Costs of Online Storefronts and Marketplaces

Updated 10/31/16

If you’re an independent creator who sells your work online, you’re likely aware of the fees that different online storefront and marketplace services charge. But if you’re someone who buys these items, you might not know that these hidden fees get removed from the money you pay – and also out of the artist’s pocket.

I’ve compiled a list of some of the more popular digital storefronts and marketplaces so that creatives can compare and buyers can try to counter the hidden costs of the service the artist is using. If you have additional information or want me to look into a different service, please leave a comment below and I’ll get to it in a follow-up.

Note: This article does not refer to all of the features of each service. I’m mostly discussing fees. Want more info? Let me know!

All prices are in USD.


Amazon Handmade

Type: Storefront and Marketplace
Item Type(s): Physical
Monthly Fee: $40
Transaction Fee: None
Additional Service Fee: 15% (minimum $1)

Amazon Handmade is a digital marketplace where artisans can sell their handmade goods. You must apply to be accepted. You will need images of your products, your production process, and your workspace for the application and at least 30 minutes of free time. (src)
amazon_02
You’re charged $40/month (although this fee is waived through December 31 2017 for new Amazon Handmade sellers) and 15% (with a minimum of $1) for each item purchased in your store. (src)
amazon_01CREATORS: I can only recommend this path for full-time high-production artisans rather than comic artists and illustrations who work on a smaller scale with lower profits.

BigCartel

Type: Storefront
Item Type(s): Physical and Digital*
Monthly Fee: Free+
Transaction Fee: Unlisted
Additional Service Fee: None

BigCartel is an online storefront service that charges a monthly fee depending on the number of items you have for sale. 25 products will cost you $10/month, 100 products costs $20/month, and 300 products (the maximum amount allowed) costs $30/month. If you have 5 products or less, the monthly fee is waived, and your storefront is free. There are no listing or transaction fees. (src)
bigcartel_01

bigcartel_02

*BigCartel is intended for physical items, but seamlessly pairs with its sister service Pulley
to sell digital items. More information on Pulley available below.

CREATORS: Factor in the cost of your monthly payment when you list items. Self-advertise.

Etsy

Type: Storefront & Marketplace
Item Type(s): Physical and Digital
Monthly Fee: None
Transaction Fee: 3% + $0.25
Additional Service Fee: $0.20 per item plus 3.5% per transaction

Etsy is a popular digital marketplace that creators can use to sell digital or physical products. There are a LOT of products on this site, so self-advertising is highly recommended. The “marketplace” or search function might not help you make sales on such an inundated platform.

Listing an item costs $0.20 USD. The listing lasts for 4 months or until the items sells, whichever comes sooner. There’s a 3.5% transaction fee that Etsy claims, and a payment processing fee (through Direct Checkout) of 3% + $0.25 per transaction (which may change depending on your payment processing country). On a $10 sale, the creator would receive $8.90, Etsy would receive $0.55, and the payment processing service would receive $0.55. (src)
etsy_01
The Seller Handbook: here

CREATORS: Factor in the cost of your monthly payment when you list items. Self-advertise.

BUYERS: Share products you like, make collections and share them with your Etsy followers, and leave positive reviews with product photos. A bad review can REALLY set an artist back, so if you like their product, let them and the world (or at least the comments section) know!

Gumroad

Type: Storefront or Marketplace
Item Type(s): Physical and Digital
Monthly Fee: Free+
Transaction Fee: Included in Service Fee
Additional Service Fee: 8.5% + $0.30/sale for “free” accounts, 3.5% + $0.30 for Premium

Gumroad is a storefront service used by creators to sell digital or physical products. Creators can choose to establish a base price, or have buyers pay what they want. Find out more about selling products here. Gumroad has a “free” version of its service as well as premium accounts and other options for additional exposure.

Free accounts: charged 8.5% plus $0.30 USD per sale.

Premium accounts: pay a monthly fee starting at $10/month for additional features, which are outlined here. Gumroad also charges 3.5% + $0.30 USD per sale. That means if you paid $10 for something, the creator sees $9.35. Gumroad receives the other $0.65. That doesn’t factor in the $10/month price.

