Selling products online is a great way to add a new revenue stream to your freelance business. Luckily, there are already two established platforms ready to make it as easy as possible for you to get started! Both Amazon and Shopify offer a straightforward, user-friendly way to sell online, whether you’re selling your own products or delving into the world of dropshipping. You don’t need to know coding or even have an officially registered business to start with either eCommerce solution, and they both provide excellent seller support to guide you along the way.
Despite their similarities, Amazon and Shopify will give both you and your customers vastly different experiences, so you need to consider what’s right for your unique brand and figure out where your target market is most likely to hang out.
What’s the Difference Between Shopify and Amazon?
Though both Shopify and Amazon meet a similar eCommerce need, only Shopify is a true eCommerce platform. Where Shopify is like owning your own storefront on the worldwide web, Amazon is more like a single booth in a large marketplace.
This means your experience as a seller and your customer’s experience as a buyer will vary depending on your platform of choice. With that in mind, you need to do your research before selecting which essential ongoing cost to add to your business expenses.
Here’s a breakdown of both Shopify and Amazon to help you weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each platform.
Selling Your Product(s)
No matter how amazing your homemade candles or innovative runner’s socks are, without proper marketing you won’t sell very much. If you decide to sell through Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon), marketing is largely taken care of for you with their massive customer base immediately at your disposal! You can let Amazon do the legwork for you instead of trying to grow a social media following or tackle SEO.
However, your Amazon customers aren’t there for your brand specifically, but for the product. They came to Amazon because of the Amazon name and reputation, not yours, so you don’t really “own” your customers in the same way you would with a Shopify storefront.
Shopify has many amazing tools and integrations to make SEO research and implementation easy, but you are still fully responsible for finding and converting your target market. It’s up to you to leverage organic search, social media, and paid ads to drive traffic to your storefront.
Regardless of the extra marketing efforts required on your part, once your target market converts into paying customers, they’re much more loyal to your brand than they would be if they just grabbed a single product from you that showed up in their Amazon search. You’re converting more than just a single sale — you’re growing a community around your brand! Having a loyal customer base means more consistent sales in the long term, meaning you’ll get paid more often.
Establishing Your Brand
Because you aren’t hosting your own storefront on Amazon, the branding doesn’t belong to you beyond product images and descriptions. The face of your product is Amazon, not you.
That said, the Amazon reputation gets applied to your products — especially if you’re well-reviewed and use Amazon fulfillment to make your products Prime eligible. There are many shoppers out there who will always default to Amazon for online shopping because of the guaranteed two-day shipping and familiar shopping experience. So although the visual aesthetic isn’t chiefly yours, that doesn’t mean you can’t successfully build a brand with Amazon.
Shopify allows you to use your platform for more than just eCommerce. You can further serve and connect with your audience by implementing a vast array of apps and integrations. Shopify has tools for everything from automatic tax calculation to connecting your bank account and even blogging!
In addition to all the eCommerce support and versatility, your Shopify website is completely customizable, so you can curate your branding and customer experience from start to finish. If design is not your strong suit and you don’t want to outsource, they have dozens of templates to get you started (including at least 10 free ones).
With a Shopify store, you get to tell the story. You dictate what your customers see and experience. You set the tone and decide exactly how your brand is represented.
So, Which Is Better?
This is a complicated question. Both are excellent platforms for establishing a product-based business, and both have very straightforward dropshipping options if you don’t have your own products to sell. Both will serve as great starting points for a new eCommerce seller, so it ultimately depends on your needs and your freelancer strengths.
If you’re completely new to eCommerce and don’t have a clear idea of who your target market is yet, Amazon may be the better starting point. Getting started with their eCommerce platform is fast and easy, plus they have millions of customers in the United States alone that will be instantly at your disposal. It’s a great way to get your feet wet if you’re new to the eCommerce game and only have a product or two to sell.
If marketing is your superpower and you feel confident about finding customers and establishing your target market, Shopify is hands down the best way to really build a brand around your products and create a beautiful, unique experience for your customers. Shopify has more eCommerce and design options, which more than makes up for the lack of an established customer base since you can build that up independently.
If you love the benefits of both options and don’t want to choose, Shopify can integrate with Amazon Fulfillment to provide that same fast shipping guarantee — so you can kill two birds with one stone and host your products on both platforms. That’s a lot if you’re just getting ramped up though, so consider starting with Amazon and incorporating it into a Shopify storefront later on. Happy selling!