Shopify vs Amazon: Which Platform is Best For Your Ecommerce Brand?

May 29, 2023

Shopify vs Amazon Which Platform Is Best For Your Ecommerce Brand shopify vs amazon

Deciding which of the ecommerce behemoths to entrust the future of your business to is a huge decision, and there’s no easy answer.

What’s right for your business will depend on a whole set of variables.

You might want

  • The exclusivity that comes with selling solely through your own dedicated online store.
  • The ease-of-use and quick access to customers that comes through selling on Amazon.
  • The flexibility and expanded reach that comes with operating on both platforms.

Overview of Shopify and Amazon

Shopify landing page shopify vs amazon
Credit: Shopify

Shopify and Amazon are two very different things.

Shopify is an ecommerce platform that gives online merchants all the ecommerce facilities they need to sell their products online, while Amazon is a marketplace that connects ecommerce businesses to buyers.

There are many different things to consider when weighing up selling on Amazon vs Shopify. It’s not always a case of which is best, but which is best suited to your needs.

Nonetheless, the two platforms do offer similar and competing services in many areas.

And with innovations like Buy with Prime, Amazon may be heading into territory that’s currently dominated by Shopify.

So today we aim to do two things:

  1. We’re going to throw the two online giants up against each other, put them head-to-head in the categories that matter most for your business, and see who comes out on top.
  2. We’re asking is it better to sell on Amazon or Shopify? But we’re also keeping an eye on what’s best for different brands. While one or the other of them may be better in any particular category, considering where you are as a business will always be paramount. So we’ll keep a keen eye on this as we go along.

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Shopify vs Amazon: Pros and cons

Amazon landing page shopify vs amazon
Credit: Amazon

Is Shopify better than Amazon? Selling on Amazon is a very different experience to selling on Shopify, for both you and your customers, so answering this question means assessing the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

Here’s our comparison review for Amazon and Shopify:

Pros and cons of Shopify

PROSCONS
Complete suite of ecommerce tools. Shopify offers a huge range of ecommerce services that allow you to cater to your customers at every stage of the customer journey, no matter the level of demand.Longer lead time. While the platform is easy to use, there’s still some investment of time and resources to get up and running. Whereas you can start selling on Amazon immediately, setting up a decent-looking store takes a bit longer to get right.
Create a unique brand identity. Shopify lets you build your own site. This is a huge deal when it comes to developing your brand and forging relationships that last with customers.Advanced functionality is expensive. Shopify has a flexible pricing structure, so you’ll be able to find a plan that meets the needs of your business. The downside to this is that to unlock advanced ecommerce features you’ll have to pay a relatively high monthly fee.
Craft beautiful and engaging customer experiences. You’re in the driving seat when it comes to creating the customer journey. Your own site brings with it the ability to decide how your customers interact with your brand online.Extra functionality required. You’ll likely also need to add apps to make your store function as required. Usually, these have a cost attached to them and require integration and maintenance.
Showcase multiple products under one roof. Because your customers are visiting you on your site, you have a lot of control over what products to display and how much of your catalog to expose.Marketing responsibilities. The downside of all that freedom to create your own unique brand identity is that you have to do all the heavy lifting of SEO and marketing yourself. Whereas Amazon attracts billions of customers from all around the world, you’ll have to fight to make yourself known and attract visitors to your site.
Scalable technology. You can start with the package you need and add in more functionality as you grow. Shopify hosts a hugely diverse range of businesses, from mom-and-pop stores to global brands.Pre-built themes are limiting. While it’s great to be able to build your own brand identity, Shopify’s standard themes are a little cookie-cutter and you’ll need to go further if you want to stand out.

Pros and cons of Amazon

PROSCONS
You’re partnering with one of the world’s biggest brands. 2.449 billion shoppers use Amazon every month. When you start selling on Amazon, you’re gaining access to a vast market that’s way beyond the reach of your marketing budget.Hard to build a brand. You’re selling through another company’s site, which means Amazon controls all interactions with your customers. You can’t market to customers directly and creating your own identity is a huge challenge.
Huge warehouse and logistics capacity. The online retail giant can store your inventory and fulfill your orders at scale.Danger of reliance on Amazon. If your entire business model is built around another, much larger, company, you may become dependent on Amazon. If they decide to make a change that affects your business, you could be in serious trouble.
Faster launch. With Amazon, there’s no need to spend time developing your site—you just open an account and start selling. It makes the online marketplace a good choice for those wanting to get to market quickly.Difficult to surface all of your products. While you may have access to a ton of customers, ‌they’re often looking for a single product, instead of browsing your collections. It makes it harder to maximize value from each customer interaction.
Minimal technical maintenance. You don’t have to set up and manage a website to sell your goods, meaning you can concentrate on perfecting your product offering.Lots of competition. There are hundreds or even thousands of businesses on Amazon competing for the same clicks as you are. Standing out from the crowd can be extremely difficult, even with a great product.

