ShopWired Review – an Alternative to Shopify for UK Businesses?

ShopWired Homepage

ShopWired are a relative newcomer to the hosted ecommerce market but have steadily grown since launching in 2013, they now power over 8,500 websites including EDF Energy and Wowcher. But how good is their platform?

In my review I look at five main areas when it comes to hosted ecommerce platforms and they are:

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

*Update* ShopWired changed things up a little in the autumn of 2019 and I have updated this review accordingly.

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

When compared to the likes of Shopify, they are very competitively priced and one of the big pluses with them being a UK based business, is that they bill you every month in GBP, so you know exactly how much you will be paying each month whereas the likes of Shopify bill you in USD and due to currency conversions, you often end up paying a different amount each month. So how much do the packages cost?

Pro Package
£29.95
+ vat a month

Up to 750 Products

Free SSL Certificate

Up to £75,000 Annual Turnover

No Transaction Fees

Standard UK Support

19 Free Premium Themes

23 Free Apps

Advanced Package
£59.95
+ vat a month

Unlimited Products

Free SSL Certificate

Up to £200,000 Annual Turnover

No Transaction Fees

Standard UK Support

19 Free Premium Themes

23 Free Apps + B2B Features

Advanced Reporting

Premium Package
£119.95
+ vat a month

Unlimited Products

Free SSL Certificate

Up to £500,000 Annual Turnover

No Transaction Fees

Priority UK Support

24 Free Premium Themes

All Apps Included

Advanced Reporting

 

They also offer an Enterprise solution which is a more bespoke solution for larger businesses with an annual turnover of over £500,000 a year and that starts from £149.95 a month. If you are interested in this package then you will need to contact ShopWired directly.

2. Performance & Security

Shopwired run all of their sites on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) hosting platform and that means that their sites should be quick as AWS is known as being one of the best hosting platforms there is. But I wanted to put them to the test so I used three of the websites from their examples page and ran them through Pingdom's speed tool using their London, UK server once a day for three days, then averaged them out and you can see the results below:

Website 1: 1.43 Seconds
Website 2: 1.12 Seconds
Website 3: 1.78 Seconds

A strong showing from the three example sites with an average load time of 1.44 seconds and all came in under the golden 2 seconds. This shows that choosing AWS as their host was not a bad idea.

ShopWired servers are secure and the have ensured this by making sure that they are PCI compliant. This is great as some payment processors do require your site to be on PCI compliant servers to ensure that payments are as secure as possible. You also get lots of GDPR elements so that you can make sure that your site complies with all the new regulations.

As of Autumn 2019, all packages include a free SSL certificate which means that your site will have the nice little padlock icon next to your domain name. This is a great additional and will encourage visitors to buy from your site.

Payment Gateways

Nearly all the major payment gateways are supported, including PayPal, PayPal Express Checkout, Pay by Amazon, Nochex, WorldPay and SagePay. When you are setting up your payment gateway on ShopWired you will have a drop down list of all the possible options available to you and if the one you use is not listed, you can contact ShopWired and speak to their support team about whether they can integrate it for you.

You won't be charge any transaction fees by the platform unlike some others (cough! Shopify!), this means you only pay the transaction fees that you payment gateway charges you.

3. Themes

When you start a website, you want it to look good for customers visiting your site. ShopWired offer a choice of 24 beautifully designed themes that have been made specifically to work on their platform, meaning they load quickly and they are all mobile responsive, which is a must for any ecommerce store as more and more people are using mobile devices for online shopping. 19 of the themes are free and the paid themes range from £29 - £69 +vat, so they aren't going to break the bank and the selection is enough to satisfy nearly all sectors of the ecommerce market. If the selection of themes doesn't suit your business then you can have a bespoke theme made and they start from £1795 + vat.

ShopWired Themes

All of the themes come with some built in customisation, so you can change a few things such as colours and some text but if you are handy with HTML and CSS then you can delve a bit deeper as you do have access to the design files, which is something you don't get on all other platforms. The one thing that does let it down for me is that they don't have a live editor, which I feel would be really useful, especially for people who are new to web building.

4. Features

There are lots of them and I do mean lots! Out of the box, ShopWired is a really good ecommerce system but they have created a range of Apps and Extensions that can really take your website to the next level.

Apps

The Apps that ShopWired offer not only offer you lots of functionality but they are also really easy to install and use, most are a simple one click and they are ready to go. The majority of the Apps are free to use but even the most expensive are only £5 a month, if you are on the Premium package then they are all included. Some of my favourites are:

  • Ebay Integration - makes it easy to manage your site and ebay from one site
  • Facebook Shop - add a Facebook shop easily to your businesses Facebook page
  • Blog - Adding a blog to your site is a great way of bringing in more traffic, it is easy to use as well
  • MailChimp - create a weekly or monthly newsletter to keep your audience engaged. A great way to get repeat business
  • PayPal Express - possibly the easiest way for your customers to check out

You can also add gift cards and reward points to keep your customers coming back for more.

ShopWired Apps

Extensions

Extensions are a little bit different to apps as they are not simple one click installs. You can either install them yourself, if you have knowledge of HTML and CSS or you can make a one off payment and ShopWired will install it for you. Some of them like Google ReCaptcha are pretty easy to do but some are a little more complicated.

As I am not a professional web developer, I may be simplifying my thinking here but I think Shopwired would benefit from having most of, if not all the extensions as Apps, especially as they are aiming at people with little to no web development or design experience.

5. Ease of Use

One of the things that is most important to me when using or testing software is how easy it is to use and that is one of the reasons why I really enjoy using ShopWired. The side menu layout is really easy to navigate and after a short amount of time, you can quickly and easily find the most obscure part of the admin area.

Adding and Managing Products

Adding a new product to ShopWired is really easy to do and the layout is logically planned out and flows nicely from one section to another. One of the things I do like is how easy it is to add and manage variations, you are limited to three main variations but then you can add numerous options within those variations. It is also really easy to manage your stock levels.

Managing Orders

When you get an order, you want to be as easy as possible to manage from your dashboard and you will have no problems with ShopWired. When you get an order, you can either print the invoice/packing slip directly from the dashboard in PDF format or if you use external order management software then you can download it in CSV format. You can also update the statues of your orders either by bulk or individually and automatic emails will be sent out to your customer to keep them updated.

Conclusion

I think ShopWired is a really good ecommerce platform and definitely worth considering if you are planning on opening an online store. Like all platforms, they are not perfect but the good far outweighs the bad.

What I Like
  • Easy to use admin area
  • Performance
  • Quality of themes
  • Selection of free apps
  • Top quality of UK support
  • Free SSL Certificate
What I Don't Like
  • Turnover limited plans
  • How extensions are installed
  • Lack of a live designer

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