If you are looking to build a small online store, then Ecwid and Square are two very appealing options, especially as they both offer a free plan but which one is the best ecommerce platform for small businesses?
Well, that is what we are going to be looking at in our in-depth Ecwid vs Square comparison, where we compare all the important aspects you need to consider when choosing a platform for your online store.
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Ecwid vs Square: Quick Summary
Ecwid vs Square – which one is best for small businesses? Even though both platforms are viable options, Square does just edge this one for a couple of reasons:
- Website Builder – you can build a full ecommerce website with Square, whereas Ecwid’s website builder is quite limited
- Flexibility – with Square, you can sell a wider variety of product types including physical, digital, service and memberships
- POS Integration – for stores that sell face-to-face or plan to, Square Online has great integration with their POS and can all be managed from one dashboard
There are a couple of areas where Ecwid is stronger as they offer more payment gateways and they are slightly easier to use but we feel Square offers the better overall package for building an ecommerce website.
As you can see, Ecwid and Square are pretty close when it comes to the cost of their monthly plans but what are the differences between the plans these two platforms offer?
The primary difference between the Ecwid packages is the number of products you are allowed to sell:
- Venture Package – up to 100 products
- Business Package – up to 2,500 products
- Unlimited Package – unlimited products
Ecwid also limits the number of features that are available on each package, with only the Unlimited package giving you all the tools and features that Ecwid offers.
Ecwid doesn’t have any annual turnover limits or charge any additional transaction fees.
At this point, it is worth talking about the free Ecwid plan, which basically takes the place of a free trial and it lets you try the platform out with real customers before committing to a paid plan but it is limited to 5 products and you only get a very limited selection of tools and features, which is understandable on a free plan!
Ecwid also offers a discount equivalent to 2 months free if you pay for the plans annually, which is a big saving, especially on the Business and Unlimited packages!
The main difference between the Square plans is the number of features you get access to, with the Premium plan being the only one that includes all of the features that Square offers.
With all of the Square plans, you get:
- Unlimited products
- No additional transaction fees
- No annual turnover limits
This makes the Square plans very attractive to small online businesses, especially as you can get started with their free plan, which understandably has fewer features than the paid plans but you can still sell unlimited products.
The business plan from Ecwid comes loaded with a really good selection of features, which are all focused on ecommerce and helping your website start generating sales, including:
- One Tap Checkout (with Apple Pay)
- Schedule Order Pickup
- Sell Digital Products
- Gift Cards
- Secure Checkout
- Product Filters & Variations
- Store Management App
Marketing & SEO
- Discount Coupons
- Sell on Facebook
- Sell on Instagram
- Sell on Etsy, Amazon & Ebay
- Abandoned Cart Emails
- Custom Meta Data
- SEO Friendly URLs
- Number of Visitors
- Conversion Rate
- Apple Pay (via Stripe)
As you can see, there are lots of features available and there is a big focus on being able to sell your products via multiple platforms and using Ecwid as a central point to manage it all.
One of the main plus points of Ecwid is that you can use Ecwid to add ecommerce functionality to existing websites. So if you have a WordPress or Wix website and want to add all the advantages that come with a fully hosted shopping cart, you can easily integrate Ecwid into your website and start selling.
To see a complete breakdown of all the features that Ecwid has to offer, check out our full Ecwid Review.
Ecwid App Market
While Ecwid does come with a good selection of features, there are still some gaps that need to be filled and that is where the App Market comes into play. All of the apps within the market are made by third-party developers, which means that many of them do require you to pay for them.
For a platform primarily marketed at small businesses, you might think that Square might be limited in terms of features, but that isn’t true and even the free plan comes with a good selection but if you want to see a more in-depth breakdown of the features available, check out our full Square Review.
