Amazon or Shopify: Which Platform is Better for Your Business Model?
In this Article
Wix, SquareSpace, Zyro, Amazon, Etsy, Shopify, BigCommerce. Let’s face it, the options for a business to sell online are overwhelming. Every brand knows that in order to really get their products and message out there, they pretty much have to Even the tried and true method of searching Google for the best platform turns up more questions than answers.
It leaves customers and businesses alike in a desert of advertisements, stock info, and app store links as far as the eye can see. Thirsty for answers and tired of comparing apples to oranges to bananas– it can seem exhausting and never-ending. But the question still remains: out of the most popular of these platforms– Amazon and Shopify– which is better?
Well, it’s actually a lot simpler than it may seem. There’s just one question you need to answer:
Are you a buyer, or are you a seller?
Sellers vs. Buyers
Buyers on Shopify
If you’re a buyer, stumbling onto the Shopify website is a confusing hedge maze of green images and links. But that’s because it’s not really for you. Shopify offers sellers an easy way to set up their own websites to sell their goods.
It offers all a seller needs for a minor subscription fee: a domain, a store builder, themes to best fit the brand’s aesthetic, and most importantly, an intuitive fulfillment method for sellers to actually, well, sell their goods to people all over the globe. It’s no wonder that small businesses and huge companies like Sephora and Whole Foods alike proudly boast a Shopify-hosted platform.
Sellers on Shopify
Shopify is a business’s own domain (both figuratively and literally). Shopify allows a brand to work as independently as possible. More than that, Shopify also allows brands to buy additional apps to easily connect with other management systems any business needs like ERP’s and CRM’s (that’s ‘Enterprise resource planning’ and ‘customer relationship management’ to you and me).
Shopify offers brands a more holistic approach to running their eCommerce business. If Amazon is a marketplace– full of everything a buyer might need or want– Shopify is an exclusive boutique where the products are better made and better sourced.
Sellers on Amazon
However, if you’re a seller, Amazon can seem like Mount Everest. It’s not impossible to launch your brand on Amazon, but there are some challenges. Nearly everyone knows about how Amazon started out as a garage bookseller before becoming the behemoth of a company it is today. But what can be lost in the minds of the modern consumer is that Amazon was actually built with the buyer in mind. Offering options upon options of the products.
Buyers on Amazon
Buyers can search for nearly anything on Amazon’s website today and find it. From roofing nails to cosmetics and back to books, if a customer wants it, Amazon’s probably got it– probably at a few different price points, too.
But for sellers, it’s a bit more complicated. Most brands have to apply for Amazon’s brand registry before they can really begin. That can include uploading not only a business license, but an ID and EPA registration card, direct fulfillment requests, and a whole list of other documents depending on what you’re selling.
It can be overwhelming for a small business or a pain for a larger business to track down all those needed docs to even get the OK to add your catalog to Amazon’s two different seller platforms. Businesses can and often are able to set up shop on Amazon, but the process isn’t nearly as smooth as other platforms.
Amazon vs. Shopify: Comparison Chart
Domain and Website builder
Yes (more options are available depending on plan choice, including phone, chat and email)
$29 to $229
Ninety-nine cents per each item sold on Individual plan. $39.99 per month for Professional plan
6 Key Differences: Shopify vs Amazon
When deciding between using Shopify and Amazon to launch a brand, business owners need to keep the customer experience at the front their minds. Do you have a wide range of products? Which payment options do you need? Are you prepared to handle shipping fees and fulfillment fees?
While multichannel selling is an option, and your brand can easily grow by utilizing Shopify and Amazon, let’s focus on the key differences between the two so you can decide the best place to start.
1. The Appeal of Shopify to Sellers
Amazon’s marketplace is a breakneck competition for big boxes and customers. Comparatively, Shopify’s more controlled and individualized approach takes all of that away as the only products being sold are sold there by the brand– not a wholesaler or a rogue retailer.
With the marketplace taken out, the seller has total control over their products. Anything and everything there is to decide. Copy, images, prices and reviews are all in the seller’s hands– something Amazon can’t boast.
