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Ecwid vs Shopify — which is better? In this comparison I’m going to put two well-known — but quite different — ecommerce platforms to the test. Read on to find out all about their key features, pros and cons, value for money and what the best alternatives are.
The quick take…
|Reasons to use Ecwid||Reasons to use Shopify|
|Totally free plan available||Much better for creating standalone stores|
|Turns any website into fully-featured online store||You can sell an unlimited number of products|
|No charges for using third-party payment gateways||Much better point-of-sale features|
|No limits on product options||Much stronger multi-currency selling tools|
|Selling digital files is easier||Abandoned cart saver on all plans|
|Built-in GPDR tools||Better SEO tools|
|Ecwid free trial >||Shopify free trial >|
Let’s start the full comparison with a key question…
What are Ecwid and Shopify?
The short answer: Shopify and Ecwid are tools for selling stuff.
Both platforms allow users without any coding knowledge to create an online store, upload products to it and manage inventory on an ongoing basis.
They’ve got quite different backgrounds and history, however.
Shopify was initially conceived as a tool that allowed users to create a brand new, standalone online store — i.e., a fully-functional website on a domain of their choosing — whereas Ecwid was designed to let people sell products on an existing site by adding a snippet of code to it.
(Hence the name ‘Ecwid’ — ‘ecommerce widget’).
In recent years however, the lines have become a bit blurred. You can now embed a Shopify product catalog on an existing site — and use Ecwid to build a standalone online store.
(I’ll discuss how both solutions perform these tasks shortly.)
Of the two products, Shopify is the older site builder — it was created in 2006 — and has a bigger userbase (Internet stats company Builtwith.com estimates that around 4.4 million websites are currently powered by the platform).
Ecwid was launched in 2009, with Builtwith.com estimating that it now powers nearly 946,000 sites. It was recently acquired by the point-of-sale solution company Lightspeed.
So that’s the history of Ecwid and Shopify — now what about their prices?
Ecwid offers you four plans — and the good news is, one of them is entirely free.
The USD prices for the plans are as follows:
Free — $0 per month
Venture — $19 per month
Business — $39 per month
Unlimited — $99 per month
(Pricing in other countries varies, however. In a lot of territories, Ecwid costs considerably more than in the USA. For example, the UK prices are around 24% higher than the US equivalents.)
The most obvious difference between the plans involves product limits — these increase in size as you go up the pricing ladder.
You are limited to 5 products on the free plan; this rises to 100 on ‘Venture’, 2,500 on ‘Business’ and, as the name suggests, an unlimited number on the ‘Unlimited’ plan.
It’s important note that on the free plan, you can’t use Ecwid to sell on key social channels (like Facebook or Instagram).
The Ecwid feature set becomes more extensive as you pay more — accessing features like abandoned cart saving, gift cards, point of sale features and more comprehensive support depends on the plan you’re on.
With all Ecwid plans, you can either embed your products on another site or create a basic standalone site, using Ecwid’s ‘Instant Site’ feature.
Note: if you’re a Wix user, you can start selling with Ecwid at a bit of a lower price — you can find out more about Wix and Ecwid pricing here.
Shopify provides 5 main pricing plans:
- Starter — $5 per month
- Basic — $39 per month
- Shopify — $105 per month
- Advanced — $399 per month
- Shopify Plus — pricing varies depending on requirements, but Shopify Plus fees typically start at $2,000 per month
All the Shopify plans allow you to sell an unlimited number of goods using as many categories as you like — the main differences include the number of user accounts you can have, along with access to professional reporting and real time carrier shipping.
The more you pay, the more you get on all counts.
With the exception of ‘Shopify Starter’, all the above plans allow you to create a standalone online store and accept payment at point of sale (i.e in a retail store, at a market stall etc.).
The ‘Starter’ plan is, like Ecwid, more about selling products elsewhere. It allows you to:
sell on Facebookand other social media channels
- sell on messaging apps (WhatsApp, Messenger etc.)
make use of a Shopify ‘Buy Button’ that allows you to embed and sell products on an existing site.
Unlike Ecwid, Shopify doesn’t give you access to an entirely free plan, but a free trial of the platform lets you test the product out.
The trial itself is very short — just 3 days — but on the plus side, when your three days are up, you get the option to avail of your first three months of service for just $1 per month. This means that you can get full access to Shopify for a long period for virtually nothing. This offer — which may not be around indefinitely — can be accessed here.
A quick note about the ‘Shopify Plus’ plan: this is designed with ‘enterprise’ users in mind — i.e., those with very particular needs regarding security and uptime, or advanced requirements when it comes to integrating Shopify with internal systems (CRM tools, databases etc.).
For most businesses however, one of the cheaper Shopify plans works fine. And speaking of cheap…
Both Ecwid and Shopify offer discounts if you pay upfront for a year’s service.
In the case of Ecwid, paying yearly gives you a 25% discount.
With Shopify, if you pay upfront for a year, prices are reduced by 25% for the ‘Basic,’ ‘Shopify’ and ‘Advanced plans’ — these work out at $29, $79 and $299 per month respectively when paid for on an annual basis.
Shopify changes their discount offering quite regularly however, and sometimes by location — you can see what discounts are currently available in your location by checking the pricing section of the Shopify website.
Pricing, of course, is just one part of the picture — and not necessarily the most important part!
So, let’s drill down into the specific ecommerce features you get with Ecwid and Shopify.
Have you seen our video comparison of Shopify vs Ecwid?
Both Ecwid and Shopify provide the basic features and functionality that you’d expect from an online store builder.
They both give you the ability to:
- sell physical and digital products
- accept a wide range of payment types
- manage inventory
- facilitate point-of-sale ecommerce
- define shipping rates and rules
However, there are some key differences that need to be flagged up.
Let’s explore these.
Payment gateways and transaction fees
A payment gateway is the software that processes your customer’s transactions securely. There are lots of companies that offer payment gateway services — well-known ones include Paypal, Stripe and Worldpay.
