The Pros & Cons of Selling on Third Party Websites

Hey, small businesses!

How are you doing?

How’s everything going?

Whether you’re an amazing artist or a cake creative, there’s a high chance that your carefully crafted, bespoke products will have absolutely made someone’s day at some point.

Getting paid to pour your heart and soul into something you love that will inevitably bring somebody else joy is an unrivalled feeling.

The small business and personalised gifts markets have really increased in popularity over the past few years. Data released in 2020 revealed that shoppers are willing to spend an additional 7% on personalised presents. 21% of those surveyed stated that they found personalised gifts to be more thoughtful, while 20% would consider them because of their uniqueness, and the fact that they can’t be found on the shelves.

Many of us are all too aware of the struggles of buying for certain fussy family members (anyone else’s dad absolutely impossible to buy for?!). Rather than wasting money on toiletry sets they won’t use, or another pointless novelty purchased just for the sake of it, why not go down the bespoke route?

A portrait of your uncle’s dog wearing a Tudor costume? You can bet your bottom dollar that you’ll find someone willing to draw it on Folksy!

Teeny, tiny Gregg’s sausage roll earrings for your mate who just can’t get enough of them? Of course Etsy have these in stock – why wouldn’t they?!

A ‘bacon butty box for two’ for your bro and his partner? Hit up Not on The High Street (and yes, for the record, we do agree that this is an awesome present idea for the non-veggies out there!).

It’s really no wonder that as many as 59% of UK consumers prefer to buy from small businesses, with 53% deeming them more trustworthy than larger companies, and 40% believing that they offer better customer service.

What are third party websites?

How did you initially start your business?

Many small businesses begin by selling products to family, friends, and those in their local community. This can be really effective, as positive word-of-mouth is a powerful tool.

Taking that leap towards bigger platforms can be really daunting, but if you feel the time is right, introducing your products to a wider market could really help to build your profile and benefit your sales.

There are many options to sell your precious products through third party sites in the UK.

Currently, the most popular platforms include Etsy, Not on The High Street, Folksy and Amazon Handmade. It’s also not unheard of to find people selling handmade crafts on the likes of eBay and Vinted, although this is not the general intention of these sites.

The pros of selling on third party websites

  1. You will reach a wider audience.
  2. On average, Etsy has 462.1 million visits every month, and boasts approximately 95.1 million active buyers. Those are big figures with lots of potential!

  3. Setting up your profile should be straightforward.
  4. Not entirely confident when it comes to the ins and outs of tech? Don’t worry – you’re not alone!

    The good news is that sellers’ profiles are relatively easy to set-up, even for those of us who are self-confessed tech-phobes!’

    Below, we have included links to pages detailing how to set up a shop or an account on some of the most well-known third party selling sites.

    Not on The High Street
    Amazon Handmade

  5. An established payment system will already be in place.
  6. When you’re in charge of your own business, figuring out the logistics of a payment system can be mind blowing. One advantage of selling through third party sites is that they will already have this in place, so you can get selling straight away without having to worry about any of the complications.

  7. You have the opportunity to connect with your customers and gain great reviews.
  8. Great customer service is really important to many consumers.

    A positive experience is likely to build up a bond between your band and customer. It may even result in repeat custom, recommendations, and more sales.

    You will have the scope to speak directly to your customers via the messenger feature available on most third party selling sites.

    A costless idea to promote your business is to send a messages to customers once they have received their order, prompting them to leave your shop a review.

    Great reviews look fantastic and will give potential customers confidence in your business.

The cons of selling on third party websites

  1. You may have to compete for sales.
  2. You might be the only person in your local community who bakes brownies in an array of weird and wonderful flavours however, due to the fact that third party selling sites are often UK-wide, you are more likely to find people selling similar products to yours.

  3. Be aware of copies.
  4. Sadly, not everyone viewing your products will be doing so with good intentions. It’s really disheartening to have to consider this, but it’s possible that other people may copy your work and steal customers away from you.

