When it comes to building an ecommerce website, Ecwid and Shopify are two of the most popular options, but which one is better?
Ecwid vs Shopify: What is the Difference?
Ecwid is a fully hosted ecommerce platform, which can be used to build a standalone website or integrate with popular platforms such as WordPress and Wix, Ecwid also offer multi channel selling including Facebook, Instagram, Ebay and Amazon. Shopify is also a fully hosted ecommerce platform but focuses on building complete ecommerce websites from scratch, with can be customised by installing apps from the Shopify App Store.
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When it comes to pricing, both Ecwid and Shopify offer a selection of plans to cover businesses of all sizes and you can see a summary of these plans below:
Venture: $15/m ($12.50*)
Business: $35/m ($29.17*)
Unlimited: $99/m ($82.50*)
Basic: $29/m ($26.10*)
Standard: $79/m ($71.10*)
Advanced: $299/m ($269.10*)
Plus: From $2,000/m
*Monthly price if plans are paid for annually.
As you can see, both platforms offer a good selection of packages for their users and on the face of it, Ecwid is quite clearly the cheaper of the two, with their largest package coming in at $99/m.
The primary difference between the Ecwid packages is the number of products you are allowed to sell, they also limit the amount of features that are available on each package, with only the Unlimited package giving you all the tools and features that Ecwid offers.
At this point, it is worth talking about the free Ecwid plan, which basically takes the place of a free trial and it lets you try the platform out with real customers before committing to a paid plan but it is limited to 10 products and you only get a very limited selection of tools and features, which I suppose is understandable on a free plan!
Ecwid also offers a discount equivalent to 2 months free if you pay for the plans annually, which is a big saving, especially on the Business and Unlimited packages!
In terms of packages, Shopify actually offer a cheaper plan called Shopify Lite but this doesn’t include a website builder and that is why I haven’t included it in this comparison.
The main difference between the Shopify plans is the transaction fee that they charge for payment received using third-party payment gateways such as PayPal or Amazon Pay, if you use the Shopify Payments gateway, then you don’t need to pay this additional fee.
On the Shopify Advanced package, you do get some additional features such as such as Advanced Reports Builder and Auto Calculated Shipping.
Shopify offer all user a 14 Day Free Trial to test the platform out before committing to one of their paid plans.
The business plan from Ecwid comes loaded with a really good selection of features, which are all focused on ecommerce and helping your website start generating sales, including:
- One Tap Checkout (with Apple Pay)
- Schedule Order Pickup
- Sell Digital Products
- Gift Cards
- Secure Checkout
- Product Filters & Variations
- Store Management App
Marketing & SEO
- Discount Coupons
- Sell on Facebook
- Sell on Instagram
- Sell on Etsy, Amazon & Ebay
- Abandoned Cart Emails
- Custom Meta Data
- SEO Friendly URL’s
- Number of Visitors
- Conversion Rate
- Apple Pay (via Stripe)
As you can see, there are lots of features available and there is a big focus on being able to sell your products via multiple platforms and using Ecwid as a central point to manage it all.
One of the main plus points of Ecwid, which I haven’t mentioned above is that you can use Ecwid to add ecommerce functionality to existing websites. So if you have a WordPress or Wix website and want to add all the advantages that come with a fully hosted shopping cart, you can easily integrate Ecwid into your website and start selling.
To see a complete breakdown of all the features that Ecwid has to offer, check out my full Ecwid Review.
Ecwid App Market
While Ecwid does come with a good selection of features, there are still some gaps that need to be filled and that is where the App Market comes into play. All of the apps within the market are made by third-party developers, which means that many of them do require you to pay for them.
As Shopify is a purpose built ecommerce platform, it is not surprising that it comes loaded with some really good ecommerce features. Even on the basic Shopify plan, some of the features that are included are:
- Dropshipping Integration
- Flexible Shipping Rates
- Product Reviews
- Digital Products
- Gift Vouchers
- Shopify Management App
Marketing & SEO
- Google Adwords Credit
- Sell on Facebook
- Discount Codes
- Abandoned Cart Recovery
- Auto Generated Sitemap
- Social Share
- Custom Meta Data
- SEO Friendly URL’s
- Product Reports
- Traffic Sources
- Google Analytics
- Day, Week and Monthly Reports
- Shopify Payments
- PayPal Express Checkout
- Amazon Pay
To see a complete breakdown of all the features that Shopify has to offer, check out my full Shopify Review.
Shopify App Store
If the standard features of the Shopify platform aren’t enough for you, then you can always check out their App Store. There are over 3,000 apps to choose from, ranging from sales and marketing to finance and security.
Obviously, due to the large number of apps that are available, it is nearly impossible for me to start listing them. Now while this selection is great, not all of them are free to use. The majority have free packages or trial periods but to get full access to all the features, you will need to go on to a paid package.
Also not all of the apps are made by the Shopify team, many of them are made by third-party developers.
