UPDATED 12/3/23. Artisans Cooperative is growing a handmade marketplace as a cooperative alternative to Big Tech marketplaces like Etsy.
We have big ideas for features that are important to our unique businesses, but we’re in our early stage of growth. We understand that the key to strength for any artisan is diversity: including listing their products on many channels and marketplaces.
Many of us on Etsy are struggling to run our businesses right now due to escalating fees and unfavorable policies – serious grievances have already been shared by the folks at #EtsyStrike.
Here, we’ve compiled a list of alternatives to Etsy for handmade artisans (makers, designers, illustrators, crafters, artists, and more) — including our own, the only cooperatively-owned verified-handmade marketplace. Skip ahead to the list (updated for 2024).
Sources and Research
In making this list, we used the following sources:
- Our own research
- The excellent crowd-sourced research by the folks at Indie Sellers Guild
- A comprehensive list published on Made Urban
- Updates and additions from members and comments below
This list is not a recommendation or an endorsement of any marketplace, but simply us sharing our research with the handmade community. Spoiler alert: There is not one single answer for an ideal alternative that works for everyone (that’s what we hope our cooperative will be!).
Instead, this list is a guide to help you try to find the best match for your business. What an artisan sells, and who their customers are, can make a big difference. Some marketplaces work better than others, particularly if they’re in an artisan’s niche.
Our Criteria: What Makes a Good Alternative
When determining what an “alternative” is, we had the following considerations:
- Is it an online marketplace?
Meaning, can artisans build their own “store” within a “mall” already full of shoppers. We did not include any website-builders (which are stand-alone stores that artisans have to market themselves), but we did include some non-traditional alternatives.
- Does it focus on handmade?
There are some marketplaces worthy of consideration as an alternative, even if they don’t focus on handmade; it depends on the products the artisan is selling and who they’re trying to reach.
- Is it inclusive of all kinds of artisans?
Some are open to all with a particular focus, such as country-specific or thematic, some are juried. Some appear to be inclusive but actually have exclusive criteria.
- Is there a critical mass of customers?
What has made Etsy so useful over the years is their critical mass of active shoppers. It’s a marketplace’s job to attract customers and shoppers to the marketplace, and their marketing efforts benefit the artisan stores listed on it with sales.
As Etsy expert CindyLouWho put it on her popular blog, “No serious business person is going to spend their time promoting a low-traffic site when they could just build their own website.”
If an “alternative” doesn’t have critical mass, or isn’t laser-focused on their target audience, then making one’s own website is probably a better use of the artisan’s time.
While there’s no straightforward way to know how many shoppers are on a website, we used global website ranking as a gauge of relative popularity using the research tool SimilarWeb. On a scale of billions of websites, we saw three natural breaks in the rankings for three categories: yes (ranked higher than 100,000), no (ranked lower than 2,000,000), and maybe (ranked between 100,000-2,000,000).
- What are the fees?
Always an important consideration for affordability, and not all sites were forthcoming with fee information. Payment processing fees are universal (usually around 2.5-3.5%), and most have sales commissions. Some also have product listing fees, one-time registration fees, or monthly subscription fees, which are a barrier to entry.
- Who owns it? Is it a cooperative?
It’s important to know who the owners are, because that’s who they structure their profits for. Did you know, for example, that Storenvy is owned by Alibaba? Successful privately-owned marketplaces are simply acquisition targets for publicly-traded marketplaces. This is what happened with Depop and Elo7 getting bought up by Etsy, or Amazon buying and then shutting down Fabric.com. We believe that the only way we can rely on future leadership to look out for member’s best interests is through cooperative ownership, so this was an important criteria for us.
There are more alternatives worthy of consideration but not covered here, such as: print-on-demand, subscription, and crowd-funding, subscription boxes, wholesale marketplaces, and social media like Instagram. We provide links to a list of those at the end of this post, too. Those alternatives may work for some, depends on the artisan’s craft and business model.
List of Etsy Alternatives
Without further ado, here is what we found. The underlying data is kept in a spreadsheet which we provide in 3 formats for different screens.
The tables are updated in real time. If you have any updates to share, please leave them in the comments or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this post, we were focused on a generalist Etsy alternative. For a comprehensive guide that includes all the options, including print-on-demand and wholesale, check out this excellent article on MadeUrban, Where to Sell Handmade Online 2022 (Besides Etsy).
Have you tried one of these alternatives? Share your experience in the comments below.
About Artisans Cooperative
We are growing an online handmade marketplace for an inclusive network of creatives: a co-op alternative to Etsy.
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