Shopify vs Amazon — Which is Best for Your Ecommerce Business?
Posted on: January 5, 2022
It’s the online business equivalent of the famous George Foreman vs Muhammad Ali match. Shopify vs Amazon is the ultimate face-off between giants. These are two of the largest eCommerce platforms out there, and they each bring their own unique perks and advantages to the table.
With over 250 million customers worldwide, and accounting for 41% of the e-commerce market in the US alone, Amazon is the top contender in this match. This isn’t to say that a fight would be one-sided. With over 1,000,000 businesses in over 175 countries and a reported $319 billion in global economic activity, Shopify is well-equipped to hold its ground.
We will compare these two massive platforms and explore everything from pricing, features, and customer support, to how easy they are to use. Read on to find out which of the two powerhouses are best suited for your eCommerce business.
What’s the Difference Between Shopify and Amazon?
Both Amazon and Shopify help you make money by selling online. All you have to do is pay a monthly subscription which grants you access to all their tools and resources.
The main difference between Amazon and Shopify is that with Shopify you get to create your own website, simple and easy and have more than 1400+ tools and apps you can integrate into your shop while Amazon has an established marketplace and you can start selling as soon as you've registered an account and they also offer FBA which deals with all your packing, shipping and returns.
Amazon is an online marketplace where you can sell your products alongside other online sellers. This is the equivalent of having your merchandise sold in the most famous stores in the world. You don’t need a big name or brand identity. You have instant access to a vast number of potential buyers by simply being a part of their favourite store.
Shopify is a specialized eCommerce platform that gives you the tools to build your own store. It’s the equivalent of choosing the right building in the right location, opening a store, and building your brand identity. This allows you to customize your store to attract potential clients who are searching specifically for your products.
Shopify vs Amazon: Pros & Cons
A vast array of eCommerce tools like website building, inventory tracking, rewards and referrals, and much more.
The platform’s app store can provide over 1,500 apps to help you improve the way you manage your online store, as well as enhance the shopping experience of your customers.
Another huge advantage is the ability to create your unique brand identity. You’ll get to build your own site and make it stand out by using over 160 fully customizable themes.
About half of the themes and apps in their store are free, so you’ll need to weigh the benefits and costs of accessing extra features.
Shopify does boast its great SEO (Search Engine Optimization) features, and you will have full access to advanced analytics for your site, as well as an impressive number of marketing apps. Having all these tools and data at your disposal is good, but you’ll be solely responsible for your store’s marketing strategies and campaigns.
Being a marketplace, Amazon already has the traffic to ensure a huge exposure for your products. In fact, a lot of potential customers rely solely on Amazon as a shopping platform.
You won’t need to invest a fortune in marketing to gain access to potential buyers.
You can access services like FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon). This means that you can send your products to an Amazon fulfillment center, and they handle details like packing, shipping, customer service, etc.
There are so many sellers with similar products that it makes it hard to stand out from the crowd. Competition is steep, and oftentimes you’ll be outshined by sellers with better price ranges.
There are no opportunities for branding. You might have a great product, with a unique backstory, but all the potential customer sees is one product in a line of many.
Ease of Use
Ease of using Shopify
Building your own website is generally a complicated process. Shopify can help by offering a platform that doesn’t require any technical know-how. It’s easy to navigate, and it has a clean, clear design, with useful help pages to guide you step by step.
Adding features and integrating different options like accounting tools and social media accounts is made easy and accessible for anyone.
Ease of using Amazon
Using Amazon as a seller is as easy as creating an account. Once you follow all the required steps for your setup, you’re ready to sell.
If you’re looking for a simple selling process, you can also opt for a service like FBA which handles your products’ packing, shipping, and returns, as well as any other interactions with clients. This will take a toll on your profits, but it will also help you avoid headaches.
Shopify’s Design Flexibility
Shopify allows you to get creative and design your online store to reflect your brand identity. Everything is customizable, and you can edit every detail of your page.
If the thought that you’re starting from scratch is a bit scary, you should know that you can access the Shopify Theme Store and choose one of the pre-designed themes. You can keep them as they are, or you can edit details to fit your vision.
Amazon’s Design Flexibility
You’ll have a homepage dedicated to your store, but the design will always be associated with Amazon, rather than your brand. You’ll still be able to add your own images and descriptions, but the overall look doesn’t vary that much between individual sellers.
Having limited design options means that your store page will end up with a configuration and style that’s meant to fit the Amazon mold, instead of being an identifying feature, and a key element that sets you apart from your competition.
Ecommerce Tools and Features
Amazon’s Tools and Features
Besides the FBA program, Amazon does offer some tools and eCommerce features to improve your selling experience. Like all the other Amazon sellers, you will have access to professional reports to monitor your sales, traffic, and product performance. You’ll also be able to create promotions, discount codes, and enable gift options for your products.
Some of the more advanced tools are Amazon Analytics and Amazon Advertising which allow you to construct a marketing campaign. This will help increase the visibility of your products and make sure that potential buyers are looking at your products before they’re exploring other options.
Shopify’s Tools and Features
Shopify offers a wide range of tools and features that serve to improve user experience and simplify the management of your business. You’ll be able to use some useful eCommerce tools like a logo maker and app integrations.
You’ll also have access to cool features like the Abandoned Cart Recovery which sends emails to your potential clients, reminding them that they haven’t completed their purchase. Since Shopify enables you to create your own space, you can also implement other cool features like the automatic tax calculator, the inventory system, app integrations, and multichannel selling.