Theme Selection & Customisation
The theme selection on Ecwid is a little bit strange as their ‘themes’ are effectively just different headers and the rest of the site pretty much stays the same. Even though this is the case there is a still quite a few different styles that you can choose.
The theme customisation is quite limited when it comes to your homepage as you don’t have much control over the sections that you can add, remove or edit.
But when you move away from the homepage, there are quite a few options. With your product pages, you can easily change the layout such as the description next to or below your product images. You can also choose what displays on your product pages such as title, price, SKU and social share buttons.
You can also edit the look of your category pages as well, whether it is your category overview page or how your products display within those categories. You can also quickly change the aspect ratio of your images.
The reason for the lack of customisation within Ecwid is because most of the applications of the Ecwid platform is into existing websites, where the design of the website as a whole is done by the platform that it is integrated in to.
One of the features that really sets Shopify apart from much of its competition is their theme customiser as it is one of the best tools on the market, especially when it comes to your homepage.
You have nearly complete control when it comes to the look and feel of your homepage as you can add and remove sections as you wish. They also have a very good selection of sections including ecommerce ones such as featured collection or content ones such as an image with text and this provides you with a lot of options when it comes to how your site looks.
While there are some customisation options when it comes to your product and collections pages, there isn’t as much as you get with Ecwid but the general layout of all of these pages is very good as standard.
With Shopify, you also get access to their stock image library and this can be a great resource of high quality images for you to use on your website, especially when you are just starting out.
Running an ecommerce website can be challenging at times and you require some help, so what support do you get from these platforms?
The level of support available from Ecwid is dependent on the package you are on:
- Venture Package: Email & Live Chat
- Business Package: Email, Live Chat & Phone
- Unlimited Package: Priority Email, Live Chat & Phone
The only issue with the phone support is that it is only available between 2pm and 10pm pacific time, which makes it not ideal for people in time zones on the opposite side of the world.
Shopify offers all of their users 24/7 support via live chat, over the phone or via email. You can also contact them via Twitter if you want to. While this is great, it isn’t completely straightforward contacting them as you need to go in to the help centre, enter a search query and then at the bottom of the page you will see the button that takes you to their contact info page.
Outside of the main support, there is also a Shopify community forum that can be a great source of information as well as a place to ask non urgent questions. The forum is frequented by Shopify support staff and also very knowledgeable members of the community.
Hosting & Performance
Both platforms offer a very similar set up when it comes to their hosting environment as they both offer:
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- Unlimited Data Storage
- PCI Compliant Servers
- Global CDN’s
- 99%+ Uptime
Now usually, what I would do at this point is take five of each platforms example sites, run them through Pingdoms Speed Test tool (Washington D.C & San Francisco servers) and Google’s Page Speed Insights once a day for three days and then show you the results below.
BUT only one of the example sites in Ecwid’s showcase is actually using their website builder, all of the other example sites are with Ecwid integrated with other platforms such as WordPress or Wix.
So to make the test as fair as possible, I took the one example site and my own demo site along and compared them to five Shopify customer example sites.
Washington D.C: 1.00 Seconds
San Francisco: 1.63 Seconds
Google Mobile: 25/100
Google Desktop: 42/100
Washington D.C: 1.15 Seconds
San Francisco: 1.37 Seconds
Google Mobile: 30/100
Google Desktop: 77/100
I know that this is not a completely fair test but it does give a good indication of the performance that both platforms offer.
Ecwid did really well in terms of load times but wasn’t great on the Google tests so there is definitely some room for improvement but most Ecwid users integrate it with other platforms and from my testing with Wix and WordPress, it didn’t cause any negative effects on the performance.
As an industry leader, it is unsurprising that Shopify performed well in all three tests. Yes, the mobile score could be better but it was still one of the top performers out of all the platforms that I have tested.
Ecwid vs Shopify Video
Ease of Use
Facts and figures are one thing but what are these platforms like to use and how do they compare to each other? Well that is what I am going to be looking at in this section. with three things in particular:
- Getting started with the platforms
- Managing your inventory
- Managing your orders
Getting started with Ecwid is really easy and all you need your name, email address and to create a password. Once you have done all of this, Ecwid will create a free plan for you to get started with. If you want to upgrade to one of the paid plans, this can easily be done in My Profile section of your dashboard.
For users who are new to the Ecwid platform, they have created a short to-do list to help you get up and running with the platform and it covers most of the main areas such as:
The first step in the to-do list does show where Ecwid’s primary focus is as it is a prompt to add Ecwid to your website or social network, rather than building a website using their ‘instant builder’.
One thing that Ecwid have definitely done a good job on is their ease of use and this is not only my own personal experience but also comments I have had from existing users, it just works and it works well!
Much of this is down to the main admin dashboard that is really easy to navigate around and the main sidebar navigation menu, which has one very neat little touch and that is that they have broke it down into three sections:
A simple thing but it does make it very easy to move from one section to the next but the rest of the admin dashboard is also easy to use as all of the page layouts are not only aesthetically pleasing but also practical.
