In this in-depth Ecwid review, I run through the pros and cons of an online store builder that allows you to add e-commerce functionality to any website.
Read on to find out more about all Ecwid’s features, key strengths and weaknesses — by the end of the review you’ll have a much clearer idea of whether it’s the right e-commerce solution for your business.
(I’ll also walk you through what some of the the best alternatives to consider are).
Let’s start with an important question: what exactly is Ecwid?
Our overall rating: 4.2/5
What is Ecwid, and how does it work?
Ecwid is a tool for building your own online store. It’s a ‘software as a service’ (SaaS) tool, meaning that you don’t own the software, but pay a monthly fee to use it.
Much like other e-commerce platforms, Ecwid allows you to set up ‘catalogs’ of products, and add photos, pricing, weight etc. for each. You can define shipping rates, accept credit card payments and so on – all the key stuff that you’d expect to be able to do using an e-commerce solution. This is all done via a web browser — there’s nothing to install on your computer.
Ecwid differs significantly from competing products like Shopify, Squarespace and BigCommerce however in that it is not really designed to let you create a standalone e-commerce website; rather, it’s designed to allow you add an online store to an existing online presence.
(That said, Ecwid has recently added some new functionality, called ‘Instant Sites’, that does let you create a basic, one-page standalone offering. I’ll discuss this in more depth later on in the review.)
Ecwid works by giving you a ‘widget’ that gets placed on other sites — hence the name Ecwid: it’s short for ‘E-commerce Widget’. You get a few lines of HTML code (the widget) to add to an existing website or social media profile, and your store is displayed wherever you’ve inserted this code.
But how much does this functionality cost?
The free plan
If you’ve only got a few products to sell (up to 10), Ecwid is entirely free. This is something of a unique selling point for Ecwid — key rivals generally don’t offer this sort of free functionality.
The free plan is pretty basic, with key features like discount coupons and the ability to sell digital goods being unavailable, and it only allows you to sell up to 10 products in 2 categories.
But for merchants with very simple requirements, this may actually be sufficient; and using the free plan is a good way to try the product out.
Probably the most important thing to note about the free plan is that it is not great from an search engine optimization (SEO) point of view — you need to be on a paid plan to ensure that your product pages talk to search engines in the best way possible.
(I’ll discuss Ecwid SEO in more depth later on in the review.)
The paid plans
In terms of the paid plans, the USD pricing structure is as follows:
$15 per month: the ‘Ecwid Venture‘ plan — this allows you to sell up to 100 products
$35 per month: the ‘Ecwid Business‘ plan — this allows you to sell up to 2500
$99 per month: the ‘Ecwid Unlimited‘ plan — this allows you to sell an unlimited number of products.
All the above products allow you to make use of up to 10,000 product categories.
If you pay for Ecwid annually, things works out cheaper: the three plans come in respectively at $12.50, $29.17 and $82.50 per month.
As you might expect, the more you pay, the more additional features you get – discount coupons, integrations with other stores, better support and so on. (More on all these features shortly).
Ecwid pricing outside the US
Something to be aware of is that Ecwid can be more expensive for non-US users.
For example, in the UK, the Venture, Business and Unlimited plans cost £15, £35 and £99 per month — making them roughly 41% more expensive than in the US.
In the EU, the equivalent prices are €15, €35 and €99 — 20% more expensive than in the US.
The key differences to watch out for between Ecwid plans
A few key differences in the Ecwid plans to watch out for are as follows:
The ‘Venture’ plan does not allow you to list your products on established marketplaces (Amazon, E-bay and Etsy).
The ‘Venture’ plan is quite restrictive in terms of how it allows you to display your products: on this plan, you can’t use product variants or allow users to make use of product filters when browsing your store.
The ‘Venture’ plan does not allow you to edit existing orders (or create ones manually) — you’ll need to be on a more expensive plan to be able to do that.
Automatic abandoned cart recovery is only available on the ‘Business’ plans and higher.
With the ‘Business’ and ‘Unlimited’ plans, you can avail of some consultation time when setting up your store (2 hours and 12 hours respectively).
Phone support is only available on the ‘Business’ and ‘Unlimited’ plans.
Multilingual features are only available on the ‘Business’ and ‘Unlimited’ plans.
Let’s drill down into some of Ecwid’s key features.
