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- Date Established
- San Diego, CA Ulyanovsk, Russia Krasnoarmeyskaya, Russia
- Suited for startups
- Cheap monthly cost
- Free plan available
- Easy to use
- Free starter website
- Add shop to any existing site
- Unsuited for large businesses
- Basic design tools
First things first: what is Ecwid, and how on Earth do you pronounce it?
Ecwid is short for “ecommerce widgets.” This sort of describes what Ecwid does, but provides no help with pronunciation. It turns out the “E” in Ecwid has a soft “eh” sound, as in “elephant” or “echo. In other words, not like in the word “ecommerce” at all. Such is the crazy, mixed-up world of software naming.
Ecwid (pronounced “ehk-wid”) is basically a shopping cart widget that incorporates into any website with just a few lines of code. Using Ecwid, you can sell across multiple websites, social networks, and marketplaces, all while managing your expanding ecommerce empire from one easy-to-use admin.
Ecwid’s beginnings reach back to 2000 when CEO Ruslan Fazlyev developed the very first PHP ecommerce platform, X-Cart. But when Fazlyev realized that many merchants already had websites they wanted to monetize, he took a new approach and created the Ecwid plugin.
Over the past decade, Ecwid has grown to serve over 1.5 million merchants across 175 countries. With new features released every month, it’s clear Ecwid is still growing. If you’re considering adding a store to your thriving website, or even starting up an online presence for the first time, Ecwid may be the “eh-commerce” solution that fits your needs.
Read on for a full review of Ecwid, including an analysis of pricing, features, reputation, and design.
Table of Contents
There is no “free trial” available with Ecwid; instead, there’s a free plan which allows you to list 10 products and get your store up and running. If you decide to explore Ecwid with the free plan, be warned that it’s essentially an advertisement for the other plans — several relatively basic features are only unlocked with a paid subscription. This freemium model for software sales is not uncommon. Ecwid is also no stranger to the tried-and-true ecommerce strategy of up-selling, so don’t be surprised by reminders to upgrade your plan at every turn. While functional in many respects for selling a very small number of products, I doubt most serious sellers stay on the free plan for long.
If you’ve already shopped around a bit for hosted ecommerce platforms, you may have noticed that Ecwid’s pricing is lower than many of its high-profile competitors. This is partly due to the fact that most Ecwid users integrate their Ecwid stores into websites for which they likely already pay monthly subscription fees. This is in contrast to some higher-priced ecommerce platforms that function as complete website builders as well.
Here’s a breakdown of Ecwid’s pricing:
Free Plan– 10 Products
- Online store to “plug in” to any website(s)
- One-page website with your store built in (Starter Site)
- 2 Product categories (physical goods only)
- Mobile responsive design
- Unlimited bandwidth
- No transaction fees (besides payment processing)
- Email support
Venture– $15/Month, 100 Products
- All of the above PLUS:
- Up to 10,000 product categories
- Digital goods: 100MB per file
- Mobile store management app
- Facebook shop
- Instagram shop
- Mobile POS (with PayPal Here)
- Access to app market for integrations
- Discount coupons
- Automated tax calculator
- Inventory management
- SEO tools
- Social media tools
- Facebook pixel
- Google Shopping integration
- Live chat support
Business– $35/Month, 2,500 Products
- All of the above PLUS:
- Digital goods: 1GB per file
- Sell on marketplaces (e.g., eBay)
- Create and edit orders
- Abandoned cart saver
- Automatic abandoned cart recovery
- Wholesale pricing groups
- Product dimensions
- 2 Staff accounts
- Phone support
- 2 Hours of custom development (annual plan)
Unlimited– $99/Month, Unlimited Products
- All of the above PLUS:
- Digital goods: 10GB per file
- Square POS integration (for clients in the US, Canada, Japan, and Australia)
- Additional POS options (Clover, Vend, NCR Silver)
- Branded shopping app for your store
- Unlimited staff accounts
- Priority support
- 12 Hours of custom development (annual plan)
Plans are billed on a monthly basis, and there are no contracts to sign. If you decide to make a long-term commitment to Ecwid and pay a whole year in advance, you can save around 17% on your payments (two months free per year):
Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
Or, better yet, you can likely find a pre-made integration module for Ecwid if you use a popular sitebuilder or Content Management System (CMS). Existing options include:
- WordPress (requires “Business” WordPress plan to add plugins)
I easily integrated my free Ecwid shop into a paid WordPress site without downloading anything, nor touching a line of code. Check the Ecwid website or your existing site’s platform to see if a module is available.
Specific Size Of Business
Ecwid is best for small- to medium-sized online businesses. The pricing system and overall ease-of-use of the software are particularly attractive for businesses just starting to dabble in online selling. By the same token, Ecwid is reasonably scalable with higher subscription packages and more integrations. I’d suggest browsing the client “Showcase” page over at Ecwid to get a good feel for of the types and sizes of businesses that are well-suited to the platform.
