Shopify vs Ecwid (2020): Choosing Between an E-Commerce Platform and Plugin

When it comes to setting up an online store, Shopify undoubtedly enjoys top-of-the-mind awareness. The e-commerce giant boasts of over a million merchants on its platform; and, growing subscription only continues to bolster its revenue. On the other hand, Ecwid may not sound familiar to most people. Nonetheless, the company has over 1.5 million small and midsize businesses across the world using its e-commerce software.

Although both are designed to help businesses shift their brick-and-mortar presence to digital, there are some fundamental differences between the two. Shopify, for instance, is an out-of-the-box solution for creating your online store from scratch. In contrast, Ecwid is a plugin that allows you to add e-commerce capabilities and functions to your existing website.

With the basics downpat, it’s time to look at the key features of these platforms to help you see which is a better fit for your business.

Shopify Vs WordPress Comparison Chart

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NameShopifyEcwid
TypeSubscription-based e-commerce platform for online stores and retail POS systemsE-commerce plugin
PricingBasic Shopify: $29 per month
Shopify: $79 per month
Advanced Shopify: $299 per month
Free: Free forever
Venture: $15 per month
Business: $35 per month
Unlimited: $99 per month
Payment GatewayShopify Payments + Over 100 third-party payment optionsThird-party payment options including PayPal, Stripe, WePay, and Square
Payment ProcessingCredit Card: 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction

Third-party payment processors (including Amazon Pay and PayPal): 0.5% to 2%

No transaction fees except for those charged by the third-party payment provider
App IntegrationsStandalone Shopify AppStore with both native and third-party applicationsStandalone Ecwid App store
Fully CustomizableYes, with over 100 free and paid-for themes and templatesYes, although customizations are limited and may require installing apps or using CSS
Customer Support24/7 phone and live chat support across all plansFor paid plans only; limited to chat support in Venture plans
ReportingSales stats and reportsAvailable only on paid plans
ShippingThird-party calculated shipping rates for Advanced Shopify plansDimensional shipping rates only for Business and Unlimited Plans

Pricing

Although Ecwid comes with a Free-forever plan, Shopify’s pricing scheme offers more scalable features.   

Here’s a quick glance at some key pricing differences, and their accompanying features, between Shopify and Ecwid.

Shopify Plans

Cost is a necessary expenditure in running a business. And this holds true even when you’re starting an online business. With Shopify, cost translates into a number of pricing plans. First, there’s the Basic Shopify plan at $29 a month, which comes with the platform’s essential features: hosting, sales channels, reporting, and customer support. Shopify and Advanced Shopify, on the other hand, comes at $79 and $299 per month respectively. Each builds on the features offered by the basic plan, while also offering lower payment processing fees.

Across all three Shopify plans, you’ll get a slight discount if you opt for an annual subscription. For annual plans, you get a 10% discount on monthly prices when paid upfront. You get a higher 20% discount, however, if you choose a biennial plan instead. These options are value-for-money, especially if you’re really keen on using the platform long-term.

Ecwid Plans

Ecwid, on the other hand, has four pricing plans to choose from. Interestingly, its most basic offer comes free — forever. Yes, you read that right. Ecwid’s Free plan has no monthly or yearly subscription fee and you still get to embed the plugin in any existing website. In addition, you also enjoy store customization, unlimited bandwidth, and social media advertising. However, it does come with a caveat. For starters, you’re limited to 10 products. More advanced features like SEO tools, abandoned shopping cart, and dimensional shipping rates are also excluded. Lastly, you don’t get customer support.

With this in mind, Ecwid’s paid plans are definitely better. At $15 a month, the Venture plan should be the bare minimum for any business who wants to venture into e-commerce. You get everything from the free plan, plus access to Ecwid’s App Market, inventory tracking, and of course, customer support. Like in Shopify’s pricing scheme, Ecwid’s pricier Business and Unlimited plans build on the features of the Free and Venture packages while adding more e-commerce capabilities. So if you’re really keen on selling online, these upper-tier plans should have more than enough to support your digital presence.

Ease of Use

If you have an existing website, Ecwid is easy to install; on the other hand, Shopify requires building a website from scratch. 

For Wix, you can easily install Ecwid by adding the plugin to your site care of the Wix AppMarket.

Since Ecwid is essentially a plugin, all you have to do is add it to your existing website. There’s no need to worry about hosting, coding, or even installing. Currently, the software is compatible with a number of platforms including WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr and Squarespace. Wix—which like Shopify is a website builder—is even easier to add Ecwid to, since it offers the plugin in its own App Market. All you have to do is add it to your site and you can start selling.

