Etsy VS Square: Which Is Better For Your Business?
Artists and crafters are a unique subsection of merchants. If you are an artist or a crafter, you handle not just the sales, marketing, accounting, and other day-to-day tasks (such as order fulfillment), but also the manufacturing! Some artists work on their business full-time, while for others, it’s a second (or even third) job. So for artists and makers with so much on their plates, it’s crucial that the tools they use to run that business are user-friendly and accessible.
In the crafting and selling industry, there are two standout options for sellers who are looking for an easy way to sell their products online and in-person. These options are Square and Etsy.
In this article, we’ll be comparing Square and Etsy. Both options serve the same niche market, but they each have very different offerings and focuses. Keep reading to learn more about Square and Etsy’s pricing, available features, usability, and customer support. Find out what makes these two options distinct from each other, so you can choose the one that’s right for you.
|Pricing:||$0.20 per listing +5% transaction fee +Payment processing fees||Payment processing fees|
|Ease Of Use:||Excellent||Excellent|
|Reviews & Complaints:||Fair||Good|
|Best For:||Small businesses that want to make their products easily available to a broad consumer base||Small to mid-sized businesses that want to sell goods in-person and online|
Table of Contents
Etsy VS Square
When you look at Etsy vs. Square, you’ll notice a few major differences. While Etsy is a marketplace site (like Amazon and eBay) that now offers credit card processing, Square is a credit card processing company that has expanded to offer much more.
Before we get into our detailed comparison of the two selling solutions, let’s check out a quick overview of each option.
Etsy is a marketplace designed specifically with artists and creators in mind. Consumers count on using Etsy to find vintage, handmade, and one-of-a-kind items, and sellers rely on Etsy to help them build a business they are passionate about. Currently, 1.8 million sellers and climbing use Etsy.
One of the main advantages of Etsy is the opportunity it gives you to be found by buyers. Because listing your products places them in a marketplace that is browsed by so many consumers, the chances are high that users will see and purchase your items.
What’s more, Etsy makes it easy to set up your store. You don’t have to worry about hosting, site security, or even calculating taxes. All you are responsible for is listing your items and shipping them out promptly. That said, if you do want to build an online store but still have it connected to your Etsy account, there’s an option for that too.
Finally, Etsy makes it easy to process payments. With Etsy, you can choose from a couple of payment options, including Etsy’s own Etsy Payments (powered by Adyen). This seamless payment system makes it even easier to get started selling your products. Etsy is ideal for makers and artists who want to get selling quickly, and who want to list their products in a marketplace that has both lots of traffic and lots of competition.
- High traffic
- Easy to setup
- Sell online and in-person
- Designed for creators
- High competition
- Risk of seller account getting suspended
- Reported poor customer support
- Limited payment options
Square is a credit card processing company that was founded with small businesses in mind. And while Square is not geared specifically toward artists, it isn’t surprising that it’s a popular solution among that crowd. Square made accepting credit card payments via a smartphone feasible for the masses, allowing almost anyone to run a business anywhere you can get a cell signal or Wi-Fi. And with more than 2 million merchants using Square, it seems that its model of accessibility has worked.
Square has grown to offer a wide range of products. Square has added point of sale systems and hardware for accepting card payments to its products list, along with an online store that is completely free to use.
Square’s primary product is credit card processing. To use Square’s other products, you must be processing your payments through them. This makes sense for most sellers, but it’s also something to keep in mind as you consider your options. If you love Square’s online store product, but you don’t love how Square processes payments, you’re better off finding another solution.
That said, Square is an excellent option for many small sellers. It allows you to create your online store free from the regulations (and competition) of a marketplace, and it only costs the rate of your payment processing.
- Affordable payment processing
- Free online store
- No third-party competition
- Additional Square products available
- Sell online and in-person
- Account instability issues
- No guaranteed traffic
- Limited eCommerce features
- Limited payment processing options
Etsy and Square both offer very different feature sets. Etsy focuses on marketplace selling, providing tools for online selling, and payment processing. Square, on the other hand, has a stronger in-person selling focus. It allows you to process in-person payments easily, and it also provides a variety of tools for online selling (such as an online store and email marketing tools).
