Selling on Amazon vs. Shopify: What’s the difference?


You probably know that there are plenty of platforms and marketplaces you can choose from, but you might not know that choosing the best sales channel is the essence of a successful eCommerce business. So, let’s go through the differences when selling on Amazon vs. Shopify.

We’ll go through statistics together, highlight both sales channels’ differences and pros and cons, and point out what you should pay attention to when choosing the right marketplace for your products and services.

Selling on Amazon vs. Shopify: Meet the Giants

You’ve probably heard about both of these sales channels (how could you possibly miss them), but to ensure we’re starting on the right foot here, let’s find out a bit more about them.

Amazon

So, what do you know about Amazon? Yes, it’s an American company founded in 1994 in Jeff Bezos‘s garage in Bellevue, Washington. You all know the story. But how did Bezos come to the idea to launch it, and what was its initial focus?

While working for a Wall Street company, Jeff Bezos saw a high potential of the Internet since it had an annual growth rate of 2,300 percent. So, he decided to jump on board while the trend was emerging.

And he decided to focus on selling books. It’s not the product he innovated but the sales channel he used. In 1998 Amazon expanded its product list.

Two years later, in 2000, the company introduced a service allowing individual sellers and other outside merchants to peddle their products alongside Amazon’s own items.

Today it’s one of the biggest and most visited marketplaces worldwide.

Shopify

Shopify is a Canadian company launched initially to sell snowboards online. And you know what’s funny? It was established under the name Snowdevil, but the Snowdevil founders decided to launch the platform as Shopify in June 2006.

According to Tobias Lütke, one of the founders and the CEO of Shopify, its primary goal was to make it easy for anyone to open up an online store.

And that was it; 15 years later, Shopify has more than one million business users across the globe.

Selling on Amazon vs. Shopify

Amazon and Shopify: What’s the difference?

What are the main differences between these two sales channels?

Well, let’s start with the fact that Amazon is a marketplace, while Shopify is a platform. What does it mean? It means you will be able to build your own store on Shopify with the tools they provide, while through Amazon, you will be able only to sell your products with all other sellers.

And basically, that’s the difference that makes the experience totally different when you opt for selling on Amazon vs. Shopify.

If you opt for Amazon, you will most likely blend in with other similar products. If you choose Shopify, you can differentiate your product by creating a webshop that can be unique and attractive to the customers.

On the other hand, with Shopify as your store, you will have to do all the marketing work by yourself, while Amazon, on the other hand, helps sellers with products, fulfillment, packaging, and delivery.

So, what do they have in common? You can sell your products online for a monthly fee using one or both.

Amazon vs Shopify Pros and Cons

Okay, now that you know the main difference between the two, let’s see what pros and cons you will encounter when starting selling on Amazon vs Shopify.

Amazon pros and cons

Amazon Pros and Cons

If we had to pull one fabulous thing about Amazon, that would probably be their organization regarding fulfillment, packaging, and shipping. We mustn’t forget the number of monthly visitors that this marketplace has.

The downside? Well, when you’re just selling products, you’re the same as everyone else. And besides that, Amazon accepts only credit and debit cards; your customers don’t have any other option to use when buying your product.

Advantages and disadvantages when selling on Amazon:

Pros Cons
Millions of visitors monthly High competition – A million similar products in the same marketplace is not the best starting point
Help with products, fulfillment, packaging, and delivery High fees
Available marketing tools

Shopify pros and cons

Shopify Pros and Cons

As for Shopify, the best thing is that you can create your online shop, which makes the possibility to stand out. But we have to say it is not the most innovative shop because you will be limited with your options for your Shopify store design and features.

Advantages and disadvantages when selling on Shopify:

Pros Cons
Easy to set up Need to invest in marketing and SEO on your own
Available eCommerce tools Storefront and attributes are limited
A variety of available payment gateways

Is it easy to sell on Amazon and Shopify?

To be honest, opening a shop or listing your products on both platforms is easy. You don’t need coding skills, even when creating your online shop on Shopify.

Both of these options are much easier and less expensive solutions than, for example, building your own website. You don’t have to hire developers, which shortens the time and saves your budget.

Is it easy to stand out on Amazon and Shopify?

Now, you probably know that when you sell products online, your biggest challenge will be to become visible. Yes, there are millions and millions of potential buyers online, but how to make them notice you?

And that’s probably where Shopify is a slightly better option than Amazon. It offers you the possibility to build your own shop (though with limited frontend options for your virtual shop window.. but still…).

You can use templates (81 templates available) to build your store, but don’t forget that only 10 are free, and the rest are paid.

With Amazon, you just list your products which are most likely the same as hundreds of others, meaning you might end up on the last page of the Amazon search. Of course, you can upload your image and description, but as for layout, you have only three options to pick from.

Now, on the other hand, Amazon does offer marketing tools, such as Amazon DSP, which allows you to programmatically buy ads to reach new and existing audiences on and off Amazon. Or Amazon Live, which allows you to interact with your audience through live-streaming and motivate them to follow your brand.

Shopify doesn’t offer you options when it comes to marketing. You need to become a marketing guru by yourself or hire one to boost your online shop.

What’s the cost?

Yes, nothing is free in this life, and each option offers different pricing plans and models.

Cost of bussiness, Shopify vs Amazon

Shopify pricing plans

First of all, if you opt for the Shopify store, you have a 14-day free trial period.

After that, you can choose one of the three plans available, ranging from $29 to $299, depending on the number of staff accounts, inventory locations, and shipping options.

Amazon pricing plans

If you want to start selling on Amazon, you need to be aware that their pricing plans are totally different from those on Shopify.

