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Mystery Supply Co.

Mystery Supply Co.

Vintage horror and sci-fi prints, gifts, and apparel for discerning weirdos. Started on Etsy, now also running on Shopify.

Mystery Supply Co.

Mystery Supply Co. was a "passion project" that started out with an Etsy shop during the pandemic, but there were obvious limitations that compelled them to additionally set up a Shopify store so that they could have more control over sales, bundles, and their list of customers.

The majority of their products are print reproductions of old sci-fi and horror movie posters, and some comics and pulp magazines. Their goal is to relay on print on demand services to expand into offering other products such as mugs, apparel, stickers, home decor items, and more.

Etsy Marketplace Limitations

There were many things about Etsy that made Mystery Supply Co. want to also set up a Shopify store. The biggest issues were the following:

  • You don't "own" your customers. Anyone who buys items on Etsy are Etsy's customers. This makes it harder (but not impossible) to gather an email list. It makes it harder to build a sense of community, too, as anyone browsing your products can easily get distracted by a competitor listing and navigate away.
  • Limited ways to do sales and discounts. There are a few ways to do sales, but you can't easily target only certain types of products for percentage off, for example.
  • Inability to group and categorize items in multiple categories. Etsy allows for 20 "sections", but you cannot add a product to more than one section.
  • Etsy Fees. This year, Etsy angered many shops when they increased their transaction fee from 5% to 6.5%, in addition to other fees to list items, or to cover when you sell an item from an offsite ad.
  • Inability to truly stand out. You can modify your Etsy sho avatar and banner image, and update a few more minor things, but you cannot really brand the experience or differentiate. You are one shop in a very large mall.
  • Inability to cross-sells or up-sell. There is no way to increase an average order value with features like "customers also bought" or any way to do cross-sell or up-sells.
  • Lack of customization on product pages. Etsy give you the ability to upload up to 10 product photos, and a video up to 15 seconds long (with no sound). There is no way to do anything more interesting.
  • The Risk of No Control. Etsy could theoretically shut down a store for nearly any reason at all, at any time. If you're selling hundreds (or thousands) of products and this is your only sales channel, you would be dead in the water.

Mystery Supply's presence on Etsy would help drive people over to the Shopify store for better deals, one-of-a-kind original pieces, personalized products or product versions that will only live on the Shopify side.

Shopify Advantages

The Shopify store solves the issues Mystery Supply Co. has with Etsy.

  • Customers coming in through Shopify belong directly to Mystery Supply. It's much easier to use a newsletter tool to build a list, and offer new signups a discount
  • They could implement a referral program or loyalty program with any number of apps built for this purpose
  • There is no way to browse over to a competitor's similar listings
  • Sales and discounts are more customizable
  • Shopify has "collections" which allow store owners to group and categorize products in many ways. For example, collections can be automatically created based on product tags, or assembled by manually selecting products. A product can belong to unlimited collections
  • Other than the Shopify monthly cost, and the cost of any commercial apps, there is a reasonable fee for credit card transactions, and it costs nothing to list an endless number of products and keep them active
  • The theme can be customized to really brand the experience for the customer
  • Upsells and cross-sells can be done with existing Shopify apps. Bundles can be done as well, such as "buy 3 of this type of product and get X free"
  • Product pages can be customized. Adding a video, or Instagram photos, or an audio clip, etc - all are possible, and different products can even use different templates
  • The store won't ever be shut down unless they shut it down themselves

In the move to Shopify, we saved Mystery Supply many hours of tedious data entry by importing product information into Shopify from CSV files.

Mystery Supply is maintaining a presence on Etsy because it's hard for a younger store to beat the built-in traffic and buyers that are already searching products in a large well-known marketplace, and it's hard to do one's own marketing through Facebook or Google that would be as effective. The idea is that items can be sold in both places, but eventually more custom items would be sold only through the Shopify channel, and Mystery Supply's presence on Etsy would help drive people over to the Shopify store for better deals, one-of-a-kind original pieces, personalized products or product versions that will only live on the Shopify side.

    Mystery supply product

    A product page with custom option, and optional video based on custom Metafield.


    Product Videos

    To make the most of their Etsy listings, Mystery Supply Co. creates 15 second long (Etsy's video duration limit) Ken Burns-style videos, panning over the prints. Those videos are then uploaded to Mystery Supply's YouTube channel, with the description containing a link back to the Etsy listing, driving extra traffic to the shop.

      Mystery supply metafields

      Product Metafields

      We thought they should show those videos on the Shopify product pages, too, so the product templates are customized to show the YouTube video if the YouTube video ID is entered in a custom Metafield on the product entry. The YouTube embed is set so that suggested videos that display at the end are only from the Mystery Supply YouTube channel.

      Product Options

      The Etsy shop features numerous sizes for each print, and the option to add a white border around the image, as opposed to the default of printing the image all the way to the edges. The white border option meant that if a single print had 10 different sizes, it effectively had 20 variants, because there would be a "border" and "no border" version at each size.

      There was no need to have that many SKUs, so we utilized a Shopify app to give the customer a simple checkbox if they wanted to order a print and have a border added (and this option shows only on print product pages). We further modified the cart, checkout, and relevant email templates to show this option. We were forward-thinking in the app we selected because we knew Mystery Supply may want to do personalized products in the future, and there are custom field options that will work for the purpose of collecting a name or a phrase.


      The default theme had a somewhat weak speed score out of the gate. The modified theme is kept in a code repository so we can see changes and updates (and easily revert them if necessary), and this allowed us to see there was code left over from Shopify apps that had been installed and supposedly removed. Removing those code blocks reduced page requests to scripts that were no longer needed. We continue to run speed tests periodically and look for ways to further improve the site speed.

      Future updates may include more automated product syncing between Etsy and Shopify, and ways to build a community, through referral or rewards programs.

        Contact Masuga Design

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