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Shopify vs Amazon

Shopify vs Amazon: Which Platform is Better?

September 3, 2021

Choosing the right selling platform is a big decision for any ecommerce business. 

With numerous options out there, it can be difficult to know which will offer you and your customers the best experience. 

Two of the most prolific ecommerce platforms around are Shopify and Amazon. Whilst both have their pros and cons, the one that best suits you will depend on your business needs. 

In this blog we take a look at the differences between the two platforms, as well as the pros and cons of each. 

Shopify vs Amazon: what’s the difference?

The key difference between Amazon and Shopify is that Amazon is a ready-made online marketplace, whereas the purpose of Shopify is to allow users to design and build their online store from scratch. This means if you sell on Amazon you will do so as a third party seller, using their Fulfilment by Amazon network (often referred to as Amazon FBA). Shopify on the other hand gives you your own platform that can be customised in various ways depending on your payment plan – it’s essentially a website builder but designed specifically for ecommerce businesses, meaning it’s easy to add collections, products and other payment gateways. 

Is Shopify better than Amazon? 

The answer to this question depends on various factors. The size of your business, team, product catalogue and your long term goals should all play into your decision when it comes to selecting a platform. If you’re a very small business and plan on staying that way, for example your online store is a hobby or secondary source of income, then Amazon’s Individual plan may be best for you.

However, the majority of ecommerce businesses want scalability, and this is what Shopify offers. Whilst Amazon does have opportunities to expand by upgrading your payment plan, Shopify offers better value for money overall with more transparent pricing. 

Shopify & Amazon pros and cons 

Shopify pros

  • A lot of scope for scalability
  • Can design to match your branding
  • Access to 1000s of apps that can increase functionality
  • More freedom and flexibility over how your store looks and functions

Shopify cons

  • You are fully responsible for marketing/growing an audience
  • Monthly fees

Amazon pros 

  • Access to an audience of over 300 million active users
  • Offers additional services such as inventory management, packing and shipping
  • Less time consuming 

Amazon cons 

  • Competition – you’re going up against thousands of other stores in one place
  • Difficult to establish branding and identity for your business
  • You’re stuck with Amazon’s existing features  – little room for customisation 

It’s worth noting that due to Shopify’s user-friendly dashboard that rules out the need for extensive coding knowledge, both platforms are suitable for beginners.

How does Amazon integrate with Shopify?

If you think that using both Amazon and Shopify at the same time would benefit your business, or you’re looking to transition from one to the other gradually, you can always integrate your Amazon online store with your Shopify store. 

It’s not that Amazon “uses” Shopify as such, but it can be added as a sales channel in your Shopify admin panel, meaning you can manage both platforms from one place to maximise sales. This can be a great solution for businesses who can see potential in selling on both platforms at the same time and don’t want to choose one or the other. 

Connecting your Amazon store with your Shopify website is simple. Head to the Sales channel section in your Shopify dashboard then click on the + button. Then go to Amazon then ‘Learn More’. From here all you have to do is click on ‘Add Channel’.

Shopify & Amazon integration done right: Polaroid

Polaroid Amazon and Shopify stores

Polaroid, often synonymous with instant photography, has managed to stay relevant in a digital-first world, most likely due to a combination of clever branding and satisfying our need for nostalgia. Much of their continued success is no doubt down to choosing the right selling platforms.

Selling on Amazon makes perfect sense, as for many this is the go-to place for tech items when you need them fast. An attractive and modern Shopify site allows Polaroid to really showcase their full product catalogue and create a seamless checkout process. Shopify also allows them to effectively market the brand – much of their strategy seems to rely on collaborations and their website allows them to create dedicated collection pages to send people to from their social media channels. 

If you’re thinking about switching to Shopify or running an ecommerce website alongside your Amazon shop, we can help with everything from design through to bespoke Shopify development. Send us a message and we’d be happy to chat.

Written by Andy

Andy is Venture Stream’s Chief Operating Officer and has over 15 years’ experience in ecommerce consultancy, design and retail marketing.

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