Ecwid vs WooCommerce – Which one is the best for small businesses?

Ecwid Vs WooCommerce - Which one is the best for small businesses

Table of Contents

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Have you been struggling with which e-commerce platform to choose? Do you get stuck trying to understand all the technical jargon? Are you unsure what you actually need in an e-commerce system? I think we’ve all been there. With so many options to choose from, it’s tough to really be sure you are making the right choice for you and your small business. In this Ecwid vs WooCommerce comparison, I’m going to break down the pros and cons of Ecwid for small businesses and we’ll see how it stacks up against the toughest competitor: WooCommerce. Hopefully, by the end of this review, you’ll know definitively one way or the other if Ecwid is the right choice for your small business.

To start off with, I just want to clarify, we are looking at the self-hosted version of WordPress and WooCommerce, not the hosted version available on WordPress.com – that’s for another comparison!

So, let’s have a quick look at market share. Then we’ll jump into the differences and similarities between these two e-commerce platforms. But first, here’s the low-down on which one wins for those that don’t want to read all the way to the end of the article. If you don’t like spoilers, skip to the next section!

Victory Flag

The low-down:

Ecwid is the simplest and most cost-effective platform for small businesses wanting to sell across multiple channels online, hands down. It really is no competition.

WooCommerce has a big learning curve and can work out more expensive, but does give much more flexibility. Does your small business need that flexibility? Unless you are selling thousands of complex products with advanced store functions, probably not.

The winner for small businesses?

Ecwid.

Ecwid vs WooCommerce: Market Share

WooCommerce is the dominant player in the industry with 31% of the e-commerce market share in Australia. Ecwid comes in at fifth place with only 9% market share.

Breakdown of e-commerce technologies used in Australia
Breakdown of e-commerce technologies used in Australia. Source: BuiltWith.

Looking across the internet globalle, the breakdown is slightly different. WooCommerce is still number 1, powering 25% of e-commerce websites on the internet. Ecwid jumps up to fourth place, powering 8% of e-commerce websites.

Breakdown of e-commerce technologies used globally
Breakdown of e-commerce technologies used globally. Source: BuiltWith.

Digging into WordPress plugins, it probably comes as no surprise that WooCommerce takes the cake as the #1 most used plugin, Ecwid comes in as the second most used.

Breakdown of e-commerce plugins used globally
Breakdown of e-commerce plugins used globally. Source: BuiltWith

So, why does WooCommerce have such a dominant position over Ecwid? It largely comes down to access through WordPress, the world’s most popular content management system. Does that make WooCommerce better? Not at all. It just means more people know about it! It also means that there is a massive community around WooCommerce, and that’s a good thing!

Ecwid vs WooCommerce: Portable vs Adaptable

Ecwid and WooCommerce both provide e-commerce functionality, but how they are built and operate is fundamentally different. Let’s jump into a little more detail:

Ecwid: Portable

Ecwid is a closed-source system. This means the underlying code and technology is proprietary and not open to public scrutiny. This creates a caveat. Ecwid isn’t easy for just anyone to extend the functionality. There is an app market, but it is not as accessible as the WordPress plugin repository for WordPress.

Ecwid operates differently to other e-commerce platforms though, it performs as a ‘hub’ system that offers portability. About halfway down this guest post I wrote on the Ecwid blog, I talk about why this portability is important. The short version though is that, as a portable system, Ecwid can follow you around, enabling you to sell anywhere, on any website, integrated with any content management system of your choosing, or multiple content management systems. It doesn’t really matter what systems you choose, Ecwid can be built into them.

Add Ecwid to any website
Add Ecwid to any website

As a hub, Ecwid can also feed data into marketplace sales channels like Facebook, Instagram, Amazon and eBay.

Ecwid has a base set of functionality built into it, some of that functionality requires a specific subscription to enable it. Additional functionality can also be added to Ecwid using apps from the Ecwid App Market. For example, Amazon integration requires an app, so you will need to upgrade to a Business or Unlimited subscription to unlock access to the App Market.

Ecwid App Market
The Ecwid App Market

With around 40 apps in the Ecwid App Market, there is a lot of flexibility to achieve the needs of most small businesses. That said, with around 40 apps in the Ecwid App Market, there is also a lot less choice than you will find available for WooCommerce. The reduced choice makes it really easy to quickly determine which app you need, and they are all vetted by Ecwid to ensure that your website remains secure and that the apps don’t impact your website performance, both very important factors for e-commerce.

