Dropshipping has been a hot topic in the eCommerce industry for the past couple of years due to its low upfront costs and associated risks. Meanwhile, Etsy has set a strong foothold as a highly profitable online marketplace for selling handmade, vintage, and similar goods.
This leaves many entrepreneurs wondering if it’s possible and how to dropship products to or from Etsy.
Now, Etsy’s rules make it tricky to incorporate the dropshipping business model into its platform. However, there are workarounds to dropship on Etsy effectively, and this article is going to cover exactly how to execute them.
What is dropshipping?
Dropshipping is a retail business model that allows you to sell products without a physical store, your own inventory, or fulfilling orders yourself. As a dropshipper, you’ll only be responsible for linking buyers’ orders directly to manufacturers, and you’ll earn profits through the margins you impose on the products.
You can operate your dropshipping business independently to spend little to no start-up costs. Alternatively, you may partner with dropshipping agents who will handle tasks like product sourcing, quality control, and order fulfillment on your behalf to streamline your business operations.
What is Etsy?
Etsy is an online marketplace that caters specifically to creative entrepreneurs. On this platform, you can buy and sell products such as handmade crafts, customized items, and vintage collections, making it the go-to marketplace for many artisans and craft enthusiasts.
If you’re looking to purchase or sell mass-produced products, Etsy is not exactly the ideal platform to do so. However, it can be a highly profitable marketplace if your niche lies in crafts and one-of-a-kind items within the creative and artistic sphere.
How to start an Etsy dropshipping business
Although its website doesn’t explicitly mention that you cannot dropship goods, the practice is limited due to Etsy’s rules regarding reselling, what you can sell, and disclosure requirements.
But as mentioned earlier, there are always workarounds for selling on marketplaces like Etsy. So, let’s go over the two options you have to start Etsy dropshipping.
Option 1: Outsource Production of Goods
For Handmade Items
Note: This option is not exactly how dropshipping typically works, but it’s the closest you can get to achieving the dropshipping business model for handmade products on Etsy.
Etsy has a strict rule that all handmade items you sell on the platform must be made and/or designed by you, the seller.
This prevents you from selling mass-produced goods, which are often the type of items that dropshipping thrives on. Fortunately, this rule doesn’t totally prohibit you from outsourcing the production and order fulfillment process, which are the key components of dropshipping.
Since Etsy allows you to sell goods that are produced by others as long as you’re the designer, you can still sell products such as Print-On-Demand and personalized items without holding your own inventory.
To do so, simply design how you want your products to look and then have your production partners produce and ship them on your behalf.
Just take note that when outsourcing the production of goods, Etsy requires you to list the names and summarize the working process of your production partners.
Pro tip: When telling Etsy about your production partners, clearly state that you’ve designed the products yourself and be careful not to refer to your partners as your “suppliers.” Otherwise, Etsy might deem your products to be unfitting of the “handmade” categories on the platform.
For Craft Supplies
Craft supplies, which encompass tools, materials, and ingredients used for creating items or special occasions, are among the easiest products to dropship on Etsy.
After all, unlike handmade goods that require your original design, craft supplies can be shipped by suppliers to your customers as is.
Some of the best-selling craft supplies on the platform include fabric, patterns, DIY kits, and blank canvas. Additionally, party supplies, such as balloons, confetti, and cake toppers, also fall under this product category.
Keep in mind that you cannot sell customizable “blanks” that are already ready to use, such as blank sweatshirts, t-shirts, and shoes, even if you can arguably consider them as supplies for crafts.
Option 2: Source products from Etsy
This method is technically not a form of dropshipping. But if your goal is to “dropship products from Etsy” and resell them at your own store, this option will get the job done.
For this method, all you need to do is purchase items you believe you can profit from on Etsy and then resell them at your online storefront, outside of Etsy’s platform.
The main advantage of this option is you’ll be able to sell expertly crafted handmade items, which wholesale manufacturers cannot replicate.
Unfortunately, though, you’ll need to manage your own inventory, fulfill orders, and handle customer service if you were to resell products you bought from Etsy.
Note: When opting for this option, make sure to ask the permission of the Etsy sellers before you proceed to resell their products.
Pros and cons of Etsy dropshipping
Wondering whether it’s worth it to dropship on Etsy? Consider the pros and cons of this business venture to find out.
Easier customer acquisition
As it’s primarily known as an arts and crafts marketplace, most individuals who browse through Etsy are already interested in goods like handmade products and craft supplies.
Because the platform’s audience likely already has a strong affinity with the products you’re selling, it’s going to be much easier to attract customers.
By now, you know that dropshipping on Etsy isn’t all fun and games. While it may be inconvenient to exert more effort navigating this platform as dropshipper, the resulting challenges, fortunately, help ensure that the dropshipping competition on Etsy remains low.
Potentially higher profit margins
Buyers on Etsy are used to finding fully handcrafted products, vintage goods, and unique customized items on the platform, which are all generally more expensive than factory-created commercial goods.
As a seller, you can totally leverage this aspect and increase your profit margins without throwing buyers off. Many will be willing to pay a higher price since they recognize that you’re selling handmade items.
More effort required
The main disadvantage of dropshipping on Etsy is, of course, needing to exert more effort than you typically need to do when dropshipping on your own website or platforms like Amazon or Shopify.
