Our Take On The Best Ecommerce Platforms in the UK (Feb 2023)
If you aspire to become an independent UK store owner, there’s no time like the present! With so many eCommerce platforms to choose from, it’s never been easier to launch your own online business. These solutions simplify the whole process: From building your eCommerce website to setting up a convenient shopping cart to marketing products – many of these platforms provide it all!
Many eCommerce website builders also enable you to sell physical and digital products, subscriptions, and services online, no matter your business type.
However, many such eCommerce platforms cater specifically to the needs of US merchants. As such, not all of them lend themselves to worldwide online sellers. For instance, if you’re based in the UK and wish to sell to a UK audience, be prepared to vet prospective platforms a little closer to ensure they support your:
- Tax laws
- Integrates with local shipping providers
That said, to help with your research, we’ve listed the best eCommerce platforms in the UK. Hopefully, this will serve as inspiration to further your research and go a long way to setting you on the right path to finding the right solution for your venture.
There’s lots to cover, so let’s dive straight in…
The Best Ecommerce Platforms for UK Stores
Now we’ve covered what to be aware of when looking for the best UK ecommerce platform; we can turn our attention to the best contenders on the English market.
Although these are some of the best-rated eCommerce solutions in the UK, whether they’re suitable for you depends entirely on the needs of your business.
That said, below is a list of the platforms we’re going to explore:
Let’s get into it…
Whenever we think of eCommerce on a global scale, Shopify immediately springs to mind. In short, Shopify offers one of the most comprehensive eCommerce tool kits for selling, managing, and marketing your online store – especially when compared to other alternatives on this list, like Wix and Squarespace.
Most notably, Shopify offers:
- A robust POS (point of sale) app
- Multi-channel selling (including Amazon and eBay)
- Discount code generation
- Advanced inventory and order management tools
- Its own payment gateway (Shopify Payments) – this doesn’t charge extra payment processing fees
…to name a few!
The platform also comes with an industry-leading app and theme market full of useful plugins and customizable templates. But, in addition to this, Shopify also boasts a variety of pricing packages that unlock the scalability serious business owners need to succeed.
Lastly, Shopify store owners also benefit from award-winning 24/7 support.
Although Shopify’s pricing is in USD, rest assured: The eCommerce platform allows you to sell and receive money in multiple currencies, GBP included. Pricing starts from $29 per month for the Basic Shopify plan.
- There’s a free 14-day trial available
- Shopify integrates with lots of payment options
- There’s an extensive range of store themes available
- You can sell unlimited products on all pricing plans
- There’s a massive choice of plugins
- Easy scalability makes Shopify fantastic for all sorts of businesses
- With premium themes and plugins, costs can add up quickly
- You’re charged extra transaction fees if you don’t use Shopify’s integrated payment processor
👉 Read our Shopify review and check out our Shopify pricing guide.
Scale is already implied in BigCommerce’s name. So if you want your UK business to grow into an empire and sell across multiple platforms and channels, this might be the eCommerce tool for you. But, although BigCommerce is ideal for companies in the process of growing, its advanced features present a steeper learning curve for new users.
BigCommerce offers a truly vast selection of features (one of the most comprehensive on the market), so most of the tools you’ll need are already built-in. As a result, you don’t have to rely on plugins as much as you might with platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce.
In addition, BigCommerce enables you to sell on channels like Amazon, Instagram, eBay, Square, Facebook, and Pinterest – which is excellent for those wanting to take omnichannel selling seriously.
Again, don’t let the price in USD deceive you; BigCommerce is perfectly suitable for UK businesses. BigCommerce connects with all the leading UK payment providers and offers a phone number for UK-based telephone support between Monday and Friday, 9 am to 6 pm. The cheapest plan starts at $29.95 per month. But, when you consider how many features you can access with this plan, it’s a great-value offer!
- There’s an in-built visual merchandising tool
- No transaction fees are charged on any plan
- Unlimited storage, bandwidth, and products on any plan
- There’s a wide choice of free apps you can use to expand upon BigCommerce’s core functionality
- It’s excellent for multi-channel selling
- You can collect customer product ratings and reviews
- BigCommerce isn’t as easy to use as some other tools
- There’s only a small selection of free themes available (12)
👉 Read our BigCommerce review and check out our BigCommerce pricing guide.
