Choosing between two ecommerce website building titans is hard, trust us. We have been writing informative articles for over 10 years, and one of the biggest questions we get consistently asked is “Should I go with Shopify or Amazon?”
From our extensive research and hands-on experience, we think Shopify is the best ecommerce website builder of the two, but why do we say that? Shopify is our #1 ecommerce website builder in our ranking – it has the best sales features we’ve ever tested and really does have everything you need to build your own online store.
With Amazon, we also understand that not building your own store can be a time-saver, and you want the trusted hands of the world’s biggest online marketplace to sell your products. Not having to grow your own audience is a major plus too.
It all comes down to whether you want a hands-on or hands-off experience with selling. Both options are valid, so let’s dig a little deeper with Shopify vs Amazon!
Shopify is better if you want the control and customization of building your own online store...Shopify lets you build your own online store and really make it your own. Not only is it a digital presence with its own brand and identity, but Shopify is also one of the best ecommerce providers, giving you all the support you could ever need and helping you get started if you’re a beginner. The necessity of third-party apps and themes for your Shopify store does add to expenses, and the editor could be a little bit smoother to use, but if you like to go by the beat of your own drum, Shopify is the one for you!
Amazon is better for small sellers who don't want to pay upfront costs...Amazon’s main selling point is the huge number of customers that visit every day, allowing you to take advantage of an already thriving marketplace and easily connect with your audience. In the US alone, it gets over 2.45 billion visitors per month! Amazon can be a much cheaper option for small sellers, with a lower upfront cost of $0.99 per item. However, the monthly subscription is higher than Shopify’s starting plan, costing $39.99 per month, plus increased competition form other sellers. You won’t need to build your own store, however.
Each of these ecommerce providers has their own unique pros and cons. Whichever one is better for you depends on the particular needs of your store, but we can at least give you a balanced view of each.
Shopify Pros and Cons
| Powerful ecommerce tools: Shopify has a range of ecommerce tools such as abandoned cart recovery and an online invoice generator designed to help you build and promote your online store. |
AI Integration: Shopify Magic is an AI Text Writer that can auto-generate product descriptions, which combined with Shopify’s already great inventory system really speeds up your store's creation.
| Extra costs: Shopify has a monthly fee, but it also has an App Store. Adding third party apps is vital to Shopify and can increase your monthly costs, with most apps costing in the range of $10 - $50 per month. |
Website building: While Shopify has some of the best design flexibility and ease of use among ecommerce platforms, many of our testers still found traversing between the front and back end of the editor to be confusing.
Amazon Pros and Cons
| Global Traffic: Millions of people visit the Amazon marketplace per month from all around the world. Amazon ships to over 100 countries, meaning you can unlock whole new markets just by selling on Amazon. This gives your products great exposure. |
Extra services: Amazon can handle your inventory storage, packing and shipping for you, making it easier for you to run your business.
| Competition: Amazon sells millions of products, so you’re up against a ton of competition. At times you’ll be directly competing with Amazon itself. |
Order Management: Amazon doesn’t integrate with other shopping cart systems, meaning if you are selling on other marketplaces you will have to keep a manual count of how much stock you sell.
If that wasn’t in-depth enough for you, try our quick comparison table for size:
| Ease of Use |
Winner: It's A Draw!
