EKM and Shopify are two very popular options for UK business to start selling online, but which one is better out of the two?
EKM vs Shopify: What is the Difference?
EKM is a fully hosted ecommerce platform that is primarily targeted at the UK market and operates on a tiered pricing system. Shopify is a global ecommerce platform and operates on a fixed pricing structure with transaction fees, which vary depending on the package.
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Basic: £32.49/m (£50k*)
Standard: £64.99/m (£150k*)
Advanced: £194.99/m (£1m*)
Pro: £549.99/m (£1m+)
*Annual turnover limit
Basic: $29/m (2%^)
Standard: $79/m (1%^)
Advanced: $299/m (0.5%^)
As you can see, both platforms offer a selection of 4 packages for businesses of all sizes, from start ups to enterprise level ecommerce businesses.
The main difference between the platforms pricing structures are that:
EKM uses turnover based pricing, which means once you hit the annual turnover limit on your package, you are automatically moved on to the next package but you do also get access to better support and more input from EKM’s Evolution Team. One additional thing to be noted is that the EKM Basic package does have a limit of 500 products.
Shopify charges a transaction fee on all payments taken through third-party platforms such as PayPal or Amazon Pay, this starts at 2% on the basic package but does not apply if you are using Shopify Payments as your gateway. This gives you more flexibility over which plan you choose to be on but can work out expensive, especially if a lot of your payments are taken through third-party platforms.
Overall, EKM does work out the cheaper of the two platforms, especially when your business starts to grow.
Both EKM and Shopify offer a free trial so that you can test the platform out before committing to a paid plan. With EKM, you get a 28 day free trial using the button above and Shopify offer a 14 day free trial.
You will need to give your credit card details at choose which plan you would like with EKM and if you wish to cancel the trial period, you will need to let the EKM team know before your trial ends.
One of the main selling points of any ecommerce platform is the features that they offer for their users, so what do these two platforms offer?
- 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
- Order Breakdown
- Best and Worst Selling Products
- Search Statistics
- Web Statistics (Premium)
- Barclaycard EPDQ
With the EKM platform, you do get to pick and choose many of the features that you have on your website as they work in a very similar way to apps. This is because they are single click installation/removal and in total, there are over 40 of these to choose from and most of them are free to use.
One of the best features of the EKM platform is their Evolution Mode. With this, you get a review of your site by EKM’s specialist Evolution team, who will give you advice on how you can improve your site from design to functionality. The best thing about evolution mode is that if you agree to the changes, the team will implement the for free on your behalf if you are on the Standard, Advanced or Pro packages.
- Dropshipping Integration
- Flexible Shipping Rates
- Product Reviews
- Digital Products
- Gift Vouchers
- Shopify Management App
Marketing & SEO
- Google Adwords Credit
- Sell on Facebook
- Discount Codes
- Abandoned Cart Recovery
- Auto Generated Sitemap
- Social Share
- Custom Meta Data
- SEO Friendly URL’s
- Product Reports
- Traffic Sources
- Google Analytics
- Day, Week and Monthly Reports
- Shopify Payments
- PayPal Express Checkout
- Amazon Pay
While the standard features are very good, it is the amount of third-party apps that are available within the Shopify App store that is really impressive. With over 3000 to choose from, covering everything from ecommerce features, marketing and SEO to order and inventory management.
Due to the vast amount of Apps on offer, it really isn’t possible for me to even begin listing them here.
Unfortunately though, not all of these apps are free to use. Many do offer free trials or plans but if you want access to all of the features that the app has to offer, then you will need to opt for the paid plan.
The paid plans do range in price from a couple of dollars a month to around the $100 a month range. Always be vigilant when installing apps as you could soon find yourself with a hefty monthly bill!
Theme Selection & Customisation
EKM has a large selection of over 60 free, mobile responsive themes that have been designed for a variety of different niches but if none of the standard themes work for your site, you can have a custom theme built by the EKM team for £1999.99 + vat.
Theme customisation with EKM feels a little bit disjointed because the options are split over two separate sections within the dashboard.
