EKM vs ShopWired vs Bluepark – Comparing three UK based Ecommerce Platforms

EKM vs ShopWired vs Bluepark Ecommerce Comparison

These are three of the most popular UK based ecommerce platforms but how do they compare?

Before I get into the comparisson, I just want to take a quick look at the history of all three. EKM started in 2003 and have gone on to help over over 80,000 businesses start selling online.

The ShopWired story is no less impressive, started in 2013, they now power over 8500 online shops, with the likes of Wowcher and EDF Energy as customers.

Bluepark were launched in 2004 and while the 2000 stores they power is considerably smaller than their compeition, they have built a loyal following within the online UK business community.

To compare these three platforms, 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 to my full reviews on all 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 any platform, if I don’t like something then I will say so!

Pricing

EKM Basic

£32.49

+ vat a Month

Upto 500 Products

Upto £50k Annual Turnover

No Transaction Fees

Unlimited Data Storage

Free SSL Certificate

Standard UK Support

69 Free Responsive Themes

1 Employee Account

shopwired pro

£29.95

+ vat a month

Upto 750 Products

Upto £75k Turnover Limit

No Transaction Fees

Unlimited Data Storage

Free SSL Certificate

Standard UK Support

19 Free Responsive Themes

2 Admin Accounts

bluepark retail

£24.99

+ vat a month

Upto 500 Products

No Turnover Limit

No Transaction Fees

500mb Data Storage

SSL Certificate £69.99 + vat

Standard UK Support

43 Free Responsive Themes

Unlimited Admin Accounts

All three packages are pretty similar when it comes to pricing. especially when you factor in the price for an SSL certificate with Bluepark. The main difference between the three platforms is that EKM and ShopWired use turnover based business models, this means that if you go over this annual limit, you are moved up to the next plan.

Some people may see this as a bad thing but what these means is that the platforms give you more resources to help your growing business.

Free Trial

All three platforms offer a free trial so that you can try them out for yourself before committing to a paid plan. With ShopWired and Bluepark you get a 14 day free trial but as an EKM partner, you get a 28 day trial by clicking the button below.

Features

All three platforms come with a host of great ecommerce features, even on their basic packages but they don’t all offer them in exactly the same way.

EKM

EKM use apps (they call them features) to add additional functionality to your ecommerce store with a single click. One really good thing about the EKM apps is that most are free to use but a couple are limited to use with larger plans.

EKM Features

There are also many features included with core EKM platform and combined with the ones you can you stall you get the following:

Ecommerce Tools

  • Free 03 Business Phone Number
  • Facebook Messenger for Live Chat
  • Customer Reviews
  • Related Products
  • Promo Stickers
  • Product Attributes
  • Recently Viewed Products

Marketing & SEO

  • Email Marketing built in
  • ChannelGrabber (Cross platform selling)
  • Google Tools (inc Analytics & Shopping)
  • Loyalty Points
  • Discount Manager
  • Social Share
  • WordPress Blog
  • Custom Meta Data
  • SEO Friendly URL’s

Reporting

  • Order Breakdown
  • Best and Worst Selling Products
  • Search Statistics
  • Web Statistics (Premium)

Payment Gateways

  • PayPal
  • Stripe
  • Klarna
  • Worldpay
  • Sagepay
  • Nochex
  • Barclaycard EPDQ

They also have selection of over 15 apps that integrate with third party software such as Linnworks and Royal Mail Click and Drop.

ShopWired

ShopWired do things a little bit differently to EKM, as they offer a range of apps that are single click installations and extensions that need to be coded into your website.

ShopWired App Selection

Along with the core platform, the apps and extensions offer you the following features:

Ecommerce Tools

  • Multi-buy Offers
  • Product Extras
  • Multi-Currency
  • Product Reviews
  • Ebay Integration
  • Digital Downloads
  • Gift Vouchers
  • Reward Points

Marketing & SEO

  • Google Feed
  • MailChimp Integration
  • Discount Codes
  • Abandoned Cart Recovery
  • Create Sales
  • Social Share
  • Blog
  • Custom Meta Data
  • SEO Friendly URL’s

Reporting

  • Gross Profit Report
  • Sales by Product
  • Sales by Category
  • Payment Methods
  • Sales by Month
  • Failed Searches
  • Visitors

Payment Gateways

  • PayPal Express Checkout
  • Stripe
  • Amazon Pay
  • Klarna
  • Worldpay
  • Sagepay
  • Barclaycard EPDQ
  • Nochex

The only downside with the ShopWired apps are that on the basic package, some of the apps are charged monthly. None of the ones mentioned above are but if you want to integrate with your accounting software, then you will have to pay. With the larger accounts, you do get the apps included with your monthly price.

To use any of the ShopWired extensions, you will need to code them into your site or pay the guys at ShopWired a one off fee to do it for you. Some are pretty easy to install and you can do them yourself by just following the documentation, some are a bit more tricky as they need CSS doing in order to work properly.

Bluepark

Bluepark take a completely different approach to offering features to their customers.

