Shopify vs Amazon: What's best for your eCommerce business?
Looking to start your own online business? It's a special moment.
This is your business. Your 9-5 (or maybe 6-11). You want nothing but the best for it. And part of that means choosing the right platform to set up shop. Naturally, your decision comes down to the two industry titans: Amazon vs Shopify.
While both eCommerce platforms allow third-party vendors to sell their products, Shopify and Amazon have some important distinctions that you need to consider before launching your own eCommerce business.
At Weblime, we're going to cover everything you need to know about both with in-depth reviews so you can decide which ecommerce platform is best for you.
Shopify vs Amazon: Key differences
- While Shopify is a specialized ecommerce platform, Amazon is more of an online marketplace. On Shopify, you can build your own standalone online store from the ground up. But on Amazon, you're selling products on the Amazon marketplace, where millions of people shop already, alongside other third-party sellers. So while you need to build an audience for your Shopify store (a private entity), you're tapping into an audience with Amazon FBA (a public marketplace).
- Shopify is brand-centric, Amazon is Amazon-centric. On Shopify, you're building your own brand – a separate entity. That means investing in long-term digital marketing efforts on social media, search engines (SEO), and handling public relations. Customer service is also your responsibility and reflects on your brand image. But with Amazon, merchants give up most of the spotlight (branding, custom design, customer support) while they collect sales revenue behind the curtain.
- Shopify is more hands-on (lower costs), Amazon is more hands-off (higher costs). To build and operate your own online store using Shopify's ecommerce tools, monthly subscriptions are available for different sized businesses. You'll need to find your own suppliers (through Aliexpress, Alibaba, or Zendrop, etc.), monitor product delivery, and handle customer service issues. With Amazon everything from product insurance, care, delivery, customer service, and overall management is taken care of. You just have to supply product media and copy, along with paying recurring costs like your selling plan, referral fees, fulfillment fees , and other expenses like long-term storage.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a Canadian eCommerce company founded in 2006 by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake. Their bread and butter is pretty straightforward: an eCommerce platform for businesses of all sizes to create an online store. It's used by some of the world's largest brands, including Tesla, General Electric, Budweiser, Red Bull, and Nestle.
Shopify’s key features:
- A customizable platform: Shopify offers users a customizable platform to build their own online store. You can choose from a variety of Shopify themes or hire a professional team to add custom code to personalize the look and feel you want for your online store. And with the Shopify App store, you can add all sorts of nifty conversion-boosting features and functionalities.
- Wide range of integrations: Shopify's interface is designed to be easy-to-use because 99% of applications don't need technical experience, thanks to integrations. For example, with Google and Facebook, you can easily set up your traffic and audience engagement trackers (pixels), which normally involve coding knowledge. Other plugins can help you automate repetitive processes.
- Integrated email marketing: With Shopify, you can send automated emails to your customers based on their interactions with your store. For example, you can set up an abandoned cart email campaign to recover lost sales, a customer retention email series to keep your customers engaged, and post-purchase emails to cross-sell or upsell products. All of these are customizable and require no coding knowledge.
- A built-in blog: Shopify has a built-in blogging feature that lets you easily create content to drive traffic and engage your customers. You can write blog posts, create product pages, and add other types of content to your store. And with Shopify's SEO features, you can optimize your content so that it ranks higher in search engines.
- Shopify payments: With Shopify Payments, you can accept credit cards and other forms of payment on your store without having to set up a third-party payment processor. Shopify Payments is available in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore.
Although you can edit your store page and navigate rather intuitively on Amazon, it simply doesn't offer the same suite of store and brand-building tools because again, Amazon isn't too focused on providing third-party merchants personal branding power.
Shopify offers 3 pricing plans:
- Basic Shopify: $29/month (for new ecommerce businesses)
- Shopify: $79/month (best for growing businesses)
- Advanced Shopify: $299/month (best for scaling businesses)
Each plan progressively offers lower credit card rates for cheaper payment processing, larger shipping discounts, more staff accounts, advanced reports, tax management, and international pricing tools.
Pros of Shopify
- Very intuitive to use. Shopify is one of the most user-friendly software applications out there. You can add products, customize your store pages, set up shipping and taxes, and more without having to touch a single line of code.
- Large variety of storefront themes. Online sellers can customize their stores any way they want with a wide range of both free and paid themes to choose from. And if you're not satisfied with any of the available themes, you can always hire a Shopify Expert to create a custom theme for you.
- Helps streamline your marketing and discounts. On Shopify, you can easily generate discount codes, create separate SEO headings and descriptions, send emails, and track your store's analytics all in one place. There are a ton of automation tools to help boost your sales too.
