Shopify vs Amazon: Choosing Between the Two Best E-Commerce Platforms
Trying to figure out which e-commerce platform — Amazon or Shopify — is best for your online business? Read this.
In this post, we present a detailed Shopify vs Amazon comparison. You will learn about the key differences between the two of the best e-commerce systems currently available on the market. We’re going to discuss their payment options, customizability, integration capabilities, and other crucial aspects.
When you decide to start a traditional retail business, one of the first tasks you need to perform is finding suitable premises. They should satisfy a number of requirements, such as an advantageous location to ensure a stable flow of customers, an attractive look both inside and out, enough room for storing merchandise, and more.
For online retailers, finding a good e-commerce platform to play the role of a virtual storefront is as or even more important. In contrast to a brick-and-mortar setting, though, an online store has to meet some specific needs other than just an attractive appearance. E-merchants put a great deal of emphasis on the functionality of their sites as well.
If you spend enough time on the Internet searching for a perfect e-commerce system to sell products online, you’re most likely to face an ultimate choice: Shopify vs Amazon. It’s not surprising. These are currently two leading solutions for conducting online sales, with the rest of the competitors trailing behind.
According to the Shopify official site, more than 1 million businesses in 175 countries have sold products for $200+ billion using this platform. In 2020, Shopify was run on 24% of e-commerce sites worldwide.
Amazon statistics are no less impressive. This is the biggest e-commerce retailer in the United States. To back it up, 2020 saw Amazon’s US net sales reaching nearly $386 billion. Also, every month, over 215 million unique visitors come to the platform to explore its offerings.
With these outstanding results ringing in your ears, you might be wondering which part of the Amazon vs Shopify equation to land your forefinger on. The systems may seem much the same, but, in fact, they’re distinct in a number of ways. To resolve the dilemma, we’ve compared the platforms based on certain criteria. Hopefully, this information will help you make the right choice.
Shopify vs Amazon: The Key Aspects to Consider Before Going One Way or the Other
What Are Amazon and Shopify in Essence?
First things first. When choosing between Shopify or Amazon, you need to know that they follow different business models.
This represents what we call a virtual marketplace. Remember the last time you went to a real marketplace? In a typical market, each booth or stall offers merchandise that belongs to a particular seller. The entire marketplace may also have an administration that charges the merchants a certain commission on sales.
Amazon is guided by the same principles. It’s an Internet space where various online merchants can offer their products to the platform’s visitors under the same virtual roof. They can modify the look of their booths (pages), lower or raise their prices, and add new products to their inventories.
However, they must abide by the rules that the marketplace’s administration has set. Once they break these, they may have to leave Amazon for good. In addition, merchants with specific types of products are up against other sellers that offer identical merchandise, as well as against the marketplace’s owners that sell similar products as well.
This cloud-based system follows a different approach. It offers merchants the ability to create their own online stores hosted on Shopify’s servers. This resembles a street with a number of individual shops, each selling products under a specific brand.
This is your store and yours alone. There’s no administration to dictate the rules to you. There are no other merchants on the same page to compete with. You can give your store any look you want. Shopify takes care of all the technical nitty-gritty for you, including your site’s performance and security.
That being said, this convenience comes at a price. You will have to pay a subscription fee and, unless you use Shopify Payments to accept money from your customers, transaction fees.
Now that you know the key Shopify vs Amazon point of difference, let’s take a look at some other important aspects.
Shopify vs Amazon: Marketing
Creating an online store with Shopify is straightforward and quick. When it comes to drawing customers to it, though, the platform resembles a swimming coach who’s just watching a newbie trying to stay afloat and only giving advice instead of providing any physical support.
Thinking of resolving the Amazon vs Shopify dilemma in favor of the latter? Then, brace yourself for the truth: you’ll have to go through all the circles of marketing hell. Shopify does provide lots of excellent tools for working with social media, improving SEO rankings, email marketing, promoting stores, and others. However, this is as much as you can expect. Increasing traffic to your site is exclusively your responsibility.
We’ve already mentioned the number of unique monthly visitors to Amazon. Add this to millions of returning customers, and you will get the point. Amazon is a traffic magnet that online merchants can leverage without too much effort. This is one of the most compelling reasons for beginners to start selling products on this marketplace.
There is a fly in this pleasant ointment, though. You’ll be listing your products next to similar products offered by other merchants. As such, you’ll have to make an extra effort to promote your merchandise within the platform itself. This calls for SEO skills, and time, which you could otherwise devote to important business matters.
