EKM Review (2021) – The UK’s Best Shopify Alternative?

EKM Review

What is EKM?

EKM is the UK’s largest fully hosted ecommerce platform, having helped over 80,000 businesses start selling online since they launched in 2002.

Aimed at businesses from all sizes and backed up by a team of over 80 ecommerce experts on staff who are there to help you not only start but grow your online business.

EKM sounds great, but are they any good and are they a true UK alternative to Shopify?

ekm ecommerce logo

Pricing
Features
Theme Selection & Customisation
Support
Hosting & Performance
Ease of Use

Total out of 5

4.3

28 Day Free Trial, Credit Card Required

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EKM Pricing

EKM offer a range of packages to suit businesses of all sizes from Start-ups to established ecommerce businesses turning over in excess of £1 million a year and you can see a breakdown of the 4 packages offered below:

EKM Basic – £32.49/m

  • Sell up to 500 Products
  • £50k Annual Turnover Limit
  • No Transaction Fee
  • UK Based Support + 30 min Welcome Call
  • Basic Evolution Mode
  • 1 Employee Account

EKM Standard – £64.99/m

  • No Product Limit
  • £150k Annual Turnover Limit
  • No Transaction Fee
  • UK Based Support + 6 Months Account Manager
  • Standard Evolution Mode
  • 5 Employee Accounts

EKM Advanced – £194.99/m

  • No Product Limit
  • £1 Million Annual Turnover Limit
  • No Transaction Fee
  • 24/7 Emergency Support
  • Dedicated Account Manager
  • Monthly Evolution Mode
  • High Performance Server
  • API Access
  • Trade Accounts
  • 15 Employee Accounts

EKM Pro – £549.99/m

  • No Product Limit
  • No Annual Turnover Limit
  • No Transaction Fee
  • 24/7 Emergency Support
  • Dedicated Account Manager
  • EKM Will Help Run Your Store
  • Unlimited Evolution Mode Requests
  • Enterprise Level Server
  • API Access
  • Trade Accounts
  • 99.9% Uptime SLA Guarantee
  • Unlimited Employee Accounts

As you can see, they have pretty much every ecommerce business covered and when it comes to their plans, the main differences are the annual turnover limits, which start from £50k/yr on the basic package and go up to £1 million/yr on the advanced package.

The other main difference is the level of support you get from the EKM team and also how much access you get to their Evolution Mode (I will look at the Evolution Mode more in the features section below.

While the EKM pricing is pretty much inline with their competition, they are one of the more expensive options out there when looking at the prices of the packages and the annual turnover limits. If you want to see how EKM’s pricing compares to other UK platforms, check out my How Much Does a UK Ecommerce Website Cost post.

On all packages other than the Basic, EKM also offer a 6 month money back guarantee if you aren’t happy with the service that has been offered, there are some criteria to be eligible for this and info on this can be found on EKM’s website.

Free Trial

As standard, EKM offer a 14 day free trial but as an EKM partner I get to offer you and extended 28 day free trial.

With EKM, you do have to input your credit card details and select which package you would like to choose before you can start your trial and if you do not want to continue beyond the trial period, you will need to contact the EKM team and let them know you wish to cancel. To start your 28 day trail, then just click the button below.

Customer Reviews

Before I get full on into my review, I thought I would take a look at what some of EKM’s existing customers thought of the platform. For this I look on Trustpilot, Facebook and Google.

Trustpilot Logo

4.8 out of 5

FaceBook Logo

No Reviews

Google Logo

4.2 out of 5

EKM Features

EKM have built their platform to offer their customers a complete platform without the need to use apps made by third party developers.

You also get to pick and choose many of the features that you have on your site as they offer a selection of 40 features that you can add to your site with a single click of a button. Many of these features are aimed at not only improving your visitors user experience but also encourage these visitors to become customers.

