Shopify vs Amazon: 14 Differences Every Seller Needs To Know [2024]

Shopify and Amazon are two of the biggest e-commerce businesses. Both platforms offer various features and tools to help businesses succeed online. However, some key differences between the two are worth considering before you choose which one to use for your online business.

This article will explore 15 differences between Shopify and Amazon to help you make an informed decision.

Shopify vs. Amazon: The Biggest Difference Between the Two

When it comes to selling online, the biggest difference between Amazon and Shopify lies in their business models and the level of control they provide to sellers.

What Makes Shopify Unique?

Shopify is a stand-alone website platform allowing businesses to create and customize online stores. This means sellers have more control over their brand, product listings, pricing, and customer experience.

Although the customer base may not be as extensive as Amazon's, Shopify provides tools and features to optimize the selling process, including search engine optimization capabilities, flexible payment options, and robust inventory management. Shopify offers various sales channels, including social media integration, to help sellers reach their target audience and generate sales profit.

What Makes Amazon Unique?

Amazon is an online marketplace that allows businesses to list their products alongside other sellers. It provides a wide customer base and high traffic, making it a popular choice for many e-commerce businesses.

However, selling on Amazon means adhering to their guidelines and policies, giving sellers less control over their brand and product listings. With Amazon's business model, sellers can benefit from the massive exposure and potential sales.

Shopify vs. Amazon: 14 Key Differences You Need to Know About

Shopify and Amazon each offer their unique advantages and disadvantages. Below, you'll find 14 key differences to help you decide which platform best fits your business.

1. Ease of Use

Regarding ease of use, both Shopify and Amazon offer straightforward setup processes for their sellers.

Shopify is known for its user-friendly interface and intuitive design. The platform provides step-by-step guidance throughout the setup process, making it easy for beginners to create online stores. Shopify offers various customizable themes and templates, allowing sellers to create a unique and visually appealing storefront.

Amazon has a more streamlined setup process. Creating a seller account on Amazon is relatively easy, requiring basic information such as business details, bank account information, and contact details. Once you make an account, there's less customization, but you still have enough flexibility to create unique listings and (as a brand owner) storefronts.

After account creation, the "ease of use" changes. Here's what we mean:

Amazon Sellers need to copy with rules and regulations, which can be complex and time-consuming. Amazon has strict guidelines for product listings and requires sellers to meet certain performance metrics.

Shopify sellers are responsible for gathering their own audience and have no traffic. This can make your upfront costs much higher.

🏆The Verdict: It's a Tie! Shopify and Amazon each offer user-friendly experiences. Amazon demands less effort, requiring setup before sales. Meanwhile, Shopify excels in simplifying the creation of personalized online stores.

2. Branding and Customization

Regarding branding and customization, Shopify and Amazon have distinct differences.

Shopify offers extensive customization options for your online store. With an array of customizable themes and templates, you can create a unique and visually appealing storefront that aligns with your brand.

You have control over these factors:

  • Design
  • Layout
  • Logos
  • Colors
  • Fonts
  • etc.

This level of customization helps you create a seamless and cohesive brand experience for your customers.

In contrast, Amazon has more limited branding options. Your products are displayed within Amazon's standardized templates, which means your store may lack the personalized touch that comes with full customization.

However, members of the Amazon Brand Registry can get a custom storefront and have more customization options. So, branded products are given some leeway to gain recognition on the platform; you just won't be able to control the website design.

🏆The Verdict: Shopify wins this one. It outshines Amazon by granting greater design autonomy. With Shopify, customization flourishes, enabling the creation of a distinctive brand identity. In contrast, Amazon dictates design, reducing effort but curtailing marketing possibilities.

3. Fees and Pricing

With Shopify, you'll have monthly subscription fees, depending on your chosen plan, ranging from $39 to $399. In addition to the subscription fees, payment processing fees vary depending on your chosen payment gateway.

Typically, payment processing fees on Shopify are below 3%. But, having many small transactions can add up because some plans tack on an extra 30-cent processing fee. 

Amazon has a different fee structure. In addition to a monthly subscription fee of $39.99 for a professional account (individual accounts are free but have additional per-item selling fees), there are referral fees.

Referral fees are a percentage of the total item price (excluding shipping and gift wrap fees) and vary depending on the product category. Amazon also charges fulfillment fees for products fulfilled by Amazon. These fees cover storage, packing, and shipping of the products.

Selling on Amazon can also result in potential price pressure from competitors offering similar products. As a customer-focused company, it wants people to see better deals. So, if an equal-quality seller is $1 cheaper than you, you might need to reduce your pricing to compete.

Finally, Amazon allows users to use FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) as an optional feature. This adds additional FBA fees, which pay for using Amazon's widespread fulfillment network. It results in more sales but at the cost of extra fees.

