Ecwid vs. Shopify: a Free Shopify Alternative? [Comparison Table] #Ecommerce - The Entrepreneurial Way with A.I.


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Ecwid vs. Shopify: a Free Shopify Alternative? [Comparison Table] #Ecommerce


Ecwid and Shopify — two e-commerce giants with a shared goal: help business owners sell online. At least, that’s where it started. Over the years, these two platforms have transformed dramatically — from simple e-commerce providers to total commerce solutions.

Today, Ecwid and Shopify help businesses sell online, offline, and everywhere in between, with powerful, full-featured, and multifunctional tools that make starting a business easier than ever before. But so much opportunity leaves new and aspiring entrepreneurs asking the obvious question:

"Ecwid or Shopify, which one is better?"

A fair question to be sure. So, let’s tackle that right now.

Ecwid vs. Shopify: Overview

Shopify and Ecwid are both e-commerce platforms that enable businesses to sell products online and beyond. But, within that description lie some fairly significant differences.

Shopify overview

Shopify, launched in 2006, is the best known and most commonly used e-commerce platform currently on the market. Shopify customers can set up a storefront, add products, connect sales channels and payments, and start selling online without coding.

Shopify offers a 14-day free trial, and its most affordable plan starts at $9, which includes a simple "Buy button" that can be added to a blog or website. In addition to its regular pricing tiers, Shopify also takes an additional commission (or "transaction fee") for merchants who use a third-party payment solution outside of its preferred Shopify Payments.

Shopify pricing plans

Shopify pricing plans

Shopify connects with all must-have sales channels like Facebook and Instagram, but it’s not designed to work with other SaaS website builders or standalone platforms.

The Shopify store’s admin panel is secure and clear but can get messy for agencies who manage multiple stores or businesses whose websites include numerous contributors.

Shopify Control Panel

Shopify admin panel when you start

Launching a Shopify store (from the Shopify login page to adding a domain) isn’t difficult, but the design could take some extra time since it requires a bit of manual work to get it just right. However, Shopify does offer several free design themes that can be modified to match the product type or seller’s preference.

When it comes to managing a store, Shopify has many helpful tools for things like inventory, marketing activities, SEO, and orders.

Of course, Shopify only provides basic features on its lowest-tier plans, but you can extend the default functionality by purchasing additional apps and upgrading your subscription package. Unfortunately, good apps don’t come cheap, and that’s where your monthly bill can get out of control. For example, abandoned cart recovery apps can cost you anywhere from $9 to $29 per month.

One good point here is that because Shopify has a strong user-base, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find an expert or service provider if an issue comes up you can’t solve yourself.

Shopify is fast and secure, and all its stores are located in a cloud infrastructure. So, if you don’t use many apps (which is a challenge), your store’s speed and security level should stay relatively strong.

Shopify support is always there: chat, phone, forum, email. And they also help merchants to communicate with app developers.

Overall, Shopify looks like a pretty solid choice… But then there’s Ecwid.

Ecwid E-commerce overview

Ecwid E-commerce is a free-to-start software-as-a-service platform. Launched in 2009 to help small businesses start selling online faster, Ecwid has grown to become one of the top e-commerce platforms in the world, offering the fastest and easiest way to create and launch an online store.

Unlike other platforms, you can use Ecwid for free … forever! And with our Forever Free plan, you have access to Instant Site as well (a one-page e-commerce website), which enables you to start selling your products online without an existing website or coding knowledge.

Interested in selling on social media? For only $12.50/month, our Venture plan includes access to a Facebook Shop, Instagram store, and more. Plus, Ecwid never takes a commission (transaction fee), so more money goes to your pocket.

Ecwid pricing plans

Ecwid pricing plans

Originally designed as an embeddable plug-in to transform any website into an online store, today Ecwid offers its own online store builder as well as single-click integrations with any site-builder or existing website — WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, Joomla, Tumblr, and more. All available on our free plan.

The onboarding process is quick and intuitive, and the control panel (where you’ll manage your store) is easy to navigate and user-friendly.

Ecwid control panel when you start

Ecwid control panel when you start

Don’t have a website? Using Ecwid’s Starter Site, you can create a store with a simple, professional, and mobile-friendly design in just a few minutes. Choose from one of 70+ free design themes to find the right design for your online store.

Unlike Shopify, the Ecwid App Market keeps the plug-ins to a minimum. Ecwid opts for built-in tools, like Automated abandoned cart emails and favorite product reminders.

