Ecwid startup promotes micro e-commerce globally

Ecwid’s founder, Ruslan Fazlyev: "Ecwid is a multi-platform shopping cart widget which enables merchants to easily create integrated online storefronts encompassing traditional e-commerce, mobile and social commerce sales." Sourse: Ecwid

Ecwid’s founder, Ruslan Fazlyev: "Ecwid is a multi-platform shopping cart widget which enables merchants to easily create integrated online storefronts encompassing traditional e-commerce, mobile and social commerce sales." Sourse: Ecwid

The Russian start-up Ecwid stands as a global leader in micro e-commerce, with over 270,000 registered merchants in 174 countries. It recently opened an office in California and hired Jim O’Hara as president of Ecwid to further drive global expansion.

Tucked away some 700 km east of Moscow in Ulyanovsk, the city of Lenin’s birth, the three-year-old startup Ecwid stands as a global leader in micro e-commerce, with over 270,000 registered merchants in 174 countries. Its cloud-based shopping widget can be embedded into any webpage, blog, or page on Facebook, where Ecwid serves more than 40,000 stores.

The startup recently opened an office in San Diego, California, and hired Jim O’Hara as president of Ecwid to further drive global expansion, particularly in the United States.

Ecwid’s founder, Ruslan Fazlyev, recounted for East-West Digital News how his business started and gained such international traction. He also shared his plans for further expansion and his views on the future of small-scale e-commerce. 

East-West Digital News: Please describe the Ecwid solution in a few words and tell us why it is so new.

Ruslan Fazlyev: Ecwid is a multi-platform shopping cart widget which enables merchants to easily create integrated online storefronts encompassing traditional e-commerce, mobile and social commerce sales.

It is, in fact, a new breed of shopping cart software offering superior performance and flexibility. It is SaaS-based; lightning-fast; works with existing sites; takes less than five minutes to set up and is available in a free version. Ecwid is the world’s only 100 percent AJAX shopping cart, that’s why it’s so fast and easy to use.

The mission of Ecwid is to make the web both a convenient and effective business environment, for us, our clients and the clients of our clients. The core of the Ecwid team was involved in the production of X-Cart, bringing 12 years of experience from the world’s first PHP shopping cart to development of Ecwid.

EWDN: How did the market of e-commerce enabling solutions look likea few years ago, when you decided to create Ecwid? What was new, andwhat wasn’t, in your approach?

R.F.: A few years ago, everyone was focused on e-commerce – the traditional buying and selling of goods on desktop sites. When we created Ecwid, back in 2009, we were largely focused on creating a widget that could be easily and quickly dropped into websites, requiring no changes to website design and adapting automatically to existing site layouts.

Today, the landscape of e-commerce is growing dramatically, driven largely by the explosion of mobile and social commerce. Ecwid allows its merchants to take advantage of the growth to the fullest by sticking to our core principle – inserting a widget that requires no changes to existing site designs and can create an online storefront in just a few clicks.

And, we’ve enabled integration across all types of storefronts – e-commerce, mobile and social – to enable easier administration for merchants.

In late January of this year, Payvment, the former leader in terms of number of Facebook-commerce stores (f-commerce), was acquired by another software publisher and referred all their social commerce customers to us. This is how we became the undisputed leader in the social commerce category.

EWDN: Now Ecwid has clients in virtually all countries of the worldand has asserted itself as the world’s leader in social commercesolutions. Was this global vision part of your initial plan? How did youdevelop your business internationally?

R.F.: We always knew we wanted to expand globally and have always taken an international approach, offering a shopping cart that supports more than 40 languages. But we never could have predicted the global explosion of Facebook or the fact that Payvment would refer all its social commerce customers to us!

Now we’re really going global. We recently opened in office in San Diego, California, and hired Jim O’Hara as president of Ecwid to further drive global expansion, particularly in the United States.

EWDN: What is the next stage for ECWID’s expansion?