Consider your business needs and goals to determine which platform aligns best with your pricing strategy. In both cases, you'll want to focus on selling high-margin products.

🏆The Verdict: The victory belongs to Shopify! It surpasses Amazon in payment variety. Shopify Pay exempts you from transaction fees. Amazon's fees, in contrast, vary widely among sellers, lacking transparency and budget predictability.

4. Product Range

Shopify allows you to sell a wide range of physical and digital products. Shopify can accommodate your needs, whether you're selling clothing, electronics, handmade items, or even digital downloads like ebooks or software. This flexibility makes it a great choice for businesses that want to sell a diverse range of products or offer unique items to their customers.

However, for those who want to sell on the Shop App (Shopify's collective marketplace app that gets more exposure), you can't sell certain products. These include alcoholic beverages, batteries, automotive parts, and anything considered "dangerous" (knives, fireworks, etc.)

Amazon shares this banned list of items with Shopify for its general marketplace. Additionally, not all categories are available to individual sellers. Some categories, like restricted or gated categories, may require additional approval or meet certain criteria before you can list products in those categories.

🏆The Verdict: It's a Tie. Both platforms enable you to sell a wide range of products to customers located sll over the world. Both Shopify & Amazon forbid you to sell certain prroducts such as firearms. The prohibited items list is pretty similar between the two.

5. Audience Reach

With Shopify, you drive your traffic and marketing efforts to reach your target audience. While Shopify does provide built-in SEO tools, it's up to you to optimize your online store and implement marketing strategies to attract potential customers. This means your audience reach on Shopify depends on your efforts to promote your brand and products.

Amazon benefits from its massive customer base, potentially leading to higher visibility and sales. As one of the largest online marketplaces, Amazon attracts millions of customers searching for various products daily.

By listing your products on Amazon, you gain access to this existing customer base, increasing your potential for reaching a wide audience. Amazon's search algorithms also play a role in ensuring that your products show up in relevant search results, further boosting your audience reach.

🏆The Verdict: In terms of audience reach, Amazon holds the advantage due to its extensive customer base and search algorithms. Listing products on Amazon taps into its vast existing audience, enhancing your potential reach. Shopify, on the other hand, relies on your marketing and efforts to attract your target audience, making Amazon the stronger choice for broader visibility from the get-go.

6. Control over Customer Relationships

Shopify allows you complete control over customer data and relationships, a significant advantage for your business. With Shopify, you can personalize your marketing efforts and create targeted communication strategies based on customer behavior and preferences.

You can build and nurture customer relationships effectively by directly accessing customer data. This includes sending personalized emails, providing exclusive offers, and offering tailored recommendations based on their purchase history.

Having control over customer relationships also allows you to provide exceptional customer service. You can easily access information about previous interactions, order history, and additional notes to offer a personalized and seamless customer experience.

In contrast, on Amazon, your access to customer data and the ability to engage with customers is limited. Amazon retains most of its control over customer interactions, making establishing and maintaining direct customer relationships challenging.

FBA Sellers can hand almost all customer interactions off to Amazon. This saves sellers the time of needing to interact with customers. So, your control over customer relationships is limited, but this can be a good thing.

🏆The Verdict: Shopify is the clear winner. Shopify offers total customer data control, a key edge. Personalize marketing and communication via behavior insights. Amazon, however, limits access, retaining interaction control, saving time but hindering relationship building.

7. Fulfillment Options (Shipping and Handling)

Shopify allows you to choose your own fulfillment methods based on your business needs. Whether you want to handle fulfillment yourself through dropshipping or use third-party logistics (3PL) providers, Shopify gives you the flexibility to make the best choice for your business. This means you have full control over the inventory management and shipping process.

This also means you are responsible for managing your shipping operation. As a business owner, your time on shipping problems could affect your revenue. No seller can do everything by themselves.

On the other hand, Amazon provides a fulfillment service called FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon). With FBA, Amazon takes care of the logistics for you. You store your products in Amazon's eCommerce warehouses, and they handle the picking, packing, and shipping of your orders. While FBA can be convenient, you must adhere to certain requirements and fees.

If you prefer, you can choose FBM (Fulfillment by Merchant). FBM sellers can choose their own logistics providers. But sellers who use FBM often end up lagging behind FBA sellers. After all, Amazon will prioritize its own logistics network, especially since it earns them extra money.

🏆The Verdict: Amazon takes this one. In terms of fulfillment, Amazon's FBA streamlines logistics, including storage, picking, packing, and shipping, relieving you of these tasks. While Shopify allows flexibility in choosing fulfillment methods, Amazon's FBA stands out for its efficiency and reliability, making it a superior choice for businesses seeking stress-free order handling.

