Ecwid: The Simple Shopping Cart Solution

EcwidIf you haven't heard of Ecwid, and you are in the market for a shopping cart, you should check it out.  It is a newish shopping cart system that can be integrated with Drupal or WordPress.  Compared to other Drupal/WordPress options it is simple in design/function and it is simple to integrate with your website. I did a happy dance the first time I checked Ecwid out because finally we have a simple solution to offer to clients that is a real shopping cart.

What is a shopping cart?

Having a shopping cart on your site is different than having a "donate now" button or a "buy now" button.  Donate or buy buttons allow you to select a single item/donation amount and cash out through a processor like Canada Helps or Paypal.  With a shopping cart you can add many things to your cart/basket, accumulating a list of items for purchase.  With a donate button, to make multiple purchases, you would need to make multiple transactions. So having a shopping cart allows customers to browse your site as they would browse a retail store, adding and removing things from their cart as they wish, and then checking out.

How does Ecwid work

Ecwid is a web-based software. You create an account and login and set up different products within Ecwid, easily adding a description, image, price, modifier (e.g. small, medium, large).  Then we add some code to your website to make those products display there.  We can either do that on one tab of your site, a "store," or we can create a custom product content type within Drupal or WordPress with a field for the Ecwid product code, making that type of content purchasable. Then when someone comes to your site they can select one or more products and check out.  The customer enters their name, email, address info, and at that point Ecwid flips that info over to the payment processor so the customer can enter their credit card number.  In Canada Paypal or Beanstream are the options for payment processing.

Why choose Ecwid

  • Ecwid is perfect for relatively simple requirements.
  • Ecwid is relatively low cost to set up, compared with other more robust shopping carts.
  • Inputting new products with Ecwid is easy and intuitive and can be done with a little training by the communications/web person in your company, instead of needing to be set up by a developer.  See this sample product.
  • It is super secure because it does not store or transmit credit card info on your site.

When Ecwid won't work

  • When you have complicated store rules.  For example, it doesn't handle things like volume discounts or user-inputted prices (a field where you can input how much you want to donate).  It also has no way of enforcing subscription rules, like you must buy 3 items in this category.
  • You require that the entire shopping experience appear to happen on your site (Ecwid takes the customer either to a Paypal or Beanstream Form to enter your credit card info prior to redirecting them back to a succes/failure message on your site).
  • It has a multi-step payment form, where you enter your shipping details on one screen and payment details (credit card info) on the next screen. If you prefer single page forms, then you will need to use a different cart.
  • You have complex design needs.  Ecwid allows us to style the store products and cart interface to some extent, but it doesn't allow us to fundamentally change those interfaces.  We can change its colour, font, background colour, but we can't change things like the tabbed check-out interface.
  • At the moment there is no way to grab the email address someone provides at check-out and feed that directly to an email newsletter sign-up form.  However, Ecwid has recently added a feature to allow you to ask the customer to agree to Terms and Conditions at check-out, so we wonder whether they will soon offer email sign-up check-boxes.
  • Ecwid relies on JavaScript.  Some internet users turn off JavaScript, which would make the store not visible to those users.  It is estimated that about 2% of users in the US have JavaScript turned off.
  • If not configured properly, Ecwid can be bad for search engine optimization (SEO) because it relies on JavaScript.  Ecwid solves this problem by allowing us to enable a plain-HTML copy of your store that will be seen by search engines, mobile devices, and users who have turned off JavaScript, while the fancy version will be seen by other site visitors. That plain-HTML copy of your store will be indexed by search engines and when users visit those links they will be prompted to view the JavaScript version if they have JavaScript enabled.

For more features see Ecwid Key Features.

Conclusion

Ecwid is a great product if you have simple requirements and are willing to accept its limitations.  The web-based interface is super simple to understand and use.  I love Ecwid as a solution for a client who wants to add a simple store (e.g. sell videos or publications) or wants to commence a fundraising campaign centered on a few key products (e.g. buy turkeys for a Christmas outreach dinner or help refurbish a facility).  If you have questions about Ecwid or other shopping carts, be sure to be in touch.