Instead of having to install apps or code in extensions, all of their features come pre-installed and ready to use. You are only limited by the package you are on.

Even on the basic Bluepark package, you get a lot of things as standard including:

Ecommerce Tools

  • 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
  • Blog
  • Custom Meta Data
  • SEO Friendly URL’s

Reporting

  • Top Sellers
  • Referral Conversion Rates
  • Top Notification Requests
  • Top Wish List Additions
  • Google Analytics

Payment Gateways

  • PayPal
  • Stripe
  • Worldpay
  • Sagepay
  • Barclaycard EPDQ
  • Amazon Pay (Coming Soon)

Bluepark do have a small number of third-party applications that you can integrate with.

Theme Selection

EKM have the largest choice of the three platforms with 69 free, mobile responsive themes to choose from. But if none of these are suitable, then you can have a bespoke theme made by EKM for £1999.99 + vat.

ShopWired have the smallest selection of themes out of three with 24 mobile responsive themes. They are all mobile responsive but 5 of the 24 are paid themes and range from £29 – £69 + vat. You can also have a bespoke theme made for £1795 + vat.

Bluepark fall almost perfectly in the middle, with a selection of 42 free, mobile responsive themes. If you want a bespoke theme, you can contact one the Bluepark design partners who will do it for you and prices start from £700.

Support

Support is one of the things that all three platforms do really well not only in terms of being able to contact them but also the quality of the support as well.

EKM do go the extra mile when you are getting started with the platform as you get an introductory phone call to help you get started with and also ask any questions.

It is also very easy to contact the EKM support team as there is a live chat icon in your dashboard along with their phone number and support pin.

ShopWired also have very good support options, when getting started, you receive a welcome email that gives you a point of contact within the ShopWired team.

Within your dashboard, there is a live chat option and also a link to the ShopWired help guides. It also doesn’t take much to find their contact phone number either.

Bluepark, just like the other two platforms are very good when it comes to support and when you sign up, they do offer you the option of an introductory phone call to help get you started. The email also gives you a point of contact within the Bluepark team.

There isn’t the option of live chat directly in your admin dashboard but contacting the support team is very easy. This can be done by clicking the support centre or contact us links at the bottom of the admin dashboard and all the contact options will be readily available.

None of the three offer 24/7 support unless you are on their top plans but if you contact the standard support outside of business hours, they will get back to you as soon as they can and are always more than happy to help.

Hosting & Performance

On paper, there is little to choose between the there platforms when it comes to their hosting as both offer:

  • Unlimited Bandwidth
  • PCI Compliant Servers
  • 99.9% Uptime
  • Most Importantly Fast Servers

But I want to know how they perform in the real world, not just how good they say their hosting is. So I put them to the test, I took three of their customer example sites. To have a fair comparison, they were all in the same industries and had similar levels of content on the sites. I then ran them through Pingdom’s speed tool, once a day for three days to get some good data.

EKM Average: 1.3 Seconds

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

ShopWired Average: 1.44 Seconds

Website 1: 1.43 Seconds
Website 2: 1.12 Seconds
Website 3: 1.78 Seconds

Bluepark Average: 0.76 Seconds

Website 1: 0.85 Seconds
Website 2: 0.51 Seconds
Website 3: 0.91 Seconds

All three platforms performed really well, with all of them comfortably loading in under the golden 2 second mark. I do have to tip my hat to Bluepark here though as their 0.76 second average load time is the quickest out of any of the platforms that I have tested.

Ease of Use

When it comes to features and performance, there really isn’t much to choose between the three platforms. But how easy are they to use?

Getting Started

All three platforms offer free trials so that you can test out the platform before committing any money.

Both ShopWired and Bluepark have a really simple sign up process by where you just need to input your name, email address and business name and you are good to go.

EKM have added another step in to process as they require you to give your credit card details before you can start your trial. Not the most ideal step in my opinion but they don’e charge your card until you upgrade your trial to a paid plan.

Once you have signed up to your trial, all three offer a really good and easy to follow set up guide, that takes you through most of the basic things you need to know in order to get your website up and running.

The only thing that is missing from all of these set up guides is a prompting to set up your privacy policy and terms and conditions page, which is a bit of an oversight as they are legal requirements here in the UK.

Navigating your Dashboard

EKM

It is pretty obvious that EKM don’t like to do things the same as everyone else and that shows in the layout of their dashboard.

They are one of the few platforms that have opted for a top navigation bar, rather than a side one. This isn’t really a big deal as it is still easy to navigate the dashboard.

The only negative I have with the EKM dashboard is the Shop section as there is no real definition as to what its main purpose is, as you can add new products and categories in there but also edit design elements. Would have preferred to have all the design elements in the design section.

EKM Navigation

ShopWired

ShopWired have gone for a more traditional sidebar layout and it works really well. All the sections are clearly labelled and the same goes for the subsections as well.

Navigating around the admin area is a pleasant experience and it doesn’t take much time to know where everything is located.

