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Last Updated: June 28, 2024

Shopify vs. Amazon: Which Platform is Best?

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If you’re a new business exploring ecommerce platforms, two giants stand out: Amazon and Shopify. Each offers distinct advantages depending on your business goals and strategy. Shopify empowers entrepreneurs to build unique online storefronts for their brands. On the flip side, Amazon offers a huge audience through its marketplace model. In this article, we will dive deep into Shopify vs. Amazon, examining its price, marketing options, and ease of use.

Shopify and Amazon Overview

On the surface, Shopify offers a subscription-based platform for ecommerce. This setup allows businesses to establish their online presence and create customizable storefronts. It provides user-friendly themes for building websites that are mobile-friendly. It also offers tools for marketing, store management, and analytics. Shopify also allows the integration of third-party apps.

Amazon, on the other hand, operates as a massive online marketplace with over 197 million consumers. Unlike a Shopify store, Amazon sellers compete directly with other merchants within the marketplace. The Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) program allows merchants to send their products to Amazon’s fulfillment centers for storage, packing, and shipping.

Shopify is perfect for entrepreneurs who want to build their brand by creating their own website. In contrast, Amazon is suited for those looking to leverage the extensive reach of the Amazon marketplace.

The Shopify dashboard for analytics.

Pricing Structure

Both Shopify and Amazon offer various pricing tiers to suit different needs. Shopify’s Basic plan starts at $29 per month. This plan provides store owners with essential tools like store customization, product listings, inventory management, and order fulfillment. Higher-priced plans offer more features like detailed reporting and international pricing adjustments.

On Amazon, sellers choose between two plans. The Individual plan charges a $0.99 fee for every item sold. You can also choose the Professional plan, which costs $39.99 monthly. Amazon charges referral fees based on the product category instead of transaction fees like Shopify.

Design Choices

Many business owners prefer the numerous themes available on Shopify. The platform has over 100 professionally designed themes that cater to the sports, recreation, and clothing industries, to name a few. Customizing your store is easy, thanks to the theme editor and templates.

Shopify theme page.

If you want your store to look customized, Shopify is definitely the best choice. On Amazon, you do not have direct control over your storefront design, but you do have control over your product images and descriptions. When selling on Amazon, your products are displayed against your competitors. Without an eye-catching storefront design, this makes it difficult to stand out among the competition.

Feature Comparison

When looking at Shopify vs. Amazon, remember that each platform has its own pros and cons. Before choosing a platform, you may want to consider the most important parts of your business and marketing strategy to decide which one is best for you.

Shopify Pros and Cons

Advantages

  • Several ecommerce tools: On Shopify, you can use many useful tools, including abandoned cart recover and online invoice generator. These tools save you time in building and promoting your online store. 
  • AI: Shopify Magic uses an AI Text Writer that creates product descriptions. Along with the comprehensive inventory system, this AI integration accelerates the setup of your store. 

Drawbacks

  • Too many apps: Shopify operates on a monthly subscription but offers an extensive App Store. These third-party apps are essential for enhancing Shopify’s functionality, but each app can cost $10 to $50, increasing your monthly costs.
  • Website development: Shopify does offer flexible design options, but if you try to make changes on the backend of the editor, you may need more experience with web development. 

Amazon Pros and Cons

Advantages

  • Exposure: Amazon’s marketplace attracts millions of visitors monthly from across the globe. With the ability to ship to over 100 countries, selling on Amazon opens up new markets and provides extensive exposure for your products.
  • Additional services: Amazon offers inventory storage, packing, and shipping. sellers do not have to fulfill orders (store, pick up, pack, and dispatch)

Drawbacks

  • Complex order management: Amazon doesn’t integrate easily with other shopping cart systems. If you sell across multiple marketplaces, you’ll need to track your inventory sold on Amazon manually. 
  • Competition: Selling on Amazon means navigating through a massive marketplace with millions of products. You are also in competition with Amazon, which is a tough competitor to overcome. 

How does Order Fulfillment Work?

Entrepreneurs looking to avoid the hassles of inventory management may want to opt for Amazon FBA (fulfillment by Amazon).  With individual selling accounts having a storage limit of 10 cubic feet and professional accounts having no storage limits, Amazon FBA charges fees based on product weight, size, type, and sales channels.

An Amazon fulfillment truck.

Shopify offers a fulfillment network as well, but is less advanced than Amazon FBA. One additional benefit is that Shopify allows businesses to use Amazon FBA services even if they aren’t selling on Amazon’s platform directly. In most other cases, a Shopify owner is responsible for packaging the products, labelling for shipment, and shipping the package with a mail carrier.

Marketing & SEO Options

When comparing Shopify and Amazon for marketing and SEO, the key difference lies in how each platform handles traffic and visibility. With Shopify, entrepreneurs have full control over marketing efforts and SEO practices. You’re responsible for driving traffic to your online store using Shopify’s built-in tools like social media integrations and promotional features. This requires active management but offers greater control over your brand’s online presence.

The options for an Amazon dashboard.

On the other hand, Amazon provides a ready-made audience with millions of visitors monthly. Sellers benefit from immediate exposure to a vast customer base, but they must compete against numerous other sellers and Amazon’s own products. Ranking well in Amazon’s search results demands optimization strategies specific to the platform. If you want to be seen, you have to focus on product listings and utilizing Amazon’s advertising options to enhance visibility.

Choosing between the two platforms depends on your marketing preferences and business goals. Shopify suits entrepreneurs who prefer managing their own SEO strategies. It’s ideal for those willing to invest time and effort into building their brand independently. In contrast, Amazon is beneficial for sellers seeking quick access to a large audience without the need for extensive marketing efforts upfront.

How do I know which one is best for my business?

In the Shopify vs. Amazon debate, both platforms allow entrepreneurs to establish their online presence, but they do cater to different needs. Shopify enables users to create and customize their own online store and website, making it ideal for entrepreneurs focused on building distinct brands. Amazon provides a simpler entry process. All you have to do is create an account and begin selling a wide range of products, whether new or used. The choice between the two platforms hinges on your ultimate goal for your online business journey.

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