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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

BigCommerce

Shopify

Monthly Fees (most popular)

$79

$79.95

$54 (+ $49 for POS)

Transaction fees

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

None

None

Bandwidth

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Storage

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Security

SSL

Available

Free SSL certificate

 

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.

Costs

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 unlimited products, at $13 a month with no transaction fees. 

Usability

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.

Security

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 and Shopify uses a dedicated secure socket layer (SSL), while you can purchase a dedicated SSL through BigCommerce.

Usage

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

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. 

Exposure

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.

Support

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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2 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
Shopifys most popular plan is 29 per month, not 79 and their file store is unlimited as well.

You definitely should have done more research before writing this. I'm trying to figure out which platform to use and it's articles like this that throw people off. Reply
Site Admin
Hi Justin! This article was written in 2014, before Shopify dropped their prices and made other changes. You can see a review from roughly the same time this was published here: http://www.websitebuilderinsider.com/shopify-reviews/

We apologize for any confusion this has caused. Reply
@JustinGolschneider - why not keep the article truly updated then? Was searching to figure out which of the mentioned ecommerce solutions to go with, and this article misleadingly shows as " 1 day ago" on Google; tricking me to click to read. Totally misleading!

It is completely useless and a waste of precious time for an outdated article to be ranking 1st on Google. Will be filing a report with the G web team about this.
Site Admin
Hi Kennedy! The date Google is showing is the "dateModified" date, which is updated every time somebody comments. We supply Google with both dateModified and datePublished, and the latter has remained 2014-07-02 10:45:00.

With nearly 600 blog posts in our archives, it's impossible for us to keep all of our articles updated, but we do occasionally update some of the more popular ones. I'll let our content team know we're receiving requests for an update here.
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