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Ecommerce platform guide

Shopify vs. Amazon: Which Platform Is Best For Your Business?

Shopify vs. Amazon: Which Platform Is Best For Your Business?
Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa

By Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa

15 min read

Shopify vs. Amazon? Which one is better? Choosing the right platform is critical for the success of your online business. If you’re not sure which one is best, you’ve come to the right place! In this Shopify vs. Amazon comparison, you’ll learn the key differences between these ecommerce website builders.

Whether you open a Shopify store or an Amazon storefront, you’re in good hands. Amazon offers a huge existing audience, so you don’t need to put as much effort into marketing your small business. With Shopify, you have full control over your online store, including the branding, layout, and customer experience.

Before diving into each platform’s ins and outs, let’s quickly examine the differences between Shopify and Amazon.

Shopify vs. Amazon at a glance

Shopify is an all-in-one ecommerce platform that allows you to create and customize your own online store. With Shopify, you control branding, design, and customer experience. Amazon is the largest online marketplace in the world, with a massive built-in audience of potential buyers. With Amazon, you can list products alongside other sellers and tap into the platform’s vast customer base.

Who is Shopify best for?

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Shopify

Shopify is best for entrepreneurs with a brand vision. It’s built for those who want full control over their ecommerce brand, identity, and customer interactions. As a comprehensive ecommerce platform, sellers gain access to marketing tools, social media integrations, website customization, and more.

Shopify offers multiple price tiers with elevated features, so it’s an excellent option if you’re planning to scale your ecommerce business in the future. Still, you’ll have to build your brand identity from the ground up.

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Who is Amazon best for?

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Amazon

Amazon is best for small to medium-sized businesses looking for instant visibility and access to a large existing customer base (310M+ active users globally). Amazon’s marketplace is a phenomenal resource for testing new products and validating market demand, as you can gain valuable customer feedback and sales data.

Another advantage online sellers gain with Amazon is access to Fulfillment by Amazon (Amazon FBA). This service handles logistics, customer service, and fulfillment, creating a hassle-free experience for your business. Also, Amazon makes it easy to sell both new and handmade items.

Shopify vs. Amazon: an in-depth comparison

As you can see, both platforms have their pros and cons. Let’s delve deeper to see which would fit your online business best.

Audience

a magnifying glass over a group of peopleSource: LinkedIn

While both ecommerce giants allow you to sell products online, they’re entirely different animals. Shopify is an ecommerce platform, and Amazon is an online marketplace. The key difference is in the audience you gain access to.

Shopify doesn’t provide access to an existing audience of buyers. While it’s a wonderful platform to set up your online store, you’ll need to make an effort to drive traffic. This means investing in marketing strategies that can help you attract and retain customers. Luckily, Shopify offers many sales features to help you along the way.

The most significant advantage of selling on Amazon is immediate access to millions of active buyers, which can provide instant exposure for your products. But remember that you’ll need to compete with countless other sellers on the platform for visibility. Not to mention, you’ll be competing with Amazon itself. You’ll have to invest in paid ads to make your listings appear at the top of the search engine results page.

Nonetheless, not having to grow your audience from zero is a huge plus.

Costs

When considering the costs of Shopify vs. Amazon, we have a clear winner—Shopify is more transparent and gives you a bigger bang for your buck. First, let’s examine Shopify’s plans and additional fees; then, we’ll dive into the complex world of Amazon fees.

Shopify pricing

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Shopify.com

Here’s a breakdown of Shopify’s plans:

Basic plan: Shopify’s Basic plan costs $39/month or $29/month if billed annually. This plan comes with a custom domain, unlimited products, one staff account, shipping discounts of up to 77%, standard analytics, and 24/7 support.

Shopify plan: It costs $105/month or $79/month when billed annually. You gain five additional staff accounts, shipping discounts of up to 88%, lower transaction fees, and deeper insights into customer behavior and site analytics.

Advanced plan: For $399/month, or $299/month if billed annually, you’ll get advanced reporting, the lowest transaction fees, automation to cut down on manual work, and 15 staff accounts.

All Shopify plans allow you to manage inventory in up to 1000 locations and include a free SSL certificate. You can try any plan for free with Shopify’s three-day trial. Plus, you’ll get a low $1 monthly subscription fee for the first three months, giving you plenty of time to decide whether the platform meets your expectations.