ShopWired Setup Tutorial

Bluepark

Bluepark changed their dashboard layout in 2019, from a top navigation menu with lots and lots of sub-sections to a simplified sidebar menu and it is definitely an improvement.

The old style was quite daunting to use and took a while to know what everything was and where it was located, the new layout though is really easy to use.

Bluepark still have quite a few sub-sections but they have been thinned out and also the section titles are more understandable now, this make navigating around the dashboard a much more pleasant experience.

Bluepark Set Up Guide

Customising your Theme

EKM

As I mentioned above, EKM have design elements in two different areas of the dashboard and for me this doesn’t really aid workflow when it comes to customising your theme. I would much prefer all design elements to be in the design section.

Fortunately, when it comes to customising your theme, there is quite a bit you can change. You can customise the layout, change images, colours and fonts, so that the theme really fits your brand. I just wish you could do it all on one page!

ShopWired

Unfortunately, theme customisation is something that does let the ShopWired platform down as you are quite limited as to what you can actually do. Which is a real shame as their themes are really well designed and have so much potential, if only you could do more with them!

You are pretty much limited to changing colours and editing some of the text on your site. That is you want to delve into the websites code and change things in there but most people don’t want to do that. I really feel that this is one area where ShopWired need to improve.

Bluepark

Limitation is definitely not something you can say about customising a Bluepark theme. Not only do they have a selection of really nice themes but you can also do a lot with them.

They use a block system, which allows you to add and remove sections in the main content area and also sidebars, giving you a lot of control over the layout of your site. You can also change colours, fonts and font size.

It does have a bit of steeper learning curve, just due to the amount you can do and also learning exactly how to the block system works. The only thing that lets it down is the footer editor, it is pretty much a basic text editor and isn’t the easiest to use.

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

EKM

I feel like I keep talking about the same thing here! But the shop section of the dashboard has a bit too much going on in it and I would like the shop section to just be focused on managing your inventory.

In the shop section, you can add new products and categories and this is nice and simple to do. Clicking either button brings a pop up menu that uses a tabbed layout for all of the important sections. Organising your products into categories and sub-categories is also very easy to do.

EKM Add Product

The issue for me comes when you want to manage your inventory and to do this easily, you definitely need to install the advanced inventory manager app. Without this, it really isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially if you have a large inventory. Luckily installing this app makes managing your inventory a lot easier but to me this should be in place as standard.

ShopWired

ShopWired have made their inventory management nice and simple.

They have used a single page layout for both their add product and create category pages. I do like this as you just work your way down the page filling out all of the relevant information.

ShopWired Create Product

As I just mentioned, they use a category and optional sub-category system to enable you to organise your products and works really well.

Managing your inventory is also nice and easy to do, you can either edit products one by one or you can use the manage stock page to quickly update stock quantities, this is great if you need to update a large inventory.

Bluepark

Bluepark have also made their inventory management nice and simple.

There is a bit more to it than with ShopWired as they give you far more in terms of options when it comes to adding new products and categories. They use a tabbed layout rather than a single page and there are multiple options on each tab.

Bluepark Add Products

The same goes for the adding categories page, you can also create brands on Bluepark and this gives you another way to not only organise your products but also ways for your customer to search for them.

One thing I do like about Bluepark is that they have a single inventory page and on the page you can update quantities and they also have a quick profit calculator for each product, which is pretty nifty little tool to have.

Managing Orders

I am not going to go through all three individually on this one as they are all as good as each other when it comes to managing orders.

You can either manage orders individually or in bulk and this goes for updating statuses to printing of packing slips/invoices.

The only difference at this point is that EKM offer you a variety of different templates that you can use and you can also buy packing slips/invoice with sticky labels directly from EKM.

If you use any third-party order management, shipping or accounting software then all three platforms allow you to download your orders in CSV format.

Conclusion

Choosing between these three platforms is not an easy decision to make as there isn’t one that stands out from the rest. They all do some things really well and others not so well. I will give brief conclusion of each platform below:

EKM – It is a really nice platform to use and the support from the EKM team is fantastic, not only with technical support but also helping you build your website into a successful ecommerce business. The only thing that lets the platform down for me is the shop section as I feel that by changing this to where you manage your inventory and put all the design elements together, it would work a lot better. It is still a great option though.

ShopWired – I think that ShopWired is a really easy platform to use, it is well laid out and everything is there that you from an ecommerce platform. The main issue for me is the theme customisation, it is just a bit too limiting on what you can do but the themes are really well designed. I would also like to see the extensions become apps, so that they are easier to install and use.

Bluepark – It is a really good platform and the changes to the dashboard layout have definitely improved the site and the block editor gives you lots of options when it comes to customising your theme. For someone starting out, it may be a bit daunting to use as they give you a lot of options in nearly every section and in some cases there is almost too much you can do. Also not being able to customise the features on your site may not appeal to some people.

Honestly, my advice for anyone considering any or all of these platforms is to try them out for yourself as you may just click with one of them. If this happens, then you know that it is the right one for you and your business.

If you want to try these platforms out for yourself, then simply click on the button below.

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