The difference between Shopify and Amazon

The two platforms are obviously very different—Amazon is an online marketplace, and Shopify is an online store toolkit.

This fundamental difference means they each come with their own unique appeal.

It’s important that retailers weighing up Amazon vs Shopify understand what Amazon and Shopify do differently.

The best way to think about it is to imagine a real-life marketplace and a real-life store.

  • In a marketplace: There are several brands offering often quite similar products to passing customers. There’s the advantage of not needing to market your attendance—everyone knows where the market is! But there’s also the disadvantage of having to compete with lots of other businesses.
Amazon listings shopify vs amazon

Credit: Amazon

  • In your own store: You have control over the space. You decide how to layout your store, how customers should move around it, where to put the checkout, etc. But to take advantage of this more controlled environment, first, you’ve got to get ‌customers through the front door. This is entirely your responsibility.
Kirrin Finch shopify vs amazon
Credit: Kirrin Finch

The choice often comes down to scale.

If you are of a size where you have a decent marketing budget and have the resources to create an exciting, revenue-boosting in-store experience, then you should set up on Shopify.

If you’re just getting started and want to push your marketing costs onto broader shoulders, then Amazon is the way to go.

Of course, every business is different and there are exceptions to this rule.

For example, you might be a small, niche brand without a huge marketing budget but with a laser-focused social media marketing strategy. In this case, you’ll want to create a unique brand identity with your own store, rather than diluting your brand by selling on Amazon.

And there are times when you’ll benefit from selling on both Amazon and Shopify at the same time, but more on this later on.

Shopify vs Amazon: Feature breakdown

So to help you figure out whether you should sell on Shopify or Amazon, we’ve done a detailed comparison of their features, with a winner for each category.

The breakdown is designed to give you the knowledge you need to decide which platform to choose.

Pricing and fees

Shopify offers several different pricing plans. Their pricing is flexible enough to meet the needs of most online businesses.

  • Basic: $39 per month
  • Shopify: $105 per month
  • Advanced: $399 per month
Shopify price plans shopify vs amazon
Credit: Shopify

In addition to these monthly fees, Shopify takes a percentage of credit card sales, depending on what plan you’re on.

There’s also a Starter option that doesn’t give you a store but does facilitate sales through social media apps.

For advanced users, there’s Shopify Plus, starting at $2,000 per month, and there are custom options for even bigger enterprises.

All of the packages, with the exclusion of Starter, allow you to hook your store up to Amazon with multichannel selling.

Amazon has two ways of accessing its marketplace: You can choose to pay a $0.99 charge for every item sold, or you can take out a monthly subscription for $39.99 per month.

Amazon seller account shopify vs amazon
Credit: Amazon

Additionally, Amazon takes a percentage of every sale you make.

The percentage you pay depends on the type of item you’ve sold. You can see the full list of Amazon’s ‘referral fees’ here.

The winner: Shopify

In the long run, Shopify is a better bet for profitability.

Amazon’s commission is high. Shopify’s credit card commission ranges from 2.4% to 2.9%. Amazon’s fees range from 8% to 45%, with many items sitting in the 8–15% range.

While Amazon sellers will be compensated for these high transaction fees by access to such a large audience, building traffic to your own Shopify store over the long run puts your online business on a firmer footing.

Ease-of-use

Both platforms position themselves to appeal to online businesses of all shapes and sizes, so both are designed with the non-technical user in mind.

As commerce platforms go, Shopify is remarkably easy to use.

If you’re happy with one of the pre-built Shopify themes, you can get your store set up and start selling very quickly.

And, while there are many more features to get your head around when starting with Shopify, the onboarding experience is well thought through, clear, and helpful.

Sellers are guided through everything they need to get up and running.

shopify setup guide shopify vs amazon
Shopify’s onboarding process is intuitive and straightforward. Credit: Shopify
shopify onboarding product add shopify vs amazon
shopify themes 1 shopify vs amazon

Unfortunately, they are going up against a marketplace that doesn’t require much upfront work to get started.

The winner: Amazon

To set up as a seller on Amazon, all you have to do is open an account.

