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Shopify Warns Merchants Eyeing Amazon Perk

Amazon’s Buy with Prime program may have found a foe in Shopify

E-commerce research firm Marketplace Pulse said Thursday Shopify merchants who attempt to insert the coding that allows them to add the Buy with Prime button are receiving a warning message. 

“You have a code snippet on your storefront that violates Shopify’s Terms of Service,” the warning message says. “This script removes Shopify’s ability to protect your store against fraudulent orders, could steal customer data and may cause customers to be charged the wrong amount.” 

A spokesperson for Shopify reiterated the popup’s messaging in a statement to Sourcing Journal when asked about it saying, “We have Terms of Service in place to protect our merchants, and violations may trigger a warning in the effort to provide full transparency to merchants.” 

“We developed Buy with Prime to serve Prime members wherever they shop and empower merchants of all sizes wherever they choose to sell,” an Amazon spokesperson told Sourcing Journal on Friday. “We hope that all e-commerce providers will put customer experience and merchants’ success first by allowing them to take advantage of more tools.” 

The spokesperson went on to address the concerns raised in the pop-up warnings by pointing to the company’s “high security standards” and the fraud protection technology backing Amazon Pay. 

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Neither spokesperson would comment on whether the two companies are in discussions or working together on the issues raised by the pop-up warning. 

Amazon in April said it was opening up the benefits associated with its Prime membership, such as free delivery and returns, to merchants outside the ecosystem. The announcement meant anyone with an online store, once approved by the company, could tout a button allowing Prime members shopping in that store to make their purchase through Amazon Pay, with fulfillment and returns handled by the e-commerce behemoth’s logistics network.  

Amazon said it would begin this year with invite-only participation for businesses already part of the Fulfillment by Amazon program. There’s currently a waitlist for those businesses interested in adding the button. 

Shopify’s service terms clearly want to keep buyers and sellers within the Shopify ecosystem, using the company’s checkout services. 

“Shopify’s warning will make some merchants reconsider Buy with Prime,” Marketplace Pulse said in its Thursday note. “It might take even bolder steps in the future—it wants Shop Pay to be the default.” 

The warning popup would seem to be an about-face from public statements made about Buy with Prime by Shopify executives.

Shopify founder and CEO Tobi Lutke said in May during the company’s first-quarter earnings call “we are thrilled” about Amazon opening up its infrastructure to other businesses. 

“We are happy to integrate this into Shopify, just in the same way how we integrated the infrastructure that Meta built, the infrastructure that Google built and the infrastructure that TikTok built and so on. So this fits perfectly into our build view,” Lutke said. 

Shopify’s most recent public comments on Buy with Prime maintained a similarly positive stance.  

Ana Raman, senior manager of investor relations at Shopify, said last month during the Canaccord Growth Conference “philosophically, we think this is great.”

“If Amazon is coming over their walled gardens, they’re willing to help independent businesses, this is really a valuable thing for merchants to have,” Raman went on to say. “As of now, we have not announced anything with Amazon. We are in discussions, but haven’t announced anything yet. It all comes back to our approach and philosophy. Shopify is a merchant-first, merchant-driven, mission-driven company.” 

To that end, Buy with Prime has to be viewed “holistically in terms of [the Shopify Fulfillment Network],” Raman said. 

Put another way, Shopify has been building up its own warehousing and logistics capabilities to handle fulfillment for its merchants. How that ultimately fits, if at all, within Amazon Logistics’ real estate portfolio and services portfolio is unclear.

In fact, the Shopify Fulfillment Network is a key area of investment for the company, focused on being the solution for businesses’ freight, distribution and two-day fulfillment needs. 

The company in July closed on its $2.1 billion acquisition of e-commerce fulfillment company Deliverr, further padding its logistical capabilities and offerings. 

“Currently, because Buy With Prime is not integrated with Shopify, there’s also a bit of a disjointed experience for both the merchant and the buyer,” Raman said. “So, right now, if anybody has experienced it, if you do click on that Buy With Prime, it actually takes you off site from a merchant’s store.”