Zero to £300k with

By Chris Dawson April 27, 2012 - 4:43 pm

ekmPowershop are doing pretty well with their share of the online shopping cart market these days having amassed over 10,000 businesses using their solution. At just £19.99 per month they provide all you need to get started and selling on your own ecommerce website. I personally know loads of businesses that use the solution and if you’re looking for a hosted shopping cart (for which read “Don’t worry about the technical side, they’ll take care of that and leave you to get on with selling”) it’s the perfect solution for a small business.

There are a some businesses doing exceptionally well too, it’s not a solution just for start-ups before moving onto something bigger and better. Stephen Greaves from Fireside accessories told us that it was some 5 years ago that they turned their attention to online retailing and recognised their need for a cost effective, fully hosted ecommerce platform with top quality customer support.

During the past 5 years Fireside Accessories has seen rapid growth and as a consequence of a recent custom website build by ekmPowershop, clever marketing strategies and media coverage they have now attained a highly successful level of business with tens of thousands of hits each month and a turnover in excess of £300,000 a year. Not bad for a company starting off with a £19.99 website.

However there’s a limit to just how much you can get for £19.99 a month and I’ve spoken to a couple of retailers who have hit the 45gb of data transfer that’s included in the basic package. ekmPowershop have implemented a new VPS (Virtual Private Server) solution for their customers when business grows. The only complaint I’ve heard is that at £149.99 per month the cost is a steep increase. I spoke to Steven Hickey, Head of Marketing at ekmPowershop, and he agrees but explained that it’s less than 1% of ekmPowershop customers that are affected – typically by the time a customer needs to upgrade their business is turning over several hundred thousand and it’s an easy decision to cost justify.

Stephen of Fireside Accessories didn’t simply upgrade but shopped around looking at similar solutions available but decided the ekmPowershop VPS solution was the best value on the marketplace for them and told us: “Due to the success of our website it became apparent around 3 months ago that we would need to move above the 45gb ‘power band’ and had to step up to the next level to continue to grow our business online. Again we shopped around and discovered that the VPS solution offered by ekmPowershop would allow us to grow to an even more substantial and lucrative level, and at £149.99 a month with 200gb of bandwidth and dedicated 24 hour support it represented by far the most competitive package compared to other providers allowing us the opportunity to achieve our goals“.

He added “Being in the top 1% of users on ekmPowershop is hugely gratifying and the VPS platform is a natural extension for us, however this doesn’t detract from the fact that prior to VPS we managed to grow a very successful business on ekmPowershop for £19.99 a month, as many other online shops can and still do“.

It’s immensely impressive to grow an online business from nothing to a £300,000 business, and that’s just through their website. Not bad for a solution that’s only cost twenty quid a month! Congratulations to Stephen and the team at Fireside Accessories, (and I love your new funky website!)

  • John
    10 years ago

    Well my experience of EKM is very different. Their back end API is very limited, meaning it wont connect with my inventory management software, rendering it useless.

    The features are basic, and they have not kept up with the advances in ecommerce. Granted they were ok a few years back.

    You have to pay for an analytics pack, which is basic (and thats being generous)

    When you close / leave their service, they immediately shut it down (and dont tell you this), even if you have paid up for the rest of the month. Therefore you cannot grab any data, unshipped orders.

    When you speak to them on the phone, they always sound pissed off and that you are causing them inconvenience.

    When trying to move your domain, they offer limited help, and leave it to you to sort out.

    I recommend Big Commerce. Its cheaper. 50x more advanced. US call centres have experienced staff who care.

  • st georges dragon
    10 years ago

    rather than using ekm powershop this tells me that flogging fireirons is the business to be in its the product thats the star here and of course the expertise of the vendor

  • 10 years ago

    I’m left quite confused by the above post, it’s very hard giving a service review to a supplier that offers a service that can have an effect on your business and business model, I’ve never had that problem with EKMPowershop, I was an early subscriber to them when shop hosting was relatively new, also after many disappointing attempts to find an on-line solution to compliment our off-line services.
    For the price of a “happy meal” per week newcomers into e-commerce have a feature rich system to start and grow their ventures, as you grow you have access to scalable solutions to fit your growth.
    I do take the features argument with a respectful pinch of salt because new features are being developed and rolled out on a very regular basis, more so because other platforms seem to lack very basic requirements for new starts.
    The customer services comment in-particular is unfair, I’ve always found talking to EKM staff on the phone or email helpful and problem solving, considering that 9 times out of 10 it has been myself that created the problem in the first place, I wonder what the reception from a telephone service provider would be if I said “I’ve just poked a screwdriver into the socket and now it’s broken”, suddenly the EKM customer support becomes exceptional.
    Yes there are issues, as with “all” technology service providers in a constantly changing and evolving e’commerce industry, saying that I’m quite happy with the most recent upgrades, we are still strong and still selling in a difficult market/economic environment, due in part to the services of EKM.

  • 10 years ago

    Wow, well done to Fireside Accessories!