WooCommerce: Adaptable

WooCommerce is an open-source system. So, unlike Ecwid, the underlying code is open for anyone to see or contribute towards. The technology is owned by Automattic (the parent company of WordPress), and it can be freely modified.

WooCommerce can function as a ‘hub’ system as well, capable of feeding product data into multiple sales channels just like Ecwid.

WooCommerce also has a base set of functionality with extensions available in the form of plugins. There are thousands of free plugins available on the WordPress.org repository as well as thousands of premium paid plugins available from places like the WooCommerce website, Barn2, CodeCanyon, and many other independent developers.

WooCommerce Plugin Repository
Some of the plugins in the WordPress plugin repository for WooCommerce

WooCommerce is, perhaps, the most adaptable e-commerce system in the world with multiple solutions already available to most problems. However, with so many options, WooCommerce can become overwhelming and there are risks of significant security vulnerabilities. Every additional plugin you install adds extra load to your server and brings with it security risks.

So, not only do you have to figure out what plugins are the best for your specific scenario, but you also need to ensure that the ones you choose are updated frequently by their developers and that you are keeping them up to date on your website. Then, on top of managing that, you also need to balance whether the extra load that the plugin adds is worth the extra functionality it brings. Too many plugins and you might need to upgrade your webserver to handle it.

Ecwid vs WooCommerce: Simplicity

Ecwid and WooCommerce approach e-commerce from very different angles, and as a result, there is a big gap in how simple they are.

Ecwid: Simple

Ecwid was founded in 2009 to enable small businesses to easily add online stores to their existing sites.” (About Ecwid).

Building on this early foundation, Ecwid has grown and you can launch an e-commerce site with or without an existing site. However, that key word “easily” has remained at the core of Ecwid.

Ecwid has been designed with a simple and intuitive interface that you can learn quickly. Right from the start, the signup process guides you through setting up your store and it is possible to be up and running within minutes without looking at any code whatsoever.

Ecwid Visual Editor of Product Page Layout
The Ecwid visual editor for product page layouts

Every piece of Ecwid has been built to be used without needing any code. Even the design customiser is completely visual. For users that are comfortable with code, it is possible to customise the design code, but most of the time there is no need to do this. The visual editor has you covered.

Connecting up shipping calculators and different payment processors is extremely straight-forward to the point that you can even start accepting PayPal payments to your email address before you open a PayPal account (if you don’t already have one).

Coming from a web design background, I find Ecwid ridiculously easy to use.

WooCommerce: Not so much

WooCommerce is committed to democratizing commerce and putting you in control of your own livelihood.” (About WooCommerce).

Built on WordPress, WooCommerce is an open-source platform that gives you control of everything related to your store. You can choose from thousands of free and paid plugins to add pretty much any feature or function you can think of. You can completely customise the look and feel of the site either by building your own completely custom theme (coding required), customising an existing theme (some coding required) or using site builders like Elementor (a little coding may be required). Generally, you can get away without code knowledge but having an understanding of how HTML and CSS work can be a big help.

Due to the vast capabilities of WooCommerce, it is not particularly simple to use. If you are familiar with the WordPress interface, you will pick it up reasonably quickly, but if not, it’s a big beast to wrangle. WordPress and WooCommerce have both been making big strides towards simplification in recent years. The new block editor in WordPress and new guided installation in WooCommerce are huge improvements, however, there is still a long way to go.

One of the biggest challenges though is that no matter how simple WordPress and WooCommerce become, there are so many functions that rely on third-party plugins. It’s up to the developers of these plugins to keep them simple and being completely honest, many plugins are complex to use and some even have their own independent interfaces. It’s not uncommon for an e-commerce website built on WooCommerce to have a lot of plugins. I find most simpler WooCommerce stores still have around 20 plugins installed. Some of our more complex ones have close to 70 plugins to handle all the different aspects of their e-commerce business. That’s a lot of places for things to break!

Plugins add complexity, not just in using the system, but also in maintaining it. Every update to every plugin there is a risk that something will go wrong. Sometimes, it makes no sense whatsoever. For example, after 3 hours of troubleshooting a glitch in credit card payments on one WooCommerce website, we discovered that re-installing the recently updated version of the Jetpack plugin solved the issue. Nevertheless, it took a lot of time to troubleshoot the issue. This kind of thing can happen at any time that any update is installed.

