EKM vs ShopWired vs Bluepark – 2021 UK Ecommerce Comparison

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

EKM vs ShopWired vs Bluepark – What’s the Difference?

EKM, ShopWired and Bluepark are all fully hosted ecommerce platforms but operate slightly differently. EKM offers customisable feature set that is primarily focused on B2C ecommerce businesses ShopWired offers a core ecommerce platform that can be customised by installing apps and extensions, that can be used for B2C or B2B businesses. Bluepark is an all in one solution, meaning that all the features come pre-installed on the software for a fixed monthly price.

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Pricing

ekm ecommerce logo

Basic

£32.49/m

Up to 500 Products
Up to £50k Annual Turnover
No Transaction Fees
No Storage Limits
Free SSL Certificate
Standard UK Support
69 Free Themes

Pro

Pro

£29.95/m

Up to 750 Products
Up to £75k Annual Turnover
No Transaction Fees
No Storage Limits
Free SSL Certificate
Standard UK Support
19 Free Themes

bluepark logo

Retail

£24.99/m

Up to 500 Products
No Annual Turnover Limit
No Transaction Fees
500mb Data Storage
SSL Certificate £69.99
Standard UK Support
43 Free Themes

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.

*Exclusive 28 day free trial, credit card required, contact EKM if you wish to cancel your trial

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 comes with a lot of features, some of these are automatically installed on the core platform, while others can be installed from the features section of the dashboard.

The installable features operate in a very similar way to an app as they are one click install/uninstall and this makes it very easy to customise the features that are on your ecommerce website. Below is a summary of the features that you have access to on the basic package.

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

With EKM, the majority of the installable features are free to use and only a small number are either tied to larger packages or require additional payment to use.

EKM Features

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

EKM Evolution Mode

One of the main features of EKM is their evolution mode. Which is run by the evolution team, that is made up of ecommerce specialists including designers and marketing specialists who review your store on an annual basis (monthly on the Advanced package) and make suggestions for how your site can be improved.

The best thing about the Evolution Mode is that if you approve some or all of these improvements, the team will implement them on your website free of charge.

ShopWired

As with EKM, ShopWired offer a range of features that are installed as standard and additional ones that can be installed in the form of an app or an extension. Below is a summary of the features that are available with the ShopWired Pro package.

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, but this is only 13 out of the 43 that are available and the prices for the paid apps range start at £1, with trade accounts being the most expensive at £10. With the larger accounts, you do get the apps included with your monthly price.

ShopWired App Selection

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. 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)

On the larger packages, Bluepark do include more features such as Ebay integration and advanced B2B options. Bluepark also have a small number of third-party applications that you can integrate with.

Bluepark Features

Theme Selection & Customisation

EKM

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.

Theme customisation is a little strange in EKM, because while there is a lot to do to 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.

EKM Customise Theme

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.

ShopWired

In 2020, ShopWired updated their theme selection as they are using a new platform on which their themes are built, which they have called Version 4. The new selection totals 20, free to use, mobile responsive themes, with an upgradeable version, that comes with some extensions installed for £89+vat.

If you want, you can have a bespoke theme made for you by the ShopWired design team, there are two options to choose from. The Pro design packages costs £3495 + vat and the Advanced is £3995+vat.

ShopWired Theme Selection

With the addition of the version 4 theme, also comes a new live customizer. This new features has improved the theme customisation experience within ShopWired.

But the amount of control you have over the look and feel of your site is still quite limited but includes the ability to change the colours of the site, the text snippets placed around the theme and the images that appear on the homepage.

ShopWired Theme Customisation

When it comes to the layout of the theme, there aren’t any options such as being able to change the sections that appear on your site, these are set by the theme.

You can control your link lists, these are lists of links to your chosen pages in terms of what is in them and where on the theme they are placed. Another thing that I do find a little strange is that the amount of customisation you can do does vary from theme to theme.

Bluepark

Bluepark offer a great selection of 42 free, mobile responsive themes (Bluepark call them templates).

Bluepark Theme Selection

If you want a custom theme, then you can contact one of their design partners who will build one for you and prices start from around £700.

One of the things that is really good about the Bluepark platform is the ability to customise your theme. They offer many different options due to the block system that they use, this allows you to control the layout of your site but also a variety of sections you can add and remove.

This allows you to take one of the already well designed Bluepark themes and really change so they fit your business and your brand. Not only can you control the layout but you can also change colours, font type and font size. When it comes to customising your theme, there really is not much that you cannot do.

Bluepark Customise Theme

The only thing that I am not fond of when it comes to customising your theme and that is editing your footer. It is not the easiest thing to do as you use a text based editor, I would like to see the block system extended to the footer.

