EKM Review – An Alternative to Shopify for UK Businesses?

EKM Homepage

When it comes to ecommerce platforms here in the UK, there are non bigger than EKM. Since launching in 2002, EKM have helped over 80,000 businesses start selling online. With over 80 ecommerce experts on staff who are there to help you not only start but grow your online business, it is no wonder they are so popular. But how good is their platform and should you consider it for your business?

For my reviews, I like to split them into two parts, firstly I look at the pricing and the features that the platforms offer. Then secondly I look at how easy the platform is to use from getting started to managing orders. Hope you enjoy the review!

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, if I don’t like something then I will say so!

EKM Pricing

As you can see in the table below, EKM have packages to suit online businesses of every size. From people just starting out to big business turning over over £1 million a year.



Accounts

Free Trial

Projects

SSL

Storage

Domains

Sub-domains

Sub-domains

Sub-domains

Basic

£32.49

+ vat a month

Up to 500 Products

Up to £50k Annual Turnover

Free SSL Certificate

No Transaction Fees

30 Minute Welcome Call

Health Report Analytics

Basic Evolution Mode

Standard UK Support


Standard

£64.99

+ vat a month

Unlimited Products

Up to £150k Annual Turnover

Free SSL Certificate

No Transaction Fees

Account Manager for 6 Months

Full Analytics

Standard Evolution Mode

Priority UK Support


Advanced

£194.99

+ vat a month

Unlimited Products

Up to £1 Million Annual Turnover

Free SSL Certificate

No Transaction Fees

Full Time Account Manager

Full Analytics

Monthly Evolution Mode

24/7 Emergency UK Support

High Performance Server

EKM use a tiered pricing structure and this means that if you sell more than £50,000 or £150,000, then you will be automatically moved up to a higher plan. But these higher plans do give more resources to help you grow your business such as an Account Manager, better support and improved Evolution Mode.

For businesses with turnovers in excess of £1 Million, EKM do have a larger plan which they call the pro plan. This gives you everything that the advanced plan gives you plus your own Strategic Account Manager, Marketing Account Management and Enterprise Level Performance.

Free Trial

As standard, EKM offer a 14 day free trial but as an EKM partner I get to offer you and extended 28 day free trial. Now with EKM, you do have to input your credit card details before you can start your trial but you will not be charged until you upgrade your trail to a paid plan. To start your 28 day trail, then just click the button below.

Start Your Free Trial

Exclusive 28 Day Trial

Customer Reviews

Before I get full on into my review, I thought I would take a look at what some of EKM’s existing customers thought of the platform. For this I look on Trustpilot, Facebook and Google.

Trustpilot Logo

4.8 out of 5

FaceBook Logo

No Reviews

Google Logo

4.2 out of 5

EKM Features

EKM have built their platform to offer their customers a complete platform without the need to use apps made by third party developers.

You also get to pick and choose many of the features that you have on your site as they offer a selection of 40 features that you can add to your site with a single click of a button. Many of these features are aimed at not only improving your visitors user experience but also encourage these visitors to become customers.

Ecommerce Tools

  • Free 03 Business Number – create an inbound 03 business phone number to give your business a professional look.
  • Facebook Messenger – have live chats with your visitors and customers using Facebook messenger.
  • Customer Reviews – show potential customers what others have said about the product. Also includes a star rating that can help SEO.
  • Related Products – shows your visitors other products that are similar to the one they are looking at.
  • Promo Stickers – if you are running special offers or a sale, you can add a promo sticker directly to your product page.
  • Product Attributes – allows you create a list of specific information about the product such as brand, weight, product code and model number. Makes listing your products on Google Shopping much easier.
  • Recently View Products – a great way to allow your potential customers to easily navigate back to product they have previously looked at rather than having to try and find it on your site.

Marketing and SEO

Getting potential customers on to your site is one of the most important aspects of running an ecommerce business and EKM have some great features to allow you to market your site but also help it to rank in search engines.

Marketing

  • Email Marketing – you can create, grow and manage your email marketing directly within your EKM dashboard, so no need to invest in any third party software.
  • ChannelGrabber – this allows you to integrate your EKM store with your Amazon and Ebay storefronts to help you manage them all in one place.
  • Google Tools – use Google Shopping feed, add your Analytics tracking code and Google Ads conversion code to your EKM store.
  • Loyalty Points – encourage customers to become repeat customers by giving them chance to earn loyalty points with every order.
  • Discount Management – create promotions, special offers and sales within your EKM store. Also create discount codes for use with Email Marketing amongst many others.
  • Social Share Buttons – lets your visitors share your products on their social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Back in Stock Notifications – your visitors can request that you notify them when an out of stock product is back in stock.

SEO

  • SEO Friendly URLs – automatically create SEO and visitor friendly URLs.
  • Custom Meta Data – create custom meta data such as title, description and keywords
  • WordPress Blog – create a blog for your ecommerce store using the powerful WordPress system.
  • 301 Redirects – helps your SEO by redirecting old product pages or info pages to new ones and avoids visitors being greeted by page not found.

