EKM and Shopify are two very popular options for UK business to start selling online, but which one is better out of the two?
EKM vs Shopify: What is the Difference?
EKM is a fully hosted ecommerce platform that is primarily targeted at the UK market and operates on a tiered pricing system. Shopify is a global ecommerce platform and operates on a fixed pricing structure with transaction fees, which vary depending on the package.
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!
Up to 500 Products
Up to £50k Annual Turnover
No Transaction Fees
Unlimited Data Storage
Free SSL Certificate
Standard UK Support
69 Free Themes
1 Employee Account
No Turnover Limit
2% Transaction Fees
Unlimited Data Storage
Free SSL Certificate
8 Free Themes
1 Staff Accounts
Both of the basic packages are very similar in terms of price and there are only a couple of things to really separate them in terms of what you get.
The one thing a lot of people comment on is the turnover limited packages with EKM but there is a benefit to this system, the main one being that as your business grows, so does your websites requirements. With EKM’s larger packages you get more in the way of resources but you also get more support from the EKM team to help your business grow even more. On the bigger packages, you do get your own account manager, which is something you don’t get with Shopify until you get to their plus packages.
What really stands out to me on the Shopify package is the transaction fee, while 2% does not sound a lot, it can soon add up when your online business starts to grow. As you move up through the packages, this fee does reduce to 1% and 0.5% respectively. This transaction fee only applies when you are using a payment gateway other than Shopify payments.
Both EKM and Shopify offer a free trial so that you can test the platform out before committing to a paid plan. With EKM, you get a 28 day free trial using the button above and Shopify offer a 14 day free trial.
You will need to give your credit card details at choose which plan you would like with EKM and if you wish to cancel the trial period, you will need to let the EKM team know before your trial ends.
One of the main selling points of any ecommerce platform is the features that they offer for their users, so what do these two platforms offer?
- 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
- Order Breakdown
- Best and Worst Selling Products
- Search Statistics
- Web Statistics (Premium)
- Barclaycard EPDQ
With the EKM platform, you do get to pick and choose many of the features that you have on your website as they work in a very similar way to apps. This is because they are single click installation/removal and in total, there are over 40 of these to choose from and most of them are free to use.
One of the best features of the EKM platform is their Evolution Mode. With this, you get a review of your site by EKM’s specialist Evolution team, who will give you advice on how you can improve your site from design to functionality. The best thing about evolution mode is that if you agree to the changes, the team will implement the for free on your behalf.
- 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.
Unfortunately though, not all of these apps are free to use. Many do offer free trials or plans but if you want access to all of the features that the app has to offer, then you will need to opt for the paid plan.
The paid plans do range in price 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!
EKM – EKM have one of the largest selection of free themes of all the ecommerce platforms with over 60 mobile responsive ones to choose from. They do not offer any paid themes but you can have a custom theme built by the EKM team for £1999.99 + vat.
Shopify – The free offering from Shopify is quite a bit smaller with only 9 to choose from but they do have a large selection of paid themes that range from $140 to $180.
Outside of the Shopify ecosystem, you can have a custom theme made by a developer of your choice or go to a third party marketplace such as Themeforest, that has over 1200 paid themes to choose from.
One of the reasons why people choose a hosted ecommerce platform such as EKM or Shopify is that they get help and support to run their website. But how good is either platforms offering?
Something that helps EKM stand out from the crowd is the quality of their support. From the moment you sign up with EKM, you get the feeling that they really do want to help you to succeed and they are the only platform I have tested that give you a welcome call to help you get your store up and running.
You can contact their support team on the phone, through live chat and via email. While their support is not 24/7 unless you are on one of their top packages, they always respond as soon as they can. You also get your own account manager on the bigger packages, which is a great addition.
Shopify do offer a variety of options when it comes to support such as phone, live chat and email but they aren’t as up front with how to contact their support team as EKM are.
While the Shopify help centre is really easy to use, you do have to perform a search in order to find the option to contact Shopify support. There is also a lot of very good documentation and helpful videos in the help centre to get you started.
Hosting & Performance
On paper, there is little to choose between the two platforms when it comes to their hosting as both offer:
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- Unlimited Storage
- PCI Compliant Servers
- 99.9% Uptime
- Most Importantly Fast Servers
Now this all sounds fantastic but I don’t take these platforms at their word, instead I like to put them to the test. To do this I took three of their customer example sites, that were all in the industries and had similar levels of content and ran them through Pingdom’s speed tool using their London, UK server. I did this once a day for three days to get a nice spread of data, so how did they do?
Average Load Time
Website 1: 1.63 Seconds
Website 2: 1.33 Seconds
Website 3: 0.95 Seconds
Average Load Time
Website 1: 1.39 Seconds
Website 2: 2.36 Seconds
Website 3: 1.04 Seconds
Not a massive difference between the two platforms but EKM sites consistently loaded quicker than the Shopify sites. Both platforms average under the golden 2 second mark for page load times, which is something you definitely want when you are running an ecommerce website.
Talking of the 2 second mark, all of EKM’s sites came well under this load time where as Shopify did have one that averaged just over this time. The EKM sites were also more consistent with each other than the Shopify sites.
