Shopify or EKM - which platform provides the best ecommerce solution for UK businesses?
If you're looking to open an online store, you'll want to utilise one of the many ecommerce platforms who can provide you with the functionality to properly get started with selling online. Choosing the right ecommerce platform for your business can determine how your store will function, how easy you will find it to run your store and, to some degree, can determine how your website will look to your customers.
With so many ecommerce platforms out there for you to choose from, you might be struggling with which one will suit you best, and you might even be asking yourself if there's really even that big of a difference between them.
Well, to help you muddle through them, we've put together a comparison of three of the top ecommerce platforms in the UK, EKM vs Shopify and ShopWired to highlight their differences and to assist you in figuring out which one sounds ideal for your needs.
All three of these ecommerce platforms offer free trials, which we do highly recommend utilising as that's the best way to get a proper feel for if a platform is right for you. Read through our comparisons below to help you narrow down which platforms you want to test out, and then start your free trial(s).
Pricing & packages
Pricing is likely to be one of the most important aspects of selecting which ecommerce platform you'll use, so here's a breakdown of what each of these platforms will cost you (please note that all of the following pricing plans are exclusive of taxes):
In addition to the above plans, each ecommerce platform offers enterprise level solutions with EKM's starting at £659.99/month, Shopify's at $2000/month and ShopWired's at £249.95/month. When it comes to an ecommerce solution for larger UK businesses, ShopWired is easily the cheapest monthly option available.
EKM ranks as one of the more expensive ecommerce platforms.
All plans come with their essential features, the ability to add unlimited products and access to their UK based support.
When selecting your EKM plan you’ll want to keep in mind that selecting one of their more basic plans means you won’t be able to access some of their features as they are only available on their higher paid plans. There's no option to just add a smaller monthly fee to access the missing feature.
For example, their gift card feature is only available from their Standard plan and above and their trade discounts feature can only be used by Advanced plans.
EKM transaction fees
EKM recently introduced transaction fees to encourage usage of their payment gateway. If you don't use EKMPay/ClearAccept, you'll pay an additional transaction fee on every order on your website (similar to the way Shopify charge transaction fees).
These start at 2.0% on all order values on their Basic package, and go down to 0.5% if you're on their (highest) Advanced package - which costs just under £230 + VAT per month.
For more detailed information about EKM pricing, read our article here.
Shopify’s monthly plans work out as the cheapest option in a competition of EKM vs Shopify vs ShopWired, but there are some hidden costs that you need to know about.
Like EKM, Shopify charge a transaction fee on every order on your website unless it's processed through Shopify Payments.
These fees can also be as much as 2% when on their basic plan. This means in addition to paying the fees of your chosen payment gateway, you’ll also be paying Shopify some extra money too.
Additionally, many basic features, which come included with other platforms, can only be added with the use of third party apps. These can come at quite an additional cost to you as many of them come with a monthly fee of their own.
You can read more about how much Shopify costs here.
ShopWired's plans fall right in the middle of the price range, and with all of their plans you'll pay no additional transaction fees, have unlimited access to their dedicated support teams and the use of all the standard ecommerce features that you will need.
In addition to the basic ecommerce features that you'd expect from a platform, you can also install apps which were built in-house to add functionality to your store.
While most of these apps are provided free of charge, a few of them come with an extra monthly fee, depending on which plan you have selected. If you selected the 'Advanced' plan, you will have free access to the 'Connect' apps and the trade features app. If you select the 'premium' plan, all apps are included in the monthly price listed above.
Which platform has the best free trial?
A free trial is the best way for you to see exactly how each platform operates and to see what little quirks you can deal with and which you can’t. Shopify, EKM and ShopWired all offer a 14 day free trial period, but each free trial does come with the occasional drawback.
When starting EKM’s free trial you are required to choose which of their plans you would like to trial, but you don’t need to put in any card details to initiate the trial.
Their free trials are fully functional in that you can create products and orders, see your website and install features. However, if you choose a trial for one of their cheaper plans there will be a few features that you won’t be allowed to access, such as the ability to create and offer gift cards.