Other Shopify fees

a person holding a credit cardSource: Shopify

A significant advantage of opening a Shopify store is that you won’t have to pay third-party transaction fees for orders processed through Shopify payments, Shop Pay, Shop Pay Installments, and Paypal Express. You also won’t have to pay transaction fees using manual payment methods like cash, cash on delivery (COD), or bank transfers.

If you use an external payment gateway, transaction fees are 2% for Shopify Basic, 1% for Shopify, and 0.5% for Advanced Shopify.

Note: All payment gateways, including Shopify Payments, are subject to credit card fees. On Shopify, the regular credit card rate is 2.9% + 30¢. As you upgrade to higher Shopify price plans, your online credit card rates decrease to 2.4% + 30¢.

Amazon fees

Regarding subscription plans, Amazon offers two options—an Individual plan where sellers pay $0.99 per item sold and a Professional plan with a monthly subscription cost of $39.99. However, their fee system is more complex than that.

Selling on Amazon incurs variable fees depending on the product and fulfillment method—either FBA (fulfillment by Amazon) or FBM (fulfillment by merchant). Let’s consider Bluetooth earbuds, selling at $23.98 per item. Here’s a breakdown of the fees and profit you’d get using Amazon FBA vs fulfilling on your own:

a screenshot of a computer screenSource: Amazon Seller Central

It’s important to note that the total cost for “Your fulfillment’’ (FBM) doesn’t include shipping fees. If you choose to only sell products via FBM, you’ll need to consider shipping expenses while calculating your profit margin.

Regardless of your chosen online selling method, you must pay Selling on Amazon fees. These fees include several charges:

  • Amazon referral fee: Amazon charges a referral fee percentage on the total sales price for each product sold. This fee varies by product category, but it’s around 15% per sale on average (and up to 45% for Amazon device accessories). Browse the list of Amazon’s referral fees by product category.

  • Refund administration fees: Amazon charges you for customer refund processing. This fee will be $5 or 20% of the refunded charge, whichever is less. These fees will only come into play if a customer requests a refund. Find out more about Amazon’s return policy.

In addition to the regular selling fees, third-party sellers using Amazon FBA are required to pay two additional fees:

  • FBA fulfillment fees: Charged by Amazon to fulfill the order of your product. The cost of these fees is based on the weight and size of your items. Again, this can vary from $2.41 to $137.32.

  • Monthly storage fees: Charged for the space your inventory occupies in Amazon’s fulfillment centers. These fees are calculated from your daily average volume in cubic feet.

For example, if you sell a product on Amazon for $40.99 with Amazon FBA, you’ll have to pay a minimum of $11.42 in fees. In contrast, if you sell the same product at the same price as an FBM (fulfillment by merchant) seller, you’ll have to pay a minimum of $7.14 in fees before shipping costs.

There’s no getting around the fee that Amazon charges, regardless of the volume or size of the products sold. Before opening an online store on Amazon, try to calculate possible costs for selling items based on your product weight, category, and fulfillment method.

Still, estimating your expenses accurately when using Amazon services can be challenging.

a laptop with a screen on itSource: Amazon

The advantage of signing up for an individual seller plan is the lack of monthly subscription fees, but you can only sell up to 40 items per month. The con is that you can’t sign up for Amazon Sponsored Ads, which would allow you to strategically position your offerings on different pages for increased visibility and sales. This feature is included in your Amazon Professional Seller account subscription.

Setup time

Whether selling one old motorcycle jacket or running an ecommerce empire, you want your selling experience to be enjoyable. Luckily, both Amazon and Shopify make setting up your online store a breeze.

To start selling on Amazon, simply set up your seller account, create stellar product listings that comply with Amazon SEO, and start selling. Then comes the best part—get paid!

a screenshot of a phoneSource: Amazon

If you choose FBA, Amazon takes care of shipping, which can be a relief. And you still have some control over the process. For example, you can select which products to offer for exclusive Prime free shipping. We recommend using this option for your top-selling products, as it‘s been shown to influence 60% of online shoppers to make a purchase.

a screenshot of a storeSource: Shopify

Shopify offers an easy and accessible way to set up an online store. Unlike other website builders, Shopify directs you to the dashboard first, allowing you to start adding products and sorting out payment details. You will need to spend extra time building your Shopify website, but you have plenty of free and paid themes at your disposal.