Ecwid vs WooCommerce: Installation & Setup

Setup is potentially one of the biggest hurdles for an e-commerce system. If you are building your own website and the system is too hard to setup, it probably isn’t going to work for you!

Ecwid: Straight-forward

Ecwid has an extremely simple rapid setup process. It’s possible for anyone to deploy a free Ecwid website in just 5 minutes, complete with shipping calculations and payment methods, ready to begin adding your products. It’s crazy easy and I recently wrote a blog about how to get started with Ecwid without spending any money. The blog article will guide you through how to get Ecwid up and running.

Ecwid setup step 1
The Ecwid setup wizard.

The Ecwid setup process guides you through each step and there is no code knowledge required to get up and running with an instant site. If you already have a website to integrate Ecwid with, then you may need to add a code snippet to your website. Plugins are also available for integration with most popular content management systems, including WordPress.

WooCommerce: Complex

WooCommerce requires WordPress to run, so you have to have WordPress already installed on your hosting. Assuming you have that up and running, WooCommerce is installed as a plugin. This process is simple enough. Once activated, WooCommerce does have a guided setup process that walks you through the most common settings, recommended extra plugins (like payment processors) and helps accelerate the setup process.

However, once you finish the guided setup, you still need to actually setup your WooCommerce store. The guided setup only does so much and many aspects, such as your payments processor, still need to be configured with no clear guide or consistent process on where or how to configure each piece of the e-commerce puzzle. WooCommerce does put most settings within the aptly named ‘Settings’ section. However, because it relies on plugins built by many different developers, there are a lot of inconsistencies that can be confusing.

If you need to add an extra feature, you will need to find an appropriate plugin to help you. Fortunately, there are plugins available to do just about anything, however, you do have to wade through the many different plugins that may provide similar functionality to each other to find the best one for you. Then you have to rely on many third-party developers keeping their plugins up to date to ensure that the plugin is secure and actually going to work with the version of WooCommerce you have installed.

WooCommerce has significantly reduced the setup complexity in recent years, but it is still a very complicated e-commerce system to get up and running that can require a significant time investment to fully configure.

Ecwid vs WooCommerce: Maintenance

E-commerce sites can be challenging to maintain because there is so much dynamic data at play with frequent database updates. Ecwid and WooCommerce are very different platforms, so their maintenance requirements are quite different.

Ecwid: Maintenance free

Since Ecwid is a cloud-based software-as-a-service application, there is no software maintenance required. The Ecwid team does all of this in the background for you so seamlessly that you will never even know it happened!

The only maintenance you, as a store owner, actually need to do on Ecwid is updating your products, policies and promotions. Maybe occasionally tweak your design a little.

Ecwid has made all of these things extremely simple. Updating your site is an absolute breeze.

WooCommerce: Maintenance headache

On the other hand, maintaining a WooCommerce website is an absolute headache. As I mentioned earlier, every update brings with it the risk that something will break. It can be something minor, like icons not displaying quite right, something bigger, like credit card forms not displaying correctly, or something massive like the entire site returning errors.

WordPress does have some auto-update capabilities, but you never know when an issue might crop up so you do have to be vigilant.

WordPress Plugin Updates
WordPress and WooCommerce plugin updates waiting to be installed

Then there is, of course, all your product, policy and promotional updates. WooCommerce is not hard to keep your products up to date, but the interface is not as simple and clear as Ecwid. This is in part because there are just so many options. With great adaptability and customizability comes greater complexity.

WooCommerce can’t compete with the completely hands-off back-end maintenance and simple product editor of Ecwid. The only way to get anywhere close to that kind of hands-off maintenance is to pay a third-party maintenance company to look after your WordPress maintenance for you. It’s possible, but that does add to the cost of your website.

Ecwid vs WooCommerce: Customer Support

Customer support is essential for small businesses that don’t have in-house expertise. The last thing you want is to encounter a major issue and be stuck with your website offline and no one to turn to.

Ecwid

Ecwid is extremely easy to use, but if you do get stuck, support is available on all subscriptions with one-on-one support available on all paid subscriptions. This support can be accessed from within your Ecwid dashboard.

  • Free plan: Email support (helpdesk)
  • Venture plan: Email and chat support
  • Business plan: Email, chat and phone support plus 2 hours of free customisation services.
  • Unlimited plan: Priority email, chat and phone support plus 12 hours of free customisation services.
Ecwid has built in support
Ecwid support is built right into your store dashboard.