Below is a summary of the features that are available with Square (any features marked with an * are only available on the Performance and Premium plans):
- Unlimited Items
- Multiple Items Types
- Age Confirmation
- Password Protected Pages
- Item Quick View
- Item Badges
- Product Reviews*
- Abandoned Cart Recovery*
Marketing & SEO
- Sell on Facebook & Instagram
- SEO Tools
- Facebook & Google Ads
- Facebook Messenger
One of the main negatives with Square online is the limited payment gateways that they offer, which may be a bit restrictive for some businesses as they only offer:
- Apply Pay
- Google Pay
Square also has a selection of reporting and ecommerce analytics but these are only available on the paid package.
To see a complete breakdown of all the features that Square Online has to offer, check out our full Square Online Review.
So Square comes with a good range of features but they also offer a little bit more with their App Marketplace and this includes a selection of apps across a range of categories that allow you to link your Square store to third-party companies.
Some of these apps are not available for Square ecommerce (just the Square POS) and some are paid options.
Ecwid includes their New-Gen Instant Builder with every package which means that you can use Ecwid to build an online store and while it has some good features, it is limited.
When it comes to theme selection, the New-Gen Instant Site includes over 30 well-designed, mobile-friendly templates that can work for a variety of different store types.
Along with these themes, Ecwid also has a live customizer, which allows you to:
- Customize your site’s header and footer
- A block builder that includes a range of different sections that can be added, removed and rearranged
- Change the font and colors
Outside of the customizer, there are also design settings for your product and category pages and this adds another level of customization to your store.
But where Ecwid’s New-Gen Instant Builder is limited is that you can’t add custom pages to your site and there is no built-in blog, which makes added content to your store difficult and while they do have SEO tools, they are also quite basic.
Square’s website builder is surprisingly good as it uses Weebly as its foundation (it acquired it in 2018) and allows users to build a nice website for their business.
One area where Square is lacking is theme selection as they only offer 1 base theme, now this might not seem great but fortunately, theme customization with Square is very good as there are plenty of options to help you build a good-looking site, including:
- A good selection of sections that can be added, removed and rearranged
- Options for the header and footer
- Theme options including colors and fonts
But where Square’s website builder is better than Ecwid is that it is a full site builder, meaning that you can not only customize all the different page types on your site but you can also create custom pages and build them using the customizer.
They also have a built-in blog (Square call them stories) and while the content is added using a text editor, you can add additional sections to the page and all Square pages come with a good selection of SEO tools including custom URL and metadata.
Running an ecommerce website can be challenging at times and you require some help, so what support do you get from these platforms?
The level of support available from Ecwid is dependent on the package you are on:
- Venture Package: Email & Live Chat
- Business Package: Email, Live Chat & Phone
- Unlimited Package: Priority Email, Live Chat & Phone
The only issue with the phone support is that it is only available between 2 pm and 10 pm pacific time, which makes it not ideal for people in time zones on the opposite side of the world.
Square offers a range of support options, including:
- Email Support – which aims to get back to you within 48 hours
- Phone Support – available 9 am – 5 pm Monday to Friday
- Community Support Forum
These are available to all users, Square also has some very good help documentation, which covers many of the more common issues that users experience when using Square.
Hosting & Performance
Both platforms offer a very similar setup when it comes to their hosting environment as they both offer:
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- Unlimited Data Storage
- PCI Compliant Servers
- Global CDN’s
- Free SSL Certificate
But unfortunately, we weren’t able to put either platform through our usual performance testing as neither Ecwid or Square showcase any customer example sites.
Ease of Use
Facts and figures are one thing but what are these platforms like to use and how do they compare to each other? Well, we are going to be looking at three main sections for this, which are:
- Getting started with the platforms
- Managing your inventory
- Managing your orders
Getting started with Ecwid is really easy and all you need is your name, email address and to create a password, which once completed will get you signed up to the free plan.
If you want to upgrade to one of the paid plans, this can easily be done in the My Profile section of your dashboard.
For users who are new to the Ecwid platform, they have created a short to-do list to help you get up and running with the platform and it covers most of the main areas such as:
The first step in the to-do list does show where Ecwid’s primary focus is as it is a prompt to add Ecwid to your website or social network, rather than building a website using their ‘instant builder’.
