As a merchant, you have probably heard a lot about two major e-commerce heavyweights - Shopify and Amazon. Both platforms can provide online sellers with tons of opportunities. The question here is, which one to choose?
On Amazon, there are more than 2 million sellers from all over the world. As for Shopify, the number of active merchants is over 1 million worldwide according to the latest data. These are impressive numbers, aren't they?
Even though you can run your business on both Amazon and Shopify, there are a number of important differences that might influence your choice. Before making a final decision considering which e-commerce platform to go with, take a closer look at our head-to-head comparison of Shopify vs. Amazon.
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We have done in-depth research regarding both e-commerce platforms taking into account such factors as pricing, ease of use, level of customer support, set of possible features, etc.
If you want to know our choice right up front, we consider Shopify to be the best all-in-one e-commerce platform out there. Chances are, you won't find anything better for setting up and scaling your online store website. However, it would be a mistake to claim that Shopify is right for everyone without exception. That's exactly when our research comes in handy. Find out in what ways Shopify is different from Amazon and decide which platform is better for your business.
So, you want to sell products and services online, but you are puzzling over the question of whether you should sell on Shopify or on marketplaces like Amazon or eBay.
First things first, you don’t necessarily have to pick only one platform. On the contrary, it is recommended to do both: you can have a Shopify online store and at the same time use Amazon fulfillment.
Moreover, it would be a mistake to assume that they are completely interchangeable. Let’s look at the Shopify-Amazon differences.
Shopify is a complete cloud-based e-commerce platform with the help of which a merchant can set up, manage, and scale an e-commerce website or online store. It is a great solution for small startup businesses as well as for big companies. The number of customizable templates, the set of features and tools along with affordable pricing plans and tons of apps from the Shopify App Store make Shopify one of the leaders in the world of e-commerce.
As you may already know, Amazon is the world’s best known and biggest online retailer that provides merchants with the opportunity to sell their goods and services through its marketplace.
The good news is, thanks to Amazon you get millions of potential customers instantaneously. The bad news is, these potential customers are the potential customers of your competitors as well. Normally people don't go on Amazon to look for a certain brand; they look for a particular product. Because of this, Amazon is a great solution if you own a small business and don't yet have an established customer base. However, you need to be ready to stick to plenty of rules and regulations if you go with Amazon.
So, the main difference between the Shopify e-commerce platform and the Amazon e-commerce platform is on the surface. With Shopify, you build and manage your own separate online store whereas Amazon allows you to sell things by the use of its marketplace side by side with other online merchants. In other words, setting up your Shopify store is similar to opening a standalone coffee shop on the city street while selling goods on Amazon is like opening the same coffee shop but inside the biggest mall alongside other coffee shops.
Let’s start with the money issue. After all, making money is the reason you start your business in the first place. You definitely don't want to spend more on your online store than you earn from it.
In short, both Amazon and Shopify can offer various pricing plans to fit any budget. Now let's get down to the details.
Amazon has two pricing plans to choose from:
It's up to you to decide which plan to choose. However, take into account that with the Professional pricing plan you get more features. On top of that, you have to keep in mind that extra fees will come if you take advantage of fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and they vary as well.
Shopify offers three main pricing plans and two additional:
The more expensive the pricing plan is, the more features you get. However, even the cheapest plan will be enough for setting up a fully-fledged e-commerce website. Speaking of additional plans that Shopify has, more large-scale businesses might be interested in Shopify Plus, which doesn’t have a fixed price. In turn, small startup businesses can go with Shopify Lite and that will cost them only $9 per month. With this plan, merchants will be able to sell things by means of social networking sites, on their own site by installing a Shopify Buy Button, or directly by using Shopify point-of-sale hardware.
Overall, starting a business with the Basic Shopify Plan is easier and more profitable than setting up an Amazon store with its Individual Plan.
So, you want to enter the game of online selling. You definitely don’t want to spend days, weeks, or even months trying to figure out how to set up your online store. This experience might be frustrating, especially if you have no background in web development.
Well, you can breathe a sigh of relief since Shopify has everything you’ll need. Its navigation, intuitive dashboard, clear design layouts, and a lot of useful guides will help you build an e-commerce website as easy as 1-2-3. In addition to that, Shopify can boast of its App Store that makes it possible for you to customize your store the way you want to.
Now a few words regarding how to set up an Amazon store and whether or not it is as easy as with Shopify. From one perspective, the process is even easier since Amazon isn't a website builder–it is a marketplace (we are not going to talk about AWS - Amazon Web Services here). Basically, all you have to do is to create your Amazon seller account by completing the necessary setup stages.
As soon as your registration is done, you are ready to sell your products. In short, you won’t have any problems with how to start an Amazon store by yourself. It gets even better. By choosing FBA you get rid of one of the worst things in the world of e-commerce - shipping. Amazon Fulfillment takes care of that for you.
