Is It Better To Buy On Etsy Or A Seller’s Website? How To Support Small Business.


When you want to support small businesses online, you might think that shopping on Etsy is a good way to do it.

But most of the time, shopping directly on our websites is the better option for a lot of reasons.

I asked the members of the Artisan Shopping Directory for some reasons why people should shop on our websites instead of on Etsy, and they came up with a lot of really good insights that I hadn’t even thought of!

But first, how do you find out if an Etsy business has a website?

How to support small business without shopping on Etsy.

Table of Contents

Where to find an Etsy seller’s website.

To find out whether an Etsy seller has a website or not, go to their Etsy shop homepage and find their About section. On desktop this is at the bottom below the listings and reviews, and on the app it’s in a separate tab.

If the seller has a separate website there will be a link there if they’ve added it.

You can also check on their social media to see if it links to a website.

Some Etsy sellers have a separate website, then they link to their Etsy shops to process their sales, so don’t be surprised if you get redirected to Etsy to shop and check out!

photo of the About section with website links

Helping small businesses pay fewer fees.

Kate, owner of Moana Matron DesignsOpens in a new tab., says: “If you like to support small businesses, it’s always best to try to go direct so they get the biggest cut of the sale.”

It’s important to think about this because when you buy from places like Etsy, the sellers have to pay fees and commissions to the platform, but when you shop on their own websites, they get to keep more of the profits and can use it to reinvest in their businesses and make a better living in general.

Shopping on the seller’s website supports them financially but doesn’t cost anything extra for the customer, and you’ll still get the same, if not better, service.

Prices on websites are sometimes lower.

Tracey, who owns TraceyLipman.comOpens in a new tab., puts it simply: “Lower prices for our customers.”

Cindy, owner of The ScrapologistOpens in a new tab., agrees. “When you shop on my website the prices are cheaper because you are shopping direct, there is no middleman.

A lot of business owners will set slightly lower prices on their websites because they can pass the savings on fees along to their customers.

I have lower prices on a lot of things on my website to make it more attractive for people to shop there instead of on Etsy, and a lot of other shop owners do the same thing.

Some people set the same prices across the board so it’s not guaranteed that you’ll get a discount by shopping on a website, but a lot of the time there are other ways to get better prices than on Etsy (signing up for email list discounts, etc.)

And speaking of pricing, the prices on Etsy can be manipulated by people because of the way that Etsy sets up their system. Read on for that.

To see the full Artisan Shopping Directory sections, including signups for discounts, click here.

Clearer pricing on websites than on Etsy.

When shopping on a website, you can trust that the price matches the photo, eliminating the frustration of discovering that the advertised price only covers the cheapest option in a bunch of variations.

This is pretty common on Etsy, because their pricing shows the lowest price that a seller has added to the variations in the search results.

A lot of scammy sellers take advantage of that by listing a variation that’s really low-priced so that the artificially low price shows up in search results.

When you go to the listing you’ll see that the low price that you saw isn’t accurate, and that the product in the listing photo is actually a lot higher.

Unless the seller’s website uses a pricing structure that’s different for different sizes or some other consideration, the price displayed for a product usually corresponds directly to the item shown in the photo.

There will always be cases where someone has different prices for different products in one listing, but you’re not going to see any listings for large wall art that show a price of $1 like you will from scammy sellers on Etsy or other platforms.

You can get more products and services on websites.

Helen, owner of Helen Makadia Fine ArtOpens in a new tab., says “I would say it helps me as a small business because I am able to offer a more specialized experience. For example, I recently worked with a customer who wanted a specific size. I worked with a vendor not approved by Etsy to give her that product. The custom process is very basic on Etsy and would not have allowed me to do so on that platform.”

Shopping on sellers’ websites lets you have more control and personalization a lot of the time.

Plus, we mgiht sell things that are one-of-a-kind on our websites, but not on Etsy because it costs more to sell them.

Etsy and other platforms put restrictions on us as far as what we can sell and what pricing we can offer, so going directly to the seller’s website and bypassing Etsy completely can give you more options when it comes time to placing orders.

A good example of this is wholesale, which a lot of people won’t offer on Etsy because of the fees, but they can do on their websites.

If you contact us through Etsy first we can’t even tell you about our website options because of Etsy’s fee avoidance policies, so go to the website contact form and don’t start the conversation on Etsy!

Websites are for clients, not random customers.

Small business owners appreciate it when you visit their websites to show your support!

Matt, owner of GoodWoodNeighborhoodOpens in a new tab. on Etsy, and Becki, owner of Kailey’s Monogram, both mentioned this point.

