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Shopify vs eBay — which is better for creating an online store?
I’m Matt Walsh from Style Factory — the go-to site for ecommerce reviews and advice.
And today I’m going to help you answer that Shopify vs eBay question. I’ll walk you through the key pros and cons of both platforms in a friendly, jargon free way — and help you decide which of these two ecommerce giants is right for you.
But before I begin, please do subscribe to our channel, and hit the notifications bell. This helps us out and gives you easy access to all our ecommerce resources.
OK, let’s kick things off with a look at the big difference between Shopify and eBay.
Shopify and eBay are giants of the ecommerce world. But although both platforms let you get your products online easily, they are very different beasts.
Shopify is a tool that lets you build your own online store.
But eBay IS an online store — and a huge one at that, with billions of products on sale to over 150 million customers worldwide.
When you sell on Shopify, it’s like renting a space in which to set up your own store.
But working with eBay is more like selling your goods in an enormous supermarket.
With Shopify, you’ll have more work to do to configure things the way you want — and find customers.
However, you’ll have total control over everything — you can decide how your brand is presented; what your store looks like; how you market products; how you capture data; the way you sell your goods.
With eBay, your customer base is already there — but so is the competition.
To continue the supermarket analogy, having a storefront on eBay is like having some shelf space in the supermarket aisle. Lots of people will walk past it, but will they reach out for one of your products — or choose one from a different shelf?
Now, both these ways of selling have their pros and cons, and in the rest of this video, I’m going to spell the key ones out for you.
I’ll start with the key reasons to use Shopify over eBay.
One — Shopify is a better option for merchants who need a fully-branded, standalone online store.
When you sell on eBay, you are fairly limited in terms of how you can present your business.
Although simple storefront customizations and product categorizations are possible, in general your storefront is basically an eBay web page — and will look like one. You won’t be able to create much of a bespoke shopping experience using the platform.
Shopify, by contrast, gives you a LOT of control over branding and user experience. A wide range of templates is available, and these can be manipulated easily to match your brand.
Multi-currency and multilingual features in Shopify allow you to further customize the user experience — so, if you’re looking for a very bespoke shopping experience tailored to a particular buyer persona, market or location, Shopify offers this in a way that eBay doesn’t.
Two — Shopify is better for dropshipping.
Dropshipping is a way of selling goods where you don’t make, store or fulfill any products. You take an order via your online store, send the details to a supplier, and they deliver the goods to your client.
Although you can technically dropship with either Shopify or eBay, Shopify is the better solution for this type of online selling — and in many ways has been designed with it in mind.
With Shopify, you can connect your store easily to a huge number of dropshipping apps and suppliers.
And the platform gives you a free dropshipping starter kit to help you get started with this business model. This starter kit contains a host of dropshipping resources and advice and is well worth checking out — you’ll find a link to it in the video description below.
By contrast, eBay isn’t an obvious solution for dropshipping. Its dropshipping policy places more restrictions on how you dropship, there aren’t many resources to help you start doing it, and the process for using the business model is more complicated.
Three — Shopify is better for point of sale applications.
Point of Sale features let you sell goods not just online, but in physical locations too — for example retail outlets, pop-up shops, market stalls and at events.
Shopify is a market leader when it comes to Point of Sale, giving you the hardware and software to make selling in the real world easy — and all while keeping your offline and online sales data in sync.
Although various workarounds and integrations are available for eBay that let you sell at point of sale, Shopify’s POS features are much more extensive and more ‘baked in’ to the platform.
Four — Shopify gives you better marketing tools
Shopify comes with two key marketing features that you don’t get from eBay: a built-in blog, and a free email marketing system.
A blog is vital for SEO and content marketing applications — and a key tool for attracting organic traffic to your store.
And Shopify’s generous email marketing feature, which lets you send up to 10,000 newsletters a month for free, lets you capture data and spread the word about your products easily.
So, those are our key reasons to sell on Shopify rather than eBay. Now, let’s take a look at the reasons why eBay can be a better choice than Shopify.
One — eBay gives you access to a huge, ready-made market.
If you’re looking for a ready-made customer base, eBay is the clear winner in a Shopify vs eBay shootout.
Because of its 150+ million user accounts, having a storefront on eBay gives you a shop window to a massive audience. This is the major benefit of using the platform over a store builder like Shopify.
That’s not to say that you will immediately encounter a rush of customers the moment you start selling on eBay — but your products will be immediately available on a hugely popular platform.
And, so long as you’ve identified a niche correctly and put work into creating quality product descriptions and a strong pricing strategy, you do stand a pretty good chance of generating sales.
Ebay can help you with this process too, thanks to its ‘recommended for you’ algorithms that automatically show your products to the people who are most likely to buy them.
But when you set up a Shopify store, you are basically starting entirely from scratch — you’ll need to build your own customer base.
To do this you’ll need to put a lot of effort into SEO, content marketing, online advertising and online PR. This can be an expensive and time-consuming process.
Two — with eBay, you don’t have to worry about web design.
When you sell on eBay, it’s a simple case of listing your products on an existing online marketplace.
With Shopify however, you’re basically building a website. So, you’ll have to become comfortable with web design tasks like customizing themes, writing search-friendly content, creating web pages, and registering and mapping domains.
This means that you’ll encounter a bit of a learning curve from Shopify that isn’t really there on eBay.
Three — eBay is a better solution for running online auctions.
eBay started life as an online auctions tool — and it remains the go-to platform for both running online auctions and participating in them.
Although apps do exist to help you create online auctions on Shopify, eBay’s heritage and popularity as an online auction platform makes it more likely to deliver more bids on your products.
Four — eBay gives you more SEO opportunities.
A key thing to note about eBay stores is that — unlike Shopify’s — they present merchants with two search engine optimization opportunities.
Not only can you optimize your storefront for eBay’s own search engine, but — because eBay stores are crawled by other search engines — Google too.
This means that technically, an eBay store presents you with more ‘search audiences’ than a Shopify one, and a larger pool of potential customers.
So, those are the main advantages that we think eBay has over Shopify.
To sum things up, we’d say that the main advantage of Shopify is the high level of control it gives you over your brand and your business — and the main advantage of eBay is the large, ready-made audience it gives you.
But although this comparison has so far looked at the differences between Shopify and eBay, it’s important to understand that you don’t have to use these platforms in a mutually exclusive way.
There are quite a lot of apps available in the Shopify app store that let you sell on both Shopify and eBay at the same time.
This gives you the best of both worlds, and ultimately, by having a presence on both Shopify AND eBay, you’re giving yourself more ways to grow your ecommerce business.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our Shopify vs eBay comparison, but there are lots more pros and cons of both platforms to discover.
To learn more about these, check out the full Shopify vs eBay comparison on the Style Factory website.
And, if you’re interested in trying out either platform, you’ll find links to both in the video description below.
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And finally, if you have any questions about Shopify or eBay, just leave them in the comments below. We read them all and will do our best to help.
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