Thanks to our integration with ShipStation, it’s now possible to sell on platforms that weren’t available to Printful users before, like Etsy.
Etsy opens the doors for existing stores who want to reach a new audience, and it’s great for ecommerce newbies who want to open shop on an established marketplace full of potential buyers. Or maybe you already have an Etsy shop and want to expand your offering with print products. Whatever the reason, it’s possible to make it happen with Printful and Shipstation.
This blog post goes over the basics of how to integrate Etsy, ShipStation, and Printful. It gives you some ideas to figure out whether Etsy is the right platform for you, and it covers tips on how to make sales and get your products into the hands of Etsy shoppers.
What is ShipStation?
ShipStation is essentially shipping software that can integrate with shopping carts and marketplaces and give online store owners tools to handle order fulfilment. For us, it works as a middleman that allows our customers to integrate platforms that can’t be directly integrated with Printful.
Take a look here for more information about how ShipStation works, how to get started, and important things you need to know.
An Introduction to Etsy
Etsy connects artists with customers around the world. The focus of this platform is selling handmade goods, vintage stuff, and craft supplies. So it’s a great place for consumers looking for unique products that aren’t available in big-name retail stores.
In 2013, Etsy expanded its definition of “handmade” and started allowing sellers to offer products made by outside manufacturers, but there are a couple of caveats:
- The outside manufacturer must meet Etsy’s standards
- Sellers must create the designs for their products
- Sellers need to prove their involvement in the creative process
- Sellers must be transparent about their products and how they’re made
So, products that are printed by Printful can be sold on Etsy as handmade items, and ShipStation makes it happen.
Is Etsy right for you?
Selling on Etsy gives you access to a new audience of people looking for unique, custom products. However, you need to consider whether the extra effort and fees are worth your time.
Your products and price
Would your products stand out on Etsy? Competition is stiff – there are a ton of other sellers that could be offering similar items as you. If your designs stand out and are unique from what’s already there, then great. If not, what makes you different? What’s your value proposition and why should customers choose you over the competition?
Also take a look at the average price of products that are similar to yours. What are they selling at? Can your prices compete? This is Etsy’s guide to pricing strategy, which goes over their recommendations.
Tip: You can sometimes get away with selling at a higher price point on Etsy, as customers can reasonably expect to pay more for a handmade item.
Who are your customers? Is your target audience likely to shop on Etsy? Identify your niche and who you sell to, and figure out if Etsy is a good place to reach them.
Etsy (and ShipStation) fees
Setting up your store on Etsy is free and there are no monthly or membership costs, but there are still some fees to running a store on Etsy. Sellers need to pay fees for creating and updating their listings, for checkout, etc. Take a look here for Etsy’s pricing structure.
ShipStation isn’t free either. Plans range from $9-145/month, depending on your needs. The price can be affordable, especially for the starter options, but it’s still an expense to consider. Here is a list of ShipStation plans and prices.
Setting Up Your Etsy Shop
The first thing you need to do is register an Etsy account, which is free. Once your account is set up, you can click Sell on Etsy to open your shop. Etsy walks you through the process here, but the steps are as follows:
1. Set up your shop’s preferences – language, country, currency.
2. Name your shop – it’s possible to change this later.
3. Add listings – you’ll have to enter at least one product to move forward. Enter some information about your products, such as photos, descriptions, shipping price, etc.
4. How you’ll get paid – enter your banking information (institution number, account number, etc.).
5. Set up billing – enter your credit card information and billing address.
When your Etsy shop is up and running, you’ll want to connect it to your ShipStation account (which you also have to set up). The process is straightforward, and you can watch the video for instructions here.
Finally, you also have to connect your ShipStation with Printful. Go to Dashboard → Stores → Connect Shipstation. Then you’ll be prompted to add your API keys. You can watch the video instructions for that here.
Keep in mind that the first order for every product that comes in through Shipstation won’t automatically sync. So, you’ll have to sync the products in that order and submit it manually. Each variant is considered a new product as well.
Applying for Printful as your Outside Manufacturer
A very important thing to note is that before you start selling, you need to apply to use Printful as your outside manufacturer. You’ll have to submit the following information:
- What type of products are being handled by an outside manufacturer (eg. apparel, jewelry).
- A description of yourself and your business, and why you chose to work with an outside manufacturer.
- How your products are made. Specifically, what do you do before the product goes to the manufacturer?
- How are you involved in the process? You’ll have to submit at least 5 photos of your designs to demonstrate your involvement in the creation process.
- Information about the manufacturer. Where are they located, how are they involved in the creation of your products, your relationship with the manufacturer, etc.
To access the forms and read up about the outside manufacturer process in more detail, read Etsy’s guidelines here.
How to get sales on Etsy
If you do go the Etsy route and open your shop, you’ll have to work hard to get sales going and build a brand on this platform. These are some tips to get started.
Product photos and descriptions
We’ve written about this before. Regardless of your platform, you need professional photos that clearly show your products, and descriptions that creatively and accurately describe what your customers need to know.
When people search for products on Etsy, the product photos are what they notice first. So it’s key to use photos that stand out. Use a photo that’s visually striking, with your product and design at the focus.
Write product descriptions with keywords in mind. Think of which words your customers are most likely going to use when searching for products like yours. And come up with a list of keywords you want to be associated with.
Make your products searchable
Make your products easily found on Etsy. As mentioned above, using keywords in your description is a good place to start, but there’s more you can do to get your products in front of potential buyers.
Tags help people discover your products in search. You have 13 tags to use per product, so think carefully. What are the main aspects of your products that customers should know about, and what are they most likely going to use to search for you? You also have 13 tags to use for the material of your products, so it’s another chance to be found.
2. Product titles
Add keywords in your product titles as well as the descriptions. This helps customers see specifically what you have to offer. Keep the more important words near the beggining of your title, as longer titles get cut off.
3. Product categories
Choosing your product categories helps your products pop up on broader searches, so narrow down all applicable categories.
The bottom line is to always keep your customers in mind. Which keywords would they most likely use? What information is most helpful for them? And be creative – use different keywords for different products. This both attracts people in different audiences, and it helps you identify what works and what doesn’t.
Monitor your Etsy stats
This is an excellent resource to see where your traffic is coming from and the top keywords you’re being searched for across different platforms. Use this information to better understand what’s working, where you need to improve, and how to do it. Take a look at pointers from Etsy here.
Interact with your fans and customers
The great thing about Etsy is the opportunity to connect and interact with your customers. Be personal, reply to messages, and show your personality. When possible, ask for your fans to leave reviews of your store. This goes a long way to build your store’s credibility and show other potential customers that you already have fans that like what you do.
Sell the right amount of products
Not only does it make your store look more thorough and professional, but having a lot of products also helps your store in terms of search. The more products (with keywords and categories) you have listed, the more likely you are to be found.
Plus, the more products a potential customer has to browse, the more likely they are to find something they love and want to buy.
There isn’t a specific number to aim for. It depends on how many products you have and want to sell. And you don’t have to add your products all at once. Start with what you have, and build your selections as you go.
The Etsy Verdict
Selling your products on Etsy can be a profitable way to get your products to more people who are looking to buy unique items. You just have to consider the extra time and expenses it takes to open an Etsy shop. And remember to keep experimenting with keywords and marketing tactics. Don’t be discouraged if your sales start out low, it could just be that you haven’t found the ideal sales strategy.
Have you opened a shop on Etsy? Share your experiences in the comments!