So, in terms of ease-of-use both Amazon and Shopify are great, each in their own way.
How many times have you left a website just because the design was so bad or confusing that you could hardly get to where the shopping cart was? Fortunately, both Shopify and Amazon web stores have attractive website designs and layouts to offer.
In terms of design customizability, Shopify is ahead of the race. Not only do you have complete control over your store design, but you can also choose from over 70 themes (10 of which are free of charge) and then make whatever changes you want to help your brand stand out. You might also like to check out the huge collection of Shopify themes here.
Even if you are looking for something very specific, say, a responsive template for your Furniture Shopify store, you will find it among the themes suggested.
Do you prefer having more than one string to your bow? Perhaps, this multipurpose editable Shopify Theme will fit the bill.
On Amazon, the page layouts all look pretty much the same. You can’t customize your product page the way you get to do with Shopify. Amazon caters to its brand; therefore, it is difficult for you to promote your own brand image. Indeed, there are things that can be customized with Amazon apart from uploading images and writing descriptions, but in the long run, Shopify offers way more design flexibility.
As you may have already heard, Shopify is famous for the variety of its third-party applications. The thing is, not only is web-store design customizability important, but website functionality is as well. This is the field where Shopify is second to none. The number of free and paid plugins in the Shopify App Store seems to be endless. You can be sure that you will find a solution to whatever needs you have, from discounts and special offers to social engagement and data analytics tools.
In terms of applications and extensions, Amazon falls behind Shopify. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t any useful plugins that you can install to speed up the growth of your Amazon business. Extensions like FBA Calculator for Amazon Sellers or AMZScout Pro might come in handy. Amazon also has the Amazon Shopping App for mobiles.
Altogether, your choice of additional applications depends on your business goals and capital.
You wouldn’t be reading this post if it wasn’t for the “how much money I’ll spend vs. how much money I’ll make” question. Of course, you want to get a wider choice of payment gateways and you want lower transaction fees or no transaction fees at all.
Speaking of Amazon, it won’t come as a surprise to you that its main payment gateway is Amazon Pay that accepts debit and credit cards. It is worth mentioning that with Amazon Pay you won’t be able to accept PayPal. As we have already mentioned, you will need to be ready to pay for the Professional Selling plan subscription every month. In addition to that, you pay selling fees that consist of shipping fees and referral fees. Also, if you use the FBA service, you additionally pay fulfillment and storage fees.
When it comes to Shopify, things are a bit different. The platform also uses its own payment gateway, which is called Shopify Pay. The good news is, by opting to it you are free from paying transaction fees. Unlike Amazon, Shopify gives you a wider choice of various payment gateways, PayPal and Amazon Pay included. Here is where you face transaction fees. Based on which Shopify plan you are using and which payment option you prefer, the fees vary from 0.5% to 2%. On top of that, there are credit card fees on Shopify that also range depending on the pricing plan you are on.
When it comes to online marketing, the question is who is going to be noticed by customers first. Just like high school kids, sellers compete with one another to attract more attention and become more popular. With tons of ads and promo campaigns by your competitors, building a strong brand from scratch is a hard nut to crack. That is why it is easier to become one of the top Amazon sellers (the ones with Amazon’s Choice or Best Seller Badge) rather than find yourself a place among the biggest Shopify stores with huge traffic.
This is a category in which Shopify lags behind Amazon's big time since going with Shopify means dealing with the subtleties of SEO and advertising as well as running email and social media promotion campaigns. When you create an Amazon store, it is not you who goes to the customers; the customers come to you.
However, it is not as rosy as it may seem. Even though with Amazon you get millions of potential customers who are already looking for your products and who already have Amazon Prime, it doesn’t mean that all of them will see you right away. Here’s when search engine optimization for Amazon enters the game.
If you want to be on the list of the best Shopify websites, you will need to put in lots of work to draw traffic to your store and make your brand noticeable. The right digital marketing strategy is crucial for ranking higher and scaling your business with Shopify. But once it is successful, you will get more value for your money.
Which is better–Shopify Dropshipping or Amazon FBA? If this is something you are torn between, the information here might help you.
With Amazon FBA (FBA stands for fulfillment by Amazon) you ship your products to Amazon warehouses and the rest of the work such as packing, delivering, and customer service is done by Amazon. The only worry you have is the inventory that has to be in stock all the time. This is a great solution if you want to get rid of all the logistics headaches and hand them off to Amazon. The disadvantage is that you don’t contact your customers directly. You should read Amazon fulfillment reviews to get a better understanding of how everything works there.