Ecwid and Shopify work with a very wide range of payment gateways — around 88 in the case of Ecwid; over 100 in the case of Shopify.
Additionally, Shopify offers its own payment processing option, ‘Shopify Payments.’ This is extremely easy to set up, and using it means that there are no transaction fees to worry about (so long as you’re on a ‘Basic’ plan or higher — 5% transaction fees apply to the ‘Starter’ plan regardless of whether you’re using Shopify Payments or another payment gateway).
(You will still need to factor in the usual credit card processing fees — but Shopify won’t take a cut of your sales).
However, Shopify Payments can only be used if you are selling from certain countries (see our Shopify review for a full list). If your country isn’t on the list, you will have to use a third-party payment gateway, and you will be charged a percentage of sales for doing so (varying from 0.5% to 2% depending on the plan you’re on). This will be on top of any fees charged by your chosen payment gateway provider.
With Ecwid, you must make use of a third-party payment gateway to process transactions.
On the plus side, you won’t be charged for doing so — but on the down side, you will have to factor in a little bit of time to configure your chosen payment processor.
Note: Ecwid users based in the US can now make use of ‘Lightspeed Payments,’ a new payment processing option created by the owners of Ecwid. This is extremely easy to enable and may in time become a ‘baked in’ payment gateway that is similar in nature to Shopify Payments.
Shopify is considerably more generous than Ecwid when it comes to the number of products you can host in your store — you can host an unlimited number, regardless of the plan you’re on.
With Ecwid, you are limited to 5 products on the free plan; 100 on its $19 per month ‘Venture’ plan; and 2,500 on its $39 per month ‘Business’ plan.
Only the $99 per month ‘Unlimited’ plan — as its name suggests — lets you upload an unrestricted number of products.
With Shopify, you are limited to just 3 product options per product.
For example, if you were selling a birthday card on Shopify, you could allow users to choose card size, card colour and envelope type — but if you wanted to allow them to choose envelope colour as well, you wouldn’t be able to.
Now, this limit won’t be a showstopper for many merchants — and if it is, there are workarounds available. You can buy a Shopify app that removes the limitations; combine two options into one; create separate products; or do some coding to add more options.
But it would be better if Shopify’s product option limits were more generous in the first place.
Ecwid, by contrast, is much more straightforward in this regard and doesn’t limit product options at all.
Another issue with Shopify’s product options is that allowing your customers to provide bespoke information for items — for example, some text for an engraving or a gift message — is not possible without either adding some code to a product template, or investing in an app (quite a few are available from Shopify’s app store which give remove the above limitations).
Again, Ecwid works better here — so long as you’re on a paid-for plan, you can just add a simple text box or file upload button to your products to capture any additional information that you might need to fulfil an order.
For many users, Shopify’s three 3 options and its limitations around data capture won’t really pose problems.
But for users who do have more complex requirements in this area, and want to create a standalone hosted ecommerce site, I’d suggest taking a look at BigCommerce, which is more flexible in this regard.
Overall though in a Shopify vs Ecwid debate, when it comes to ‘out of the box’ flexibility on product options, it’s a win for Ecwid.
But what about product categories?
Shopify video review
Most online stores are likely to make use of different product collections / categories — for example, in a car parts store you might expect to find collections containing tyres, exhaust pipes, batteries, headlights and so on.
Setting up collections in Shopify and Ecwid is straightforward enough, but Shopify’s approach is, in my view, considerably better — not only can you add products manually to collections with Shopify, you can create ones that are automatically populated with products based on on conditions you supply.
In other words, you can create ‘smart categories’ with Shopify (which the company refers to as ‘automated collections’).
This involves using various criteria to populate a collection — for example, product title, tags, price or weight.
So, using our car parts store example again, to populate an ‘exhausts’ collection, you could just tell Shopify to automatically add any product with the word ‘exhaust’ in its title to it.
This is particularly useful functionality to have handy if your store contains a very large number of products — but you will have to remember to use consistent naming conventions for your product titles to make it work.
Although Ecwid does let you use filters to help speed up category assignment — and lets you assign products to multiple categories at once via a ‘bulk editor’ tool — it doesn’t yet provide similar ‘smart collection’ functionality, so Shopify definitely has an edge here.
Something to watch out for: product variants
If you were selling T-shirts in different sizes and colors, a small blue t-shirt would count as one variant; a large red t-shirt would count as another.
You can only use these product variants — i.e., combinations of product options — if you are on one of the more expensive Ecwid plans (the $39 per month ‘Business’ plan or higher).
By contrast you can use product variants (up to 100 of them) on any Shopify plan.
Selling digital goods
Both Ecwid and Shopify allow you to sell digital goods — eBooks, music products, videos and so on. Interestingly, Shopify also lets you sell ‘non-fungible tokens’, which some digital creators might find useful.
(Ecwid only lets you sell digital products on a paid-for plan, however).
You can sell digital products on any Shopify plan, but it involves installing a free ‘Digital Downloads’ app. Although this is not particularly complicated, it would be better — as is the case with Ecwid — if you could just sell digital goods out of the box.
Ecwid is also more generous when it comes to the limit it places on file sizes — you can sell files up to 25GB in size, while Shopify’s equivalent limit is 5GB.
Now you can use third-party apps in conjunction with your Shopify store to increase this limit — but you’ll usually need to pay extra for the privilege.
So, if you have a need to sell large digital files to your customers, it’s a win for Ecwid.
Point of sale (POS)
Point of sale, or POS, lets you use your online store solution to sell in physical locations like markets, pop-up shops or even retail outlets. Both Shopify and Ecwid come with quite a few POS features, but they work in different ways.
With Ecwid, you use third-party services to gain professional POS functionality — these include Square, Clover, Vend and Alice.
The sort of point of sale hardware that you can use (card readers, barcode scanners and so on) varies by provider and according to which country you’re based in.
But if you already use one of those services to take payments in a physical store, you may find Ecwid a very nice fit indeed.