In addition to the included support, all Ecwid plans also have access to the extensive Ecwid knowledgebase which is packed full of helpful articles, guides and videos on how to solve common problems and do all sorts of things with Ecwid. If you prefer the self-help route, the Ecwid blog and wider community are also growing with an array of resources and extra guides to help you out.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce does not offer support for the base platform, however, there is an extensive knowledgebase available full of guides for new store owners. When it comes to support for the base platform, you have to choose between disjointed options. To get support for WooCommerce itself, you need to seek community-based help from the WordPress community or pay an independent support provider. This could be your web developer, or it could another third-party. In either case, the developers of WooCommerce DO NOT provide customer support.

Then there are plugins for WooCommerce. Free plugins almost exclusively rely on community support as well, which can be slow. Premium plugins, including those sold by WooCommerce, do usually have support available. WooCommerce does provide support for all of their premium plugins. This support is via helpdesk only. Other premium plugins are typically supported by the developers that wrote the plugin.

The open-source model behind WordPress and WooCommerce that facilitates significant adaptability also creates a very disconnected support system with different support mechanisms for the base system and for every plugin. The only way to get a simple support system in place that covers everything in one place is to pay a third-party support company. Most web developers offer this service (including us), and it’s in such high demand that many companies have popped up solely focusing on providing a unified support solution for WordPress and WooCommerce. This is a great way to simplify a complex support system, but it does add more cost to get something that is already included with Ecwid.

Ecwid vs WooCommerce: Features

Of course, if an e-commerce platform doesn’t have the features you need, then it won’t be right for you. Both Ecwid and WooCommerce are packed full of different features, so much so that it would be impossible to cover them all in this article, so I’m going to look at the key features a small business might need.

Ecwid: Everything a small business needs

Ecwid doesn’t have as many features overall as WooCommerce, but with their emphasis on small businesses, it does have everything that the majority of small businesses might need, including:

  • Integration with most major payment processors around the world including Stripe, PayPal and Square.
  • Shipping calculation integration with most postal services including Australia Post and USPS as well as integration with some courier services popular with small businesses, like Sendle in Australia.
  • Flat-rate, free shipping and custom shipping table options.
  • Sell across multiple channels including Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, eBay and Google Shopping.
  • Integrate seamlessly with any existing website or launch an instant site.
  • Digital product support.
  • Discount coupons.
  • Gift cards.
  • Automated, simple tax calculations.
  • Inventory tracking.
  • Advanced SEO tools.
  • POS integration with popular POS platforms like Square.
  • Abandoned cart follow-up emails.
  • Wholesale pricing.
  • Variable products.
  • Multilingual capability.
  • Unlimited bandwidth.
  • Mobile-friendly.
  • Mobile store management app.
  • Custom mobile shopping app (Unlimited plan only)
  • Variable product limits depending on your plan (10 products on the free plan up to unlimited on the Unlimited plan).
  • Extra features available through the App Market, some do require third-party subscriptions to use them.

Note, some of the items on this list require paid subscriptions to access them.

See the full feature list.

Ecwid Feature List

WooCommerce: The kitchen sink, sort of

WooCommerce is one of the most extensible e-commerce platforms in the world, so as far as features go, it quite literally has everything, including the kitchen sink! A lot of these features do require third-party plugins, many of which are paid, adding to your cost. Out of the box, without any extra plugins besides those that can be added during the guided setup process, WooCommerce is actually a more limited platform than Ecwid. WooCommerce includes:

  • Integration with most major payment processors around the world including Stripe, PayPal and Square (plugins required, many available during guided setup).
  • Flat-rate and free shipping options.
  • Integrate seamlessly with WordPress.
  • Digital product support.
  • Discount coupons.
  • Tax calculations.
  • Inventory tracking.
  • Variable products.
  • Mobile-friendly (as long as your WordPress theme is mobile-friendly).
  • Unlimited products
  • Extra features available with plugins, many plugins do require third-party subscriptions to get the most out of them.