The $10 monthly fee is for stores with less than 1000 customers. The monthly cost increases depending on the amount of sales you make. $25/month for 1000-1999 customers, $50/month for 2000-4999 customers, $75/month for 5000-9999 customers, $100/month for 10,000-14,999 customers,  $150/month for 15,000-24,999 customers, $200/month for 25,000-49,999 customers, and $250/month for 50,000 customers. (src)
gumroad_01

*NOTE: according to this video, Gumroad costs 5% plus $0.25 per transaction. That was the case in February 2016, but costs have since changed.

†NOTE: You may need to log in to see this video.

CREATORS: Consider increasing your requested minimum price to help cover the fees that Gumroad charges. Self-advertise.

BUYERS: Consider adding at least $0.35 to your payment to cover some of the fees that Gumroad charges creators. If you’d like to add an additional percentage (whether that’s 3.5%, 8.5%, or even more), you can use the calculator here. If you purchase something through the “Discover” feature, consider adding $0.25 or more to your total to offset fees.

IndieMade

Type: Storefront
Item Type(s): Physical and Digital
Monthly Fee: $4.95+
Transaction Fee: none by IndieMade (payment processing company charge variable [src])
Additional Service Fee: None

IndieMade is an online storefront service for selling physical and digital files. There are 4 different account types, including Basic, Standard, Pro, and Plus. The Basic account costs $4.95/month and allows you to list up to 10 different products. The Standard account costs $12.95/monthly and allows you to list up to 100 different items. The Pro account is $14.95 and allows you to list up to 200 items. The Plus account is $19.95/monthly and allows you to list up to 300 items (the maximum number of inventory items allowed). Basic accounts cannot sell digital files or push product listings to Etsy. IndieMade does not collect fees outside the monthly payment, but you should expect to have 2.9% plus $0.30 removed from any payments made to you with credit card. (src)
indiemade_01

CREATORS: Factor in the cost of your monthly payment when you list items. Self-advertise.

Itchio

Type: Storefront & Marketplace
Item Type(s): Digital
Monthly Fee: $0
Transaction Fee: none by Itchio  (payment processing company charge variable [src])
Additional Service Fee: None

Itchio is an online storefront marketed towards gamers and game developers, but there are many comic artists and resource creators who also sell items here. Products are automatically listed as “pay what you want” with an option to create a price minimum, guaranteeing you will be paid a certain amount of money for your product. Itchio is free to use. You as a seller can decide what percentage of your sale goes towards operational costs and development of itchio (src). Read more about pricing on itchio here.

CREATORS: If you’re interested in having control over the pricing of your digital assets and the amount given to  your host site in each sale, Itchio is an excellent choice.

Pulley

Type: Storefront
Item Type(s): Digital
Monthly Fee: $6+
Transaction Fee: Unlisted
Additional Service Fee: None

Pulley is an online storefront service for selling digital files such as PDFs, MP3s, and other digital items. For 25 products and up to 100MB of digital items, you are charged $6/month. For 50 products and 250MB of digital items, you are charged $12/month. For 150 items and up to 750MB of digital items, you are charged $24/month. For 500 products and 2.5GB of storage, you are charged $49/month. There are also plans available for higher volumes. Bandwidth and order numbers are unlimited, and there is a 14 day free trial for all plan tiers. (src)
pulley_01pulley_02

CREATORS: Factor in the cost of your monthly payment when you list items. Also be aware of file size, and get familiar with methods of decreasing your file size while maintaining high quality. Self-advertise.

Shopify

Type: Storefront
Item Type(s): Physical and Digital
Monthly Fee: $9+
Transaction Fee: 2.9% + $0.30, less for premium accounts or in-person transactions
Additional Service Fee: None*

Shopify is a storefront service for selling physical and digital files. There are 5 different account types, including Shopify Lite ($9/month), Basic Shopify ($29/month), Shopify ($79/month), Advanced Shopify ($299/month), and Shopify Plus (must inquire for more information). You can also purchase a Retail Package for $40/month, though it requires the Shopify POS app and an iPad to utilize. Shopify Lite and Basic Shopify transaction fees are 2.9% plus $0.30 online and 2.7% in-person using the Shopify POS app.  Shopify transaction fees are 2.6% plus $0.30 online and 2.5% in person. Advanced Shopify transaction fees are 2.4% plus $0.30 online and 2.4% in person. The Shopify Lite account type does NOT come with a storefront, but you can use “Buy” buttons online, accept credit cards, and create invoices. (src)

*It’s implied that using services besides Shopify Payments, such as Paypal, will add an additional fee of 0.5%-2% (src). If you have additional information, let me know!

shopify

CREATORS: Factor in the cost of your monthly payment when you list items. Self-advertise.

