This is a bit of a David vs Goliath comparison, Bluepark are a relatively small ecommerce platform based here in the UK and powers just over 2000 online stores compared to the Canadian based Shopify who power over 1 million online stores around the world.
Despite the difference in size both are very good ecommerce platforms but how do the two platforms compare?
I am going to look at the pricing, features and ease of use. If you want more information on either platform, then I will leave a link at the bottom of the post to my full reviews of both platforms.
Disclosure – this post contains affiliate links, which means that if you sign up to services via a link in this post, I do receive a small commission. BUT and I cannot stress this enough, in no way does this influence my review of either platform, if I don’t like something then I will say so!
COMPARE PACKAGE FEATURES
+ vat a Month
Upto 500 Products
No Annual Turnover
No Transaction Fees
500mb Data Storage
SSL Certificate £69.99 + vat
Standard UK Support
42 Free Responsive Themes
No Turnover Limit
2% Transaction Fee
Unlimited Data Storage
Free SSL Certificate
8 Free Responsive Themes
The two packages are pretty similar in terms of pricing, however what you get for the price does vary a little bit. With Bluepark, you don’t have to pay any transaction fees compared to 2% you pay with Shopify. Bluepark packages are also limited by data storage and need to buy an SSL certificate, which is not the case with Shopify.
Both platforms offer a 14 day free trial so that you can test before you buy, neither one require anything more than an email address, password on shop name to get started. If you want to trial either or both of these, then just click the buttons below:
Price isn’t everything! What you get for the price you pay is the most important thing. How do these two platforms compare on this?
Bluepark is very feature rich and what makes it different from the majority of ecommerce platforms is that all of the features come pre-installed, there is no need to install and configure apps.
- Embed YouTube Videos in Listings
- Onsite Product Comparison
- Shareable Wish Lists
- Product Labels
- Auto Language and Currency
- Related Products
- Customers Also Bought
- Digital Products
Marketing & SEO
- Build an Affiliate Network
- Built in Email Newsletter
- Social Sharing
- Coupon Discounts
- Abandoned Cart Recovery
- Google Shopping
- Custom Meta Data
- SEO Friendly URL’s
- Top Sellers
- Referral Conversion Rates
- Top Notification Requests
- Top Wish List Additions
- Google Analytics
- Barclaycard EPDQ
- Amazon Pay (Coming Soon)
And as you move up to the larger packages, you do get more features included and these range from bulk features in the email marketing to loyalty points and Ebay integration. There is also a large selection of B2B features that become available as well.
- Dropshipping Integration
- Flexible Shipping Rates
- Product Reviews
- Digital Products
- Gift Vouchers
- Shopify Management App
Marketing & SEO
- Google Adwords Credit
- Sell on Facebook
- Discount Codes
- Abandoned Cart Recovery
- Auto Generated Sitemap
- Social Share
- Custom Meta Data
- SEO Friendly URL’s
- Product Reports
- Traffic Sources
- Google Analytics
- Day, Week and Monthly Reports
- Shopify Payments
- PayPal Express Checkout
- Amazon Pay
While the standard features are very good, it is the amount of third-party apps that are available within the Shopify App store that is really impressive. With over 3000 to choose from, covering everything from ecommerce features, marketing and SEO to order and inventory management.
Due to the vast amount of Apps on offer, it really isn’t possible for me to even begin listing them here.
There is a big difference when it comes to the price of these apps, the most expensive ShopWired app is an additional £5 a month. While many Shopify apps offer free plans,
I saw some paid plans ranging from a couple of dollars a month to around the $100 a month range. Always be vigilant when installing apps as you could soon find yourself with a hefty monthly bill!
Bluepark have a very comprehensive selection of 42 mobile responsive themes that you can choose from and they are all free to use and customise.
If you want a custom theme, Bluepark have a selection of selected design partners who can build one for you and prices start from around £700.
Shopify has a much smaller selection of free themes with only 8 to choose from but there is a large number of paid themes available. With over 60 being sold in the Shopify theme store between $140 and $180 and over 1200 for sale on themeforest’s marketplace.
There are also independent developers who can built you a custom theme and prices vary from developer to developer.
Support is a big factor in why you go for a hosted ecommerce platform, rather than trying to build your own.
Bluepark offer really good support via the phone, over live chat or by email. While the phone and live chat is not offered 24/7, they will get back to you as soon as they can and the quality of the response is always high quality.
They also offer a community forum of you need a response outside of their working hours, members of the Bluepark team are active in there along with many people who are very knowledgeable about the the platform. You can also get answers to questions not directly related to the Bluepark platform.
Shopify say they offer 24/7 support but the main problem I had was finding a way to contact them directly. Their help section just basically takes you through all their documentation or encourages you to post a question in the community forum.
While the forum is great and full of very helpful people, sometimes you just want to ask someone who works at the platform directly and Shopify do not make this easy to do!
Hosting & Performance
On paper, both platforms offer really good resources when it comes to your websites server. They both offer the following:
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- PCI Compliant Servers
- 99.9% Uptime
- Most Importantly Fast Servers
But how good are they when you put them to the test? Well, I decided to find out and took three example sites from both platforms that were in similar industries and had similar levels of content and ran them through Pingdom’s speed tool, once a day for three days. This allowed me to collect a good range of data to compare the two.
The results are pretty one sided! Only one of the Shopify websites even came close to the Bluepark sites. This is something that Bluepark do really well and are pretty much top of the list when it comes to performance for sites here in the UK.
While Shopify sites are no slouch and average a load time under the golden 2 second mark, only one of their sites even came close to the Bluepark ones.