- There's a Shopify app store (with a lot of apps). Some online businesses swear by particular apps that have single-handedly supercharged their sales. One example is SMS bump (text marketing). Shopify gives your online store access to thousands of unique apps that allow you to take your customer experience and business management to a new level.
- Fantastic customer support. One of the things that sets Shopify apart from other ecommerce platforms is its excellent customer support. Whenever you have a question or run into a problem, you can always contact Shopify's support team 24/7 via live chat, email, or phone.
Cons of Shopify
- Limited control over some aspects of your store. Because Shopify is a hosted platform, you can't make any changes to the server-side code or add custom plugins that haven't been approved by Shopify.
- Some plugins and apps can get costly in the long run. Alongside the monthly fee to Shopify, you may have to pay for a lot of the nifty tools that can elevate your shopper experience.
About Amazon FBA
Amazon was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos. At first, it was an online bookstore, but it soon expanded to include all sorts of products, a to z. Now, they're the largest online retailer in the world and offer a wide range of services like ecommerce, cloud computing, and digital streaming. They’re also known for their excellent customer service.
How does selling on Amazon work?
When you set up your Amazon Seller account, you'll need to provide some basic information about your business, including your name, contact information, and type of business.
Once you're approved as an Amazon seller, you'll be able to create listings for the products you want to sell. You'll need to provide a title, product description, price, and shipping information. You can also upload product images.
When a customer buys one of your products, Amazon will notify you and ship the item to the customer on your behalf. You'll need to pay Amazon a fee for each sale, as well as a monthly subscription fee.
If you're looking for an ecommerce platform that's easy to use and offers a wide range of features, Amazon is a good option. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you start selling.
Amazon FBA key features
- Product research tools. Amazon provides a few different tools to help you research which products are selling well and would be a good fit for your business.
- Automatic listing and repricing. Once you find a product that you want to sell, you can list it on Amazon with just a few clicks. Amazon will also automatically reprice your products based on competitor prices, so you don't have to worry about manually changing your prices.
- Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program. Amazon offers fulfillment services to help you with the logistics of shipping and customer service. When you use FBA, Amazon will store your products in their warehouses and ship them to customers when they make a purchase. You'll also have access to Amazon's customer service team.
When it comes to selling on Amazon, your costs will depend on your
- Selling plan ($0.99/units sold or $39.99 monthly)
- Referral fees (8-15% for using the Amazon brand to make sales)
- Fulfillment fees
- Other costs like long-term storage.
Of course, with all those recurring fees, Amazon will glady handle the product insurance, care, delivery, customer service, and overall management. You just need HD product photos and videos, strong descriptions, and good reviews.
Pros of selling on Amazon
- A lot of traffic already. When you sell on Amazon, you're selling on a site that already gets a ton of traffic. This means that there's a good chance that your products will be seen by potential customers.
- Familiar buying experience for customers. Customers are already familiar with the Amazon buying experience, so they'll know what to expect when they purchase from you.
- Low marketing costs. Because Amazon is already so popular and trusted, you won't have to spend as much on marketing and advertising to build that credibility.
- Super fast delivery. Unlike Shopify where your suppliers will likely use third-party delivery teams that could take anywhere between a week to month, FBA allows every product on your shelf to be delivered with same-day, one-day, or two-day shipping. Some metropolitan areas in the U.S. may even allow two hours!
- Unparalleled customer service. Amazon is known for its excellent customer service, so you can rest assured that your buyers will be taken care of if they have any questions or problems, without any extra involvment from you.
Cons of selling on Amazon
- You'll need to pay fees. Unlike Shopify, which has a monthly subscription fee, Amazon charges sellers a per-sale fee as well as a monthly subscription fee.
- You may need to invest in additional tools. While Amazon does provide some tools for sellers, you may need to invest in additional software to help you manage your inventory and shipping.
- There's a lot of competition. Because Amazon is such a popular platform, there's a lot of competition among sellers. This means that you'll need to work hard to make your listings stand out.
- Lack of control over storytelling and branding. On Amazon, your product listings will look very similar to everyone else's. For the most part, you're using pre-built formatting and design, so it can be difficult to tell your brand's story and build a strong connection with customers.
The verdict: Shopify or Amazon?
So, which eCommerce platform is right for you? As you can see, it really depends on your needs and preferences. If you're looking for a trustworthy marketplace to sell your goods with a more "hands-off" approach, Amazon is a good option. However, if you want more control (CEO vibes) over your branding and storytelling, Shopify may be a better fit.
No matter which platform you choose, the most important thing is to start building your eCommerce business today. While it can be difficult navigating either platform, it doesn't have to be with Weblime's in-house designers and copywriters who are at-the-ready to deliver your message attractively and compellingly.
Need help building your eCommerce store? Get in touch.
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