Reporting and Analytics

EKM provides a number of tools to help you monitor your ecommerce business so that you can see how well your store is doing and also see if there are any areas that you can improve. These include:

  • Order Breakdown – view your orders by day, month and device. You can also compare your current years performance to previous years.
  • Best and Worst Selling Products – see which products are performing well and which ones aren’t so that you can refine your product lines or see where you can improve your marketing.
  • Search Statistics – see what your customers have been typing into the search bar on your site
  • Web Statistics (Premium) – a great tool to allow you to analyse your site, see where your visitors are coming from, how to optimise your shop to increase conversions, identify SEO opportunities, see which devices your customers are using and see how long they spend on your website.

EKM Payment Gateways

Getting paid is a really important part of selling online and EKM offer a great selection of 19 payment gateways for you to use, including:

  • PayPal
  • Stripe
  • Klarna
  • Worldpay
  • Sagepay
  • Nochex
  • Barclaycard EPDQ
  • First Data
  • Global Payments
  • V12 Finance

Do EKM charge transaction fees?

No, they do not charge transaction fees on any package.

Third Party Integrations

EKM offer a good selection of integrations with third party software that you may use to help you run your ecommerce business. These include:

  • Royal Mail Click and Drop
  • Parcel2Go
  • Linnworks
  • Reviews.io
  • Fulfilmentcrowd

There is also a selection of EKM chosen partners who can provide a variety of services from product sourcing to photography and video production. This is a great place to start if you are looking for a specific service for your business.

EKM Evolution Mode

EKM also offer a service called evolution mode. To help you maximise the sales of your online store, EKM’s evolution team actively review all of their customers websites to see if there are ways that their site could be improved.

This can include things such as updating your theme, changing your logo, improving your category structure and even down to small things such as checking your websites copy for errors. If the evolution team notice any ways that your site can be improved, they will contact you with the suggestions and if you want to go ahead with it, then they will do all of the work for your at no additional cost.

EKM Theme Selection

EKM have one of the largest selections of free themes amongst all of the hosted ecommerce platforms with nearly 70 free, mobile responsive themes to choose from.

EKM Theme Selection

If none of these are suitable for you, then you can always have the guys at EKM create a bespoke theme for you for £1999.99 + vat.

EKM Support

This is one of the areas where EKM really shines and is the thing that the majority of customers have commented on as well.

You really do get the feeling from EKM that they want you to succeed and will be right there beside you the whole way. It is the only platform I know that give you a welcome call to answer questions and give you a walk through of setting up your online store.

As your business grows and you move up through their packages, you get your own account manager who you can contact and having a point of contact at a company can be really useful.

Their general support is also fantastic, while not 24/7, they will get back to you as soon as they can and the quality of the help is really good. All the queries I have sent to them have been answered promptly and helpfully. You can call them, use the live chat function or drop them an email.

It is definitely one of the best support setups I have used.

EKM Web Hosting and Performance

In order to be a really good ecommerce platform you need to be using really good hosting so that your websites are not only fast but also reliable. EKM have the following to say about their hosting:

  • Unlimited Bandwidth
  • Unlimited Storage
  • PCI Compliant Servers
  • 99.9% Uptime
  • 24/7 Server Monitoring
  • Fast Servers

Now this all sounds very impressive but what does this mean in the real world? Well I decided to test it out by taking three of their customer example websites and running them through Pingdom’s speed test tool once a day for three days to see how they performed.

Website 1: 1.63 Seconds
Website 2: 1.33 Seconds
Website 3: 0.95 Seconds

Some very impressive results from EKM, with an average page load speed of 1.3 seconds puts them up towards the top of the list when it comes to performance. The performance was also consistent amongst all the test and as this important not only as it is a ranking factor but also as it impacts your customers user experience.

How Easy is EKM to Use?

Facts and figures are great but they don’t mean anything if the platform is hard to use. So for the second part of my review, I went through the process of setting up an online store and created a few test orders to see what the platform would be like to use on a day to day basis. For this, I look at 5 main areas:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Navigating the Dashboard
  3. Customising your theme
  4. Adding and Managing Products
  5. Managing Orders

Getting Started

Signing up to the EKM platforms is pretty easy, although they do have one additional (arguably unnecessary) step over nearly every other ecommerce platform and that is that you need to provide your credit or debit card details before you can begin your trial.

You won’t be charged during your trial period but in some ways it does make the transition from a trial store to your full store a bit easier.

EKM Setup Dashboard

I really do like EKM’s set up dashboard as it gives you nearly all the important steps you need to take in order to get your store up and running. The only thing that is missing is to set up your pages such as privacy policy and terms and conditions, while not on the dashboard, EKM do have templates for both of these that can easily edited to fit your business.

