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E-Commerce Breakdown: Amazon Webstore vs. BigCommerce vs. Shopify

Selling online is truly the wave of the retail future. Savvy retailers and newbies alike are well aware that this wave is just starting to crest. That's why there's such intense competition to be the best online store builder around. First out of the starting gate is veteran online retailer Amazon. Its hosted e-commerce service, the Amazon Webstore, capitalizes on the edge it has as a pioneer in e-commerce. However, not far behind and quickly gaining are other e-commerce platforms BigCommerce and Shopify.

Which one will prevail in the long run? That's a good question, which we'll attempt to answer in this article.

First off, let's take a quick look at some important basics:


Amazon Webstore



Monthly Fees (most popular)



$79 ($128 with Shopify POS)

Transaction fees

2% + fraud protection fee ($0.05 - $0.30) + % of average monthly sales proceeds










5 Gb



PCI compliant

PCI compliant


Of course, SaleHoo also has its own webstore plans, too, which stack up rather nicely with the three above. Check them out here.

The ultimate concern for dropshippers selling online is the bottom line: "How much will I make?" Off hand, looking at this admittedly bare-bones table, you might be tempted to say that an Amazon Webstore owner may be barking up the wrong tree and should have sashayed over to BigCommerce or Shopify based on fees alone, but there is a lot more to consider before making that decision.


Amazon Webstore is taking a nice chunk out of a store owner's profits, and for an enterprise-level seller, this could be a deal-breaker. Those used to selling on Amazon, however, and who are venturing out to store-based e-commerce for the first time, will benefit greatly from the reach and facilities that Amazon provides. For many small to medium-sized businesses, Amazon Webstore makes a lot of sense.

Enterprise-level sellers, on the other hand, should probably shy away from Amazon Webstore, because those fees really pile up when you exceed a certain volume of sales. Dropshippers are also less than sold on Amazon Webstore, partly because FBA doesn't really work for them in general, and with a narrower profit margin than regular retailers, the added transaction fees may just break the bank.

BigCommerce has a lot to offer for a really simple cost structure, which makes it attractive for all types of online sellers looking to establish their own brand. Meanwhile, Shopify offers the ability to switch from online to offline stores using the Shopify POS option, which is a really great way for an existing brick-and-mortar establishment to have the best of both worlds.

Also, Shopify offers a starter kit for really small shops, with 25 products or less, at $14 a month. Each sale carries a 2 percent transaction fee. But really, with 25 products, 2 percent is not really a huge amount for free shop setup. This makes the most sense if you're just testing the waters because you aren't sure you really want to go whole hog into online retailing.

Besides, you can always upgrade the plan further down the line.


Amazon's customizable online shop software makes setting up an online store a breeze and comes included in the monthly fees. But then again, this is also true for BigCommerce and Shopify. According to some users, it is easier to customize the layout and integrate third-party software with these last two than with the online store builder that comes with Amazon Webstore.

But if you're happy with a basic store and not interested in messing around with a variety of complicated templates, then it's really a toss-up.


Whichever route you take, you won't have to contend with a third-party shopping cart software, which may have security issues you won't have on these three platforms. Amazon uses a dedicated secure socket layer (SSL), while BigCommerce and Shopify use the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS respectively).


As you can see in the graph below, there is a disproportionate number of active websites using the three platforms, with Amazon Webstore coming in a distant third place. However, it must be remembered that quantity does not always mean quality. A lot of start-ups that'll probably come and go will choose BigCommerce and Shopify because it is easier to use and abuse. It's highly likely that online stores of comparative quality are more or less evenly distributed among these three platforms.

Number of Active Websites


Payment options are numerous in BigCommerce and Shopify, including most of the popular payment gateways such as PayPal, Visa, and Mastercard. All three platforms allow you to accept credit card payments, although with Amazon Webstore you can stick with Amazon Payments, if you prefer. Credit card transactions come with merchant fees, which usually vary, although Shopify fixes this at a very reasonable 2.3 to 2.5 percent plus $0.30 per transaction.


Website verticals

Stores using both Amazon Webstore and BigCommerce rank well with search engines, but some users claim that items of third-party sellers often play second fiddle to Amazon products. Shopify also offers search engine optimization (SEO), but it requires a little more effort and SEO knowledge than either Amazon Webstore or BigCommerce.

The excellent exposure afforded by running an Amazon Webstore requires relinquishing a certain degree of control. Retailers that get the best exposure are those that qualify for preferment by Amazon, which includes eligibility for the Buy Box, Today's Deals, Featured Seller, Amazon Prime recommendations and Free Shipping.

For any of these spots, you need to use FBA, which can really put a crimp on dropshippers. Also, you need to reach a certain sales level. You need to do a lot to get a lot on an Amazon Webstore. The returns, however, can be really good, as long as you're willing to pay the price.


All three platforms prioritize seller training and support because, face it, if you do well, they do well. Perhaps integration-wise Amazon Webstore is a bit egocentric because its stores only integrate well with Amazon (and not with any other sites), but that's still the big e-commerce market.

BigCommerce and Shopify have the advantage of easy integration, plus they are mobile-ready. Shoppers who are always on the go can easily find what they're looking for, wherever they are, with both BigCommerce and Shopify. Shopify stores with brick and mortar locations can also count on selling to mobile shoppers in store, as well as online.

The Verdict

So, with all these considerations, which is the best host for an online store? Generally, Amazon Webstore is a great platform for any size store that has a respectable profit margin and little interest in the drudgery of fulfilling orders. It's also the logical choice if you already have a long-standing account with Amazon.

BigCommerce works well for small stores with low-to-medium volume of orders that can be easily handled in-house. Shopify is the ideal platform for brick-and-mortar stores that want to increase their online presence with an e-commerce site that can be managed as a single unit.

Ultimately, however, the decision to use any platform will still depend on the characteristics and needs of a particular store. So take advantage of the free trials to find out more before finally deciding to go with one or the other, and don't forget to give SaleHoo Stores a try while you're testing.

What's your ideal platform? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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1 Comments Add your comment
Full Member
I read that SaleHoo helps when starting in Shopify ? Is that correct ?

If you start a shop, wouldn't it be partly about traffic ?
Thats what many people struggle with online ( like myself ) Reply
Site Admin
Hi, Bryce!

If you have questions, our support team is available at www.salehoo.com/support

Traffic is definitely a major concern for an online store. Fortunately there are a lot of great ways to market yourself, including social media. However, other factors like what payment methods you can accept, the overhead costs, store feature, and ease of use. Running your online store will be difficult if you hate the platform you're using or it's difficult to upload information about products. So traffic is just part of the picture. Reply
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