|Shopify makes it easy and accessible to set up an online store, and AI tool Shopify Magic makes filling in inventories quicker than ever.||All you have to do is set up your Amazon seller account, upload your products, and get selling!|
| Design Flexibility |
|Shopify has a professional range of really customizable templates, designed specifically for selling, You can easily build your own unique brand.||Amazon controls the design of your store pages and product displays. While easy, this limits your business identity.|
| Ecommerce Tools and Features |
|Shopify has the best sales features on the market, such as abandoned cart recovery and selling digital products, plus tons of in-built tools as well as an app store.||Amazon has a wide range of features that cater to different sellers’ needs. However, you can’t customize to the same degree as Shopify and will be stuck with the same tools as every other seller, making it harder to stand out from the crowd.|
| Payment Options & Fees |
|Transparent pricing: no transaction fees when using Shopify Payment gateway, all other fees and charges clearly listed. Support more than 100 payment options.||Supports Amazon Pay payment gateway, which accepts credit and debit cards. Extra fees are definitely included but are too variable to be transparent.|
| Attracting Customers |
|With Shopify you must do all the marketing and SEO yourself. Shopify provides you with the tools to succeed, but you’re responsible for your own traffic.||Amazon gets millions of visitors every month, so your traffic is brought to you on a plate! You do have to compete against other sellers (and Amazon itself), and optimize to rank in Amazon’s searches.|
| Help and Support |
|Shopify has something for everyone. From 24/7 phone and live chat to the help center, you’re covered.||Amazon has good support options, including a help forum, but it’s less accessible than Shopify’s.|
| Pricing |
|Shopify has three price plans ranging from $29 to $299 per month. There’s a 3-day free trial, and you pay $1/month for the first 3 months on the Basic plan.||Amazon has two plans: one at $0.99 per item, and the other at $39.99 per month. Both are subject to extra variable fees.|
|Are You Ready?||Try Shopify||Try Amazon|
- Why not have a quick look at our Shopify review to get started?
You can make money by using Shopify or Amazon to sell your products online. You pay a monthly subscription to both and have access to all the tools and resources they have to offer.
But they are not the same!
Firstly, there’s the size difference. Shopify managed to rake in $1.7 billion for the first quarter of 2023, while Amazon pulled in a head-spinning $127 billion in the same period! Amazon and Shopify may seem similar, but they work in different ways.
The Major Difference Between Shopify and Amazon
The key thing to remember is Shopify is a specialized ecommerce platform and Amazon is an online marketplace. Shopify gives you the tools to build your very own online store, while Amazon lets you sell through its marketplace alongside other online sellers.
So selling through Amazon is like having a stall in a famous boot fair. Thousands of people swarm in to browse and buy – most of them aren’t looking for your business in particular, but you still make a lot of sales because of everyone walking past and seeing your stall.
Selling with Shopify is more like renting a building to set up your business in. You have your own space and customers actually come looking for your store once they know your brand. There’s more room to create a unique image, although it’s harder work building up that regular customer base. But it’s ‘your store, your way’, so you can really customize it! Expand it to a brick-and-mortar store, add pay by link, it’s all down to you!
Because of these differences, Shopify and Amazon cater to different types of online sellers. Amazon caters to individual sellers up to small and medium-sized businesses. Shopify is ideal for everything from small businesses to much larger brands.
- If you would like to know more about ecommerce website builders and our own methodology, read our How We Conduct Our Ecommerce Website Builder Research page.
It's A Draw! Shopify and Amazon are both easy to use
Whether you’re selling a pair of socks or setting up your ecommerce empire, you want your online selling experience to be as smooth as possible.
Setting up your own online store can seem overwhelming. But from our own experience with Shopify, it does a good job of making the process simplified. Unlike other website builders, Shopify opens up in the dashboard first, where you can start immediately adding products and sorting out payment details and other important details.
It can seem confusing at first to have to start with the “boring” stuff before getting to the editor and actually building your online store, but Shopify is just making sure you prioritize its sales features, which is what the platform’s known for. Shopify is built for online stores mainly, and our testers throughout the years have found the actual design and editing to be hard to use at first:
“Even the basics like adding and resizing text felt over-engineered and overcomplicated.”
Shopify did actually anticipate this impatience and implemented Shopify Magic as a way to help. An AI text generation tool, Shopify Magic can create product descriptions in multiple tones of voice from just a short description, saving you massive amounts of time when filling out your store’s inventory, such as writing descriptions based on prompts, creating FAQs, and even optimizing emails. AI website builders are becoming more popular, with more and more advancements and features each week, so if you think it saves time now, just check back in half a year!
Since our previous testing, Shopify improved its ease of use in our ranking with a 13% rise, going from 3.5 to a 4 out of 5. It still has a few issues, but in our experience, it is still one of the best platforms to build an online store.
On the flip side, with Amazon, all you need to do is create an account, complete each set-up stage, and then you’re ready to get selling!
Once you’re registered you just have to list your products, sell them, ship them, and then the best part – get paid!