Getting started with Shopify is also very easy to do as all you need is an email address and to create a password. Once you have filled this out, you will be asked a few questions about the position that your company is in, such as being a start up or already established and this will help Shopify tailor the experience better for you.
For new users, Shopify does offer a very short set up guide, which in my opinion is a bit lacking as it doesn’t include everything you need to do in order to take your Shopify store live, such as setting up shipping, which is pretty important for physical products.
One thing that is really useful for new Shopify users is their video series that is available through Shopify Compass and it may be linked to in your dashboard homepage. The series takes you through pretty much every step to help get you started and somewhat makes up for the poor set up guide.
Shopify is certainly no slouch when it comes to ease of use though and it was a contributing factor to their ascension to the top of the world of ecommerce.
As with Ecwid, the dashboard is very well laid out and Shopify have opted for an almost minimalistic approach as you can see in the image below and this means that all of the information available to you is easy to process and none of the pages look cluttered.
The main navigation menu adds to the ease of use as all of the headings are clearly labelled and there aren’t too many in the main menu, the menu is also broken up into two main sections:
- All of the headings to manage your store such as your inventory, order management and marketing sections
- Any sales channels you have active on your Shopify store such as your online store, buy buttons and/or Facebook store
This makes it very easy to find the section that you need and all of the settings are neatly nestled under the settings section at the very bottom of the menu.
Being able to manage your stock efficiently and effectively is a hugely important part of running an online store and for me there are three main areas to this and they are:
- Adding products
- Organising your Products
- Managing your inventory
Adding a new product in Ecwid is a simple process and they have gone for a tabbed layout and this gives you lots of options for adding different types of products but it is not over complicated.
The only thing I don’t like about the create a new product in Ecwid is that you cannot edit the URL and while the auto generated URL’s a pretty good, for all the products, they do include a random number sequence at the end. My personal preference would be to remove these to make the URL’s look as good as possible.
Organising your products is also very simple and Ecwid has gone for the tried and tested category model. It is also very easy to create parent and sub-categories as there are separate tabs in the category management page, which is very useful for organising a large inventory.
Ecwid recently made a significant but very welcome change to the platform in that they added a bulk editor to their inventory management system and this has made a big difference to the platform as before all inventory management had to be done on a product by product basis but the new bulk editor allows users to update:
- Product titles
- SKU codes
- Stock quantity
There are also other options that can be added/remove using the filter system.
Shopify have stuck to their minimalistic approach with their add new product page as it is a single page layout, that includes all the important sections you need but have kept it very simple to use.
Shopify haven’t kept it quite so simple when it comes to organising your inventory as they have developed their own collections system. And while the manual method works very similar to that of a traditional category system, the automatic method is based off rules that you set up with product tags. To get the automatic method working effectively, it is worth reading through the Shopify documentation.
Managing your stock is pretty easy to do in Shopify as they have created an inventory page that allows you to quickly and easily update your stock levels. If you want to make changes to the pricing, SKU code or any other field from the product, then you can select the products you want to edit from the product overview screen and then click the edit product button, which allows you to make updates in bulk.
Ecwid’s order management system is very good and allows quick and easy processing of orders, including:
- Printing Orders Invoices
- Export Orders via CSV or Google Sheet
- Update Payment Status
- Update Fulfilment Status
This can be done in bulk or on individual orders and this complete process is very simple and easy to use.
Shopify’s order management system did get a much needed upgrade at the end of 2020 as they added the ability to Print Packing Slips directly from the order management page. This added some much needed printable functionality to the existing options that include:
- Order Exporter
- Capture Payments
- Order Fulfilment
While not included with the standard Shopify system, there are some very good apps to add order management functionality, such as Order Printer Pro, which allows you to create custom invoices, packing slips and return forms, if you would like to learn more about this, then check out my How to Print Shopify Orders post.
• Theme Customisation
• 24/7 Support
• Easy to use Admin Area
• The App Store
• Good Performance
• Transaction Fees
• Automatic Collection system is a bit complicated
• No option to bulk print invoices
• Multi Channel Selling
• Order Management
• Free Package
• Product Options
• Layout Display for Product and Category Pages
• Limited Theme Custimosation
• No bulk update for Products
If you are looking to build a complete ecommerce website from scratch, then Shopify is the better option out of the two as it is a more complete website builder package and does lots of things very well.
Ecwid isn’t as good as a standalone ecommerce website builder, its strengths really lie in integrating with other software, such as WordPress, whose features compensate for where the Ecwid website builder is lacking. Combine Ecwid with the likes of WordPress and it becomes a very capable set up.
Either way, both platforms are great options for ecommerce websites, their strengths just lie in different areas but it is worth giving both platforms a try for yourself as you may find that one is the better option for your business.
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