The key thing to watch out for is cost. Although all paid-for Ecwid plans let you make use of a basic bundled mobile POS system, powered by Square or PayPal Zettle, connecting your Ecwid store to one of the other POS solutions mentioned above will require you to sign up to the most expensive ‘Unlimited’ Ecwid plan.
And the other thing to note about using either Square or PayPal Zettle as your POS option is that the number of countries it works in is limited.
Square only works in 6 countries — Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, the UK and the US. PayPal Zettle works in 13 — Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the US.
(PayPal Zettle is being rolled out to more countries at the moment, however).
With Shopify, POS is more ‘baked in’ and is thus arguably a bit easier and cheaper to set up. You can order any POS hardware online directly from Shopify if you live in one of the following countries:
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- United States.
If you live outside these countries you can still purchase this hardware, but will need to find an authorized reseller.
The standard Shopify POS features are reasonably good and will cater adequately for most merchants — but it’s worth noting that in order to unlock all the Shopify POS features, you have to pay for a ‘Shopify POS Pro’ add-on. This is quite expensive: $89 per location, per month (unless you’re on a Shopify Plus plan, in which case ‘POS Pro’ is bundled with your subscription).
Paying for this add-on does unlock quite a wide range of POS features however, and lets you:
- work with an unlimited number of POS staff and registers
- facilitate ‘buy online, pick up in store’
- facilitate exchanges
- provide custom printed receipts
- define staff roles and permissions
- attribute sales to individual staff members
- access in-store analytics
- create purchase orders.
You can learn more about Shopify Point of Sale here.
All-in-one POS via Shopify POS Go
Until recently, the only way to connect POS hardware items to your Shopify store was via a tablet or smartphone, but there is now a dedicated device available — ‘Shopify POS Go‘ — that offers a more ‘all in one’ solution.
‘POS Go’ looks deceptively like a smartphone, but comes with a built-in barcode scanner and card reader, and connects to your Shopify account over WiFi. This makes POS particularly easy to get started with.
It’s not cheap however: Shopify ‘POS Go’ currently retails at $399; and, for now, it is only available to US Shopify merchants.
Abandoned cart saving
Something worth paying particular attention to when it comes to ecommerce platform selection is abandoned cart recovery functionality.
This allows you to automatically email store visitors who added something to their cart but didn’t complete their purchase. (Typically, you’d include a discount code in this email to encourage recipients to go ahead with the purchase).
Abandoned cart recovery emails tend to have a success rate of around 15% to 28% — so this functionality is very important.
Both Shopify and Ecwid allow you to send abandoned cart recovery emails easily, but Shopify has an edge here.
First, it provides the feature at a lower price point — this feature is included on all Shopify plans, even the $5 ‘Starter’ plan. Ecwid users by contrast have to pay a minimum of $39 per month to avail of the feature.
Shopify’s abandoned cart saver is more sophisticated than Ecwid’s too, allowing you to send automated messages based on whether a user has:
- abandoned their cart during checkout
- left your store with items in their cart, but without starting checkout
- browsed products on your store, but not added them to a cart.
As you can see from the below screenshot, Shopify also lets you add conditions and actions to each step of the recovery process — this gives you the option to create an extremely ‘bespoke’ customer journey.
There’s still a lot going for Ecwid’s abandoned cart saving feature though. Because it’s bundled with Ecwid’s $39 plan, this key feature is available more cheaply from Ecwid than from several of its key competitors.
(For example, Squarespace requires you to be on a $65 per month plan to access this feature, and BigCommerce requires you to be on a $105 per month plan to do so.)
And in a nice touch, Ecwid’s abandoned cart functionality sends email in AMP format. This feature aims to make Ecwid’s abandoned cart emails more compelling by including live, interactive product information in the abandoned cart message, in a layout that mimics your store’s product pages. Without leaving the email, users can:
- flick through a product carousel
- zoom into product images
- open product descriptions.
This is a fairly unique feature — I haven’t come across any other ecommerce platform that currently sends AMP emails.
But overall, when it comes to abandoned cart saving, the winner is Shopify.
Dropshipping in Ecwid vs Shopify
Many users are drawn to ecommerce solutions like Ecwid and Shopify because they want to start a dropshipping business.
Dropshipping is a way of selling goods without manufacturing or stocking anything — you take an order, send it to a supplier, and they fulfil the order.
A video guide to dropshipping
Free Shopify dropshipping starter kit | Subscribe on YouTube
The advantage of this selling model is that you don’t have to invest in lots of stock to set up your online business — instead, your money can go straight into marketing it.
The disadvantage is that dropshipping is very competitive — there are lots of people at this game — and it can be hard to find suppliers of goods that are produced ethically (as many of them are made in the Far East, where working conditions can be very poor).
Neither Shopify nor Ecwid facilitate dropshipping ‘out of the box’ but the good news is that it’s still really easy to dropship with both platforms — you just need to add an app to your store.
Dropshipping in Shopify is simply a case of adding an app like Printful, Spocket or DSers to your store (there are hundreds of others available), picking some goods you’d like to sell, and putting your site live.
How to dropship with Shopify — video guide
Free Shopify dropshipping starter kit | Subscribe on YouTube
Similarly, you can also dropship with Ecwid using apps such as Wholesale2B, Syncee, Spocket or Xcatalog.
Overall however, there are far more dropshipping options available from Shopify. While Ecwid currently offers its users just 11, there are 450 dropshipping apps available for Shopify.
The Shopify dropshipping starter kit
If you’re interested in dropshipping, I’d recommend that you take a look at Shopify’s dropshipping starter kit — with this, you get a free Shopify trial plus lots of bundled resources and tools that show you how to launch a successful Shopify dropshipping store.
You generally get more online sales if you sell in the currency used by your store visitors. So, if you’re selling your products in a lot of different countries, it’s a good idea to let your potential customers buy in their own currency.