You won’t be able to access Etsy dropshipping tools, so you will need to manually set up listings and fulfill your customers’ orders in many instances, which would potentially take more of your time and energy.
Etsy has lots of excellent features, but one of its main disadvantages is the hefty fees it charges merchants. Each product listing on Etsy will cost you 20 cents, and the platform takes a 6.5% cut of the total amount customers pay for your product, including its wrapping and shipping fee.
Not to mention, currency conversions and the creation of branded Etsy websites also have their own separate fees.
Main Rules of Etsy Dropshipping
Although Etsy doesn’t directly mention rules regarding dropshipping, it imposes general guidelines that can affect your dropshipping journey on this platform.
That said, if you’re planning to dropship on Etsy, keep these official rules in mind to avoid any issues:
- The only items you can sell on Etsy are handmade, vintage, or craft supplies.
- Products can only be listed under the “Handmade” category if you, as the seller, personally created or designed them yourself.
- You must always disclose the production partners you work with.
- All vintage items must be at least 20 years old.
- Every listing should sell a tangible product and not be a form of advertisement for products or services.
- “Reselling” is not allowed in the Handmade category of Etsy.
As long as you keep these rules in mind, you can thrive in your Etsy dropshipping journey.
Approved Etsy Dropshipping Partners
Want to work with dropshipping partners that can guarantee Etsy’s approval? Consider working with these companies, and you won’t be disappointed:
Printify is a dropshipping platform specializing in over 350 print-on-demand products. On its website, you can design/customize various items such as shirts, mugs, and hats for free.
Once customers place orders for the specific designs you’ve created, Printify takes care of the manufacturing and order fulfillment process.
This production partner only charges you once customers make a purchase, so you won’t need to invest any amount of money upfront.
Art of Where (AOW)
Art of Where is a Canada-based print-on-demand store that proudly offers dropshipping services for Etsy merchants.
Through its very own 3D Design Labs, you can create realistic mockups of the products you want to outsource for production, and AOW can fulfill these orders when customers purchase from your store.
Like Printify, AOW also provides a diverse range of product selections, which include purses, fabrics, and notebooks. Additionally, it offers white-label branding solutions through customized labels, cards, and stickers.
Gelato is another well-established Print-on-Demand service provider for Etsy merchants. With a vast network of over 130 production facilities across 32 countries, this company consistently delivers high-quality products on time, even if you were to receive high order volumes unexpectedly.
The Gelato API can be connected directly to Etsy’s platform. So, once you’ve linked your Etsy account to this platform, you won’t need to add products manually.
Can I use dropshipping agents for Etsy?
Yes, you can certainly use dropshipping agents for Etsy. In fact, I highly recommend doing so, especially if you’re a new eCommerce merchant. There are plenty of reasons why seeking the help of dropshipping agents is a good idea, but here are the main ones:
Guarantee adherence to Etsy rules
As this entire article has hinted, Etsy is one of the trickiest platforms to dropship on. Unless you precisely know what to sell, how to work with production partners, and how to claim products as your own design, you’ll run the risk of Etsy shutting down your store sooner or later.
The best and easiest way to guarantee adherence to Etsy rules is to work with dropshipping agents. Their eCommerce expertise can easily guide you through the dropshipping process, not just on Etsy but virtually every platform that allows dropshipping.
With the help of dropshipping agents, you can rest assured that your Etsy shop can continue doing business and generate profits day and night.
Increased business efficiency
Dropshipping agents are experts at working with both small and large-scale production partners. By working with them, your Etsy store can experience faster shipments, mistake-free order fulfillment, and other benefits that your customers can truly appreciate.
You’ll also be taking a significant amount of workload off your shoulders, giving you more time to focus on marketing your products.
Strengthen your branding
The key to beating competitors on Etsy is to establish your brand authority as early and effectively as possible. After all, customers will barely think twice when buying from you when they know that you’re a reliable, trusted, and legitimate merchant.
While you can absolutely strengthen your branding on your own, having the help of dropshipping agents just makes it so much easier and faster to make your brand reach its full potential.
Dropshipping agents like SUPdropshipping, for example, offer services such as custom labeling and product photography, which are necessary for Etsy to approve and recommend
Etsy Dropshipping: Is it worth it?
There’s no black-and-white answer to whether you should venture into Etsy dropshipping or not. While this platform might be perfect for many art-centered dropshippers and those who want less competition, it’s not a marketplace suited for every dropshipping enthusiast out there.
Sure, dropshipping on Etsy means you can:
- Attract customers easily.
- Enjoy lower dropshipping competition.
- Potentially earn higher profit margins.
However, don’t forget that Etsy Dropshipping is also:
- Harder to set up compared to other platforms.
- A platform that imposes high fees on merchants.
- Only suitable for items that are vintage, handmade, custom, or craft supplies.
- Strictly against “reselling,” which is the category dropshipping generally falls on.
Balance the pros and cons yourself and decide whether you’re willing to face the disadvantages of this platform to enjoy all of its advantages.
Alternatively, you can talk with dropshipping experts directly and schedule a consultation to know whether your dropshipping style, budget, and goals align with the process of selling on Etsy.
About the Author
Jack is a SEO manager and blog writer at Sup Dropshipping. He holds an MA in Linguistics and Education. He has got over 10 years experience in E-commerce, and 5 years of experience in SEO. Jack is an enthusiast to share his recent knowledge learnt from peer experts in the industry.