Read on for a more in-depth comparison of Etsy and Square’s core features.
Etsy is a marketplace website that allows sellers to list their products amidst a collection of other sellers’ wares. This approach is both an advantage and a disadvantage for a seller. On the one hand, marketplaces draw far more traffic than an individual site that’s just getting started might. On the other hand, it puts each seller at the mercy of the marketplace. Your products are listed next to your competitions’ products, and you have more limited control over your store. What’s more, as long as you list products on Etsy, you will have to follow Etsy’s user guidelines. If you make a single error, you could find your shop closed down with little to no warning or recourse.
Fortunately for sellers who are wary of listing their products exclusively on the marketplace, Etsy has recently developed a stand-alone website option called Pattern by Etsy. Pattern by Etsy allows you to create a custom website that syncs up to your Etsy shop. As your products are sell, inventory is automatically changed on both sites to reflect the sale. Pattern by Etsy comes at an additional cost ($15/month), but it is a simple way to take ownership of your website while still operating within Etsy.
While Square began as a payment processor, it has since expanded to offer many more features. One of these newer features came about through Square’s acquisition of Weebly (a popular website builder). Square users can now use Weebly’s software (rebranded as “Square Online Store“) to create their online stores. This software is incredibly easy to use and provides many smaller merchants with the tools they need to manage their website and process orders. While Square Online Store is a great option for many smaller sellers, it is quite limited in its functionality. It is not as robust as many other dedicated eCommerce software (such as Shopify or BigCommerce); however, it does have the benefit of being free for merchants to use. If you’re interested in learning more about Square Online Store, then head over to our complete review of the software. We discuss features, ease of use, customer service, and more.
Etsy started as an online sales platform only. Eventually, however, it introduced a mobile app called Sell on Etsy. The Sell on Etsy app is available for Android and iOS, and it allows you to manage your Etsy shop without having to log into the online dashboard. In the past, merchants could use the Sell on Etsy app to process in-person payments. However, Etsy now refers sellers to Square for in-person payments.
Square’s mobile app is called Square Register, and it’s honestly one of the most robust mobile POS (mPOS) apps out there right now. It is available for both Android and iOS. Square Register allows you to process in-person payments with just a mobile device and a card reader. Square Register even has an offline mode, which you can use to process cards even when you can’t get Wi-Fi or a cell signal. Unlike Sell on Etsy, the Square app is almost exclusively for in-person sales. To manage your online store, you have to log into your browser-based dashboard.
Etsy does not offer any built-in marketing tools in either its marketplace or Pattern websites. However, users of Pattern sites do gain access to integrations that they can use for marketing. These integrations include Mailchimp, AdWords, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Square, on the other hand, has its own in-house marketing tools. Square Marketing includes features to set up automatic email campaigns, automatically add new customers to your email list, study your marketing analytics, and more. Square Marketing is available at an additional expense and costs $15/month-$35/month, depending on how many contacts you list.
Etsy has its own in-house payment processor called Etsy Payments. Etsy now requires that all eligible merchants enable Etsy Payments in their Etsy shops to “provide a consistent experience for buyers.” Enabling Etsy Payments allows your customers to make purchases by entering their credit card info or by selecting one of seven other payment options (such as PayPal or Google Pay). If you operate in a country where Etsy Payments is not yet available, you can accept payments directly through PayPal.
To use Square products, you must be processing payments via Square. Square offers payment processing for in-person and online payments. Processing rates depend on the type of transaction. See the pricing section below for more information.
Pricing for Etsy is primarily based on a percentage of each transaction you make on the platform. However, there are a few additional fees you’ll need to take into account as well. Here’s a quick breakdown of Etsy’s pricing:
- Listing Fee: The listing fee is charged for each product added to the marketplace. If you add multiple items on the same listing (for example, if you are selling several identical bowls, but you list them all as one product type), then you are charged the $0.20 fee for each item as it sells. These listings also expire after four months, after which you must pay again.