With Ecwid, you can process credit cards ‘out of the box’ using Paypal, with no extra charge other than Paypal’s commission.
There are also around 80 other payment gateways you can connect to Ecwid (these include established providers like Sage, Stripe, 2Checkout, Authorize.Net and many others). Some are country-specific, so the exact range available to you will depend on your location.
Some other online store solutions, such as Shopify, provide a few more options in this regard, but the range of payment gateway integrations available with Ecwid is extensive, and definitely at the more comprehensive end of the spectrum.
Remember of course that using these payment gateways often means paying a monthly fee. So, you may find it best to start off with Paypal and add a payment gateway down the line, if and when your volume of sales justifies it.
Thanks to Ecwid’s point-of-sale (POS) functionality, you can use your Ecwid store to sell not just online but in physical locations too – in stores, market stalls, at concerts and so on.
With Ecwid’s POS functionality, regardless of whether a customer buys a product in store, online, on their phone or via Facebook, everything stays in sync — i.e., the merchant’s catalog, inventory and customer / transaction information.
There’s a few ways you can use this feature: the simplest is probably to use ‘Paypal Here.’ This involves downloading the Ecwid iOS app from the Apple’s App store, connecting it to the Paypal Here service, and then taking payments using a mobile card reader (pictured above).
You have a few choices when it comes to POS hardware and Paypal Here: you can buy a chip and swipe reader (for $24.99); a chip and tap reader ($59.99); or a chip and tap bundle (for $79.99). It’s important to note however, that these are only available to merchants based in the US, UK and Canada.
These all facilitate using a wider range of hardware in a physical retail location (full-sized card readers, receipt printers, cash drawers tablet stands etc.) and are usable in more countries.
However, you will need to be on a the most expensive Ecwid plan to use these platforms to power your POS — the $99 per month ‘Unlimited’ plan.
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Creating multilingual stores with Ecwid
So long as you are on a ‘Business’ or ‘Unlimited’ plan, Ecwid storefronts can be translated into 53 different languages — this is generous by comparison to key competitors (Shopify, for example, caps the number of translated stores to five on most plan).
Ecwid provides this functionality by detecting visitors’ language automatically based on their browser settings / IP address, and displaying the correct language version of a store.
Key components of your store — such as ‘add to bag’ buttons, social media labels etc. — are translated for you automatically; you will need to translate product descriptions yourself, however.
Competing e-commerce platforms often require you to rely on third-party apps or Google Translate to provide different language versions of your store, which is less than ideal.
So a definite thumbs up for Ecwid on making multilingual functionality a core feature.
Now, let’s take a quick look at importing and exporting products.
Importing and exporting products
Like many competing products, Ecwid allows you to import and export your data in to the platform using CSV format.
When importing via CSV, you can make use of 30 different columns, each representing a particular product attribute (product name, SKU, URL for product image and so on). Your import file can be delimited by comma, semi-colons or tabs.
The export option, as you might expect, allows you to export product data, orders and customers (again, in CSV format) and means that if you ever feel the need to migrate your store to another e-commerce platform, you shouldn’t have any major problems doing so.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) in Ecwid
The key things to watch out for with SEO features in online store building products like Ecwid are as follows:
how easy it is to create clean, search-friendly URLs
how fast you can get a product page to load
The good stuff first: you can edit the title of your page and its meta description easily; the relevant fields are pre-populated for you automatically, but you can tweak them to suit your SEO objectives.
Less good is the fact that you can’t manually change the URL of a product — you have to make do with the one that Ecwid generates for you. This is not ideal because keywords in URLs are used by some search engines to categorise content during indexing.
However, the URLs that are automatically generated by Ecwid include the title you’ve given to your product — so if you include some keywords in your product title (not a bad idea anyway) your URL will include them too. This serves as something of a workaround, but I’d prefer full control over URLs.
Another area where Ecwid doesn’t perform quite so well on the SEO front involves AMP — accelerated mobile pages.
As the name suggests, AMP pages load faster on mobile devices. This encourages people to stay longer on your page, thus increasing ‘dwell time’ — something which is believed by many SEO experts believe to be rewarded by Google with preferential treatment in search results.
Additionally, Google sometimes highlights AMP pages in carousels in search results, giving AMP content an extra little boost.
Unfortunately however — and unlike competing products such as BigCcommerce or Shopify — you can’t create AMP versions of your products using Ecwid.
