Ecommerce Platform Review: Ecwid
So, you want to sell products online, but don't know how to get started? Do you already have a website? If so, selling your products onto it is a cinch. If you don't have a website, no worries! All you'll need to start selling digitally is an online store. Ecwid makes it easy for both kinds of users to get started!
What is Ecwid?
Ecwid, short for E-Commerce Widget, a cloud-based ecommerce platform with Russian roots, but now based (at least partly) in California. The store building service allows you to either add an online store to an existing website or create an entirely new one from scratch. According to the company's promotional materials, as of the time of writing, it has customers in 175 countries, of which a sizable portion are small businesses.
This is readily apparent in Ecwid's pricing structure since it's one of the few platforms to offer a completely free version of its service. In this review, we'll look at which tools Ecwid makes available.
Pros and Cons
Easy to use
Creating product variations is intuitive
Multi-channel sales included in all (paid) subscriptions
Few options for customization
Paywalls for certain features
Selling in multiple currencies only possible with an external tool
Configuration & Usage
While it's true that a number of ecommerce platforms offer free trial versions, Ecwid takes this to the next level, providing a free version of its service. One immediate benefit of this is that registration is very easy. Simply click on the black Get started for FREE button in the top right corner of the homepage, enter your name email address and desired password, answer a few questions relating to your business, including its name, the currency you want to sell in, your location, and address, and that's it!.
Or almost: In the last step, Ecwid asks whether you want to add online store functionality to an existing website or create a store from scratch. We chose the second option, and after giving our online store a web address, were already in the dashboard. You've probably spent more time reading our play-by-play here than we did registering. So far, so good.
Registering with Ecwid is quick, and doesn't require any payment details to be input.
It doesn't take long to get used to Ecwid's dashboard. All of the features you'll need can be found in the sidebar menu to the left, which you can expand or minimize, depending on how much space you need for creating. The main menu is divided into three areas: Store Management, Sales Channels, and Configuration. In the first, you'll find My Sales, Catalog, Marketing, and Reports sections.
When first starting the service, there'll be a to-do list in the main menu, which the setup assistant will walk you through. You'll also find a shortcut to website settings, where you can edit the appearance of your online store.
Ecwid's dashboard is logically arranged.
In the Sales Channels area, you're provided with an overview of your multi-channel marketing strategy, as well as the store you've designed in Ecwid. You'll also find the store builder component of the service, which you can use to edit the design of your online shop as well as add options for different sales channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Google Shopping, or eBay.
Ecwid provides you with an overview of all of your sales channels in a centralized platform.
In the Configuration area, you're given more options for designing your online store, as well as setting up payment methods and shipping options. There's also a settings menu from which you can edit your general store profile, such as weights and measurements, how the date and time are displayed, your primary currency, and taxes.
The Configuration area also hosts the platform's App Market, where you can find, download, and install different third-party apps. And last, but certainly not least, this is also where you can attend to your user Ecwid user profile, and manage your login details and employee accounts.
Can't find what you're looking for? Maybe you'll have better luck in Ecwid's App Market.
Alongside the web dashboard, you can also manage your online store through Ecwid's smartphone app, so long as you're a paying subscriber.
Paying subscribers can manage their online store on the go using Ecwid's mobile app.
Ecwid definitely emphasizes usability, scoring highly thanks to its user-friendly dashboard.
Score: 4.7 / 5
In order to start selling your wares, you'll need to add them to the platform. In the Catalog area of the menu, you'll be able to view all existing articles in your store and upload new ones. Should you already have a product list, all the better, since you can upload this here as a CSV file, or import it from XCart or LiteCommerce.
Manage your existing inventory or add new items, all with just a few clicks.
New products can be added by clicking on Products in the sidebar menu, followed by the blue + Add New Product button at the top of the taskbar in the window that opens. In the next step, you can upload pictures and add a description to your item. The different tabs here offer you the ability to configure further settings, such as taxes and shipping or SEO (more on that below). In the Files tab , you can specify whether each product is digital or physical and if the former, upload the file in question. This is only available starting with the Venture package, however.
