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Here's my hot take (with 2 years of running a #1 trending shopify app + multiple attempt in starting a store)

Shopify DOES NOT help you sell. Period.

Amazon will win in the long run because at the end of the day it's all about if the "platform" can move merchandize or not. Amazon captures top of the funnel all the way down to personalized targeting.

Shopify will never do that. they are just the tool to help you figure out all that yourself. Outsiders / beginners looking in would say Shopify is amazing because the ecosystem and how many "tools" there are to help you sell. but it's all load of horsesh*t. The merchant ultimately is the one responsible to run the ad campaigns, find the customers, run promotional pricing on BFCM.

I echo your sentiment as well (also from a background of having ran a Shopify app with thousands of installs).

There's a lot of misconception of how much hard work it is amongst beginner Shopify merchants in order to generate sufficient traffic. Amazon, at the very least, provides an audience -- which solves a very major problem for any business (to get traffic).

There's a lot of success stories running on Shopify, but these companies would have pretty done well creating their own custom solution.

At the end of the day, it's a piece of software (ie. shovel) to sell to people who want to try and make money online (ie. the gold rush).

Why not do both? Amazon gets you your first orders. You ship with a note saying visit mystore.com for the full range, and sign up for discounts at mystore.com/discounts.

This would get you quickly banned on Amazon.

Really. I’m not a seller so I didn’t know. But that’s almost serfdom.

How is not being able to freeload off a platform for free advertising even close to serfdom?

You set up a successful business on Amazon having done a lot of marketing yourself and now you are forced to use them to sell everything. You are now working for Amazon, or lose your business.

So it's the difference between setting up a store (Shopify) and selling to a store (Amazon)

That's a great take that others miss. Marketing is 100X harder than setting up a platform.

Devil's advocate: go make a listing on Amazon for a product that already has other competitors selling. How are you going to "market" yours to the top?

The answer is to pay even more money to Amazon to place yourself as a "sponsored" listing that goes right to the top of search results. Partly why Amazon is rapidly becoming a dumpster fire of an e-shop. It looks more like the search results page on Google these days.

Exactly why having a simple to set up platform is valuable. It allows you to focus on the things that create the product or visibility of the product.

And this is the difference between building a brand and trying your fate blindly to a platform's whims. One of these is impossibly hard, but if you win, you control your destiny. The other means your business dies when someone over there decides the "pivot to video" is over, as we have seen repeatedly with Facebook. I know I wouldn't want to be in the latter boat.

The problem for sellers on Amazon is that buyers there have little loyalty, and it is easy for people to come in and cut their customers out from under them with lower-priced clone products. Shopify at least gives you the opportunity to create some kind of customer loyalty to the merchant brand, and with the right kind of marketing you can get repeat business depending on what you sell.

I agree that most small companies aren't up to the challenge of managing an online business. The 3PL integration will help a little bit, and I imagine that Shopify will continue to chip away at the problem by integrating other services.

Is there a good example of someone being successful doing both?

Seems like if Shopify is a way to create your own venue, and Amazon is a venue in-and-of itself, there might be a case for doing both.

Amazon while solving a lot of problems comes with massive risks for a business, Amazon can and will send you out of business on a whim. You will be trying to convince lowly paid people in India going down a checklist that you should be allowed back on the platform.

At varying degrees of "success", I know a couple sellers who make a great living by combining multiple platforms; Selling on Amazon, eBay, Etsy and their own custom site (on Shopify and other customizable platforms).

I have a theory Shopify does sell - however only from their own stores and with access to the data goldmine deciding what to sell, who to target in advertising, etc.

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