- Transaction Fee: Etsy charges 5% on each transaction, including the cost of gift wrapping and shipping.
- Payment Processing Fees: Etsy Payments costs 3% + $0.25 per transaction (fees vary by country). PayPal costs 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. In-person payments use Square’s rates (see below), and the 5% transaction fee gets waived.
Etsy also offers additional services at an extra cost. You can, for example, choose to add a Pattern website for $15/month. You can also choose to subscribe to Etsy Plus for $10/month. Etsy Plus gives you access to a few additional tools and provides you with listing credits and advertising credits that total $8/month in value.
Square, on the other hand, has made a name for itself with its simple, flat-rate processing. There are no monthly subscription fees for using Square itself — you just pay a small fee per every transaction. The Square Register app and the online store are free as well. Here is what Square’s processing rates look like:
- In-Person Transactions (Tapped, Dipped, & Swiped Cards): 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction
- Square Invoices Transactions: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
- Card-Not-Present Transactions (Keyed-In Transactions): 3.5% + $0.15 per transaction
- Square Virtual Terminal Transactions: 3.5% + $0.15 per transaction
- Card-On-File Transactions: 3.5% + $0.15 per transaction
- eCommerce Transactions: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
You should also take into account any expenses related to hardware on other services (for example, Square Marketing). However, for the most part, these processing fees are your primary expense.
When we compare Etsy and Square head-to-head, it is clear that Square is the more affordable option. You’ll pay nearly double on Etsy thanks to its transaction and listing fees.
Ease Of Use
Etsy allows users to list products and process orders easily. By listing products in a marketplace, you eliminate the difficulties involved with maintaining a website. Etsy takes care of many of the technical details of running an online store, including calculating taxes and attracting traffic.
Square is also an easy-to-use solution. Square Online Store includes simple design tools and an easy-to-navigate dashboard. The Square Register App is also intuitive, making it a breeze to accept in-person payments.
When it comes to ease of use, you can’t go wrong with either Etsy or Square.
Customer Service & Support
Customer support on Etsy is found primarily in its active community forum and detailed help center. You can also contact Etsy support representatives over live chat, phone, and email. Etsy also has a dispute resolution system for conflicts between buyers and sellers.
Square’s support system is based primarily on a very detailed knowledgebase and a user forum. You should find most of the answers to your questions there. For more complicated issues, there’s phone support (available 6 AM-6 PM) and email support. There’s also a dispute management system in case a customer files a chargeback. In a handful of circumstances, you may be eligible for chargeback protection — which means you won’t pay for the chargeback even if the case isn’t resolved in your favor.
Unfortunately, the quality of both Etsy and Square’s customer support is a bit unclear. A bit of Google searching reveals no shortage of complaints against Square and Etsy, and their customer service (or lack thereof, as the case may be). Some are from disgruntled sellers; others are from dissatisfied customers. In short, your experience may vary. Some people have no problem at all; some have lots of trouble.
Reviews & Complaints
Both Etsy and Square have mixed reviews. While some users appreciate the platforms, others condemn the services for a range of issues. Here’s what the reviews say for each of the two selling platforms:
Positive reviews of Etsy praise the platform for allowing them to turn their hobby into a career. These commenters say that if you are diligent about following Etsy’s rules and guidelines, you can have success on the platform. Negative reviews of Etsy are much more common. These negative reviews say that Etsy has suspended or closed their account without warning. They also blame Etsy for low sales and high fees. They say that Etsy has a “buyer is always right” mentality, which causes difficulties with merchants. They further condemn Etsy’s customer support for being rude and unhelpful.
Positive Square reviews, on the other hand, focus on Square’s extensive range of features and competitive pricing. They also like how easy it is to set up a Square account. Negative reviews of Square outnumber the positives. They primarily discuss Square’s account stability issues; sellers’ accounts are often terminated or suspended due to a high chargeback ratio or because they are considered high-risk accounts. Negative reviews also say that there is a lack of advanced features in Square’s online store and POS software, and they wish the processing fees were lower on each transaction.