Along with standard features like catalog management, marketing, reporting, design, payment, and shipping controls, Ecwid also provides merchants with additional features like Accepting Tips and Local Delivery at no extra cost.

As for security, Ecwid is a PCI DSS validated Level 1 Service Provider, the gold standard for e-commerce solutions worldwide. Sooo our security is pretty awesome.

And the Ecwid support team is there to help you via phone, live chat, and email when you need it. There’s also a Help Center packed full with guides and tips to answer just about any question you can think of.

Try Ecwid for Free

Ecwid vs. Shopify: Comparing Online Store Platforms

At this point, you might already have enough info to make your decision. If that’s the case, congratulations! You can skip the rest of this article and get to the business of starting your business.

For everyone else, let’s dig a little deeper (or skip to the bottom of this page for our handy comparison table).

In this article, we’ll compare Ecwid and Shopify using the following categories:

  • Creating a standalone online store
  • Selling on other platforms (or websites)
  • Pricing plans
  • Sales channels
  • Store launch time
  • Security
  • Speed
  • Support

Ecwid vs. Shopify: Ways to Sell

Shopify and Ecwid share many of the same sales channels, including:

  • An online store (platform-based or existing website)
  • Facebook shop
  • Facebook messenger
  • Instagram store
  • Point-of-sale
  • Amazon
  • Etsy
  • eBay

But are there any differences within those channels? Let’s take a look.

Creating a standalone online store

One significant difference between Shopify and Ecwid is their approaches to website creation. Shopify is a website builder first, so it offers some pretty massive tools to create your store’s website. Ecwid, however, is, first and foremost, an e-commerce solution.

Because our goal is to get our customers up and running as soon as possible, we focus less on the "building" tools and more on the selling tools — including an automatically created and optimized website tool (Ecwid demo). Also known as "Instant Site," our website builder can still be customized, but that customization won’t ever get in the way of selling.

Shopify Pros

  • Unlimited products. One or a million — the price is the same.
  • Blog functionality. You can start a blog about your brand or products.

Shopify Cons

  • Lots of manual work. No demo products, covers, or automation — only placeholders and instructions.
  • Can’t sell with a free trial. Shopify will allow you to create your store during your 14-day trial, but you won’t be allowed to generate sales until you pay for a subscription.

Ecwid Pros

  • Does the work for you. Your store is automatically created for you at sign-up, so you won’t have to tinker with settings and designs to get started. Plus, if you want to give your store a makeover, you can choose from 70+ free professional and mobile-friendly design themes.
  • Start selling for free. With Ecwid’s Forever Free plan, you can set up your store and start selling on day one — no investments required. You won’t even need to buy a domain. Just add your products and start selling.

Ecwid Cons

  • Limited design freedom. Ecwid does a LOT for you — like creating professional design for your Instant Site or adapting your new store to fit an existing website. But if those 99+ design options aren’t exactly what you’re looking for (or you want advanced customization), you might need a developer or some CSS skills.
  • Inventory limitation. Only the Unlimited plan offers unlimited products, but you can still sell up to 10 products for free without a subscription.

Selling on other platforms (or websites)

Shopify is a good tool to create an online store, but it lacks the tools to work with other platforms.

Ecwid is all about selling wherever you want without even having a fully functional e-commerce website.

Shopify Pros

  • "Buy button". Shopify "Buy Button" helps sellers add product cards on any type of website and accept payments.

Shopify Cons

  • And that’s it. Shopify "Buy Button" is the only way you can sell on other websites using Shopify. Although the price of this tool is fairly low.

Ecwid Pros

  • It’s embeddable. Ecwid is an e-commerce widget that works with all major website platforms: WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, Joomla, GoDaddy, Tumblr, Blogger, or any other that allows embedding widgets. If you already have a website and all you need is to add e-commerce to it, Ecwid is a perfect choice.

Ecwid Cons

  • Load speed. Widgets usually load more slowly than the website. But much depends on your website. The "Buy button" solves the problem.

Shopify is for local impact

Shopify has a strong community of local developers around the Globe who bring diversity into the ecosystem by building a technology bridge between the global sellers and local buyers.

What do I mean? In simple words, they develop applications that allow Shopify merchants to connect with local marketplaces or other sales channels (websites or social media) around the Globe. Ecwid can’t compete here, but it has another strong value — physical scalability.

Ecwid is for non-stop scaling

Being a widget, Ecwid is not tied up to one platform, or even a website. The ability to display Ecwid on several websites simultaneously is priceless if you want to create and run a broad distribution network with multiple storefronts and manage the products in one admin.

