Shopify vs Amazon (2020): Which E-commerce Platform Is Best For Your Business?

Shopify and Amazon are both giants of the e-commerce world, with nearly $90 billion in revenue between them. Both come with millions of sellers and shoppers, too—an impressive potential for exposure. So there is no doubt that for many business owners, Shopify and Amazon are the top choices for starting an online store. Nonetheless, while these e-commerce platforms offer a myriad of benefits, your choice will depend on which best supports your business needs. Here, we compare the two platforms to help you make an informed-decision.

Shopify vs Amazon Comparison Chart

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NameShopifyAmazon
PriceCheck Price at Shopify.comCheck Price at Amazon.com
TypeSubscription-based e-commerce platform for online stores and retail POS systemsOnline marketplace/retailer
Plans and PricingBasic Shopify: $29 per month

Shopify: $79 per month Advanced

Shopify: $299 per month

Individual: $0.99 per sale closing fee

Professional: $39.99 + extra selling fees

Payment GatewayShopify PaymentsAmazonPay
Payment Options and FeesCredit Card: 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction

Third-party payment providers (including Amazon Pay and PayPal): 0.5% to 2%

Accepts major debit and credit cards

Individual sellers: $0.99 per product sold

App IntegrationsStandalone Shopify AppStore with both native and third-party applicationsUp to 2,000+ integrations through Zapier
Fully CustomizableYes, with over 100 free and paid-for themes and templates; SSL-certificate includedLimited to uploading images, product descriptions and editorial content
Market Expansion OpportunityYesYes
Customer Support24/7 phone and live chat supportAmazon Seller Support
ReportingSales stats and reportsSales stats and reports
ShippingThird-party calculated shipping rates for Advanced Shopify plansCustomized shipping rates only for professional sellers

Fulfilled by Amazon: $1.97 top $137.32 depending on type of product and unit size

Key Difference

Shopify is a top-to-bottom e-commerce platform while Amazon is an online marketplace.

Shopify is more like having a standalone store while Amazon is akin to renting out a space in a mall.

Although both offer massive opportunities for online selling, Shopify and Amazon differ in how they operate. Essentially, Shopify is a top-to-bottom e-commerce platform that offers entrepreneurs the ability to build and manage their own online store. That means, there’s a lot of room for customization that fits your business, branding, and creative requirements. You can think of it as having a standalone store or stall at a street corner, only it’s digital.

On the other hand, Amazon is a marketplace where different sellers can join and sell their goods. It’s akin to setting up shop at a mall. While you’re limited to mall rules and regulation, you do benefit from foot-traffic and exposure. Amazon similarly offers impressive market visibility and web traffic, even though you won’t have as much control in terms of branding and management.

Ease of Use

Both Shopify and Amazon offer guided set-up processes for sellers.

Unlike Amazon, Shopify offers a multitude of themes businesses can customize to suit their branding.

If the idea of setting up an online store is daunting, you will be pleased to know Shopify and Amazon has made it simple to start on their respective platforms.

With Shopify, you don’t necessarily need experience in coding or web development. To start your own store, you can simply choose from the over 100 professionally-designed themes that’s offered either for free or for a fee. You can customize the template further using their theme editor. Plus, Shopify’s interface includes questions that guide a user during the setup process: from adding a product to purchasing a domain.

Setting up shop in Amazon is pretty straightforward, too. Simply go to Amazon, click on start selling, and register for an account. Like in Shopify, the Amazon Seller Marketplace will guide you every step of the way, from adding a business address to choosing a country or region-specific market. After all the professional and business information have been submitted, you can start listing products and selling them. For professional sellers, the Brand Registry feature even ensures your brand’s trademark is protected from counterfeit or bogus sellers.

E-commerce Tools

Shopify has a clear advantage in terms of its ever-growing sales tools and features.

Shopify offers management features among its many e-commerce tools while Amazon takes pride in its FBA program.