R.F.: We will continue to innovate our shopping cart and make it even more useful on evolving platforms, particular social and mobile platforms. And, we’ll continue to partner with leaders in the hosting industry so our shopping cart becomes the de facto standard in website building.

Last year, we announced an industry partnership with Yola, a service that helps users build enhanced websites without the need for deep technical knowledge. Building on this, just this week we announced a partnership with website creator CM4all to offer the Ecwid widget to its OEM hosting partners. Users of CM4all can add an Ecwid store to their websites through a simple drag-and-drop interface.

EWDN: Does small scale e-commerce in Russia essentially differ, in your opinion, from other countries?

R.F.: Yes, small scale e-commerce is different in Russia. Unfortunately the environment isn’t always friendly for starting new businesses here.  Specifically, it isn’t easy to start a new business (legal work is overcomplicated), to accept payments (still a lot of customers use cash on delivery), or to sends goods to customers (Russian Post is very unreliable).

It’s possible that because the USSR legacy entrepreneurship culture isn’t widely-distributed in Russia, a lot of people think that it is very hard to open a new business, so they don’t even try.

However opening an e-commerce business is still easier than opening a brick-a-mortar store because an online store doesn’t require a lot of investments. Our goal is to provide an e-commerce platform that allows everyone to start selling online easily with literally zero investments.  So everyone can try to start a new business.

EWDN: How do you envision the current and future trends of small scale e-commerce? What will e-commerce be in, say, 5 or 10 years?

R.F.: Our research has shown that SMBs have seen steady growth in social commerce, even as larger companies have faltered at f-commerce a bit. We believe SMBs will continue to lead the way and show larger companies how to strike a more “personal tone” in their social media conversations.

For some time, Ecwid has seen this as a trend – SMBs seem to be doing much better at social commerce than their larger counterparts, and we attribute this to SMBs being more naturally inclined to engage customers and integrate products into the natural flow of social conversations.

Over the next five to ten years e-commerce will increasingly go mobile as well as social. This will happen as the industry tackles several challenges, including:

  • The need for all storefronts – traditional e-commerce, mobile and social – to “feed into” one in the same store, enabling much easier administration for merchants;
  • The need for adaptive mobile design in e-commerce sites (e.g. – the ability of sites to detect the device type being used – smartphone, tablet, etc. – and deliver site content accordingly, thus enabling a more convenient mobile shopping experience that’s more conducive to conversions);
  • Creating storefronts on social networks that users don’t have to leave in order to complete the check-out process;
  • The need for better social media attribution – e.g., gleaning the hard data online marketers and e-commerce professionals need in order to back up investments in social media marketing; and
  • Increasing one’s number of fans on Facebook, which in turn drives viral marketing. Ecwid storefronts feature tools that allow shoppers to “like” or “share” products and purchases, which drives social discovery among a broader volume of Facebook users.

 


    Ecwid President Jim O’Hara on how consumer behavior is changing to Fox Business News

    EWDN: Your company was born, and is still headquartered inUlyanovsk, 720 km away from Moscow. Is it easy to do business from therein terms of HR, infrastructure, available capitals, access to thedomestic and international markets?

    R.F.: The Internet has removed the borders between countries. Nowadays it doesn’t matter where your headquarters is; the most important thing is if your product is great. Does it solve customers’ problems? Of course it is more convenient to be located in Moscow, United States or even Silicon Valley. However it isn’t the critical part of the success.

    Good products can be successful even if they’re founded in small towns; bad products will fail even in Silicon Valley. We have a lot of such examples in Ulyanovsk, with several local companies producing popular apps and services known around the world.

    A native of Oktyabrsk in the Samara region, Ruslan Fazlyev founded his first e-commerce startup at the age of 20, in 2000. Started by a team of students with no funding, the X-Cart shopping cart soon became the #1 commercial PHP store builder platform worldwide and grew from 3 to 150 employees in 5 years. Ruslan’s latest startup is Ecwid, a cloud-based store-building widget which is used by over 270,000 registered merchants in 174 countries, and is available in 43 languages.

    First published in EWDN 

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