Wix entered the market as an intuitive website-builder and is still well-renowned for being one of the most user-friendly options out there. With its intuitive drag-and-drop interface and exceptional performance, this platform is excellent for beginners and non-complex professionals alike.
Wix gives you a lot of creative control over your site and comes with many essential features, including hundreds of customizable templates, a dedicated app store, and mobile-optimized performance. Amongst your in-depth store management tools, you can set up beautiful product galleries, offer a range of payment solutions with secure checkout, and calculate global tax and shipping, as well.
But, where Wix falls a little short compared to some of its competitors is its overall eCommerce functionality. Wix isn’t entirely focused on eCommerce. Instead, it offers a very solid website-builder with an easily managed store thrown in. Unfortunately, this means it can’t quite compete with the likes of Shopify, BigCommerce, or WooCommerce when it comes to functionality and scalability.
Nonetheless, it’s an excellent option for beginners that don’t intend to build a massively complex online shop.
You can start building your Wix website for free if you don’t mind displaying Wix ads on your site. However, to begin selling products, you’ll need to opt for Wix’s Business Basic plan (at the very least) for £13 per month.
- There are over 500 good-looking templates to customize
- Wix seamlessly integrates with Google Analytics
- You can offer customers multiple secure payment options
- There’s a vast range of apps and plugins
- You can start building your site for free
- Wix is easy to use and highly beginner-friendly
- There’s a mobile app that enables you to manage your website while you’re on the run
- Wix’s eCommerce features are a little limited
- You can’t export your data from Wix
- Once you pick a Wix template, you can’t change it without losing all your website content.
👉 Read our Wix Ecommerce review and check out our Wix Ecommerce pricing guide.
Squarespace is famously one of the best website and eCommerce platforms for designers and creatives looking to showcase their visuals in the best possible light. Squarespace boasts powerful image editing capabilities, stunning templates and enables you to publish full-width visuals to achieve that ‘wow’ factor.
However, compared to competitors like Wix, it’s slightly less intuitive. Instead of an entirely drag-and-drop interface, you can edit sections and layouts with a little less freedom using Squarespace’s sidebar editing options. However, you can fully edit your site’s CSS, and you’re not stuck to specific layouts when you choose a theme – you have a fair amount of freedom over that.
Where eCommerce is concerned, Squarespace is a turn-key solution; as such, everything you need is already included. You can sell digital and physical products, memberships, subscriptions, take bookings, and schedule appointments. Squarespace also comes with abandoned cart recovery and email marketing built-in and offers no shortage of store management features.
But, the biggest downside? Squarespace doesn’t come with lots of apps and integrations. Instead, it secures its speed and performance by avoiding third-party influences altogether. So if you want to scale your business, ensure Squarespace has everything you need from the get-go; otherwise, you may find yourself a bit stuck later down the line.
Squarespace comes with a fourteen-day free trial but no free plan. You can create a website starting at £10 per month, but you’ll need the Business plan to start taking payments and selling products. This costs £15 per month and a 3% transaction fee. However, you unlock more advanced eCommerce features with the Basic Commerce plan and eradicate this transaction fee for £20 per month.
- Squarespace’s themes are stunning and responsive – each is designed to perfection by a professional.
- There are excellent social media integrations
- Annual plans come with a free domain name
- You benefit from 24/7 customer support
- A free SSL certificate is included with each plan
- You’re stung with high transaction fees on the cheapest business plan
- There are limited payment options to choose from (only stripe, PayPal, and Apple pay)
- There isn’t a dedicated app market
👉 Read our Squarescpace Commerce review and check out our Squarespace pricing guide.
Since we’re discussing the best UK eCommerce platforms, we would be remiss, not to mention EKM: Partner to UK businesses.
EKM comes with over 70 customizable themes that lay the perfect foundation for your online store. In addition, every template is fully customizable with HTML and CSS, so there’s no limit to what you can achieve if you have some coding know-how.
Users also get access to a UK-based account manager to help them get set up. Not to mention, you can sell through Google Shopping, create a loyalty points system, and launch a blog. Other eCommerce features include product urgency messages like “get it by” timers and stock warnings. In addition, you can enable product search on your eCommerce store, automatically manage stock, and even offer trade discounts for your B2B business.
