Bluepark Review – One of the UK’s Best Hosted Ecommerce Platforms?

BluePark Homepage

Bluepark are one of the UK's longest established hosted ecommerce platforms and since their launch back in 2004, they have powered numerous websites and are currently the platform of choice for over 2000 online stores!

When I review a hosted ecommerce platform I look at five main areas that are important for any online business which are:

  1. Pricing
  2. Performance and Security
  3. Themes
  4. Features
  5. Ease of use

Now before I get into the review, I want to let you know that this post does contain affiliate links which means that if you click one of the links and purchase their service then I receive a referral commission. However, this partnership does not impact the honesty of my review, if I don't like something then I will say so!

1. Pricing

Bluepark have a pricing strategy a little bit different to their two main rivals here in the UK and for me it is not a bad thing. The main difference is that they do not have packages that are limited by the amount of turnover your business has and I like that!

Retail Package
£24.99
+ vat a month

Up to 500 Products

No Turnover Limit

500 MB SSD Data Storgae

No Transaction Fees

42 Free Responsive Themes

Detailed Site Statistics

Standard UK Support

Business Package
£39.99
+ vat a month

Up to 2000 Products

No Turnover Limit

1 GB SSD Data Storage

No Transaction Fees

42 Free Responsive Themes

Detailed Site Statistics

Standard UK Support

+9 Features over Retail Package

Enterprise Package
£59.99
+ vat a month

Unlimited Products

No Turnover Limit

2 GB SSD Data Storage

No Transaction Fees

42 Free Responsive Themes

Detailed Site Statistics

Standard UK Support

+13 Features over Retail Package

 

Although the packages are cheaper than their rivals, you do not get an SSL certificate included with your package and you have to buy these direct from Bluepark at £69.99 + vat for one year or £119.99 + vat for two years.

2. Performance & Security

Rather than just read all the information on the Bluepark website about how fast their platform is, I decided to put them to the test. I used three of the websites from their examples page and ran them through Pingdom's speed test using their London, UK server once a day for three days to get average times and you can see the results below:

Website 1: 0.85 Seconds
Website 2: 0.51 Seconds
Website 3: 0.91 Seconds

All I can say is WOW!! Not only did all the sites come in under the golden 2 second mark but they all averaged less than one second load time which is super impressive. Out of the 9 speed tests I ran on the Bluepark sites only one of those was over the 1 second mark and it was only just at 1.02 seconds.

As I mentioned above, you do have to buy an SSL certificate separately to ensure that you have the padlock icon in the browsers bar and every ecommerce store should have an SSL certificate. In terms of servers, Bluepark offer PCI complaint servers and tools to help ensure that your site is GDPR compliant as well. You also get daily back-ups, so should anything happen to your site, you won't lose all of your data.

Payment Gateways

Bluepark have ensured that you have plenty of options when it comes to getting paid and have fully integrated payments with PayPal, Stripe, WorldPay and SagePay to name but a few. Integrations with Apple Pay and Google Pay are also planned for the future.

No additional transaction fees are charged by the platform, so the only ones you pay are through your payment gateway.

3. Themes

I was really impressed with the selection of themes that Bluepark offer! I used Bluepark many years ago and the themes were always one thing that really let the platform down but the 42 themes available are really well designed and I think you would struggle to find an industry that isn't catered for.

BluePark 42 Mobile Responsive Themes

Customisation

Customising one of these themes can seem quite daunting at first as there are quite a few options you are confronted with but once you read up on the documentation, you will see that their system is really good. You can change nearly every aspect of the theme and really make it your own. They also have a live editor, so you can make changes and see the results instantly and once you get used to the block and content system, you have nearly endless possibilities.

I don't really like editing the footer, I thought it would use the block structure that you use to build out your pages but it is instead done in a simple text box and this makes it pretty easy to mess it up. Only a small thing, in what is overall a good system once you learn how it works.

4. Features

Bluepark only offers limited integrations with third party software such as Ebay, Google Shopping and Royal Mail: Click & Drop. And for website plugins you have two options Loqate: Postcode Address Finder and HelpScout for offering live chat.

That is about as far as it goes for being able to add or remove functionality from your site, they don't offer a library of apps or extensions like many other platforms so you are limited in that way when it comes to customising your site. Fortunately, Bluepark is a pretty complete platform and I can't see much functionality that you would need to add as you have the following already installed:

  • Blog - not the easiest blog software I have used but it can be made to work
  • Gift Vouchers
  • Discounts
  • Built in Email Newsletter - as with the blog, not the easiest to use but it works
  • Affiliate system - so if you want to use affiliates to sell your items, you can manage them through your dashboard. This is something I haven't seen with any other platforms.

5. Ease of Use

I used to have an ecommerce site with Bluepark many years ago and the admin area was horrible to use and the amount of menu's and sub menu's was really daunting for a beginner but I am more than happy to say that this have most definitely improved!

The side menu makes life really easy to navigate your admin area and the different sections are clearly labelled. As with all platforms, it will take a little time to learn where everything is but once you have, you won't have any problems running and managing your website.

Adding and Managing Stock

Adding new stock is really easy and you have a multi tab set up where you move from one to the next, filling in all the relevant information. Only thing I didn't like was that to add variations, you need to create the product and then edit it to add the variations which seems like a couple of unnecessary steps to take.

BluePark Product Management

I do like the stock management set up as from the products overview page you can quickly adjust the sale price and quantity, without having to go in and edit them individually. A nice little touch is the margin feature as it allows you to enter your cost price so you can see your gross profit per product. You can also change your featured items as well with the little checkbox, so you can keep your homepage looking fresh.

Managing Orders

The order management system will not give you any headaches. You can bulk print orders directly from the orders page, which would really help speed up the processing of orders. While you can't issue refunds directly from the dashboard, you can manage every other part of the order process and the auto emails will let your customer know what is going on with their order.

Conclusion

What I Like
  • Sub 1 second load times
  • Theme selection
  • The ease of customising your theme
  • Ready to go solution, no need to install extra apps
  • Being able to block IP addresses and remove the delivery address
  • Easy to use admin area
  • UK based support
  • How easy it is to manage your orders
What I Don't Like
  • SSL Certificates not included with packages
  • Not being able to add a remove some features
  • The blog and email newsletter not being that good or easy to use

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