8. Payment Processing

With Shopify, you have the flexibility to integrate with various payment gateways, allowing you to offer your customers multiple payment options. You can choose your preferred payment gateway based on your business needs and have better control over the entire checkout process.

Shopify prefers its own processing method (Shopify Pay) but integrates with most payment platforms. Your payment process generally affects the percentage taken, with rates below 3%. For better payment processing rates, you can pay for more expensive plans.

Amazon handles payments through Amazon Pay. This can be convenient for customers who are already familiar with the Amazon platform and have their payment information stored. By leveraging Amazon Pay, your customers can purchase using their Amazon credentials, providing a seamless checkout experience.

Amazon's processing fees are part of its referral fees, which can vary heavily from the 2 to 10% range.

However, it's important to note that using Amazon Pay means you won't have the same control and customization over the payment process as you would with Shopify. At the same time, it also means you don't have to worry about handling customer payment data, which reduces your risk.

🏆The Verdict: Shopify takes the lead. It offers flexible integration of payment gateways, enabling varied options for customers. While Amazon Pay is convenient, Shopify provides better control and customization over the process, yielding favorable rates. Shopify's versatility makes it the superior choice for payment processing.

9. Long-Term Sustainability

Regarding long-term sustainability, Shopify has a clear advantage over Amazon.

With Shopify, you can build a unique online store, allowing you to establish your brand identity and customer base. You have more control over the design and functionality of your store, and you can integrate various apps and tools to enhance your business operations.

Shopify isn't immortal, but it does provide more long-term staying power. When you can build your own website, it gives you a lot more power.

Amazon's marketplace offers immediate visibility and access to a large customer base, so you rely heavily on its ecosystem. Any changes or policies Amazon implements can directly impact your business, potentially affecting your sales and profitability.

Relying too heavily on any system can potentially put you at risk. So, be sure your e-commerce business plan is established from a general perspective. Don't rely too hard on any one platform, and have backup plans just in case something happens.

🏆The Verdict: In terms of sustainability, Shopify surpasses Amazon. It enables unique brand building with design control and app integration. While Amazon offers visibility, changes can affect your business. To ensure lasting success, it's best todiversify your strategy and avoid relying solely on one platform.

10. Competition

With Shopify, you can build and manage your online store, but you are also responsible for your marketing and standing out among other online stores.

This means you need to invest in SEO (search engine optimization) or use PPC (pay-per-click) advertising to drive traffic and sales to your store. Competition within your niche or industry can be intense, and you need to work hard to differentiate yourself and attract potential customers.

Amazon operates as a massive online marketplace where multiple sellers offer the same or similar products. This means you must compete with other sellers for visibility and sales within each product category. Finding popular products on Amazon is incredibly important if you want to be competitive.

One of the key factors on Amazon is the "Buy Box" feature, which heavily influences sales. The Buy Box is the section on the product detail page where customers can directly add an item to their shopping cart. However, not all sellers are eligible for the Buy Box, and only one can secure it at a time. Competition for the Buy Box can be fierce, and winning it can significantly boost your sales.

Competition exists in both Shopify and Amazon, but it manifests differently. With Shopify, you compete on a broader scale to stand out among other online stores, while on Amazon, you face direct competition within your product category and the challenge of winning the Buy Box.

🏆The Verdict: Shopify demands differentiation through marketing efforts. Amazon requires product popularity and Buy Box success. While both platforms involve competition, Shopify sellers have less compeition - if you market effectively & stand out, Shopify is the winner.

11. International Selling

With Shopify, you can sell globally and manage international shipping easily. The platform provides integrations with various shipping apps and allows you to set different shipping rates for different countries. Additionally, you can customize your online store to be available in multiple languages and currencies, making it easier for international customers to shop from you.

Getting there is completely up to you. You'll need to work to understand international shipping laws, unique rates, and marketplace data to expand. Knowing someone who can help you get there is crucial.

Amazon also supports international selling, but it's important to note that each marketplace may have its rules and fees. When you register as an international seller on Amazon, you can choose to sell on specific marketplaces like Amazon UK or Amazon Japan.

🏆The Verdict: As a result of having established markets, expanding via Amazon is much easier. Amazon has fulfillment facilities worldwide, so people can get there easier. But you still need to be worried about whether your product will sell.

12. Customer Trust & Reviews

Amazon benefits from its established trust and extensive customer reviews system. As a well-known online marketplace, Amazon has a large customer base that trusts the platform and relies heavily on customer reviews when making purchasing decisions. When you sell on Amazon, your products become part of this review ecosystem. Positive reviews can significantly boost your sales and credibility.

However, Amazon has strict rules on how you retrieve those reviews. You can't incentivize reviews (give discounts or free stuff for reviews) or use language leading the customer to contact you over a bad experience. So, if you word the review request wrong, you could get penalized.

Shopify sellers aren't subject to the same limitations. However, the power of a review on your Shopify store is much less important. This is because your website doesn't have the same trust as users on Amazon. So, you'll have to put in extra effort to gain website visitors' trust.

Getting reviews on social media might be more valuable. You'll also want to be sure your website looks trustworthy by focusing on good design, providing testimonials, and being responsive to customer needs.

🏆The Verdict: As a result of having established markets, expanding via Amazon is much easier. Amazon has fulfillment facilities worldwide, so people can get there easier. But you still need to be worried about whether your product will sell.

13. Returns and Customer Service

Shopify gives you complete control over your ecommerce return policy and customer service. You can set rules and processes for handling returns, exchanges, and refunds. This gives you the flexibility to tailor your customer service to meet the needs of your specific business and customers. You can provide personalized support and address customer inquiries directly through your online store, email, or live chat.

On the other hand, selling on Amazon means you are expected to adhere to Amazon's return policy and customer service standards. This means that if the customer wants a return, they get it, which is a generally good policy to have as a store owner.

FBA sellers have a distinct advantage: they don't have to handle returns. This saves business owners a lot of time. FBM sellers still have to handle these returns themselves.

🏆The Verdict: It depends on your needs. Amazon handles the majority of your customer service. So, while it saves you the time of communicating individually, it does give you less control in solving problems. So, your choice depends on whether you prioritize personalized service versus more time.

14. Analytics and Reporting

Shopify is known for its comprehensive analytics and reporting capabilities. The platform provides detailed store analytics that gives valuable insights into your sales, customer behavior, and marketing efforts.

You can track your store's performance, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions to improve your business. With Shopify, you can easily generate reports on sales, traffic, conversions, and customer behavior, allowing you to understand what's working and needs improvement.

Amazon also provides some level of analytics and reporting for sellers. However, it is not as extensive as Shopify's analytics. Amazon offers insights into your sales performance, including the number of units sold, revenue generated, and customer reviews. Brand owners get more information on visits to their Amazon storefront.

You can also access some basic data on traffic and conversion rates. While these insights can be useful, they may not provide the same level of depth and granularity as Shopify's analytics.

🏆The Verdict: Shopify wins this time. Shopify provides sellers with advanced conversion analytics that give you insights into how to get more sales.

Shopify vs Amazon: Which is Best for You?

Both Shopify and Amazon offer unique advantages for selling products online.

If you're a small or medium-sized business looking for complete control over your online store and branding, Shopify is a great choice. You can create a unique and professional online store with its wide range of features and customizable templates. 

Additionally, Shopify's comprehensive analytics and reporting capabilities allow you to track your store's performance and make data-driven decisions to improve your business.

On the other hand, if you're looking for a platform with a massive customer base and built-in trust, Amazon is the way to go. 

As the largest online marketplace, Amazon provides access to millions of potential customers and takes care of fulfillment and customer service. With its FBA program, you can leverage Amazon's logistics network to store and ship your products. 

However, remember that you may have to pay referral and fulfillment fees, and your brand identity may not be as prominent on the platform.

Shopify vs Amazon FAQ

Which is better Amazon or Shopify?

The decision hinges on your objectives. If broad exposure and customer base are vital, Amazon excels. For brand control, unique storefronts, and sales channel diversity, Shopify offers an edge.

Why dopeople use Shopify instead of Amazon?

Shopify's allure lies in control. It lets users craft distinct online stores, fostering brand identity and customer experience. This customization sets it apart from Amazon's standardized marketplace.

Is Shopify more popular than Amazon?

While Amazon boasts massive visibility, Shopify's popularity surges as businesses seek tailored online presences. Amazon's broad reach is countered by Shopify's focus on personalization and control.

What is the main difference between Shopify and Amazon?

Shopify serves as a comprehensive platform for establishing a unique digital storefront. Amazon, however, operates as a vast marketplace where businesses join a shared space, often contending with similar products.

Which is better for dropshipping, Shopify or Amazon?

Shopify is preferable for dropshipping endeavors. Its customizable features enable precise branding and smoother management of the supply chain, enhancing the buyer's experience.

Who has a bigger market share, Shopify or Amazon?

Amazon maintains a larger market share due to its extensive customer base and established presence. However, Shopify's specialized approach is gaining traction among businesses looking for distinct branding.

What's the differences in business models between Shopify & Amazon?

Shopify empowers businesses to craft individualistic online stores, nurturing unique brands and customer relationships. In contrast, Amazon functions as a colossal online marketplace, uniting various sellers under its umbrella.

Author Bio

This article was written by Eli Smith. Eli, a seasoned eCommerce specialist, passionately imparts effective selling and branding wisdom. He contributes insightful content to AMZScout and other digital marketing leaders.

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