Unlike some competing products — notably Wix and Squarespace — Shopify lets you do this out of the box (so long as you are using its built-in payment gateway, Shopify Payments). Using IP address data, Shopify displays a prompt to users to pick the most appropriate country / currency based on their location.
This works pretty well, but I would prefer if fully automatic currency conversion was used by Shopify (i.e., where prices are just displayed in the relevant local currency and the user doesn’t have to intervene to select one).
As things stand, automatic currency conversion is only available if you’re on a Shopify Plus plan (which will set you back at least $2,000 per month) or using a third-party app.
And significantly, Shopify only lets you set custom product prices for individual countries if you’re on the ‘Advanced’ or ‘Plus’ plans — this isn’t ideal, as there are often occasions where you need to market your products at quite different prices points in different markets.
Selling multiple currencies using Ecwid also involves using an app — the appropriately named ‘Currency Converter’ app, which costs $4.49 per month.
The Currency Converter app makes it very easy to display prices in up to 130 local currencies automatically — my only problem with it is that the original currency gets displayed again at the final stage of the purchase, which may confuse buyers a bit. That aside, it works well.
The bottom line on multi-currency selling with Shopify and Ecwid is that it’s doable with both platforms — with Shopify’s implementation arguably a bit better (and, significantly, free).
However, some platforms — notably BigCommerce — arguably handle multi-currency selling a bit better than either Shopify or Ecwid. On all plans, BigCommerce gives you fully automatic currency conversion based on IP address plus the ability to set custom prices for individual countries.
Selling products in different languages
Both Shopify and Ecwid facilicate multilingual selling.
In the case of Shopify, you can create versions of your store in up to 20 different languages on the ‘Basic’ or higher plans.
You do this via the new ‘Shopify Markets’ feature, which lets you define selling areas — ‘markets’ based on country or groups of countries. You can then manage currencies, languages, local domains and payment processors for these markets all in one place.
When you enable multi-language selling in Shopify, a language ‘folder’ is added to your domain. So you’ll end up with myshop.com/fr, myshop.com/de etc. You can also use an ‘international domain’ — myshop.fr, myshop.de etc. — to host foreign-language versions of your store.
Ecwid’s multilingual features work in a different way — you can switch on an automatic translation feature, which function in up to 53 languages (you can choose which ones to work with).
This automatically detects what language a user’s browser is working in, and translates key components of your site — button text, social sharing tools and other important store labels — accordingly; for other components, like product descriptions, a manual translation will be required.
However, if you’re considering using Ecwid for a multilingual WordPress site, you should note that you’ll also need to install a dedicated language plugin like WPML or PolyLang to present your store in multiple languages.
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Automatic tax calculation tools
Ecwid and Shopify are both ahead of the pack when it comes to tax rules and calculations — you can set both platforms up so that they detect your store visitors’ locations automatically and apply the relevant tax rate at checkout.
Significantly, neither Ecwid nor Shopify restricts automatic tax calculation to US users — both platforms’ tax tools are designed to work in multiple territories (including the EU, UK, South Africa, Singapore and several other territories).
And helpfully, these tax calculations are applied not just to sales of physical products but digital ones too — meaning that both solutions cater adequately for the EU’s VAT MOSS requirements (something that can’t be said for many other online store builders).
Note: a special tax calculation service has recently been introduced for US Shopify merchants: ‘Shopify Tax.’ This improves the accuracy of tax calculations for US store owners, gives tax estimates to customers, and provides tax liability insights to merchants. You should note however that if your annual sales exceed $100,000, additional fees will apply.
Both Shopify and Ecwid give you a comprehensive set of shipping options — you can opt to add flat rates, free shipping, rates based on weight, in-person pickup etc.
When it comes to providing real-time rates from carriers to your customers, however, there are some differences to be aware of.
Ecwid has a built-in integration with the following carrier companies to automatically show their shipping rates for customers’ orders at checkout:
UPS (US and Canada)
Canada Post (Canada)
Royal Mail (UK)
Brasil Correios (Brazil)
MDS Collivery (South Africa)
Australia Post (Australia)
EMS Russian Post (Russia)
Shopify provides real-time shipping rates for the following carriers:
UPS (Canada and US, not available in Puerto Rico)
DHL Express (US)
Canada Post (Canada)
- DPD (UK)
- Evri (UK)
- Chronopost (France)
- Collissimo (France)
- Mondial Relay (France)
- Poste Italiane (Italy)
- Correos (Spain)
If you want to provide quotes from any other shipping carriers on a Shopify store, you’ll have to be prepared to pay extra to do so — this functionality is only available if:
- you pay an additional monthly fee
- you have subscribed to an annual ‘Shopify’ plan
- you’re on the $399 ‘Advanced Shopify’ plan or higher.
However, if you do live in one of the countries that Shopify provides built-in real-time carrier quotes for, you can avail of very significant discounts in shipping costs (depending on plan). These can go as high as 88% on the higher-tier plans.
Shipping discounts are also available from Ecwid, but only via USPS and only up to 50% in value.
The more generous discounts available from Shopify mean that depending on your country of operation, there may be an advantage using Shopify over Ecwid when it comes to real-time shipping quotes.
How to save on Shopify
If you’re interested in using Shopify, you can save a large amount of money your subscription if you purchase your plan in a particular way. Here’s how:
- Start a trial using this link.
- When your trial is over, you’ll be given the option to use Shopify for $1 per month for three months. Avail of this offer (it might not be around indefinitely).
- At the end of the period, choose an annual plan. This gives you a 10% to 50% discount on your Shopify plan, depending on your location.
Embedding products on other sites with Ecwid and Shopify
As discussed above, Ecwid is, first and foremost, a tool for adding ecommerce features to an existing website; and by contrast, Shopify is more geared towards building brand new, fully-fledged ecommerce websites.
But with Shopify’s “Buy Buttons,” technically you can also use Shopify to add a shopping cart to an existing website too.
(The Shopify ‘Starter’ plan is designed with this fairly exclusively in mind.)
