Nowadays, the UK ecommerce platforms marketplace is so saturated it can be difficult to find where to get started. Reasons for choosing a solution can vary from being too pricey to the platform being far too complicated. In this blog we’re going to compare the 5 best ecommerce platform options for you to get your online business started in the UK.
Now, you might be thinking, “Well if the market is so saturated, why should I start? I’ll have no chance at selling as much as someone who’s been selling online for years!”
The UK Office For National Statistics (ONS) reports that online retail sales in August 2023 account for 26.9% of all retail sales having continued to grow and exceed pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels (19.7% in February 2020).
Before diving into the list of the best ecommerce platforms UK entrepreneurs are choosing to sell online with, let’s consider a few key questions:
What am I going to sell?
You need to decide on a product before you choose a platform. This is one of the most important parts of ecommerce, as your product will be the basis for how far your business can go, who you’re selling to and how you’re going to sell that genre of item online.
For example, if you decide on selling a service such as freelance blog posting, a platform such as Etsy would not be the best option as that focuses more on product sales. If you need some advice on what to sell online take a look at our blog “The definitive guide to help you decide what products to sell online”
How much do I have to spend on a platform?
You may have your business plan fully prepared and ready to go, but you have to make sure that your budget allows you to afford an ecommerce platform that you can utilise. It may be easy to say, “well that’s the cheapest so I’ll just choose that one.” but that may do more harm than good as the package you buy for £10 per month could have none of the features you need for your business, you may then need to upgrade to the deal which does meet your requirements – which ends up being £60 per month. Do your research and decide which is the best ecommerce platform for you and your plans.
How much do I know about web design?
If you’re new to website design and ecommerce, you may be worrying about how you’re going to cope with the setting up of your own online shop. An easy-to-use platform will be your best bet as it will allow you to design it exactly as you want it rather than the platform being overly complicated. Another thing that can help you with this is getting your own account manager with your store, someone who will help you set your site up and will work with you to help you to understand the platform and benefit from it.
UK Ecommerce Platform Chart
|Brand||Price Per Month||Free Trial?||Trustpilot Rating|
|EKM||£37.49||14 Days no bank details||4.8|
|BigCommerce||$39 (charged in Dollars)||15 Days||1.8|
|Etsy||Free Apart from Transaction Fee||N/A||1.8|
|Wix||£14||“Start for free with no limited trial”||1.7|
1 – EKM
EKM as a business is based on the idea that building an ecommerce website can be simple and starting your own business should not be difficult. The founder, Antony Chesworth, even uses the so-called “Antony’s mum test” which means if someone with no ecommerce background, like his mum, can set up her own business on EKM anyone can. On top of this, EKM have unrivalled support with access to your own account manager so that you can get help with your site when you need it.
Support – EKM have a UK-based support team and dedicated account managers to give you the support you need in order to grow your business.
Dropshipping – EKM has a new dropshipping feature which allows you to choose your dropshipping supplier and begin your dropshipping business.
Evo Mode – A feature exclusive to the platform, meaning your online shop is constantly kept up to date and always in optimum selling condition.
Simple Easy Platform – Running your online shop with EKM is simple and effective, so you can make your online store with ease and move on to getting it working for you.
SEO – As an ecommerce platform, EKM has a lot of flexibility in what you can do to optimise your search rankings on any major search engine.
Referral/Affiliate Program – You can make money by referring customers to EKM and getting a 25% revenue share for the life of the referral customer in commission.
EKM’s headquarters are in the UK which means if you are setting up in the UK you will be fine but if you are international, the time zone differences may interfere with your support.
£37.49 a month for a very easy-to-use platform, drag and drop theme builder and SEO for your site and access to your own account manager is really quite the deal and although it may be more expensive than some other contenders, the premium service you will receive will help your business make those extra pounds pocket change.
Shopify is the largest ecommerce brand in the world and there is a reason for that, their packages have been revised constantly and they have a user experience team to help you and your business to thrive. However, the bigger the company is, the harder it is for them to cater to all of their customers.
Simple Platform – With the size and growth of Shopify, they have had to simplify their platform so that new users find it easy to set up.
Integrations – Shopify have a lot of useful plugins you can utilise to help your shop start selling in different ways and areas such as social media.
Analytics – Shopify’s analytics are very in depth and help you to make the right decisions based on your site’s performance in the past.
Experience – Due to the fact it is the most used ecommerce platform, there are a lot of FAQs, experiences, dos and don’ts that you can take inspiration from with your shop
Support – Since Shopify is a huge company with a lot of clients, there can be a lack of personal attentiveness where you cannot get any support or instruction that you need to help your business.
