Shopify is well known for its massive app store, which is home to more than 6,000 third-party apps. Now, it seems, sellers will have to search here or elsewhere when looking to expand to Amazon.
On September 27, Shopify quietly dropped Amazon as a sales channel. It flashed warnings across its help center and accounts—to the surprise and dismay of sellers.
“I signed up with Shopify and picked this tier service solely because they said it supported 3rd party selling. Blergh,” said one user in a Shopify Community forum.
“Shopify continues to erode their value by taking away/charging for features,” said another. “They had a solid competitive edge on all the other platform alternatives, that edge is waning.”
What was previously offered as a free feature by Shopify may now cost a seller several hundreds of dollars to integrate through a third party. So why, exactly, is Shopify choosing to retire its Amazon integration? Here are a few theories.
Theory 1: Shopify Doesn’t Want to Help a Competitor
Some commenters suppose that Shopify may not want to feed the beast that is Amazon. Or, Amazon could have kicked Shopify off.
The duo has, after all, been pitted against each other publicly. They’ve been painted as two players on the opposite ends of a DTC vs. marketplace tug-of-war, causing some to speculate, could this be yet another political move by Shopify or Amazon?
It’s worth noting that Shopify has publicly shaken hands with other marketplaces, like Walmart Marketplace, in the past. The Walmart app, for one, was announced in June 2020 as part of Shopify’s mission to help merchants succeed online. With this move, Shopify appeared to concede to the trend towards multichannel selling, and the idea that websites and marketplaces don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
That said, the Walmart integration was (and still is) managed by Walmart. The onus largely fell on Walmart when the integration faced harsh one-star reviews and the app failed to meet sellers’ expectations. This brings us to the next theory...
Theory 2: Maintaining the Integration Was More Work Than It Was Worth
As witnessed in Shopify’s clumsy integration with Walmart, getting a seller’s catalog and orders synced with a third-party marketplace isn’t a simple feat. Every ecommerce marketplace has its own taxonomy, algorithms and quirks. Not to mention, the rules of engagement are constantly changing on those marketplaces.
This is especially true on Amazon, where sellers regularly face changes to listing (and other) requirements. These changes can severely disrupt the normal operations of sellers and integrators alike as they scramble to comply with new requirements.
Case in Point: Let's Talk Shoes: Amazon's New Shoe Size Requirements
In the months leading up to Shopify’s decision to retire Amazon, many merchants reported issues with the integration. Shipping info failed to sync between the two channels. FBA accounts failed to connect to Shopify. Shopify Support failed to provide adequate answers.
Regardless of who (between Shopify and Amazon) was responsible for managing the backend, the integration could have very easily become more work than it was worth. Keeping Amazon as a native sales channel would have meant ongoing maintenance, as well as technical support to field customer questions.
Theory 3: Shopify Isn’t an Ideal PIM Platform for Marketplace Sellers
One thing that doesn’t get said enough is that platforms like Shopify are tailored for webstore management—not marketplace management. And when a brand decides to offer its Shopify catalog on a channel like Amazon, a lot has to happen behind the scenes to make that possible.
To name a few: Product data has to be restructured and translated for the new platform. Catalogs need cleanup. Variation listings need to be organized properly (and often differently) for each channel.
Then, once all that data is ingested into a product information management (PIM) platform for storage, it needs to be constantly maintained so that if a seller edits the data, every listing on every channel for that SKU is updated properly.
As it stands today, Shopify is not built to handle all of these tasks automatically, nor to inform a seller of all the data requirements of a third-party marketplace. This leads to a lot of syncing and listing errors when a seller tries to use Shopify as his or her main multichannel solution.
Theory 4: There’s More Money in Apps
All in all, one could argue that Shopify profits more (and risks less) by outsourcing to third-party providers who have the expertise and resources to dedicate to multichannel expansion.
Third-party partners will take on the brunt of maintaining the integration and providing technical support. Meanwhile, Shopify can focus on what it does best: helping sellers create and grow their branded websites.
Shopify further benefits from taking a cut of those third-party sales.
Shopify users, in turn, benefit from having a more reliable integration into Amazon (and other sales channels), albeit they’ll have to pay an additional cost for these services.
How to Connect Your Shopify Store to Amazon
Now that Amazon isn’t offered by Shopify, what can you do? Here are two major alternatives to consider if you’re looking to sell your products on new channels.
Option 1: Shopify App
There are a handful of all-in-one Amazon apps currently offered in the Shopify App store. When using these plugins, Shopify still acts as your command center for product listings, inventory and orders. Orders from Amazon will be sent back to your Shopify store for fulfillment, and depending on the app, you could benefit from features like bulk editing and automated attribute mapping.
Shopify apps tend to be very capability-focused. In other words, you could be downloading one app to list your products on Amazon, another to manage FBA, and still another to handle kitting or bundling. The benefit is that you can customize your solution and play around with your monthly costs. The downside is that costs may rack up as you piecemeal a solution together.
Who it’s best for: This route is best for Shopify sellers wanting to dip their toes in multichannel but will spend a majority of time building up their branded store. They may only be looking to expand to Amazon (not multiple channels) for the time being, and therefore only need one or two Amazon-specific apps to satisfy their criteria.
Option 2: 3P Software Solution
If you’re looking for a more robust solution for multichannel selling, then you’ll likely want to consider third-party platforms like Zentail. Under this arrangement, your software platform will become your central command center.
Your Shopify listings, inventory, and orders will flow into the platform, where you can apply various optimizations, automations and reporting. Zentail, for example, includes access to SMART Types—its proprietary tech for mapping and categorizing your product data to multiple sales channels.
SMART Types translates your data to each individual marketplace, ensuring that product details get displayed properly and comply with marketplace requirements. Zentail further helps to identify and resolve listing errors when they do come up, plus highlights advanced attributes that you should consider including in order to get your listings ranking higher.
Aside from this, the best multichannel software solutions support:
- One-click listing to new channels
- Listing customization per channel
- Bulk edits
- Business rules
- Pricing management (including repricing)
- Inventory management and syncing
- Order routing and management
- Kitting and bundling
- Product grouping and variation listings
- Multichannel analytics and forecasting
- And more
Who it’s best for: This option is ideal for sellers who are committed to multichannel selling. They’re not just concerned with getting their products up on new channels—they also want to proactively grow their multichannel presence. A software partner therefore offers both the tools and expertise that they need to implement the best multichannel strategy and to streamline their workflow from start to finish.
While the old Shopify-Amazon integration was certainly a convenient solution, there is a silver lining to the news of its retirement.
Sellers and Amazon alike can enjoy an easier time marrying Shopify with Amazon; rather than an error-prone, hard-to-maintain integration, sellers can freely choose from a variety of integrations built by some of the strongest companies that specialize in multichannel.
If you’re interested in test driving Zentail, request a free demo. See how easy it can be to sell on Amazon, Walmart, eBay and other channels.