Multi-Store Selling on Shopify
Shopify also allows businesses to run several different stores under one parent brand without having to go through the hassle of setting up different vendor codes to access a different product catalog. With the option for one or more different product sites, things like search engine optimization can be tailored to each individual page rather than a single listing page like Amazon offers.
Other facets of your brand like marketing messages, hidden keywords that allow your brands to be added to search results, and branding words hidden in the copy can be exacted to each individual page– all from one backend system.
Shopify = Options for Sellers
The variety of options that Shopify offers to sellers is further expanded upon when sellers take into consideration products catalog and their varying styles, aesthetics and unique offerings. Amazon’s seller interface requires the seller to log in and log out of each product’s profile in order to make changes– even simple ones like product titles or dimensions. On the other hand, Shopify’s seller interface allows sellers to seemingly shift between product catalogs and make overreaching changes (both simple and complex) with relative ease. In short, fine-tuning your catalog is a breeze with Shopify.
2. Comparing App Interface, Amazon vs Shopify
Amazon Interface requires more work for sellers, but has a better buyer appeal
One thing about Amazon that appeals to a huge customer base thanks to the ease it takes to access the site. Nearly everyone can open the Amazon app from the comfort of their sofa and search for deals on their smartphone. For a seller, it’s a bit more of a headache. This is because the very same app that they might use to buy books or clothes, is the very same app they must use in order to content with their business needs. Much like sellers have to do in order to hop between brand catalogs, they must hop between their personal Amazon account and their business one. There is no option for a separate Amazon Vender or Seller app, making switching between buyer and seller an annoying and cumbersome process to manage all online stores.
Shopify Interface is better for sellers
Shopify, however, is an app made for individual sellers. The Shopify app allows you to modify and create your online business easily with its easy-to-use online store builder. Anything you might be able to do on a desktop or laptop computer can now be done on your smartphone. From a plane, or in Spain or even in the rain, you can add items to your catalog, adjust product details and even edit your store’s landing page. Shopify’s app (in theory) is all online sellers might ever use to start and maintain their brand’s page. In addition, Shopify makes multichannel selling easier. Amazon’s app interface sometimes struggles to add products correctly.
3. Marketing Options
From the more old-school billboards and radio ad, to the new-school TikTok paid advertisement or podcast commercial, anyone can tell you marketing is a brand’s best friend. Even those who know next to nothing about eCommerce platforms or SEO research can tell you how many advertisements they had to listen to today. Maybe they can even quote some of their favorites. But unlike funny one-liners and catchy jingles, brands have to be a little more inventive when it comes to marketing in the digital space. In a space where most pop-up ads are met with outright disdain and jingles can be quickly silenced with a click of a button, what’s a brand to do? Well, if a brand uses Shopify as its central eCommerce platform, then list building is your best option. List building allows brands to do just as the name suggests– build a list of potential and returning customers.
Marketing options with Shopify
Shopify allows brands to use one of the oldest forms of digital communication– email– in order to sort out customers who would be interested in buying their products again or checking in on newly released products. Allowing brand’s to target just the right customer to their platform– not just anyone who might be browsing a specific webpage or app, but integration with social media channels. Shopify even allows list building to snag phone numbers from willing customers in order to send out the occasional text message about upcoming sales and new product drops. It’s targeted marketing in its easiest and most effective way– brand’s merely have to sit back and relax (and automate the occasional email).
Marketing options with Amazon
Amazon, however, does not offer list building. They offer brand stores as a way to showcase the brand’s product line. Using a selection of standard layout and linking options, brand’s can create their own storefront like a stall in a larger marketplace. This not only lends to the brand’s credibility (as the one true brand, rather than a third-party seller), but doesn’t yet allow traffic to their storefront to be tracked. Without list building, brand’s have to rely on loyal customers seeking them out on Amazon’s larger platform. Plus, checking back in to see when new products drop and if sales (which are regulated by Amazon) are taking place. The customer could be updated if they chose to follow the brand’s storefront, but that just makes the store easier to find on the marketplace as a whole– not exactly pushing new items to create customer engagement and sales.
