Shopify vs Amazon: Choosing the Best Ecommerce Platform

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By Ben Timlons

In the dynamic world of e-commerce, choosing the right platform for your online business can be a challenging task. The two giants that often come head-to-head in this arena are Shopify and Amazon. Each of these platforms offers unique benefits and features, and understanding these can be crucial to your business’s success.

Find even more handy Shopify tips, news, and updates through the Shopify Guide here.

Brief Overview of Shopify and Amazon

Shopify, a leading e-commerce platform, makes it easy for businesses to set up and manage their online stores. With its user-friendly interface and robust features, it caters to a wide range of businesses, from budding entrepreneurs to established enterprises. Shopify’s versatility has made it a top contender in the e-commerce platform realm, often compared to other platforms like Shopify vs Squarespace or Shopify vs Woocommerce.

On the other hand, Amazon, a global e-commerce behemoth, provides businesses with instant access to a massive, ready-made customer base. Amazon’s marketplace model gives sellers the opportunity to reach millions of customers, but it also requires them to navigate Amazon’s strict rules and fees.

The choice between Shopify and Amazon often boils down to the level of control you want over your online store versus the potential for immediate, vast customer reach. The following sections will delve deeper into the specifics of each platform, their pros and cons, and how to choose the best one for your specific needs.

What is Shopify?

Overview of Shopify

Shopify is a renowned ecommerce platform designed to facilitate business owners in creating their own online store. This unique web-based platform has been a game-changer in the e-commerce industry since its inception in 2006. It offers diverse features and customizable templates, making it a go-to choice for both beginners and seasoned entrepreneurs. Shopify is lauded for its user-friendly interface, robust capabilities, and a wide range of powerful tools, all aimed at maximizing online sales and enhancing the overall customer experience.

Pros of Using Shopify

There are numerous advantages to using Shopify as your ecommerce platform.

  1. User-Friendly Interface: Shopify is known for its intuitive and easy-to-use interface. Even with limited technical knowledge, one can set up and manage their online store with relative ease.
  2. Versatile Customization: Shopify offers a variety of themes and templates that can be customized to match your brand’s aesthetic. This level of customization can help your online store stand out and attract more customers.
  3. Excellent Security: As an ecommerce platform, Shopify takes the security of its users very seriously. It provides SSL certificates for all pages and PCI DSS compliant checkout systems to ensure safe and secure transactions.
  4. SEO Features: Shopify’s built-in SEO features help to boost your store’s visibility on search engines, thereby increasing your chances of attracting more customers.
  5. Mobile Responsiveness: With the majority of online shopping done on mobile devices, Shopify’s mobile-responsive themes are a significant advantage.

Cons of Using Shopify

Despite its numerous advantages, Shopify isn’t without its drawbacks.

  1. Additional Transaction Fees: Unless you’re using Shopify Payments, Shopify charges extra transaction fees. This could potentially cut into your profits, especially if you’re a small business owner.
  2. Limited Free Themes: While Shopify does offer customization, the number of free themes is limited. For more unique and premium designs, you’ll have to pay extra.
  3. Complex Pricing Structure: Shopify’s pricing structure can be a bit confusing, with various plans and add-ons that could potentially increase your costs.

By comparing Shopify with other platforms such as Shopify vs WooCommerce or Shopify vs Squarespace, you can have a more comprehensive understanding of its strengths and weaknesses to make an informed decision for your ecommerce business.

What is Amazon?

Overview of Amazon

Amazon, a titan in the ecommerce realm, is a highly popular online marketplace that allows both businesses and individuals to sell their products to a worldwide customer base. With a vast selection of products and a highly recognizable brand, Amazon has established a reputation of trust and reliability among consumers. Unlike Shopify, which is primarily a platform for building your ecommerce store, Amazon provides a ready-made marketplace for sellers to list their products and tap into their extensive customer base.

Pros of Using Amazon

Amazon hosts a multitude of advantages for ecommerce sellers. To start with, it offers an enormous customer reach. The platform boasts over 300 million active users, providing sellers with a vast audience.

Secondly, the trust factor cannot be underestimated. Amazon’s reputation ensures a higher conversion rate as consumers often feel more comfortable purchasing from a known entity.

Another considerable advantage is Amazon’s Fulfillment service. This service handles storage, packaging, and shipping on behalf of the seller, making it an attractive option for those who want to focus more on product development and less on logistics.

Lastly, Amazon’s robust search and recommendation engine can significantly aid in product visibility, which can be a boon for new or less-known sellers.

Cons of Using Amazon

Despite its benefits, selling on Amazon comes with its share of drawbacks. The high level of competition is a significant concern. With millions of sellers vying for attention, standing out can be a daunting task.

Moreover, seller fees can eat into your profits. Amazon charges a referral fee on each sale, which can range from 6% to 45% of the selling price, depending on the category.

Another downside is the lack of brand visibility. While Amazon is excellent for product visibility, it doesn’t offer much scope for brand promotion. Unlike platforms like Shopify, where you control the look and feel of your store, on Amazon, your product listings blend in with the rest.

Finally, dependence on the platform is another often overlooked issue. If you solely sell on Amazon, changes in their policies or algorithm can significantly impact your business.

Shopify vs Amazon

When opting for an ecommerce platform, one must consider several vital factors, such as ease of use, pricing, product listing and management, marketing and SEO, customer support, and payment and shipping. Let’s scrutinize both Shopify and Amazon based on these parameters.