If you’re an individual seller, you pay $0.99 per unit sold, and the professional plan costs $39.99

Now, subscribing to the professional plan doesn’t release you from referral fees which range from 8% to 45% of the item’s price, depending on the category.

And if you want Amazon to deal with your shipping, including picking and packing the item, you might need to include FBA fulfillment fees as well, which range from $2.92 to $150.94 + $0.79/lb above the first 90 lbs, depending on dimensions and weight, or type of standard size.

Is that all? Well, no. If you want to use marketing programs or long-term storage, you will have to pay extra for those.

Marketing Guide for Amazon and Shopify

If you’re selling your products online, you know the importance of marketing. You might have the best product in the world, yet no one buys it because people don’t know it exists (not visible).

Let’s see what you should do if you choose Amazon or Shopify.

Amazon Marketing

Amazon is a marketplace with its own marketing system. It doesn’t rely on the Google search, meaning you shouldn’t focus on the marketing tools Amazon is offering.

I already mentioned two Amazon marketing tools that can improve Amazon SEO with ads and live streaming.

Shopify Marketing

On the other hand, with the Shopify store, you will need to focus on Google SEO. For that purpose, Shopify offers the basic set of SEO features for users to optimize the store-level content to ensure higher SERP positions, including meta tags, alt text, images, 301 redirects, and auto XML sitemap, etc.

You can also use Shopify Email for straightforward email marketing campaigns.

Amazon and Shopify eCommerce features

And here we come to the part that interests you the most, what these two sales channels offer to your eCommerce business. Let’s see what eCommerce features you have at your disposal when selling on Amazon vs Shopify.

eCommerce business is not just marketing; it’s all those tedious work and tasks you must take care of when the sales happen. It encompasses product management, inventory tracking, shipping, customer support, etc. Who said eCommerce would be easy-peasy?

As for Shopify, you have the option to manage your inventory by adding new products and setting categories, you can track your inventory to avoid selling out of stocks, and you can import product variations. But there’s a catch. You can upload up to three product variations on Shopify and up to 100 combinations.

If we know that the average abandoned cart rate is around 70%, you can guess how valuable is the Shopify feature Abandoned Cart Recovery, that it allows you to check abandoned carts and send emails to the buyer. On top of that, you have automatic tax calculation, a QR code generator, and a logo maker at your disposal.

Now, as for Amazon, I already mentioned that it has a well-organized system that helps sellers reach the audience. Here are some of them:

  • Amazon seller app – The app enables you to track your business through your phone, on the go.
  • FBA revenue calculator – allows you to calculate which option is the best for you, to deal with fulfillment on your own, or to leave it up to Amazon.
  • Cost Calculator – a rough estimate of your per unit Amazon sales margin, based on your product category, fulfillment method, and other factors.
  • Amazon Vine – For Professional Selling Partners, Amazon enabled this feature that invites the trusted reviewers on Amazon to review new products. It’s a great kick-off when starting a business.
  • Amazon Currency Converter – The currency might be a challenge when selling globally. But not for Amazon; it automatically converts your prices.
  • Automate pricing – Adjusting pricing quickly and automatically is sometimes the key to success when running an eCommerce business in a competitive market. Amazon offers a feature that automatically adjusts the price within your limits and increases your chance of becoming a Featured Offer.

amazon, shopify statistics

Interesting statistics

Whatever you do, you should always take a peek at statistics. Why? Because it can tell you a lot about trends and help you plan your business the right way. Selling on Amazon vs Shopify? Let’s check out the statistics.

So, here are 10 interesting facts you might want to know before making a choice:

  1. Amazon is the leading marketplace by the number of monthly visits (more than 2.7 billion desktop and mobile visits).
  2. Shopify has more than 2.1 million daily active users.
  3. The United States is expected to remain the largest market for Amazon in the period 2022 to 2027.
  4. In 2021, one-third of Shopify’s online stores were based in the United States.
  5. The second-largest Amazon market is Germany.
  6. But the highest growth when it comes to Amazon is predicted for Canada.
  7. As of September 2021, Shopify was the most used eCommerce software in the U.S., used by approximately 29 percent of websites that use eCommerce technologies.
  8. The best-selling products are electrical and fashion products.
  9. Fashion is the number one industry when it comes to Shopify.
  10. Shopify generated over 4.6 billion U.S. dollars in total revenues in the fiscal year 2021, while Amazon’s total consolidated net sales revenue amounted to 469.82 billion U.S. dollars.

Integration, SyncSpider, Amazon and Shopify

Multichannel sales? Why stop on one?

So, which one will it be? Are you going to start selling on Amazon vs. Shopify? Which one will you choose?

You know what, you don’t have to choose at all. You can sell on both, and you don’t need double workflow.

Multichannel sales are something most successful eCommerce businesses practice. Why? Because that way, they increase their chances of success. Don’t worry; you don’t need to improve your workforce just to track the changes on multiple marketplaces and platforms.

All you need is syncing software, a tool for integrating, automating, and synchronizing all the tools, apps, platforms, and marketplaces you use. And that’s where SyncSpider jumps in to help you manage all that.

As you can see, you can actually start selling on both Amazon and Shopify if you have the right tool for synchronizing these channels. And you don’t need double accounting, double mailing lists, double inventory management, etc.

You can even upload new products simultaneously on Amazon and Shopify from your ERP system or run your online Shopify store and your Amazon sales from your local database.

Norbert Strappler

Norbert Strappler

The founder and CEO of MONOBUNT Digitalagentur, SyncSpider, and DragDropr

SyncSpider is the app-2-app integration tool built for eCommerce.

Grow your sales by instantly becoming a multichannel retailer, update your inventory between multiple web stores with a single click and connect your favorite eCommerce tools to work flawlessly in sync.

Start your free trial now to spend less time doing busy/tedious work and more time growing your web store.

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