So if you want to try out these features, make sure you select a free trial of a higher paid plan.
While you aren’t required to input your card details to activate Shopify's free trial, you and your customers won’t be able to place any orders in your store until you have picked a plan and entered your card details, so they’re ready to charge when the trial ends.
While there’s no harm in entering your card details as you can always cancel your free trial later, you will no longer be able to access your store as soon as you cancel your trial. This means that to test all of Shopify's features out over the full two week period, you’ll want to keep in mind that if you don't want to continue using them and don't want your card to be charged, you'll need to remember to cancel.
ShopWired’s free trial is fully functional with access to all features and apps. Apps which you will need to pay for once your pay period commences are entirely free to use during the free trial, so you can get a feel of which apps you’ll need for your success.
However, one small drawback is that while you're in the free trial period, the holding page for your website will stay on until you've picked a plan. This means that potential customers or anyone who visits your website will then need to know your password to gain access.
Comparing the support offered - Shopify vs EKM - who wins?
EKM’s customer support team are based in the UK and are available via live chat during the hours of 8AM - 6PM, Monday - Friday and 9AM - 5:30PM on Saturdays. You can also give them a call during this time as well, although you may find yourself waiting on hold for a while.
Additionally, you can email or send a Facebook message to the support team at any time and their team will respond to you.
When you sign up for an EKM free trial, you will receive quite a lot of emails offering help, support and other messages aimed to help you with setting up your store. These emails might feel a little overwhelming as they do send quite a few.
Additionally, you’ll be offered an account manager who can walk you through the process of setting up your store. The length of time you will have access to your dedicated account manager will depend upon which package you have signed up for.
In addition to the basic support that EKM offers they also offer a unique service called 'Evolution Mode' which works to ensure that your website always looks fresh and is working well.
When you request evolution mode EKM's evolution team will look through your website and make suggestions for what you can do to improve your site. Depending on which plan you're on, the team can also implement the changes for you once you've approved them. This is a great way to check on the general health of your website, especially if you don't have an eye for that yourself. The number of times you can request evolution mode depends on which plan you chose.
Shopify’s support options are not easily accessible from within the admin system, and will require you to do some searching to find how to receive direct support with your query.
Once you do manage to find how to contact Shopify’s support, they offer different support options 24/7, including a live chat. Additionally, you can find a helpful community through the Shopify forums who might be able to answer some of your questions.
The live chat service does get exceptionally busy and whilst writing this review it wasn't uncommon for us to discover more than 80 other customers before us in the queue.
Upon signing up for a free trial with Shopify you will be sent a number of different emails with links to different aspects of their help website which might answer any questions you have. While these emails aren’t quite as personalised as the approach that ShopWired and EKM take, you can still find some useful information in them.
ShopWired offers UK based support and is currently available on live chat or through a booked phone call from 9AM - 11PM, Monday - Friday and in case of emergencies on Saturdays & Sundays. Additionally, you can send an email at any time and they will get back to you as soon as possible. Accessing support is easy from the admin dashboard. Simply click the ‘Get Support’ button at the bottom of the left menu and decide how you want to get in touch.
ShopWired's onboarding team will get in touch with you as soon as you start a free trial. During the 14 day trial period, they'll continue to reach out to you monitoring progress you've made on your account and with building your website.
ShopWired's onboarding service is provided completely free of charge, and the onboarding team will help you to build your entire website during your trial if you'd like them to.
Public opinion and real customer reviews
When purchasing anything online, especially something as important as the tools you'll use to build your business, it's important you check out reviews left by others to give you a good idea of what you're buying. Here's a quick breakdown of how the three platforms are performing on review sites.
The biggest review site in the UK for businesses is TrustPilot, and both ShopWired and EKM have excellent stats on TrustPilot. EKM averages an impressive 4.5 stars, but ShopWired has an even more impressive 4.8 stars out of 5.0. Both have claimed their business and both respond quickly to negative reviews.
On the other hand Shopify haven’t claimed their business and have a poor 1.6 star rating. However, it is important to note that some (but by no means a majority) of their reviews are left by people who blame them for something going wrong with a seller they have purchased from.
In this aspect, not all of the reviews will represent how Shopify operates as an ecommerce platform, but the majority of the reviews that are about the platform express frustrations with the lack of help they receive from support.
Since Shopify have a more global presence than their counterparts, we should note that on review sites which are popular in other parts of the world Shopify fares much better than they do on TrustPilot. For example on G2, a software review site based in the US, Shopify has a score of 4.4 out of 5 stars.
Ecommerce platform features
Each platform offers the basic ecommerce features that you would expect to find to help you run your store. Features including product creation and inventory management, website hosting, order processing, customisable branding, shopping cart functionality, payment gateway integrations, delivery rates setup and theme selection can be found on all three platforms.
When looking for the right ecommerce platform you will both want to see how the basic functionality operates and also see what additional features each platform offers to expand how you can use your store.
In addition to the basic ecommerce features, EKM offers some add-on features which you can easily activate to begin using. However, some features will only be available to you if you have selected one of their more expensive 'Advanced' or 'Pro' plans.
Features that EKM offer include a tool to help you utilise Google's services, a Wordpress blog for your website, the ability to manage your store on-the-go using an Android app and to have your own 03 phone number so your customers can easily reach you.
Check out a full list of EKM's add-on features for more information.
As a larger platform Shopify’s app store holds thousands of apps that can add to the functionality of your store, with most of those apps having been built by a third party.
While all of the apps have to meet Shopify’s requirements in addition to passing a review, you’ll still need to be careful about which apps you choose to use as not all of them are made well, and could even cause you quite a bit of trouble with your store. You’ll also want to keep in mind that if you run into an issue with a third party app, you will need to contact the app developers directly to fix it.
Shopify’s support won’t be able to assist you with fixing the app, but once you’ve requested support from within the app they should check back with you to make sure that the app developer responded to you.
Shopify's own built apps expand your store's functionality by offering you the ability to upload 3D models of products, combat fraud in your store, connect to the Google Merchant Center and create QR codes to link to your products, just to name a few. Additionally, if you're interested in dropshipping, Shopify have their Oberlo app which allows you to source products from AliExpress. Check out Shopify's app store to see what else they have to offer.
ShopWired offers an ever-increasing number of ecommerce apps built by an in-house app development team to add to the functionality offered by the platform at its core.
Most apps are free, and the ones that do require a small monthly fee can also be obtained for free with higher paid packages. Some highlights of what ShopWired's apps have to offer are to allow you to create and manage quotes to send to customers, offer a subscription service, advertise and manage pre-order products in your store as well as connections with major marketplaces like eBay and Etsy.
Additionally, ShopWired also have their own dropshipping app called DropWired, which allows you to source products and place orders directly with AliExpress. Look through ShopWired's apps and integrations page to see what other apps are on offer as well as what apps are coming soon.
Trade & wholesale features
With their advanced plan, which costs £229.99/month + VAT, EKM offers the ability, through an installable feature, to offer trade discounts to your customers as well as creating trade accounts for them. While this basic functionality will work for some, it does come with a high price tag, and also doesn't offer you the ability to create a separate environment for your trade customers.
You won’t be able to hide certain products from regular customers or make certain items only purchasable for trade customers, but you can hide pricing to all customers unless they are logged into a trade account.
To utilise trade features on a Shopify account you will need to either install and pay for multiple third party apps or pay at least $2000 a month to have a Shopify Plus plan which offers you access to a wholesale sales channel.
ShopWired’s trade features are also activated through installing an app, but the app offers much more than what EKM’s or Shopify’s apps can offer.
ShopWired’s trade accounts app allows you to create an entirely separate environment for your trade customers in addition to managing the prices you offer them. Pricing discounts can be given in a number of different ways that are sure to suit any of your customers. If your business is heavily involved in B2B transactions, you will want to check out the trade accounts app during your free trial to see just how many features it offers you.
Once your free trial is over, if you opt for the basic plan this app will cost you £10/month, but comes free with the more expensive plans. This means that offering trade features works out a lot cheaper on ShopWired.
Both EKM and Shopify offer several payment gateways, giving merchants the ability to provide multiple payment options to their customers.
EKM’s primary payment gateway is their own EKMPay (powered by ClearAccept). Merchants on all price plans must pay 1.4% + 20p (+VAT) on all transactions unless they are using EKMPay or PayPal. EKM also offers a range of third-party payment gateways, but using these will incur transaction fees.
Shopify’s main payment gateway is Shopify Payments. Shopify Payments is integrated into Shopify accounts by default. All merchants need to do is activate it and set it up to start accepting payments. There are no transaction fees for stores using Shopify Payments.
Beyond Shopify Payments, Shopify offers integrations with over 100 third-party payment gateways. The gateways available to you depend on the country you operate within. Additional transaction fees of 2%, 1% or 0.5% apply depending on whether you’re subscribed to Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify plans, respectively.
ShopWired has a range of popular payment gateways available to use, including the new ShopWired Payments. ShopWired Payments is available to UK-based businesses and is built on Stripe’s robust and reliable infrastructure. The direct integration allows for straightforward credit/debit card processing, as well as support for Apple Pay and Google Pay. ShopWired Payments also lets merchants take subscription orders or process mail-order or telephone transactions. There is no monthly fee or setup cost for using this integration.
As well as ShopWired Payments, ShopWired also offers integrations with over 40 payment gateways, giving merchants and customers numerous ways to send and receive payments.
Ecommerce themes and website design
Which platform has the best themes? EKM or Shopify?
Theme selection for your online shop is an important aspect of determining your branding and ease of usability for your customers. You want your ecommerce website to reflect your company's values and keep your customers coming back to purchase from you again and again. Here are the offerings from each platform in regards to theme availability and customisation:
EKM offers a wide range of over 70 free themes which you can browse by industry and then easily apply to your store. With their large range of fully optimised themes, you are sure to find a look for your store that you love.
At the end of 2021 EKM began to roll-out a new version of themes which comes with a new customiser which allows you to make all changes to your theme from directly within the customiser. Previously, while you could change the look of the layout of your theme you had to navigate to a separate part of the admin system to change images and text, which made the process of editing your website quite clunky.
The new customiser keeps everything more simple by allowing you to do everything in one place that is related to adjusting your theme.
This review was originally published in 2022 and at the time of writing there was only one theme using the new customiser. As of 18th April 2023, there is still only one theme available.
This is a bit disappointing because if you don’t like that theme you might be stuck using the old format to customise your theme.
Within Shopify’s theme store there are over 80 themes for you to choose from, but only 10 of them are free. The rest range from $150 to $350 and come with a free trial so you can try before you buy.
Shopify’s theme customisation offers drag and drop functionality with a live preview editor which makes adjusting themes to suit your branding a breeze. Within your chosen theme you can customise everything from the colours to the font to the layout of each page. Shopify offers the best theme customisations of the three, and have set the standard for what other platforms are now trying to reach.
ShopWired offers 20 fully functional ecommerce themes and all of them are provided free of charge.
In 2022, ShopWired launched version 5 themes, a new drag and drop theme customisation system using sections and blocks.
At the time of writing, 5 of ShopWired's 20 themes utilise the new customiser.
Conclusions - Shopify vs EKM
Which platform is best overall? How does ShopWired compare?
Picking the best ecommerce platform for your business is a difficult decision and we'd thoroughly recommend taking out a free trial of each solution because each business's requirements are slightly different.
Many users of ShopWired tell us that they prefer to deal with a UK company and UK support team, so if you also feel more comfortable doing so (rather than North American based Shopify), you will probably prefer either EKM or ShopWired.
Our favourite choice and recommendation for all UK businesses will, as always, be ShopWired!