If you use the popular Jetpack plugin with WordPress, you can also enable WooCommerce services which adds:

  • Simplified, automated tax calculation.
  • Mobile store management app.
  • Stripe account provisioning.
  • PayPal Express Checkout payment authorization
  • For USA users, you also get access to WooCommerce payments and USPS label purchasing and printing.
WooCommerce - Build without Limits

While the “out of the box” capability of WooCommerce is more limited than Ecwid, the thousands of third-party plugins available give WooCommerce the feature victory. Using third-party plugins, you can:

  • Integrate with just about any payments processor around the world.
  • Integrate with most postal services for shipping calculations.
  • Integrate with most courier services for shipping calculations.
  • Calculate shipping in almost any way you want.
  • Sell across multiple channels including Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, eBay and Google Shopping.
  • Create completely custom product types.
  • Wholesale pricing.
  • Gift cards.
  • Loyalty programs.
  • Affiliate programs.
  • Multilingual with automated translations.
  • Run a membership site with member-only products or discounts.
  • Integrate with many popular POS systems.
  • And just about anything else you can think of.

WooCommerce is the undisputed king of features, through plugins.

Ecwid vs WooCommerce: Security

Security plays a vital role in customer trust and the viability of your e-commerce business. Your website must be secure. There are so many costs involved in operating an insecure e-commerce business, it just isn’t worth it.

E-Commerce security is vital
Image by Darwin Laganzon from Pixabay

Ecwid: PCI-DSS Level 1 certified service provider

PCI-DSS Compliance

PCI-DSS stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. Ecwid is a certified PCI-DSS Level 1 Service Provider, ensuring a high level of security that makes transactions with your payment gateway and bank safe and secure. You don’t have to worry about your customer payment information at all.

PCI-DSS Level 1

You also don’t have to worry about your website security, besides choosing secure passwords and keeping them safe. The Ecwid security team manages all of your website security for you. They are constantly monitoring things in the background and upgrading the platform to ensure it is as safe and secure as possible.

The closed-source benefit (and downside)

Since Ecwid is a closed-source system, the source code is not publicly accessible. This matters because it is much harder for potential hackers to find vulnerabilities than in an open-source platform where the source-code can be accessed by anyone.

While hackers have more difficulty finding vulnerabilities, the downside of closed-source is that vulnerabilities may take longer to be detected by the internal team as well.

WooCommerce: As secure as you can make it

This statement will probably upset the WordPress diehards, but WooCommerce sits in a bit of a grey area when it comes to security. You see, WordPress and WooCommerce can only ever be as secure as you make them, and that security comes at a cost. If you don’t put in the effort yourself to learn how to secure your WooCommerce store, no one else will do it for you. Some managed WordPress web hosts, like Kinsta, WP Engine and Flywheel do provide hosting with many security improvements to help keep your site secure, but there is still a lot more to it.

PCI-DSS Compliance

Out of the box, WooCommerce is not PCI-DSS compliant, however, with some elbow grease, the right plugins, and a good web host, it is possible to make your site PCI-DSS compliant. That said, compliance is only required if you are processing or storing customer credit card data. More and more payments processors are taking that burden off of website owners by processing credit cards directly in their systems. The most common PayPal and Stripe configurations do function this way.

Just because you might not be required to have PCI-DSS compliance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put in the effort to secure your store anyway. Many countries have strict privacy laws, reporting obligations and even fines for data breaches. Security is a big deal.

This isn’t a list for PCI-DSS compliance, but just to keep your WooCommerce store reasonably secure, you need to:

  • Ensure your server has a correctly installed SSL certificate.
  • Make your website load using the SSL certificate.
  • Ensure the website is loading securely and doesn’t have mixed content that could cause that little padlock in the address bar to break.
  • Have a web application firewall in place.
  • Use strong passwords.
  • Have virus protection.
  • Run regular malware scans.
  • Consider changing the default WordPress login URL.
  • Use non-standard database prefixes.
  • Disable unused APIs.
  • Consider adding two-factor authentication to your back-end user logins.
  • Change your password salt semi-frequently.
  • Block bad actors, eg brute-force attempts and attempts to access your database via backdoors.

And the list goes on.

So, this grey area I mentioned is grey, because WooCommerce can be secured and can attain PCI-DSS compliance, but, it requires a lot of work that might not be needed for your specific business.

The downside of open-source (and upside)

This grey area is also influenced by the very nature of WooCommerce as an open-source platform. Being open-source, the source code is available for everyone to see, including bad actors. This gives bad actors the access they need to find vulnerabilities and exploit that vulnerability across WooCommerce stores globally. The flip side of this is that anyone can see the source code and report possible vulnerabilities or help patch them. What does this mean in simple terms?

