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shopify alternative

Ecwid vs. Shopify: Fancy a Free Shopify Alternative?

24 min read

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

Today, Ecwid and Shopify help businesses sell online, offline, and everywhere in between. Each uses powerful and multifunctional tools that make starting a business easier than ever. But so much opportunity leaves new and aspiring entrepreneurs with a simple question:

“Ecwid or Shopify, which one is better?”

Read on for our take on the matter.

How to sell online
Tips from e-commerce experts for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
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Ecwid vs. Shopify: Overview

Shopify and Ecwid are both e-commerce platforms that enable businesses to sell products online and beyond. But some significant differences lie between the two platforms.

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 any coding know-how.

Shopify offers a 3-day free trial. Then, 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 requires a bit of manual work to get the details 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 helpful tools for things like inventory, marketing activities, SEO, and orders.

Of course, Shopify provides only its 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, which can do some damage to your monthly budget. For example, abandoned cart recovery apps can cost you anywhere from $9 to $29 per month.

On the other hand, 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 using cloud infrastructure. So, if you don’t use many apps (which can be its own challenge), your store’s speed and security level should stay relatively strong.

Shopify support is a selling point: whether through chat, phone, forum, or email, they always have your back. They also help merchants 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 into one of the top e-commerce platforms in the world. They currently offer the fastest and easiest way to create and launch an online store.

Unlike other platforms, you can use Ecwid for free! With the Free plan, you have access to Instant Site as well (an ecommerce website builder), which enables you to start selling your products online without an existing website or coding knowledge.

Interested in selling directly through social media? Our Venture plan includes access to Facebook Shop, Instagram Store, and more. Plus, Ecwid never takes a commission (transaction fee), so more money stays in your pocket.

Originally designed as an embedded 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 functional 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 Tipping 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, so the security is top-notch.

Like Shopify, 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, which is chock full of guides and tips to answer just about any question you can think of.

Try Ecwid for Free

Ecwid vs. Shopify: Comparing Online Store Platforms

Already sold on Ecwid? If so, congratulations! You can skip the rest of this article and get to the business of starting your business.

If not, let’s dig a little deeper, 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 how can we compare Shopify and Ecwid within those channels? Let’s take a look.

Creating a standalone online store

One significant difference between Shopify and Ecwid is their approach to website creation. Shopify is a website builder first, so it offers an extensive toolkit to help create your store’s website. On the other hand, Ecwid is, first and foremost, an e-commerce solution.

Because our goal is to get our customer’s shops up and running as soon as possible, we focus less on “building” tools and more on selling tools—including an automatically created and optimized website tool (Ecwid demo). Also known as “Instant Site,” our website builder is still customizable, 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

  • Manual labor. No demo products, covers, or automation—only placeholders and instructions.
  • Free trial limitations. Shopify will allow you to create your store during your 3-day trial, but you won’t be allowed to generate sales until you pay for a subscription.

Ecwid Pros

  • Your work here is done. Your store is automatically created for you at sign-up, so you don’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 Free plan, you can set up your store and start selling on day one—no investment required. You don’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 designs for your Instant Site and 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 product uploads, but you can still sell up to five products for free without a paid subscription on our Free plan.

Ecwid E-commerce Business Blueprint

Your guide to launching an e-commerce business from choosing a niche to growing your sales

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Selling on other platforms, websites, and blogs

Shopify is a good option to create an online store, but it doesn’t always work well with other website platforms. Conversely, Ecwid is all about selling wherever you want, whenever you want.

Shopify Pros

  • “Buy button”. The “Buy Button” is Shopify’s solution for businesses that want to sell on an existing website through an unaffiliated platform. The cost is relatively low, and it enables sellers to add product cards and accept payments on an existing webpage.

Shopify Cons

  • No fully embeddable integration. The “Buy Button” is the only way to sell on other websites while using Shopify. If you’d like a store option that embeds into and integrates with your website, you’ll need to migrate to Shopify’s website platform.

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, and any other CMS or platform that allows you to embed new tools. If you already have a website and what you need is e-commerce capabilities, Ecwid is a clear choice.

Ecwid Cons

  • Load speed. Embeddable storefronts tend to load more slowly than the websites they’re embedded in, so the “Buy Button” is a slightly faster solution for page loading.

Shopify is for local impact

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

In human terms, Shopify develops applications that allow their merchants to connect with local marketplaces and other sales channels (like websites and social media) around the world. Ecwid may not be able to compete here, but it does have another important strength — physical scalability.

Ecwid is for non-stop scaling

Because Ecwid is designed to be embedded anywhere, it has the unique ability to display your products on several websites simultaneously, run a broad distribution network with multiple storefronts, and manage all your products in one admin.

Ecwid and Shopify Pricing Plans

Price is a major deciding factor for most purchases. But more important than the price is what you actually get for your money. Check out the pricing plans below to see what you’d pay for similar features on Ecwid and Shopify.

Shopify pricing plans

All Shopify plans come with a 3-day free trial, so you can try before you buy. Shopify plans are more expensive from the start, but they offer a lot of features.

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 because you don’t have to pay commissions on each purchase. Ecwid never charges transaction fees on all plans.