EKM vs Shopify Video
Ease of Use
Now I do know that ease of use is subjective to the person using the site so the following is just my opinion and should only be used as a guide.
To get started with EKM, they do require you to enter your credit card details before you can sign up to the free trial.
Once you have signed up, you do a lot of support from the EKM team. On your first sign in, you will be greeted by a comprehensive set up guide that takes you through pretty much everything you need to know in order to get started.
You also get a 30 minute welcome call from one of the the team to help you get started and also answer any questions you may have about the platform.
Navigating your way around the EKM dashboard is a little different to most of the other platforms as they have opted for a top navigation bar rather than a sidebar.
While the majority of the EKM dashboard is easy to learn where everything is, the Shop section can be a little confusing to start with as it isn’t clearly defined as to what this section is as it contains quite a few different things including where you add new products and categories along with a live editor for your shopfront and this does take a little getting used to.
The initial sign up process is a bit easier as you only need to give your email address, your shop name and create a password to get started.
Once you have completed to sign up process, you will be greeted by a set up guide but it doesn’t contain that many steps and misses out on quite a few of the important things you need to do in order to get up and running.
Fortunately, they do have a very good video series in the form of the Shopify Academy that will take you through setting up your online store. There are also some useful hints and tips in these videos.
Getting to grips with the Shopify dashboard doesn’t take very long as the main sidebar navigation menu has very clearly labelled sections. This makes knowing where everything is a really simple process.
Customising your Theme
While the theme customisation within EKM is pretty good, the workflow to do it isn’t the easiest and that very much follows on from what I mentioned above. The elements for customising your theme are split across the Shop and Design sections of the EKM dashboard.
When it comes to what you can change on your chosen theme, you can control the look of the layout by removing sections from your homepage but unfortunately there isn’t a choice of sections to add, which does limit how much you can customise the look of your shop.
You can also edit the colour scheme, change fonts and edit the content on your pages. If you are familiar with coding such as HTML and CSS, then you can add custom code to change the look of your site.
One of the reasons why Shopify became so successful is that they had very well designed themes that could be easily customised to fit your brand and business and that is very much still true to this day. While the selection of free themes is quite limited, you can do a lot with them with Shopify’s customise theme tool.
You can add and remove sections, change colours and font to really make the website individual to you. One nice addition with Shopify is their stock image library, this gives you access to some professional quality images to pad out your site and this can really help in the early days.
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 new products and categories in EKM is really simple and can be done with the click of a button. You then get a pop-up, that has a tabbed layout with all the sections required to add a product including pricing, images, description and options such as product variations.
Adding a new category is very similar to adding a new product, only with less sections that you need to fill out. With EKM, you can add parent and sub-categories, which makes creating a hierarchy really easy to do.
To easily manage your inventory, you do need to install the Advanced Inventory Manager feature. Without doing this, managing your inventory isn’t the easiest thing to do. With this feature installed you can manage all of your inventory from the product overview page including product title, stock levels and pricing.
Shopify have gone for a single page layout for their add product page and it has a very nice flow from section to section and this makes it very simple to add a new product to your store.
Organising your products is little tricky as the Shopify collections system is completely straightforward due to their being a few different options on how to do this.
Using the manual collections is very similar to a traditional category systems but the automatic one is based of rules that you set up using product tags and to get the working effectively, it is worth reading through the documentation.
Setting up sub-collections is also not particularly straightforward as you need to do this when you are editing your navigation menu, not in the collection creation or edit page.
You can manage your inventory levels on the inventory page but if you want to make changes to the pricing, SKU code or any other field from the product, then you can select the products you want to edit from the product overview screen and then click the edit product button, which allows you to make updates in bulk.
EKM – You can manage orders in bulk or on a individual basis with EKM. From the order overview page you can print orders directly and there are four options for the layout of the invoices/packing slips, you can also update the order statuses. If you use any third-party software for your order, then you can export all of your order information in CSV format.
If you need to manage or update an individual order, you can do this from the overview page or by going into the order.
Shopify – The order management system in Shopify isn’t the best as it doesn’t allow you to print off order invoices from the order overview page, this has to be done on an order by order basis and would become tedious, if you had a large number of orders to deal with.
You can update order statuses, collect payments and export your orders from the order overview page.
• Excellent Support
• Evolution Mode
• Theme Selection
• Order Management System
• Very Good Performance
• Theme Customisation could be better
• Credit Card info required before trial
• Theme Customisation
• 24/7 Support
• Easy to use Admin Area
• The App Store
• Very Good Performance
• Transaction Fees
• Automatic Collection system is a bit complicated
• No option to bulk print invoices
EKM vs Shopify: Which One is Better?
As you can see from the summary above, picking between these two platforms is very difficult as they are both great options for starting an online shop.
EKM does have the better ecommerce functionality with the advanced inventory manager and order management system but Shopify is better when it comes to customising the look and feel of your website.
So it really does come down to what is more important for your business and I would highly recommend taking out the free trials with both of these platforms so that you can try them out for yourself and see which one is better for your business.
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