In contrast, Shopify will require you to build your store from scratch. While this sounds intimidating, using the platform is rather straightforward. Shopify’s intuitive interface makes it easy for non-developers to create their website, even without the use of coding. In addition, questions and prompts guide users in setting up an online store. There are plenty of free and paid-for themes as well, so newbies can simply pick a template, customize it, and add the needed e-commerce features.

Features

Shopify offers more advanced e-commerce tools and features compared to Ecwid.

With Shopify, you have access to a range of functionalities to help jumpstart your online store.  

Shopify’s approach as an all-in-one solution means you have access to more advanced e-commerce tools and features. Because you get to build your online store from scratch, you also have more control in the process. For starters, Shopify comes with all the essentials, including inventory management and abandoned cart recovery across all of its plans. In addition, third-party payment gateways are all supported, which is also secured with the platform’s fraud analysis feature. Other key features from Shopify include multichannel integration, support for dropshipping, and Shopify POS.

With Ecwid, you also get inventory tracking, a number of shipping options, and the ability to sell both physical and digital products. Like Shopify, the plugin also has features for automatic tax handling, discount codes, and additional staff accounts. However, most of the advanced features are available only on the paid plans, particularly Business and Unlimited.

Certainly, Shopify gives you more e-commerce tools even with just its entry-level package. Plus, it’s App Store comes with an extensive suite of integrations and features that should suit most businesses. So while Ecwid has more than enough to support a small or midsize business, Shopify will have the advantage in terms of scalable features across its price plans.

Customization

Ecwid has limited design options compared to Shopify’s range of fully-customizable and mobile-optimized themes.

To edit your Ecwid-powered online store, you can use the Decorator app to avoid CSS.  

Because Ecwid is a plugin, changing the design of your online store works differently as opposed to Shopify. With the latter, you can start customizing just by selecting a theme. Although the paid-for templates are highly-recommended, Shopify’s free themes are fully-customizable, too. This means you can adapt these templates to fit your brand’s look or design — from the color palette down to the typography. In addition, you can apply filters to images, drag and drop content blocks to adjust your website’s layout, and add social media icons.

On the other hand, since Ecwid is usually integrated with an existing website, your online store will reflect your original website’s design features instead. You can, however, still customize the storefront. Built-in store settings do allow for Ecwid users to apply some basic editing including the size of product images, the store’s layout, and the color palette.

But for advanced customization, you’ll have to use CSS. Ecwid’s Design app and Decorator app can make things easier, though. With the latter, you can restyle your online store—from text top button styles, colors and storefront background—even without coding. Nonetheless, these customizations are limited compared to the control you get with Shopify. And it’s to be expected, since Ecwid is really more of a plugin you add to an existing website rather than an online store builder.

Payment Options and Fees

Shopify includes transaction fees on top of third-party processing fees whereas Ecwid charges nothing else except what the payment provider does.

shopify fees
Shopify gives an incentive to those who use its in-house payment gateway.

Of course, to start your online store you’ll have to consider the payment options for your customers. In this regard, Shopify does have an advantage in numbers, as it supports over 100 payment gateways. Plus, it does boast its own Shopify Payments feature. Nonetheless, the major payment options are available in both platforms including PayPal and Stripe.

Keep in mind, however, that Ecwid does not charge transaction fees with your sales. The only fees you’ll have to worry about are those from the third-party provider you choose. In contrast, Shopify will apply its own transaction fees on-top of the processing fees charged by a third-party provider. You do get lower rates as you move up their pricing plan, or opt for a partner-provider like PayPal. But you’ll save more if you opt with their in-house Shopify Payments which has been incentivized by removing transaction fees altogether.

Verdict

Shopify is great for businesses who want to build their own online store. On the other hand, Ecwid is better for merchants with existing websites.

Shopify

Recommended for customization and e-commerce tools

Ecwid

Recommended for ease-of-use and pricing

Shopify and Ecwid are two great offerings for businesses venturing into e-commerce. Since both work differently—one is a build-your-own website platform and the other is a plugin—your choice depends on which solution fits your needs.

Small to midsize businesses with an existing website will gravitate towards Ecwid. This is especially true if you want to avoid the hassle of building a new online store. Ecwid is compatible with several platforms as well, including WordPress and Wix. So if you are happy with the functionality your website offers, then this e-commerce plugin is a welcome addition.

For more control, Shopify is the better option. While it does entail building a website from scratch, the platform’s interface is easy to use. Even non-developers will enjoy building an online store using one of the countless themes available. You also get more advanced and scalable e-commerce tools across Shopify’s pricing plans. So if you’re really serious about online selling, you’ll find more room for business expansion with this platform.

 

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