Shopify vs Amazon: Choosing the Best Platform for Your Online Business

Whether you’re bootstrapping your startup or have funding well-accounted for, choosing the best platform for your eCommerce store can make all the difference in creating a sustainable foundation to scale. 

While there are certainly plenty of options available for startups and SMEs to use, few are as reputable, resourceful, and feature-packed as market leaders Shopify and Amazon. 

However, as you build your ecommerce store, you’re likely to stumble upon the debate of which is better, selling on Shopify vs Amazon?

Statistics show that 20.1% of retail purchases are expected to take place online in 2024, while the global eCommerce market is expected to grow from a value of $6.3 trillion to $7.9 trillion by 2027. 

For entrepreneurs seeking to establish an eCommerce store online today, Shopify and Amazon remain market leaders in their own right. But which one is the most suitable for the different needs of businesses? Let’s take a deeper look at two eCommerce giants: 

What are the Main Business Benefits of Shopify?

In recent years, Shopify has emerged as a leading eCommerce platform for retailers. On average, the platform hosts 2.1 million daily users, and 4.8 million online stores utilise its suite of services. 

Shopify offers businesses a subscription-based platform that empowers retailers to set up their brands and online storefronts. 

Through Shopify, entrepreneurs can establish online stores using user-friendly and mobile-oriented themes. They can also access a suite of features that offer marketing tools, store management, access to analytics, and a series of third-party integrations. 

In addition to this, Shopify’s pros include a range of eCommerce tools focusing on abandoned cart recovery, automated invoice generators, and a series of other smart tools to bring greater optimisation to online stores. 

The platform even recently launched Shopify Magic, a generative AI tool that produces optimised product descriptions. This tool can work alongside Shopify’s inventory system to make creating stores far more straightforward. 

For ambitious entrepreneurs, the countless integrations Shopify supports can comfortably accommodate growth, and with functionality alongside some of the world’s best POS systems for in-store experience, Shopify can fully support businesses when it’s time to create that all-important first brick-and-mortar location. 

However, Shopify does have its drawbacks. Cons include the additional costs associated with the platform. Shopify has a monthly fee, but many integrations come from third-party apps, which can significantly increase your monthly outlay. With most apps costing as much as $50 per month, Shopify may not be the best platform for bootstrapping a startup. 

The process of building a website using Shopify can be complex and confusing for even experienced developers, making this approach difficult for beginners. 

What are the Main Business Benefits of Amazon?

Amazon is the world’s fifth-largest company and has been operating for over 30 years. In terms of trustworthiness, entrepreneurs would be hard-pushed to sell their goods on a more reputable platform. 

While it doesn’t offer the opportunity for stores to create their own independent websites but does provide access to a sprawling marketplace of over 197 consumers. 

Additionally, Amazon’s Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program allows merchants to send their goods to Amazon fulfilment centres, where they can be easily stored, packed, and shipped. 

When it comes to Amazon, the benefits associated with using the retail giant’s sprawling marketplace are clear. In 2023, Amazon received over 2.72 billion unique monthly visitors, which makes tapping into the biggest marketplace in the United States an extremely lucrative opportunity for brands. 

Amazon also offers a unique advantage in terms of its fulfilment services, which provide unprecedented convenience in shipping and handling orders. 

Despite this, there are certainly cons for entrepreneurs to take note of. While there are plenty of customers visiting Amazon’s marketplace each day, there’s also fierce competition across many industries on-site. If your product isn’t truly unique, you’ll face an uphill battle to stand above your rivals. 

Another major drawback is the limited branding you’ll receive. While it’s possible to customise your Amazon storefront in some limited ways, very little can be done in terms of design and branding. For many businesses, this can mean losing out on invaluable brand recognition that could help leverage customer loyalty and sustainability. 

Amazon is also no stranger to added fees, and entrepreneurs will need to be mindful of fulfilment, storage, and referral fees that can impact store profitability. 

Shopify vs. Amazon – How Do They Differ?

When weighing up the differences between selling on Shopify vs Amazon, it’s crucial to understand the fundamental distinctions between their business models and the experiences you can expect when interacting with each platform.

Shopify empowers merchants to create and manage their own branded online stores, while Amazon operates primarily as an expansive online marketplace where sellers list and sell products alongside competitors.

However, while this is the most notable difference between the two eCommerce platforms, there are many more to consider before you make your decision.

Business Model

At this stage, it’s worth covering the biggest difference between the two providers. While Shopify requires entrepreneurs to build a website, stores based on Amazon would operate directly on the tech giant’s marketplace. Although this could guarantee a far greater volume of interest, it comes at the cost of branding. 

Like much of this comparison, this key point comes down to your preferences and ambitions for your store. Building a standalone website helps you to secure your identity and operate as a separate entity from Amazon, but you may find that marketing your products can be more time-consuming and arduous than simply listing them on Amazon. 