Hardware & Software Requirements
There are no additional software or hardware requirements to run your online store.
If you choose to use Ecwid Mobile to sell on the go, you’ll need an iPad or iPhone (we’re still on the edge of our seats for the Android version). Ecwid partners with Paypal Here to provide this service, and you may qualify for a free PayPal swipe-only card reader. No doubt you can also pay to upgrade to a reader with chip and/or contactless payment capability. I’d recommend this, since swiping cards is, like, so 2015.
Ease Of Use
Ecwid scores major points on ease of use. The control panel was redesigned in 2018, and the result is simple to navigate and implement. If you have experience with WordPress or any other CMS, you should be able to pick it up quickly.
When you sign up for the free plan, you’ll be directed to your admin. A setup wizard takes you through the first few steps of getting your store up and running. Here’s what you’ll see:
Adding products is straightforward. Tabs across the top let you list attributes and options (also known as variants), upload additional images, adjust tax and shipping information, and write meta descriptions for advanced SEO (with paid plans only).
I like how you can pop out a quick preview of each product without visiting the full storefront preview:
I couldn’t explore the ease-of-use of some features (e.g, discounts, creating orders) due to limitations of the free plan, but I did toy with shipping and zones and methods, which worked nicely.
As I already mentioned, it was also super easy to plug my store into a WordPress site. Once I installed the Ecwid plugin from my WordPress account, my full Ecwid dashboard popped itself right inside the WordPress dashboard. Voila!
Overall, the control panel is streamlined and self-explanatory, and I was able to locate resources if I ever became stuck. Editing the storefront in any significant way is trickier, but we’ll cover that in the Web Design section of this review.
Ecwid comes with a surprisingly expansive feature set straight out of the box, especially considering a lot of folks simply add Ecwid to a site that already exists. More features are always in development, and all are added to your admin automatically.
Below are some of the key features Ecwid currently offers. As always with this type of software platform, check your plan level to verify which features are included, and don’t forget that you can’t add integrations without a paid subscription to Ecwid.
- Sell Across Multiple Websites: Manage everything from one admin.
- Social Media Integrations: Sell on your Facebook page, Instagram, and more. Note that a Facebook shop is no longer included as part of the free Ecwid subscription for new users.
- Marketplace Integrations: Current options include Amazon, eBay, Google Shopping, Yahoo! Shopping, PriceGrabber, Nextag, Shopzilla, and Yandex.Market.
- In-Person Selling: Pair Ecwid with NCR Silver, Square, Clover, Vend, or PayPal Here to accept payments in person.
- ShopApp: Create a self-branded app for your store for both iOS and Android shoppers.
- Sell Digital Goods: Make sure to specify that your digital products don’t require shipping.
- Product Options & Attributes: Create variants for your products such as sizes and colors.
- Inventory Management: Track stock levels in your admin.
- Order Management: Create, edit, and track orders.
- Promotions & Discounts: Set up promotional pricing, discount codes, and volume discounts. Some discounts (e.g., Buy X, Get Y) require extensions.
- Abandoned Cart Recovery: Contact customers after they leave products in their cart to boost sales. This feature comes at a higher subscription level on some competing carts, so Ecwid scores points here.
- Mobile Store Management App: Manage your admin anywhere from your mobile device.
- Analytics & Reporting: A simple reporting tool comes in your dashboard, but it upgrades with a paid Ecwid subscription.
- SEO Tools: Customize meta data for your products and pages.
- Language Capabilities: Your store automatically translates to 50+ different languages based on your customers’ browser settings, and your control panel is available in 20+ languages. Ecwid outshines most of its competitors on the translation front.
- Real-Time Shipping Rates: Ecwid uses your customers’ IP addresses to calculate shipping expenses with major mail carriers, including UPS, USPS, FedEx, Australia Post, and Canada Post. Additionally, create personalized shipping tables, flat-rate shipping, and local pickup options.
- Automatic Tax Calculations: Charge the correct rate based on where both you and your customer are located.
- Checkout Options: Let your customers check out as guests or create an account.
- “Favorite” Button: Give customers the option to “Favorite” items to keep track of them later.
- Product Reviews: Customers can leave reviews and comments with the addition of a review app, such as Disqus.
Because Ecwid was originally intended as an add-on store to a prebuilt website that already has an established look and feel, Ecwid’s web design approach differs from most other SaaS eCommerce platforms. While most SaaS solutions offer a wide collection of pre-made themes (both free and paid) out of the box, Ecwid only offers one theme if you’re just using the one-page, standalone store. It’s called the Starter Site.