America First Strategy – Evidence on Shopify’s blog and feature release updates indicate that new features and updates often launch in their biggest market, the USA first. Often taking much longer to launch in the UK, if at all.
£25 a month is a decent price with the platform you get; easy to set up, good plugins and good analytics. If you are prepared to look up other examples of online shops for help instead of calling support, Shopify could be for you.
Wix covers a large amount of website types, one of which is ecommerce. Although not specifically focusing on ecommerce they do offer a good service for the price you pay, their drag and drop feature also makes it simple to customise your site how you would like.
Large Range of Templates – Wix has 500+ templates for you to choose from when you start your website, which can help you to make a decision about your design by giving you options to choose from.
Drag and Drop – easy customisation of the template you choose from via the drag and drop feature, it helps inexperienced website builders to create their personalised pages with no problems.
Cheaper Service – £13 a month is a small amount to pay to own your own online shop.
Free Image editor – edit your images in the same software as your online shop to avoid losing files and having to do exports.
Support – As a large company you get less support due to a lot of users and less support workers, which has resulted in bad reviews elaborating on their lack of support.
Need to pay more for basic features – The Basic package only gets you so far in every ecommerce platform but Wix’s basic package is slim, e.g- you have to pay extra to create your logo on their software
£13 a month may seem like a good deal but this is a very basic package that you will have to keep adding to the more your website grows, which can be trivial if you decide to switch platforms.
BigCommerce is an easy to use platform with a very user friendly interface and allows you to run your business on a simple management interface. With BigCommerce, you are able to extend your business into different areas and manage it all from their multi-storefront. Their main focus is for enterprise businesses however they also have an ‘essentials’ section dedicated to other businesses who require more of the basics.
- Easy to use: Similar to Shopify, BigCommerce also has a very user-friendly interface meaning it’s easy to navigate and get to what you want quickly.
- WordPress Integration: If you’re accustomed to working within the WordPress environment, BigCommerce offers an integration to enable you to add the backend of the platform onto your WordPress site.
- Marketplace Integration: Bigcommerce also allows you to integrate with marketplaces like Amazon and eBay.
- Limited Mobile Support: BigCommerce doesn’t offer a lot of support for store management through mobile, meaning it can be difficult to run your shop on the go.
- Focus on Enterprise: As mentioned above, BigCommerce has more of a focus on trying to grow existing enterprise brands on their ‘enterprise package’.
Pricing – Starting at $39 a month charged in US Dollars (so watch out for exchange fees by your payment method) BigCommerce provides a similar service to Shopify with less customer examples to learn from, it’s a good platform with a lot of avenues to go down for an extra cost.
Etsy as a brand has a huge customer base where people sell all sorts of things in their own shop which is hosted on Etsy. You do not get your own domain on this platform but you do get your own shop where people can buy from online. This is different from the rest but is still an ecommerce platform and often referred to as a Marketplace, let’s see what this difference entails.
Easy to get started – In order to get going on Etsy, you really do not need much preparation, just add your logo and list your items with a few hashtags and that’s about it.
No monthly charge – You don’t pay a monthly fee for Etsy usage, which really makes it different from the rest.
Gets Customers Quickly – Etsy already has lots of people browsing looking at different items, all you need to do is find the demand and supply it and you get a sale.
Fees, lots of them – You may not pay a monthly fee but Etsy’s money has to come from somewhere, they take mandatory fees from listings (0.20p), multi quantity listings (0.20p), Multiple pack listings (0.20p), Transaction fees (6.5%) and payment processing fees (3% + 0.25p). And the fees are growing.
Withholding Funds – Etsy have a reputation for withholding money and damaging businesses by putting funds earned from sales int a “reserve system” as reported by the BBC.
Customisation – You don’t get your own website using Etsy, so you can really only customise your listings and your user profile.
Pricing – With the platform being free, you would think that would be a bargain, but with fees rising and being mandatory, some sellers find themselves making a lot of profit but in turn paying a lot in fees. Whereas with a monthly plan, it will always be that price and should not vary.
What is the best ecommerce platform in the UK?
So how do you make your choice now? I’d suggest looking at your business plan and if you don’t have one yet, get started on it. You need to create a foundation for your business and choose a platform that suits your business plans for the future and are within your budget.
For example, if you are looking to start off without an upfront cost and you already own stock, Etsy would be for you. If you are looking to get your website established quickly, Shopify may be a good fit. If you are looking for a service that supports your business throughout its lifecycle and are considering options such as dropshipping EKM is for you. If you can’t make up your mind, you can start a free trial with any of the five platforms we have discussed in this blog, EKM does not ask for your bank details in a no strings attached, 14 day free trial to really get to know our platform.