In the design section, you can change the theme, re-arrange the layout of your homepage, edit the logo, change colours and input custom code. There are also options for some of the other pages of your site such as your product and category pages but they are quite limited.
But to change images or edit the copy on your site, you need to go into the shop section and go into the editor in there and this just makes it frustrating to customise the look and feel of your site.
I feel it would make the process much simpler to combine all of these options in the design section as it would be a very good customizer.
The free offering from Shopify is quite a bit smaller with only 9 to choose from but they do have a large selection of paid themes that range from $140 to $180.
Outside of the Shopify ecosystem, you can have a custom theme made by a developer of your choice or go to a third party marketplace such as Themeforest, that has over 1200 paid themes to choose from.
But customisation is one of the reasons why Shopify became so successful as not only have very well designed themes but also a very good the customisation tool, which allows you to make all of your changes in one place, it is also nice and easy to use.
When it comes to homepage design, not only can you re-arrange the existing sections but Shopify offers a good selection of additional sections to help you make a completely custom page. Unfortunately this page builder doesn’t currently extend to other pages on your site.
There are also plenty of other options in the customizer, including being able to change fonts, colours and also edit the code of the theme, which can be very useful if you know CSS and also the Liquid language that Shopify uses.
One of the reasons why people choose a hosted ecommerce platform such as EKM or Shopify is that they get help and support to run their website. But how good is either platforms offering?
One of the areas the EKM prides itself on is its support and they offer a lot, not only do you get access to their highly rated UK based support in the form of live chat, email and also over the phone but they also work with you to help you start and grow your store.
Support isn’t available 24/7 (although the Advanced and Pro packages do include 24/7 emergency support) but standard support times are great for UK business as it is available 8am – 6pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 5.30pm on Saturdays.
When you sign up to EKM, you get a 30 minute welcome call to help you get started and ask any questions but on all but the basic packages, you also get your own dedicated account manager:
- EKM Standard: Dedicated account manager for 6 months
- EKM Advanced: Dedicated account manager full time
- EKM Pro: Account manager and team to help run your site
Shopify does offer 24/7 support across a selection of mediums such as live chat, email and over the phone but unlike EKM, it is more challenging actually contacting them as you need to know how to navigate the help section in order to find these options.
Dedicated support is only available when you are a Shopify Plus customer, all of the standard packages offer the same level of support.
One useful area within Shopify is their customer support forum, which can be a great source of knowledge and a good place to as non-urgent questions.
Hosting & Performance
On paper, there is little to choose between the two platforms when it comes to their hosting as both offer:
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- Unlimited Storage
- PCI Compliant Servers
- 99.9% Uptime
- Most Importantly Fast Servers
Now this all sounds fantastic but I don’t take these platforms at their word, instead I like to put them to the test. To do this I took three of their customer example sites and ran them through Pingdom’s speed tool using their London, UK server and Google Page Speed Insights, once a day for five days to get a nice spread of data, so how did they do?
Pingdom: 1.12 Seconds
Google Mobile: 55/100
Google Desktop: 83/100
Pingdom: 1.14 Seconds
Google Mobile: 41/100
Google Desktop: 84/100
As you can see, the two platforms are extremely close in terms of performance with EKM just getting the edge on mobile devices.
Both platforms performed really well and it put them towards the top of my performance testing and if you want to see how the two compared against the competition, check out my fastest ecommerce platforms post.
EKM vs Shopify Video
Ease of Use
Now I do know that ease of use is subjective to the person using the site so the following is just my opinion and should only be used as a guide.
To get started with EKM, they do require you to enter your credit card details before you can sign up to the free trial.
Once you have signed up, you will be greeted by a comprehensive set up guide that takes you through pretty much everything you need to know in order to get started and as mentioned above, you also get a 30 minute welcome call from one of the the team to help you get started and also answer any questions you may have about the platform.
The EKM admin dashboard is a little different to most ecommerce platforms as they have opted for a top bar navigation menu, with 7 sections:
- Dashboard (home page)
The majority of these headings do exactly what they are labelled but the one exception is the Shop section and it isn’t immediately evident as to what the main purpose of this section is.
