Shopify and Amazon both have very different things to offer when it comes to ecommerce, but overall, we’d recommend Shopify as the better platform out of the two.
It’s one of the best ecommerce platforms on the market, and it’s suitable for first-time stores all the way up to big brand names.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. Amazon has a lot to offer, and in the US alone, it gets over 150 million visitors per month!
Below, we’ll put both to the test, digging into their differences so you can choose the one that’s right for you.
- Powerful ecommerce tools: Shopify has a range of ecommerce tools designed to help you build and promote your online store.
- Unique brand identity: Because you create your own ecommerce website, you also create a strong and unique brand to go with your business.
- Extra costs: Shopify has a monthly fee, but it also has an App Store. Adding third party apps can increase your monthly costs.
- Marketing: You are fully responsible for promoting your business and building your brand awareness.
- Traffic: Millions of people visit the Amazon marketplace per month. 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.
- Branding: It’s very difficult to create a unique or strong brand image by selling on Amazon.
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!
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.
Because of these differences, Shopify and Amazon cater for different types of online sellers. Amazon caters for individual sellers up to small and medium sized businesses. Shopify is ideal for everything from small businesses up to much larger brands.
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.
If the thought of setting up your very own online store seems a little overwhelming, don’t worry! Shopify is designed to make building your ecommerce website as easy as possible. It’s got clean, clear design, tons of help pages, and super easy navigation.
Shopify does an amazing job at making powerful sales tools accessible to everyone. Now that’s something easier said than done, so Shopify deserves credit for its inclusive approach to ecommerce.
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 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.
Both Shopify and Amazon are designed to make your life as easy as possible. You’ll find useful tools and streamlined setups with both.
Ease of Use: Verdict
It’s a draw! They’re both easy to use in their own ways. Amazon involves less work than Shopify because you just have to set up and get selling. But Shopify makes it really easy to build your own online store.
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to browse online when bad design is getting in the way at every click. Luckily with Shopify and Amazon you don’t need to worry about losing shoppers through ugly design.
Shopify gives you loads of 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 60 themes and then customize to match your brand.
Shopify has 10 free themes and over 60 premium ones which cost between $140 to $180. You can edit, personalize, and even switch your theme, so you create a unique brand image for your business.
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 is 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 directing visitors to your own pages.
Of course there are elements you can customize with Amazon, but overall it’s much less flexible than Shopify.
Design Flexibility: Verdict
Shopify wins! It gives you more freedom over your design than Amazon. Shopify’s customization is great for creating a unique brand image for your business. Amazon controls your design, which is less work but much more limiting when it comes to marketing.
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 stunning design.
Amazon has a vast range of products sold through its marketplace, from electronics to toys and books. You can even sell services rather than physical goods.
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!
Shopify has the widest and most in-depth range of sales tools on the market.
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 Oberlo 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 which you can use to expand and advance your ecommerce website.
Ecommerce Tools and Features: Verdict
Shopify wins! It puts the tools in your hands to manage your online store and help you succeed. Amazon has a wide range of features and makes it easy to sell online, but doesn’t have the same range as Shopify.
- 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 review on BigCommerce. 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!
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.
If you use FBA there are 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, and type of product, and even the time of year.
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. When you’re using this 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¢.
Payment Options and Fees: Verdict
Shopify wins! It has more payment options than Amazon. You don’t have to pay transaction fees if you’re using Shopify Pay. Amazon’s fees are super dependent on the individual seller but overall are much less transparent, and so harder to budget for.
Selling online is one of the best ways to connect with shoppers. But getting your customers’ attention 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. With millions of visitors a month, the odds are stacked temptingly in your favor. You don’t have to tackle search engine optimization (SEO) 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 the millions 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 up in its search results as you can. 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 and 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.
Attracting Customers: Verdict
Amazon wins! Even though you can’t just sit back and relax, your customers come to you and your store will benefit from Amazon’s massive search volume. Shopify gives you all the tools you need to succeed, it’s just a more hands-on approach.
- 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.
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, including:
- 24/7 phone
- Social media
- 24/7 live chat
- Video tutorials
- Advanced specialist support
This covers you no matter what you need. Video tutorials and forums help you learn new skills, and phone support is invaluable in getting the right help when you need it.
Shopify also has a Help Center with articles and guides. It’s super easy to navigate and has tons of resources to browse.
Help and Support: Verdict
Shopify wins! Its support is much easier to access than Amazon’s and there are a lot more help options for you to choose from. Amazon does offer support but it’s less flexible than Shopify’s. It’s not as user friendly to navigate.
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 hundred of dollars if you’re only selling a few handmade items a month.
Neither Amazon or Shopify are 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.
There are extra costs when you use FBA, but this is extremely variable and dependent on your products and business.
- The Basic Shopify plan costs $29 per month
- The Shopify plan costs $79 per month
- The Advanced Shopify plan costs $299 per month
You unlock more features as you upgrade through the pricing plans. Below you can see which features are available on each plan.
Basic Shopify ($29/month)
- Ecommerce website & blog
- Unlimited products
- 2 staff accounts
- 24/7 support
- Multichannel selling
- Manual order creation
- Discount codes
- Free SSL certificate
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Fraud analysis
- Shopify POS App
- Standard credit card rates
- Everything from Basic Shopify
- 5 staff accounts
- Gift cards
- Professional reports
- Lower credit card rates
- Point of Sale extras
Advanced Shopify ($299/month)
- Everything from Shopify plan
- 15 staff accounts
- Advanced report builder
- Third-party calculated shipping rates
- Lower credit card rates
The Basic Shopify plan gives you everything you need to set up your ecommerce website. You can then add apps to expand your store’s functions, and upgrade whenever you’re ready.
Extra costs can occur if you’re adding third-party apps to your store. However, these help scale your business so should reflect rise in customers and profits.
Shopify wins! Although Amazon’s Individual plan is more suitable for small-scale sellers, overall Shopify offers better value for money. It’s cheaper than Amazon’s Professional plan, and is more scalable and transparent with its pricing than Amazon, making it easier to budget for.
- 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 a website should 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.
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.
Here’s a summary table to give a final snapshot of Shopify and Amazon:
|Ease of Use|
|Shopify makes it easy and accessible to set up an online store.||All you have to do is set up your Amazon seller account, upload your products and get selling!|
|Shopify has a professional range of really customizable templates. 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 & Features|
|Shopify has the best sales features on the market. It has tons of in-built tools plus an app store.||Amazon has a wide range of features which cater for different sellers’ needs.|
|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.|
|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 & 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.|
|Shopify has three price plans ranging from $29 to $299 per month. There’s a 14-day free trial.||Amazon has two plans: one at $0.99 per item, the other at $39.99 per month. Both are subject to extra variable fees.|
Overall, we recommend Shopify for anyone setting up their ecommerce business. 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 it’s variable extra fees make it difficult to judge how quickly those costs could rack up.
Shopify provides the 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!
Will I make more money using Shopify or Amazon?
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.
Is Shopify the best ecommerce builder?
The short answer is: yes! Shopify is the best all-round ecommerce platform on the market. In our research it scored top marks for sales features and received the highest customer score from our users. It beat its competitors BigCommerce and Wix eCommerce – but that doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
Why not check out our Online Store Comparison Chart to see these leading brands side by side? Or read our Shopify Review to find out why we recommend it so highly.
Which is cheaper, Shopify or Amazon?
Out of the monthly subscriptions, Shopify is the cheapest option. Its lowest plan is the Basic Shopify at $29 per month. Amazon has its Professional Selling plan at $39.99 per month, plus extra selling fees.
If you sign up to 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.