With this in mind, the solution to this dichotomy could hinge on where you want your store to be in five years. Are you expecting to scale your brand or simply continue selling your best products? The answer to this could be key to your final decision. 

Fees and Costs

Next, we have fees and the cost of Amazon vs. Shopify. Each platform has an alternative set of pricing options, with Amazon ranking as the most affordable option in 2024 for a basic individual plan.

Amazon’s Individual plan starts at $0.99 for every item sold, while their Professional plan costs $39.99 per month, plus referral fees for each item purchased. 

Shopify, however, starts at $29 per month for its most basic online storefront. In addition, Shopify requests a 2.4-2.9% transaction fee with each purchase, depending on the type of product sold and the quantity.

For those worried about the potential costs of the platform, Shopify does grant merchants a 3-day free trial before they begin paying for full plans. This makes it a brilliant option for eCommerce startups. 

Fulfillment Options

If you dont want to deal with managing an inventory 24/7, Amazon offers a comprehensive Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) service. 

According to experts at BigCommerce, Amazon’s FBA service allows “third-party Amazon sellers to delegate their packing, shipping and customer service process to Amazon’s fulfilment network rather than handle logistics from their homes or offices. For a small fee, you get an enormous weight off your shoulders.”

This said, individual selling accounts still have a storage limit of less than 10 cubic feet, meaning that entrepreneurs looking to enjoy Amazon’s FBA service will most likely have to sign up for their premium package to experience the full set of inventory features.

Shopify also has a fulfilment network. However, it comes in second as a pose to Amazon FBA. Shopify, however does facilitate self-fulfillment and third-party logistics integration for smart inventory management.

Customisation and Control

One disadvantage of choosing the Amazon storefront is the lack of control over its UX design. As a retail platform full of merchants, Amazon’s goal is to attract customers to its homepage rather than to your store. Therefore, your design must stay in line with their guidelines and be restricted to a rigid UX wireframe. 

Shopify, however provides users with much more control of their branding. Their extensive theme options and app integrations allow entrepreneurs to build their stores from the ground up. With more than 100 themes to get you started, there’s an individual design for all industry players. 

Shopify allows for greater autonomy in brand identity and store customisation compared to Amazon.

Customer Support

When choosing between Amazon vs Shopify, one area t take into consideration is customer support. 

A good eCommerce platform offers excellent real-time support for both the merchant and the customer. 

For example, Shopify offers 24/7 merchant support via email, phone, and even live chat. This ensures that all merchants feel listened to and that problems with the online store are fixed quickly.

Amazon excels at its Seller Central platform. Using SC, you can stay in charge of your entire business and interact and connect directly with customers. This ensures that potential buyers receive a personalised customer experience and feel supported throughout all steps of the buying process.

Shopify also provides accessible options for customer support. With the ability to get into contact via on-platform live chat or a ticketing system, Shopify aims to connect merchants and consumers as quickly as possible.

How to Determine if Shopify or Amazon is Better for Your Business?

Now that we have covered the key differences between Shopify and Amazon, let’s take a closer look at how to decide between the two commerce platforms.

Here are five essential factors to consider when choosing between Shopify vs Amazon:

Evaluate Your Business Goals

Before you begin your commerce journey on either Amazon or Shopify, it’s important to establish your current business goals.

Entrepreneurs must weigh up factors such as platform cost, control, and scalability, especially if they have clear goals in mind.

For example, if you’re determined to customise your online store from end to end, it’s important to go for a commerce platform like Shopify that allows personalisation.

The key here is to align your business goals with the platform that aligns best with your vision and growth strategy.

Assess Target Audience Reach

Analysing your audience is also important when deciding between Shopify and Amazon as a marketplace platform. Your demographic is the most important factor to consider when it comes to performing well online.

If you have an expansive demographic that spans all areas of the globe, your target audience is likely to be reached through Amazon, whose customer base goes far and wide.

However, for businesses looking to penetrate younger, more tech-savvy markets, Shopfy’s online storefront allows for greater consumer interaction and on-site personalisation, which attracts a fresher customer base. 

Cost Comparison

Before you make your decision on Amazon vs Shopify, one crucial factor to consider is the cost.

Ensure that you compare the costs associated with selling on each platform, including subscription fees, transaction costs, and fulfilment expenses, to make an informed decision based on budgetary constraints and revenue projections.

While beginners may opt for Amazon’s cheaper storefront, it’s important to weigh up the benefits of investing in a marketplace like Shopify, especially if you’re likely to rake in more revenue.

Brand Identity and Control

When choosing your ideal marketplace platform, you should also consider the level of control you desire over your brand identity and customer relationships.

As mentioned previously, Shopify offers brands a great deal of autonomy when it comes to designing and customising their online store.

However, for new entrepreneurs who are just starting their ecommerce journey, a rigidly structured marketplace like Amazon can make the transition into online selling much smoother.