Shopify vs Amazon: Customizing the Store’s Look and Feel
When you choose this platform for your online business, you don’t have to worry about the appearance of your store. Shopify has a wide array of pre-built themes that you can easily tweak to reflect your brand identity. At the moment of writing, the official Shopify site offered 9 free and 64 paid themes for all intents and purposes.
Not satisfied with the available collection? Our expert Shopify development team can give your store a unique look based on your design or ideas. This will help you stand out from the crowd and ensure better brand visibility.
Customizing the appearance of an online store is one point in the Shopify or Amazon debate in which Jeff Bezos’s brainchild clearly loses. The marketplace does provide some options to modify the look of your page by adding your own visuals and item descriptions. At the end of the day, though, your storefront will hardly appear different from those of other sellers and the platform itself due to the identical page structure and styling.
This is a big drawback from a sales perspective. When customers see the same pages with the same products sold at the same prices, they will just make a purchase at random. Why should they buy something at your particular store?
Shopify vs Amazon: Core and Additional Functionality
The platform is a true e-commerce paradise in terms of default features and third-party add-ons. Shopify will guide you all along your merchant’s route, helping you with every essential task from launching your business and selling goods to marketing and managing your store.
Here are just a few of Shopify’s functions and tools you can use out of the box:
- Starting your business: Business name generator, domain name registration, a collection of themes
- Selling online and offline: POS, Buy Button
- Marketing: Marketing dashboard reports, Shopify Email for email marketing, SEO tools
- Managing the store: Centralized inventory, Shopify Shipping
Looking for something more specific for your business? Leverage the power of hundreds of apps available on the official App Store or hire professional Shopify developers to fine-tune your store even further. You might find our introduction to Shopify app development useful.
Amazon also provides a number of tools to facilitate the merchants’ sales efforts. For example, it offers a number of advertising solutions to promote your products and brand, including:
- Amazon attribution
- Amazon DSP
- Amazon Live
- Audio Ads
- Sizmek Ad Suite
Also, the Amazon Currency Converter allows you to place orders in your country’s currency at the checkout. You will immediately see the exchange rate along with Amazon’s fees for using the converter.
There are many other tools as well to address all kinds of tasks, from creating product listings to fulfilling orders. Nevertheless, in the Shopify vs Amazon rivalry, the former wins thanks to a wider range of e-commerce tooling for business success.
Shopify vs Amazon: How You Can Accept Money from Customers
User experience is extremely important for every e-commerce solution. One of its facets is the number and variety of ways in which customers can pay for their purchases. Shopify truly shines in this respect.
First, it has its proprietary Shopify Payments system. The thrilling thing about it is that it charges no transaction fees. Of course, if you decide not to use it, the corresponding transition fees do apply.
For example, if you’re on the Basic Shopify plan, these amount to 2% on all sales. If you’re an advanced plan subscriber, you’ll have to pay 0.5% on all sales. This, mind you, apart from the credit card fees.
Even the latter are dependent on the specific plan and the credit card payment type. For instance, if you’re on Basic Shopify, the online credit card rate is 2.9% + 30¢ USD, while the in-person credit card rate for the Advanced Shopify plan subscribers amounts to 2.4% + 0¢ USD.
Want to use another payment method? You have more than 100 gateways to choose from, including Stripe, PayPal, and a host of others. When choosing a suitable gateway for your Shopify online store, you might find this blog post helpful.
To learn more about Shopify’s payment options, visit this page.
The marketplace offers a number of payment methods too. Yet, it clearly loses the Shopify vs Amazon contest as far receiving money from customers is concerned. Amazon’s principal payment gateway, Amazon Pay, accepts debit and credit cards, including:
- Diners Club
- American Express
Certain merchants can also use the Amazon.com store card. There are no transaction fees with sites that accept Amazon Pay. However, if the card that a customer used to make a purchase has been issued in a country different from the merchant’s, a foreign transaction fee might be charged. For answers to questions about Amazon Pay, browse this page.
Also, there are some payment methods you can’t use on Amazon. Among the rest, these are:
- Bank transfers
- Cash, regardless of the currency
- Book tokens
- Checks on postal orders
Shopify vs Amazon: Additional Services
When we talk about additional services for e-commerce companies, we mean delivering goods to customers first and foremost. Alas, despite all its great features and benefits, Shopify is not up to the challenge when it comes to order fulfillment.
