EKM Review (2022) – 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 of 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.

But is EKM a good ecommerce platform for UK Businesses? 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 ecommerce logo

Basic

£34.99/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 ecommerce logo

Standard

£69.99/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 ecommerce logo

Advanced

£209.99/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

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.

For larger ecommerce businesses with turnovers in excess of £1 million a year, EKM have their pro package, which costs £599.99/m but you get far more from EKM, including:

  • 24/7 Emergency Support
  • Dedicated Account Manager
  • EKM Will Help Run Your Store
  • Unlimited Evolution Mode Requests
  • Enterprise Level Server
  • API Access
  • 99.9% Uptime SLA Guarantee

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 and you don’t need a credit card to get started with the free trial, if you want to try them for yourself, just click on the banner 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

Towards the end of 2021, EKM updated their theme selection as they introduced a new theme customizer, which is a marked improvement over the old, rather limiting set up.

There is currently only 1 theme that uses the new customizer but hopefully more will be added in 2022 but there is still a large selection of themes that use the old set up.

EKM New Themes

If none of the standard themes work for you, then you can always have the guys at EKM create a bespoke theme for you for £1999.99 + vat.

With the new theme customizer, EKM have bought all of the theme customisation options into the design section of the dashboard (which is much better than when it was spread over the shop and design sections).

This gives you much more control over the look and feel of your site and with your homepage, you can easily add, remove and re-organise the sections to help create a custom looking page.

EKM New Theme Customiser

There are also options under the theme settings tab, that allows you to change the font type and theme colours.

Overall, the new theme customizer is a very welcome addition and does fix what was one of the main drawbacks of the EKM platform, the only addition I would like to see added, would be the ability to create a custom navigation menu for your store.

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 EKM is now very simple as they have removed the need to add payment details before you can sign up to the free trial.

So now, all you need is an email address, create a password, select which plan you would like to try, input some basic business details such as name and address and you are good to go!

Once you have been through the sign up process, you will be taken through to the dashboard homepage and will be greeted by a short set up guide, which includes steps such as Adding a New Product, Adding Payment and Delivery Methods and setting up your Domain Name.

EKM Set-Up Guide

Outside of the set up guide, the EKM dashboard is a nice place to be and it is somewhat unique when compared to some other ecommerce platforms as they have opted for a top navigation menu, rather than the traditional sidebar and the headings are as follows:

  • Dashboard – this is the homepage in your admin area and where you go to after your login
  • Products* – where you go to manage your inventory and see a live version of your storefront
  • 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.

*This tab is only named Products if the new theme is installed, if one of the old themes is being used, this tab will be called Shop

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 Products 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

Paul @ EcommerceGold

ekm ecommerce logo
Pricing
Features
Theme Selection & Customisation
Support
Hosting & Performance
Ease of Use
4.3

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
  • 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:

  • Currently a lack of themes to use with the new customizer
  • Products section of dashboard could be improved
  • Some features could integrate better with the rest of the dashboard

So that is my full EKM Review, it is definitely a platform worth checking out if you are looking for a UK based Shopify alternative and if you click any of the EKM links in this post, you will get a 28 day free trial instead of the standard 14 days.

EKM Alternatives

Hi, I'm Paul, the Owner and Founder of EcommerceGold.
I ran my own Ecommerce Business for over 7 years and now help others start their own online retail empires!

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