Today we are talking with Jesse Ness, the marketing manager at Ecwid. Ecwid is home to the leading eCommerce shopping plugin, also called Ecwid. Here you can read my review for Ecwid on WPLift. Ecwid was founded in 2009 to meet the needs of small businesses looking to boost their eCommerce sales. It is also said to be the most popular “add-on store builder”. Well, I interviewed Jesse to gain some insight into this unique eCommerce platform option to see if it really lives up to its claims.
CAN YOU PLEASE TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR ROLE IN THE COMPANY?
My name is Jesse Ness, and I am the marketing manager at Ecwid. I am responsible for a variety of marketing activities, but my focus is on new customer acquisition. I aim to gather customers who have websites, utilize PayPerClick strategies and are interested in boosting their SEO rankings. In the end, I look for anyone who can benefit from becoming an online merchant and help them to do so.
CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT THOSE EMPLOYED AT ECWID AND WHAT ROLES THEY HAVE IN THE COMPANY'S SUCCESS?
There are over 100 people employed at Ecwid with a lot of different job responsibilities. What I can tell you is that the same team that created the world’s first PHP eCommerce platform, X-Cart, built Ecwid. That means that all of their eCommerce knowledge and experience went into the development of Ecwid.
All employees at Ecwid are dedicated to creating and adding new features to make our customers’ online stores even better. In addition, they spend a lot of time making Ecwid easier to use and integrate onto websites. Lastly, they focus on helping customers to become successful online shop owners.
WHAT FEATURES MAKE ECWID SO APPEALING TO ONLINE SHOP OWNERS?
Our original selling point with Ecwid was its ability to add to any existing website. This was important to so many aspiring merchants because there was no shop building involved with Ecwid.
However now, WordPress users using Ecwid can take advantage of our Chameleon functionality that is built directly into the plugin. Chameleon allows a new Ecwid installation to absorb the website’s CSS for a seamless integration onto the website. Basically, it makes your online shop look as though it has always existed.
Of course, we also have features such as shipping, taxes, inventory tracking, and payment functionalities. All of these features give buyers a full-fledged online shop experience. We also utilize responsive design so shoppers on any device can access our customers’ stores. Lastly, we have a unique mobile app that allows merchants to manage their shops on-the-go and even accept payments in person.
HOW ARE YOU MAKING SETTING UP AN E-COMMERCE SHOP EASIER FOR MERCHANTS, ESPECIALLY THOSE THAT MAY BE NEW TO THE E-COMMERCE INDUSTRY?
I overheard Matt Mullenweg on the Tim Ferriss podcast reference Ecwid and his future plans to make WooCommerce easier to use. That tells me that Ecwid sets the standard in terms of being the easiest eCommerce option on the market today.
Since our customers have always been relatively new to eCommerce, our goal has always been to make Ecwid easy to use. However, there is always room for improvement. For example, we are currently testing an onboarding dashboard to simplify the setup process to get stores launched even faster. In addition, we are encouraging merchants to launch a synchronized Facebook store to tap into already existing traffic.
We also have real-time shipping rates from the carriers included and an automated sales tax calculator to help finalize purchases. These tasks have hindered new online shop owners in the past making it difficult to run a successful online shop. In addition, Ecwid is a hosted solution that is embedded. This means we stream all updates so there is no additional backend or hosting knowledge needed on the merchant’s end.
CAN A MERCHANT DESIGN THEIR ECWID STORE TO MATCH THEIR BRAND? HOW FLEXIBLE IS THIS ABILITY WITHIN THE PLUGIN’S FUNCTIONALITY?
Absolutely. We discussed the Chameleon functionality above that is now available for WordPress and Wix. In addition, we are currently testing with other sitebuilders like Adobe Muse, Joomla, and Weebly. This flexibility comes with the plugin. However, you can update any element on your store by editing the CSS inside our control panel.
HOW WOULD RATE A CUSTOMER’S USER EXPERIENCE IF THEY WERE TO MAKE A PURCHASE FROM AN ONLINE SHOP THAT WAS SET UP USING ECWID?
I would give it a full five stars of course, as I am our marketing guy! Honestly, using Ecwid is just like using any other online store. However, what sets Ecwid apart is that even though it is an embedded widget, the checkout process automatically secures via HTTPS. This is even true if the website itself is not secure. Plus, the customer does not have to access a third-party website to finalize a purchase, as many other options such as Shopify require customers to do.
HOW IS ECWID DIFFERENT FROM OTHER E-COMMERCE SOLUTIONS ON THE MARKET TODAY?
Being embeddable is one major difference, though many other WordPress shopping carts such as WooCommerce do this as well. However, we are one of the only freemium products on the market that delivers a full product free of charge. There is no trial period and you don't need any additional plugins to make Ecwid work.
WHO DO YOU FEEL WOULD BEST BENEFIT FROM USING ECWID TO BUILD AN ONLINE STORE AND WHY?
Users with an existing website that do not want to learn how to code would benefit from using Ecwid. Instead, they can simply add an online shop onto their existing website. Our ease of use allows anyone to build an online store without paying a developer for help.
WHAT CHALLENGES HAS THE COMPANY FACED OVER THE YEARS AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
Though I may not have as much insight as the founder and president of Ecwid, what I can say is that any startup company faces immense challenges along the way. Starting small and scaling up can be difficult. Sometimes, you have one person managing multiple roles within the company at once, making the job hard to juggle. However, we succeed at overcoming all challenges along the way due to our desire to get our product to the masses.
WHY IS ADDING ECWID TO SOCIAL NETWORKS SO IMPORTANT FOR ONLINE SHOP OWNERS IN 2016?
That's where people are today. When people are standing in line at the grocery store they aren't searching on Google. People are looking at Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Mobile traffic is revolving around social media. It's something I like to call Social First. If people are starting out on social media, rather than on search engines, you have to find ways to get your products into their conversations.
HOW HAS E-COMMERCE CHANGED OVER THE YEARS, AND WHAT MAJOR CHANGES DO YOUR FORESEE HAPPENING IN THE FUTURE?
Mobile usage in increasing so quickly that I see that as the biggest change. Even now, many people do not “use” a computer in a traditional sense as they have one sitting in their back pocket or in their hands all day long. We are already seeing many payment gateways adapt to this but I think, as times goes on, we will see even more change to reduce the friction of making a purchase over a phone.
TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE ECWID APP MARKET.
The Ecwid App Market is a way to open our platform to third parties that can provide more functionality than we could possibly build, but that also need API connections to work properly. I like to think of them more as “extensions” of the Ecwid plugin rather than as a traditional mobile phone app.
For example, Klicken is an automated PayPerClick advertising engine that creates Adwords campaigns based on the products in your inventory and optimizes over time. Klicken connects through API so that when a product is out of stock, the Adwords campaign automatically pauses. That gives our customers access to advertising that they may not have the time or expertise to do, and the App Market connection via API makes it stronger than if our merchants found a similar product.
We have been expanding our app market very rapidly as they are so many interesting new technologies in the eCommerce industry. In the end, anything that makes our merchants more successful is a win for us.
THANKS FOR TALKING TO US!
Big thanks to Jesse for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer all of my questions so that the readers here at WPLift can see what Ecwid is all about. I look forward to hearing about anyone’s experience using the shopping cart plugin Ecwid for their online shop needs. So please, share in the comments below!
Jesse Ness is the Chief Marketing Officer at Ecwid a cloud-based e-commerce platform used by over 1 million merchants in 175 countries. Jesse has been in e-commerce and internet marketing since 2006. He has experience with PPC, SEO, conversion optimization and loves working with entrepreneurs to make their dreams a reality.