The difference between using a Shopify Buy Button and integrating Ecwid on your site is that with Ecwid, you get all the functionality of an online store — your site visitors can make use of product search, multi-currency selling, category filtering, product sorting and other key ecommerce features.
And everything happens on your site, including checkout, which makes for a smooth buying process.
You should note however that Shopify ‘Buy Buttons’ — although useful and easy to set up — only really let you display individual products or collections, and when your customers check out, they’re taken to a separate Shopify checkout page.
And Shopify Buy Buttons don’t facilitate multi-currency selling, which could be a big drawback for any merchants wishing to sell internationally.
So as things stand, I feel Ecwid is the more powerful tool for adding ecommerce to an existing site.
Creating standalone ecommerce stores in Shopify and Ecwid
While Ecwid is a better option for adding online selling features to an existing website, there’s no question that Shopify is the better option for users who want to build a brand new, fully-featured, standalone online store.
Its extensive range of templates (12 free and 123 paid-for), content management system, blogging features and extensive app store all allow you to create not just a storefront but a professional, multi-page website.
Whilst Ecwid does now boast a feature — ‘Instant Site’ — which lets you build a standalone store, it’s pretty basic, allowing you to create a one-page site featuring your products alongside information about your business.
The aesthetics are good, and the results can be pretty impressive, but ultimately it’s not a substitute for a proper website.
The main advantage of the ‘Instant Site’ feature is that it allows a beginner to put something together and sell products really quickly — it’s a really good option for starting a side hustle with.
It’s also a very useful feature for anyone needing to create a holding site or landing page during the build of a more comprehensive online store.
Additionally, the range of themes on offer for an Instant Site is generous: you can choose from 79 Ecwid templates.
But ultimately it’s not going to compete with Shopify when it comes to functionality.
So, if your main aim is to build a standalone online store, the better product of the two is definitely Shopify.
Integrations and apps
If you’d like to beef up the functionality of an Ecwid or Shopify store, or integrate another tool with either platform, you can make use of their respective app stores.
These contain a selection of apps that add particular pieces of functionality (dropshipping, reporting, popups etc.) along with integrations with other key business apps and services. A mixture of paid-for and free apps is available.
In the case of Ecwid however, you’re dealing with quite a limited selection of apps — there are around 249 in its ‘app market’, a number that is completely dwarfed by the 8,000+ available for Shopify.
This means that although integrations for some pretty important apps like Freshbooks, Shipstation and Printful exist for Ecwid, you’ll generally find it easier to integrate Shopify with a wider range of well-known apps.
Although the range of integrations for Ecwid is relatively small by comparison to Shopify’s, you should note that it’s possible to use Zapier to connect additional services to Ecwid.
Zapier is a popular ‘syncing app’ that allows you to create your own customized integrations between a wide range of online apps.
The only issue with this is that Zapier brings a set of additional fees to proceedings, plus you’ll need to spend a bit of time configuring it to work with Ecwid and whatever app you want to connect.
So overall, because its app store is better stocked and brings a greater degree of flexibility when it comes to integrating other tools with your online store, the winner in the app store department is definitely Shopify.
SEO features in Ecwid and Shopify
Search engine optimization in Shopify is generally very strong: it’s easy to tweak all the major SEO components — headers, page titles, URLs, meta data and so on.
(If you’re new to SEO, you might want to read our introduction to increasing site visibility in search results).
Although Ecwid performs reasonably well on all these fronts too (so long as you’re on a paid plan), it’s worth singling out some areas where Shopify outperforms Ecwid in SEO terms: URL creation, AMP format and meeting Core Web Vitals requirements.
In terms of URL creation, you can create clean URLs easily with Shopify (a practice that Google recommends). You can also change these URLs as you please — and create a redirect from old URLs to new ones (this is important for keeping your content and products indexed properly in search engines).
You can also create short, SEO-friendly URLs using Ecwid. However, you don’t have total control over these — they will be based on the titles you give your products, not text you enter into a dedicated URL field. And, significantly, there doesn’t appear to be any way to change existing product URLs or create redirects to other ones. This isn’t ideal, to be honest.
Furthermore, if you’re using Ecwid on certain platforms you will need to make some technical changes to your server configuration and Ecwid code to enable SEO-friendly URLs properly.
This issue doesn’t affect Wix, WordPress and Instant Site users — but if you’re using a custom-built website or a different site builder, some development work may be involved to get this feature working properly.
Another edge that Shopify has over Ecwid involves something called AMP: Accelerated Mobile Pages format.
Pages in AMP format basically load faster on smartphones, leading to an improved mobile experience for users, and potentially some SEO benefits (search engines are believed to reward faster-loading pages over sluggish ones by ranking them slightly higher in search).
With the addition of a third-party app in Shopify, it’s possible to display all your site content in AMP format — this is not possible with Ecwid.
(Note: this is not to be confused with AMP Email, which as discussed above, is for creating interactive emails — and is something that Ecwid, rather uniquely, does support).
Core web vitals
Core Web Vitals are a set of targets relating to the speed, responsiveness and visual stability of a website; and sites that meet them can sometimes receive a slight improvement in performance in Google search results.
Shopify enjoys a bit of an edge over Ecwid here, because tools are available (in the form of third-party apps) to help you tweak your store in ways that will help you meet Core Web Vitals standards.
With Ecwid, you may have to take more manual steps — including possibly some coding — to ensure that you’re following best practice as far as Core Web Vitals goes.
So the bottom line on SEO? Well, although it is possible to optimize an Ecwid store successfully for search engines, it’s hard not to conclude that the better option on this front is Shopify.
If you want to let a lot of users access either an Ecwid or a Shopify account, you’ll need to be aware that tighter limits apply to the number of ‘seats’ you can have on Shopify.
On the ‘Basic’ Shopify plan, 2 users can access your account; on the ‘Shopify’ plan the limit is 5; and the ‘Advanced Shopify’ plan it’s 15.
