February 12, 2019

Pro's & Con's of Etsy Fulfillment

Etsy is an online marketplace for vendors who want to sell handmade items to a big audience via the internet. The company, famous for its supportive platform, is supposed to...

Etsy is an online marketplace for vendors who want to sell handmade items to a big audience via the internet. The company, famous for its supportive platform, is supposed to make it easier for people to make money from crafting their own goods, but does it?

Fulfillment is a critical operational component of any online vendor. Sellers need to be able to take orders on their online shopping portals and then translate them into real and accurate dispatch processes. The problem, however, is that fulfillment is a difficult thing to get right: when order numbers start to rise, complexity goes up dramatically.

Companies like Etsy do what they can to make the process easier using a range of tools and services. It’s important to note, however, that Etsy does not offer their own in-house order fulfillment service. Customers are expected to either do that themselves or get a third-party provider to do it for them.

Is shipping with Etsy good or bad? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

Pros Of Etsy Fulfillment

Track Packages

Both you and your customers want to make sure that products arrive quickly after payment. Buyers want to know that their parcels are on the way and that you’re not swindling them out of money, and sellers want to know that their delivery service, be it UPS, USPS, or FedEx, is doing its job.

Etsy helps in this regard: it provides a tool which allows you and your customers to track parcels on their way to delivery. The system works similarly to Amazon’s. You and your customers can see when the order is placed, when it is dispatched, when it is out for delivery, and when it has been delivered. Etsy also provides map tools which help to visualize package location.

Get Shipping Profiles

Pricing shipping can be a hassle for online retailers. Different items cost varying amounts to ship, and so inputting individual shipping data for each can be labor-intensive.

Etsy’s shipping profile system is quite sophisticated. It allows you to set “shipping profiles” that are highly customizable which quickly label products with shipping details, customizing what the customer sees. Shipping profiles can be used to bulk edit items through the Shipping Profile Bulk Editor, grouping multiple item types into a single shipping category.

Do you want to ship overseas? Shipping profiles can help there too. International shipping costs are usually higher than domestic, but with Etsy’s shipping profile tools, vendors can easily and automatically charge overseas customers more for shipping without having to do any manual input.

Get Benefits With Etsy Shipping Labels

Like many online vendor platforms, Etsy provides downloadable, printable labels that sellers can affix to their packages when a customer makes a purchase on their Etsy shop. The platform marks the product as shipped once the labels are downloaded. All that’s left to do is print out the label, stick it to the package, and then send it on to the customer.

Labels bring a host of benefits:

  • Save 30 Percent On Shipping. Etsy has a good relationship with major postal distributors in North America, including USPS, Canada Post, and FedEx. Because of this, sellers who decide to use Etsy labels can get up to 30 percent off their shipping costs.
  • Ship To Almost Anywhere. Etsy wants to make it as easy as possible for vendors to ship their goods to anywhere they want in the world. With a package limit of 150 lbs, most vendors will find the service adequate.
  • Get Labels From Your Etsy Account. Etsy knows that sellers don't like traveling back and forth to post offices with packages. With labels, there's often there’s no need to step inside a post office at all: the platform allows you to print postage information for many shipping services from your account.

The Cons Of Etsy Fulfillment

No Integrated Fulfillment Service For High Volume Sellers

What if you start selling goods in high volume and have neither the storage space nor the systems to process a large number of packages? With Etsy, you’re stuck. Sure, you’ve got tracking and label support, but without a system for organizing and distributing packages for delivery, you still have a lot of work to do yourself.

The good news is that some third-party order fulfillment providers now integrate with Etsy’s platform. Orders made on a vendor’s Etsy shop get automatically forwarded to the fulfillment operator who will then prepare goods for dispatch. Order fulfillment isn’t something that is natively provided by the platform, so you’ll have to do your own research to find the best services.

With that said, it should be pointed out that selling in high volume on Etsy is rare. Products on Etsy should be handmade and not churned out by some giant machine. If you use the platform according to the terms of service, you’re unlikely to be overwhelmed.

Shipping Costs Can Add Up

Each time you buy a label from Etsy, you have to pay a fee. Every time you list an item, you have to pay a fee. Every time you make a sale, you have to pay a fee. And every time you use their payment processing facilities, you have to pay a fee.

Individually, these fees are small, but when taken together, they can make the platform expensive. On top of all of this, you have to pay the direct shipping costs to third-party providers.

There Are Limits To What You Can Ship

Did you notice that 150 lb limit earlier? It turns out that Etsy’s agreement with postal services means that those who want to send multiple or massive products miss out. If you're going to sell something large and cumbersome, you’ll have to arrange separate shipping, forcing you to miss out on the Etsy 30 percent discount.


While Etsy order fulfillment does not exist, Etsy does try to provide some useful shipping services to help make fulfillment easier. Vendors, however, will have to take charge of many of the most challenging aspects storing and distributing packages, including managing warehouse space and collecting items for dispatch.