The key here is to evaluate your customisation and control requirements for your online store and weigh up the types of templates and features you’d require to bolster success.

Logistics and Fulfillment

Last but not least, ensure that you think about your fulfilment needs and preferences.

The stand-out option here is Amazon’s comprehensive Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) service. However, it’s crucial that you also explore Shopify’s wide range of fulfilment options.

Entrepreneurs with smaller-scale logistics needs can afford to opt for the best price possible, however, for growing online stores, fulfilment scalability is essential, so ensure that you cover all bases with the option you choose. 

Is it Easier to Make Revenue with Shopify or Amazon?

The real question in the competition of Amazon vs Shopify is which platform will make you more money?

Is it easier to make revenue with Shopify or Amazon? The answer is, both if you utilise their full set of features.

For example, on Amazon, product bundling and subscription commerce have become some of the best ways to rake in revenue. With the ability to sell multiple products together for a discount, you drive more conversions and streamline your way through your stock.

Better still, Amazon has an incredibly large reach and an ever-climbing sales volume. If you’re looking for guaranteed conversions, Amazon can showcase your store to the entire world as one of the busiest online shopping marketplaces. 

Shopify, on the other hand, promotes customisation and customer loyalty as two of its greatest features for raking in revenue. With the ability to stay in control of your online store design and brand strategy, you can tailor your marketplace to speak directly to your target consumers and nurture returning leads. 

Shopify or Amazon – Which Platform Suits Small Businesses Better?

There are a number of benefits associated with Shopify and Amazon when it comes to choosing the best platform for a small business startup.

Each option offers unique advantages. For example, Shopify empowers entrepreneurs to establish their own branded online stores with minimal upfront investment, while Amazon provides immediate access to a vast customer base and streamlined logistics through Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), ultimately guiding small businesses to choose the platform that aligns best with their growth goals and operational needs.

Our advice is to choose the most basic package Amazon or Shopify have to offer as a startup business. If you’re newly established, it’s important to start small and scale up. This could mean leveraging Shopify’s mountain of templates or sticking to Amazon’s streamlined logistics feature through Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).

This allows you to get to grips with the platform and grow your store in line with your business.

Final Thoughts

So, which eCommerce platform is best for entrepreneurs to set up their stores? The answer comes down to what you want from your business and how you want to grow it in the future. 

There’s no doubt that both Shopify and Amazon have plenty to offer users, but as a springboard for future scalability and securing a sustainable brand identity for the future, Shopify offers a more complete package to retailers. 

If, however, you’re looking for an expansive marketplace to sell your products, Amazon can help to bring plenty of convenience long into the future. 

Ultimately, you’ll know which platform offers the best prospects for your venture moving forward. For more information, why not check out the Amazon and Shopify listings on Flippa, the only all-in-one platform dedicated exclusively to helping you buy and sell online?

FAQs

What factors should I consider when choosing between Shopify and Amazon?

When choosing between Amazon and Shopify, consider the cost of each platform, the amount of control you want over your online store, design customisation, fulfilment and logistics needs, and your target audience.


How do I determine if my business is better suited for Shopify or Amazon?

Evaluate your business goals and research your target audience. Depending on your individual needs and preferences, you may be drawn to Shopify’s features for store personalisation or Amazon’s famous Fulfilment (FBA) platform. 

What are the best practices for optimising listings on Shopify and Amazon?

Optimise your listings on Both Shopify and Amazon by choosing keywords and phrases regularly searched for by your target audience. Optimising your content for multi-device searchability will improve listing reach.

How do Shopify and Amazon’s audience reach and marketplaces vary?

Amazon’s marketplace has a larger global reach than Shopify. However, Shopify allows businesses to tailor their online store design and campaigns to target their demographic directly.

How do the selling costs on Shopify compare to Amazon?

Amazon’s Individual plan starts at $0.99 for every item sold, while their Professional plan costs $39.99 per month, plus referral fees for each item purchased. 

Shopify, however, starts at $29 per month for its most basic online storefront. In addition, Shopify requests a 2.4-2.9% transaction fee with each purchase, depending on the type of product sold and the quantity.

For those worried about the potential costs of the platform, Shopify does grant merchants a 3-day free trial before they begin paying for full plans. This makes it a brilliant option for eCommerce startups. 

How does competition within niches differ on Shopify and Amazon?

Both Shopify and Amazon are competitive marketplaces full of competing brands. While Amazon is much larger, both platforms require businesses to optimise their product content and create original listings to stand out from the crowd.

Rebecca is a multi-media marketing executive with over 5 years of experience in the field. She specialises in startups, marketing strategy and all things trending in the corporate sector.

Recommended for you

Get a free valuation with Flippa
Get a free valuation with Flippa

Discover more from Flippa

Subscribe to our Blog

Get the latest blog posts, insight reports and news directly to your inbox every week.