By contrast, Ecwid lets you have an unlimited number of seats on its ‘Unlimited’ plan, which may suit some merchants better (the seat limit for the other plans is 1 on the ‘Free’ and ‘Venture’ plans, and 2 users on the ‘Business’ ones).
Please note: I am not a lawyer, so the below observations should not be interpreted as formal legal advice.
Meeting most GDPR requirements with either Ecwid or Shopify is fairly straightforward, but it’s worth zooming in on one of them: cookie consent.
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.
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.
Out of the box there is no way to facilitate this kind of GDPR cookie consent for third party scripts on Shopify, meaning that many users end up breaking the law as soon as they add a third-party cookie to their website.
The good news however is that there quite a few apps in Shopify’s app store which provide GDPR-compliant banners and cookie consent functionality (note that some seem considerably better than others — if in doubt about how robust a particular Shopify GPDR app is, consult a lawyer!).
Ecwid also provides a way for your site visitors to revoke consent at a later stage.
So, although you can definitely make a Shopify site GDPR compliant, I’d give Ecwid a slight win here, simply because it provides pretty strong cookie consent functionality as a built-in feature.
Interface and ease of use
Ecwid and Shopify have pretty similar content management systems: you use a main menu on the left which you use to access all the main features.
Any product uploading or management is done on the right hand side of the interface.
One area where Ecwid’s CMS definitely outperforms Shopify’s involves image management — in Shopify, you have to ensure that all your products share the aspect same ratio before uploading (not doing this makes for a very messy looking store). This can mean a lot of photo editing in Photoshop before you can upload all your products.
Ecwid simply allows you to apply an image ratio globally to all your product pictures — a huge time saver.
Additionally, both platforms provide you with mobile apps (for both iOS and Android) that allow you to perform key tasks on the go; you can use these apps to handle order fulfilment, inventory management, customer support etc.
The main Shopify and Ecwid apps have both been well received by iOS users, scoring 4.5 and 4.6 out of 5 on the Apple store respectively. The Android version of the Ecwid app beats the Shopify equivalent however, receiving 4.5 out of 5 to Shopify’s 3.9.
Overall, I’d say that both platforms are easy to use and anyone with modest experience of computing shouldn’t expect too much of a learning curve from either.
Shopify tutorial for beginners
Shopify trial | Guide to starting a Shopify store | Launch checklist for Shopify
Reporting in Shopify vs Ecwid
Basic sales stats are available in Ecwid out of the box (visitors, orders received, total revenue etc.), but to get more detailed information on how your store is performing you’ll need to install a third-party reporting app. Several are available, but not all of these are free.
Shopify provides a similar range of basic stats ‘out of the box’ — you just go to the ‘Analytics’ section of your Shopify control panel to view them. However, unless you are on a $105+ Shopify plan, you don’t get access to full, professional reports — just a dashboard containing fairly basic sales statistics.
The other option with both Ecwid and Shopify is to use Google Analytics to track traffic, behaviour and sales — but you will need to spend a bit of time configuring this.
Ultimately both Ecwid and Shopify could do a bit better in the analytics department.
(For the record, neither platform is as good as BigCommerce when it comes to offering a comprehensive reporting option out of the box / at a low price point. See the below video for more details on this platform, or learn more about it here).
BigCommerce video review
Both Shopify and Ecwid offer email and live chat support on their entry-level plans; moving up to a more expensive plan — the $39 ‘Basic’ Shopify plan or the $39 Ecwid ‘Business’ plan — gives you phone support too.
It’s important to note that if you want to use the Ecwid free plan, support is limited to live chat, and is only available for the first 30 days of your plan (you can, however, make use of the various online support materials and video tutorials indefinitely).
It’s good to see phone support included on Shopify and Ecwid plans; not all competing online store building tools provide it (notably Squarespace).
One thing you should note is that Shopify support is available in more languages than Ecwid — over 20 languages are catered for, which compares positively to Ecwid’s seven.
But Ecwid gives you something on the support front that Shopify doesn’t: ‘customization hours.’ If you subscribe to an Ecwid ‘Business’ or ‘Unlimited’ plan, you can avail of 2 or 12 hours personalized support respectively.
Ecwid vs Shopify conclusion
Ultimately, if you’re a small business that’s building an ecommerce site entirely from scratch, then it’s hard to argue against Shopify — a user-friendly product that will let you build an elegant standalone online store easily. Although Ecwid, thanks to its ‘Instant Site’ feature, does now provide you with a way to build a standalone site too, the functionality provided by it is nowhere near as comprehensive as what you’ll get from Shopify.
However, if you already have a website, or are particularly wedded to using a particular platform, then Ecwid is usually the more obvious choice here. It allows you to add full selling capabilities to an existing online presence with a minimum of fuss, and provides you with all the tools you need to turn any website into an online store.
(In particular, Ecwid is a particularly good fit for Wix or WordPress users, integrating neatly with both platforms).
Shopify ‘Buy Buttons,’ whilst allowing you to do some simple selling on existing websites, don’t really provide the full online store experience or features that Ecwid can bring to a website that’s already live.
I’ll sum up with a few more reasons why you might pick one of these tools over the other.
Reasons to choose Ecwid over Shopify
A totally free plan is available which is well-featured, and may meet the needs of anyone who just wants to sell a couple of products on their website.
Ecwid allows you to turn any existing website into a fully-featured online store — Shopify’s Buy Buttons, whilst useful, don’t bring quite as much functionality to the table.
There are no charges for using a third-party payment gateway (Shopify will charge transaction fees if you don’t use its built-in payment gateway).
There are no limits on product options (Shopify only facilitates 3 out of the box).
Ecwid makes capturing bespoke information easier (text for engravings, files for images etc.).
Selling digital files is easier with Ecwid, and the file size limit is more generous (25GB to Shopify’s 5GB).
Product image management is easier in Ecwid.
Thanks to more integrations with more carriers (in more countries), there are more options available when it comes to real-time carrier shipping quotes.
You can create GDPR-compliant cookie banners out of the box with Ecwid.
