Ecwid Review: Is it the right e-commerce solution for your small business?

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Do you feel like you waste a lot of time and money managing your online store?

Does it feel like you are constantly balancing security, hacking attempts, slow loading times and expensive hosting?

Do you ever find yourself wondering if there is an easier way?

In this article, I am going to show you why Ecwid is the e-commerce solution that can help you to grow your e-commerce business while saving you time, money and most importantly: your sanity.

I’d like to share with you a story from one of my clients.

The journey

Tone ProShop has been around for more than a decade. They’ve used many of the self-hosted e-commerce solutions available at one time or another, and it seemed like they all had the same problems: they were hard to use, costly to maintain, and vulnerable to hacking and malware.

They used one leading self-hosted e-commerce platform for a couple of years, but it was never easy to use. This platform required them to know HTML to edit their product descriptions and pages. They also had to manually add their products on eBay to sell there as well. It was impossible to synchronise stock from their website. Fortunately, the owner is tech-savvy. He used to build simple websites when he was younger. Before long, though, they were fending off hacking attempts. Every couple of weeks, there seemed to be a new malware infection. It was getting very expensive.

After seeing the powerful capabilities of one of the most popular self-hosted e-commerce platforms in the world, and being totally fed up with the security vulnerabilities their previous website face, Tone ProShop commissioned a new one. The developers built it and customised it for their business. It was a lengthy and costly process that took months and they hadn’t even added their products yet!

Finally, the website was handed over to them, ready to go with a few products for them to use as reference for adding the rest.

With a catalogue of approximately 500 products, this was going to take some time to migrate over.

The old website was dying a slow and painful death. They couldn’t afford to keep dealing with the hacks and malware so they made the call to cut and switch with a limited catalogue.

For the next six months, Tone ProShop slowly added products to the new website, finally getting it back to their full product line. The whole process of building and migrating to this popular self-hosted e-commerce platform took close to a year when it was all said and done. Ouch.

The new website was going well. It looked good, it ran smoothly for customers. It was still awkward in the backend. There were so many options that did who knows what. Some settings sounded like they should do one thing, but actually did something else entirely. Product descriptions still needed HTML knowledge to get them to look just right, and eBay synchronisation was available, so that was good.

All was going well. However, the website did seem to be slow to load. As traffic grew, it seemed to slow down even more and the website was constantly showing server error messages. They were losing customers and it was making order dispatch slow and difficult.

The solution? More powerful hosting. The server was upgraded. Things were back to normal, for a while. They were installing security updates and regular maintenance to keep things running smoothly. All was right in the world. Then the malware started.

The site was cleaned and everything was reset. Additional security measures were implemented and unused functions on the site were shut down to be on the safe side.

Everything was fine for a few more months, but then it seemed to become a constant battle against hacking attempts and server errors. Editing content pages was still awkward with HTML required. Everything was just starting to get all too familiar.

Tone ProShop needed a better solution. They needed their website to do the job properly and make money instead of being a constant time and money drain.

The requirements

When I reviewed the issues that Tone ProShop consistently encountered with their self-hosted e-commerce websites, I concluded that they needed an e-commerce system that was built specifically with small businesses in mind. I identified these requirements that needed to be addressed by a potential new e-commerce platform:

  • It needed to be easy to use for anyone, regardless of their tech capabilities.
  • It must be simple to maintain.
  • There must be an emphasis on security.
  • It must be stable under heavy traffic spikes.
  • It should load quickly.
  • It must have the ability to sell across multiple channels including Facebook and eBay.
  • It must save money compared to their current self-hosted website.
  • It should be quick to deploy.

The solution

Looking at these requirements, there are many choices available on the market that could serve their needs, but there is one that stood out to me above everything else: Ecwid.

Start selling for free with Ecwid - Screenshot

I don’t take these kinds of issues lightly, and it is a big decision to switch e-commerce platforms, so the choice had to be the right one. Comparing all the frontrunners side by side, Ecwid was a no-brainer to me.

Let’s look at why.

Is Ecwid easy to use?

Ecwid was started in 2009 by Ruslan Fazlyev, one of the co-founders of the world’s first PHP e-commerce platform, X-Cart. The mission?

To enable small businesses to easily add online stores to their existing sites

About Ecwid

What’s their slogan? “E-commerce for small business”.

It doesn’t get much clearer than that. Ecwid was built for small businesses and it was built to be easy.

Does it deliver?

Yes.

Ecwid is (in my opinion), the simplest e-commerce system in the world.

Does it skimp on capability to obtain the holy grail of simplicity?

No. Ecwid is capable of doing just about anything that a small business might be able to imagine, and certainly everything that Tone ProShop needed.