(You can use it to create dynamic order notification emails — you can find out more about this here — but being able to display products in AMP format is more useful).
Although there’s room for improvement with regards to SEO in Ecwid, I wouldn’t necessarily view its current deficiencies in this area as a showstopper; it’s important to remember that keyword research, link building and having great content on your site are as important to SEO as the technical aspects of SEO.
(For some general pointers on SEO, you might want to check out our ‘Making your site visible’ post.)
What about Ecwid and Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals are a new set of SEO targets relating to the speed, responsiveness and visual stability of a website; and from June 2021, sites that meet them are likely to receive preferential treatment in Google search results.
Now, it’s always much harder to ensure full compliance with Google targets like these when you’re dealing with a cloud product like Ecwid — simply because you don’t have much control over its code.
It looks as though Ecwid is aware of the requirements, and developing its product in a way that make meeting them more likely — but you will have work to do too, by ensuring that all your images are fully optimized and use of third-party scripts and apps is kept to a minimum.
And speaking of apps…
Apps and plugins
In common with a lot of other e-commerce platforms, Ecwid provides a number of integrations with other web apps (via its ‘app market’).
However, the number of integrations available with well-known services is fairly limited (there are a couple of hundred available). Integrations do exist with key products like Freshbooks and Shipstation; but competing products like Shopify offer a much broader range of established apps (4000+ in Shopify’s case).
The picture is better when it comes to CMS plugins: these are available for WordPress, Drupal, Wix and Joomla, allowing to you install Ecwid on one of these platforms very easily.
Dropshipping in Ecwid
Dropshipping is a sales and fulfilment approach where you don’t keep what you’re selling in stock (in fact, you may never see any stock!). You take the order via your online store, send it to a dropshipping supplier, and they deliver the goods to your client — your store becomes a middle man of sorts.
The Wholesale2B, Syncee and Spocket apps allow you to add variety of products from hundreds of dropshipping suppliers to your Ecwid store.
The Printful app allows you to create products featuring your images or logos (you upload them to Printful, who then manufacture the products and ship them).
Other platforms do provide integrations with more dropshipping providers, but on the plus side, all the dropshipping apps that are available for Ecwid are from well-established providers.
As always with dropshipping, for ethical reasons you may wish to perform some due diligence on how (and where) any products you are featuring on your site are being produced. Suppliers of dropshipping goods don’t always have the best track record when it comes to working conditions in their factories.
Ecwid “Instant Sites”
Although Ecwid has traditionally been a product which lets you add an online store to an existing website, it now allows you to set up a standalone store too, called an ‘Ecwid Instant Site.’
It has to be said that this is a very basic, one-page affair — but it’s nonetheless potentially very useful, and definitely represents a good ‘stopgap’ measure for merchants who wish to start selling with Ecwid but have not yet finished developing their full site (on, say, WordPress).
You can either host your ‘Instant Site’ on the Ecwid domain (i.e., mystore.ecwid.com) or map it to your own domain (www.yourstorename.com).
An Ecwid ‘Instant Site’ is not in my view a substitute for a proper online store (mainly because you can’t blog on one, which in turn will hamper your ability to use inbound marketing to generate sales).
However, it will come in very handy for many merchants, and is a much better landing page than a traditional ‘site under construction’ holding page.
For Covid-19 era merchants wishing to quickly get an online store up and running, it’s a more convenient option than most.
And, although Ecwid’s Instant Sites are rather basic in nature, they do nonetheless technically provide users with one of the cheapest ways possible to build a standalone online store — you can get one up and running from $15 per month — or even for free (more on that below).
This all compares positively with Squarespace, Shopify and BigCommerce, which charge upwards of $26 per month to let you create a standalone store (but that said, the end result will be considerably more sophisticated than anything you’ll achieve with an Ecwid Instant Site).
A whole e-commerce site — for free?
Perhaps the most striking aspect of Ecwid is that, unlike its key competitors, it can be used entirely for free. If you have less than 10 products, and your needs are basic, it’s a remarkably cost-effective way to start selling online.
The ‘Instant site’ feature — also included in the free plan — adds to this sense of value. There are not many e-commerce platforms (if any) that I can think of that let you construct an ad-free, standalone store without committing to a monthly fee.
