In some situations, you may prefer to build your own online store, be it because you prefer to have the freedom and flexibility to customise everything to your liking or because you’re already running a website.
In such a case, you’ll be looking at licensed, non-hosted software that would allow you to add an online store to your online presence. Ecwid is such a solution. It allows you to set up an online store frontend with a catalog and a backend to manage your daily tasks.
Ecwid stands for “Ecommerce Widget”. Now you can probably guess how it works: Ecwid gives you a widget that you embed into already existing websites. You get a few lines of HTML that make up the widget and you add them to your sites, social media, and marketplaces. Et voilà your store magically appears wherever you’ve pasted the HTML code.
This means Ecwid can be added to all major CMS like Drupal, Wix, WordPress as well as custom-built websites. As you can add the widget anywhere you like, you sell across all online channels but manage them all from the Ecwid dashboard.
Ecwid is a Software as a Service (SaaS), which means all the maintenance and security of the ecommerce software is taken care of and included in the monthly subscription fee.
Ecwid is the brainchild of Ruslan Fazlyev who created in 2000 with X-Cart the first ecommerce software programmed in PHP. Quite soon though, Fazlyev realised that many merchants already had an online presence and so he adapted his strategy and developed Ecwid.
Since then Ecwid service more than 1 million users all around the world in more than 175 countries. It has offices in San Diego, USA, and in Ulyanovsk, Russia.
Pros and cons of Ecwid
Ecwid is a very simple solution to “retrofit” your site with an online store. As you may have guessed from reading that Ecwid users are scattered all across the globe, it supports multilingual catalogs.
- Ease of use
- Supports multilingual stores
- Language detection so that your customers can view your store in their own language – Ecwid storefronts can be automatically translated into 50 different languages
- The dashboard itself is available in more than 20 languages
- Easy to add to any website, social media profile, and marketplace
- Mobile application for iOS and Android to manage your store on the go
- Ecwid automatically tries to find the right colours and fonts for your store, using your website’s styles
- Forever free plan
- If you have coding skills, you can customise the design with the CSS editor
- Fair pricing
- Once you’ve configured the tax rates, they are applied automatically
- The free forever plan’s support is limited to the help centre
- Not for large businesses
Who is Ecwid for?
Ecwid gives individuals and small-to-medium size businesses a simple way to add an online store to their already existing online presence. Its robust feature set along with the ability to scale means Ecwid can grow with your business.
As you can add Ecwid wherever you like, it’s a very strong tool in your marketing and sales strategy. Say, you already have a big following on Facebook, you can add with Ecwid a full-fledged online store to your profile. Further, you can add it to any other social network you already have built around your brand and cross-sell.
Even if you don’t have a presence yet but want to dabble in the world of ecommerce, Ecwid has your back. Although Ecwid is a plugin by nature, that will add ecommerce functionality to an existing site, you can still have your own online store with its Instant Site. Though this ecommerce site is more like a one-pager and thus more suited to a rather small store.
How easy is Ecwid to use?
Ecwid was designed from the ground up to be easy to use and does not complicate things needlessly. The most complicated part will be adding the HTML code to the sites, social networks, and marketplaces.
If you’re using one of the major content management platforms (CMS), such as WordPress, you can install the Ecwid plugin.
Once you’ve signed up to your Ecwid account, you’ll see the backend of your online store. You’ll be adding your products, configuring your shipping and tax rates, and doing all the tasks related to managing an online store in the dashboard.
Everything is clearly labelled and organised to be helpful. Nothing is hidden in endless submenus so there’s nothing confusing. It should be a matter of minutes for anyone to navigate the backend, especially if you’re already using any kind of CMS.
Originally, Ecwid was added to an existing website that has its established design. Hence, there are not countless templates or themes that you can choose from as with the hosted shopping cart solutions such as Squarespace.
Nevertheless, Ecwid does give you a standalone store, the Instant Site for when you don’t have an already existing site. You can customise its design also in the dashboard. You can further customise the design with its CSS editor. The design sections are used for your embedded storefront as well.
In general, if you add Ecwid as a widget, it can adapt to your site’s current design. It will automatically scan and analyse your fonts and the colours used on the site and apply them to the product display.
You can further enhance Ecwid to meet your needs. If you’re using one of the paid plans you have access to its extension market. Should Ecwid’s app market not satisfy your needs, you can ask a developer to build a custom extension for you with the API documentation provided.
Marketing and SEO
Ecwid comes with a plethora of marketing tools. You can create, track, and manage Google and Facebook advertising all within your dashboard. It will even generate the Facebook ads by using the product information you’ve already written.
In all paid plans, you can entice your audience with discount codes. You’ll also need to be on a paid plan to ensure search engines can index your product pages in the best way possible.
If you’ve subscribed to a paid plan, you have access to the advanced SEO tools. Then you can edit the title of your product and category page and the meta description. Ecwid provides more help by automatically pre-populating the relevant fields.
You don’t have full control over how the URL of your product page looks. That is, even though the link will include the title you’ve given to your product, it will also have a product number (“/Horn-Sunglasses-p283157094”).
That you can’t write the URL as you see fit can hamper search engines indexing your store. Some search engine spiders use the keywords in the URL to categorise the content while indexing. As a workaround, you can include some keywords in your product title so that they will also appear in the URL.
As already mentioned, Ecwid integrates seamlessly with Instagram and Facebook so that you can give your people and an easy way to shop in the same play they discover you.
You have also the option to sell on Amazon and eBay by exporting your product catalog. It will then automatically sync the sales data.
If you’re planning to sell in person, you’d be delighted to know that Ecwid has a point of sale (POS) option. This will make it easy for you to take your store to a fair and sell on the spot. With this POS option, regardless of where your customers buy a product – online, offline, on a social network – everything stays in sync. That means you don’t have to manually add a sales transaction, deduct a product from the inventory, or add the customer information into the dashboard.
Included out of the box is PayPal so that you can accept credit card payments. You also be happy to know that Ecwid doesn’t charge a transaction fee. Just keep in mind that payment gateways to levy a transaction fee. Ecwid offers around 75 payment gateways, such as Stripe, Square, Sage, just to name a few.
Ecwid is a PCI DSS certified as a Level 1 Service Provider. This level means that it has obtained the highest level of compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Further, all transactions within an Ecwid store are transferred through a secure HTTPS channel. The Instant Site is secured with an SSL certificate.
As you’ll see under pricing, the support you get depends on the level of your subscription. Support can be contacted via phone, chat, and email. Regardless of your plan, the help centre is very comprehensive, well organised and searchable.
There are 4 pricing tiers including the forever free plan. As is common with SaaS products, the more you pay, the more features you can use.
The cheapest paid plan “Venture” is quite restrictive. You can’t list your products on popular marketplaces (Amazon, E-bay, and Etsy). You also can’t use product variants and don’t have access to the abandoned cart recovery.
Is Ecwid the right solution for you?
Ecwid makes it easy for individuals and smallish but dynamic merchants to run an online store that is not only flexible but has omnichannel commerce capabilities. As a whole, you can add ecommerce features in a cost-effective and hassle-free way to any online presence be it your site, a marketplace, or a social media profile. In its main function to retrofit a website, it has no glaring disadvantages.
If you’re not (yet) planning to take over the world with an e-commerce empire, its forever free plan lets you experience how it is to run an online store.
Should you be building a standalone site with ecommerce capabilities from scratch, you’d want to look at other options.
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