Managing Ecwid is easy - Add new product screen

Ecwid is so simple that small business owners with no knowledge of programming languages are able to sign up and get started selling online without touching a single line of code or hiring a developer. To truly customise the appearance of Ecwid, you do need some coding knowledge, but this is rarely needed. Ecwid comes with pre-built templates that seamlessly fit into your main website design.

The one thing to be aware of is that Ecwid is designed to add online store functionality to existing websites. You can deploy an Ecwid store without a website, but Ecwid has been built with the expectation that your other content pages, like your blog, will either already exist or be built using a separate content management system. This allows you to easily integrate Ecwid with an existing website on any content management system.

Is Ecwid easy to maintain?

Ecwid is extremely easy to maintain.

Ecwid is a hosted e-commerce solution, also called software-as-a-service. This means that unlike self-hosted e-commerce solutions, you don’t need to deal with web hosting or updates. Software upgrades and security patches all happen silently in the background. The only indication that they ever even occurred is when you get notifications letting you know about new features or changes that you need to be aware of.

There really is no maintenance required on the software side. This just leaves updating your products as needed. Perhaps switching freight providers or other operational changes like selling on a new channel, Instagram maybe?

Functional maintenance like freight and payments providers is very simple, as are options to integrate with other sales channels. The Ecwid administrator interface makes it a very straightforward process to update or change these settings with clear instructions that guide you through the entire process.

Updating products is equally easy. The visual interface doesn’t require any HTML so anyone can do it. There are instructions and helpful tooltips all the way through, and the entire process just works like a well-oiled machine.

Is Ecwid secure?

Yes.

Security is one of the major issues faced by small businesses in the e-commerce space and self-hosted e-commerce platforms are among the most vulnerable. Ecwid doesn’t publish full details of everything they are doing from a security perspective, however, they do address security with a team of security experts tasked with ensuring that every Ecwid store is secured against malware, hackers, phishing and other nasties.

Being a hosted solution rather than self-hosted, Ecwid customers don’t have direct access to a web server, removing that entry point as a hacking risk. Regardless, the entire platform is regularly scanned for potential breeches and attempted attacks. Potential vulnerabilities are patched as they are detected, and you never have to worry about doing this work yourself.

Ecwid is a PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) Validated Level 1 Service Provider meaning that the platform complies with the highest international standard for secure data exchange between online stores and payments systems.

This also means that all Ecwid stores run through HTTPS with an included free SSL certificate, creating trust for your visitors.

Tone ProShop has now been running on Ecwid for more than 4 years and has not experienced a single hack or malware infection.

That is pretty impressive and has made life so much easier for them. Knowing that your web store is secure creates an enormous sense of peace and saves a lot of money on dealing with security and fixing hacks.

Is Ecwid stable under load and traffic spikes?

Yes it is.

Ecwid uses Amazon EC2 and Amazon AWS to handle processing and file serving using global edge locations nearest to each customer. These are the same platforms that power Amazon and thousands of other big businesses around the world. Utilising these platforms allows Ecwid to scale resources up and down to cater for unexpected traffic spikes. Their team is constantly monitoring this to make sure your website never goes down and never has a server error.

You don’t have to worry about increasing your server capability as your site grows, this just happens automatically in the background with no extra cost.

Your Ecwid website will also automatically make use of the Amazon Cloudfront content delivery network (CDN) to further accelerate loading your e-commerce store if you upgrade from Ecwid’s free plan to one of their premium options.

You can’t get that level of stability and performance capability in a self-hosted platform for a comparable price to Ecwid. It just isn’t possible.

Read more about Ecwid hosting.

Does Ecwid load quickly?

Yes!

Ecwid has been built to load quickly. The developers have used a number of techniques to optimise the way the underlying code performs operations to improve loading times. This includes using a technology called Ajax to just load the things that will change when a customer clicks a link. This saves reloading everything that will stay the same.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, utilising the Amazon EC2 and AWS server platforms doesn’t just increase the stability of your website. It also improves loading times. These Amazon technologies are optimised for performance and efficiency, so compared to using a low-cost self-hosted solution, your Ecwid website will respond to customer requests much faster and send them your website very quickly.

Amazon EC2 and AWS also have locations all around the globe that allow the closest location to your customer to serve your website. So if your customer is in Australia, their website loads from Sydney, not from somewhere in the USA. This alone improves loading time as well.

In addition, Ecwid engineers are constantly working to further optimise the performance of both their Amazon EC2 servers and of Ecwid code.

When any performance improvements become available, they are seamlessly rolled out to your website without any downtime. Your site just keeps getting faster all the time. You just don’t get that using a self-hosted solution.

Read more about what goes into making Ecwid fast.

Does Ecwid integrate with multiple sales channel like eBay and Facebook?

Yes!

On every Ecwid plan, including the forever free plan, you get integration with Google Shopping, Facebook Ads, Pinterest Ads and SnapChat Ads.