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

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

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

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 and ran them through Pingdom’s Speed Test Tool (London Server) and Google’s Page Speed Insights, once a day for three days and you can see the average results below:

ekm ecommerce logo

Pingdom: 1.30 Seconds
Google Mobile: 55/100
Google Desktop: 87/100

Average Load Time

Pingdom: 1.44 Seconds
Google Mobile: 24/100
Google Desktop: 53/100

bluepark logo

Pingdom: 0.76 Seconds
Google Mobile: 66/100
Google Desktop: 88/100

In terms of load times, all three platforms done really well and all came in well under the golden 2 second window and what was very impressive was that all three platforms were consistent over the tests.

The Google test was basically even between EKM and Bluepark, with both getting very respectable scores. ShopWired was a bit behind their competition in both mobile and desktop but still did better than some of the biggest names in the industry.

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

EKM

Signing up to the EKM platform is pretty easy, although they do have one additional (arguably unnecessary) step over that the other two platforms don’t and that is that you need to provide your credit or debit card details before you can begin your trial.

Once you have completed the sign up process, you will be taken through to the EKM admin dashboard and on your first sign in, you will be greeted by EKM’s set up guide. This is a pretty comprehensive guide that takes you through nearly all of the steps required to get an ecommerce store up and running.

EKM Setup Dashboard

The only thing that is missing is to set up your pages such as privacy policy and terms and conditions, while not part of the set up guides, EKM do have templates for both of these that can easily edited to fit your business.

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

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 make it really easy for you to get started with their platform, simply fill out their start trial page with your email address, name and business name and you are good to go.

ShopWired Setup Tutorial

Once you have signed up to the trial, you are taken to their dashboard homepage and on your first sign in, you are greeted by their set up tutorial that you can follow to help get your online shop up and running.

This is one of the better setup guides I have used and covers nearly everything you need to do to make your site ready to go live but as with EKM, a prompt to set up your Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions is missing. But they do have template documents for both of these pages that you can easily edit to help make sure that your site is legal.

Navigating the Dashboard

I really like the ShopWired dashboard, the sidebar makes it really easy to navigate from section to section. There are also not too many options, you just have what you need. It doesn’t matter what section of the dashboard you are in, you can get back to your homepage just by clicking the dashboard button.

Bluepark

Getting started with Bluepark is very easy to do as you just need an email address and a password.

Once you have signed up to Bluepark, you go into their dashboard and are welcomed by a very well laid out set up guide that is accompanied by a very helpful video. The guide takes you through nearly all of the important sections that you need to complete before making your site live.

Once again the only thing missing is to set up your Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions pages but unlike the other two platforms, Bluepark don’t include templates for these, so you will have to go and source your own.

Bluepark Set Up Guide
Navigating the Dashboard

Bluepark redesigned their dashboard in Autumn 2019 and it is definitely a big improvement over their previous design. They now have a side bar with well laid out sections and it makes the platform really easy to navigate.

Due to the amount of things you can do with Bluepark, they do have a lot of sub-sections and it will take a while to know exactly how many options you have with the platform. In some instances, I think there is almost too much you can do and it can be a little daunting to people who are completely new to running a website.

On the flip side, if you are used to running an online shop, then you may really like the amount of options that you have.

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.

EKM Advanced Inventory Manager

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

Adding a new product in Bluepark is a little more complicated as the add new product page uses a tabbed layout and there are quite a few options but what is a little strange is that not all of tabs appear on the add new product page. Some of these can only be accessed in the product editor, you can see the difference in the number of tabs in the two images below:

Bluepark Add Products

This means that you may have to create a product, then go back in and edit it in order to be able to list it properly, which isn’t a great workflow.

Fortunately, there are no such issues when it comes to creating categories, it is much more straightforward as they once again use a tabbed layout but the number of tabs and options is quite small. It is also very easy to set whether a category is a parent or child, which makes creating a good hierarchy for your products nice and simple.

One thing that is very good in Bluepark is their product manager, which makes managing your inventory very easy. Unlike other platforms, where the bulk editor is a separate tool, the product manager allows you to update quantity levels, set featured products and also see what your profit margin is all from the product overview page.

Managing Orders

EKM

EKM has a very good order management system and it allows users to manage orders either in bulk or individually and from the order overview menu, you can update order statuses and print invoices. There are 4 different templates that can be printed and these all line up with packing slips that can bought directly from EKM.

If you want to export your order information, you will need to install the Import/Export System feature.

ShopWired

ShopWired also has a very good order management system and the interface is very clean and easy to use. From the main order overview menu, you can print off order invoices, update statuses and export your orders. This can be done in bulk or on an order by order basis.

Bluepark

Blueparks order management set up is very similar to that of ShopWired in terms of what you can do, as you can print off orders, update statuses and export order information in bulk or individually but the overall interface isn’t as clean as ShopWired’s and does take a little more getting used to.

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.

EcommerceGold Score 4.5/5

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.

EcommerceGold Score 4.2/5

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.

EcommerceGold Score 4.4/5

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.

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