One thing that Ecwid has definitely done a good job on is its ease of use and this is not only our own testing but also from feedback we have had from existing users, it just works and it works well!
Much of this is down to the main admin dashboard which is really easy to navigate around and the main sidebar navigation menu, which has one very neat little touch and that is that they have broken it down into three sections:
A simple thing but it does make it very easy to move from one section to the next but the rest of the admin dashboard is also easy to use as all of the page layouts are not only aesthetically pleasing but also practical.
Getting started with Square isn’t the most straightforward process because when you sign up, you are not just signing up to the ecommerce platform but also the payment gateway and this means there are many more steps in the signup process, which isn’t ideal if you just want to try it out.
Once you have gone through the signup process, you will go through to the main Square dashboard and to access the website builder, you will need to click on the Online Store option, you will then be taken through to the Ecommerce dashboard.
The dashboard itself is very easy to use as it has a nice, clean interface and the clearly labeled sidebar navigation menu makes it very easy to learn where everything is.
Being able to manage your stock efficiently and effectively is a hugely important part of running an online store and there are three main areas to this, which are:
- Adding products
- Organizing your Products
- Managing your inventory
Adding a new product in Ecwid is a simple process and they have gone for a tabbed layout, which gives you lots of options for adding different types of products but it is not over complicated.
The one negative about creating a new product in Ecwid is that you cannot edit the URL and while the auto-generated product URLs are pretty good, they do include a random number sequence at the end, which means they aren’t the cleanest from an SEO perspective.
Organizing your products is also very simple and Ecwid has gone for the tried and tested category model. It is also very easy to create parent and sub-categories as there are separate tabs in the category management page, which is very useful for organizing a large inventory.
To manage your inventory, Ecwid includes a full bulk editor, which allows you to quickly and easily change the:
- Product titles
- SKU codes
- Stock Quantity
There are also other options that can be added/remove using the filter system.
Creating a new product is very simple and easy to do with Square as they have opted for a well laid-out, single-page layout.
With Square offering many different product types, including Physical, Digital and Membership products, the sections available on the page does depend on the type of product you are creating.
Organizing your inventory is very simple as Square has opted for the traditional category system and you can create main and sub-categories, making it very easy to create a nice, easy-to-use hierarchy for your customers. You can also create multiple sub-categories, which makes this even better.
Managing your inventory isn’t great in Square as they don’t offer any real bulk editors and most changes including stock quantity and price need to be done on a product-by-product basis, which isn’t ideal for large inventories.
Ecwid’s order management system is very good and allows quick and easy processing of orders, including:
- Printing Orders Invoices
- Export Orders via CSV or Google Sheet
- Update Payment Status
- Update Fulfilment Status
This can be done in bulk or on individual orders and this complete process is very simple and easy to use.
Unfortunately, we were unable to test the order management system as we only set up a test environment and didn’t complete the signup process for the Square payment gateway, which meant we couldn’t create a test order.
• Multi-Channel Selling
• Order Management
• Product Options
• Layout Display for Product and Category Pages
• Limited content creation options
• Website builder is lacking in some areas
• Easy to use admin area
• Good theme customizer
• Low Cost
• App integrations
• Limited payment gateways
• No pre-built themes
• Limited bulk editors
Ecwid vs Square – Which is the Best for Small Businesses? It is very close between these two platforms but Square does just come out on top for a couple of reasons:
- It has a better website builder than Ecwid
- You can sell more product types than you can with Ecwid, including memberships and event tickets
- For businesses that sell face-to-face, you can easily integrate the Square online store with the POS
There are a couple of areas where we think Ecwid is better as it is slightly easier to use than Square and it offers a greater selection of payment options but as an overall package for building an online store, Square does offer more.
Square would be a great option if you are already using the Square POS and want to add a simple online store for your business but for building an online store from scratch, it is a bit limited in some areas.
But you can try both Ecwid and Square out for yourself to see which one works best for your business.