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‘Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker’ Eyes $450M+ Global Debut: The Last Huge Event Opening At The B.O. Until 2021?

Disney will ring out its $10 billion-plus global 2019 with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, in what is expected to be a $450M global opening. That’s what Star Wars: The Last Jedi opened to in 2017, behind The Force Awakens’ $528.9M. Skywalker rises in France, Germany, and Italy on Wednesday with previews in China and domestic previews starting at 6 p.m. Thursday. Broken out, the expectation is at least $200M+ in U.S./Canada (with an asterisk — read on) and $250M abroad. This includes about $20M expected from China, which has not warmed to the space saga despite Disney’s best efforts to create a following.

But is Skywalker the last event-pic mega global opening until 2021?

While there’s bound to be big pics next year, you have to wait until 2021 before you get to the pent-up demand features such as Thor: Love and Thunder, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Matrix 4 and of course the mother of them all, Avatar 2, on December 17.

‘Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker’ Premiere: J.J. Abrams, Billy Dee Williams And More Talk Legacy And Future Of Franchise
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker
Disney
Some disagree with this theory that Rise of Skywalker is the last big global opener until 2021, pointing to how other franchises — such as the Marvel pics — tend to over-index abroad, pulling in 60% of their global ticket sales, with China and South Korea being big markets. But 2020 is a wonky reset year for Marvel with frosh property The Eternals set for November and the May-launching Black Widow, a spinoff about a Bond-like female Russian assassin who doesn’t have superpowers (and who hasn’t seen that before?).

Marvel Studios Boss Kevin Feige Unveils Epic ‘The Eternals’ Footage, Shares More ‘Black Widow’ – CCXP

Bond himself typically doesn’t do a day-and-date release, and MGM/Universal’s No Time to Die is starting in the UK and select foreign territories on April 2 before domestic’s April 10 bow.

Warner Bros Pictures
If Warner Bros./DC’s Wonder Woman 1984 is going to do any business over $400M in her first weekend, it will need to beat the comic book label’s biggest global opener, Batman v. Superman ($422.5M), and make sure that China is along for the ride in its first weekend. Marvel has a better track record in larger numbers abroad than DC, and Captain Marvel‘s uber-debut of $456.7M was a tee-up to Avengers: Endgame. While Mulan should dominate China, it remains to be seen how it resonates in non-Asian markets; Beauty and the Beast —a much bigger property — is Disney’s biggest live-action princess (and adaptation of a feature toon) opening with $357M.

Universal
In regards to pics opening to north of $450M next year, if there’s one possibility, it’s Universal’s Fast & Furious 9 on May 22. That hinges on Uni firing off the sequel in 63 territories plus China, like it did with The Fate of the Furious, which delivered a $541.9M opening global weekend (the third-best of all time behind Avengers: Endgame $1.2 billion and Infinity War‘s $640.5M), $184.9M of that from China. Overall, studios don’t know if China will be part of their opening suite until 30 days prior to a pic’s release.

But back to Skywalker. We hear from exhibition that stateside advance ticket sales are on par with Last Jedi four days before opening and indicate a $200M opening, despite the fact that tracking has the J.J. Abrams-directed ninth-quel at $175M. There was an upbeat response coming out of the Hollywood premiere Monday night, with the feeling that the movie had course-corrected the flyaway hairs in the Star Wars canon from Rian Johnson’s Last Jedi, so there’s potential for over-indexing. Reviews hit after 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, December 18.

star wars the rise of skywalker premiere
Skywalker will play in 4,300+ theaters by Friday, including more than 3,200 3D locations, 415 Imax screens, 850 Premium Large Format screens and 275 D-Box/4D locations. Fan event screenings at 450 theaters will take place at 5 p.m. Thursday before the 6 p.m. early shows nationwide. Additionally, 21 theaters in major markets will run nine-film Star Wars marathons (kicking off Wednesday evening, leading into the Thursday 5 p.m. showing of Skywalker).

I hear from exhibition sources that Disney is enforcing a four-week engagement play in each venue’s largest auditorium for a film rental of 65%. Theaters are to provide no passes for the first two weeks of engagement and no discount tickets outside of a theater’s one weekly discount night. Three trailers must play on every print of Skywalker: Fox’s Call of the Wild, Marvel’s Black Widow and Disney’s Mulan. Any breach of these rules will result in a film rental of 70%. These are standard terms for a Disney Star Wars or Marvel pic, I understand.