I wish Ecwid had more free themes to offer, but I do like the Starter Site. It’s basic enough to fit many brands, and the simple visual editor lets you add your own content. I easily ditched Mr. Sunglasses Skimboarding Boy from the default cover image and started creating my music instrument shop:
Unfortunately, adding text and swapping out a couple images is about all the visual editor allows. Here are other ways to adapt the Starter Site theme:
- Design Tab: Make very basic tweaks with this control panel feature, such as changing product image sizes or the alignment of elements on your product pages.
- Third-Party Theme Editing App: You’ll need one of these to change things as simple as font colors. A couple of options are available in the Ecwid app store, but note all integrations require a paid Ecwid subscription. No coding is required, but each app has its own learning curve.
- Custom CSS: Edit the CSS style sheets with help from guides on the Ecwid site, or create a CSS theme from scratch. Naturally, this does require coding skills.
Ecwid has also partnered with third-party designers and theme stores like ThemeForest for WordPress to provide both pre-designed themes and custom themes. You’ll have to purchase these themes or pay for a designer, and keep in mind that most merchants with this level of customization have probably moved beyond the Starter Site and are working on styling their stores within an existing website.
Speaking of making your store theme match your existing website, Ecwid shops do have the ability to automatically detect the main colors and fonts you use on your website and apply them to your product catalog, so your store looks like a natural extension of your site in those basic respects.
Ultimately, the benefits and limitations of Ecwid’s web design approach depend heavily on whether you’re working with the Ecwid Starter Site by itself or your existing site. I’d pay careful attention to those methods of modifying the Starter Site we’ve discussed above to see if they’ll work for you, especially if the standalone site all you plan to use.
Here are a few sample Ecwid storefronts from real customers (the first two are Ecwid Facebook shops):
Integrations & Add-Ons
Ecwid features a growing app marketplace. You’ll find several recognizable third-party integrations, as well as a plethora of smaller extensions that add minor features or tweak small aspects of your shop. Unfortunately, you’ll have to search Ecwid’s community forums to find out how users get on with these extensions, since there are no customer reviews within the Ecwid marketplace.
I promise this is the last time I’ll harp on this point, but remember that adding any integration to your Ecwid shop–including free apps–requires a paid Ecwid subscription. Also, access to specific apps may be tied to higher subscription levels. Keeping this in mind will help you figure out which Ecwid subscription level you’ll likely need, both now and as your business grows.
Some Ecwid add-ons you may recognize are:
- Zapier: Web apps connector to expand your add-on options.
- 71lbs: Automated shipping refunds.
- Printful: Custom printing and warehousing.
- AfterShip: Tracking and delivery updates.
- Lucky Orange: Discover how customers interact with your site.
- LiveChat: Customer chat and support tickets.
- McAfee SECURE Trustmark: Add both real and perceived safety to your store.
- ShippingEasy: One of our favorite shipping apps.
- ShipStation: Another popular app to process, fulfill, and ship orders.
- Xero: Popular accounting software.
- Freshbooks: Another well-known accounting option (Quickbooks is “coming soon”).
- TaxJar: Automated sales tax reporting and filing.
- Wholesale2b: Import products for dropshipping.
- All-In-One Dashboard (MonkeyData): eCommerce analytics.
Some ubiquitous apps are missing from Ecwid’s list, but I’m assuming that Ecwid partly relies on the external site builders its clients use to help fill in gaps. Regardless, definitely investigate the full marketplace at Ecwid’s site, double-checking which subscription level is required for each app. I also discovered that some apps are not included on the main category pages listed down the menu, so make liberal use of the search bar!
If you still don’t see what you need, there’s API documentation available so developers can build a custom connection for you.
Ecwid supports over 50 payment gateways out of the box, including:
- Transaction Express (TSYS)
- Payeezy (First Data)
In addition to the main list, you’ll find several additional gateways available as integrations in the app store, most of which are local/country-specific. Whichever gateway(s) you choose, remember that Ecwid itself does not charge transaction fees beyond the processing fees associated with your payments provider.
Ecwid also offers its own white-label payment gateway for merchants in the United States, Canada, and the UK: Ecwid Payments Powered by WePay. Processing fees start at 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction for the free plan, but decrease as you upgrade your subscription with Ecwid:
Customer Service & Technical Support
Ecwid offers varying options for customer support depending upon your payment plan. While I have seen complaints about the limited customer support available at the lower plans, I have seen very few reviews that complain about the quality of customer service, which is a hopeful sign. Let’s recap what’s available by subscription level:
- Free: Email only
- Venture: Email & live chat
- Business: Email, live chat, & phone; 2 hours of custom development (annual plan)
- Unlimited: Email, live chat, & priority phone support; 12 hours of custom development (annual plan)
If you’re not on the Unlimited or Business plan but are still interested in custom development, you can pay separately for these services, starting at $100. Meanwhile, Ecwid’s email and chat support is “24/5” (i.e., weekdays). My own experience with email support was quite prompt and detailed.
