Ecwid is an eCommerce platform that was launched in 2009 by CEO Ruslan Fazlyev, who had founded X-Cart 9 years earlier. Ruslan’s motivation behind Ecwid was to build an online store plugin that small businesses could add to their existing websites. Ecwid eventually expanded into creating its own eCommerce site builder, becoming similar to most other Ecwid alternatives on the market. The company has locations in San Diego, CA and Ulyanovsk, Russia.
Shift4Shop is a feature-rich eCommerce platform serving businesses of all sizes in a wide range of industries across the globe. Offering an unmatched free eCommerce solution, the company provides everything you need to start — and grow — your business. This turnkey eCommerce experience includes powerful tools to help businesses succeed — a robust website builder, product and order management, customer marketing tools, and more. Customers can choose from dozens of professionally designed, industry-specific templates, all of which are mobile-friendly, SEO optimized, and highly customizable.
In Ecwid’s own words, their service is meant for small businesses; one look at their features and platform will tell you that they’re not ideal for larger enterprise-level online stores. Ecwid not only focusses on small businesses, but it also caters mostly to sellers who already own (and pay for) a separate website that they’d like to add an online store plugin to. This means that you’re missing a lot of functionality with Ecwid’s platform, including the lack of a built-in blog, store emails, CRM, shipping labels, product reviews, upsells and cross-sells, saved carts and more. Most of these features can be found in their App Marketplace, but that’s just an extra fee that you’ll have to pay. You may be tempted to take that chance, since Ecwid notably offers a free plan; but, be aware that their free plan is designed with intense limitations, like only 10 products, that will end up forcing you to upgrade to a paid plan if you’re serious about your online business. It should be noted that, at the end of the day, Ecwid isn’t able to substitute a proper online store; it’s best used as a supplementary plugin for an existing site.
With Shift4Shop, all of the above (and more) is built-in and included with their plans; no extra third-party apps necessary. Shift4Shop is extremely flexible and scalable, packed with functionality that can work for any size business. All plans support unlimited products and categories, coming with everything you need to build your own comprehensive online store that will grow alongside your eCommerce business.
Ecwid is clearly meant to be a plugin that adapts to a site you’ve already established, rather than being a comprehensive eCommerce platform that you can use to build a fully functional online store. They only offer one type of online store, called their Starter Site, which is extremely limited and only allows for basic design edits. Not to mention, you’ll have to register and pay for your own domain with an Ecwid store, or else you’ll be stuck with their free ecwid.com domain. All of these limitations make branding your online store in your own unique way impossible or expensive, since you’ll have to go elsewhere if you want to make your store your own. With Shift4Shop, customizing your store, running your own blog, and registering a free domain that’s all your own is automatically available to you.
Ecwid’s free plan is tempting, especially for small businesses that are just starting out in eCommerce. But, you’ll soon realize that their free plan is basically an endless free trial due to all of the limitations and lacking features you’ll find. In order to sell unlimited products or digital products up to 10GB, or if you’d like to use a POS system, you’ll need to upgrade to their $99/mo. plan. All forms of support aside from email are locked behind their premium plans as well, with essentials like product filters and variations relegated to their $35/mo. plan. Shift4Shop’s free plan, on the other hand, comes with all features, 24/7/365 support, and is and fully scalable to enterprise. They offer a POS system, unlimited products (including digital products) and all their filters and variations, meaning you can get more features than Ecwid's paid plan for no monthly cost.
“I decided to start selling my products on Ecwid because they had a free plan that seemed easy to use and integrated with Instagram, one of my main forms of marketing. Once I got my online store put together, I ran into hurdle after hurdle. Their Instagram plugin was buggy, and my store wouldn’t load when people accessed it through the Instagram internal browser. I couldn’t customize my store how I wanted to either, since I was limited to their only free template. Then, once I wanted to sell more than 10 products and needed more access to support aside from their slow email system, I was prompted to upgrade to a premium plan. With Ecwid pricing, I ended up spending a lot more money than I anticipated, and I did not get a return on my investment.”
– Ex-Ecwid Customer
With Ecwid, you’ll have a hard time setting up everything you need to effectively market your online store to new and existing customers. While there are a few SEO tools with Ecwid, they’re lacking essential aspects like product URL edits; it mostly seems like they’re relying on the SEO tools of your existing site being effective, rather than using Ecwid to optimize store pages. What they consider to be a “clean SEO-friendly URL” is ripe with various numbers and letters, which is entirely the opposite of a URL that’s optimized. Even worse, your Ecwid store may end up bringing your original site’s ranking down since they don’t support product page AMP versions, which is essential for fast load times on mobile. Thankfully, Shift4Shop is the best eCommerce platform for SEO, providing one of the most comprehensive toolsets for boosting your site’s ranking.
How do free Ecwid themes stack up against free Shift4Shop themes?
Ecwid only offers one free theme, which is the theme you must use if you’re going to build a Starter Site. If you don’t like that theme, you’ll have to use third-party Ecwid themes from a site like ThemeForest, meaning you’ll have to pay extra before you can get your store off the ground. If you’re adding a store to an existing site you already have, then Ecwid will automatically detect the theme you’re using and will adapt to match. When it comes to editing your store’s theme, you can only make basic changes like product layout arrangement; for more editing, you’ll need to either pay for another third-party app or edit the CSS code. Since there’s only one free theme available, you run the risk of looking like every other Ecwid store out there.
Shift4Shop gives online merchants over 40 free themes to choose from, all with unique designs and features that can fit any industry. Built with business in mind, all themes are designed to sell more products while giving store owners the ability to customize their branded design in any way that they choose. All Shift4Shop core themes are able to be edited and customized via the Core Theme Editor and Drag ‘n Drop HTML builder, giving online stores an easy way to look and feel unique.
Shift4Shop comes packed with hundreds of features built-in, automatic integration with Shift4 Payments, and more alternative payment methods than any other platform. With Shift4Shop, you'll have everything you need to build a customized eCommerce website without paying extra.
Ecwid requires you to use a third-party payment gateway, as they don't offer a fully integrated solution. You’ll also have to pay for third-party apps if you want eCommerce essentials like theme designs, blogging, product reviews and upsells.
With Shift4Shop, you’re never left in the dark when it comes to much-needed support for your online store. Expert customer service staff are on stand-by via chat, email and phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year plus holidays. Shift4Shop customers can also easily submit support tickets and access extensive knowledge base articles to troubleshoot any issues; you can always find an answer with Shift4Shop.
If you’re looking for phone support, you’ll have to upgrade to Ecwid’s Business plan. But, all support is on a 24/5 availability schedule, meaning you won’t have any help during weekends. Take note that phone support isn’t as simple as calling; you instead have to request a scheduled call-back and wait for a support agent to get back to you. With many users reporting difficulties with this process, you may end up frustrated and alone when troubleshooting the platform.