Ecwid’s e-commerce plugin for WordPress is now fully integrated with the Gutenberg editor. The cloud-based store builder, pronounced “eck-wid,” is short for e-commerce widgets, but the service has fully embraced blocks in its latest releases.
The new default Storefront block comes pre-installed and embeds the entire Ecwid store on a page, including product listing, filters, navigation, and checkout. It provides a quick way for a new seller to get everything working without having to do anything besides add the plugin. Inside the block sidebar, the seller can tweak the storefront’s appearance, including thumbnails, page layout, colors, and other settings. The short screencast below shows the block in action and part of it was featured during Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word address in December 2018.
Ecwid also has a new Single Product block with a buy now button. It enables sellers to select a product and display it as a card with an image, title, and buy now button. This is convenient for using inside a blog post without having to open the whole storefront.
The team behind Ecwid is working on adding more Gutenberg blocks, despite having only a small fraction of their customers using WordPress. The company has more than 1.5 million customers running stores in 175 countries, but only 1.3% (20,000) are using WordPress. Even with so few active installations of the company’s WordPress plugin, Ecwid has its sights set on competing with WooCommerce, the most dominant player in this spacee. Last year at WordCamp Moscow, Ecwid Product Manager Matvey Kuritsyn gave a presentation titled “Why does anyone need a WooCommerce alternative?” Much of the company’s strategy is outlined in the slides from that presentation.
“We are focusing on small businesses and resolving their problems — where WooCommerce is weak,” Ecwid Marketing Manager Kseniya Pinkova said. She identified a few ways that Ecwid is working to differentiate itself from competitors:
- Ecwid is easy-to-use. Developers can set it up very quickly, but also the end users can do that themselves. 75% of Ecwid installations on WordPress are made by the end users, not developers.
- With Ecwid, everything is in the cloud, which means we handle updates, security patches, backups, huge loads ourselves (with no actions required on the user side).
- Ecwid is secure, it’s PCI DSS Level 1 certified – a bank level of security.
- Ecwid works with any hosting (even the cheapest and crappiest ones) even if you have 10,000 products in your store.
- Ecwid provides customers support by email, chat, and phone.
This level of security, support, and maintenance is only available for WooCommerce via a managed solution like WordPress.com or Liquid Web, but sellers may still struggle with setup and customization due to the vast number of options and integrations available. Ecwid is focusing on its strengths as a SaaS-only solution to target small businesses in the WordPress space, instead of trying to replicate all the features that the dominant plugins already have.
The company started in 2009 and has a distributed team of 160 people who work in development, IT, operations, support, content, and business development.
“The WordPress plugin is technically a separate application (because Ecwid is a cloud solution, SaaS), and it appeared in 2009 as well,” Pinkova said. “But everything is interconnected — when a new featured is released in Ecwid, WordPress plugin users see it appear in their stores as well and can use it even without updating their WordPress plugin. For example, we rolled out new in-house Product Filters last week and they are now available for all Ecwid users, including those using WordPress. Some other features touch the WordPress plugin code — for example, some SEO enhancements involve both robust cloud part (API) and changes on the plugin side. The Gutenberg block is a good example of a third kind of Ecwid feature — it mostly resides in the plugin and it’s great to see how it improves the experience of our WordPress user base segment specifically.”
Ecwid’s roadmap for 2019 includes tighter integration with Facebook and Instagram, an in-house multilingual catalog, and marketing features to help small businesses find their customers. Because the WordPress plugin essentially hooks up the cloud-based solution, many of the features and improvements on Ecwid’s general roadmap for all platforms will be automatically available whenever they roll out.
“Regarding our WordPress plugin, the main thing for us is Gutenberg,” Pinkova said. “We’re very excited about it, we’re looking forward to new features Gutenberg is going to provide, and working on our plugin to make sure we’re making those available and easy-to-use for Ecwid sellers.”