Ease of Use

Shopify boasts a user-friendly interface, making it a breeze for beginners to set up their online store. With its intuitive dashboard, even a novice can manage their products, sales, and orders effortlessly.

On the other hand, Amazon, being a vast marketplace, might seem daunting to new sellers. However, once familiarized, its comprehensive seller central platform provides a robust system for product management and sales tracking.


Shopify’s pricing plans range from $29 to $299 per month, with the higher plans offering more advanced features. There are no listing fees, and transaction fees are waived if you use Shopify Payments.

Contrarily, Amazon charges a referral fee per item sold, which varies by product category. Additionally, professional sellers must pay a monthly subscription fee of $39.99. However, unlike Shopify, Amazon does not charge any setup or maintenance fees.

Product Listing and Management

Shopify allows complete control over your product listings, including prices, descriptions, and customer reviews. You can easily manage your inventory within the Shopify dashboard.

Amazon provides a more structured approach to product listing. Sellers must adhere to Amazon’s product listing guidelines, which may limit customization but ensures uniformity and trustworthiness across the platform.

Marketing and SEO

When it comes to Shopify, you’re responsible for your store’s marketing and SEO. The platform provides built-in SEO features and the ability to use paid advertising or social media promotions.

Amazon has a massive built-in customer base, which can be an advantage for sellers. However, competition is fierce, and standing out requires strategic use of Amazon’s advertising services.

Customer Support

Shopify provides 24/7 customer support via phone, email, and live chat. The support team is known for their quick responses and helpful solutions.

Amazon, while having a customer service team for buyers, has been criticized for lack of adequate seller support. The primary mode of seller support is through email or seller forum discussions.

Payment and Shipping

Shopify offers a variety of payment options through Shopify Payments and third-party gateways. The platform also integrates with various shipping carriers, providing flexible shipping options for your customers.

Amazon controls the payment process and offers Amazon Pay. It also provides Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), allowing sellers to store their products in Amazon’s warehouses, which handle shipping and customer service.

In conclusion, both Shopify and Amazon have their unique strengths and limitations. Your choice will depend on your specific needs and business model. If you’re considering other platforms, you might find our comparisons of Shopify vs WooCommerce and Shopify vs BigCommerce helpful.

Tips for Choosing the Right Ecommerce Platform

With a sea of options available, selecting the most suitable ecommerce platform for your online venture can be a daunting task. This section will guide you on how to make that critical choice between Shopify and Amazon, or any other platform like shopify vs magento and shopify vs squarespace, by understanding your business needs, considering your budget, and aligning with your target audience.

Understand Your Business Needs

Every business has unique requirements, and ecommerce platforms cater to different needs. Therefore, it’s essential to identify your business needs first. Are you planning to sell a vast array of products or just a few? Do you require a sophisticated inventory management system? Do you need advanced SEO features, or is a simple, user-friendly interface more important for your business? Answering these questions will help you determine whether Shopify’s easy-to-use interface and excellent SEO capabilities, or Amazon’s vast customer base and advanced inventory management systems, are more suitable for your needs.

Consider Your Budget

Budget is a significant factor when it comes to choosing an ecommerce platform. Shopify offers various pricing plans to fit different budgets, but remember, the cost doesn’t end with the subscription fee. There are additional costs such as transaction fees, add-ons, and themes to consider.

On the other hand, Amazon charges a fee per item sold and additional fees for services like Fulfillment by Amazon. Therefore, it’s important to calculate the total cost, not just the upfront fees, to understand which platform is more cost-effective for your business.

Think About Your Target Audience

Lastly, understanding your target audience can significantly influence your platform choice. Amazon has a built-in audience of millions of users worldwide, making it an excellent choice if your products appeal to the mass market. However, if your products cater to a niche audience, Shopify might be a better fit, as it allows for greater customization and branding, helping you to stand out and reach your specific target market.

In conclusion, understanding your business needs, considering your budget, and knowing your target audience are crucial steps in choosing the right ecommerce platform. Whether it’s Shopify, Amazon, or another platform such as shopify vs woocommerce, these factors will guide you towards the platform that aligns best with your business goals.


Recap of Shopify vs Amazon

In the bustling arena of e-commerce, the choice between Shopify and Amazon is a pivotal one. Shopify, with its user-friendly platform, flexible pricing, and robust marketing tools, presents a compelling case for small to medium-sized businesses. Its shortcomings, however, primarily lie in its less extensive customer base and the need for manual setup and site management.

On the other hand, Amazon’s colossal customer base and reputation for reliability can be a game-changer for sellers. Nevertheless, it comes with a higher cost implication, less control over branding, and fierce competition.

Final Thoughts on Choosing the Right Platform

Choosing the right e-commerce platform requires a thorough understanding of your business needs, budget, and target audience. It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. Shopify may be the ideal choice for business owners who value customization and hands-on control of their branding, while Amazon may be the better option for those aiming to tap into a ready-made and expansive market, despite the fierce competition and higher costs.

Remember, the path to e-commerce success is not merely about choosing the right platform—it’s about how you strategically utilize the platform to meet your specific business goals.

Consider the various Shopify vs other platforms comparisons as well, such as shopify vs squarespace or shopify vs woocommerce. Exploring these options will give you a broader perspective and help you make a well-informed decision that aligns with your business objectives.

In the end, it’s about selecting a platform that aligns with your business goals, supports your growth, and provides an optimal shopping experience for your customers. Whether it’s Shopify, Amazon, or another platform, your choice should be a catalyst for your e-commerce success.