This is all quite straightforward and Amazon has tools to make it as simple as possible. For example, you can sort out shipping yourself or use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).
FBA takes one of the headaches of the ecommerce world – shipping – and takes it out of your hands. So you don’t have to worry about shipping at all if you don’t want to. Instead, you sell your products and Amazon sorts the rest out for you. You do get some choice, however. For instance, you can choose which products you want to give exclusive Prime free shipping. We recommend this option for your best sellers, as free shipping has been shown to influence 73% of online shoppers into making a purchase.
Both Shopify and Amazon are designed to make your life as easy as possible. You’ll find useful tools and streamlined setups with both.
Shopify has the better design flexibility
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to browse online when bad design is getting in the way at every click. Shopify gives you control over the layout and design of your online store. But you don’t have to design it from scratch – instead, you choose from over 140 themes and then customize it to match your brand.
Shopify has 12 free themes and over 120 premium ones which cost between $170 to $380. You can edit, personalize, and even switch your theme, so you create a unique brand image for your business. Shopify’s themes are all designed for online stores, meaning they are already optimized for getting your customer’s attention. That’s why in our research, we gave Shopify a 4.4 out of 5 for design flexibility, beating out usual design heavy-hitters like Squarespace.
Amazon is more limiting in its designs. All Amazon pages are laid out in a similar way. You can upload your own images and descriptions, but the overall layout and design of your store page are recognizably Amazon’s rather than your own.
On the homepage, for example, products are listed in Amazon’s branding, alongside your competitors’ products. This is ideal for the customer but can make it more challenging to direct visitors to your own pages.
You are in fact able to make a brand storefront on Amazon. You can select from a range of templates, put in your own images and video and create a space where customers can view your brand and your brand alone. There are however three requirements to building a storefront in Amazon. You must be either:
- An Amazon seller enrolled in Brand Registry.
- A brand selling directly to Amazon via Vendor Central.
- An agency representing one of the above.
Brand Registry is available to any business that has a valid registered trademark in the same country as the Amazon marketplace they are selling on.
Shopify has the better ecommerce features
Bust the myth that looks and savviness don’t go hand in hand. Create a store that has ecommerce power tools in its pocket as well as great design.
Many people don’t actually know how to sell on Amazon. You get a vast range of products to sell in its marketplace, from electronics to toys and books. You can even sell services rather than physical goods. You can access all your selling options through Amazon’s Seller Central App. Here, you can create coupons, get reviews for your products and even sign up to have Enhanced Brand Content, replacing your usual product images with professionally-shot video that better reflects your brand, increasing conversions.
It welcomes individual sellers as well as businesses and has the tools in place to support your online selling. This includes unique stores such as Amazon Handmade, global selling, and the creation of targeted adverts.
One example is the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program, which allows you to access Amazon Prime customers, and lets Amazon handle the storage, packing, and shipping of your products.
You send your products to Amazon, which then packages and ships them to customers once the products get sold. There are fees for this, but if you don’t want the hassle of dealing with shipping it’s a useful solution!
In our research, Shopify comes first in our ranking of sales features with a 4.7 out of 5. This speaks to the depth and range of its ecommerce abilities, beating out many other providers like Wix, Square Online, and BigCommerce.
Here are just some of the ecommerce tools Shopify offers:
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Powerful inventory system
- Automatic tax calculation
- Logo maker
- Multichannel selling
- App integration
Shopify provides all the necessary tools to make your online store succeed, while also making your life as a business owner as easy as possible. What’s more, Shopify has recently teamed up with dropshipping suppliers like DSers to support dropshipping businesses.
If you don’t find what you’re looking for in your Shopify dashboard, don’t worry. Shopify has an extensive app store that you can use to expand and advance your ecommerce website. With over 6,000 apps, Shopify has an app for everything…sometimes to the platform’s detriment. If we’re being honest, Shopify can be quite third-party app reliant. As one of our testers said:
“A lot of the time it was unclear whether or not a feature was built in or if I had to download a third-party app.”
The app store is certainly useful for adding functions like email marketing or member areas, but it would also be simpler for the user if Shopify had more in-built functionality.
