Ecwid Review: Add E-commerce To Any Website

While creating a website is fairly easy these days, you can’t really say the same thing when it comes to e-commerce.

You could go for website builders like Jimdo or Squarespace, which are very easy-to-use and inexpensive, but they don’t offer a whole lot of payment options or integrations with shipping companies.

Then there are e-commerce tools like Shopify that are extremely powerful but their cheapest plan with unlimited items starts at $29 per month, and what’s even more: they charge a transaction fee.

See it in action here

info You can use Ecwid completely for free. Try it here (link will open in a new window)

Ecwid in Detail

Store plug-in with a freemium option

Chances are that you are looking for something in between: an e-commerce store that will be less than $20 per month and doesn’t take a cut of your sales.

Ecwid seems to be able to do just that. They have created a store ‘plug-in’ that you can use with any type of existing website. Most importantly you can use their basic plan free of charge (freemium model). If you don’t have a website yet you can also use the Yola Online Store package for $20 per month, which already includes the Ecwid e-commerce plugin. We’ve reviewed Yola’s Online Store here.

So let’s take a look at Ecwid’s features and see if it’s worth our time and money.

Setup

Installing Ecwid couldn’t be easier. You simply create a new page on your website and paste the HTML code they provide.

This video shows you how to set it up on a Weebly website:

 

Ecwid stores look very clean and simple. With this design they fit into almost any kind of website. See an example here. But it’s also possible to customize the layout using custom CSS codes if you need a special look.

Features

Payment options

ecwid payment options

Ecwid features direct integrations with more than 25 payment systems like Authorize.net, HSBC, 2Checkout and, of course, Paypal. You have to be aware that many of these payment gateways will incur extra monthly charges. But it’s always possible to start using Paypal, which can be used on a per-transaction basis. Once your business takes off, simply add more payment methods.

Updates:
Ecwid added even more payment gateways:
– Stripe
– American Express Payment Gateway
– First Data E4 Hosted Payment Pages
– ClickAndBuy (for Germany and EU),
– BBVA Bancomer / eGlobal (Mexico)

Furthermore, there is a range of offline payment methods such as phone order, check and purchase order.

Shipping options

There are three different options to handle shipping charges. You can:
● use a flat rate fee
● set up a customizable calculator that uses factors like weight or number of items
● receive shipping charges directly from the carrier thanks to direct integrations with UPS, FedEx, U.S.P.S. and others.

Regional settings (for taxes and shipping charges)

Using Ecwid’s zone setting you can create your own sets of countries or states. For those sets you can specify shipping charges as well as the VAT rate. Basically this enables you to specify shipping rates and tax rates very granularly and is particularly interesting if you want to ship internationally or if you are from the US and need to specify different tax rates for different states.

Digital products

You can sell both physical and downloadable products. Ecwid will handle the file delivery automatically. A paid subscription is not even needed to sell digital products, which is great. The download link for your customer will work indefinitely – if you want to limit its lifetime you will have to upgrade to the Silver package.
In the Silver plan your customers can even attach files to their orders – this is a great feature if you plan to sell a customizable product like a coffee mug with a personal photo on it.

User registration

To make repeated shopping easier it’s possible for your customers to sign up for an account (you can leave this optional or make it required). Ecwid protects sensitive data using an SSL encryption. All outgoing emails to your customers can be customized (e.g. ‘Password Reminder’ or ‘Order Shipped’ emails).

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This is actually one of Ecwid’s weaker points. The add-on references an external JavaScript file to generate the online store. Unfortunately this type of file can’t be indexed by search engines (yet). Consequently this means that individual product pages will not be indexed by Google, which clearly is a disadvantage. Ecwid shows some workarounds for this issue but they are not easy to implement.

On a positive note, it is possible to create deep links to your products. By doing so you can send your visitors directly to the item (e.g. when posting a new product to Facebook).

Facebook Commerce and Social Media

Shoppers already talk a lot about their product experiences on Facebook. Particularly for smaller retailers with a loyal fan base, it’s now also increasingly becoming a point of sale. Ecwid makes it very easy to integrate the same store you use on your website into your Facebook page in just a few steps. Your Ecwid shop will be located in a new tab on your fan page. Here’s a demo store.

Other than selling, you can also get your products liked, recommended and shared through social media. Ecwid also integrates with Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.

ecwid social

 

Basic vs. Silver plan – reasons to upgrade

Generally speaking, the Basic plan is already pretty powerful and enough for most small stores to get started. You can add up to 100 items and you have access to all payment gateways and shipping companies.

There is tiny link that says “Powered by Ecwid” in the Basic plan, but it is not very visible at all. A definite advantage of the Silver plan (which is $17 per month) is the ability to use discount codes. Doing this, you can run promotions for a limited time, which works particularly well if you have an email list to target.

There is also faster support with the upgrade, and you can sign up affiliates for your store to get more traffic. However, for this to work you need set up a software like Post Affiliate Pro or Affiliate Pro for WordPress as well.

