What sort of e-commerce product do you actually need?
There are in essence two types of e-commerce solutions you can use to create an online store: something which lets you build an e-commerce site (an entire website, with a shopping cart), or a tool that lets you create a store which you then 'plug in' to an existing website. Bigcommerce represents the former, and Ecwid the latter.
Which solution is for you depends on whether you already have a website (that you are happy to sell from) or not. If you don't have a website, or have one which you feel is in need of a redesign, then in the context of this Bigcommerce vs Ecwid comparison you are probably best off going for Bigcommerce (or a similar product), as it provides a range of free templates that look professional and that you can tweak to suit your needs.
However, if you already run a website that you are perfectly happy with, and just want to add e-commerce functionality to, then Ecwid is probably for you. Read on for a fuller comparison…
How Bigcommerce works
What is Bigcommerce?
Bigcommerce is a combination of a website builder and an online store builder: you can use it to create regular, static web pages as well as display and sell products (these can be 'real' goods or digital products such as music downloads and e-books). You register for an account (there's a 14-day free trial) and you can then select a template, tweak its design using some simple controls, create some content and add some products. When you are ready to publish your online store, it can either reside at a Bigcommerce web address, or at a domain name of your choosing (www.yoursite.com etc.). You get a lot of control over search engine optimisation (SEO), with the ability to add meta data, page descriptions and so on.
Some important Bigcommerce features
- Bigcommerce allows you to can use a wide range of third party payment gateways – including well-known ones like Paypal and Stripe - to process credit card transactions. Different transaction fees apply depending on which payment gateway provider you use.
- Bigcommerce is flexible when it comes to design - the free templates are all very 'tweakable' using the controls provided, and can also edit your store’s CSS and HTML.
- You can run a blog ‘out of the box’ with Bigcommerce. This is important, because blogging is one of the best tactics you can use to attract visitors to your store – quality, keyword-rich posts can generate inbound links to your store, which will help it perform well in search engines.
- Bigcommerce recently announced a partnership with Alibaba.com, the Chinese giant online retailer. This allows Bigcommerce users to browse and buy 30,000 wholesale products from 300 of Alibaba's 'gold' suppliers.
How much does Bigcommerce cost?
There are three Bigcommerce plans:
- Bigcommerce Basic: $29.95 per month
- Bigcommerce Plus: $79.95 per month
- Bigcommerce Enterprise: custom pricing based on requirements
As you might expect, the more you pay, the more features you get; but the Basic or Plus plans will meet most users’ requirements – Enterprise is essentially for large businesses with advanced requirements regarding dedicated SSL and IP, service level agreements and account management.
In terms of the key differences between the Basic and Plus plans, for me the key advantages of the Plus plan are:
- Real-time carrier shipping
- Abandoned cart functionality
- No transaction fees
If you are interested in Bigcommerce it’s a case really of comparing each plan carefully to ensure that you picking the right one for your business needs.
Is Bigcommerce for me?
Utlimately Bigcommerce offers a pretty easy way to get an online store together quickly and is ideal for anyone who doesn't already have a website. As with any online store building product though, it's best to sign up for their free trial and test it out yourself before committing to it. (You might also like to read our Bigcommerce review for a more detailed breakdown of pros and cons.)
How Ecwid works
What is Ecwid?
Ecwid is a tool that lets you construct a store that 'plugs in' to your existing site; it's not a tool for building complete websites. As with most online store building tools, it allows you to set up ‘catalogues’ of products (both physical and digital), add photos, pricing, weights for each etc. You can define shipping rates, accept card payments and so on – all the standard stuff that you’d expect to be able to do using an e-commerce solution. You can tweak design elements using controls, and – if coding is your bag – you can edit the CSS stylesheets (though not HTML).
Where Ecwid differs from the likes of Bigcommerce however is that it is not a 'standalone' solution but a widget that gets placed on other sites (hence the name: Ecwid stands for ‘E-commerce Widget’). As such, you get a few lines of code to add to your existing website or social media page; your store is then displayed wherever you’ve inserted this code. This is good because you can effectively host your store on multiple locations.
As with Bigcommerce, you can use a wide range of payment gateways to process credit card payments.
One Ecwid drawback worth considering (but one that you can overcome)
One drawback of Ecwid is that because it is an ‘Ajax application’, the products you list with it will not be indexed as easily by search engines as those listed with tools such as Bigcommerce. However, there are some technical tweaks you can make when installing the Ecwid widget on your site (these are documented in their knowledge base) which allow you to overcome this SEO problem. In short, configuring Ecwid to work well with search engines is pretty easy if you use Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal or Wix; if you use a custom-built website you can sort the issue out too, but you will need to get your hands a little bit dirty with some PHP coding (or phone a developer).
Ecwid: some key features
Three features of Ecwid are particularly strong:
- you can use it to present your storefront in up to 45 different languages (something you can't really do with Bigcommerce)
- it offers point of sale functionality – using the card reader and Paypal, you can use it to sell products in a physical store / location as well as online (Bigcommerce can be configured to provide point-of-sale functionality too but it requires use of a third party app).
- it comes with a free plan that is actually quite usable - you can sell up to ten products with it.
How much does Ecwid cost?
If you’ve only got a few products to sell (10 or less), Ecwid is free. $15 a month allows you to sell up to 100 products; $35 allows you to sell up to 2500 and $99 allows you to sell an unlimited number (if you pay annually it works out cheaper). As you’d expect, the more you pay, the more additional features you get – discount coupons functionality, better support etc.
Is Ecwid for me?
As discussed at the outset of this review, Ecwid is a really good solution if you already have a site and want to add an online store to it. It saves you from reinventing the wheel by designing a new website, and the fact that you can plug your store into a variety of online locations is excellent - your store can live on your website, your Facebook page, anywhere you can whack a little bit of code in. As ever, try before you buy - the free Ecwid plan can be found here. You can also read our full Ecwid review here.
Bigcommerce vs Ecwid: conclusions
You might consider using Bigcommerce over Ecwid if you don't already have a website or online store, and wish to set one up from scratch. Bigcommerce effectively doubles up as a website and online store builder, with blogging functionality built in, so it’s a good all-in one solution. The Alibaba integration might also appeal quite strongly to some users.
- already have a website that you are happy with, and simply wish to add a store to it
- ·wish to offer your store in multiple languages
- are on a budget - its free plan may actually meet your needs