EKM is also well-suited to multi-channel selling. It allows you to connect to eBay, Amazon, and Etsy marketplaces.
All in all, EKM is a turn-key solution that relies on built-in features rather than add-ons from a plugin directory.
You can try EKM for free for 14 days. After that, four premium plans unlock more features, employee accounts, and annual sales limits. The Basic plan starts at £34.99 + Vat per month.
- You get three months access to a dedicated UK account manager
- There are features suited to B2B businesses, including trade discounts
- Multi-channel selling is possible
- There’s a fantastic range of selling, management, and marketing features
- You have access to UK-based support
- This platform was designed with UK businesses in mind
- You can list unlimited products with higher pricing plans
- You can integrate with WordPress
- You can sell gift cards
- The pricing plans limit how much you can earn each year before you have to upgrade
- The cheapest plan limits you to 500 products
- EKM is more expensive than Shopify and BigCommerce
- There aren’t many integrations or plugins on offer
- All plans charge VAT on top of their existing prices
👉 Read our full EKM review.
Ecwid is a fantastic ecommerce platform if you have an existing site and wish to expand it with an online store. You can set up an account for free and keep it forever without paying anything. Ecwid easily integrates with existing websites, social handles, and business pages, and all these storefronts can be managed from one centralized control panel.
If you use Wix, Drupal, Joomla, or WordPress, you can add Ecwid to your existing site using a simple plugin.
Ecwid’s most notable features include responsive store designs, automatic language detection, and the freedom to add store functionality to multiple platforms at once. In addition, there are neither setup nor transaction fees, and you can choose from a selection of different payment gateways to accept secure payments.
Ecwid comes with a free forever plan that’s excellent for small UK businesses. Or there’s the unlimited plan that costs £99 per month and unlocks everything you need to sell online without any limitations:
- Ecwid is excellent for those who already have a website and want to start selling online.
- Ecwide makes it easy to sell on various social sites
- You benefit from automatic language detection
- Secure payment options are available
- There’s a free plan and straightforward pricing if you wish to upgrade
- There’s no stand-alone Ecwid solution – you have to build your online store on top of another website.
- Neither phone nor live chat support is available on the free plan
- The statistics in the control panel aren’t very comprehensive
👉 Read our Ecwid review.
WooCommerce is the ecommerce plugin for WordPress, which already powers over a third of all websites online. So it’s no wonder this platform has grabbed the attention of thousands of companies and store owners.
WooCommerce is built on top of WordPress’s flexible CMS and enjoys similar benefits. Like any other WordPress plugin, it works with your WordPress website and can therefore be customized completely. You also get access to the same theme and plugin directory, which means you can benefit from thousands upon thousands of additional apps for your store.
But, even without these extra plugins, WooCommerce is a power-house of features when combined with WordPress’ capabilities.
- It’s easy to get started with dropshipping
- You can launch an omnichannel sales strategy
- You can manage unlimited products and orders
- You’ll benefit from a wide range of marketing and social media integrations.
Like WordPress, WooCommerce is open-source, which means you fully own all of your content and products. And to top it off, your store also benefits from WordPress’s powerful blogging features.
WooCommerce is open-source and, therefore, free to install. However, you’ll need to source and pay for your own web hosting with your WordPress site, and other costs may include premium themes, plugins, or developers if you need extra help customizing your site.
- You can manage unlimited products and orders
- You can add any extra features from thousands of plugins- including SEO tools (search engine optimization), and marketing and dropshipping apps, etc.
- WooCommerce is pretty affordable – how much you pay comes down to your chosen hosting and any premium plugins and themes you buy.
- There’s a massive selection of themes.
- You have an immense amount of design freedom.
- WooCommerce is built on top of WordPress’s powerful CMS.
- To unlock WooCommerce’s full potential, you might need some technical knowledge.
- If you don’t have any coding know-how, you may need to pay for third-party plugins and themes to achieve your desired functionality.
👉 Read our full WooCommerce review.
Choosing the Best eCommerce Platforms in The UK
Just like you would visit and assess different rental spaces for a physical shop, you need to do some investigative work to decipher the best eCommerce platform for your online store. All of them have distinct advantages and downsides. So, just like deciding on a unit for your physical store, some platforms make it easy to start selling straight away. In contrast, others require a little extra DIY work or the help of a professional to enable you to hit the ground running.