Square

Type: Storefront
Item Type(s): Physical and Digital
Monthly Fee: None
Transaction Fee: 2.9% + $0.30
Service Fee: None

Square, of the popular Square card reader used in many brick-and-mortar and artist alley businesses, recently debuted digital storefronts for digital and physical items. They have no monthly fees and charge 2.9% plus $0.30 USD per transaction. (src)
square_01CREATORS: Factor in the cost of your monthly payment when you list items. Self-advertise.

BUYERS: Consider adding at least $0.30 to your payment total to help offset fees.

Squarespace

Type: Storefront
Item Type(s): Physical and Digital
Monthly Fee: $12+
Transaction Fee: unlisted
Additional Service Fee: None, 2%, or 3% depending on account type

Squarespace is an online storefront that creators can use to sell digital or physical products. For bare minimum e-commerce capabilities, there are two less expensive account options – Personal and Business. Personal accounts cost $16 month-to-month or $12 billed monthly for a year plan. Business accounts cost $26 month-to-month or $18 billed monthly for a year plan. (src)
squarespace_01
Both account types include the ability to add unlimited items and accept donations. Squarespace charges a 3% sales transaction fee for Personal accounts and 2% for Business accounts, but you can avoid this additional fee by using Squarespace Commerce, which requires signing up for a Stripe account. Here is more information on Squarespace Commerce (which is not supported in every country).

For a broader range of e-business features, there are Basic and Advanced accounts. Basic accounts cost $30 month-to-month or $26 billed monthly for a year plan. Advanced accounts cost $46 month-to-month or $40 billed monthly for a year plan. (src)
squarespace_02
CREATORS: Factor in the cost of your monthly payment when you list items. Consider signing up for Stripe to avoid additional fees. Self-advertise.

Storenvy

Type: Storefront & Marketplace
Item Type(s): Physical and Digital
Monthly Fee: None
Transaction Fee:  none by Storenvy (payment processing company charge variable [src])
Additional Service Fee: Variable; $1-$2 reported

Storenvy is a storefront and marketplace service that creators can use to sell digital or physical products. You can sell items on your own, or opt to be a member of the Marketplace. If someone finds your product through the Marketplace and not through your personal link, Storenvy will take a 10% cut of the sale. In this case, “sale” means shipping and tax costs, but not discounts. Otherwise, it’s free to open a store and list products. Users can make purchases through Paypal or Stripe, which both cost 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction. (src)

Recently Storenvy added a Storenvy Shopper Fee to transactions. The fee for custom storefronts is $0.59 for purchases less than $10 and $0.99 for purchases over $10, and the fee for products found through the marketplace is $0.99 for purchases less than $10 and $1.99 for purchases over $10 (src). This fee doesn’t result in a direct loss for Creators, but does cost Buyers an extra amount of money that goes to Storenvy. (src)

storenvy_02

You can pay an additional $5/month to use your own custom domain for your store.

CREATORS: Factor in the cost of your monthly payment when you list items. Self-advertise.

BUYERS: Use an artist’s personal link to make your purchase, rather than looking through the Marketplace.

Tictail

Type: Storefront & Marketplace
Item Type(s): Physical and Digital
Monthly Fee: None or 10% of marketplace sales monthly
Transaction Fee:  none by Tictail (payment processing company charge variable [src])
Additional Service Fee: None or 10% of marketplace sales monthly

Tictail is a storefront and marketplace service that allows creators to sell digital or physical products with 0 transaction fees from Tictail, but with Paypal and Stripe’s standard transaction fee of 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction. You can opt to join the Marketplace for additional “exposure,” but Tictail will charge you 10% of each Marketplace sale monthly. (src)

A note on their Marketplace: not every item that’s ever been set up through Tictail is necessarily available there. It may not be likely that your item will be purchased there. You will need to promote the link on your own to guarantee your products are seen. (src)

tictail_02

CREATORS: Factor in the cost of your monthly payment when you list items. Self-advertise.

BUYERS: Use an artist’s personal link to make your purchase, rather than looking through the Marketplace.