No one is expecting Thursday night previews to be at the level of Force Awakens, which made $57M and recently was unseated by Avengers: Endgame ($60M) as the best domestic preview night of all time. The Last Jedi earned $45M in previews, while Rogue One in 2016 did $29M and Solo $14.1M. Expect Thursday night to be around the Last Jedi range.
The only major overseas market not releasing this session is Korea, which joins in January.

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker
Lucasfilm
Previous Star Wars title The Last Jedi opened to $235M abroad in like-for-like markets and at today’s exchange rates. The Force Awakens did $312M in the same markets and at current rates. The leading hubs for Star Wars tend to include mature majors the UK, Germany, France, Japan and Australia, while China snuck into the Top 5 on Force Awakens given the curiosity factor, as did Rogue One with local actors Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen in the cast.

The sentiment abroad, like domestic, is that some fans felt burned by The Last Jedi — and perhaps more so by Solo, which came out too quickly after Episode VIII and had little evident raison d’être. So some might be on the fence about rushing out in the opening days and opt to wait a beat to hear which way word-of-mouth is leaning.

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
20th Century Fox
Still, Skywalker reps more than 40 years of history all wrapped up in this last movie, and it’s expected that folks will want to turn out to see the culmination of Lucas’ odyssey. Looking back to Episodes I-III, The Phantom Menace was a massive event but was pilloried, leading to Attack of the Clones dropping significantly. However, Revenge of the Sith bounced back up, though not to Phantom Menace numbers.

Says one international distribution exec, “How can it not be an event to wrap it all up?” Also, recall that The Force Awakens helped create a new young fan base who went back and watched the originals and will be in line this week.

As for China, previews begin Wednesday night at 7 p.m. local, and we hear Skywalker is going wide on Thursday rather than Friday as previously announced. This marks a change from the recent holiday Star Wars installments, each of which bowed in the Middle Kingdom in January, after initial rollout elsewhere.

The timing, of course, is dictated by the Chinese authorities and gives Skywalker a coveted day-and-date release. A last-minute shakeup in China appears to have pushed Ip Man 4: The Finale (which was expected to underwhelm) back to January. Feng Xiaogang’s Only Cloud Knows is another major new pic in the market.

Still, as we’ve seen, China is not key to this franchise. Each of the new titles has had diminishing returns there. At historical rates, TFA did $124M, Rogue One came in at $69.5M and The Last Jedi made just $42.6M there (Solo grossed $16.5M off a late-May day-and-date release).

Disney has tried to increase awareness of (and fondness for) the franchise in China, but unlike on a lot of the rest of this planet, the 42-year old saga doesn’t have the hook of nostalgia for the characters and mythology. To help move the needle, Disney in October teamed with Tencent-owned China Literature to produce the first original Chinese Star Wars story for the latter’s online reading platform. The two companies also will distribute 40 Star Wars novels translated into Chinese for the first time.

‘Star Wars’ Jimmy Kimmel Special On ABC, Marathon On TNT Set Ahead Of ‘The Rise Of Skywalker’ Premiere

For reference, The Last Jedi finaled at $712M overseas at historic rates and was led by the UK, Germany, Japan, France and Australia. The Force Awakens did best in the UK, China, Germany, Japan and France, rolling up to a $1.13B international gross.

The cast and filmmakers have been traveling abroad in support. Kathleen Kennedy, Abrams, Ridley, Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels and Chris Terrio were all at a recent press conference and promo event in Tokyo while Abrams, Ridley, Isaac and Boyega attended Brazil Comic-Con. The European premiere is in London on Wednesday, where Ridley and Boyega also will film an appearance on The Graham Norton Show and Abrams, Kennedy and the cast will take part in a BAFTA Q&A.

Overall, Skywalker will be Imax’s widest global release ever with 1450 screens in 75 countries.