As of 2022, Amazon is attempting to dip a toe into brand marketing with a feature entitled ‘Amazon Post’. Functioning sort of like an Instagram for brand’s, Amazon Post allows brands to feature specific products and their features. Best of all, it allows for sellers to track how many times a potential or returning customer interacts with their posts. Currently, Amazon Post is the best way to gauge customer traffic a brand has. The only drawback? Posts on Amazon Posts must be made regularly and manually. Much like the daily snapshot of your dog or your morning coffee Instagram allows, Amazon Post does not allow for automation.
4. User Friendliness
Buyers and sellers obviously have different ideas for user friendliness when it comes to Amazon and Shopify. Buyers need only a few things (barring some personal expectations). They need an intuitive search function to search for any products or related products they want, they need those products to have a good amount of description attached to them to know exactly what they might be buying, and lastly, they need to know what the product looks like. These basics are all the buyer needs in order to make a purchase. But they’re just a single piece of what the seller must have in order to get those products moving (and if you’re a seller, check out our FAQ on how we can help you manage all those buyer needs here).
Building out user-friendly stores
These pieces can be difficult to upload and manage, but luckily enough both Shopify and Amazon have a pretty simple way to accomplish this. Shopify allows for sellers to list their products easily and change them at will with little to no interference. This allows the seller full control over their catalog and the speed at which products are launched and managed. Shopify also can be connected to most syndication sites in order to automate that process. Likewise, Amazon allows sellers to list their products with relative ease. Bulk upload are made easy for those sellers who don’t have a syndication service at hand and in case something goes wrong, there’s no additional charge for tech assistance. However, Amazon can and often does disable listings who have an MSRP a little too high.
They also have standards on verbiage that can be used in listings as well as in images. The lack of control can make Amazon a bit default to use. And for smaller brand’s to compete with.
For most businesses, the positives and negatives of eCommerce platforms really don’t mean anything. Sure, it’s helpful to know how sales channels, syndication, app interfaces and marketing work in Amazon and Shopify. But the most important thing for a brand to know when choosing a platform on which to sell ultimately boils down to one question: How much does it cost? And are there specific selling fees?
Amazon Pricing Plans
When looking at cost, Amazon can seem like the winner by a landslide, but like everything in life, it’s a bit more complicated than meets the eye. Amazon Seller charges ninety-nine cents per each item sold, which seems like very little in the grand scheme of sales and costs and MRSP’s. The cost further drops if the seller opts out of the individual plan and opts in for what Amazon brands as their ‘Professional Plan,’ bringing a brand’s total to $39.99 a month.
This can make a big difference to a brand with lots of items in its catalog, but is only worth the money if a seller has the goods to back it up. The professional plan also allows brands to create a storefront and permits them to create ‘A+ Content’ (Amazon’s term for enhanced content or any ‘below the fold’ content) free of charge. More than that, Amazon Marketplace allows anyone with a password and an email to login to their seller site. And although these things are supposed to be kept close to the chest, sharing of these login credentials is common for larger brands who often have an agency on hand for doing a lot of the day to day work.
Shopify Pricing Plans
As much information as Amazon’s pricing leaves brand’s to consider, Shopify just might be a bit more confusing. Simply put, Shopify lists their prices between $29 to $229 dollars. This would probably stop anyone– huge company or small business– in their tracks. After all, there is a huge difference between thirty dollars and also two-hundred-thirty dollars. That’s quite literally the difference between a five-cup coffee machine and a coffee table–with added storage. However, although the difference can be a bit staggering to think about when seen side by side, it’s a lot simpler than it seems. According to Shopify, their base package (at that five-cup coffee machine price point) includes things like basic sales reports and two separate staff accounts.
Shopify’s basic plan also allows for up to four different inventory locations and up to a seventy-seven percent shipping discount. The rate Shopify charges for credit transactions is steep, coming in at a rate of 2.9 percent plus thirty cents per transaction. This could be challenging to brands as most shoppers rarely use cash, and using paper money is an impossibility in the digital space that most brands thrive in. This can limit a brand’s chance for growth in the eCommerce space in a way Amazon doesn’t.