Particularly important are the Product Variations. These are different versions or combinations of a single product, such as in a different color or size. Ecwid makes managing these refreshingly easy in comparison to most other ecommerce platforms. First, you specify a characteristic (such as color), and then add as many different versions as you'd like (for example, black, white, and green).
Create variations of your products with just a few clicks.
You're also able to adjust how your customers see these products. Along with the classic drop-down list and radio buttons, there's also a check box, in case you have multiple variations of several characteristics (for example, an "S" red, and an "M" red). By clicking on Preview Product, you can check how the item is displayed to customers at any time.
The preview feature allows you to check how your product is displayed to your customers.
By clicking on Combinations you can add an individual picture, price, SKU, or quantity available for each variation, however, only if you've booked the Business package (or higher). Users of the free version will often encounter such paywalls, however, the gap between the free and Business versions (the so-called Venture package) appears to be something like the worst of both worlds; lacking the features of the Business package, and still costing users a monthly fee, but more on that near the end of this review.
Turning to inventory, there are also some limitations for free users: Inventory management is only available starting with the Venture subscription. With this, you're able to keep tabs on your stock and will receive notifications when quantities dip below a certain threshold. Unfortunately, products with low in-stock quantities aren't elevated to the top of your inventory list.
Should you want to hide unavailable products, an option is available for doing this under Settings.
When your products are close to selling out, Ecwid will notify you.
You can further group your products into categories. Each category can also be divided into subcategories and supplied with a unique name, description, and image.
Ecwid allows users to group products into unique categories.
Taken together, Ecwid impressed us thanks to the range of options available for adding products, as well as the ease with which these can be used. It is somewhat unfortunate that free users won't be able to get the most out of these, and downright inexplicable why the Venture package is such an unhappy compromise between the free version and Business subscription, not least owing to its 100 product limit, and constricted variation options. In general, Ecwid could offer a few more inventory management features, but at the end of the day, we weren't too put off by what we saw here.
Score: 4.3 / 5
Personalizing Your Store
By clicking on Sales Channels > Website you'll find the site builder for your online store, which is as streamlined as the shop system's dashboard. In the sidebar menu on the left, you'll be able to choose from a range of different page sections and options, with the rest of your screen providing a live preview of your website.
Ecwid doesn't offer drag and drop functionality, relying instead on its own ready-made elements, to which you add your own text, images, or other content. In the page area, you can hide or make visible different content elements and arrange them, but you can't add new elements. As such, design freedom is definitely constrained.
Ecwid's store builder limits your creativity in terms of design.
Owing to the lack of customization within themes, selecting the best template for your site is all the more important. And, you'll have a decent choice, since Ecwid offers 79 free themes, all of which are organized into different categories. There isn't a lot of variation among them, most look pretty similar, and they're all designed with single page stores in mind: In the menu, your customers will only be able to navigate between different sections of your homepage, rather than separate pages.
Once you've selected a theme, you can edit the section's text and add images to it. In terms of how your products are presented, you can adjust the size and aspect ratio of the preview images, and modify their titles. Product pages can be edited by clicking on Store > Product page. Here, you're able to set which information should be shown in the sidebar, and in what order.
When creating product pages, you're also limited.
If you want to break out of the cookie-cutter designs offered by Ecwid, you can directly edit the CSS theme by clicking on Configuration > Design, however, this isn't an option for beginners.
Ecwid makes little secret of its sacrifice of creative freedom in exchange for ease of use. If you like ready-made elements and only want to input your content, you won't be disappointed, since Ecwid makes doing this easier than almost everyone else we looked at. We're of the opinion that Ecwid could give a bit more leeway though, and still lose any of its appeal for beginners.
Score: 2.7 / 5
Now that you've added products, and built your store's facade, it's time to start thinking about selling.
The first thing you'll need to do is provide your customers with the ability to pay for the goods you're selling. To do this, click on Configuration > Payment where you'll find the available payment methods. Along with cash, PayPal and Stripe come pre-installed and only need to be activated. In total, Ecwid supports more than 50 payment providers, including Visa, MasterCard, and SEPA.