As far as the negatives, we could mention the interface looks a bit dated and not everything is quite as intuitive as it could be. That said, technically it is actually state of the art as it is AJAX-based, which makes it lightning fast. Plus, none of your customers will even notice any of it – all they get to see is your clean and modern-looking storefront.

Overall rating 4 All in all, we think Ecwid is a great add-on if you want to get involved with e-commerce on your existing website. The fact that it is quite difficult to get your product pages indexed by search engines is a disadvantage.

Ecwid E-Commerce Example Sites

Alternatives to Ecwid

Jimdo Online Store
See review
Squarespace Store
See review

FAQ about Ecwid

What would be the advantage of adding Ecwid to a Jimdo website?

Ecwid offers a lot more features than Jimdo’s online store such as coupon codes and customer accounts. But if it’s only a few products that you want to sell Jimdo might be enough for it as well. The advantage of Jimdo is that search engines can index your online store — this is not possible (or at least not in an easy fashion) with Ecwid.

Does selling on Facebook work?

Ultimately it depends on your kind of business and your customers. But in general Facebook-Commerce show a strong upward trend.

Review Updates

09 Dec 2013 – More payment options available
09 May 2013 – Facebook Commerce and social media options added
08 Oct 2012 – Paragraph on SEO added. We removed one star as Ecwid has some weaknesses in this area (thanks to Shopintegrator for making us aware of it).
05 Oct 2012 – Setup video added
24 Sep 2012 – Initial tests

Last updated: 08 Jan 2014 | Robert Brandl

Your opinion and user reviews:

 
  • Disappointed Ecwid customer

    You have still not adressed the most important issue and that is the SEO product findability that other stores have managed to keep their customers happy about, while current paid Ecwid customers are losing money because our products cannot be indexed and found online. Not being found = no business.

    It is a lie when Ecwid says it works with all sites when really it only works, and I mean your products being found through Google searches – with 2 sites: WordPress and Joomla. The rest you can plug in all you want and your webshop is up, but you will not get Google pointing out your business as having the products you worked to stock. What good is that?

  • http://WebsiteToolTester.com/ Armin

    Hi! Yes, that’s absolutely a weak point and we have mentioned it our review: “Consequently this means that individual product pages will not be indexed by Google, which clearly is a disadvantage.”

  • http://www.ecwid.com makfruit

    Hello,

    I am from Ecwid team.

    Thank you for the detailed review of our platform.

    In fact, Ecwid does provide SEO and Google can index Ecwid product pages so if you create an Ecwid store, your can make your products listed in search results in Google. Here is the details.

    Ecwid is an AJAX application, which means that products, categories and all the other store content is delivered to a visitor dynamically using JavaScript, as you mentioned. This approach provides two major advantages:

    1) It allows merchant to use Ecwid storefront on numerous web sites, blogs and social networks _simultaneously_ and never care of system upgrades or other technical troubles. In other words, you can add the same store to several sites quickly and they will synchronize with each other.
    2) This makes Ecwid stores very fast and easy-to-use for the customers – every store page including shopping cart and checkout is loaded almost instantly without browser page reloading.

    However, as you stated, search engines cannot properly index JavaScript content, that’s why many present-days rich AJAX applications have troubles with SEO. In Ecwid, we take SEO seriously and Ecwid stores do have necessary means for search engines optimization. Ecwid uses Google AJAX Crawling. This approach is recommended by Google for AJAX applications like Ecwid and is supported by all popular search engines.

    Google AJAX Crawling has proven to work well with Ecwid – there is a lot of Ecwid stores properly indexed by Google. The sites with Ecwid that uses that approach have products and categories get to Google search results as well as the other static site pages. A lot of those are the sites based on WordPress, Joomla, Yola and Wix, which have built-in Ecwid plugin-ins and support Google AJAX Indexing well. But, also, there are many custom-build web sites, because the necessary SEO measures can be made on any web site to make Ecwid store products indexable.

    Here is a few examples of Ecwid stores fully indexed by Google:
    https://gopuck.com/store/
    http://www.naturalbodyinc.com/
    http://www.smoothsailingco.com/shop/
    http://r3plastics.co.uk/shop/
    http://afour.me/store

    Among them, there are site running on the mentioned CMSs as well as on custom-build web sites.

    To sum up:
    Ecwid is SaaS solution and based on AJAX approach. That provides you with a lot of great features, which are not available with other shopping carts. Although search engines have troubles indexing Javascript/AJAX content, Ecwid has a good reliable solution for this issue. It uses Google AJAX Indexing that allows you to make your store products indexable. This doesn’t make every Ecwid store indexable _by default_ , but makes it possible for every seller to make their products listed in Google search results. Moreover, this is already a built-in feature in Ecwid plugins for the popular sitebuilder systems such as WordPress, Joomla, Yola and Wix.

    Please let me know if you have any question.