The platform does provide a lot of tools for dropshipping, meaning using order fulfillment services by external suppliers. One example is Spocket, which we discussed in a recent post. In addition, the vendor has launched its own Fulfillment Network that packages and delivers Shopify merchants’ products to their customers’ homes.
However, when considering Amazon FBA vs Shopify (read about Amazon FBA below), the former is currently head and shoulders above its counterpart. For one, Shopify’s delivery service is limited to the territories of the United States and Canada. Amazon FBA, by contrast, covers almost the entire planet.
Fulfillment by Amazon or FBA for short is an invaluable service for all merchants who don’t have sufficient resources or time to deal with the packaging and shipping of their products. All they have to do is sign up to sell on Amazon.
The enrollment for FBA is free. A registered merchant simply sends his or her inventory to one of the Amazon fulfillment facilities across the globe and pays for the service. Amazon takes care of the rest. Various fees apply, depending on whether the seller or Amazon itself fulfills the order. Visit this page to view details.
Knowing how ambitious the Shopify team is, their fulfillment network is certainly going to grow and develop. At the moment, though, we’re more biased towards the after-vs player in the Shopify vs Amazon FBA game.
The table below summarizes the main points in the Amazon vs Shopify debate we’ve discussed in this post:
|General description||A hosted e-commerce platform for building individual online stores||An online marketplace|
|Marketing||Attracting customers requires a lot of time and effort on the part online store owners||A huge amount of freely available traffic|
|Customization||Absolute freedom in customizing the look and feel of an online store + a sizeable collection of free and premium themes and apps||Customizing a store is, in essence, limited to adding product images and descriptions|
|Features||Provides a wide array of default features for online merchants to succeed||Has some helpful features like a currency converter, but on the whole loses to Shopify in this aspect|
Amazon FBA: delivering goods across the globe
The Amazon vs Shopify dilemma is a hard nut to crack. Both these e-commerce behemoths provide a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurs to succeed. They are also distinct in many aspects.
Therefore, your ultimate choice should be determined by how much money you can spend, how much time you can commit to promoting your brand, what you want to achieve in the end, and especially how much freedom you need in running your business. Here are our recommendations.
Go for it if:
- You want to take advantage of a huge, freely available customer base immediately
- You’re not particularly concerned about your branding and don’t mind competing with numerous other sellers and the platform itself
- You need someone else to handle the order fulfillment process for you in a convenient way so that you can focus on important business matters
- You don’t mind following the harsh trading policy imposed by Amazon
Go for it if:
- You want to build a powerful brand
- You don’t mind spending lots of time marketing and promoting your store
- You value complete freedom in all business aspects, from inventory management to accepting payments
- You want to customize your store in every way, both regarding its appearance and its functionality
You can also bind the two platforms together by using apps specifically built for this purpose, such as Spreadr — Amazon importer. This will enable you to create a true e-commerce powerhouse with Amazon and Shopify working in unison for your business glory.
Have any questions related to the use of Shopify or Amazon? Our seasoned Shopify developers will be happy to guide you through. With our unrivaled expertise in Shopify development and customization, your store will look perfect and have all the features to meet your unique business needs.
Write to us to discuss the details of your project!
You might also find these posts useful:
4 Best Shopify Customer Service Apps to Inspire Brand Loyalty and Boost Revenue
Control Your Business with Shopify Product and Inventory Apps
Optimize Your Order Process with the Best Shopify Shipping Apps
10 Shopify Apps for Marketing and Promotions — Fuel up Your Business
7 Best SEO Apps for Shopify — Make Your Store Google-Friendly in 2021
Shopify Website Development: 6 Reasons to Build Your Online Store with Shopify
3 Main Reasons to Hire a Shopify Developer for Your Online Store
Why a Custom Shopify Theme Is the Best Option for Image-Reliant Businesse
Choosing a Payment Gateway for Your Shopify Store: 5 Essential Tips
5 Questions About A/B Testing in Shopify: Learn How to Boost the Conversion Rate of Your Store
How to Improve Your Shopify Store Speed
Shopify Plus: Customize Your Online Store for Growth and Better Sales with PSD2HTML
10 Things to Consider Before You Hire a Shopify Developer
How to Make Your Shopify Store More Mobile-Friendly
4 Newest Shopify Apps to Facilitate Working With Social Media
Shopify Landing Page Optimization: 6 Rules Every Online Merchant Should Follow
Shopify App Development: A General Overview for Beginners
Top 4 Shopify Apps for Dropshipping: Find the Best Products for Your Online Store in Just a Few Clicks