Ecwid supports more than 50 different payment methods.
Depending on your location and other business information, Ecwid will automatically determine what taxes your products are subject to, however, if doing business internationally, you can set these manually for different regions. Unfortunately, it isn't possible to display before tax/after-tax prices for your customers.
Delivery options can be specified by clicking on Configuration > Shipping and In-store pickup. Here, it's possible to add flat fees, or individual, user-defined rates. In addition, you can integrate automatic live rates from USPS, UPS, or FedEx.
Ecwid pulls out all the stops in terms of shipping options too.
Ecwid supports multi-channel sales strategies providing you with a headquarters for selling across different platforms. To access this, head over to the Sales Channels area.
The channels made available depend on which subscription you've booked. Free users can only sell products through their Ecwid website; Venture subscribers can integrate Facebook Shop and Instagram Store, as well as mobile points of sale (POS). Amazon and eBay integration is available starting with the Business package.
Orders can be managed by clicking on My Sales > Orders. Here, you'll find all of your orders listed, and be given the ability to filter them on the basis of varying criteria (date placed, payment status, order status, etc.). You're also able to take certain actions and update the order's status by clicking on the arrow to the right, in the detailed view.
Once an order has been placed, you'll see it on your order list.
In the detailed view, you can access additional information, such as invoice and delivery addresses for your customers. It's also possible to view whether the client accepted your email marketing terms. Users of the Business package can add notes to each order, allowing them to communicate specific requests or details to staff and shippers.
Additional information can be accessed by clicking on a specific order.
If you want to edit an order after it has been placed, should a customer have ordered the wrong item or size, you can easily do this through the dashboard by clicking on My Sales > Order Editor, but only if you're a paying subscriber.
And what if you want to make your store available in different languages? This is also possible, but unfortunately, only for Business and Unlimited subscribers. If you're one of those, go to Settings > General and look for the Weights & Measurements option. Then, select Language Settings. Here, you can change the main language of your store, and enable additional languages. Ready-made elements are automatically translated for your customers, however, any unique content which you've added will need to be translated manually.
Multiple language localizations aren't a problem in Ecwid, so long as you're a Business or Unlimited subscriber.
Ecwid's magnanimity runs out when it comes to currencies. To convert currencies for your customers, you'll need a paid tool from the App Market, called Currency Converter. Other than that, it isn't possible to sell in different currencies.
Even with that last blip, Ecwid still ticks (almost) all of the proverbial boxes in terms of sales and selling. The only thing to keep in mind is that as solid as these features are, they're only available (in their entirety) to Business and Unlimited subscribers.
Score: 4.7 / 5
Marketing & Analytics
Discounts can be offered starting with the Venture package. To create one, go to Marketing > Discounts or directly to the product editor. You are limited to bulk discounts and price reductions, so other ecommerce platforms definitely offer more variety here. You can also create discount codes, either for a fixed amount or a percent, or provide free shipping.
Why not let your customers advertise for you? You can, with gift cards/certificates. For these, you can set the amount, and design their appearance.
Gift certificates are a great way to boost sales and advertise your store.
Ecwid uses SEO URLs and allows all paying subscribers to improve their SEO ranking by editing page titles and meta descriptions. However, you're unable to edit your URLs and create clean, search-engine friendly ones, like in Shopify.
One neat feature for Business and Unlimited subscribers is the ability to 'rescue' abandoned shopping carts. Whenever a customer navigates away from your store or fails to complete a purchase, Ecwid will save their products in a shopping cart, and allow you to contact them by email with a reminder that they haven't completed their order.
Turning next to emails, Ecwid does allow for newsletters to be sent through its console, however, it doesn't provide an integrated email newsletter tool for doing so. Instead, users (Business and Unlimited) can integrate Mailchimp. Only then can you send automated emails informing your customers about special offers or events, and attempt to entice them into visiting your store.
Other providers we've taken a look at in this review series are definitely much more flexible when it comes to email marketing, with some going so far as to offer their own solutions for newsletters.