Reasons to choose Shopify over Ecwid
You can create a fully-fledged, sophisticated standalone online store with Shopify.
You can host an unlimited number of products on any Shopify plan.
A larger selection of payment gateways is available for Shopify —this gives you more ways to accept payments.
Point-of-sale is more tightly integrated with Shopify than with Ecwid — you don’t need to integrate a third-party platform or be on a higher-tier plan to gain POS features.
Abandoned cart saving functionality is available more cheaply from Shopify.
There are more dropshipping options available for Shopify than Ecwid.
Shopify multi-currency selling options are more comprehensive, and let store visitors check out in their own currency.
There are considerably more apps and integrations available for Shopify than Ecwid..
So long as you’re based in the right country, and happy to use one of Shopify’s preferred carriers, you can avail of some very significant reductions in shipping costs with Shopify.
The SEO tools and features in Shopify are considerably stronger.
- Shopify customer support is available in more languages than Ecwid’s.
Alternatives to Ecwid and Shopify
If you’re looking for a hosted solution for your online store, we’d recommend BigCommerce as a really good alternative to Shopify. You can read our BigCommerce review here.
BigCommerce vs Shopify video comparison
BigCommerce trial | Shopify trial | Full BigCommerce vs Shopify comparison
Other good hosted solutions for ecommerce include Squarespace, Big Cartel, GoDaddy, Wix and Jimdo. See our Squarespace review, Squarespace pricing guide, Squarespace free trial guide and Wix review for more information on these website builders.
Shopify vs Squarespace video comparison
Shopify trial | Squarespace trial | Shopify vs Squarespace comparison
Our Squarespace video review
Our Big Cartel vs Shopify, Wix vs Squarespace and Squarespace vs WordPress comparisons may help here too.
Wix vs Shopify video comparison
Wix free trial | Shopify free trial | Full Wix vs Shopify comparison
If you are running a WordPress site and want a store that ‘slots into’ your site in a similar fashion to Ecwid, then WooCommerce is definitely worth a look. Make sure you check out our Shopify vs WooCommerce comparison to get a sense of how this leading ecommerce plugin for WordPress stacks up against Shopify.
WooCommerce vs Shopify video comparison
Finally, you could consider using an online marketplace like Etsy, eBay or Amazon to sell online.
Although these platforms work in quite different ways to hosted solutions like Ecwid and Shopify, you can nonetheless get a successful online store off the ground with them. If you’re interested in finding out more about selling this way, our Shopify vs Etsy, Shopify vs eBay and Amazon vs Shopify comparisons are good starting points.
Ecwid vs Shopify FAQ
Are Shopify and Ecwid good for beginners?
Yes. Shopify and Ecwid are designed for a ‘non-coding’ audience, so both are pretty easy for ecommerce and web design novices to use.
Can I use Shopify and Ecwid for free?
Yes. In the case of Ecwid, an entirely free plan is available. A free trial is available for Shopify.
Which is better for SEO, Shopify or Ecwid?
On balance Shopify is the better bet for SEO. You have more control over more SEO components, and importantly can create and change SEO-friendly URLs more easily.
Can I build a standalone store with Ecwid?
Yes — its ‘Instant Site’ feature lets you do this. However, the features it provides do not yet compete with Shopify’s offering on this front.
How we tested these products — and why you can trust this comparison
We tested these products via independent research and, more importantly, via hands-on experience of them.
We regularly help clients build online stores using a variety of different platforms, and have extensive knowledge of how both Ecwid and Shopify work. So this comparison is based on building many stores from scratch; editing existing ones; and using a wide variety of apps to configure them.
Although our work is supported by affiliate advertising commissions, we believe in an ethical approach to product reviews and strive to be 100% impartial at all times. If you have any queries about our approach, do feel free to contact us anytime.
If you’re interested in learning more about the way we test ecommerce platforms, take a look at our ecommerce platforms buying guide, which lists the criteria we typically use to evaluate ecommerce products.
Now…over to you!
Got any views on Shopify vs Ecwid? Thinking about using a different website builder? Just leave a comment below. We read all user comments, and will do our very best to help answer any queries you may have.
Related Shopify and Ecwid content
For more information about Shopify and Ecwid, check out:
- our full Shopify review
- our ‘What is Shopify?’ explainer
- our step-by-step guide on how to create a Shopify store
- our full Ecwid review
- our YouTube Shopify review
- our YouTube Wix review
- our Wix vs Shopify comparison
- our Printful review
- our full ecommerce reviews section.
Thanks Chris, incredibly helpful
No worries Mike – I’m glad the comparison was of use 🙂
Really good article, thank you for explaining pros and cons! I’m starting my small online business and decided to give it a go with Ecwid because it really seems it could work for me after reading ur article! Many thanks!
No problems Ananda, I’m glad you found our Ecwid vs Shopify comparison useful 🙂
Great article, great website. I’m just getting started and am looking to use the Ecwid instant site with one page – will I be able to sell the 10 products we have on our Facebook page, and will we be able to run Facebook ads that would lead customers to our Ecwid page or Facebook page?
Thanks for the kind words Eric! Depending on what you’re selling, you shouldn’t have any problems doing this – full details about the Ecwid and Facebook integration are here: https://support.ecwid.com/hc/en-us/articles/115005892705-Selling-on-Facebook
Hope this helps, Chris
How to integrate Ecwid to existing website? I use Google sites and iframe to do the integration. It sucks when it comes to customer registration. The Ecwid brings the customer to a blank page instead of the customer account page. Customer service of Ecwid said there is no solution to this issue. How about integration for other website?
Immensely helpful article. Thanks so much for taking the pain out of comparing these two options and for the thorough analysis of each one.