As EKM is aimed at people who are new at setting up a website or don’t want to spend a lot of money with a web developer, I do like how in-depth the set up tutorial is and it is one of the better ones that I have used.

As I mentioned above in the support section, you do also get an introductory phone call from one of the EKM team, who will help you go through the set up process and also answer any questions that you may have about the platform.

Navigating the Dashboard

Navigating your way around the EKM dashboard is pretty easy to do and unlike many platforms, they have opted for a top navigation menu rather than a sidebar.

There are 7 main sections within the dashboard and they are:

  • Dashboard – this is the homepage in your admin area and where you go to after your login
  • Shop – where you go to manage your inventory and your shop front
  • Orders – self explanatory, where you go to manage all of your orders
  • Analytics – this is where you can see some of the reports and analytics mentioned above
  • Design – contains many of the design elements including theme selection, change the layout, edit your logo and change the sites colours
  • Features – contains all of the features that you can install on your website
  • Settings – one of the most important sections as in here you can set up and edit delivery methods, add payment gateways, set up business info such as name, address, tax and VAT amongst many other things.

While in general, the dashboard is easy to use, there are a couple of things that take a little bit of getting used to. For example, for many of the features you install, the only way to access them is by going to the features section and then clicking on that specific feature.

This is a little frustrating as many of these features could easily integrate into other sections within the dashboard such as search statistics would work really well in the Analytics section.

Customising Your Theme

With EKM you get one of the largest selections of free themes to choose from and you can also customise these so that they fit your business and your brand.

EKM Customise Theme

And while there is a lot to do to your theme such as edit the layout, change colours, change the font, create a custom logo and add custom code. The process of actually doing all this does feel a bit disjointed.

This is all because the design elements are split over two sections, in the image above, you can see the options you have available in the design section but the remaining design elements are all within the shop section. If all of the design elements were grouped together in the design section, it would make customising the look and feel of your site much easier.

Adding and Managing Products

For me there are three area that are important when it comes to managing products and they are adding products, organising your products and managing your inventory. EKM does all of these things really well.

Add New Product

EKM Add New Product

To add a new product in EKM is really easy to do. Within the Shop section, click the Add Product button and a pop up will appear and you will be able to add the following:

  • Basic Details – Your product title, main description, price and VAT rate
  • Variants – with EKM you can add up to 4 variations to a product with up to 250 total combinations
  • Images and Photos – you can upload your product images directly into the product listing or choose from ones you already have uploaded
  • Attributes – add important information to your listing (requires the Product Attributes feature to be installed)
  • Options – add options to your products such as gift wrapping
  • Delivery Charges – If you need to set individual delivery charges for your products
  • Category Management – choose which of your product categories you want the product to go into.

If you install the Custom Meta Data feature, then it will add a section to the pop up and allows you to set your meta data on a product by product basis.

Organising Your Products

EKM have opted for the tried and tested category method when it comes to organising your products. This allows you to create a nice hierarchy structure within your site, especially as you can have sub-categories and sub sub-categories.

This not only makes navigating your site easier for your visitors but it can have a positive impact on your sites SEO.

Managing Your Inventory

In its standard form, this isn’t something that EKM does particularly well as you need to navigate your site and then click on the product to edit it, which isn’t a great system.

EKM Advanced Inventory Manager

Fortunately, they do have a feature called the Advanced Inventory Manager and this is the one feature out of all of them that you should install as it just makes life so much easier. It allows you to quickly find your products and categories all on one place and edit them quickly and easily.

Managing Orders

Unlike some platforms, EKM do give you the chance to test out the order management system and you can create a test order and take it through every step from a pending order to complete and also test how to cancel and refund orders.

Fortunately there are no issues with the order management process, you can easily manage all your orders and you can update statuses and print packing slips either individually or in bulk, which can save you a lot of time, especially when you have lots of orders.

One thing that I do like about the EKM order management system is that you get four different styles of packing slip and they are similar in layout to those used by the likes of Ebay and Amazon, which makes life easier to manage orders from different places. EKM also offer packing slips with address peel offs that you can buy directly from them.

Conclusion

Is EKM a Viable Alternative to Shopify?

Yes, it absolutely is! The EKM platform offers a fantastic selection of features for its users to allow you to build a very good ecommerce store. You also get the support of the EKM team who want to help you build a successful business, from your own account manager to the Evolution team.

The Good:

  • Excellent support to help you run your website and grow your business
  • EKM Evolution Mode
  • In-depth set up tutorial
  • Good selection of high quality, free responsive themes
  • SSL Certificate included
  • Order management process is really good
  • Fast, consistent page load speeds

The Not so Good:

  • Customising your theme could be a bit easier
  • Having to give your credit card details before starting your trial

So that is my full review of EKM, I was really impressed with the platform and how much EKM want to help you build a successful online business. I definitely would recommend trying them out and see if they are good fit for you and your business.

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Exclusive 28 Day Trial

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