Ease of Use
Facts and figures are great and all but how easy are they to use? Well that is what I am going to be looking at in the second part of my comparison. From getting started to processing orders!
As I mentioned in the Free Trial section above, you only need to the basic information to get started with Bluepark and the sign up process takes no time at all.
Once you have completed the sign up process, you will taken to your Bluepark dashboard and be greeted by a very good set up guide that will take you through pretty much everything you need to do, to get your ecommerce website up and running.
As you can see in the image below, Bluepark clearly display their contact information just in case you need to contact them. You will also receive a welcome email which provides you with a point of contact within the Bluepark team.
The Bluepark dashboard had an overhaul in 2019 and the new sleeker design definitely offers a better user experience and makes the dashboard much easier to navigate.
The sidebar navigation menu is clearly labelled as are the sub-section headings. Now there are a lot of areas within the Bluepark dashboard as there are a lot of things that you can do with the platform but it won’t take you too long to get accustomed to where everything is.
As with Bluepark, getting started with Shopify is a very easy process as all you need is an email address, a password and shop name and you are ready to go.
Once you have completed the sign up process, you will go into your Shopfy dashboard and be greeted by a set up guide. While this set up guide is ok and better than nothing, there are a few steps missing from it which can make things a little difficult as you have to go and find out how to do things yourself.
Outside of the set up guide, the Shopify dashboard is a very nice place to be and use. The sidebar navigation is clearly labelled and there aren’t too many sub sections, meaning that it really doesn’t take a long time to know where everything is.
Customising your Theme
Usually, this is one of the things that Shopify easily wins but the Bluepark theme customisation is definitely as good as if not slightly better. The only negative is that it is not done using a live editor, so it does involve some back and forth between your dashboard and front end to see what the changes look like.
This is because Bluepark use a block system to allow you to customise your theme and the amount of possibilities are nearly endless. Unlike most platforms, you have near complete control over the layout and can add, remove and customise sidebars as well as the main content areas.
This customisation can be done to pretty much every page on your site, meaning that you can have a truly custom site after some playing around. Outside of the layout, you can also change your theme fonts, font sizes and colour schemes.
The only let down in customising your Bluepark site is the footer as it doesn’t use the block system, instead it uses a text editor and it can be a bit challenging to get it looking right.
As I mentioned above, Shopify usually comes out on top when it comes to theme customisation and although you can’t do as much with the Shopify system, it is easier to use and can all be done using a live editor. This makes it very easy for people to use who are new to web design.
Within the Shopify live editor, you can add and remove sections so that your site has the layout that you want. You can also change fonts, font sizes and theme colours to help it fit your brand and business.
All Shopify users get access to the Shopify stock image library and this is a great source of high quality images that you can use free of charge on your site. This is a great resource for new websites.
Adding and Managing Stock
Being able to manage your stock efficiently and effectively is a hugely important part of running an online store and for me there are three main areas to this and they are:
- Adding products
- Organising your Products
- Managing your inventory
Adding a new product is simple to do and they have gone for a tabbed layout, this makes for a good workflow as you move from tab to tab filling out all of the relevant sections. One thing that is a little strange with Bluepark is that you get more option tabs when you go back in and edit a product and this sometimes means you need to go back into the product to set it up completely.
With Bluepark, you can choose to organise your products either by category and sub-categories or you can do it by brands or both if you wish. This gives you a lot of flexibility to how you organise your products and set up your hierarchy.
Managing your inventory is also easy to do, although to change things like product title or stock code, you will need to go back in and edit the product but from the overview page, you can update stock quantity and also select which ones are featured items.
One nice feature of the product overview page is the gross profit calculator, simply type your cost price and sale price into the relevant sections and it will automatically calculate your gross profit.
Adding a new product to Shopify is slightly simpler as they have gone for a single page layout and not as many sections as you get with Bluepark but this also means you get less options.
Organising your products in Shopify is a little less straightforward as they use their collections system and this takes a little bit of getting used to, to get it working properly as there are few different options as to how to set it up. It is definitely worth reading through the documentation to understand how it works before using it.
To manage your inventory in bulk, you need to use the inventory page and this allows you to update your stock quantity. If you need to do any other editing, then you have to do this on a product by product basis.
Bluepark have got a really good order management system which allows you to manage orders in bulk or individually. When managing them in bulk, you can print off invoices and update order statuses directly from the order overview page.
You can also export all of your orders in CSV format, if you use any third party software.
Shopify is much more limited in the order management, the only bulk option in the core Shopify is to export orders via CSV. To print off orders or update statuses, it needs to be done by going into the order itself.
I would assume that there is a plugin to rectify this but in the core Shopify, it is not possible.
There really isn’t much in it between these two platforms, they both do a lot of things really well but I will give a short summary of the two below.
Bluepark, a very feature rich platform with a very good theme customiser. The learning curve is a bit steeper with Bluepark as there are a lot of options with pretty much every section of the platform and this may be a bit intimidating for anyone new to ecommerce or websites and if you want a simple system to use, then it might not be the best option.
Fortunately, it is backed up by excellent support both from the Bluepark team and also the support forum to help you learn how to do things. If you are planning on moving from another platform or are experienced with ecommerce, then Bluepark could be a very good option.
Shopify is the easier platform to learn and use, especially if you are new to ecommerce or web building as they have kept things simple and straightforward. The live theme customiser is still one of the best on the market and makes it easy to build a very good looking website.
The collections take a bit of getting used to in order to make them work properly and an app would make the order management easier but overall it is a nice and easy platform to use.
I would honestly recommend giving both platforms a try and see which one you feel more comfortable using, whichever one it is, is probably the one you should go for!