Ecommerce Tools

  • Free 03 Business Number – create an inbound 03 business phone number to give your business a professional look
  • Facebook Messenger – add live chat to your store using Facebook messenger
  • Age Verification – if you sell age restricted products, this allows you to add an age verification before the visitor will be able to view your store
  • Block Visitors – block individual IP’s or entire countries from being able to access your store
  • Ebay Import/Export – quickly and easily import and export products to your Ebay store
  • ChannelGrabber – this allows you to integrate your EKM store with your Amazon and Ebay storefronts to help you manage them all in one place.
  • Related Products – shows your visitors other products that are similar to the one they are looking at.
  • Promo Stickers – if you are running special offers or a sale, you can add a promo sticker directly to your product page
  • Product Attributes – allows you create a list of specific information about the product such as brand, weight, product code and model number. Makes listing your products on Google Shopping much easier
  • Recently View Products – a great way to allow your potential customers to easily navigate back to product they have previously looked at rather than having to try and find it on your site
  • Wish Lists – let customers add products to a wish list, so that they can save them to come back any purchase them at a later date

Marketing and SEO

Getting potential customers on to your site is one of the most important aspects of running an ecommerce business and EKM have some great features to allow you to market your site but also help it to rank in search engines.

Off-site Marketing

  • Email Marketing – you can create, grow and manage your email marketing directly within your EKM dashboard, so no need to invest in any third party software.
  • Google Tools – use Google Shopping feed, add your Analytics tracking code and Google Ads conversion code to your EKM store.
  • Classifications – allows you to classify your products, categories or your entire store, so that you can list your products on Ebay and Google Shopping

On-site Marketing

  • Gift Cards – allow customers to buy gift cards for your store
  • Product Urgency – show countdown timers, limited stock warnings and free delivery messages on product pages to increase conversion rates
  • Loyalty Points – encourage customers to become repeat customers by giving them chance to earn loyalty points with every order.
  • Discount Management – create promotions, special offers and sales within your EKM store. Also create discount codes for use with Email Marketing amongst many others.
  • Social Share Buttons – lets your visitors share your products on their social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Back in Stock Notifications – your visitors can request that you notify them when an out of stock product is back in stock.

SEO

  • SEO Friendly URLs – automatically create SEO and visitor friendly URLs.
  • Custom Meta Data – create custom meta data such as title, description and keywords
  • WordPress Blog – create a blog for your ecommerce store using the powerful WordPress system.
  • 301 Redirects – helps your SEO by redirecting old product pages or info pages to new ones and avoids visitors being greeted by page not found.
  • Customer Reviews – show potential customers what others have said about the product. Also includes a star rating that can help SEO.

Reporting and Analytics

EKM provides a number of tools to help you monitor your ecommerce business so that you can see how well your store is doing and also see if there are any areas that you can improve. These include:

  • Order Breakdown – view your orders by day, month and device. You can also compare your current years performance to previous years.
  • Best and Worst Selling Products – see which products are performing well and which ones aren’t so that you can refine your product lines or see where you can improve your marketing.
  • Search Statistics – see what your customers have been typing into the search bar on your site
  • Web Statistics (Premium) – a great tool to allow you to analyse your site, see where your visitors are coming from, how to optimise your shop to increase conversions, identify SEO opportunities, see which devices your customers are using and see how long they spend on your website.
  • Abandoned Cart Statistics – see customer and order details for abandoned carts and how many orders EKM has re-targeted
  • Back in Stock Statistics – see how many visitors have looked at out of stock products and requested notifications of when they come back into stock

EKM Payment Gateways

Getting paid is a really important part of selling online and EKM offer a great selection of 19 payment gateways for you to use, including:

  • PayPal
  • Stripe
  • Worldpay
  • Sagepay
  • AmazonPay
  • Barclaycard EPDQ
  • First Data
  • LayBuy

Do EKM charge transaction fees?

No, they do not charge transaction fees on any package.

Third Party Integrations

EKM offer a good selection of integrations with third party software that you may use to help you run your ecommerce business. These include:

  • Royal Mail Click and Drop
  • Parcel2Go
  • Linnworks
  • Reviews.io
  • Fulfilmentcrowd

There is also a selection of EKM chosen partners who can provide a variety of services from product sourcing to photography and video production. This is a great place to start if you are looking for a specific service for your business.

EKM Evolution Mode

One of EKM’s main features is their Evolution Mode but what is it?

Evolution Mode is where a team of ecommerce experts (called the Evolution Team), look at your website and offer suggestions for improvements for things like design, usability and user experience.