- Shopify’s app store gives it tons of extra features. But if you’d rather have all your tools built into your builder, check out our BigCommerce review. It has the most amount of inhouse features of any ecommerce platform.
- If you want to see how Shopify’s features compare to its competitors, take a look at our Shopify vs BigCommerce Comparison.
- Wondering what the difference between Dropshipping vs Ecommerce Fulfillment is? Our helpful breakdown explains the difference!
Shopify has the better payment options and fees
Sometimes you have to look deeper than the upfront costs. Transaction fees and credit card rates can increase your monthly outgoings, so it’s always best to check before you commit.
It’s no surprise Amazon supports Amazon Pay as its main payment gateway. You can accept credit and debit cards through this, but not PayPal.
For ‘Professional Sellers’, Amazon has selling fees plus its monthly subscription. These fees vary by category but are made up of referral fees and shipping fees. These referral fees have a minimum cost of $0.30, and can usually sit between 8% to 15% of the total sale. However, some categories like Device Accessories have a referral fee of 45%, meaning you would lose nearly half of your sale to Amazon based on what you sold.
If you use FBA there is a range of fees varying from $2.41 up to $137.32 for fulfillment fees (per unit). Then there are monthly inventory storage fees ranging from $0.69 to $2.40 per cubic foot. These prices are totally dependent on the size, volume, type of product, and even the time of year. You can check the various prices here.
Individual sellers don’t pay a monthly subscription like Professional Sellers do. Instead, you would pay a $0.99 fee for every product you sell.
Shopify has its own payment gateway, Shopify Payments. Most ecommerce website builders will make you sign up for their own in-built payment gateway, since it lets it keep track of your transactions. And Shopify is no different! There are benefits, however, such as being able to sync your transactions to other functions such as tax invoice makers. But the main benefit when you’re using this is you don’t have to pay any transaction fees!
That’s not all Shopify has to offer – it also provides over 100 different payment gateways, including Amazon Pay and PayPal. These all have transaction fees ranging from 0.5% to 2% depending on which one you’re using and which plan you’re on.
Credit card fees apply to all payment gateways, including Shopify Payments. The regular credit card rate on Shopify is 2.9% + 30¢. As you upgrade through Shopify’s price plans your online credit card rates decrease from 2.9% + 30¢ to 2.4% + 30¢.
Amazon is the best at attracting customers
From our experience, attracting your customers’ attention online can be a challenge. With competitors targeting your customers with ads in their social feeds and with distractions at every click, it’s a race to get noticed first.
This is where Amazon really shines. It gets an average of 2.2 billion visits a month in just the US alone, so the odds are stacked temptingly in your favor. You don’t have to worry so much about Google rankings or run email campaigns – people come to Amazon with their eyes peeled and wallets primed.
You have more time to manage your inventory and deal with orders – instead of you going to them, your customers are coming to you.
Or so you hope!
The drawback of Amazon is, once billions of visitors are on the site, they need to get to your products instead of your neighbor’s. And when Amazon itself is also selling on the same platform, competition is pretty fierce.
You may not need to worry about Google’s SEO, but you will need to comply with Amazon’s SEO in order to rank as high in its search results as you can. Thankfully, Amazon SEO works near-enough the same as Google, so a lot of the same advice applies.
In order to improve your Amazon SEO, don’t overstuff your product titles with keywords, optimize the product title and description with brand names and sizes, use clear and concise bullet points of key product info, and try to showcase positive reviews. This will give you the best chance of being chosen over your competitors.
Shopify doesn’t have the same search volume as Amazon. That’s because you create your very own brand – people actually need to search for your business to find you. This means marketing is essential to widen your customer base.
Email campaigns, multichannel selling, a strong social media presence, personalized shopping, abandoned cart recovery, and the infamous SEO – all of these are important for growing your brand and building a customer base. Shopify has email newsletters and social media integration in-built, but for email campaigns, you will need a third-party app from the Shopify App Market.
From our perspective, having followed Shopify for years, its marketing tools are good, earning a 5 out of 5 in our research, but having Amazon’s audience size from the get-go is a huge advantage when it comes to online selling.