*****

‘Cats’ Trailer: James Corden, Taylor Swift, Idris Elba Ready For Their Feline Close-Ups

Cats
Universal
Elsewhere stateside, Universal will unleash Working Title’s Cats as counterprogramming against Star Wars. Again, if this movie doesn’t do any business, it’s simply about getting some sort of start in the pre-Christmas market, with the studio banking that Broadway and The Greatest Showman fans will leg out this Tom Hooper-directed adaptation of the smash Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. Showtimes being at 7 p.m. Thursday in what is expected to be a $15M-$20M weekend (it could very well go lower). The pic will be booked by Friday at 3,200 theaters. James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift and Rebel Wilson star. Cats will spring in the U.K. and Ireland as well, expanding the following week into 42 markets including France, Australia, Germany, Korea and Mexico. Its overseas rollout continues through February.

Lionsgate is also expanding Bron’s Jay Roach directed Bombshell after it detonated a great $76,800 per screen at four theaters. The film starring Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie about the women who take on Fox News boss Roger Ailes is poised to make between $7M-$12M.

‘Bombshell’ Review: Charlize Theron Leads Brilliant Cast In Eye-Opening Account Of Roger Ailes-Fox News Scandal

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Google.com

Google was founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were Ph.D. students at Stanford University in California. Together they own about 14 percent of its shares and control 56 percent of the stockholder voting power through supervoting stock. They incorporated Google as a privately held company on September 4, 1998. An initial public offering (IPO) took place on August 19, 2004, and Google moved to its headquarters in Mountain View, California, nicknamed the Googleplex. In August 2015, Google announced plans to reorganize its various interests as a conglomerate called Alphabet Inc. Google is Alphabet’s leading subsidiary and will continue to be the umbrella company for Alphabet’s Internet interests. Sundar Pichai was appointed CEO of Google, replacing Larry Page who became the CEO of Alphabet.

The company’s rapid growth since incorporation has triggered a chain of products, acquisitions, and partnerships beyond Google’s core search engine (Google Search). It offers services designed for work and productivity (Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides), email (Gmail/Inbox), scheduling and time management (Google Calendar), cloud storage (Google Drive), instant messaging and video chat (Google Allo, Duo, Hangouts), language translation (Google Translate), mapping and navigation (Google Maps, Waze, Google Earth, Street View), video sharing (YouTube), note-taking (Google Keep), and photo organizing and editing (Google Photos). The company leads the development of the Android mobile operating system, the Google Chrome web browser, and Chrome OS, a lightweight operating system based on the Chrome browser. Google has moved increasingly into hardware; from 2010 to 2015, it partnered with major electronics manufacturers in the production of its Nexus devices, and it released multiple hardware products in October 2016, including the Google Pixel smartphone, Google Home smart speaker, Google Wifi mesh wireless router, and Google Daydream virtual reality headset. Google has also experimented with becoming an Internet carrier (Google Fiber, Google Fi, and Google Station).[8]

Google.com is the most visited website in the world.[9] Several other Google services also figure in the top 100 most visited websites, including YouTube and Blogger. Google was the most valuable brand in the world as of 2017,[10] but has received significant criticism involving issues such as privacy concerns, tax avoidance, antitrust, censorship, and search neutrality. Google’s mission statement is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. The company’s unofficial slogan “Don’t be evil” was removed from the company’s code of conduct around May 2018, but reinstated by July 31, 2018.

Ecwid #1 Free E-commerce Solution, Try Ecwid

What is Ecwid, and how does it work?


Ecwid is a tool for building your own online store. It’s a ‘software as a service’ (SaaS) meaning that you pay a monthly fee to use it.

Much like other e-commerce platforms, Ecwid allows you to set up ‘catalogs’ of products, and add photos, pricing, weight, etc. for each. You can define shipping rates, accept credit card payments and so on – all the key stuff that you’d expect to be able to do using an e-commerce solution. All this is done via a web browser — there’s nothing to install locally.

Ecwid differs significantly from competing products like Shopify, Squarespace, and Bigcommerce in that it is not really designed to let you create a fully-featured, standalone e-commerce website; rather, it’s designed to allow you add an online store to an existing online presence.

(That said, Ecwid has recently added some new functionality, called ‘Starter Site’, that does let you create a one-page standalone offering. I’ll discuss this in more depth later on in the review.)

The product works by giving you a ‘widget’ that gets placed on other sites — hence the name Ecwid: it’s short for ‘E-commerce Widget’. You get a few lines of HTML code (the widget) to add to an existing website or social media profile, and your store is displayed wherever you’ve inserted this code.