Before you get too terribly excited about the possibility of phone support, you should know we’re not talking about live operators standing by for you call. Instead, you will need to request a scheduled call-back from within your control panel. Ecwid contends that the team can provide better support when they’ve had the opportunity to investigate your issue before the call. There’s likely some truth to that, but I’m guessing the main reason is that this system helps to keep costs down. If you’re on the Business or Unlimited plan, you can decide for yourself if the lack of on-the-spot assistance is a deal-breaker.
All Ecwid plans include access to community forums and Ecwid’s knowledge base, along with a set of YouTube tutorials. Some videos are based on an older version of the control panel, but are still somewhat useful. There’s also a blog which is frequently updated with tips and product news.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Ecwid users generally don’t have a lot to complain about, but the negative reviews I’ve found tend to focus on the following:
- Unavailability Of Customer Service: Personal customer support via phone and live chat is only available with paid plans. This is fairly typical of most shopping carts, but it’s still a bummer to not be able to call in for aid with the Venture plan.
- Limited Features On The Free Plan: There’s a reason the free plan is free. You won’t have access to discount creation, inventory management, and other fairly “basic” features. The free plan also limits you to 10 products. Fortunately, Ecwid’s paid plans are very affordable and come with many more features.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Ecwid scores well on overall customer satisfaction on many user review sites. In particular, I noticed on G2 Crowd that Ecwid rates just as highly as some of its better-known competitors like Shopify, BigCommerce, and WordPress’ own ecommerce plugin (WooCommerce):
Here’s what customers like about Ecwid:
- Low Price: Compared with other shopping carts, Ecwid is reasonably priced. The fact that you can start selling without investing a cent is a major positive.
- Ease Of Setup: With a startup wizard and an intuitive dashboard, it’s easy to start selling quickly.
- Facebook Integration: Merchants love being able to sell on Facebook; customers never have to leave your Facebook page.
- Multi-Lingual Capabilities: Don’t let a language barrier cost you a sale. Ecwid’s language capabilities (which are available even with the free plan) surpass those of many other shopping carts.
- Continual Improvement: Ecwid regularly releases new features, extensions, and upgrades.
If you’re thinking about adding a cart to an existing website for the first time (with Ecwid or another cart plugin), you may need to up your security game. Websites that incorporate ecommerce require more security than websites that only produce content, because you’re now collecting sensitive credit card information from customers. (Check out our article on SSL certificates for an introduction to online security.)
Keep in mind there are a couple different ways Ecwid shopping carts work, and this impacts how savvy consumers will view the security of your website as a whole:
- Free Starter Site: Because you’re just using a one-page website from Ecwid that also functions as your shopping cart, your entire website uses HTTPS and is protected by an SSL certificate from Ecwid.
- Integrating Into An Existing Website: While the store portions of your website are covered by Ecwid’s SSL certificate, you’ll likely want an SSL certificate for the rest of your site as well. Check with your specific sitebuilder to find out how to acquire one.
Ecwid is also Level 1 PCI DSS compliant and uses Amazon Web Services for secure hosting.
Although “Ehk-wid” is perhaps not ideal for very large companies, it’s just right for smaller “eh-commerce” businesses. Subscriptions are quite affordable and the overall the learning curve is small. You can start with the aptly-named “Starter Site” for free if you have 10 or fewer products to sell. Then, if you’re digging it, you always have the option to keep the Starter Site setup forever and simply upgrade Ecwid plans as you require more features and apps.
Meanwhile, even the free Ecwid plan allows you to plug your Ecwid store into as many other websites as you like. Just be aware that when Ecwid says you can plug in to “any site” on the free plan, they mean “normal” websites. Dropping your Ecwid cart into social media platforms (like Facebook) or syncing with marketplaces (like eBay) requires a paid Ecwid subscription.
At any rate, you can keep your starter Ecwid store going as long as you want while you develop a full-blown website on the side. The main issue you’ll likely run into is the limited free themes (there’s just one), as well as the need for extra apps or CSS editing to make large-scale changes to your store design.
On the other hand, if you already have a rockin’ website with a large following and simply want to begin selling products, the Ecwid plugin is definitely worth a shot, especially versus starting from scratch with an all-in-one eCommerce website. I’d suggest exploring what your current sitebuilder offers in terms of features and add-ons and look for overlap (or non-overlap) with Ecwid’s offerings. Whether you choose Ecwid or another online shopping cart in the end, I wish you luck on your way to ecommerce/eh-commerce success.
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