The Shopify dashboard overviews your top products and sales breakdowns. One of the best things about Shopify is that it prioritizes sales features, encouraging Shopify users to excel in the ecommerce scene.

Moreover, Shopify has implemented Shopify Magic, an AI text generation tool that can create product descriptions in multiple tones of voice. This saves you time on tedious tasks like writing descriptions based on prompts, creating FAQs, and optimizing emails.

Amazon hasn’t fallen back either—they now offer generative AI to write product descriptions as well.

Design and customization tools

While you gain access to the largest online marketplace with 2B+ site visitors each month, Amazon offers virtually no customization options. Amazon’s control over your store page limits your business identity and makes it difficult to stand out.

On Amazon’s homepage, you can see various products displayed in Amazon’s branding alongside your competitors’ products. While this is great for customers, it can sometimes be challenging to direct visitors to your own pages.

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Amazon

However, there’s a loophole for creating a brand storefront on Amazon that will showcase your brand exclusively. You can choose from various templates, add images and videos, and create a space where customers can view your brand alone.

But, there are three requirements for building a storefront on Amazon. You need to be either an Amazon seller enrolled in the Brand Registry, a brand selling directly to Amazon through Vendor Central, or an agency representing either one.

To be eligible for the Brand Registry, your business must have a registered trademark valid in the same country as the Amazon marketplace you’re selling on.

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Shopify

Shopify is a leading ecommerce platform that allows you to fully customize your own store and build a strong brand identity. When opening a Shopify account, you gain access to 140 themes to match your brand’s needs. You can browse themes by category, including sports, clothing, and accessories. Plus, the user-friendly website builder makes it easy for beginners to launch their standalone online store quickly.

Shopify offers 12 free themes and 120+ premium themes, which come at a cost ranging from $170 to $380. You can personalize and edit these themes to create a truly unique design and customer experience. Shopify’s themes are designed for online stores and optimized to grab customers’ attention.

Check out the best free Shopify themes to get started on a budget.

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Apps and integrations

Shopify has a vast app store with thousands of apps and integrations for marketing, analytics, customer support, and more. Many of these apps incur additional costs that can add up over time. Amazon offers tools like Amazon Advertising, Sponsored Products, and the Brand Registry to boost product visibility and marketing within the platform.

To learn what items you can sell on Amazon, go to Amazon’s Seller Central App. This app allows you to create coupons, obtain product reviews, and even sign up for Enhanced Brand Content. The latter will replace your regular product images with professionally shot videos that better represent your brand, which can improve your sales conversions.

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Shopify App Store

Shopify includes outstanding ecommerce tools for boosting your sales. The platform offers a wide range of sales tools and features that can help you grow your online store quickly and with ease. Shopify’s features include abandoned cart recovery, a powerful inventory system, automatic tax calculation, a logo maker, multichannel selling, and app integration.

a screenshot of a productSource: Printful

One of the best features for Shopify users and Amazon sellers alike is access to a print-on-demand dropshipping service that seamlessly integrates with your online store, allowing you to easily create and sell custom products. Whether you’re an artist selling prints, a fashion designer offering custom apparel, or a brand with unique merchandise, print-on-demand service providers like Printful enable you to turn your designs into tangible products without needing inventory.

a man sitting in a chair with a laptopSource: Printful

Connecting Printful to your Amazon or Shopify store lets you choose between various printing options and products, including apparel, accessories, home decor, and more. The integration covers everything, from printing and packaging to shipping directly to your customers. This leaves you free to focus on designing products and growing your business.

If you’re considering starting a clothing brand, the print-on-demand business model may be the right fit. You can place unique designs on custom clothing like t-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, dresses, and more. Start with custom t-shirts or custom hoodies since these garments are always in style.

Browse our trending products list to add to your Shopify store or Amazon storefront.

Support

Effective customer support is crucial for businesses to overcome challenges. Understanding this, Amazon has built a robust customer support system renowned for assisting both buyers and sellers. Amazon Seller Central offers a wide array of resources and guidance to sellers, including detailed guides on how to set up and manage an Amazon store, optimize product listings, and navigate issues like shipping, returns, and refunds.

a screenshot of a phoneSource: Amazon

Amazon also has a dedicated team of customer support representatives available 24/7 to assist sellers and buyers with any issues they may face. However, Amazon’s support system is not the most user-friendly one. You can request a call from Amazon, and forms are available for submitting support requests. Community forums also discuss issues, but the support system isn’t streamlined.