One administration panel for ten online storefronts without extra fee is a piece of cake for Ecwid.

Ecwid and Shopify Pricing Plans

Pricing is usually a strong driver for making a decision. But more importantly, is what you get for your money. Check out the pricing plans below to see how different your regular payment can be. Dive deeper to the bottom of the page to find out what exactly you’ll get on each plan.

Shopify pricing plans

All Shopify plans come with a 14-day free trial, so you can try before you buy. Shopify plans are more expensive from the start, but they offer much.

"Buy button" is a solid response to Ecwid. Though it also lets you sell your products on the websites built on other platforms, Ecwid’s "Buy button" still wins as you don’t have to pay commissions on each purchase. Ecwid never charges transaction fees on all plans.

Compared to Ecwid, Shopify Basic plan gives you the features that are available only on the Ecwid Business plan, like staff accounts. However, it’s missing some important features that are available on the Ecwid Venture plan (the same level tier), like Google Shopping integration or Pinterest and Snapchat advertising.

Shopify Basic plan does not limit you on products and gives time and tools to create and finetune your online store, but you have only 14 days to do it for free. While doing that remember Ecwid merchants are selling already because they skipped the design stage with (they have 70+ free themes).

The Shopify plan provides you with professional reports and increased discounts on shipping and credit card rates. It also reduces an additional transaction rate from 2 percent to 1 percent.

The Advanced plan cuts the transaction rates by half and unlocks advanced reporting. Plus, you can have a team of 15 members working inside the admin.

"Buy button" Basic Shopify Advanced
Monthly $9 $29 $79 $299
Monthly, if paid annually $9 $26.10 $71.10 $269.10
Annual plan $108 $313.20 $853.20 $3,229.20
You save $0 $34.8 $94.80 $358.80
Transaction fee with Shopify Payments 0% 0% 0% 0%
Transaction fee without Shopify Payments 2% 2% 1% 0.5%

Ecwid pricing plans

The Free plan gives the essential tools for small businesses and individual entrepreneurs to take off. It has a limit of 10 products, which is enough to make your first money online.

Growing your business will require an upgrade to a Venture plan to unlock more sales channels, extend the inventory, and get chat support. Facebook shop, Instagram store, and POS start here. Let’s say this is the minimum level for the real business.

The Business plan lets you rapidly scale. It adds the integrations with marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, and eBay. Plus, the Ecwid Business plan activates email automation for abandoned carts to generate more sales on autopilot. Another value of this plan is a Multilingual storefront feature that lets your international customers explore the store in their native language.

Ecwid Unlimited plan is for the businesses on a mission to dominate their competitors with unlimited product range or mobile technologies, like shopping app for mobile devices. The plan offers VIP support to those brands that can’t take anything "standard" anymore.

Free Venture Business Unlimited
Monthly $0 $15 $35 $99
Monthly, if paid annually $0 $12.50 $29.50 $82.50
Annual plan $0 $150 $354 $990
You save $0 $30 $66 $198
Transaction fee 0% 0% 0% 0%

Launching Online Store: Ecwid vs. Shopify Comparison

Once you have an amazing product, you want to reach out to the world as soon as possible. Chasing perfection is probably not the best idea at this stage, but making sure that the product page looks neat, and the payment gateway works well would be wise.

Let’s see what Ecwid and Shopify have to offer when you’re ready to take off.

Ecwid and your existing website

Embedding an Ecwid store to your WordPress or Joomla or any other website is as easy as adding a YouTube video. Or any other widget, like a Mailchimp subscription form. You just need to copy the widget code and paste it into your website backend.

Things get even easier if your website is built with a SaaS builder, like Wix and Weebly. You will need to install the plugin and add the widget to your existing website.

Selling with Shopify on other platforms

Except for "Buy Button", Shopify doesn’t have any tools to work with other platforms. Although the "Buy Button" widget looks professionally designed, it doesn’t automatically adapt to the website style. Typography or color scheme mismatch may cause displeasure to you or the visitors.

Creating a Standalone Online Store with Ecwid

Creating an online store with Ecwid takes about 5 to 10 minutes. You only need to add the products and choose one of the 70+ free themes. Then you need to set up payments, and that’s it! You’re ready to sell. Watch the following video for more details and examples.

And remember, with Ecwid, you don’t need to worry about coding, hosting, updating, or even installing anything.

Creating a Standalone Online Store with Shopify

Shopify wants you to set up a whole online store first.

After logging in to the Shopify admin, you won’t see any demo products there. You will have to create them from scratch. Editing the layout, you will see only grey placeholders, which won’t tell you much about how amazing your product page or the main page will look like.