Upgrade to the Ecwid Venture plan for $22 AUD per month ($18.33/month if paid annually) and you get built-in integration with Facebook Shops and Instagram Stores.

Sell on multiple channels with Ecwid - Screenshot

As you grow, move on up to the Ecwid Business plan for $52 AUD per month ($43.33/month if paid annually) and you get integration with eBay and Amazon using the Codisto Linq tool. Codisto Linq is a third-party synchronisation tool that does require a separate subscription.

If you want to take things even further, upgrade to the Ecwid Unlimited plan at $146 AUD per month and pay annually ($121.67/month) to get your own custom iOS and Android mobile app for your store.

See the full breakdown of Ecwid plan inclusions.

Will Ecwid save the business money?

YES!

Let’s say you are running a self-hosted ecommerce website just starting to get a reasonable amount of traffic, perhaps 2000 unique visitors per month. Not heaps, but enough to be starting to press your server at peak traffic times.

You are syncing your catalogue of 90 products with Facebook and Instagram, using Google Shopping, and you are maintaining all your website security and software updates yourself.

A popular, self-hosted platform would require a minimum of VPS hosting for this. Average pricing for a basic VPS is going around AUD $49/month.

You then have a time cost of, let’s say, 2 hours per month performing maintenance on your website in the form of updates and security patches. For argument’s sake, let’s say that equates to AUD $80/month assuming everything goes smoothly and you don’t have any major issues.

You might get a discount on your hosting if you pay it annually, but on those two costs alone, you are looking at AUD $129/month or $1548/year.

What will Ecwid cost you?

AUD $22/month or $219.96/year if paid annually.

That’s a massive saving!

The cost of an Ecwid subscription is less than just the hosting cost for a self-hosted solution before even taking into account maintenance costs.

What about if you have a bigger catalogue? Say 500 products.

You might be able to get by on the same hosting, maybe, using a self-hosted solution.

Assuming you can, it would remain about the same cost.

You would need to upgrade your Ecwid plan and it would cost you just AUD $52/month or $519.96/year if paid annually.

If you are paying annually, Ecwid still comes in cheaper than just hosting for a self-hosted e-commerce platform. However, with the Ecwid upgrade you now also get access to the necessary tools to sync your catalogue with eBay and Amazon, you can setup automated marketing emails, offer wholesale pricing, send abandoned cart emails, run a multilingual store, and a whole lot more.

Yes, your self-hosted solution might be able to do more too, but many of those things are going to add extra costs to it, where Ecwid is already winning on price.

Let’s say you want to be able to add more pages, content and a blog to your website though. You can’t do that with Ecwid, you still have to run a separate content management system for that. For just a few dollars a month you can deploy that other content management system, either self-hosted or on another hosted platform and still come in much cheaper than popular self-hosted e-commerce solutions.

So, is Ecwid cheaper? Resoundingly yes!

Starting off, you can also get up and running on the free Ecwid plan. So you don’t spend a cent while you are setting up your website. You only start to pay once you need to upgrade for more products or features. Taking this approach can keep your costs down even further while your business is in the early stages or doesn’t have a lot of products.

Is Ecwid cheap - Plans and Pricing

Is Ecwid quick to deploy?

Is 5 minutes fast enough?

It’s possible to deploy an Ecwid store, including configuring payments and shipping, ready to add your first product in just 5 minutes. It might take a little bit longer if it’s your first time, but Ecwid has made the process so simple and streamlined that it still won’t take you very long.

Is Ecwid the right choice for your small business e-commerce website?

To know for sure, we need to double check against the problem.

Tone ProShop was struggling with wasted time and money, battling security, slow load times and expensive hosting. I identified these key requirements from their pain points:

  • It needed to be easy to use for anyone, regardless of their tech capabilities.
  • It must be simple to maintain.
  • There must be an emphasis on security.
  • It must be stable under heavy traffic spikes.
  • It should load quickly.
  • It must have the ability to sell across multiple channels including Facebook and eBay.
  • It must save money compared to their current self-hosted website.
  • It should be quick to deploy.

Does Ecwid meet those requirements?

  • Easy to use: Yes
  • Simple to maintain: Yes
  • Emphasis on security: Yes
  • Stable under heavy traffic spikes: Yes
  • Load quickly: Yes
  • Able to sell across multiple channels: Yes
  • Save money: Yes
  • Quick to deploy: Yes

Ecwid is the easier way that Tone ProShop was looking for. Ecwid is the e-commerce solution that solved the problems Tone ProShop was constantly facing with other platforms and I am confident that Ecwid can do the same for you, helping you to grow your e-commerce business.

Ecwid can and will save you time, money and most importantly: your sanity. Are you ready for e-commerce nirvana?

Click here to get started on your journey to e-commerce success with Ecwid.

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