It’s no surprise that Amazon is one of the biggest platforms for eCommerce out there. But, Shopify’s website builder provides a solid alternative for businesses and individuals that want a little more control over their branding and store.
We’ll look at both of these tools, and how each can contribute to your eCommerce business. We’ll discuss features, some basic comparisons, and we’ll also talk about the kind of user each store, Shopify vs Amazon FBA, works best for.
Table of Contents
- Who is Shopify For?
- How does Shopify Work?
- Shopify vs Amazon
- Packages and Pricing
- Shopify Website Examples
Shopify is an all in one eCommerce hosting platform. That means that it gives you the tools you need to build a website, list items for sale, and complete the transaction with a buyer. You’ll still have to manage shipping details and inventory, but your online needs are covered by the platform.
That doesn’t mean that Shopify doesn’t have some cons. While the platform is highly customizable, some features require a great deal of technical expertise.
Greater control also means that you have more to manage with Shopify vs Amazon. But that also means you can create a more unique experience for customers.
Who is Shopify for?
Shopify is a service for creating your own, unique, multi-level, eCommerce website. It’s meant for people who already have a product they want to sell, and who are willing to put in the work to create additional content and work on SEO and other aspects of getting their store seen. It’s a good option for small businesses and can scale with your business. It’s also a reasonable option for medium and larger eCommerce businesses, though some other platforms may work better for large operations. Many of its features are easy to use and easy to manage. But it has an advanced range of features that give more experienced users more options. Shopify’s website builder works for people with minimal experience and has more options for experienced website creators.
Let’s quickly look at what Shopify can do.
- Free SSL certificate
- Fraud Analysis
- Different Staff Accounts
- Ability to manage and host multiple domains
- Can add new domains later
- Can use 3rd party domains
- Set a priority domain
- Support for staff emails
- Collects customer emails
- Marks and prioritizes customer emails
- Collects customer email from checkout
- Sales tracking
- Conversions tracking
- Average Order Value
- Orders over time
- Return customer rate
- Unlimited storage
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Fully integrated online check out
- Enable or disable customer accounts
- Adding/including store policies
- Edit checkout form options
- Can place a test order
- Can handle most sales tax calculations
- Shopify Payments
- Supports 3rd party payment apps
How does Shopify Work?
There’s a lot to cover here, and Shopify provides a lot of detailed information on how their products work on their main website. But we’re going to focus on the hub of everything you do in Shopify, it’s dashboard. The features listed above will give you a better sense of some not all of Shopify’s other features.
The overview dashboard is the quick view of everything you’ll need to track through your new eCommerce store. The tools and tracking displayed here can be customized to some extent, with more tools available at higher subscription levels.
All of this information is high-level, bird’s eye view reporting of what’s happening in your store. You can see how many orders you’ve received, and how that compared with your order rate over time. You’ll be able to track how many of your customers come back for more. You’ll also be able to see your conversion rate, which is a fantastic tool for new eCommerce businesses and businesses launching new product lines. Every tool here will also have a more detailed version of the true analytics screen.
You’ll also have immediate access to more detailed information just off your dashboard. This screen shows where your views are coming from, and what the people looking at your website are doing. This kind of data will help you dial in who your customers are, and what kind of things they want. Your dashboard is where you’ll get the information you need to customize and dial in your store’s needs.
These tools are different from Shopify’s page builder and other creative tools. You’ll be able to create a wide variety of unique content, including blogs, product pages, and a unique check out screen.
Shopify vs Amazon
Amazon is a huge eCommerce platform. It’s one of the biggest places online that people go to find what they need. Amazon captures more first time searches for a product than Google. But that doesn’t mean that Amazon is going to be the best place for your products. Amazon has better SEO ratings, doesn’t need extra work to get customer views, and you don’t need to worry about trying to get your website to rank on google if you use Amazon. But, you’re also limited to Amazon’s sales structure. You have to use Amazon’s product listing design, and you have to accept payments through Amazon’s system. If you’re serious about being successful in the eCommerce world, you need more than just Amazon. It’s not just about putting your spin and flavor on your products, but also just that Amazon limits your options. With Shopify, you have more direct control over your store, products, and more options for how much you can sell at each subscription level.
You can also use these two platforms together, and in fact, you may want to. Using both gives you the advantages of using Amazon’s huge eCommerce empire, and the right to customize and give your products a little more flair on your own website.
Packages and Pricing
|Shopify Basic||Shopify||Shopify Advanced|
Shopify also always offers a 14-day free trial of their products. While there aren’t any current discounts or other coupons and deals for their services, they do occasionally offer discounts. It’s always worth checking to see if you can start at a lower cost.
Shopify Website Examples
We’ve gone over a lot of information in a very abstract sense. Let’s take a closer look at two big-name companies that use Shopify, Brilliant and Kylie’s Cosmetics.
Brilliant is a little different type of eCommerce site. Instead of offering direct products, it’s a learning site that runs off selling individual modules as well as a subscription to Brilliant’s larger learning services.
As you can see, Brilliant uses a very clean minimalist template. But Shopify’s website builder has allowed them to create a lot of authority through those big-logos at the top. It also allows the constant presence of that sign up now button in the all-important top right corner.
Brilliant’s main page is a straight scrolling page that goes from one content area to the next very smoothly. As you can see, this page looks significantly different, but it’s only a little further down from the first page you see.
Here is where the magic happens for Brilliant. This is where they can show their products. As you can see, it’s clean, attractive, and easy to navigate and manage.
Now let’s look at Kylie’s store.
As you can see, this store’s page is very different. The two brands have a really good sense of what appeals to their customer bases, and so they’ve designed two very different pages. While both are custom pages, the comparison can give you a better sense of what Shopify can do.
Instead of a scrolling site, Kylie Cosmetic’s webpage is navigated through menu buttons at the top of the page. But, as you can see, you’ve still got a very clean, if different, products listing page.
Here is some of Shopify’s magic in action. While we were looking at this website, acting like a customer, the website automatically prompted a sales capture move by offering a new customer discount.
These kinds of automated features don’t take a lot of expertise to implement, but they can really help boost sales numbers and make your website seem more engaged and interactive with your customers.
These are two of the best Shopify stores out there, but there are many other examples of fantastic Shopify stores, from small businesses through to big-name enterprises.
Users give Shopify 4.5/5 based on 3180 reviews. We have to agree with this generally high assessment of Shopify’s value and design, especially since two of it’s three subscription levels are relatively affordable.
This is a good store builder that works for novices creating their very first website, all the way through to tech wizards who are just looking for a platform to cut down on the code.
Read our more in-depth user review of Shopify here.