When you take the time to browse through their websites, you’re not just another random customer, you’re someone who really cares about what they do and wants to help them succeed.

Checking out a small business’s website lets you dive into their story, learn about how they create their products, and feel the passion they put into their work. It’s a chance to connect with them on a deeper level and build a real friendship with the creator.

And by telling others about your experience, you become a valued client instead of just a faceless customer on Etsy.

Next time you find yourself loving a small business, visit their website. Show them that what they do really matters. It may seem like a small thing, but trust me, it does mean a lot to us as individual small business owners.

You’ll have less junk to deal with on websites.

Tina, owner of Bello Glass By TinaOpens in a new tab., brought up a good point that I hadn’t thought of.

“My website is less ‘busy’ than Etsy, meaning no pop-up windows, no ‘suggested for you,’ no other junk. Shoppers can take their time and focus only on my items instead of a bunch of other stuff thrown at them.”

When you shop on a small business’s website, you get to enjoy a clutter-free and distraction-free experience.

Unlike larger platforms like Etsy, where you might be bombarded with various pop-ups, advertisements, and recommendations that can sometimes take away from your shopping experience, independent websites usually offer a better experience.

You can take your time and leisurely browse without any unnecessary distractions.  

The goal of most platforms is to distract you and throw a lot of suggestions at you to get you to buy something, and it can be overwhelming.

If you prefer a clean and unhurried shopping journey, going directly to the seller’s websites is usually your best bet.

More about the junk you’ll avoid on websites.

Karina, owner of Creative Dog MomOpens in a new tab., added this about avoiding junk mail: “Less junk in their inbox. Buying on Etsy starts a relationship with Etsy and all their marketing and sales emails. 90% of their emails won’t be something to customer cares about. Buying from a website creates a relationship with a business that likely has other products they would be interested in, and thus emails they would receive are things they would actually want. It gives the business the ability to freely communicate with a customer, for better customer service, instead of being restricted by Etsy.”

If you sign up for the business’s email list it also gives the business the freedom to reach out to you more openly, offer better customer service, and address your needs more effectively.

Bypassing the restrictions imposed by platforms like Etsy, you can experience a more streamlined and relevant email communication so that your inbox is filled with information and offers that you’re interested in instead of a lot of random stuff that they’re mass-sending about products that you wouldn’t shop for.

Independent websites have more control over what they can sell.

Sabina, owner of Dallmeyer Learning,Opens in a new tab. mentioned that when creators set up their own websites, they gain greater control over their products and the way they’re sold.

This control allows them to offer exclusive products or even set special prices that you won’t find in other places.

A lot of platforms limit what we can sell of how we can describe things, and they’ll remove listings for random reasons.

From customized product options to limited-edition releases, small business websites become a treasure trove of exclusive offers and unique opportunities.

If you want to discover hidden gems and access special deals that can’t be found anywhere else, exploring your favorite creator’s website is a much better option than going to a platform.

A higher level of trust on websites.

Bev Newcomer, owner of Little Bee DudsOpens in a new tab., says: “”Sustainability and ethical business practices are at the heart of my website. When you shop with me, you can trust that the items are not only handmade with meticulous care but also crafted using high-quality materials. Unlike sifting through a bunch of listings on other platforms, websites ensure that you’ll never have to question the authenticity of handmade products. Every item is guaranteed to be genuinely made by the artist, reflecting my commitment to maintaining the highest standards of craftsmanship”

This is a good point that a lot of customers overlook.

Since Etsy isn’t a curated platform, you don’t know that the thing you’re buying that says “handmade” really is handmade.

Skipping Etsy and going to the seller’s website allows you to support sustainable practices and ethical small businesses without worrying about whether you’re buying from someone who’s reselling things that aren’t handmade and saying that they are.

More variety of products on websites.

Susan, owner of Boston Post Dairy,Opens in a new tab. says “In my case, there are more products and categories to choose from on our website. We make cheese, maple products and bath and body products as well as sell other Vermont made products on our website, I’m not able to sell all of that together on my Etsy site.

By visiting sellers’ websites, you can probably find things that they don’t sell on Etsy for whatever reason.

This lets you explore different product lines, indulge in your favorite treats, and maybe even uncover new favorites you never knew existed.

Websites make it easier to find what you’re looking for.

Carmen, owner of Con Safos DesignOpens in a new tab., pointed out that one of the notable advantages of shopping on a website is the ease and speed with which you can find what you’re looking for.