However, Shopify’s advanced plan (coming in at the coffee table with added storage price point) includes all a brand could want. Perks like a custom report builder to track anything you could think to track and up to eight inventory locations are included. But there’s more still. Fifteen staff accounts allow for larger catalogs to be accessed and updated with ease. Shopify also allows sellers with this plan to take advantage of up to eight-eight percent off their shipping costs. It keeps getting better though. The cherry on top to this seemingly wonderful deal to sellers is the lowered transaction rate– coming in at 2.4 percent (plus that darn thirty cents) instead of the 2.9 percent take offered in the basic package.
Which pricing plan is best?
If this seems too good to be true and too pricey to manage, never fear. Shopify also offers a third option. A happy medium plan for brands that aren’t quite small, but don’t corner their market. Coming in at an affordable $79 (a price point close to a nice, single-cup coffee machine), this option is just right for any business. These plans really compound what Shopify is all about: options for brands. Amazon Marketplace might not be able to boast as many options, but for the small business just dipping a toe into the eCommerce water, it’s a simple and uniformed option.
6. Global Selling
The goal of any brand is to go worldwide. Any brand would be excited to see their products being used anywhere and everywhere– from ice cold Antarctica to sunny Los Angeles. Again, Shopify comes in handy for any brand wishing to make this a reality. Shopify allows for international selling. No questions asked and no special access or software needed. Shopify doesn;t require a certain amount of sales or a huge catalog either. If you have a Shopify domain and a subscription then you have the power to sell to anyone anywhere they might be.
Amazon might be a global sales force allowing many brands to sell their products worldwide– but as with everything, it’s a hard fought right for most brands. Amazon not only has their flagship site based in the U.S. but they also have sites based in Canada, the U.K. and more. And– you guessed it– all of these sites require a different seller account. Add to this different legal requirements of each country’s commerce and marketing styles and setting up a global Amazon account really can feel like the weight of the world on a seller’s shoulders.
Key Takeaways for Amazon vs Shopify
While the opinions expressed here might seem to be overwhelmingly pro-Shopify– we still love Amazon. For a buyer Amazon is an all you can eat buffet of options. It presents a never ending amount of goods to shop and compare. It’s a buyer’s dream come true– and it’s no wonder Amazon’s still a platform many businesses will brave in order to get their products out to the masses. Shopify, on the other hand, is confusing to the person who somehow lands on Shopify’s landing page and tries to find a decent pair of sunglasses at a good price.
So, when the dust settles, Shopify and Amazon are tied. Neither one better, but both great in their own ways, and the ways they serve their target audience. Perhaps one’s ease for business and the other’s ease for buyers are the reason these two are the most popular eCommerce platforms worldwide, after all.
Selling on Amazon is much easier than selling on Shopify. With Amazon, you only need to create an account, upload your product images, write descriptions for each product, add prices, and then wait for customers to purchase them. On the other hand, when you start selling on Shopify, you first need to register, set up your store, choose a theme, customize your website, and build out all of your inventory. This process takes longer, but once you’re done, you’ll be able to market your business directly from your website.
Amazon vs Shopify. Both platforms offer similar features, such as eCommerce stores, product listings, and payment processing. However, Shopify has a much larger community of developers, which makes it easier for them to create custom apps. Also, Shopify offers free hosting while Amazon charges monthly fees.
The main difference between Shopify and Amazon is that Shopify is a web-based platform for eCommerce stores while Amazon is a marketplace where customers can purchase goods from different sellers. Both platforms offer similar features such as inventory management, shipping options, payment processing, etc. However, Shopify has a better customer service system, which allows users to contact experts through live chat, email, phone calls, and video conferencing. This is especially helpful when issues arise such as cart recovery and gift cards activation. offers free hosting while Amazon charges monthly fees.
Yes! If you want to start selling on Amazon, then you need to first create an account at Amazon Seller Central. Once you’ve registered for seller central, you’ll be able to upload product listings, set up shipping options, and track orders. After you’re ready to ship, you’ll need to register for FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon), which are fulfillment centers that allow you to send inventory directly to Amazon warehouses.
The answer depends on your product category or the industry that you’re in, as well as the preferences of your customer base. If you’re looking for a quick way to start selling, then Shopify is probably the easiest option. However, if you want to sell digital goods, such as apps, games, music, etc., then WooCommerce is better. If you’re a B2B business with a large number of SKUs, BigCommerce is your best bet. In addition, Magento is a good option for mid-sized retailers.