If you are on the EKM Standard package or above, you can have these improvements implemented for free by the team, which is pretty impressive. If you are on the basic package, you will need to do these improvements yourself.

Now it does depend on the plan you are on as to how often you can request that the Evolution team look at your site and below is the options available:

  • EKM Basic – Once a Year and receive a list of suggestions
  • EKM Standard – Once a Year, if approved, changes will be implemented in 10 working days
  • EKM Advanced – Once a Month, if approved, changes will be implemented in 5 working days
  • EKM Pro – Unlimited requests, changes implemented in 3 working days

This is a very good feature to have as having an external party look at your site and offer their suggestions is usually a paid for service and changes will usually be charged as well, so to have this included is definitely an advantage.

EKM Theme Selection & Customisation

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.

While the theme selection in EKM is very good, the process of theme customisation could definitely do with some improvement as it feels a little disjointed.

This is because the theme customisation options are spread over two sections within the admin dashboard.

EKM Customise Theme

Within the main design section of the dashboard, you can do things such as:

  • Edit the layout
  • Change/edit logo
  • Change colours
  • Input custom code

Unfortunately, the edit layout option is quite limited as you can can only rearrange or hide the existing sections that are available, there aren’t any additional sections to help you create a real custom homepage.

But if you want to edit the images that are displayed or the copy on your site, you need to go into the shop section and this just makes it feel more difficult to customise your store in my opinion. I feel that bringing all the customisation options under the design section would make the process so much easier.

EKM Support

This is one of the areas where EKM really shines and is the thing that the majority of customers have commented on as well.

You really do get the feeling from EKM that they want you to succeed and will be right there beside you the whole way. It is the only platform I know that give you a welcome call to answer questions and give you a walk through of setting up your online store.

As your business grows and you move up through their packages, you get your own account manager who you can contact and having a point of contact at a company can be really useful.

Their general support is also fantastic, while not 24/7, they will get back to you as soon as they can and the quality of the help is really good. All the queries I have sent to them have been answered promptly and helpfully. You can call them, use the live chat function or drop them an email.

It is definitely one of the best support setups I have used.

EKM Web Hosting and Performance

In order to be a really good ecommerce platform you need to be using really good hosting so that your websites are not only fast but also reliable. EKM have the following to say about their hosting:

  • Unlimited Bandwidth
  • Unlimited Storage
  • PCI Compliant Servers
  • 99.9% Uptime
  • 24/7 Server Monitoring
  • Fast Servers

Now this all sounds very impressive but what does this mean in the real world? Well I decided to test it out by taking three of their customer example websites and ran them through Pingdom’s Speed Test tool using their London, UK server and also through Google’s Page Speed Insights, once a day for five days and you can see the results below:

Average Load Time:

Average Load Time:

1.12 sec
Google Logo

Mobile Score (Avg):

55/100
Google Logo

Desktop Score (Avg):

83/100

EKM performed very well in all of the tests, with the average load time of just over 1 second across the 15 tests that were run. Google scores are also good, especially when compared to their competition, although I would like to see the mobile score be a little bit higher.

To see how EKM performed against it’s rivals in terms of speed and performance, check out my Fastest Ecommerce Platforms post.

EKM Review Video

How Easy is EKM to Use?

Facts and figures are great but they don’t mean anything if the platform is hard to use. So for the second part of my review, I went through the process of setting up an online store and created a few test orders to see what the platform would be like to use on a day to day basis. For this, I look at 5 main areas:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Inventory Management
  3. Order Management

Getting Started

Signing up to the EKM platforms is pretty easy, although they do have one additional (arguably unnecessary) step over nearly every other ecommerce platform and that is that you need to provide your credit or debit card details before you can begin your trial.

EKM Set-Up Guide

I really do like EKM’s set up dashboard as it gives you nearly all the important steps you need to take in order to get your store up and running. The only thing that is missing is to set up your pages such as privacy policy and terms and conditions, while not on the dashboard, EKM do have templates for both of these that can easily edited to fit your business.

As EKM is aimed at people who are new at setting up a website or don’t want to spend a lot of money with a web developer, I do like how in-depth the set up tutorial is and it is one of the better ones that I have used.