  1. WooCommerce vulnerabilities are more likely to be detected quickly, both by good and bad actors.
  2. Vulnerabilities in WooCommerce are more likely to be exploited by bad actors since they are easier to find.
  3. Vulnerabilities in WooCommerce are still worth exploiting even if they have been patched because many website owners do not keep their plugins up to date, including WooCommerce, meaning that potential security vulnerabilities are left open.

The plugin caveat

Out of the box, WooCommerce is reasonably secure and can be made more secure, but it also relies heavily on third-party plugins. Each plugin adds the potential for malicious exploits. Sometimes exploits come via plugins that are not even specifically related to WooCommerce. It’s also worth noting that plugins might not have to be active for their vulnerabilities to be exploited either. New WooCommerce store owners often add lots of plugins just to see how they work or if they are helpful. Perhaps they install 6 different plugins to achieve the same purpose while they try and figure out which one is best for their needs. Each of these plugins becomes a potential security threat to the website.

Third-party plugin developers may not be as quick to patch vulnerabilities as the core WooCommerce team (some definitely are), and exploits in plugins may not be detected as quickly either.

So while plugins add so much functionality to WooCommerce, they can also be high risk to your store security.

Ecwid vs WooCommerce: Performance

Website loading times are extremely important to your conversions. So important even that Google now tracks your loading speed as a metric in their search algorithm. If your website is slow to load, you will rank lower than a fast loading competitor. Similarly, you don’t want a spike in traffic to take your website down, costing you sales. So, how do they stack up?

Website speed is vital
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Ecwid: Calm under pressure

Ecwid engineers invest significant time towards ensuring that Ecwid loads quickly and scales with your traffic growth. This involves a lot of behind the scenes work to optimise and streamline the code while upgrading and improving the hardware behind it. Ecwid is built on the Amazon Web Services platform with built-in redundancy and the Cloudfront CDN included for all paid subscriptions to help improve performance.

Combined, the ever-improving code and platform result in a stable website that can grow with you, won’t crash when you have a traffic spike and loads fast all over the world. That is gold.

WooCommerce: At the mercy of you

WooCommerce can perform like lightning. However, it usually doesn’t. Why? Because it is at your mercy. Like most aspects of WooCommerce, it is only as fast as you make it. The WooCommerce team is constantly improving the code, optimising it and making changes to decrease server load or increase loading speed. However, at the end of the day, WooCommerce can only ever be as fast as the server you host it on.

Any optimisation of your WooCommerce installation and web host is up to you. Like security, a good web host can help to boost your performance. I’ve seen huge performance gains choosing a premium, optimised host like Kinsta in a location that is geographically close to the majority of the website audience, combined with a good CDN. However, that still leaves more you can do. For example:

  • You are in control of what caching methods you employ on top of any your web host already operates.
  • It’s up to you to optimise your pictures, videos and other files for the web.
  • Do you choose to minify your HTML, CSS, or JavaScript files, and if so, what breaks when you implement minification that you have to fix.
  • What features do you cut to reach your performance goals?
  • Is your theme optimised?
  • Do you remove the emoji support built into WordPress?
  • Will your hosting scale to handle traffic spikes?
  • Do you accept slower loading times if you have a peak in traffic?
  • Is it acceptable for your website to crash during busy periods?
  • Do you cut costs on your hosting during low periods?
  • What happens if your server gets hit with a DDoS attack?
  • Perhaps most important, what happens when any of your optimisations break?

Do you want to be worrying about all of those things, and more? If not, you could pay someone to look after this for you, but regardless of the approach you take, performance management adds more to the cost of running your website.

Some people (myself included) love dabbling in optimisation, but, doing so comes with a significant risk of breaking your site and for most store owners, it isn’t what you should be spending your time on. If you just want your website to load fast, all the time, go with Ecwid.

If you want control over every little aspect, love to tinker, don’t mind breaking things, and have some idea of what you are doing, WooCommerce might be the choice for you.

Ecwid vs WooCommerce: Cost

Ecwid and WooCommerce are different beasts, so it is difficult to do a direct cost comparison. Ecwid has very simple pricing, but you can integrate it with an existing site that may already have incurred some of the costs that WooCommerce has. Does this mean WooCommerce could be cheaper? Maybe. There’s a balance between the time, cost and quality here, so let’s dig into it a bit more so you have a clearer idea of the costs involved in these two platforms.

