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Ecwid vs Shopify — which is best? In this comparison I’m going to put two well-known — but quite different — ecommerce solutions 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.
Let’s start 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 oldest site builder — it was created in 2006 — and has a bigger userbase (internet stats company Builtwith.com estimates that around 4 million websites are currently powered by the platform).
Ecwid was launched in 2009, with Builtwith.com estimating that it now powers over 901,000 sites. It was recently acquired by the point-of-sale solution company Lightspeed.
So that’s the history — now what about the price?
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 — $15 per month
Business — $35 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 25% 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 10 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 for a bit of a lower price — you can find out more about Wix and Ecwid pricing here.
Shopify provides 5 pricing plans:
Lite — $9 per month
Basic Shopify — $29 per month
Shopify — $79 per month
Advanced Shopify — $299 per month
Shopify Plus — pricing varies depending on requirements, but typically comes in at around $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 Lite’, all the above plans allow you to create a standalone online store.
The ‘Lite’ plan is, like Ecwid, more about selling products elsewhere. It allows you to:
sell on Facebook
use Shopify to sell goods in physical locations (i.e., at point of sale)
make use of a Shopify ‘Buy Button’ which allows you to sell products on an existing site.
A free trial of Shopify lets you test the product and get a sense of your requirements — this normally lasts 14 days, but can usually be extended upon request.
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.
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 16.6% discount; Shopify offers 10% and 20% discounts respectively if you start a trial and then pay upfront for 1 or 2 years’ service.
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.
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 80 in the case of Ecwid; over 100 in the case of Shopify.
Shopify differs in a key respect however in that it also 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.
(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.
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 10 products on the free plan; 100 on its $15 per month ‘Venture’ plan; and 2,500 on its $35 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 — 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 — as 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.
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 ‘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, 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 $35 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 either physical or digital goods — e-books, music, video and so on. Interestingly, Shopify is also beta-testing the sale of ‘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 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 use make use of a basic bundled mobile POS system, powered by Paypal Here or Square, 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.
The other thing to note about using Ecwid’s mobile POS option is that the number of countries it works in is limited.
The Square integration only works in 6 countries — the US, UK, Australia, Japan, Ireland and Canada. PayPal Here is available to merchants in the US, UK, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and Canada.
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 Shopify recently reconfigured their POS offering so that in order to unlock all its potential, 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
- facilitate ‘buy online, pick up in store’
- facilitate exchanges
- provide custom printed receipts
- define staff roles and permissions
- attribute sales to individual staff members
- create purchase orders.
Have you seen our Shopify video review?
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 arguably has a small edge here, simply because it provides the feature at a lower price point — as with POS, this feature is included on all Shopify plans, even the $9 ‘Lite’ plan.
By contrast, Ecwid users have to be on a $35+ plan or higher to avail of it. However, this still means that with Ecwid, abandoned cart saving remains reasonably affordable.
(To give a bit of context here, Squarespace requires you to be on a $65 per month plan to access this feature, and BigCommerce requires you to be on a $79.95 per month plan to do so.)
Furthermore, 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 offers AMP emails.
Dropshipping in Ecwid vs Shopify
Many users are drawn to 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.
The advantage of this selling model is that you don’t have to invest in lots of stock to set up your online business — rather, your money can go straight into marketing your business.
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 Oberlo to your store (there are hundreds of others available), picking some goods you’d like to sell, and putting your site live.
Similarly, you can also dropship with Ecwid using apps such as Wholesale2B, Syncee or Spocket.
It’s probably fair to say though — that thanks to its significantly better stocked app-store (more on which later), there are more dropshipping options available from 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 14 days of free access to Shopify plus lots of bundled resources and tools that show you how to launch a successful dropshipping Shopify 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 — the Bold Multi-Currency app is a good choice (and thankfully, it’s free).
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 in different languages
Both Shopify and Ecwid facilicate multilingual selling.
In the case of Shopify, you can create up to 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.
Ecwid and Shopify are both ahead of the pack when it comes to tax rules — you can set both platforms up so that they detect your store visitors’ locations automatically and apply the relevant tax rate at checkout.
Helpfully this applies not just to physical products but digital ones too — both solutions cater adequately for the EU’s VAT MOSS requirements, something that can’t be said for all other competing platforms.
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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:
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 (US, not available in Puerto Rico)
DHL Express (US)
Canada Post (Canada)
- DPD (UK)
- Hermes (UK)
- Collissimo (France)
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 $299 ‘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.
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 ‘Lite’ 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.
For me, the main argument for using Shopify Buy Buttons is that from just $9 per month, you get not just product embedding functionality, but full POS functionality too — a feature that you have to pay a lot more for in Ecwid.
However, 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 (17 free and 78 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; and it is a great option for anyone needing a holding site or landing page whilst a more comprehensive website is being constructed.
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 — you’re looking at a couple of hundred apps in its ‘app market’, a number that is dwarfed by the 8,000 or so 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.
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 been well received by their users, both scoring 4+ out of 5 on both the Apple and Google Play app stores.
(The mobile apps are available in more languages in Shopify, however).
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.
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 $79+ Shopify plan, you don’t get access to full, professional reports — just a basic dashboard.
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).
Both Shopify and Ecwid offer email and live chat customer support on their entry-level plans; moving up to a more expensive plan — the $29 ‘Basic’ Shopify plan or the $35 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.
I have had more experience of Shopify customer support than Ecwid’s — and have usually been fairly happy with it. However, I’ve found that when my queries are of a more technical nature, issues can take slightly longer than I’d like to resolve.
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, including a built-in one— 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 a certain carrier, 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.
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.
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.
Finally, you could consider using an online marketplace like Etsy 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 shootout and our Amazon versus Shopify comparison 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?
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
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.
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.
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