This is because in here you can create and edit products and categories but also change design elements on your site. I also don’t find this section particularly easy to use and feel it would be better served if this section was just focused on managing your inventory and as mentioned in the theme section above, move all of the design elements into the design section.
By doing this, I feel that the EKM dashboard would be a lot more user friendly and it would also aid in optimising workflow within the dashboard.
The initial sign up process is a bit easier as you only need to give your email address, your shop name and create a password to get started.
Once you have completed to sign up process, you will be greeted by a set up guide but it doesn’t contain that many steps and misses out on quite a few of the important things you need to do in order to get up and running.
Fortunately, they do have a very good video series in the form of the Shopify Academy that will take you through setting up your online store. There are also some useful hints and tips in these videos.
The main Shopify dashboard is very well laid out and easy to navigate around as the main sidebar navigation menu is clearly labelled and all of the headings and sections are clearly defined as to what they do. This make it very easy to learn where everything is and the uncluttered layout is also aesthetically pleasing.
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
Most of EKM’s inventory management is done in the shop section and the add new product page appears as a pop up, like in the image below:
The pop up to add a new product is easy to use a follows a logical flow through the different sections and once they are all completed, clicking save will add the new product to your store.
Adding a new category is very similar to adding a new product, only with less sections that you need to fill out. With EKM, you can add parent and sub-categories, which makes creating a hierarchy really easy to do.
As standard, managing your inventory is not the easiest thing to do in EKM as you need to navigate through the live editor to find the product and then click edit to bring up the same pop up that is used to add a new product. This isn’t the most efficient workflow but EKM have to tried to address this with their Advanced Inventory Manager feature.
This is installed in the features section and makes the complete inventory management process much simpler as you can see all of the products and they can quickly and easily be edited, you can also add new products and categories using this feature as well.
The Advanced Inventory Manager is a great feature and in my opinion, it should be used as standard in the shop section of the dashboard as it would make the EKM a lot easier to use.
Shopify have gone for a single page layout for their add product page and it has a very nice flow from section to section and this makes it very simple to add a new product to your store.
Organising your products is little tricky as the Shopify collections system is completely straightforward due to their being a few different options on how to do this.
Using the manual collections is very similar to a traditional category systems but the automatic one is based of rules that you set up using product tags and to get the working effectively, it is worth reading through the documentation.
Setting up sub-collections is also not particularly straightforward as you need to do this when you are editing your navigation menu, not in the collection creation or edit page.
You can manage your inventory levels on the inventory page but if you want to make changes to the pricing, SKU code or any other field from the product, then you can select the products you want to edit from the product overview screen and then click the edit product button, which allows you to make updates in bulk.
EKM – You can manage orders in bulk or on a individual basis with EKM. From the order overview page you can print orders directly and there are four options for the layout of the invoices/packing slips, you can also update the order statuses. If you use any third-party software for your order, then you can export all of your order information in CSV format.
If you need to manage or update an individual order, you can do this from the overview page or by going into the order.
Shopify – The order management system in Shopify isn’t the best as standard as you can only print off packing slips, if you want to print invoices or any other paperwork, you will need to install an order printer app to make it more useable.
While being able to print off order information isn’t great in Shopify, they do have some useful bulk management features including being able to change order statuses, capture payments and export order information.
• Excellent Support
• Evolution Mode
• Theme Selection
• Order Management System
• Very Good Performance
• Theme Customisation could be better
• Credit Card info required before trial
• Not the best workflow
• Theme Customisation
• 24/7 Support
• Easy to use Admin Area
• The App Store
• Very Good Performance
• Transaction Fees
• Automatic Collection system is a bit complicated
• No option to bulk print invoices
EKM vs Shopify: Which One is Better?
As you can see from the summary above, picking between these two platforms is very difficult as they are both great options for starting an online shop.
However, I do think that for UK businesses, EKM does just have a slight edge as they are focused on the UK domestic market and their Evolution Mode can be very helpful, especially for people who aren’t experienced with running an ecommerce website.
But I would highly recommend trying both platforms out for yourself and taking advantage of the free trial that both platforms offer to test them out for yourself, so that you can see which one you prefer using.
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