One of the most popular e-commerce platforms, Shopify may seem like the clear choice for your small business. But is Shopify good for small business? Or are there better options available?
When choosing the best option for a business start-up, we look at several factors. Usability, price, scalability, features available, and growth in development of the e-commerce solution, are all key considerations. For us, we recommend a platform other than Shopify, that ticks all those boxes.
Based on our experience working with customers in Canada and the U.S., we’ve found Ecwid to be superior when it comes to integration, affordability, responsiveness to market changes, and more. Let’s delve into the differences between Shopify and our recommended e-commerce platform, Ecwid.
Let’s start with one of the BIGGEST differences between Shopify and Ecwid. It’s about integration.
Shopify was designed to be a stand-alone shop. If you want to integrate products into your existing website, it’s not a streamlined process. In fact, it’s more than a little cumbersome, and way more time consuming. When using their limited integration ‘Buy Buttons,’ one downside is you cannot use multi-currency selling. Another is, when your customers check out, they’re taken to a separate checkout page on Shopify, diverting them away from your website. This is definitely NOT optimal.
Ecwid, on the other hand, was built as an embeddable storefront you can integrate directly into your existing website (or on social). Having an embedded Ecwid storefront gives your customers a seamless shopping experience, because your customers NEVER leave your website. There is no chance that they’ll be distracted by products in someone else’s store, or lose their place on your website, after you worked so hard to get them there! Rather than driving traffic to two places – a website and a store – your marketing efforts all drive traffic to one location online and everything is there. And another great bonus? You can even embed your whole storefront right onto your Facebook page.
As a small business where budget is typically limited, e-commerce integration to your website is a game changer!
Growth in Development of the E-commerce Solution
In recent years, Shopify has recognized how important it is to integrate your store products directly into an existing website. Their development team created product widgets for this purpose, but they’re not an elegant solution, they have some limitations, and are just not as easy to use as Ecwid’s embeddable storefront.
Here at Original Ginger, we’re experts at e-commerce. And as such, we’ve chosen Ecwid for most of our client website deployments. This is because their pricing plans remain affordable to business owners, they are constantly adding new features, and are very responsive to changing times.
When COVID happened, Ecwid immediately responded to the plight of their users by adding new features that would make curbside pickup super easy to set up. This feature was added at no additional charge to their users! As social media channels from Pinterest to Instagram offered product selling opportunities, Ecwid got on board. Since we first began using Ecwid (well over 10 years ago now), they’ve added a multitude of payment gateways, product variable options, recurring subscription capabilities, and a host of other amazing new features. Our clients love them, and so do we.
Ecwid offers a variety of plans. And the good news for start-ups on a small budget? One of the plans is FREE. This means you can try it out for an unlimited time with no credit card commitment. You have the ability to take your time testing various features, getting familiar with the dashboard, adding products, and more, to see if it works for your business. The free plan is quite robust and includes quite a few features. That said, their most expensive plan is only $99/month and includes all the features you could possibly need. Visit the Ecwid pricing page for more information.
Shopify does not offer a free plan. To explore its features, they do have a trial plan that involves a credit card commitment after 14 days. You’ll find that fewer features are available with their lower priced plans, with the most expensive plan coming in at $389/month, not including additional transaction fees that may apply. Visit the Shopify pricing page for more information.
For both Shopify and Ecwid, there is a savings if you pay for the year up front, but Ecwid is our choice for best value.
Of course, you can’t make an informed decision based on price alone. You first need to understand the features and functionality of each platform.
Both provide the basic features and functionality you’d expect from online store builders. They both give you the ability to:
- sell physical and digital products
- accept a wide range of payment types
- manage inventory
- facilitate point-of-sale e-commerce
- define shipping rates and rules
So how do you choose? Is Shopify good for small business? Or is Ecwid a better choice? Read on as we help you out by outlining the key elements you should consider when deciding which e-commerce solution will work best for you.
Ease of Use
When it comes to managing e-commerce offerings, you’re adding and removing products all the time. You may need to adjust pricing, set up promotional sales, generate discount coupons, or track progress of your customer orders. Small business owners wear a lot of hats, so you want it to be simple and run as smoothly as possible.
Ecwid’s dashboard is super easy to use, whether you have prior experience using e-commerce software or not. Customer emails following a purchase are automated, so it’s one less thing to worry about. You’re able to mark orders paid, processed, and shipped, making your team more productive and reducing mistakes or duplicating shipments. Ecwid also outperforms Shopify’s image management, allowing you to apply an image ratio globally to all your product pictures, keeping everything looking uniform and professional, without any photo editing before uploading.
In contrast, our client feedback tells us that Shopify is only moderately easy to use. The learning curve is slightly larger to use all the e-commerce features, and the dashboard is not as intuitive. Shopify does not have the global image ratio feature that Ecwid has, so if you’re not sizing and cropping your images prior to uploading, it doesn’t give a great impression.
