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Help, advice and food for thought on a range of topics to help you market your brand better online.

At the start of April, Etsy, the world's biggest peer-to-peer marketplace for handcrafted goods, announced the release of their new platform 'Pattern'. Etsy state they created the service in response to the sheer number of sellers wanting their own personalised web store.

So have these crafty sellers had their needs met, or will they still be found wanting when compared to a fully-fledged solution such as Shopify? Let's find out!

Overview

First and foremost let's understand what Etsy have tried to do; create an online store which is generated from the content you already have in your Etsy store. They state that "Pattern uses all of your existing Etsy inventory, payments and order management tools, so all of the work you've put into your Etsy shop will be applied directly to your new standalone website." Therefore let's understand from the outset that this isn't like a typical e-commerce platform; we don't have a huge amount of options at our fingertips and can't override what exists already. The question is how does this affect usability and ultimately conversions (sales) for the user as a software model?

Let's take a look at the two main sections of the administration interface:

Themes & Style

etsy pattern themes

One thing you can't say about Pattern is that it will confuse users. True to their word, the whole system is simple to use with a straight-forward minimalist interface.

Currently there are 5 themes available to choose from. It's not clear whether in the future the platform will allow designers to submit their own themes, but for now you are limited to the 5 pre-installed options. Each theme looks quite similar, offering a very minimalist design with subtle differences in layout between each one.

Once you have chosen a theme, the theme's 'Style' options allows you to customise the look of your store a bit further. Fonts are the first option, with 16 fonts to choose from (every piece of text on your site will have to be this font, so choosing a fancy font will possibly put your users into a spin). We can then choose our colours, but only for the background, buttons and whatever your chosen theme regards as 'accents'. Our next option allows us to show our shop logo, name as text or both. Our final option then allows us to display our cart as a drop down menu or a slide-out panel.

As you can see, this is a huge increase in flexibility when compared to an Etsy store, which only allows users to change a header image and icon. However, this range of options is poles apart from a full-blown e-commerce package such as Shopify which allows us to change layout, font colours and an infinite number of other aspects till you're heart's content.

Content

Speaking of content (see what I did there?), this is an area where Pattern really falls short. Because Pattern's model as already mentioned relies on taking your existing information from Etsy, it isn't focused on entering new content. The only additional pieces of content you have the option to add are your 'story' which appears on your about page (with no option to add images or other rich media) and a headline. This is a huge show-stopper for users wanting to add blog or news articles and other pages.

Our Verdict

It's clear what Etsy have tried to do, and to an extent we think they so far achieved that. The idea of taking existing your existing Etsy store and product data sounds like a smart idea, this ultimately is what really limits the service. In the end, we're a little confused by where Pattern sits in the business plan of an evolving creative business. It's too basic to be a final solution, yet users are clearly trying to grow their business beyond a joint marketplace such as Etsy by choosing it in the first place. Therefore Pattern can only be seen as a stop gap solution, and for that reason we'd have to ask the user why choose something that you can't focus on for the future.

What you CAN do with Etsy Pattern What you CAN'T do with Etsy Pattern
Provide a private store away from a marketplace platform Tune your theme's assets for search engines
Use your own domain name Optimise products for search engines
Have limited design control of your site, including colours, range of font choices, and 5 theme options. Send your products to Google Shopping
  Install apps
  Add news/blog articles
  Create additional pages
  Edit themes beyond basic options such as colours and fonts
  Employ a different catalogue setup to your Etsy store
  Add Google Analytics
  Track PPC marketing such as AdWords
  Have limited design control of your site, including colours, range of font choices, and 5 theme options.
  Add social media links other than Twitter and Facebook
  Sell face-to-face with POS (point of sales)

If you do decide to go with Pattern you'll want to market your new store, however you may find your options to do so very limited. You WILL be able to of course push your site on on social media and to other blogs, but you won't be able to push products to Google shopping (which is a biggie), or effectively track and increase your site's performance on search engines.

At USD$15 per month Pattern is cheap, no doubt. But for only $14 more Shopify (our favourite e-commerce software) provides a complete e-commerce solution that gives you far more than twice as many features. If you'd like to chat more in depth about how we can help grow your brand using Shopify and e-commerce, let us know.