- Social media is an essential part of attracting customers. Read our guide on How to Set Up a Facebook Store for helpful tips.
- Instagram isn’t just for cute pictures of cats. Check out our guide on How to Make Money on Instagram and learn how to start earning sales and growing your customer following through Instagram.
Shopify has the best help and support
Amazon doesn’t have the clearest support system – there is phone support where you request a call and Amazon gets in contact with you. There are forms you can submit for support and community forums where you can discuss issues. However, it’s not the most streamlined or easy-to-use support system out there.
Shopify has a comprehensive set of help options, because, unlike Amazon, there’s a lot more that you could struggle with. Having so many different functions and tools means needing more support options. Shopify comes equipped with
- 24/7 phone
- Social media
- 24/7 live chat
- Video tutorials
- Advanced specialist support
Shopify also has a Help Center with articles and guides. It’s easy to navigate and has tons of resources to browse. It also includes video tutorials and forums to help you learn new skills. Shopify’s 24/7 phone support is unique for an ecommerce website builder. Other competitors, like Squarespace, only offer 24/7 email support.
Shopify knows it can be challenging running your own store, and released Shopify Sidekick in order to offer a higher level of support. An AI chatbot that can answer questions and even automate certain tasks for you, allowing you to focus on other tasks. When we were doing our latest research, Shopify actually shot up 2.6% since last year from 3.8 to 3.9 out of 5 for overall help and support, now coming in second in our overall rankings of the best builders on the market.
- The Best Ways to Reach Shopify Customer Service: Read our guide to learn how you can contact Shopify if you need a helping hand
Shopify has the best value for money
At the end of the day you want to be making more money than you’re spending. There’s no point choosing a platform that’ll cost you hundreds of dollars if you’re only selling a few handmade items a month.
Neither Amazon nor Shopify is as pricey as that, so you should find something here to fit your budget.
- The Professional Selling plan costs $39.99 per month, plus extra selling fees (which vary depending on your products).
- The Individual Selling plan doesn’t have a monthly fee – instead, you pay $0.99 per item sold. This is in addition to extra selling fees, which again vary by category.
The Individual plan is suitable for anyone planning to sell less than 40 items per month. Because of this, it has fewer features available. For example, you can’t customize shipping rates on the Individual plan.
|Per Sale Closing Fee||$0.99||N/A|
|Use of feeds, spreadsheets, and other tools to load inventory||✔️||❌|
|Access to order reports and order-related feeds||❌||✔️|
|Earn top placement on product detail pages||❌||✔️|
|Sell in 20+ open categories||✔️||✔️|
|Apply to sell in 10+ additional categories||❌||✔️|
|Customize shipping rates||❌||✔️|
There are extra costs when you use FBA, but this is extremely variable and dependent on your products and business. Don’t forget about referral rates as well. These can be up to 45% of a sale, so keep that in mind if you decide to go with Amazon.
- The Basic Shopify plan costs $29 per month
- The Shopify plan costs $79 per month
- The Advanced Shopify plan costs $299 per month
Shopify has earnt a bit of a reputation as being expensive, but from our experience, you get what you pay for – good sales features. In our research, its value for money got a 3.6 out of 5, which was a 20% rise from our previous testing. For those worried about the cost, Shopify offers a 3-day free trial (then 3 months at $1/month). This offer allows you to test the platform and maybe even get a head start on selling before you have to start paying for the main plans, a great option for start-ups or new businesses with not a lot of capital (just yet).
You unlock more features as you upgrade through the pricing plans. Below you can see which features are available on each plan.