Time, cost and quality triangle.
Image by Dirk Wouters from Pixabay

Ecwid

Ecwid has a base subscription cost. As I talk about in my article about using Ecwid to start an e-commerce website without any money, you can just go with Ecwid and nothing else. You can start on a free subscription and then upgrade as needed, paying for just the Ecwid subscription.

However, there are other costs that you could incur but might already be paying for. One example is a custom domain name. Another might be web hosting for an existing website. To keep things on an even playing field and make the comparison as accurate as possible, I’ve made the assumption that you are only using e-commerce functionality and that there is nothing else required on your website.

Base cost

Ecwid has four subscriptions at different price points. I’ve listed the costs below in US dollars as of the time of writing. For current pricing in your preferred currency, see the Ecwid pricing page. Ecwid offers billing in most major currencies, including Australian dollars, which can help you save on currency conversion fees.

  • Free: $0/month
  • Venture: $15/month or $12.50/month if paid annually
  • Business: $35/month or $29.17/month if paid annually
  • Unlimited: $99/month or $82.50/month if paid annually

As the plans get more expensive, more features are included.

Domain name

If you want to use a custom domain name, for example, mysite.com, you need to buy a domain. If you already have a website then you probably already have a domain name too. Prices vary, but most domains renew at a cost of around AUD $25-$100/year. It is possible to pick up domains on sale through vendors like Crazy Domains for lower prices, but they always renew at the standard pricing.

Hosting

You don’t need website hosting with an Ecwid Instant Site.

Apps

You don’t have to use any of the apps in the Ecwid App Market, but if you choose to, some have subscription costs. Depending on what you use, these range from a couple of dollars a month upwards. One cost that is not well advertised in the app market is that to sync your store with Amazon or eBay you need to use the Codisto Linq app. This app has a subscription cost that is based on your sales volume through these two channels. It’s a fantastic way to simplify your sales and dispatch across channels, but it can add a significant cost, with the cheapest subscription starting at USD $29.95/month.

Custom designs

Ecwid has many pre-built Instant Site themes available that are extremely easy to customise without any coding knowledge. If you go this way then there is no cost at all.

However, if you want to go beyond the pre-built theme customisation options, you need to know CSS, or pay someone who does. Costs will vary by vendor.

Total cost

The cost is variable, but if you just use the base subscription without any paid apps or custom design work, you are looking at the base subscription cost plus a domain name. Easy and remarkably cheap.

So, your base annual cost with Ecwid will look like this (if paying annually):

Total on Free plan: USD $0/year
Total on Venture plan: USD $150/year
Total on Business plan: USD $350/year
Total on Unlimited plan: USD $990/year

Then add AUD $25-$100/year for a custom domain name.

Now, one factor that I touched on earlier is the billing currency. Ecwid supports many currencies around the world, including USD, GBP, Euro, AUD and lots more. That means you can be billed in your home currency and avoid currency conversion fees (if applicable) on your payment card.

WooCommerce

Base cost

WooCommerce is free. There is no cost for the software itself, but you need to account for the many other potential costs across so many areas that it almost becomes a question of how long is a piece of string?

Domain name

There are very few hosting providers that will host a WooCommerce site and provide you with a domain name. Web hosts like Hostgator do sometimes offer a promo deal that includes free domain registration for a year with web hosting, but you need to factor this cost in because you absolutely need a custom domain for your WooCommerce store. There really isn’t any way around it.

Account for around AUD $25-$100 per year depending on the domain name and where you buy it from.

Hosting

Hosting is essential for your WooCommerce store. You can get started on relatively cheap hosting, like HostGator or A2, however, WooCommerce can be resource hungry, especially if it has not been optimised, so you could find that you need to spend a lot more money on good hosting, especially as your traffic grows.

While your store is in it’s infancy, you could get away with spending around AUD $15/month on hosting, but you could easily spend AUD $200+ per month on website hosting as your traffic grows (and hopefully your sales too).

Plugins

I can’t really say you can use WooCommerce without any plugins given that WooCommerce is, itself, a plugin. However, you can use WooCommerce without any paid plugins. The WooCommerce community is extremely good at providing just enough functionality in free plugins to get you hooked, but not quite enough to do everything you really want to do unless you pay for the pro/premium version of a plugin.