Weebly

Type: Storefront
Item Type(s): Physical and Digital
Monthly Fee: $8+
Transaction Fee:  3% or none depending on account type. Additional payment processing company charge variable [src]
Additional Service Fee: none

Weebly is an online storefront service for selling physical and digital items. There are 4 account types with e-commerce capabilities: Starter, Pro, Business, and Performance. The Starter account is $8/month for selling up to 10 items, the Pro account is $12/month for selling up to 25 items, the Business account is $25/month for an unlimited number of items, and the Performance account is $49/month for an unlimited number of items. All paid account types come with a domain that’s free for 1 year. Starter and Pro accounts have an additional 3% transaction fee collected by Weebly, but the Business and Performance accounts do not. (src)

weebly

 

CREATORS: Factor in the cost of your monthly payment and additional fees when you list items. Self-advertise.

Wix

Type: Storefront
Item Type(s): Physical and Digital
Monthly Fee: $8.50+
Transaction Fee:  none by Wix (payment processing company charge variable [src])
Additional Service Fee: None

Wix is an online storefront service for selling physical and digital items. Ecommerce and VIP account types offer online stores. The eCommerce account costs $8.50/month, and the VIP account costs $25/month. Most premium account types allow you to remove advertising and Wix.com branding from your storefront. There are no Wix commission fees outside the monthly payment, but you should expect to have 2.9% plus $0.30 removed from any payments made to you with credit card. (src)

CREATORS: Factor in the cost of your monthly payment when you list items. Self-advertise.

WooCommerce

Type: Plugin and Storefront
Item Type(s): Physical and Digital
Monthly Fee: Free+
Transaction Fee: none by WooCommerce (payment processing company charge variable [src])
Additional Service Fee: None

WooCommerce is a free e-commerce plugin that works seamlessly with WordPress. You can download the theme “Storefront” to create a Storefront to use in conjunction with your WooCommerce plug-in. (src)

woocommerce_02

For bulk discount and other capabilities, you will need a Dynamic Pricing account. Use of the service is priced according to how many websites you use it for. Single site subscription costs $129 annually, up to 5 websites cost $199 annually, and up to 25 websites cost $299 annually. (src)

woocommerce_03

CREATORS: If you’re using the free plug-in, consider making a dedicated Storefront page to use in conjunction with WooCommerce. If you’re using the Dynamic Pricing account, factor in the cost of your monthly payment when you list items. Self-advertise.

(Thank you @sofairyquiet on Twitter for your help and corrections!)

My final thoughts:

CREATORS: Don’t undercharge for your work. You have a unique vision that only you can bring to life. You deserve to be compensated fairly, especially if your creations are a means by which you make a living. Consider adjusting your prices to help you absorb losses from service fees in a sustainable way. Weigh the pros and cons of price adjustments and different services. Communicate with your peers about how to approach the situation.

And, just to remind you: Factor in the cost of your monthly payment when you list items. Self-advertise.

BUYERS: Consider increasing what you pay to help absorb service fees for the artist. Share an artist’s work (with their permission and contact info) with your friends. Be respectful of the creators you purchase from. Creators will certainly appreciate it 🙂

Have comments, suggestions, or corrections? Feel free to comment below!

 

9 thoughts on “Costs of Online Storefronts and Marketplaces

  1. Thank you so much for this informative post! It seems like no matter which service you use, your only guaranteed path to success is through advertising, and that’s often to a crowd of people who are in the same industry and are just as broke. Considering all sites require some degree of self promotion, users who are computer savvy may just opt to host their own shops.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You make a good point – it does seem like a lot of us shop within our own industries, since we like the products and understand the labor and love involved. That said, there are plenty of people who still purchase creative items that aren’t a part of the creative industry. We’re used to our own circles that we’ve curated, feeds filled with creatives that we see as peers more often than the customers/onlookers who follow us. But those people do exist! I think marketplaces CAN be helpful, but ultimately it’s up to the artist(or writer or creator) to decide if it’s a privilege they want to pay for. I’m not social media savvy, as any “luck” with followers I’ve had so far has not been through any tactfully crafted method. However, I think that would be good to look into in a future post. Maybe I can talk to someone who primarily uses a marketplace and ask how it works out for them.

      Like

  2. Thanks for including us at IndieMade. I’d like to clarify that Indiemade doesn’t charge a transaction fee. If you use Paypal or other processor to handle credit cards, they usually take a percentage to cover the transaction but IndieMade collects the same, flat, monthly fee whether you sell 20 items a month or 200 items a month.

    Like

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