When you have a direct link to a website you’re instantly brought to the storefront, where you can navigate through clear product categories.

Unlike relying on search algorithms and filtering options on marketplace platforms, a direct link ensures that you’re directly connected to the specific page or section you need, saving you valuable time and effort.

Websites also often prioritize user-friendly interfaces and streamlined checkout processes, so you’re not limited to trying to wade through a bunch of stuff that Etsy throws at you that might be totally irrelevant.

ravyn edge

Less chance of bots messing with your seller.

Cindy, owner of Burrito Wrap Dog Co.Opens in a new tab., pointed out that there’s a risk to selling on a platform.

“The chances of a website erroneously getting shut down (losing contact with a customer) by a misguided bot or false reports from competitors who want to eliminate the competition is exponentially lower.”

One of the main problems that sellers have on Etsy is the fact that the platform system in the U.S. allows people to file takedown requests for products, which means that a lot of scammers file fake reports to interfere with their competition.

This can mean that a seller can have their bestselling products removed by Etsy for over a week at a time while they go through the legal process of restoring it, so shopping on a website could mean that you’re going to see all the products, not just what Etsy has decided to allow on the platform.

In addition, Etsy will sometimes remove shops from search, put them on vacation mode, or shut them down completely if Etsy’s bots decide that we’ve received too many orders in a short time.

This means that a shop that was there yesterday could be shut down today even if there’s no good reason for it. If you shop on the seller’s individual website you’ll avoid all of that mess.

Avoiding confusion while you’re shopping.

Matt of Good Wood Neighborhood added something that I hadn’t thought about, but is actually a fairly big problem on Etsy.

When you shop on a website, you can say goodbye to the confusion caused by the onslaught of “other items you might like” from competing shops, which can sometimes appear to be from the Etsy shop you’re browsing in.

These recommendations are generated by the Etsy algorithm and can lead to a cluttered and overwhelming shopping experience that will trick you into buying from a shop that you didn’t think you were buying from.

I’ve had a bunch of messages from people who thought that they had purchased from me, but who were shown listings from other shops and bought from them instead.

If you’re looking for my level of customer service and you end up being distracted and buying from someone else, I can’t help you if you have a problem, obviously!

If you stick to shopping on the artist’s website, you won’t be fooled into buying from someone who you’ve never interacted with before.

It’s easier to find information about a business on a website.

When you shop on a website, you benefit from the clear placement of critical information such as descriptions, pricing, materials, and local sourcing.

Etsy tends to move this info around and it makes it hard to find the details a lot of the time.

When I go to Etsy I can have a really hard time finding the descriptions of products, and I’ve been selling on Etsy for 12 years! They move things around so much it makes it easy to miss important details.

Websites are generally designed to provide a seamless and user-friendly experience, unlike scrolling through a crowded marketplace, where crucial information may be buried or difficult to find.

Etsy will often target certain words for removal, too, so if a seller wants to tell you that there’s a specific benefit to a product that might not be able to let you know about that on Etsy since their bots will remove the listings that use specific terms. (“Amber,” “cashmere,” and “FDA” are some recent removals that had sellers’ listings removed on Etsy.)

Websites also often provide dedicated sections to highlight the local sourcing of products, allowing you to support regional artisans and sustainable practices.

Websites have more ways to get information about the product.

Brandi, owner of Lolli and Pop ShoppeOpens in a new tab., says “Websites can offer more information than Etsy, such as blog posts, how to guides, and category specific information. You can subscribe to a loyalty program from website. Customers can really get to know who they are buying from, building trust. Customers really get to see what your brand is about on your website.”

Since Etsy doesn’t give us a lot of options, we’re limited to only a storefront and templated polices, but our websites can be customized with a lot of other features.

Websites sometimes offer the option to subscribe to loyalty programs, letting you enjoy exclusive perks, discounts, and special offers as a dedicated customer.

Websites also provide a platform for businesses to showcase their brand identities and values in a more thorough way.

You can definitely get a better sense of what the business and the business owner are about from our websites, as opposed to our Etsy shops!

There are a lot of advantages to buying from your favorite independent business’s website, so the next time you want to find unique products, start there instead of shopping on Etsy or any other platform!


Kara Buntin

Kara Buntin has run a profitable home-based business since 1999, and has a background in art, theater design, and cake decorating. She's a top Etsy seller with over 51,000 sales on Etsy and her own website, and helps other home-based business owners with their business goals and SEO. She founded the Artisan Shopping Directory website to promote the artisans who are members of her EShop Success marketing program.

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