    While we really hope you are never faced with this frustrating situation, please know that there are things you can do. For example, Etsy offer a Reporting Portal that allows you to raise issues, such as product copies.

  5. Be prepared to pay seller fees.
  6. Selling on third party sites may incur fees. Some of these fees are highlighted below:


    16p listing fee per item, 6.5% transaction fee, 4% + 20p processing cost for transactions made through Etsy Payments.


    Folksy offer two different account options. Their basic (or ‘pay as you go’ account) provides the first three listings for free, then each additional listing will incur a 15p fee + VAT (restrictions apply – please click here for further details).

    The Folksy Plus Account offers unlimited listing, and this costs £7.50 per month or £75 a year. For both account types, Folksy charge 6% + VAT on all final sales

    Transaction fees for both PayPal and Stripe payments. Stripe transactions will incur a 1.4% + 20p fee for European cards, and a 2.9% + 20p fee for non-European cards. PayPal transactions will incur a 2.9% + 30p fee.

    Not on The High Street

    A one off joining fee of £199 + VAT. Not on The High Street take 25% + VAT commission on all sales.

    Amazon Handmade

    Professional Selling Plan costs £25 a month (fees are waivered for Handmade artisans – see here for further details). 12.4% deduction on all sales.


    No sellers fees, although bear in mind that the Vinted market is generally considered to be for second-hand goods.

    Fees correct as of 6th September 2023

  7. Consider postage fees
  8. The beauty of selling locally means that you can generally offer a free local collection/drop off service, eradicating postage and packaging fees.

    When you take your business online and open it up to a wider audience, you could be bringing in sales from up and down the country. While many customers will be happy to pay for postage, it’s worth also factoring packaging costs into your outgoings (for example, large envelopes and cake boxes).

  9. It may be difficult to build your brand name.
  10. The most popular third party sites are relatively well-known, which can have its advantages and disadvantages.

    You may find it a little trickier to establish yourself as a brand name on a third party site. This is absolutely no reflection on you or your products, it just means that there’s a risk of, when asked, someone advising that their gorgeous handmade necklace is ‘from Etsy,’ rather than from your brand.

  11. You could face increased demand.
  12. A number of small businesses are done as a side-hustle alongside other commitments, such as a full-time job, or raising a family.

    The possibility of more potential customers ordering your products may result in higher demand, and essentially, more work.

    Is a heightened workload going to be manageable for you? While raising your business profile is an undoubtedly thrilling and exciting time, it’s important to take care of yourself and your wellbeing. Stress and pressure are not worthwhile swaps for a few extra sales.

    Have you considered taking on somebody else to help you? If so, will this be cost-effective?

    If you are feeling a bit burnt-out, it’s worth knowing that many sites offer a ‘seller holiday’ tool, which allows you to temporarily switch off your online store and take a break.

  13. You could receive damaging, negative reviews
  14. As reviews have the tendency to go one of two ways, we have included this one on both the pros and the cons lists.

    You can’t please everyone: that’s a fact.

    Even if you provide absolutely exemplary service and supply the most incredible product in the world, you can almost guarantee that at some point, somebody somewhere will find something to complain about. The more buyers you connect with, the more chance you have of encountering someone with a bee in their bonnet (either rightly or wrongly).

    Negative reviews can feel absolutely devastating, and they can be damaging.

    If there has been an issue, reach out to the buyer as soon as possible and offer a solution. This may reduce the risk of them taking to your page to vent behind their keyboard.

Should I consider selling my products through third party sites?

Branching out and taking your lovely products to third party websites is a decision only you can make. While you have the potential to reach more customers, grow your business organically and up your earnings, there are a number of things to consider, including sellers’ fees.

It’s all about weighing up the pros and cons and deciding which options best suit the needs and ambitions of you and your business.

Good luck!

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