But, needless to say, when it comes to choosing the right UK eCommerce platform, there are many considerations – ease of use just being one of them. You’ll also want to determine the platform’s design flexibility – i.e., to what extent can you customize your store’s design to bring your vision to life? Or, if you’re not a designer, are there beautiful templates available to help steer you in the right direction?
You’ll also want to ensure you can expand upon the platform’s core functionality. While you might only need a basic storefront to start with, ask yourself what you might need two years down the line. For instance, does the platform integrate with more powerful marketing tools, payment providers, inventory management tools, etc.?
But, suppose scalability and design flexibility aren’t significant concerns for your small online store. In that case, you might be looking for an all-in-one eCommerce solution boasting user-friendliness and first-rate customer support. If that sounds like you, this is where hosted SaaS solutions come into their own. Often, these provide everything you need to get started, which could include free themes and a drag-and-drop web design interface.
On top of everything we’ve just said, here are a few other considerations worth keeping in mind picking the best eCommerce platforms in the UK:
Although price isn’t always the most accurate indicator of the best eCommerce solution, your choice will be naturally limited by your budget.
So, make it your mission to assess a platform’s value for money and veer towards solutions packed with useful features at a low price tag. Luckily, many hosted and open-source frameworks alike offer a free trial or even a free plan to help you decipher what’s on offer.
Although we’ve already touched on this, customization is a biggy, so we felt it demanded its own section. By customization, we mean, can you bring your vision to life with the tools provided? Open-source platforms are usually more flexible than their hosted counterparts. However, suppose you’re neither a web designer nor have the time or inclination to familiarize yourself with the best web design practices. In that case, you might benefit from a platform that comes with an intuitive drag-and-drop editor and an array of beautiful, customizable templates to choose from.
Some eCommerce platforms come with marketing tools already built-in. This includes pop-up banners for your eCommerce site, discounts, coupons, and loyalty schemes for customers, abandoned cart recovery, and email marketing. Remember, you will most certainly need marketing tools to grow your eCommerce business. If your chosen platform doesn’t include these, this will represent an additional cost through third-party tools.
Ease of Use
How much, if any, coding knowledge do you need to use the platform successfully? Will you need to manage your own server? Do you need to find a hosting provider? Open-source platforms may require you to do a lot of this legwork yourself. So, if you don’t have any development or tech knowledge, you might want to opt for a simple self-hosted solution.
Speed and Performance
Slow loading pages quickly dissuade customers from spending time on your website. So, needless to say, fast speed and good performance are vital to your website’s success. Of course, this depends on your web hosting, the cleanliness of your website’s code, and whether your website’s images have been optimized. A prospective eCommerce platform can have a helping hand in all of these things.
Say you’re a small business now, but you have high hopes of growing into something iconic. If that sounds like you, look towards the future by ensuring any potential platform can grow with you. I.e., do the more extensive pricing packages suit your budget? Is there an app store or plugin directory that enables you to install new features? Can you purchase premium themes? Can you sell unlimited products across a wide range of currencies?
These are all questions worth considering – especially if you plan on using your chosen eCommerce platform for the long haul.
Choosing the Best eCommerce Platform in the UK
The internet has made the world small indeed. So if you’re a UK startup, there’s no reason you shouldn’t benefit from globally recognized eCommerce platforms that have created thriving online stores all across the globe.
But what’s right for other entrepreneurs isn’t always immediately suitable for your business. So which platform should you choose for your UK business?
Suppose it’s important to you to have UK-based support and a dedicated account manager. In that case, EKM could be an excellent local choice for you. While it’s more expensive than many alternatives, it comes with a rich feature set explicitly designed with UK businesses in mind.
Alternatively, for relatively simple stores with big design aspirations, Squarespace is another great all-in-one option. Or if you’re looking for more flexibility and want to scale your business in the future. In that case, both Shopify and WordPress combined with WooCommerce should be at the top of your considerations. Both come with hundreds, if not thousands, of plugins and extensions and provide a framework that makes scalability a breeze.
Has one of these eCommerce solutions caught your interest? Or are you considering other popular eCommerce platforms like Prestashop or Magento? Either way, let us know your thoughts on the best eCommerce platforms in the UK- speak soon!