But how much does this functionality cost?

Ecwid pricing
The free plan
If you’ve only got a few products to sell (up to 10), Ecwid is entirely free. This is something of a USP for Ecwid — key rivals don’t offer this sort of free functionality.

Granted, the free plan is pretty basic, with key features like discount coupons and support being unavailable, and it only allows you to sell up to 10 products in 2 categories. But for merchants with simple requirements, this may actually be sufficient; and using the free plan is a good way to try the tool out.

Probably the most important thing to note about the free plan is that it is not great from an SEO point of view — you need to be on a paid plan to ensure that your product pages talk to search engines in the best way possible. I’ll discuss this in more depth later on in the review.

The paid plans
In terms of the paid plans, the pricing structure is as follows:

$15 per month – the ‘Ecwid Venture’ plan — this allows you to sell up to 100 products;

$35 per month – the ‘Ecwid Business’ plan — this allows you to sell up to 2500;

$99 per month – the ‘Ecwid Unlimited’ plan — this allows you to sell an unlimited number of products.

(All the above products allow you to make use of up to 10,000 product categories.)

If you pay for Ecwid annually, things work out cheaper: the three plans come in respectively at $12.50, $29.17 and $82.50 per month.

As you’d expect, the more you pay, the more additional features you get – discount coupons, the point-of-sale option, better support and so on.

Key differences between the Ecwid pricing plans
A few key differences in the Ecwid plans to watch out for are as follows:

The ‘Venture’ plan does not allow you to list your products on established marketplaces like Amazon and E-bay.

Although point-of-sale functionality (POS) — which allows you to use a card reader to sell in physical locations — is available on any paid plan, only the most expensive ‘Unlimited’ plan unlocks full POS functionality and integration with leading POS app Square.

The ‘Venture’ plan is quite restrictive in terms of how it allows you to display your products: on this plan, you can’t display product dimensions, use product variants or allow users to make use of product filters when browsing your store.

The ‘Venture’ plan does not allow you to edit existing orders (or create ones manually) — you’ll need to be on a more expensive plan to be able to do that.

Automatic abandoned cart recovery is only available on the ‘Business’ plans and higher.

With the ‘Business’ and ‘Unlimited’ plans, you can avail of some consultation time when setting up your store.

If you’re selling digital goods (software, music, etc.) that are over 100MB in size, you’ll need to be on a ‘Business’ or ‘Unlimited’ plan (which provide limits of 1GB and 10GB per file respectively).

Phone support is only available on the ‘Business’ and ‘Unlimited’ plan.

Fully customizable invoices are only available on the ‘Business’ and ‘Unlimited’ plans.

Let’s drill down into some of Ecwd’s key features.

Payment gateways
With Ecwid, you can process credit cards ‘out of the box’ using Paypal, with no extra charge other than Paypal’s commission.

There are also around 50 other payment gateways you can connect to Ecwid (these include established providers like Sage, Stripe, 2Checkout, Authorize.Net and many others). Some are country-specific, so the exact range available to you will depend on your location.

Other online store solutions such as Shopify provide more options in this regard, but the range of payment gateway integrations available with Ecwid is definitely at the more comprehensive end of the spectrum.

Remember of course that using these payment gateways often means paying a monthly fee. You may find it best to start off with Paypal and add a payment gateway down the line, if and when your volume of sales justifies it.

Point-of-sale functionality
Thanks to Ecwid’s point-of-sale (POS) functionality, you can use your Ecwid store to sell not just online but in physical locations too – in stores, market stalls, at concerts and so on.

Ecwid’s chip and tap card reader for POS applications.
Ecwid’s chip and tap card reader for POS applications.

With Ecwid’s POS functionality, regardless of whether a customer buys a product in store, online, on their phone or via Facebook, everything stays in sync – i.e., the merchant’s catalog, inventory, and customer/transaction information.

There are a few ways you can use this feature: the simplest is probably to use ‘Paypal Here.’ This involves downloading the Ecwid iOS app from Apple’s App store, connecting it to the Paypal Here service, and then taking payments using a mobile card reader (pictured above).

Ecwid’s mobile app for managing orders
Ecwid’s mobile app for managing orders

You have two choices when it comes to POS hardware and Paypal Here: you can either buy a chip and swipe reader (for $24.99) or a chip and tap reader (for $79.99). Both can be ordered direct from Ecwid.