However, setting up the store won’t take forever anyway. Shopify does it best to make onboarding as smooth as possible. You won’t get lost, but it will take you a couple of days to launch the store. Especially if you are so careless to visit the App Store where some businesses drown for weeks instead of focusing on selling.

Are Shopify and Ecwid Secure?

Yes. Security is what makes Shopify and Ecwid best friends.

Both e-commerce platforms are certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliant. This is the highest international standard for secure data exchanges for online stores and payment systems.

Who is Faster: Shopify or Ecwid?

Speed means sales. In the era of abundance, customers won’t be standing at the doors of your store waiting for the website to load. They will leave and find another one. According to Entrepreneur, 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.

In this context, load speed is a vital factor for your e-commerce business success. Which of two platforms (Shopify or Ecwid) run faster?

Both Ecwid and Shopify host their digital assets in the cloud infrastructure. Cloud technologies guarantee the maximum availability of the websites and the most efficient content delivery to the user. That means your Shopify or Ecwid store will always be available with the highest load speed possible.

However, things rapidly change when you begin to modify the basic version of the store.

Shopify has thousands of apps to offer, and users begin installing everything they see on the first day. Even before setting up the basic things. Applications come with additional code, and the load speed falls. Shopify confirms this issue on their website.

As for Ecwid, it does not have so many options on their App Market. Their strategy is a bit different. Alternatively to Shopify, Ecwid adds valuable business tools to the core. You don’t need to install the addons to access them, although some of them are available on the higher plans.

Avoiding additional 3rd-party code, Ecwid maintains high and stable load speed for a longer period of your store lifecycle.

Ecwid vs. Shopify: Contacting Support and Customer Service

Fast, reliable, accessible, and knowledgeable customer service (or support) is an industry standard for SaaS solutions.

Shopify provides a great range of support channels, including:

  • 24/7 phone support
  • Support in Twitter
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • Help Center
  • Community forum
  • Email support
  • Video tutorials
  • Advanced specialist support (highest plan only)

Shopify has a Help Center with Video Tutorials, Guides, and Podcasts.

Ecwid has an array of customer service channels:

  • 24/7 Live chat (premium plans only)
  • Phone support (premium plans only)
  • Email support
  • Help Center
  • Video Guides
  • Priority support (highest plan only)

Ecwid Help Center is an excellent source of essential and actionable information if you find yourself stuck with setting up the store or exploring new features.

On top of that, Ecwid has many detailed Guides, Videos, and even Podcasts to learn the necessary skills or master advanced e-commerce marketing knowledge.

Who’s customer support service is better?

There’s no certain answer. Both platforms understand the importance of customer success, and both are investing heavily in their customer services. But to compare, you have to create an online store with Ecwid or login to Shopify and reach out to support yourself.

What Merchants Like About Shopify and Ecwid

The testimonials are published on Capterra, one of the most trusted and authoritative resources when it comes to customers’ opinions.

Why online sellers like or dislike Shopify

Shopify Reviews Capterra - 2020

Why online sellers like or dislike Ecwid

Ecwid Reviews Capterra - 2020

Why Ecwid is the Best Free Alternative to Shopify to Start Selling Online in 5 Minutes

Watch the following 5-minute video to learn why Daniella, an expert with 10+ years of experience in e-commerce, advises Ecwid over Shopify to start and run an online store. It’s free, you can place it on any website, and it takes only 5 minutes to launch. Learn more!

Ecwid vs. Shopify: Comparison Table

Enough of readings, let’s visualize what we already know to compare Ecwid and Shopify.


Download Comparison Table


Can I sell digital (downloadable) products with Ecwid and Shopify?

Absolutely. Both platforms support digital product distribution. With only one difference. With Shopify, you will need to install an app to do that (developed by Shopify and free), and Ecwid has it by default.

Also read
How to Sell Digital Downloads Without a Website
Read more

Is there anything better than Shopify?

No doubt! Consider Ecwid. It’s free, and you can start selling without a website or even a domain name. Plus, you can choose any payment method, and Ecwid won’t charge transaction fees.

Is there a free alternative to Shopify?

Ecwid! It has a forever-free plan, and it takes only 5 minutes to start selling. Compare the plans.

Why do people choose Ecwid for online stores?

Read this public conversation of real merchants on Facebook, who share their experience selling with Ecwid (and why it’s better than Shopify).

Try Ecwid for Free


Max Komonov, Khareem Sudlow