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

The Shopify Basic plan doesn’t limit your products and gives time and tools to create and finetune your online store. But you have only 3 days to do it for free. On the other hand, in the same time frame with Ecwid, you could already be selling, with strategic use of their pre-made design themes.

The Shopify plan provides you with professional reports and 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 of admin.

“Buy button”BasicShopifyAdvanced
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 Payments0%0%0%0%
Transaction fee without Shopify Payments2%2%1%0.5%

Ecwid pricing plans

The Free Plan provides essential tools for small businesses and individual entrepreneurs to take off. It has a limit of five products, which is enough to make your first online sales.

Growing your business beyond five products will require an upgrade to a Venture Plan. With Venture, you unlock more sales channels, extend your inventory, and have access to chat support. You can also take advantage of Facebook shop, Instagram store, and POS.

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

Ecwid’s Unlimited Plan is for 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 who like something a little “extra” on the way to business success.

Monthly, if paid annually$0$21$39$89
Annual plan$0$252$468$1,068
You save$0$48$72$192
Transaction fee0%0%0%0%

Launching Online Store: Ecwid vs. Shopify Comparison

Having an amazing product means wanting to get it out into the world as soon as possible. In pursuit of e-commerce perfection, we recommend making sure that the product page looks neat, and the payment gateway works as it should.

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, Joomla or other websites is as easy as adding a YouTube video, or Mailchimp subscription form. Ecwid is, after all, a humble and powerful widget. As such, all you need to do to make it work is copy the widget code and paste it into your website backend.

Things get even easier if your website has a SaaS builder, like Wix or Weebly. In this case, you just need to install the plugin to add the widget to your existing website.

Selling with Shopify on other platforms

Except for “Buy Button”, Shopify doesn’t have any tools that work with other platforms. Although the “Buy Button” widget looks professionally designed, it doesn’t automatically adapt to a website’s style. Typography or color scheme mismatch can happen!

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 just set up payments, and voila! You’re ready to sell. Watch the following video for more details and examples.

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

Creating a standalone online store with Shopify

With Shopify, you’ll be prompted to set up a whole online store first.

Logging in to Shopify admin, you won’t see any demo products. You will have to create them from scratch. When editing the layout, you will see only grey placeholders, which won’t give you a visual example of how your product page or the main page will look.

However, the process isn’t as complicated as it might seem. 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 focus on the App Store, where some businesses lay in wait for weeks instead of focusing on selling (but more on that later).

Are Shopify and Ecwid Secure?

Yes. Security is a core shared value of Shopify and Ecwid. 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 equals sales. In the era of abundance, customers won’t take kindly to waiting for your store website to load. 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 begs the question: which of two platforms (Shopify or Ecwid) runs 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 change when you begin to modify the basic version of the store.

Shopify has thousands of apps for business owners, and users often make the mistake of installing everything they see on the first day. Even before setting up the basic selling platform. Each application comes with additional code, which causes your site’s load speed to drop. Shopify themselves have spoken about this issue on their website.

As an alternative, Ecwid doesn’t have as many App Market options. Instead, Ecwid adds valuable business tools to its core programming. That way, you don’t need to install the addons to access them (although some are available on higher tiered plans).

Avoiding additional 3rd-party code, Ecwid maintains high and stable load speed for longer in your store’s 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 on Twitter
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • A robust Help Center
  • A Community forum
  • Email support
  • Video tutorials
  • Advanced specialist support (Unlimited Plan only)

Shopify’s Help Center includes 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.

Like Shopify, Ecwid also has many detailed Guides, Videos, and even Podcasts to learn the tricks of the trade and master advanced e-commerce marketing knowledge.

Ecwid 101

Ecwid 101: How To Create An Online Store For Free In 5 Minutes

An essential eBook on setting up your Ecwid store quickly and easily.

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Who’s customer support service is better?

There’s no right answer. Both platforms understand the importance of customer success, and both are investing heavily in their customer services. If you want to know which will work best for you, 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, prefers Ecwid over Shopify to start and run her online store. Her pitch: It’s free, you can place it on any website, and it takes only 5 minutes to launch. Learn more below:


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.

Read How to Sell Digital Downloads Without a Website.

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).


Table of contents

Sell online

With Ecwid Ecommerce, you can easily sell anywhere, to anyone — across the internet and around the world.

About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

Ecommerce that has your back

So simple to use – even my most technophobic clients can manage. Easy to install, quick to set up. Light years ahead of other shop plugins.
I’m so impressed I’ve recommended it to my website clients and am now using it for my own store along with four others for which I webmaster. Beautiful coding, excellent top-notch support, great documentation, fantastic how-to videos. Thank you so much Ecwid, you rock!
I’ve used Ecwid and I love the platform itself. Everything is so simplified it’s insane. I love how you have different options to choose shipping carriers, to be able to put in so many different variants. It’s a pretty open e-commerce gateway.
Easy to use, affordable (and a free option if starting off). Looks professional, many templates to select from. The App is my favorite feature as I can manage my store right from my phone. Highly recommended 👌👍
I like that Ecwid was easy to start and to use. Even for a person like me, without any technical background. Very well written help articles. And the support team is the best for my opinion.
For everything it has to offer, ECWID is incredibly easy to set up. Highly recommend! I did a lot of research and tried about 3 other competitors. Just try ECWID and you'll be online in no time.

Your ecommerce dreams start here

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