There’s a couple of things worth noting about the Paypal Here integration: first, it’s only available to merchants in the US, UK, and Canada. Secondly, it’s not yet available on Android devices.

If you’re based outside the US / UK / Canada or want to work with another mobile device type, the good news is that Ecwid also works with the Vend, Clover, NCR Silver, and Square POS systems. These all facilitate using a wider range of hardware in a physical retail location (full-sized card readers, receipt printers, cash drawers tablet stands, etc.) and are usable in more countries.

Although you can avail of the Paypal Here POS option on all paid-for plans, you’ll need to be on the most expensive ‘Unlimited’ plan if you want to avail of a Vend, Clover, NCR Silver or Square integration.

Language detection
Ecwid is ahead of the pack in that its storefronts can be automatically translated into nearly 50 different languages – customers can view your store in their own language, without you having to worry about creating alternate versions of it.

Ecwid provides this functionality by detecting visitors’ language automatically based on their browser settings / IP address.

Competing products like Shopify and Bigcommerce are yet to provide this sort of functionality – they force you to rely on third-party apps, the creation of multiple stores or Google Translate to provide different language versions of your store, which is less than ideal.

So a definite win for Ecwid here.

Importing and exporting data
Like many competing products, Ecwid allows you to import and export your data in to the platform using CSV format. When importing via CSV, you can make use of 25 different columns, each representing a particular product attribute (product name, SKU, URL for product image and so on). Your import file can be delimited by comma, semi-colons or tabs.

The export option, as you might expect, allows you to export product data, orders and customers (again, in CSV format) and means that if you ever feel the need to migrate your store to another e-commerce platform, you shouldn’t have any major problems doing so.

Search engine optimization (SEO) in Ecwid
The key things to watch out for with SEO features in store building products like Ecwid are as follows:

how easy it is to key elements like page titles and meta descriptions

how easy it is to create clean, search-friendly URLs

how fast you can get a product page to load

The good stuff first: you can edit the title of your page and its meta description easily; the relevant fields are pre-populated for you automatically, but you can tweak them to suit your SEO objectives.

Less good is the fact that you can’t manually change the URL of a product — you have to make do with the one that Ecwid generates for you. This is not ideal because keywords in URLs are used by some search engines to categorize content during indexing. However, the URLs that are automatically generated by Ecwid include the title you’ve given to your product — so if you include some keywords in your product title (not a bad idea anyway) your URL will include them too. This serves as something of a workaround, but I’d prefer full control over URLs.

Ecwid SEO options are basic but easy to use.

Another area where Ecwid doesn’t perform quite so well on the SEO front involves AMP — accelerated mobile pages.

As the name suggests, AMP pages load faster on mobile devices. This encourages people to stay longer on your page, thus increasing ‘dwell time’ —something which is believed by many SEO experts believe to be rewarded by Google with preferential treatment in search results. Additionally, Google sometimes highlights AMP pages in carousels in search results, giving AMP content an extra little boost.

Unfortunately, however — and unlike competing products such as Bigcommerce or Shopify, you can’t create AMP versions of your products using Ecwid.

Although there’s room for improvement with regards to SEO in Ecwid, I wouldn’t necessarily view its current deficiencies in this area as a showstopper; it’s important to remember that link building and having great content on your site are as important to SEO as the technical aspects of SEO. (For some general pointers on SEO, you might want to check out our ‘Making your site visible’ post).

Apps and plugins
In common with a lot of other e-commerce platforms, Ecwid provides a number of integrations with other web apps (via its ‘app market’).

However, the number of integrations available with well-known services is reasonably limited. Integrations do exist with key products like MailChimp, Xero and Freshbooks; but competing products such as Shopify offer a much broader range of established apps.

Notable omissions in the Ecwid store include Quickbooks and Zendesk, for example (that said, a Quickbooks integration is coming soon).

The picture is better when it comes to CMS plugins: these are available for WordPress, Wix, and Joomla, allowing to you install Ecwid on one of these platforms very easily.

Dropshipping in Ecwid
Dropshipping is a sales and fulfillment approach where you don’t keep what you’re selling in stock: you take the order, send it to a supplier, and they deliver the goods to your client — your store is in effect a middle man of sorts.