|Basic Shopify||Shopify|| Advanced Shopify |
|$29 per month||$79 per month||$299 per month|
|Unlimited Products||✔️||✔️|| ✔️ |
|Staff Accounts||2||5|| 15 |
|Multi-channel Integration||✔️||✔️|| ✔️ |
|Discount Codes||✔️||✔️|| ✔️ |
|Abandoned Cart Recovery||✔️||✔️|| ✔️ |
|Gift Cards||✔️||✔️|| ✔️ |
|Reports||❌||✔️|| ✔️ |
|Online Credit Card Rates||2.9% + 30¢ USD||2.6% + 30¢ USD|| 2.4% + 30¢ USD |
|Transaction Fee (Without Shopify Payments)||2%||1%|| 0.5% |
|Third-Party Calculated Shipping Rates at Checkout||❌||❌|| ✔️ |
|Shipping Discount||Up to 77%||Up to 88%|| Up to 88% |
|Shipping Labels||✔️||✔️|| ✔️ |
|USPS Priority Mail Cubic Pricing||❌||✔️|| ✔️ |
|Sell in 133 Currencies||✔️||✔️|| ✔️ |
|International Domains||❌||✔️|| ✔️ |
|International Pricing||❌||✔️|| ✔️ |
The Basic Shopify plan gives you the basics to set up your ecommerce website. You can then add apps to expand your store’s functions and upgrade whenever you’re ready. The prices Shopify displays for all its plans are yearly prices, which can lead to up to 25% cheaper than paying month-by-month. The Basic plan becomes $39 per month if this method is chosen.
If even the basic plan is outside of your budget, Shopify does have a fourth plan, but it’s restricted to selling on social media only. The Shopify Starter Plan only costs $5 per month, and with it, you get a reduced version of a typical Shopify store. You won’t have a website, instead, you’ll have a small store that you can link to a social media page.
Extra costs can occur if you’re adding third-party apps to your store. However, these help scale your business so should reflect a rise in customers and profits.
- Did Shopify’s prices catch your eye? Read our Shopify Pricing Review to find out which Shopify plan is best for you.
- Trying to budget for your business? Read our article on how much does a web site cost for some helpful tips.
- Compare prices in our Online Store Builder Comparison Chart to find the perfect platform for your wallet as well as your business.
Amazon and Shopify are pretty well-matched. They both offer certain things which the other does not. Just like peanut butter and jelly, why not put them together to make something great?
You can integrate Amazon into your Shopify store. Yes, that means exactly what you think it does: you can build your own ecommerce business while promoting your products on the world’s largest marketplace… at the same time… and with just a few clicks.
This will let you create Amazon listings and offers straight from Shopify, sync inventory and product details, link products, and more!
The main thing to be aware of is you still have to pay for the Amazon Professional Seller account. You will already be paying your monthly subscription to Shopify, and then you will pay for the Amazon Professional plan on top of that. The minimum you will need to pay is nearly $80 per month, plus all the potential plugin costs you may be paying with your Shopify store. We don’t mean to be a buzzkill, but we just want to be clear that running a store on both is a more expensive option.
But if your business is ready for more exposure and expansion, combining these two powerhouses is a worthwhile investment.
Most importantly, we’ve looked at how these things can help you.
Overall, we recommend Shopify for anyone setting up their ecommerce business or those looking to grow their business and scale up. It gives you greater control, a stronger brand identity, and more scalable pricing.
Amazon is good for small sellers who don’t want to pay an upfront cost, but its variable extra fees make it difficult to judge how quickly those costs could rack up.
Shopify provides a better solution in the long term, and with the option to integrate Amazon into your Shopify store, you don’t have to miss out: it’s a win-win!
Overall, Shopify supports more long-term growth for your business and helps you stand out from your competitors more.
People usually go to Amazon in search of discounts and deals, so there’s more pressure to have competitive prices.
You can make it big using either platform, but you’re more in control if you choose Shopify. We recommend signing up to Shopify and then integrating with Amazon to get the benefits of both platforms.
If you sign up for Amazon’s Individual Seller plan you don’t pay a monthly fee – instead, you pay a $0.99 fee on every item you sell. The extra seller fees also apply to this plan.
The Amazon Individual Seller plan is the cheapest option if you’re selling small amounts – it’s only suitable for those selling under 40 items per month. But be careful: you could end up paying around $40 per month on this plan.
Read our Shopify Pricing Review for a detailed look at its price plans and value for money.
With Shopify, you create your own store, giving you creative freedom in how you present your products and brand.
However, if you have a larger inventory and want to actually own and run a business, we recommend Shopify. Creating your own store and having a clear brand identity makes you seem more trustworthy than faceless selling on Amazon.