellers have the same shipping options as the other sellers on the main Amazon platform.
They can choose to use FBA, which allows them to store their inventory as well as takes care of packing and shipping products for them. There are fees associated with using the FBA service, but it is a huge convenience and is used by 73% of all Amazon sellers.
Otherwise, they could do their own shipping, also known as Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM). This is usually for sellers who don’t get many orders and consider their Handmade store a “side hustle”.
In the case of FBM, the seller is responsible for everything from storing their own inventory, to managing and organizing orders, to packing and shipping the product themselves through their partner courier.
Etsy does not offer its own fulfillment services, but there are other third-party services that can do fulfillment. You can even use Amazon FBA to take care of your Etsy orders!
Otherwise, Etsy sellers are pretty much like FBM sellers. They are responsible for handling all aspects of order fulfillment, from taking care of their inventory to packing and shipping the product themselves.
It does not seem to be much of a problem for most Etsy sellers because they are oftentimes running their businesses from the convenience of their own homes.
Both Amazon and Etsy have advertising programs to allow sellers to invest money to get their products more visible to customers in search results.
Sellers input into the system their relevant search terms so that customers already looking for that kind of item will see their ads.
Because they are based on a bidding system, your advertisements compete against other bids, and costs vary.
Also available for Handmade sellers, Amazon offers sellers several options for advertising products.
- Sponsored Products – Cost per click (CPC) ads that display specific product listings higher in search results to customers. Sellers can choose how much they want to bid per click and set a limit to their daily budget. Afterward, they can track the impact of their ads on sales.
- Sponsored Brands – Ads that promote a seller’s entire store in search results with a headline, brand logo, and featured products. Like Sponsored Products, sellers control how much they want to invest.
- Sponsored Display – Ads that promote a specific product with its photo and name, average reviews, and pricing. They can be seen in product listings under the Buy Box, customer review pages, and underneath product descriptions. However, they can also appear on external websites in varying sizes.
Amazon offers more forms of Advertising that you can read about here, but these three above are the most popular.
Recently, I’ve done an interview with Elizabeth Greene to discuss How to Keep Your Amazon PPC Advertising Campaigns Organized.
Etsy Ads Campaign
- Onsite Ads – They are promoted product listings displayed in the organic search results as well as category and market pages. Sellers start with a maximum budget of $25.00 daily.
- Offsite Ads – These are ads that appear outside of Etsy, such as on Google, Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms to promote a specific Etsy store or listing. They charge differently because Etsy charges a fee of 12-15% of a sale derived from ad clicks. There is no budgeting with Offsite ads, however, Etsy only charges sellers for actual sales, unlike Onsite ads that charge for clicks.
External ads for both Amazon Handmade and Etsy sellers can be a great way to target potential customers who are not already browsing the platforms for items to buy. However, they can also be more expensive than onsite ads, so it is better for established sellers.
What is the Average Seller Income on Amazon Handmade vs. Etsy?
Creating handmade items is a labor of love and a lot of work. It’s important to know what to expect financially before diving into the world of online selling.
At the end of the day, the real question is, how profitable are these platforms?
Are they worth your time and effort?
There is not much specific information on Amazon Handmade sellers’ incomes. The data available for Amazon sellers usually summarizes overall income for all of their selling programs, including Merch, Launchpad, Outlet, and more aside from the main platform.
However, there is data on profit margins. According to OABeans, Handmade sellers have an average of 26% profit margin. Many of the categories in the main Amazon platform have a significantly lower profit margin than this, which is worth thinking about.
You cannot blame Etsy sellers for starting their shop with the intention of just a side hustle, because the average monthly income is a wide range.
The Etsy Conversations Podcast took a poll and their listeners answered that their earnings range from $500 to over $10,000 monthly. Only their podcast listeners answered the poll, so be aware that there may be many sellers whose income is outside of the range.
As you can see, it can either be side income or a means of living. It varies greatly on the products being sold, with some items being much more in demand than others. Seasonal items also very likely make a difference in earnings.
Comparison Table of Amazon Handmade vs. Etsy
|Types of items||Strictly one-of-a-kind, unique, handmade items||Marketed towards handmade, vintage, and crafts lovers. However, many sellers are able to list non-handmade items|
|Customer base||Marketed towards lovers of items from an artisan-only community||Not marketed towards any particular group of people, but the majority of customers are Millennials. More people are aware of Etsy than Amazon Handmade.|
|User-friendliness for sellers||Uses Amazon’s Seller Central||Etsy’s Shop Manager is reportedly easier to use than Amazon’s Seller Central|
|Order speed||Regular shipping and also eligible for Amazon Prime Shipping||If the processing time for an item purchased is 3-5 business days and the shipping method’s typical transit duration is 2-4 business days, the arrival date can be estimated at 5-9 business days from the order date.|
|Order pages (from seller perspective)||Need to click on each individual order to see information such as Notes to Seller, photos, and more||Includes more information than Amazon’s, including Size of Item, Notes to Seller, Product Title and Photo of Item all on one page|
|Product listing process||Read our tutorial for How to Create Amazon Listing Properly||Read Etsy’s article|
|Seller fees||Amazon Handmade requires a Professional selling account on Amazon, which will then be waived if application is approved. Read about it here.||Sellers have reported that fees on Etsy are much more practical and cheaper than on Amazon. Read about them here.|
|Seller support||Email, Phone, and Chat. They respond relatively quickly.||Less convenient than Amazon’s, but is available over the phone, email, and chat|
|Buyer-Seller communication||Amazon provides an encrypted email address to protect the identities of both parties. It can be inconvenient when emails go to their Spam/Junk.|
Read our article about How to Reply to Amazon Messages.
|Sellers can communicate with buyers through Etsy chat as well as their authentic email address, increasing the chance of a response|
|Returns / Exchanges / Refunds||Most sellers do not allow returns of personalized / hand-crafted items. There have been cases where Amazon obliged sellers to accept returns if a customer has made a complaint.||Etsy sellers have freedom to determine their policies regarding refunds, exchanges, and returns as long as they are very clearly stated in their shop.|
|Promotions and Coupons||Sellers can run promotions, create bundles, and coupons. They can also take advantage of Lightning Deals and Prime Day||Sellers can run a sale, create a coupon, and send offers to shoppers|
Where I Recommend You Sell
Since I do not sell through Amazon Handmade, I cannot give you a full look at the experience.
There are still a lot of people who are unaware of Amazon Handmade. Even if they are aware of it, there is the risk of customers merely browsing but ending up purchasing from the main Amazon platform with items that are not even handmade.
Etsy is not even strict about selling handmade items, because I am able to sell all kinds of items there and have been for almost 4 years!
Therefore, I recommend Etsy if you are adamant about establishing yourself for repeated purchases and creative branding. Why? Because sellers have more customer interaction on Etsy, which can lead to establishing a relationship with them!
At the end of the day, it comes down to what kinds of products you will be selling. Do some research to see customer reviews and how profitable your type of item is on each platform!
Artisan businesses are oftentimes small enough that they are run from home, therefore they sell online which can be more cost-effective than the typical brick-and-mortar setup.
With so many people selling handmade items online, including other platforms aside from Amazon Handmade and Etsy, you might be wondering which platform is the best option.
Both platforms offer different opportunities and challenges that you should know about before deciding!
I hope this article has been informative and helpful for you in your decision-making.
What kind of products do you hand-make and want to sell? Let me know in the comments below!