You can drop ship in Ecwid by adding either the Wholesale2B or Printful apps, which are both available from Ecwid’s app store.

The Wholesale2B app allows you to add a variety of products from over 100+ dropshipping suppliers to your Ecwid store; the Printful app allows you to create products featuring your images or logos (you upload them to Printful, who then manufacture the product and ship it).

Other platforms do provide integrations with more drop shipping providers, but Wholesale2B and Printful are established, providers. As always with dropshipping, for ethical reasons you may wish to perform some due diligence on how (and where) any products you are featuring on your site are being produced.

Ecwid Starter Site
Although Ecwid has traditionally been a product which lets you add an online store to an existing website, it now allows you to set up a standalone store too, called an ‘Ecwid Starter Site.’

It has to be said that this is a very basic, one-page affair — but it’s nonetheless potentially useful, and definitely represents a good ‘stopgap’ measure for merchants who wish to start selling with Ecwid but have not yet finished developing their full site (on, say, WordPress).

Ecwid starter site example
Ecwid starter site example

You can either host your starter site on the Ecwid domain (i.e., mystore.ecwid.com) or map it to your own domain (www.yourstorename.com).

An Ecwid starter site is not a substitute for a proper online store (chiefly because you can’t blog on one, which in turn will hamper your ability to use inbound marketing to generate sales). However, it will come in very handy for many merchants and is a much better than a traditional ‘site under construction’ holding page.

Using Ecwid with other platforms
Ecwid and WordPress
Wordpress doesn’t provide any e-commerce functionality out of the box, so anyone wishing to sell on the platform will need a third-party solution like Ecwid. There is a dedicated Ecwid plugin available for WordPress, so adding an Ecwid store to your WordPress site is very straightforward — you can get up and running with a few clicks.

You just sign up for an Ecwid account and then install the free plugin.

Ecwid and Squarespace
Squarespace comes with increasingly good e-commerce features, but it doesn’t currently facilitate point-of-sale or dropshipping.

Integrating Ecwid with Squarespace allows you to bypass these limitations, and adding it to a Squarespace site is very easy: it’s a simple matter of adding a code block to a page and pasting some HTML into it.

Ecwid and Wix
As with Squarespace, there’s currently no drop shipping option for Wix users, so again Ecwid can provide a good workaround. A dedicated app is provided by Ecwid to allow you to integrate the product onto a Wix store easily.

Interface and ease of use
Ecwid’s interface is pretty easy to use. Like many similar online store builders, you get a vertical menu on the left which allows you to access key functionality, and the area on the right is used to display or edit associated products, site content, and reports.

The Ecwid interface
The Ecwid interface

As with any e-commerce tool, you’ll need to spend a fair amount of time getting your head around creating catalogs and product variants, setting up shipping rates and so on…but there is nothing here that should represent too much of a learning curve.

Matters are helped by an ‘onboarding checklist’ that is provided to you when you log in for the first time.

If you are stuck, however, you can always get in touch with Ecwid’s support team – more on that later — or, if you’re on a ‘Business’ or ‘Unlimited’, you can take advantage of the included customization service (you get 2 hours and 12 hours customization time from Ecwid on these plans respectively).

Ecwid and GDPR
I am not a lawyer, so please note that the below observations should not be interpreted as legal advice, but I’m going to do my best to spell out some of the key GDPR issues facing Ecwid users below.

With the introduction of the EU’s new GDPR laws, there are several legal steps that website owners now need to take to ensure that they are adequately protecting EU customers’ and visitors’ privacy. There are serious financial penalties for not doing so (to the point where it’s usually a good idea to consult a lawyer about what to do); and even if your business is not based in the EU, you still need to comply with the regulations where any site visits from the EU are concerned.

Based on my understanding of the key GDPR rules, the main priorities for prospective Ecwid store owners are to:

provide adequate privacy and cookie notices

process and store data securely

get explicit consent from people signing up to mailing lists that it is okay to send them e-newsletters

provide a means to opt-in or revoke consent to use of non-essential cookies on a website (and to log that consent).

There doesn’t seem to be anything that stops you meeting the first three requirements easily enough with Ecwid, although you will need to spend time and possibly money creating adequate notices and crafting data capture forms so that they are GDPR compliant.