Ecwid is ahead of the pack when it comes to tax rules — you can set things so that visitors’ locations are automatically identified (based on IP address) and the relevant tax rate applied automatically.
Helpfully this applies not just to physical products but digital ones too — Ecwid caters adequately for the EU’s VAT MOSS requirements, something that can’t be said for all other competing platforms.
Multi-currency selling in Ecwid
You typically get more online sales if you sell your products in the currency used by your store visitors.
So, if you’re selling your goods in a lot of different countries, it’s a good idea to let your potential customers select their own currency — or better yet, have your store present your products in the local currency automatically.
To do this in Ecwid, you need to install the ‘Currency Converter’ app (pictured below), which costs $4.49 per month.
The Currency Converter app makes it very easy to display prices in local currencies automatically. My only gripe with it is that the original currency gets displayed again — along with the local one — at the final stage of the purchase, which may put some buyers off completing a purchase.
But overall, it’s fine.
Like most leading e-commerce solutions, Ecwid lets you offer a good range of shipping options — you can charge a flat fee for shipping, calculate it by weight, offer free shipping etc.
Additionally, Ecwid has a built-in integration with the following carrier companies to automatically show their shipping rates for customers’ orders at checkout:
Canada Post (Canada)
Royal Mail (UK)
Brasil Correios (Brazil)
MDS Collivery (South Africa)
Australia Post (Australia)
EMS Russian Post (Russia)
The good news is that this real-time carrier quotation functionality is available on all Ecwid plans. This is commendable, and makes Ecwid more generous in this area than many of its competitors.
Using Ecwid with other platforms
Ecwid and WordPress
WordPress doesn’t provided any e-commerce functionality out of the box, so anyone wishing to sell on the platform will need a third-party solution like Ecwid.
There is a dedicated Ecwid plugin available for WordPress, so adding an Ecwid store to your WordPress site is very straightforward — you can get up and running with a few clicks.
You just sign up for an Ecwid account and then install the free WordPress plugin provided.
Ecwid and Squarespace
Squarespace comes with increasingly good e-commerce features, but it doesn’t currently facilitate multi-currency selling, and it’s a bit limited when it comes to dropshipping.
Integrating Ecwid with Squarespace allows you to bypass these limitations, and adding it to a Squarespace site is very easy: it’s a simple matter of adding a code block to a page and pasting some HTML into it.
Ecwid and Wix
If you’re a Wix user, you can use a dedicated Ecwid app to sell products on your site. You can also avail of preferential rates from Ecwid. The below video shows you how the integration works.
Interface and ease of use
Ecwid’s interface is pretty easy to use.
Like many similar online store builders, you get a vertical menu on the left which allows you to access key functionality, and the area on the right is used to display or edit associated products, site content and reports.
As with any e-commerce tool, you’ll need to spend a bit of of time getting your head around creating catalogues and product variants, setting up shipping rates and so on…but there is nothing here that should represent too much of a learning curve.
Matters are helped by an ‘onboarding checklist’ that is provided to you when you log in for the first time.
If you get stuck however, you can always get in touch with Ecwid’s support team – more on that later — or, if you’re on a ‘Business’ or ‘Unlimited’, you can take advantage of the included customization service (you get 2 hours and 12 hours customization time from Ecwid on these plans respectively).
Ecwid and GDPR
Please note: I am not a lawyer, so the below observations should not be interpreted as legal advice.
Since May 2018, business and website owners have a lot of additional legal responsibilities as a result of the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) rules.
There are several legal steps that the GDPR requires business owners to take to ensure compliance, and fairly serious penalties for not doing so (to the point where it’s a good idea to consult a lawyer about precisely what to do), but the key ones for prospective Ecwid users are probably as follows:
Display adequate privacy and cookie notices on your website.
Process and store data securely.
Get explicit consent from people signing up to mailing lists that it is okay to send them e-newsletters.
Provide a means to opt in or revoke consent to use of non-essential cookies on a website (and to log that consent).
Meeting the first three requirements with Ecwid is pretty straightforward.
Meeting the fourth requirement is more difficult, though. Whenever you use non-essential third party cookies on a website — for example a Facebook Ads pixel or a Google Analytics tag — you are legally obliged to give EU visitors to your website the option to switch these off before they continue to browse your store (even if your site is based outside the EU).