While it might be a little unfair to declare a winner for this category as the two platforms offer substantially different options, Amazon is undeniably easier to use.

With just a few clicks you can access their billions of visitors.

Payment options

Shopify supports a wide range of payment gateways, while Amazon only supports its own payment gateway, Amazon Pay.

It means your Shopify store is capable of accepting payments in several different forms and hundreds of currencies.

shopify payments shopify vs amazon
Credit: Shopify Payments

Amazon accepts credit and debit cards but doesn’t support payments made through PayPal.

The winner: Shopify

In contrast to the previous category, there’s a clear winner here. Shopify is much more flexible and accommodating when it comes to your customers’ methods of payment.

Shopify Payments is a powerful option for merchants, allowing them to accept many payment methods easily.

Marketing and SEO

There’s a technical difference between Amazon and Shopify regarding SEO. With general marketing and building customer relationships, there’s a broader, more fundamental difference.

SEO applies to both, although with Shopify you’ll be optimizing for Google, and with Amazon you’ll be trying to outrank your competitors in Amazon’s own search results.

If you’re new to Amazon SEO, Neil Patel has an informative post on how to make it work for you.

The main thing to keep in mind is that while Google is attempting to predict searcher intent across a very broad range of behaviors, Amazon’s searchers are only interested in buying something, so its algorithms are targeted accordingly.

For broader marketing efforts, Shopify has much greater scope to attract people to your site, build your brand, and create engaging experiences when visitors are on your site.

They provide tools for email marketing, SEO, content marketing, and Facebook ads, as well as a dedicated analytics service.

Shopify email marketing shopify vs amazon
Credit: Shopify

All of this is on offer because, with a Shopify store, you own the customer relationship.

When visitors land on your pages, you still need to do a lot of work to convince them that your brand is worthy of their time, attention, and money.

If you’re selling only on Amazon, you’re selling to Amazon’s customers, and only Amazon can market to them. You don’t know who is buying and can’t gather your own customer data.

With Shopify, there’s no middleman between you and your customers. You can build customer lists, segment for marketing campaigns, and create personalized messaging and communications.

It’s well worth the extra work involved because it gives you control over your customer relationships.

Shogun Page Builder allows you to create conversion-boosting landing pages and custom branding on Shopify that you can use across your store. You’re directly in control of building sales funnels that drive up conversions.

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The winner: Shopify

Because Shopify lets you set up a complete storefront, with all that means for branding and the customer experience, it is a much more scalable option for marketing your business.

Brands that are‌ building their own independent identity and loyal customer base should opt for Shopify.

Ecommerce tools and apps

As an ecommerce platform, Shopify has a full range of ecommerce tools and features to help you run your store.

In addition to providing standard services like marketing, cart, checkout, and payment support, there’s a whole ecosystem of apps that allow you to sell on different platforms, market yourself better, and improve the customer experience.

shopify app store shopify vs amazon
Credit: Shopify App Store

Amazon also offers a substantial amount of apps and services, including:

  • Brand analytics
  • Currency conversion
  • Automated pricing
  • Express payout
  • Many, many more
Amazon app partners shopify vs amazon

A selection of the apps available on Amazon. Credit: Amazon

The winner: Amazon

As Amazon is one of the biggest businesses in the world, its list of app partners is huge and the services on offer are almost limitless.

Added to this, when you sell on Amazon, you get to take advantage of the unrivaled ecommerce infrastructure built into the platform itself.

While you can create great ecommerce functionality with Shopify, it’s usually dependent on integrating and managing several apps to give you the capability you need.

Shopify page builder apps like Shogun Page Builder let you do much of what you need with one easy-to-use tool, saving you development time and reducing ongoing tech management liabilities.

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Multichannel selling and in-person selling

Amazon currently doesn’t offer a POS system, while Shopify does.

It means that Shopify enables online and in-person selling to retailers who need to integrate their real-world and online stores.

This is a definite advantage, but that could be about to change. Amazon has reportedly been developing its own POS system that could help position them as a direct competitor to Shopify.

The details and pricing of Amazon’s potential POS system are yet to be announced, so if you’re looking to integrate your on and offline stores now, Shopify is the way to go.

Shopify offers multichannel integration, allowing you to sell on several channels in addition to your physical store, such as Amazon and other marketplaces.

shopify picked for you apps shopify vs amazon
Credit: Shopify

Third-party apps allow you to integrate your store with many other channels if the one you want doesn’t come as standard. Amazon doesn’t offer comparable services.

