Whether you want to sell through an online marketplace or sell on a hosted or self-hosted platform, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to ecommerce platforms.  But there’s no universal fit when it comes to the best ecommerce platform.

Some businesses find themselves more suited for selling on an online marketplace like Amazon or eBay, while others are more suited to a platform like Shopify or WooCommerce.

Picking the best ecommerce platform for you can be tricky sometimes.  So let’s narrow it down and compare the two most popular platforms - Shopify and Amazon, respectively.

Shopify vs Amazon: Hosted Platform vs Online Marketplace

One of the first things to analyze would be the differences between Shopify and Amazon.  The immediate difference is that Shopify is a Hosted ecommerce platform, and Amazon is an online marketplace.  

You can think of it this way: using Shopify is like buying or renting a building to house your business in.  It’s relatively easy to establish your own brand and unique style, but drawing in a steady stream of customers is going to be more of a challenge.

Amazon, on the other hand is like having a booth at a giant fair or marketplace.  Tons of people will be there and see you, but they won’t be looking for you specifically.  You’ll also have to deal with all the other merchants competing for the same customer base as you.

So at its core, then, this analysis really comes down to what would be best for your store: an online marketplace or an ecommerce platform?  For an in-depth look at the various options, pros, and cons you can check out our post on this topic.  

  • To summarize:Hosted/Self Hosted platform allows you to build your own site, focus on your product, and compete against less competition
  • Online marketplaces reach a broader audience and do some of the marketing for you

Shopify Basic Pros & Cons

Shopify, as mentioned above, allows you to build your own site.  Their focus is on functionality, with visual appeal being a secondary focus.  So if you want a custom, functional, easy-to-use site that can be built relatively quickly, Shopify is the platform for you.

Using a platform like Shopify allows for you to more easily promote your own unique brand name.  You won’t have to compete for your place among thousands of users like you would on Amazon. Plus, Shopify has an extensive App store, allowing for nearly limitless customization for your shop and tons of handy features you can easily add on!

When building your store, Shopify allows you to pick from a vast array of themes, some of which are free and a sizeable amount of which are also mobile friendly.

As far as payment plans go, Shopify first and foremost offers its own gateway payment plan, Shopify Pay, which charges 0 transaction fees.  However, it offers access to hundreds of other plans, including Amazon Pay and Paypal.

However, Shopify isn’t completely free to use, nor are some of the apps you can add to your store.  In the end, costs can be driven up the more extras you add on. However, it’s a small price to pay for the intuitive nature and flexibility that Shopify brings to the table.

Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that with Shopify, marketing is a must, and completely up to you.  SEO also becomes a major necessity.

Amazon Basic Pros & Cons

Amazon is the leading online marketplace today, with easily millions of visitors every month.  The fact that you can buy virtually anything on Amazon makes it very appealing to customers of all sorts.  Thus, Amazon generates a ton of traffic and therefore, a ton of potential exposure for you and your products!  This takes marketing somewhat out of your hands, allowing you to focus more on running your business and less on drawing traffic to your store.

Amazon also offers a ton of super useful features for sellers, including its FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon) feature, Amazon's Choice Label and even more!

As stated earlier, Amazon comes with a lot of competition.  You’ll be selling one in a long list of items. Sometimes, this may even pit you against Amazon itself!  

Because of the vast list of competing products on Amazon, it can be easy to get swept under the waves of competition and difficult to establish a strong presence for your brand.  One of the key ways to build brand awareness lies in customizing your store for your own unique look and presence. Amazon doesn’t offer much of anything in the way of customizability.

And while Amazon has a lot of support options, they aren’t nearly as accessible as Shopify.


Both Amazon and Shopify are geared towards making your introduction to the world of ecommerce as painless and easy as possible.  Each caters to different businesses; while Amazon can save you upfront costs and expose you to massive traffic, its variable fees can stack up in the long run.  While Shopify has more upfront fees and requires more time devoted to marketing, its flexibility and scalability make it a more universal and adaptable choice.

If you still can’t decide which one would be the best ecommerce platform for you, then why not take advantage of both?  Shopify allows for easy Amazon integration! So if you want to reap the benefits and traffic of Amazon, then you can do just that while enjoying a unique, well-built, and effective online store!

Check out our Shopify setup guide for more information on how you can get yourself up and selling in as little time as possible!