Given its global market, Amazon takes pride in its Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program. At its core, enrolling in FBA simply means you sell the products, while Amazon takes care shipping it. By leveraging on the platform’s advanced shipping and fulfillment services, sellers don’t have to worry about logistics. Of course, you will shell out on storage and fulfillment fees. But that extra cost should be weighed against a key statistic: nearly half of Amazon’s sales come from its third-party sellers with over 60% of the top performers enrolled in FBA. 

Shopify, on the other hand, boasts of an in-depth range of e-commerce tools. Some of the sales tools offered by the platform include:

  • QR code and barcode generators
  • email templates
  • store management features
  • tax and discount calculation
  • custom branding and marketing support

To help online businesses with their supply chain concerns, Shopify has even partnered with Oberlo for dropshipping business. These features, together with the range of app integrations available in the platform, should help sellers expand their e-commerce website quickly.

Plans and Pricing

You unlock more features in Shopify as you upgrade through the plans while a Professional Account in Amazon allow for customize shipping rates and expanded placement.

Shopify and Amazon offer different plans depending on the business size and needs.

Like in any business, you’ll have to consider your expenses. For Amazon, you have two service plans available: Individual or Professional. With the Individual account, you don’t need to pay a monthly subscription fee. Instead, Amazon will charge you $0.99 per sold item, not including variable closing and shipping fees from Amazon FBA. But you’ll still have access to feeds, spreadsheets and tools to load your inventory. You’ll also get to sell in 20+ open categories.

For larger businesses, Amazon’s Professional Sellers account comes at $39.99 per month with no per sale closing fees. While you won’t have access to load inventory tools, you get to customize shipping rates, apply to sell 10+ additional categories, and earn top placement on product detail pages.

In comparison, Shopify offers the following plans: Basic Shopify at $29 per month, Shopify at $79 per month, and Advanced Shopify at $299 per month. All three allow you to build an online store, sell unlimited products, access 24/7 support, and leverage the platform’s sales channels. Of course, Shopify and Advanced Shopify will give you more features, including access to professional reports and additional staff accounts. However, only the Advanced plan offers third-party calculated shipping rates. Keep in mind that transactions fees do get lower as your upgrade through the pricing plans.

Reddit Reviews

Redditors share that Shopify is great for long-term businesses while Amazon banks on its impressive web traffic.

Some reviews about the platforms found on Reddit.

If you’re still contemplating which platform to join, consider reading through Reddit reviews. You’ll find that most redditors will highlight Shopify’s easily customizable platform as its key strength. This should come in handy if you’re someone keen on building your own brand from the ground up. Having an online store on Shopify is also better if you’re thinking long term since you’ll have more control in the platform as opposed to Amazon.

For some redditors, however, Amazon beats Shopify in terms of web traffic. Since Amazon has already surpassed Google in terms of product searches, millions of visitors are served on your plate every month. The platform also comes with a lot of trust from consumers. If it’s not on Amazon, your business may not have as much credibility. Keep in kind, however, that you’ll be competing with thousands of other sellers. Plus, the platform is technically rented space. So if Amazon decided to call it quits, so will your business.

Verdict

Shopify is great for those who want full-ownership of their brand and business; Amazon is ideal if you want credibility and web traffic.

Your choice between Shopify and Amazon will largely depend on your business needs. If you’re looking to build your own online store and want a plethora of customization features, then Shopify is a great place to start. With this platform, you have full ownership of your brand and customer experience. However, without Amazon’s expansive web traffic, starting your e-commerce empire on Shopify will certainly require a lot of hard work.

On the other hand, Amazon’s built-in audience does come at a cost. Sales control is limited, and you will not be able to customize your brand. The pricing in Amazon fluctuates up and down constantly as well, so you’ll need to be on top of things as an online seller. Nonetheless, with its FBA program, logistics shouldn’t be an issue. Plus, you’ll enjoy the credibility of being on Amazon, as well as guaranteed protection against fraud.

Are you still undecided? Ultimately, you have to choose which e-commerce platform best supports your business. Since both Shopify and Amazon have their own respective pros and cons, consider getting the best of both worlds instead. Start your online store in Shopify and integrate the platform with Amazon. This way, you can build your own unique presence online while growing your customer base with the aid of the world’s largest online marketplace.

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