With these considerations, if you’ve never used e-commerce before and you’re busy managing multi-facets of your business, Ecwid is definitely the clear winner for ease of use!
Payment Gateways and Transaction Fees
A payment gateway is software that processes your customer’s transactions securely. Popular payment gateway services include PayPal and Stripe. Both Ecwid and Shopify are compatible with these, as well as a wide range of other payment gateways.
What Shopify offers that Ecwid doesn’t, is its own payment processing option called ‘Shopify Payments.’ If you choose to use it, there are no transaction fees to worry about. However, if you prefer to use a better known and independent payment gateway, be aware that Shopify will penalize you by charging anywhere from 0.5% to 2% in additional transaction fees.
The product options feature is another game changer between Ecwid and Shopify. It refers to a selection of colours, sizes, or other elements that may apply to a particular product you are selling. When it comes to ‘out of the box’ flexibility on product options, we recommend Ecwid as the better option.
Ecwid doesn’t limit the number of options for a product and makes it easy to track inventory based on specific options. You can also quickly and easily add fields to the product requesting bespoke information (for example, text for an engraving or a gift message).
Shopify limits each product to only 3 product options. You can purchase a Shopify app that removes the limitations, but it’s an additional cost that most small businesses would rather avoid. Like Ecwid, you can easily track inventory based on specific options. BUT, if your customer would like to add bespoke information, you must pay for yet another app, or implement code. Neither of which make it easy for small business owners.
Are your products physical, digital, or a mix of both? Both Ecwid and Shopify offer the functionality to sell either.
Ecwid only allows you to sell digital products if you are on a paid plan. It is super easy to use and accommodates files up to 25GB in size.
Shopify allows you to sell digital products on any plan with the installation of an app. File sizes are limited to only 5GB, which is not quite as generous as Ecwid. If you want to increase file size, yep, you guessed it – you would have to pay extra for a third-party app.
POS (Point of Sale Purchase)
A point of sale, or POS, allows you to use your online store solution to sell in physical locations. For example, a market, festival, or pop-up store. You’ll find both Shopify and Ecwid offer POS features, with a few key differences.
Ecwid requires a third-party service to gain POS functionality, such as Square, Clover, Vend and Alice. The type of POS hardware needed will vary by provider, but all paid Ecwid plans include the use of a mobile POS system powered by PayPal or Square.
Shopify POS features are nicely integrated and simple to set up, ticking all the boxes for most merchants, and POS hardware can be ordered directly from Shopify. You are required to purchase a ‘Shopify POS Pro’ add-on to access all the features, which can add up at $89 monthly, per location.
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Essential Guide to E-commerce
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Abandoned Cart Saving
Abandoned cart recovery functionality is an important marketing feature not to be forgotten. That’s the ability to send automated emails to store visitors who added something to their cart but didn’t make it through the checkout. And trust us, It’s a lucrative sales tool.
Although both Shopify and Ecwid allow you to send abandoned cart recovery emails easily, only Shopify includes the feature in every plan. Ecwid only includes it in their Business Plan and higher. Given that Ecwid’s plans are cheaper than Shopify’s, it’s still an affordable feature for most small businesses.
We also love that Ecwid’s emails include live, interactive product information in the abandoned cart message, mimicking your store’s product pages for a better and more inspiring customer experience. They are one of the few, if not only, e-commerce platform to send this type of email.
When it comes to offering a comprehensive set of shipping options, Shopify and Ecwid are well matched. Both allow the use of flat rates, free shipping, rates based on weight, in-person pickup, and more.
However, when it comes to providing accurate rates from carriers at the checkout, there is a difference based on which plan you’ve chosen.
Ecwid has a built-in integration with an extensive list of carrier companies to automatically show their shipping rates for customers’ orders at checkout. While Shopify does the same, if you want to provide quotes for any other shipping carriers on your Shopify store, you’ll have to pay extra and upgrade your plan.
We’ll keep this one short and sweet. If you have a technical issue with Shopify, chances are you’ll have to join a long queue. Ecwid customer service, on the other hand, is swift and comprehensive. If you have a paid Ecwid plan, there is also telephone support.
Our Take: Is Shopify Good for Small Business?
Overall, if you are a small business, start-up, or have never used e-commerce before, we highly recommend Ecwid over Shopify.
This is based on our own experience, and customer feedback, on both platforms. Even for more complex business models, we have often used Ecwid as an e-commerce solution with a twist.
Ready to get e-commerce offerings out to your customers? Let’s chat about how we can seamlessly integrate online shopping into your current online marketing.
This comparison between Ecwid and Shopify is based on our own experience, and our customers’ feedback.
Please note that the link to Ecwid in this article is an affiliate link. We only recommend products we believe are the best solutions for our clients.