Payment Options and Fees
Amazon’s Payment Options and Fees
Amazon Pay is the main payment gateway, and it enables you to accept invoices and most credit cards and debit cards, including Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. Buyers can also use gift cards and Amazon cash as a means of payment, but they cannot use services like PayPal.
Besides their selling plan fees, you’ll probably be paying referral fees, which are a percentage of the total value of the item you’re selling, including packing and shipping. Amazon’s fees can vary according to the type of product you’re selling, and can be somewhere between 3% and 45%, with an average of 15% and a minimum value of $0,30.
You may also pay fulfillment fees, which are different if you’re responsible for shipping, or if you’ve opted for the Amazon FBA feature. Other costs may be related to monthly inventory storage fees, high-volume listing fees, or optional programs like advertising and premium account services.
Shopify’s Payment Options and Fees
Shopify Payments is the main payment gateway for the platform, and it comes without transaction fees. You can also access over 100 external payment gateways, including Amazon Pay and PayPal, each with its own transaction fees, ranging from 0.5% to 2%, plus potential credit card fees.
The customers are already visiting the Amazon marketplace. Millions of monthly users who shop on Amazon will already be looking for a product like yours.
Although the customers are coming to you, you will probably still have to invest in advertising to make sure that your products are amongst the first they find when they use Amazon’s search engine.
Shopify doesn’t provide you with the same search traffic as an Amazon seller account. You’ll create your own site and brand, and this means that you’ll need your potential clients to search for your business in order to reach your store.
You’ll need to focus on the marketing side of your eCommerce business, and invest in things like multichannel selling, email campaigns, SEO, and social media marketing. These elements will be essential in attracting customers and growing your business.
Help and Support
Amazon’s Customer Support
This topic is a bit controversial because Amazon is not famed for having the clearest or easy-to-use support system. For most problems, you’ll need to access the ‘contact us’ section and find the category for your current issue.
If you can’t find the information you need, you’ll either call the support system, or you’ll leave your number and wait for someone to call you back.
You also have the options of sending an email or contacting customer support on social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook.
Shopify’s Customer Support
Shopify offers a wide set of options for customer services. This includes a 24/7 phone line and 24/7 live chat. You can also contact them on social media, or via email or community forums.
You can solve some problems by following detailed video tutorials. And for more advanced issues, you’ll have access to a specialist support system.
Amazon’s Pricing Plans
Amazon’s selling plan offers an individual plan for small businesses shipping, where you pay selling fees of around $0,99 per unit sold, and a professional selling plan, where you pay a monthly fee of $39,99 without a limit to the number of units you can sell.
Shopify’s Pricing Plans
Your Shopify store will have a monthly maintenance cost, depending on what plan you choose. This can be $29 for the Basic Shopify plan, $79 for the Shopify plan designed for growing businesses, and $290 for the Advanced Shopify plan for scaling businesses that require advanced reporting.
How Business Owners Can Leverage Both Amazon & Shopify
Not mutually exclusive
Both Shopify and Amazon are amazing platforms for eCommerce businesses, and you can absolutely make use of both to sell online and help your business grow and prosper.
You can add the Amazon sales channel to your Shopify account and create listings for several categories of products. As a Shopify seller, you can also sign up for protection under the Amazon Brand Registry, which helps you protect your registered trademarks on Amazon without including Global Trade Item Numbers.
Use both to expand your reach
Both platforms offer unique sets of perks and advantages. You can boost the effectiveness of your online presence with a hosted service like Shopify while taking advantage of the traffic provided by Amazon.
Combining the benefits of having a standalone online store and a marketplace presence can help you sell products to a larger audience while cultivating your brand identity and increasing conversions.
The best option depends on your business
The best option is to sell your products on both platforms, but in reality, you’ll probably need to prioritize one over the other depending on the size of your business, the types of products you’re looking to sell, and your competition.
Amazon is a great option for small businesses. It works great if you don’t have a customer base, you’re not sure who your target customers are, or you don’t have the time, money, or skills to create an efficient marketing strategy. Chances are that shoppers on Amazon are already looking for the products you’re going to sell.
Shopify can also be a good fit for small businesses, especially if you already have a customer base, or you have some knowledge about your customer profile. You can be successful if you invest in a good marketing campaign to help increase your reach to potential buyers.
Shopify is a great option if you’re looking to create your own online store with an online presence centered around your brand identity. The platform is easy to use, it has a ton of added features, and it lets you engage in content marketing more easily.
Amazon can help you develop a customer base by exposing your products to its millions of monthly users. Although the Amazon marketplace doesn’t allow you to fully customize your homepage, you won’t have to worry about details like design and how it relates to your brand.
Choosing between Shopify vs Amazon for eCommerce is not mandatory. You can create multiple online stores and sell on both platforms. Whatever platform you choose to use, you can save money with local or international shipping by outsourcing your fulfillment needs. You can connect your online store with Ship Expert to get a shipping solution that’s perfectly integrated with all the major eCommerce platforms out there.
Discover how Ship Expert’s shipping solutions help you manage and ship your online orders.
Greg Woo is a seasoned expert in the logistics and distribution industry, with a career spanning over two decades. He has a comprehensive understanding of shipping and distribution needs, and has extensive experience integrating with e-commerce stores as well as customer specific WMS (warehouse management systems) and ERP’s (enterprise resource planning software). His tenure in the industry and established courier and LTL partnerships have allowed clients to benefit from reduced shipping expenses, as well as improved operations through software and specialized integrations.
Greg is currently the Director at Ship Expert Inc., a role he has held since February 2015. Prior to his role at Ship Expert, Greg held significant positions at Juxto, a telecommunications and managed internet service provider.
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