Update – July 19th, 2012.
My original review of EcWid was done in 2010, so I’ve updated it here with the benefit of my experience of working with EcWid since then.
Updated review starts here:
I needed a shopping cart for WordPress but I couldn’t find anything that was easy to implement, didn’t slow down the site and would be easy to teach a client.
My client’s requirements were straightforward: an on-line shop that was an integral part of their site, selling a small range of merchandise (rugby shirts, polo shirts, golf caps and the like).
I should say upfront that, as comfortable as I am with technology, a true blue geek would probably look at me with a mixture of pity and sorrow.
So when I review a product I like to be able to immediately, and easily, see how it will work, how it will fit into the site and how I’ll achieve what I need to achieve.
I’d not been able to do that with any of the first few products I reviewed.
A true free trial
So when I arrived on the EcWid site I heaved a sigh of relief – it was all plain to see. (Note: I’m not an affiliate for them – they don’t even have an affiliate program)
The Demo was OK, but basically consists of a bunch of screenshots, so it was limited.
But once you’re in the demo area you get a great big link inviting you to create a free EcWid account so you can experience it ‘undisturbed’.
That enables you to use the admin area as if you were managing a real shop. A true free trial.
Intuitive with lots of pre-configured options
That was all I needed. The process of adding products, selecting currencies, interfacing with payment gateways, setting up taxes, selecting shipping charges, adding product galleries, and everything else you need to do is supremely intuitive.
There are also lots of pre-configured interfaces built in: DHL, Fedex and other shippers, PayPal, Google Checkout and Authorize.net.
Zoning is already built in to the Shippers interfaces and includes their individual calculation formulae for destination zones worldwide. All pretty neat.
Here are the sites, social networks, shippers and payment processors that EcWid integrates with (you’ll need to scroll down).
A hosted solution that doesn’t weigh down your site
But here’s the part I really liked: everything is run from the EcWid site, not yours.
You upload your product images, manage pricing, set your notification email addresses and monitor stock levels through the EcWid site.
That means implementation is a piece of cake – you’re effectively embedding the shop-front in your site, just like a YouTube video.
On WordPress you can implement it as a plugin through the Add New Plugins screen, or you can simply paste the code into a new page.
The result is that your site’s performance is completely unaffected. Your WordPress database is not touched and you won’t get hassled by your hosting provider for hogging CPU resources.
Seamless integration with your site links and design
EcWid fits seamlessly into your existing theme or site design and the shop front uses your site’s URL (not an EcWid link). In addition, there are 3 basic themes in your EcWid account, two of which you can customise.
This enables you to customise the layout of the shop itself (items and categories), as well as control the fonts and other elements that don’t get picked up by your existing stylesheets.
The shop-front itself takes a while to load initially. It’s AJAX-based and enables drag and drop, meaning shoppers can drag and drop products to the shopping bag.
As nice as that is, the downside is a longer initial load time for the shop-front. But at least that only affects the shop-front itself, not the rest of the site. And, once the shop-front has loaded, all navigation within the shop is quick.
Finally, their support is excellent.
I’ve had several occasions where I’ve had to ask how to do something to meet a specific requirement and, except once, the answer has come back within a matter of hours. The one time it didn’t, I still got a reply telling me they were still working on my problem, with updates roughly once a day on progress.
Almost all of the shopping-cart apps that I reviewed (including EcWid) claimed to enable you to set up your shop ‘in minutes’.
That, of course, is marketing mumbo jumbo. To include all the settings you need to make in setting up a shop will take you an hour or more. Probably longer the first time you set one up.
But, without doubt, EcWid is the most intuitive of the ones I reviewed.