With Shopify dropshipping, you don’t have to have all of the inventory in stock. You get an order, you go to your supplier (at AliExpress, for example), and give them all the information about the customer that is needed to deliver the product. Such a technique is great for a couple of reasons: 1) you don’t have to keep any inventory, therefore things like paying warehouse rent and employees salary are off the table, 2) the risks and responsibility are lower, 3) you save time since you don’t manage the process of packing and shipping goods to customers. On the flip side, you may face customer service issues because it is your supplier who did all the work but it's you who stays in touch with your customers when any issues arise.
Truth be told, there are things that only get better when they are together. Let’s take eggs and bacon, for example. Of course, they are great separately, but the combo is a lot better. The same can be said about Shopify-Amazon integration.
The two e-commerce giants have affiliate programs: Amazon Associates and Shopify Affiliate Program each with its own commission rates, benefits, and requirements. Why not get the advantage of both at the same time? What if we told you that you can sell Amazon affiliate products on Shopify? Not only is it possible, but Amazon itself encourages its users to migrate their stores to Shopify. You can begin to sell Amazon products with Shopify in just a few clicks.
If you are already an owner of a Shopify store, the only thing that is left to do is to join it to Amazon by the means of the Amazon Sales Channel and, of course, to create an Amazon Seller account. In this way, you get to make listings to put your products up for sale on Amazon from Shopify, synchronize inventory, create offers, and so on. Dropshipping from Amazon to Shopify is possible although you will need an app like Zonify for that.
When speaking of Shopify Amazon affiliate opportunities, one should keep in mind that they come with additional expenses. This means that you will have to pay a monthly fee for the Amazon Professional plan apart from the cost of Shopify monthly subscription.
Although you pay more, the expenses are worth it since they contribute to your business expansion.
It won’t come as a surprise to you that Shopify has a clearer support system than Amazon.
If you have any concerns, complaints, or questions, Amazon offers email and phone support, which means you leave a request and Amazon Seller Support gets in touch with you. There are also various community forums such as Amazon Handmade Seller Forums where you can bring up the issues that worry you. If you want to go to live-chat, it will be rather tricky. You can also browse help topics to check whether your question has been already covered there.
If you have something like this, “Amazon won't let me sign up for Individual seller account,” you might look the solution up in the “Account Settings & Payment” topic. All in all, the Amazon support system is definitely not the easiest in terms of usage.
On the flip side, the customer support system of Shopify is considered to be one of the best and most comprehensive. Despite the pricing plan you choose, you will be provided with 24/7 phone and live chat help. As well, you will be able to contact the support team by means of email or through social media. On top of that, you get access to their forums, video tutorials, and guides, which are very easy to find and browse. Think it sounds too good to be true? Well, Shopify knows how to lend a helping hand.
No matter how great Shopify or Amazon might look as platforms for selling products online, each of them has its own advantages and drawbacks. We suggest you consider all the pros and cons of Shopify and Amazon to make a well thought through decision.
|Pros of Shopify||Pros of Amazon|
|With Shopify, you are the owner of everything (If, say, Shopify goes out of business for some reason, you still will be able to continue building your business and transfer it to another hosting platform).
Shopify integrates with Pinterest, Facebook, and other platforms from which you can drive traffic to your site.
You can collect data such as customers’ emails, etc.
Low start-up costs.
Shopify allows you to build your own brand.
You can resell your store (If, say, one day you decide that you have had enough of online selling, it will be a lot easier as well as more profitable for you to sell the Shopify store than your Amazon business).
|You get a great amount of traffic instantaneously (there are over 300 million active users on Amazon).
It is free for most categories (Amazon takes a percentage of the sale).
It is easier to start selling products since all you have to do is create a product page.
Less risk (if you do proper product research in advance).
Amazon offers additional services such as shipping, packing/picking products, warehousing, and many more.
|Cons of Shopify||Cons of Amazon|
|You will need a big number of paid third-party apps.
Pay extra fees for using a third payment gateway.
It is harder to get traffic to your site.
You have zero customers at the very beginning.
You are responsible for your marketing strategy.
|If Amazon decides to kick your business off one day, they can do it.
There are a lot of rules you will need to stick to.
A lot of fees (Does Amazon charge to sell? Yes.)
Your customers are actually the customers of Amazon.
Сompetitive environment: once you decide to open an Amazon store, you will come up against the fierce competition.
You have fewer chances to build a strong brand image on Amazon.
Both Shopify and Amazon platforms can be great to start your business. In this article, we have covered the main aspects of each sales platform so you can decide for yourself whether to go with Shopify or Amazon, or both.
The article is helpful to people who are only starting on their path in the world of e-commerce as well as for those who are already using one of two platforms and considering moving from Shopify to Amazon and vice versa.
All in all, Shopify would be the best option for sellers to build and manage their e-commerce business since it is flexible, easy to use, and allows you to be the boss. But if you are a newbie, Amazon is the way to go. If you are looking for a win-win option – do both.
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