My Etsy Pattern Review
When Etsy launched its new eCommerce option Pattern in early April, I decided to investigate. Given that Etsy Pattern had a free 30 day trial, I figured there was nothing to lose. Pattern is promoted as a means for sellers to easily create their own eCommerce store front, allowing greater flexibility and marketing freedom in running their business. With a few clicks your Etsy shop can have a Pattern storefront up and running within minutes.
Your current inventory is automatically imported into your Pattern site and this data is kept in sync, a real benefit since you need only worry about managing one site. You sell on Pattern in the same way that you sell on Etsy, given the same seller fees. However, Pattern will cost $15/month with an option to buy your own custom domain for an added $16/year. This looks like a bargain, given that other eCommerce builder platforms, like Shopify, charges twice that amount for their least expensive online store service. The simplicity (no technological knowledge needed), is also a benefit for those who deferred starting their own web site because they felt intimated about the process. But looks are deceiving, as I soon discovered. Let me explain.
I started by first registering my custom domain, bellasjardin.com. GoDaddy had a special promotion where for .99 cents they registered my domain for one year, a deal too good to pass up. Note: You do not need to have a custom domain to use Pattern but having a brand specific domain looks more professional and can help you be found on the web easier. Without it, your website url will be something like: yourshopname.patternbyetsy.com instead of yourshopname.com. As an example, my Pattern site is bellasjardin.patternbyetsy.com without a custom domain, but I want to be found using bellasjardin.com. Having a custom domain is also a good idea since it travels with you, even if your hosting service changes. It’s only a matter of pointing your domain to your new site. Even if you don’t have your own eCommerce site, you can point it to your existing Etsy shop, Facebook or Twitter accounts. For the experiments I conducted, I wanted a custom domain as I looked at various eCommerce platforms including Etsy Pattern, Shopify and a few others. Pattern was easy to set up starting from this page. I also wanted to use my custom domain with Pattern so I attempted to follow these instructions but specific to GoDaddy. However the instructions provided by Etsy were off, so here is what I did. In GoDaddy, under Manage My Domains, select your domain and then Manage DNS. You will need to add values for A (Host) and CNAME (Alias) records as follows.
And here is my Etsy Pattern storefront. Etsy Pattern only includes 5 themes to select from. I chose the “Stripe” theme which looked best for my shop, given my shop logo and pictures, but I would say it still leaves much to be desired. This is the first of several criticisms I have while reviewing Etsy Pattern.
Criticisms of Etsy Pattern
Lack of Flexibility and Customization with Shop Design
Pattern has a limited number of themes and of these, there is very little customization available. It’s great that Etsy attempted to make it easy to import your Etsy store into a corresponding Pattern site, but the lack of customization does not allow one to create a site that is distinctly one’s own. All the content in your Pattern site is created from your existing Etsy store. With only a few customization elements, such as background color, font choice and whether to include your shop name with your shop logo, it would be difficult to make your Pattern storefront stand out from all the other Pattern storefronts. Given a tight integration with Etsy, Pattern is little more than a copy of your existing Etsy store with a slightly different layout. Compare this with Shopify which has more than 100 free themes as well as premium themes available for purchase. Shopify has many more options and if you are willing to get more technical, much more flexibility allowing you to build an online store that is truly your own.
Etsy Pattern, Not Really a Stand-alone Web Site
Pattern is a tight integration with Etsy. You can not have a Pattern site without having an Etsy store and you can only sell items listed in your Etsy store. This seems necessary as Pattern aims to keep inventory management simplified by managing it in one place (eg: Etsy). Buyers making a purchase from a Pattern site are directed to Etsy for payment. You abide by the same policies and fees as Etsy so if your shop is shut down, so is your pattern site. One motivation for having a custom web site is to have more freedom and to not leave all your eggs in one basket, but Etsy Pattern does not fit the bill here. It seems little more than a glorified copy of your existing Etsy store.
The Cost of Etsy Pattern Does Not Justify the Benefit
With Pattern, you will be responsible for driving traffic to your site. This requires becoming adept at marketing and SEO. With the Etsy marketplace, you have the benefit of millions of users and potential buyers. For this, you pay a 3.5% transaction fee when an item sells. With Pattern, even though you are solely responsible for driving your own business traffic, you still must pay the same 3.5% transaction fee plus the usual direct checkout fees (3% +). Shopify in comparison has no transaction fee, not accounting for the payment processing fees associated with your payment methods. With Shopify, you also do your own self promotion and the monthly subscription fee is about twice the amount of Pattern, but you get many more benefits in terms of a truly custom website, lower per item transactions (eg: no listing fees or transaction fees) and they claim to have shipping discounts of 50% or more. If you have truly outgrown your Etsy store and are looking to start your own eCommerce site, there are better options than what Etsy Pattern has to offer.
Etsy Pattern Review: My Conclusion
While the idea of Etsy Pattern sounds promising, its initial launch falls short. Pattern is little more than a clone of your existing Etsy store with a different look. Customization is limited with only a small set of themes (just 5) and these can’t be adjusted much. You can not have Pattern without Etsy and all the fees applicable to your regular Etsy store apply to your Pattern store, with an added $15/month subscription fee. Pattern is not really a stand-alone web site. It integrates with Etsy for ease of migration and inventory management, but if your Etsy shop is shut down so is your Pattern site. Buyers must have an Etsy account to buy from your Pattern site, which could be confusing to a buyer not familiar with Etsy. The usual 3.5% transaction fee per item sold, does not seem warranted given that Etsy doesn’t contribute to driving business to your site. Etsy Pattern, in its current state, adds very little added benefit to Etsy sellers. If you really want to branch out with your own independent online store, there are other eCommerce platforms which do it better. I have explored some of these platforms, including Shopify, which I plan to write about in a future post. In the meantime, Etsy continues to be a good marketplace to sell hand-made, one of kind goods, but I would not look to Etsy Pattern, as a way to grow your business, independent of Etsy.