Shopify has comprehensive help options because of its many functions and tools. It includes 24/7 phone and live chat support, social media assistance, access to forums, email support, video tutorials, and advanced specialist support. Shopify’s Help Center is also packed with articles, guides, video tutorials, and forums to help users learn new skills.

Shopify also offers Shopify Sidekick, an AI chatbot that can answer questions and automate certain tasks. Plus, the Advanced Shopify plan gives you enhanced 24/7 chat support.

FAQ: Selling on Shopify vs. Amazon

Before making a final decision, let’s clear up some doubts you may still have.

Why do people sell on Shopify instead of Amazon?

While Amazon is the largest online retailer in the world, it doesn’t offer the most personal or intimate shopping experience. The main advantage of Shopify is that businesses can build a strong brand identity and market their products to a niche audience.

Some prefer buying from brands that speak to them directly than giving their money to the largest yet highly trusted online marketplace.

Is selling on Shopify profitable?

a screenshot of a websiteSource: ChargeFlow

Yes, absolutely. According to a survey by Shopify in 2020, the average monthly revenue of Shopify stores was $1,579. Meanwhile, the top 10% of stores made approximately $10,866 monthly. Shockingly, some Shopify dropshippers earn as much as $800K per month.

How much do Amazon sellers make?

According to JungleScout, Amazon sellers can make $1K to $100K+ monthly, with 40% earning $1K to $25K per month, or $12K to $300K in annual sales.

So, both platforms can turn into a lucrative business!

Can you sell on both Shopify and Amazon?

Yes! You can integrate Amazon into your Shopify store. This means you can represent your own brand on a fully functional online store and access Amazon’s vast marketplace at the same time.

However, you’ll need a subscription for both Amazon and Shopify, meaning your monthly expenses would add up to at least $80. If you’re already running your own ecommerce business and it’s time to expand, go for it!

What are the global selling options with Shopify vs. Amazon?

Amazon operates in multiple countries and regions around the world. With Amazon Global Selling, you can easily expand to international markets, reaching new customers and diversifying revenue streams. The downside is that you’ll need to set up a separate Amazon account for each new market you wish to reach. Find a list of countries Amazon operates in below:

a screenshot of a computerSource: Amazon

Shopify offers a range of features and tools for global expansion, including multilingual support, currency conversion, international shipping and taxes, global payment options, localized marketing and SEO, global selling channels, cross-border partnerships, localized customer support, and access to global ecommerce trends and insights.

Shopify Plus is also available for larger enterprises. With these resources, Shopify empowers merchants to reach a diverse audience worldwide, manage logistics efficiently, and customize their online store for global success. Browse countries Shopify Payments operates in.

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Which ecommerce platform will your online store be on?

Amazon offers unparalleled customer reach, instant credibility, reliable order fulfillment, and valuable customer feedback. Whether you’re a small business looking to increase sales or an established brand seeking global expansion, Amazon provides the platform and tools to help you reach your ecommerce goals.

Shopify provides flexibility and scalability for your ecommerce presence, whether you’re a creative entrepreneur, a growing startup, or an established brand. Plus, you gain complete control over your online store, access to customization tools, multi-channel selling, and 24/7 customer support.

Choose the platform that aligns with your goals and priorities to grow your business and reach its full potential. Either option is excellent for building your own online store—and if you can’t make up your mind, use both!

Read next: Etsy vs. Amazon: Which One’s Right for Your Business?

author

By Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa on Apr. 24, 2024

Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa

Guest author

Zoe is a creative writer, multilingual translator, and certified yoga instructor with a passion for learning, traveling, and global cuisine. When she's not typing away at her PC, you can find her teaching yoga in the park, reading on the couch with her cat, or plunging in the Mediterranean.

Zoe is a creative writer, multilingual translator, and certified yoga instructor with a passion for learning, traveling, and global cuisine. When she's not typing away at her PC, you can find her teaching yoga in the park, reading on the couch with her cat, or plunging in the Mediterranean.