You are also obliged to log EU users’ consent to any non-essential cookies being used, and give them the option to revoke that consent at a later stage. Cookie banners are usually used to facilitate this, but the old ‘By using this site you are consenting to cookie usage…’ statement on a banner is not good enough any more — you need something more sophisticated.
This stops Google Analytics, Google Ads, Pinterest, Snapchat and Facebook using cookies to capture personal data unless a user has agreed to this, and you can also use it to prevent any order confirmation tracking code being run without the user’s consent too.
There’s also an option to let users revoke consent to cookie use too — so all in all, Ecwid performs pretty well from a GDPR point of view.
The level of customer support you get from Ecwid depends on the type of plan you’re on.
If you’re on the free plan, there’s no support (you’ll have to rely on forums and help pages for answers to any questions you may have).
If you’re on the $15-per-month Venture plan. you can expect live chat support; if you’re on a Business ($35) plan you get phone and live chat support; and the Unlimited plan ($99) gives you phone, live chat and ‘priority support’ (i.e., faster responses).
There’s another type of support available in the form of ‘customization hours,’ too. If you’re on an Ecwid ‘Busines’s or ‘Unlimited’ plan, you get two hours or 12 hours of assistance customizing your store. This is potentially very useful for users who are completely new to the whole area of e-commerce and web design.
So all in all, Ecwid’s support offering stacks up reasonably well against the support offerings of other similar products.
Ecwid review: conclusion
Overall, Ecwid is a cost-effective, powerful way to add e-commerce functionality to an existing site, or to place an online store on a Facebook page or other social media presence. If you’re building a standalone site, there are better options available — I’d be inclined to go for Shopify or BigCommerce — but ultimately Ecwid does what it says on the tin: lets you add e-commerce to any website — and easily too.
Ecwid deserves particular praise for the way it handles GDPR cookie consent and multi-currency selling. There is, however, a bit of room for improvement when it comes to SEO.
I’m going to end this Ecwid review with a full summary of the product’s pros and cons below, but the main things I like about it are its generous free plan; the way it can be used with any type of website; and the fact that it can add dropshipping functionality to platforms that don’t offer it.
As ever, it’s a case of try before you buy, and you can register for the free version of Ecwid here.
Pros and cons of using Ecwid
A totally free Ecwid plan is available, which is fairly generous in terms of features.
Ecwid represents a really simple way to add e-commerce to any existing website.
The product is cheap by comparison to other solutions.
Point-of-sale functionality is available, and there are quite a few ways to implement it.
Multi-currency selling is easy enough to implement (although you will need to pay for an app to do so).
It supports multi-language versions of your store.
Tax rates are applied automatically, meaning that you don’t have to worry about setting up state tax or VAT rules manually.
The store designs are responsive.
Plugins / apps are available for major platforms (like WordPress, Drupal and Wix).
Real time carrier quote functionality is available on all plans.
The ‘Instant Sites’ option is a good (and cheap) stopgap measure for merchants who need a store quickly.
A decent GDPR compliant cookie consent banner is provided out of the box — this is very welcome, and a feature that is quite unusual for hosted solutions to provide.
Phone support is only available on the more expensive plans.
The multi-currency functionality, whilst generally good, doesn’t display the local currency at the final stage of checkout.
There is a limited number of apps / integrations available in the Ecwid App store.
You can’t change product URLs, which isn’t ideal from an SEO point of view.
You can’t create AMP versions of product pages using Ecwid.
The free version doesn’t let you access any of the SEO features.
The Instant site feature, whilst useful, is rather limited in functionality (the lack of a blogging tool is the main omission, in my view).
Alternatives to Ecwid
If you’re starting an online store from scratch, then you’re spoiled for choice; there are many platforms available that allow you to build a standalone online store and the big hitters include Shopify, BigCommerce, Wix, Volusion and Squarespace (with Shopify and BigCommerce being the most fully-featured as far as e-commerce features go).
These Buy Buttons work in a similar way to Ecwid in that you add a snippet of code to your site to feature products or collections on it; however, whereas Ecwid allows you to effectively put a complete, fully functioning store on an existing site, the Shopify and BigCommerce options are considerably more basic.
WordPress users may also be interested in looking at WooCommerce to add an online store to their site.
Some of our other posts may be useful in evaluating the alternatives to Ecwid:
- Shopify Youtube review
(To see all relevant posts, check out our full e-commerce reviews section).
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