In this industry, it is very common to see more negative reviews than positive ones. For this reason, we do not think you should make your decision between the two platforms based entirely on the negative reviews you see online. However, you should still keep those reviews in mind as you weigh the pros and cons of each option.
Etsy offers multiple integrations to its sellers; however, the company does not disclose this information publicly. Contact Etsy directly for details.
Square has over 100 integrations in its app marketplace. There are integrations with accounting tools, eCommerce software, invoicing tools, POS systems, inventory tools, recurring billing software, and more. Square also provides multiple APIs that developers can use to build custom integrations with other third-party software.
The Key Differences Between Etsy & Square
Etsy and Square are very different products. Etsy is a marketplace primarily used to sell online, while Square is a payment processor that also offers an online store component. Etsy provides users with a high level of traffic and visibility at the cost of customization, and Square gives users more freedom, although they have to draw in traffic on their own.
Here are the six key differences between Etsy and Square:
- Marketplace: Etsy is the only option of the two that provides sellers with a marketplace. Sellers can list their products on a very popular website. It’s a low-cost way to put your products in front of the public.
- Dedicated Website: Both Etsy and Square allow users to create websites, although they go about it in different ways. With Etsy, you can create a Pattern website, which syncs with the inventory you list in your Etsy shop. Square allows users to create a complete website free of charge using Square Online Store (which is based on Weebly’s website building software).
- In-Person Selling: Both Etsy and Square allow you to accept in-person payments, but Etsy only accepts these payments through its integration with Square. Etsy does not have proprietary software for accepting in-person payments.
- Fees: Etsy has a much more expensive fee structure than Square. For each sale on Etsy, you get charged a $0.20 listing fee, a 5% transaction fee, and a 3% + $0.25 payment processing fee. Alternatively, Square charges only the payment processing fee for each transaction.
- Payment Processing: Both Etsy and Square dictate which payment processor you can use. Etsy requires that all eligible sellers use Etsy Payments, and Square requires all users to process payments through Square. You’ll need to take this into account as you consider your options.
- Additional Products: One of the most significant differences between Etsy and Square is the sheer quantity of products available with Square. When you process payments through Square, you enter into Square’s entire ecosystem. Take a look at our complete review of Square to view the additional products available with Square, including marketing tools, POS systems, and more.
Which Is Best For My Business Needs?
If you’re looking to sell products online and in-person, which program should you go with, Etsy or Square?
Choose Etsy If…
- You want to list your products within a marketplace
- You want to sell your products with minimal time spent on managing your website
- You want to become part of a community of crafters and makers
- You occasionally sell products in-person
Choose Square If…
- You already use Square for payment processing
- You frequently sell products in-person
- You want to create an online store
- You are not afraid of generating your own traffic
- You want to use other Square products
Comparing Etsy VS Square: The Final Verdict
When it comes down to it, the right payment processor and online store provider is really a matter of personal preference.
With Etsy, you get access to a vast marketplace with customers who are actively searching for products each day, but you pay for the convenience. You’ll pay about double what you would with Square. Still, for a business that is just getting started, being visible to customers is a serious concern, and Etsy definitely delivers in that category. The Sell on Etsy app lets you manage every aspect of your business on the go instead of dealing with a browser interface, and the integration with Square enables you to accept payments anywhere.
On the other hand, if you sell primarily in-person (at conventions, craft fairs, pop-up sales, etc.) Square is in your favor. Square Register is a powerful POS app that even has an offline mode, so you can accept credit cards anywhere, at any time. And if you use Square’s online store, you’ll pay less in processing fees per transaction than you would on Etsy — and worry less about competition.
But honestly? There’s nothing that says you can’t use both Etsy and Square! If you prefer Square’s online store but want the traffic that Etsy provides, go for it. If you want to sell on Etsy and Square, that’s absolutely possible! What matters most is that you weigh all the benefits and disadvantages and that you find a solution that will help you manage and grow your business.
Got more questions? Have an opinion about the Etsy vs. Square debate? Leave us a comment and let us know — we love to hear from you!