The winner: Shopify

For now, Shopify is the clear winner here. But keep a close eye on developments with Amazon’s POS capability.

Fulfillment and dropshipping

When it comes to getting your products into the hands of your customers, Amazon and Shopify have differing models.

Dropshipping is a fulfillment model that’s bigger than just Shopify—it’s ‌ a business model that’s become attractive to many online brands, regardless of whether they’re using Shopify.

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) has become a business model in its own right, even though it’s based on the capabilities of a single company. FBA lets you store your stock in Amazon’s warehouses and have it shipped through their logistics network.

Shopify doesn’t have the physical infrastructure or workforce to offer such a service, but they do facilitate dropshipping very well.

Dropshipping is when you neither store inventory nor fulfill the sales you make on your site, but get a third party to do this for you.

The main difference between FBA and dropshipping is that with FBA, even though you’re having Amazon store your stock for you, you’re still going to need to buy the stock in advance and arrange for it to be warehoused with them.

With dropshipping, you don’t even buy the stock until a customer orders it from your store. It requires lower startup costs and less liability.

The winner: Shopify

Regarding Amazon FBA vs Shopify dropshipping, Shopify has a better-developed range of apps and partners to facilitate dropshipping.

Amazon is less flexible in its approach to dropshipping and charges fees for its FBA service.

Customer support

Amazon takes the same approach to its sellers as it does to those who buy from the platform when it comes to customer support.

After you navigate a series of FAQs and tutorials that Amazon hopes will answer your question, you have to request a call back from an online button before you get to speak to a human.

Shopify, in contrast, prides itself on its customer service, providing 24-hour telephone support, access to community forums, and hands-on technical support.

The winner: Shopify

Shopify is the standout winner for help and support for their merchants.

Selling on Amazon from Shopify

While Amazon gives you access to a huge number of potential customers, Shopify gives you exclusivity and control.

But why not get the best of both worlds and set up multichannel selling through your Shopify store?

If that’s where your brand is at, we’ve produced a step-by-step guide on how to set up your Amazon sales channel on Shopify.

Doing this means you can:

  • Expand your reach and connect with potentially billions of customers
  • Hold on to your identity by keeping your branding consistent
  • Use the increased exposure you get on Amazon to increase brand awareness
  • Stay ahead of the competition, who are probably selling on Amazon too!

Shopify vs Amazon FAQs

Now, here are all the questions we didn’t yet answer in the post.

Why do people prefer Shopify over Amazon?

Shopify gives you more freedom and control. It’s a full-scale ecommerce platform that gives you everything you need to set up and run your own online store.

Amazon provides a marketplace for you to meet lots of customers. But you don’t have the same abilities to showcase your catalog, create lasting relationships with customers, and build your brand.

Should I start with Shopify or Amazon?

If you’re a small business, start with Amazon and build yourself up. If you’re a bit larger, already have an online brand presence, and want to start scaling, it’s time to move up to your own store with Shopify.

What is the difference between an Amazon store and a Shopify store?

Amazon is one huge store containing lots of small, independent stores. As such, you’ll be side-by-side with a huge range of other businesses.

A Shopify store is exclusive to you. Shopify provides the tools for you to sell products through your own ecommerce website.

Who is Shopify best suited for?

Shopify is best suited for retailers who need to create a strong brand identity or for whom the customer experience is critical.

If you have a clear marketing strategy to attract visitors to a standalone online store, then Shopify is the right choice.

Can you sell on Amazon if you have Shopify?

Yes, absolutely. You can sell on both platforms at once.

Putting your products on Amazon and Shopify expands your reach, giving you access to more customers and markets. You can integrate Amazon with Shopify using the Amazon sales channel on Shopify.

Take your Shopify store to the next level with Shogun Page Builder

Shopify is an incredible foundation for your online store.

But to get the most out of the platform, you need to create a beautiful, bespoke site that offers an outstanding customer experience, boosts conversions, and builds your brand identity.

Shogun Page Builder gives you the power to do this with made-for-Shopify selections, pre-built drag-and-drop elements, styling you can save and reproduce across your site, and customized landing pages.

#cta-visual-pb#<cta-title>Build a better Shopify store<cta-title>Make your store look and feel as unique as your brand by customizing with the best page builder for Shopify.Start building for free

Rhys Williams

Rhys is a writer specializing in enterprise software, ecommerce, and SaaS. He describes himself as a geek and a wordsmith and relishes making complex, technical topics come to life in easy-to-understand web copy.

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