Premium plugins vary in price, but you can usually expect to spend between USD $49/year and USD $199/year, depending on the plugin. Some developers now provide a subscription model that gives you access to all of their plugins for a single annual fee. This can be a great way to save some money on your subscription costs, but it certainly isn’t cheap. Yith is one developer that offers a “club” subscription, for just AUD $979.99/year you get access to all their WooCommerce plugins for use on up to 6 sites. This is a brilliant deal, especially if you actually have 6 sites to use them all on. However, it’s still a big cost.

Premium and custom themes

WooCommerce has a great base theme for store owners that is available completely free called StoreFront. What if you want something a bit different? There is a variety of excellent free themes available in the WordPress repository, including my personal favourite, GeneratePress. Some of these themes have extensive options to customise the appearance visually, but most require some knowledge of HTML, CSS and maybe even PHP.

Due to the wide usage of WordPress and WooCommerce, there are thousands, if not millions of premium themes available from developers all over the world. Some theme developers have backing from massive enterprises, like StudioPress which is owned by WP Engine. Others are from much smaller developers. In either case, typical prices for premium themes vary from USD $25/year up to USD $99/year.

Many premium themes include builder tools to help you customise their appearance. My personal preference though is to keep the builder out of the theme so you can more easily change themes. To go this way, you need a good base theme (like GeneratePress), and a compatible builder. My favourite is Elementor. Our site is built using GeneratePress and Elementor. As are almost all our client sites. Elementor technically comes under the plugin banner but it gives you immense power to customise your site appearance, build popups, create reusable content templates and more. To really get the most from it, you need to pay for the pro edition.

Total cost

So, were you counting the dollars there? I lost track. It’s very hard to quantify until you know what functionality you need, what you can get from free plugins, and what you need to pay for. Then, of course, there is the question of how capable you need your web host to be and so on. Like I mentioned back at the start of this section on cost, how long is a piece of string?

Using the typical suite of plugins and themes that I recommend to most people getting started with WooCommerce and obtain similar functionality to Ecwid, here’s an estimated annual plugin and theme cost in USD:

Sub-total: $844.95/year

Then there is the hosting cost. Let’s say you go for a reliable, managed web host like Kinsta. This also happens to be a service that is somewhat comparable to what you get with Ecwid. Starting off on the cheapest plan is USD $30/month or $300/month if paid annually.

So you are looking at:

Total for WooCommerce: USD $1,144.95/year

Plus AUD $25-$100/year for a domain name.

This cost doesn’t take into account ongoing maintenance costs of WooCommerce either, or any currency conversion fees. Most premium plugin and theme developers charge in one currency only, the most common being USD. If USD (or the currency the developer has chosen to bill in) isn’t your bank currency then you are going to potentially get hit with currency conversion fees. In Australia, the standard across most major banks is 3% + a fixed fee. Westpac, as an example charges AUD $0.25 + 3%.

So, right out of the gate, the most expensive edition of Ecwid will cost you less than WooCommerce over the course of a year and help you avoid those foreign exchange fees.

Ecwid vs WooCommerce: Which one is the best for small businesses?

Victory
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Both Ecwid and WooCommerce are extremely capable e-commerce systems for selling online that are able grow with your small business.

However, there are a lot of factors that go into which one is going to be best for you. Here’s the summary of which one wins out on which factor:

Overall Winner

Ecwid takes the victory with 9 points out of the 11 possible.

In comparison, WooCommerce scored 3 out of 11 points.

I want to really emphasise that in many of the comparisons, the key came down to simplicity. For example, WooCommerce can be extremely secure, but it is nowhere near as simple to achieve that security as it is in Ecwid. The same can be said for performance and installation/setup. The trade-off is that Ecwid does lose out on overall capability. Ecwid is great out of the box, but the unrivalled third-party plugins available in WooCommerce make it an extremely powerful and capably system. Most small businesses don’t need that level of extensibility, and for that reason, I would suggest that the simple nature of Ecwid is the better choice.

Ecwid is a truly simple e-commerce platform that is ideal for most small businesses.

Click here to learn more about Ecwid and sign up.

Further reading

You might also like these related articles from our blog:

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Ecwid vs WooCommerce: How do they stack up for small businesses?
Ecwid vs WooCommerce: Which one is the best for small businesses?
Ecwid vs WooCommerce: Which one is the best for small businesses?
Ecwid vs WooCommerce: Which one is the best for small businesses?

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