Ecwid only supports email marketing with Mailchimp, and even then, just for Business and Unlimited subscribers.
For internal site statistics, you'll also need an external solution. By clicking on Store Management > Reports, you'll be able to install Kliken Stats with just a few clicks. This app, which is available to free users as well as paying subscribers, shows basic data about your store's visitors, earnings, conversation rate, and orders. More detailed information, such as order characteristics or trends, popular products and categories, or the conversion rate per channel, are only 'unlocked' starting with the Venture subscription.
Additional analytic apps, such as Monkey Data, are available in the App Market.
To gather statistics for your store, you'll need to download a tool from the App Market.
For even more analytical insight, you can integrate Google Analytics or Facebook Pixel.
In terms of marketing & analytics, Ecwid isn't terrible, but also isn't great, offering little more than the bare minimum of features and options.
Score: 3.7 / 5
Ecwid's help center is bursting with FAQs, guides, articles, and more, detailing the service's features, even across different operating systems. Particularly nice are the abundant video guides, which are well-narrated, and have closed captions, should English not be your first language. The entire help center has a full-text search, making it child's play to find precisely what you need.
Ecwid's help center is very comprehensive, easy to navigate, and informative.
Perhaps you've noticed a trend with Ecwid, because we have. The options for contacting support are, you guessed it, dependent upon your subscription. Free users can only get in touch via email. Venture subscribers can ask for help via live chat; Business subscribers get a hotline, and Unlimited users get priority support. In our test, we waited three days for a reply to our query, which is a very poor response time, however you cut it.
The best thing about Ecwid's support is the help center. If you've paid for a subscription, we're sure that the support is adequate, or even good, but for free users, as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.
Score: 3.7 / 5
Ecwid comes in four different subscriptions, including the free version. The paid packages are named Venture, Business, and Unlimited. Subscription fees can be paid monthly, or annually, with the latter including a small discount.
It goes without saying that the free version has the most limitations: You aren't able to add additional sales channels, more than 10 products, or sell digital products. You can also forget about discounts, the automatic tax calculator, inventory notifications, and advanced SEO tools.
As the subscription price increases, these limitations disappear. In the Venture package, you can manage 100 products, 2,500 in the Business subscription, and in the Unlimited package, well, what do you think? That's right, as many as you want. Discount codes and access to the App Market are unlocked starting with the Venture package, whereas Business subscribers can make use of product filters and variations.
Like most ecommerce platforms we've reviewed, Ecwid doesn't charge transaction fees, however, the payment gateways do, so pay attention to these.
Further details about each subscription can be found in the table below:
|Price per month||$0.00||$15.00||$40.95|
|Transaction Fee||0 %||0 %||0 %|
|Contract period (months)||0||1||1|
|Number of Products||10||100||100|
If you're a small business owner with little-no knowledge of programming or web design, Ecwid offers an intuitive ecommerce platform that can help you kickstart selling online in an easy, logical fashion. The dashboard is clearly arranged and includes all features and tools that you'll need to manage your products, and sell your goods, whether digital or physical.
This simplicity does come at a price though: If you want to learn on the job, and work your way up to a customized online store, Ecwid might not be the right option for you, since creativity and a free hand in terms of design are definitely not the service's strong suits. There's little that users can change so far as content blocks or designs go, and even though at first glance there appears to be an ample selection of design templates, the similarities of these become quickly apparent.
Should you be able to live within these limitations, you'll likely find Ecwid to be one of the most user-friendly ecommerce platforms on the market, and, owing to its free version, one that can be taken for a test drive before deciding.
Even though we at EXPERTE.com take great pride in what we do, we're not able to answer all questions in a single review. Therefore, we recommend taking a look at what Ecwid's customers have to say about the service, a compilation of which we've provided here, for your convenience.
If you want more freedom when designing your online store, we can highly recommend our overall winner, Wix. The Israeli provider offers a much more advanced site builder and makes everything you need to sell products available in a truly remarkable package. You will have to do without a free version, however, Wix's prices are incredibly reasonable, considering what is offered.
Additional alternatives can be found here: