Ecommerce is one of the biggest growing industries in the UK and as the world moves more and more into the digital age, choosing the right ecommerce platform for your business can in many cases be the difference between success and failure.
And while choosing an ecommerce platform may seem daunting, there are lots of useful resources (such as this one!) that aim to make the selection process a little bit easier.
Now you may notice that my list is somewhat different to that on other review sites and that is because unlike many other people who review ecommerce websites, I have first hand experience of building and running an ecommerce website.
And every platform on this list has been personally tested and reviewed by myself from the perspective of someone looking to build a successful ecommerce business. Now below is a list of the platforms but I would recommend reading through the post and potentially some of the reviews so that you can start drawing up a list of options to consider.
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ShopWired are one of the UK’s leading ecommerce platforms and have helped many businesses, whether small or large start selling online and boast big names such as Wowcher, EDF Energy and Superdrug amongst their customers.
They are highly rated by their customers for their easy to use platform, good selection of features and their excellent UK based support team.
Out of the box, ShopWired comes with a good selection of features but it is the selection of over 70 apps that add a range of different features and integrations to your store including:
Many of these Apps are free to use, with the most expensive costing £10/m but all of the apps are included with the Premium Package.
When it comes to design, ShopWired have a selection of 20, free to use mobile responsive themes that are very well designed but one of the main drawbacks of ShopWired is the limited theme customisation options.
|Number of Products||750||Unlimited||Unlimited|
ShopWired are very competitively priced when compared to both their UK and North American counterparts, especially as their turnover limits are much more generous and they charge no additional transaction fees.
They also offer custom packages for larger businesses (turnover of more than £500,000) and these start from £199.95/m.
As you can see from the table above, ShopWired don’t charge any additional transaction fees, so you will only pay the payment gateway fees and talking of payment gateways, ShopWired offer over 40 to choose from including PayPal, Stripe, Revolut, Apple Pay and Google Pay.
ShopWired Pros and Cons
Learn More About ShopWired
As one of the biggest names in the world of ecommerce and powering over 1 million ecommerce stores worldwide, there was no way that Shopify couldn’t be included on this list and it is not just because they are incredibly popular (they are the most searched for ecommerce platform in the UK!) but because the platform is very good.
Out of the box, Shopify offers a very capable platform, with a good selection of features built in but it is the Shopify App store that really takes them to the next level when it comes to features, functionality and integrations as it contains over 3,000 apps across many different categories, including:
Now obviously, this is just a very small summary of the apps that are available with Shopify but there aren’t many requirements that aren’t covered in the app store but many of these apps are paid for if you want access to all of their features but most offer a free trial of plan to help you see if it is going to work for your store.
The selection of features does make Shopify very attractive but the one area where they do stand out from their competition is theme selection and customisation as they offer 83 themes available directly through their own theme store and there are many more available from third-party marketplaces.
But it is the theme customisation that is where they truly shine as even people who have never built a website before will be able to produce a good looking store using the Shopify customizer (you will still need good quality images though!) as it offers a drag and drop builder for all of your site pages along with a good selection of customisation tools.
|Number of Products||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
Shopify is very competitive on their monthly prices for UK businesses and the monthly subscription fee is cheaper than their UK based competition for the two lowest priced plans.
But Shopify does charge a transaction fee on all payment received using third-party payment gateways such as PayPal or Amazon pay and this can make Shopify more expensive, especially if you are going to be having high volume and value of sales.
These transaction fees can be avoided if you use Shopify Payments, which is their in-house payment gateway, which is powered by Stripe. These transaction fees also don’t apply to offline transactions such as bank transfers.
Shopify Pros and Cons
Learn More About Shopify
EKM, formerly known as EKMPowershop, is the largest UK based ecommerce platform having helped over 80,000 businesses start selling online since they were established in 2002 and EKM have a strong focus on the UK market.
With a range of features to help you start selling online, EKM are a popular choice for businesses of all sizes, ranging from new online stores to those turning over millions of pounds are year.
Some of these features are available out of the box and others can be added by a simple one-click install, giving you the flexibility to configure your store exactly how you want it and below is a summary of the features that EKM offer:
EKM also comes with highly rated customer support (as seen on Trustpilot) and the unique EKM’s Evolution Mode, which looks to improve your website by having a team of ecommerce specialists such as digital marketers and designers look at your site to see what improvements can be made and this is included with every package.
The main drawback of the EKM platform is the admin dashboard as it doesn’t offer the most optimum workflow and can be a little frustrating to use at times.
|Number of Products||500||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Turnover Limit||£50,000||£150,000||£1 Million|
When it comes to pricing, EKM is one of the more expensive options, especially with the introductory plan and the turnover limits are smaller than their competition but they are still not overly expensive when you consider what you get for the monthly subscription.
They also offer an enterprise level Pro Package, which is for businesses with turnovers in excess of £1 million and offers some custom features and more dedicated support and this costs £599.99/m.
EKM Pros and Cons
Learn More About EKM
Ecwid is one of the most versatile ecommerce platforms on the market today. This is because it can be used to build stand alone ecommerce website or it can be used as a fully hosted shopping cart for popular website builders such as WordPress and Wix.
This means it can be a great choice for bloggers who want to add ecommerce to their site but it also allows users to sell via additional sales channel including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Google Shopping and manage them all from one dashboard.
But Ecwid also offers a host of additional features to help you start selling, however you choose to use the platform and below is a quick summary of these but some features are on available on the business and unlimited plans.
Ecwid’s feature set make it a very good option for small to medium sized businesses, especially if they already have a website and want to add a simple and easy to use shopping cart to their site and Ecwid is very easy to use.
|Number of Products||100||2,500||Unlimited|
It is also important to mention that Ecwid also offer a completely free package, in place of a free trial and this allows you to sell up to 10 products but it is limited on the features but it is a great way to test whether or not Ecwid is suitable or not for your business.
Ecwid also don’t have turnover limits or transaction fees, which makes the pricing very straightforward and they offer a selection of over 30 payment gateways, including PayPal, Stripe and Square.
Ecwid Pros and Cons
Learn More About Ecwid
5. Square Online Store
While primarily known as a Point of Sale system for small businesses, Square also have a very good platform for creating an online store as it is built on Weebly (which Square acquired in 2018).
Whether you are an existing Square user or looking to build an ecommerce store from scratch, they are definitely worth considering as they offer quite a lot for a relatively low price, which makes them an attractive option for small to medium sized businesses.
In terms of features, they don’t offer as much as some of the bigger platforms on this list but there is still a good selection, including:
The variety of product types is one of the great selling points of the Square Online Store as most platforms don’t include options for memberships or subscriptions with their packages.
There are also some good design options when creating an online store with Square, which makes creating a simple, good looking website very easy to do and overall the dashboard is very easy to use but they do lack some bulk editors, which might not be ideal for businesses who have a large product inventory.
|Number of Products||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
Square is very reasonably priced and they also offer a completely free package to help you get started but you can’t use your own domain name and the front end of your site includes Square branding but it is great for testing out Square.
But one of the main drawbacks of the Square Online Store is the lack of payment gateway options as even the Premium Package only includes Square, PayPal, Apple Pay and Google Pay and while this might be fine for smaller businesses, it may be limiting for larger ones.
Square Pros and Cons
Learn More About Square
Create.net is a UK based, fully hosted website builder that also allows users to sell products via their website and they are a great alternative to the likes of Wix and Squarespace for small business that want a small and easy to use ecommerce platform.
In terms of features, they can’t quite compete with some of the bigger, fully fledged ecommerce platforms in this list but they still offer plenty of tools to help small to medium sized business start selling online, including:
For smaller stores, these are more than enough to create an online presence for your business but where Create impresses is not only the easy to use dashboard but the very good drag and drop customizer, that offer many different content blocks and layout options to help you create a very good looking website.
All Create.net users get their own dedicated account manager, who can be contacted directly via live chat/email (depending on time) within the admin dashboard.
|Number of Products||250||Unlimited||Unlimited|
Create.net do also have a £9.99/m plan but this doesn’t include any ecommerce tools, which is why it hasn’t been included in the table above.
The overall pricing of Create.net is very competitive but if you want access to all of the ecommerce features, you will need to be on the Business Package.
In terms of payment gateways, Create.net offer a good selection of options for UK based businesses including Create Payments, PayPal, Stripe, Sagepay and Worldpay.
Create.net Pros and Cons
Learn More About Create.net
Bluepark are one of the longest established UK based ecommerce platforms, having first launched back in 2004 and the platform has become a favourite amongst the UK’s online business community.
Unlike most of the other platforms mentioned in this list, Bluepark don’t offer a customisable set of features in the form of apps, instead all features are built into the platform and you just choose the ones that you want to use but they do offer a good selection of features, including:
Along with a very good selection of built-in features, Bluepark also offers highly rated UK based support and a good selection of themes, partnered up with a good theme customizer to help you build a good looking site.
But Bluepark isn’t the easiest platform to use as they offer many options in many areas, which may be daunting for anyone new to building ecommerce websites and the admin dashboard isn’t the most intuitive to use, instead Bluepark would be a better option for experienced owners who have a good grasp of the technical side of building and managing an online store.
|Number of Products||500||2,000||Unlimited|
Bluepark is very reasonably priced but there is a but and that is you need to buy an SSL certificate on top of the subscription fee and these can only be purchased directly from Bluepark at £69.99 for 1 year and £119.99 for 2 years. It is also has quite limited storage allowances of 500mb, 1gb and 2gb respectively.
In terms of payment gateways, Bluepark offers a good selection for UK based businesses, including PayPal, Stripe, Klarna and Worldpay and they don’t charge any additional transaction fees.
Bluepark Pros and Cons
Learn More About Bluepark
What to Consider When Choosing an Ecommerce Platform
As I said above, choosing an ecommerce platform can be daunting, so here are some things you should consider before making a choice:
1. Hosted or Self-Hosted
Ecommerce platforms basically fall into 1 of 2 categories and they are Hosted or Self-hosted and there are some pretty big differences between the two:
This is just a brief summary but for most people new to ecommerce, I would recommend going for a hosted platform as the start up and day to day running is much easier and it is for this reason why no self-hosted options appear in this list.
Support is an important thing to consider when choosing an ecommerce platform as you may run into issues when setting up or running your store and you want to know that there is someone you can contact who will be able to help.
With support, you also want to consider the contact times for the support teams, where they are based and how easy they are to contact.
This one can be quite challenging when just getting started as you don’t know exactly what features you are going to need (this becomes more evident as your business grows) but some things you want to consider:
- Inventory Management – how easy is it to create and manage your inventory? can you sell different types of products (physical, digital etc)
- Order Management – how easy is it to manage your orders
- Marketing Tools – what can you manage directly from the dashboard? can you easily integrate with other marketing tools (Google or Facebook ads etc)
- Payment Gateways – can you offer a variety of different payment options for your customers?
- Shipping Methods – does the platform offers different shipping options and/or integrations with third-party shipping companies
This is just a basic list but you want to try and create a list of features you need in order to be able to find the platform that will best suit your business.
4. Theme Customisation and Design
You want your site to look good as it can help to sell your business to potential customers and you want your ecommerce platform to not only have a nice selection of themes but also good customisation, so that you can tailor your site to your business.
Customisation should also be easy to do and there should be options for design elements, such as:
- Page Layout
- Site Colours
- Font Style and Size
- Header and Footer Options
The more you are able to yourself and the easier it is, the less reliance you will have either on platform support or developers.
I left price to the end for a reason as while it is important (we all have budgets to stick to!), you don’t want it to be the driving force for why you choose one platform over another.
Instead, it is best to pick the platform that best works for you and your business, even if the cost is slightly higher as it will be better paying a few pounds extra a month and choosing the platform that you like using the most but but also offers all of the features and support you need.
So there they are, what I think are best ecommerce platforms for UK businesses and the options on this cover ecommerce websites of all sizes, from small boutique to national/multi national ecommerce retailers.
I personally have used more than one platform on this list to build an ecommerce platform and the ones that I haven’t used are ones that I have tested and reviewed and would happily recommend them to others or use them myself for a future ecommerce project.
If you are considering a couple of the options on this list, I would highly recommend trying them out first and seeing if you like them and if they would be suitable for your business.