Thanks for the feedback Jihaan, thanks for reading and I’m glad you found the comparison useful 🙂
Very interesting and complete analysis. Helped a lot!! Thanks!!! Carlos
Thank you, this is super helpful. I’m wondering if you’re familiar with using Clover POS with either Shopify or Ecwid. My client needs a new website with a few pages in addition to an online store of around 400 products. We want to be able to migrate the inventory from Clover to the online store, BUT still have some ability to control the design. Do recommend on over the other? And, for Shopify do you know the best way to integrate with Clover?
Hi Nancy, many thanks for the kind words!
There is an official integration for Clover with Ecwid – details here:
Shopify POS is more of an ‘out of the box’ affair, so there’s less of an emphasis on integrations with other POS systems. That said, they do exist — I found one syncing tool which might help here:
With regard to store design, your options are more extensive really with Shopify than Ecwid, because Shopify is a template driven system and there are lots available for it. Ecwid is more about slotting into a website that’s already been built and making use of that site’s existing design.
Lots of detail in your comparison! Inventory management is an interesting thing and I have yet to read any blog that touches on this very basic inventory need; the ability to run an inventory report. Ecwid cannot currently provide any data on stock levels if you use options and variations. It’s a very old complaint based on Ecwid support forum posts going back to 2013 and it remains an issue. It’s very difficult to manage inventory when you don’t know what you have in stock or what you need to replenish.
This was a really informative blog post – thank you! Would love to see something comparing ecwid and plugnpaid 🙂
Thanks Leann – we’ll try to get around to a comparison of those two products at some point!
ECWID is already having AMP pages, Check out this https://www.ecwid.com/blog/dont-panic-its-dynamic-how-amp-emails-are-changing-e-commerce.htmlI hope I am correct?
Hi there, Ecwid provides AMP for email functionality, which is useful but different. It allows you to send ‘dynamic’ notification emails which automatically update themselves based on an external data source.
They also let you display dynamic content within an email. For example, with Ecwid’s dynamic abandoned cart emails, customers can click through the product carousel, zoom product images, and open product descriptions right without leaving their email program or visiting a website.
Shopify integrates with more payment gateways, but since they’re after the processing revenues as well, Shopify charges an extra percentage on top of the processing fees charged via the merchant account for the gateway. It’s a feature that’s not really a benefit, since Shopify basically prices you to where you’d have to use their processing.
I am a geek so I tend to focus on the technical features. One thing that the review has not touched on is the quality of the APIs. Every marketplace has an API that allows you to automate your drop-shipping. So, for example, automatically adding new products, updating stock levels, pricing, etc. APIs also allow you to synchronize orders back to a drop-shipper.
The more complex the API, the more difficult it is to integrate. Shopify is very clean and well documented. There are a lot of generic plugins and other apps that are built on it. But one thing I found is that it is very bad at batch updates. Let’s say you have 10,000 products to update. With Shopify you have to update them one at a time. To compound that they impose a 2 request/s limit. So it will take almost two hours to complete. BigCommerce has a better way to do this but then you have other tradeoffs.
I talk about drop-shipping automation on my YouTube channel if you want to learn more (warning, lots of geeky stuff 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYyNQkBavu0x19SWIyl8uSA
Who wants to buy apps if you’re already paying for Shopify? Also, you missed the fact that with Ecwid you can also list on eBay, Google Shopping, Shopzilla etc under the $35 monthly business plan which we got for $20 a month prepaid as a special offer, total no brainer and it seamlessly connected to our site as well as eBay and is so simple to use and looks super professional. Shopify is great for the person who needs to get a tee shirt shop (or the like) up there from scratch but we have a pro site established with traffic so Ecwid rocks!
By mnmca, May 26, 2016 for WP 4.5.2I pay for an ECWID shopping basket and it works well but for the second time my traffic has gone to NIL. Nobody from their team can figure it out. I was told to use wordpress (I run that on mnm.ca/m) and with their plugin the seo is supposed to be automatic. It works great until one day nothing. For the second time all google listings disappear and nothing but error pages show up on the google console. So if you rely on a search engine to get traffic to your site I would advise you to stay away from an ajax shopping basket. The seo is just a nightmare, google still does not properly crawl ajax and relying on the ecwid plugin can cost you big time in losses.
I’m using Ecwid for one year already. I started with the free plan which I believe is among the only e-stores of the internet to offer so much features for free, even if that’s 10 products max. Since I had already a website built in html, I just had to copy paste the code and voila. You can’t imagine what a relief it is to have so simple setup for payment gateways (paypal, stripe even local ones here in europe), to add the products and also have really nice email notifications and so.
Few days ago I switched to the payed plan for 15/month just to have the coupon codes but otherwise is more than enough even with the 10 products, specially for startups who launch 1-2 products, because you have a ready to go shop with 0 expences if you already have the website. Now tell me where do you get that with Shopify or WooCommerce, where only the Paypal and Stripe plugins are costing you few hundred dollars, not to mention extra languages, customisation… pain in the ass believe me. And when you move your store or renew your website to a wordpress for example, you don’t have to worry about losing databases, re-uploading products and all that crap. Again, just copy paste the block of code and you have the store. I can imagine for big shops with hundreds or thousands of products might be a better investment Shopify, Magento or WooCommerce, but for beginners I can’t recommend something better and cheaper than this. The downside might be that you have to change a bit the css for having customised the buttons, colors and so on, but there’s already some apps that can simply change that visually and you just copy the theme code in the shop administration page.
I believe they will improve a lot, as during one year since I use it they’ve modernised the interface, the invoicing system, email notifications, taxes managing even in Europe for the VAT changes they had lately, multi-language , integration with MailChimp… and many more. If they would handle more shipping providers here in Europe would be great like DPD which is cheap and reliable but can imagine is a lot of logistical work and takes time.
And somebody here was complaining about support, I can’t really argue about that, but so far I haven’t had issues. Even on the forum they were answering to all questions.
I believe in few years they’ll be among the big players in this market due to the flexibility of the store concept and price.
Ecwid -I have tried it and it is the WORST! Horrible customer service, bad features and BS..I would not even want their service #ecwidworst #ecwiddonotbother
This is helping me so much, thanks!