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 your way around the EKM dashboard is pretty easy to do and unlike many platforms, they have opted for a top navigation menu rather than a sidebar.

There are 7 main sections within the dashboard and they are:

  • Dashboard – this is the homepage in your admin area and where you go to after your login
  • Shop – where you go to manage your inventory and your shop front
  • Orders – self explanatory, where you go to manage all of your orders
  • Analytics – this is where you can see some of the reports and analytics mentioned above
  • Design – contains many of the design elements including theme selection, change the layout, edit your logo and change the sites colours
  • Features – contains all of the features that you can install on your website
  • Settings – one of the most important sections as in here you can set up and edit delivery methods, add payment gateways, set up business info such as name, address, tax and VAT amongst many other things.

While in general, the dashboard is easy to use, there are a couple of things that take a little bit of getting used to. For example, for many of the features you install, the only way to access them is by going to the features section and then clicking on that specific feature.

This is a little frustrating as many of these features could easily integrate into other sections within the dashboard such as search statistics would work really well in the Analytics section.

Inventory Management

For me there are three area that are important when it comes to managing products and they are adding products, organising your products and managing your inventory. EKM does all of these things really well.

Add New Product

EKM Add New Product

To add a new product in EKM is really easy to do. Within the Shop section, click the Add Product button and a pop up will appear and you will be able to add the following:

  • Basic Details – Your product title, main description, price and VAT rate
  • Variants – with EKM you can add up to 4 variations to a product with up to 250 total combinations
  • Images and Photos – you can upload your product images directly into the product listing or choose from ones you already have uploaded
  • Attributes – add important information to your listing (requires the Product Attributes feature to be installed)
  • Options – add options to your products such as gift wrapping
  • Delivery Charges – If you need to set individual delivery charges for your products
  • Category Management – choose which of your product categories you want the product to go into.

If you install the Custom Meta Data feature, then it will add a section to the pop up and allows you to set your meta data on a product by product basis.

Organising Your Products

EKM have opted for the tried and tested category method when it comes to organising your products. This allows you to create a nice hierarchy structure within your site, especially as you can have sub-categories and sub sub-categories.

This not only makes navigating your site easier for your visitors but it can have a positive impact on your sites SEO.

Managing Your Inventory

In its standard form, this isn’t something that EKM does particularly well as you need to navigate your site and then click on the product to edit it, which isn’t a great system.

EKM Advanced Inventory Manager

Fortunately, they do have a feature called the Advanced Inventory Manager and this is the one feature out of all of them that you should install as it just makes life so much easier. It allows you to quickly find your products and categories all on one place and edit them quickly and easily.

Managing Orders

Unlike some platforms, EKM do give you the chance to test out the order management system and you can create a test order and take it through every step from a pending order to complete and also test how to cancel and refund orders.

Fortunately there are no issues with the order management process, you can easily manage all your orders and you can update statuses and print packing slips either individually or in bulk, which can save you a lot of time, especially when you have lots of orders.

One thing that I do like about the EKM order management system is that you get four different styles of packing slip and they are similar in layout to those used by the likes of Ebay and Amazon, which makes life easier to manage orders from different places. EKM also offer packing slips with address peel offs that you can buy directly from them.

Conclusion

EKM Review

Paul @ EcommerceGold

ekm ecommerce logo
Pricing
Features
Theme Selection & Customisation
Support
Hosting & Performance
Ease of Use

Summary

Is EKM the UK’s best Shopify Alternative?

EKM is definitely up there and is one of the UK’s best fully hosted ecommerce platforms. It offers a fantastic selection of features for its users to allow you to build a very good ecommerce store. You also get the support of the EKM team who want to help you build a successful business, from your own account manager to the Evolution team.

The Good:

• Excellent support to help you run your website and grow your business
• EKM Evolution Mode
• In-depth set up tutorial
• Good selection of high quality, free responsive themes
• SSL Certificate included
• Order management process is really good
• Fast, consistent page load speeds

The Not so Good:

• Customising your theme could be a bit easier
• Having to give your credit card details before starting your trial
• Dashboard isn’t the easiest to use

So that is my full EKM Review, I was really impressed with the platform and how much EKM want to help you build a successful online business. I definitely would recommend trying them out and see if they are good fit for you and your business.

4.3

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