Where things get complicated with Ecwid is the fourth requirement — cookie consent. To ensure GDPR compliance, you need to display a cookie banner to your visitors which

allows them to choose which cookies they want to run BEFORE those cookies are run (i.e., to give ‘prior consent’)

logs their consent to run cookies

allows them to revoke consent at a later stage

Now, out of the box at least there is not a way to deal with the cookie consent issue with Ecwid. Nor is there an adequate app available from the Ecwid app store. Ecwid suggests using an app called ‘Promo bar’ to deal with the issue, but as far as I can see it doesn’t remotely help!

It seems to me that the only option available to Ecwid users is to use a specialist product like CookiePro, which does provide all the necessary functionality to make cookie consent fully GDPR compliant. Despite being a useful product however, Cookiepro does require quite a lot of configuration and you’ll need to set quite a lot of time aside to set it up.

Support
The level of support you get from Ecwid depends on the type of plan you’re on.

If you’re on the free plan, you can avail of email support; if you’re on the $15-per-month Venture plan you can expect email and live chat support; and if you’re on a Business ($35) or Unlimited plan ($99) you can expect phone, live chat, and email support. You also get faster support on the Unlimited plan via a ‘Priority support’ feature.

Additionally, if you’re on the ‘Business’ or ‘Unlimited’ plans, you can get some free customization time from Ecwid: 2 hours and 12 hours respectively.

Alternatives to Ecwid
If you’re starting an online store from scratch, then you’re spoiled for choice; there are many platforms available that allow you to build a standalone online store and the big hitters include Shopify, Bigcommerce, Wix, Volusion and Squarespace (with Shopify and Bigcommerce being the most fully-featured as far as e-commerce features go).

If you’re hoping to integrate a store into an existing site, of the aforementioned, both Shopify and Bigcommerce will let you do this, via their Buy Buttons.

The Buy Buttons work in a similar way to Ecwid in that you add a snippet of code to your site to feature Shopify products or collections on it; however, whereas Ecwid allows you to effectively put a complete, fully functioning store on an existing site, the Shopify and Bigcommerce options are a bit more basic.

WordPress users may also be interested in looking at Woocommerce or Shopp to add an online store to their site.

Some of our other posts may be useful in evaluating the alternatives to Ecwid:

Shopify review

Bigcommerce review

Wix review

WordPress vs Wix comparison

Squarespace review

(To see all relevant posts, check out our full e-commerce reviews section).

Ecwid review conclusions
Ecwid is a cost-effective, powerful way to add e-commerce functionality to an existing site or to place an online store on a Facebook page or other social media presence.

You’ll find a full summary of its pros and cons below, but the main things I like about it are its generous free plan; the way it can be used with any type of website; and the fact that it can add drop shipping functionality to platforms that don’t offer it (notably Wix and Squarespace).

I’m less impressed by the SEO features and the fact that it’s tricky to make Ecwid GDPR-compliant with regard to obtaining cookie consent (the company could do a LOT more to help users with this).

As ever, it’s a case of try before you buy, and you can register for the free version of Ecwid here.

Pros and cons of using Ecwid
Pros
Ecwid represents a really simple way to add e-commerce to any existing website.

Point-of-sale functionality is available, and there are quite a few ways to implement it.

The product is cheap in comparison to other solutions.

It supports multi-language versions of your store.

The store designs are responsive.

Plugins/apps are available for major platforms (like WordPress, Drupal, and Wix).

It allows users of website building products that don’t facilitate dropshipping to start doing so (i.e., Squarespace, Wix, etc.)

The ‘starter site’ option is a good stopgap measure for merchants who need a store quickly, but have yet to develop a full site to add the Ecwid widget to.

The free Ecwid plan is not time-limited and is fairly generous in terms of features.

Cons
The Paypal Here POS system is limited to the US, UK and Canada.

The Paypal Here POS system is limited to iOS users.

Phone support is only available on the more expensive plans.

There is a limited number of apps / integrations available in the Ecwid App store.

You can’t change product URLs, which isn’t ideal from an SEO point of view.

You can’t create AMP versions of product pages using Ecwid.

Making Ecwid GDPR-compliant (with regard to obtaining cookie consent) is difficult and there are no resources to help you with this.

The free version doesn’t let you access any of the SEO features.

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