    That VPS solution does sound expensive though, I’m paying around that for a dedicated server and I know that there are cheaper deals around for dedicated servers (I stay with my host because they have a good track record / good support).

    • 10 years ago

      The VPS service does “sound” expensive, but trust me having just paid for Tamebay’s new server and looking at an enormous bill for the redesign work we’re having done the ekmPowershop price isn’t that bad. It’s not just the server, it’s the software and having it maintained that’s included in the cost.

      Tis still a big jump from £19.99 to £149.99… do you think we should ask them to put in another tier at say £70 a month for those in the middle (who incidentally are still only paying £19.99 a month at the moment ;-))

    • John
      10 years ago

      Your own server would be cheaper running costs. I do it that way with software thats open source so its free to use.

      I spend a lot more in upgrades and maintenance tho you can’t just run a website in house on your own server without a specialist on hand. If a database locks up or we have a dns failure then you need a techie on hand. I guess ekm take care of that all in the monthly charge.

    • 10 years ago

      Open source software that’s free to use… that’s what we use for Tamebay – WordPress is open source.

      Oh how I wish it was “free” though, we’re paying multiple four figure sums this year to make sure it carries on doing what we need it to do.

      We also had a database lock up last year and yes we too had to pay to make the problem go away 🙁

      Paying the money out hurts, but not having to worry is worth every penny 😀

    • John
      10 years ago

      Exactly, not as cheap or simple as ‘go host it yourself’ sounds!

      Fireside Accessories have it good for 150 per month all in no hassles if you ask me. Took me a lot of time and money (always, ongoing too!) to do it on my own server. Glad I’ve done it now but don’t ask me if I’d do it again!

  • 10 years ago

    I’m in the 1% which is initially flattering 😀

    *however* I’m a high volume, low average order, high % margin business, which means I’ve hoovered up the 45gb bandwidth quickly. If you’re making a fulltime living selling cheaper items, with multiple items in the order then you’re using lots of page views, which means the bandwidth allowance is easier to break through.

    I’ve been with EKM for 6 years. The service is adequate. Not outstanding, but ok. To be fair, it’s £19.99 plus Vat pcm – so what did I expect? 😀

    You absolutely get what you pay for and the £19.99 service is a… £19.99 service.

    There are lots of extras you can buy which are not that cheap (email marketing, analytics etc) and you can be unlucky and end up on a server that seems to be wading through treacle. Mine has been ok most of the time. Not spectacularly fast or slow.

    My beef is that EKM advertise ‘unlimited bandwidth’ and until last week, there was no stated threshold for ‘fair usage’. I think that was ill advised and made them look sneaky. But that’s just my opinion 🙂

    £149.99 pcn for VPS isn’t very competitive, but it may be worth staying with EKM because of the hassle factor. There are better deals out there – Easywebstore being one.

    And yes – on the few times I’ve phoned EKM support they *do*sound bored/pissed off that you’ve rung?!

    4 out of 10. Needs improvement to reach potential.

  • Vix
    10 years ago

    “Tis still a big jump from £19.99 to £149.99… do you think we should ask them to put in another tier at say £70 a month for those in the middle (who incidentally are still only paying £19.99 a month at the moment )” [email protected]


    45 – 200 gigabytes is a lot! Im nowhere near this amount and I use ekm and all you are going to do is make them introduce a middle ground to affect more of us who aren’t kicking up a fuss like some people!!

    Just so you dont jump from £20 to £150 straight away, a softener at £70 so you/we stop paying the £20 sooner. Madness!

    Stop throwing other customers into your crusade!

    I make good money and my site only does around 8gb per month. Happy to know I can go another 6 times bigger before my costs go up 🙂 UNLESS ekm get a sniff of a middle tier from all of this carry on!

    When I call ekm up they’re nice to speak with… better than BT or Eon when I need to speak with them! I did love the live chat that they’ve got rid of though, very convenient and was open til 9 at night.

    Its easy to say not being faced with it but I would be happy to pay £150 if/when my site got big enough to keep it on ekm. Ive used a lot of cheap solutions to get to where I am 1&1 actinic xpress and easywebstore. That one defo isn’t a sideways move so if you pay less then the reasons will become clear very quickly!

    That said, ekm was the best of the cheap systems when I started. £150 may get me more I wouldnt know. I wouldnt be looking at going back to easywebstore when I get as big as you though

    • 10 years ago

      I was only joking 😀

      I have no intention of asking them to make you pay £70 instead of £19.99 😉

  • Vix
    10 years ago

    Phew! let’s hope nobody from ekm is watching these comments they might get ideas!

  • 10 years ago

    Hi Vix,

    I am of the understanding that EKM discounted a ‘softener’ so you don’t need to worry 🙂
    However, you don’t need to worry anyhow if you’re using 8gb – and by the time you get over 45gb you might be campaigning for a middle option. 🙂

    btw – I’m not crusading, and I too have used many providers. EKM are ok. They must be ok, because I’ve been there for 6 years – some of that due to my own inertia admittedly. At £19.99+vat a month, it’s ok. At £149.99+vat a month there are many, many competitors who mostly do a ‘better-than-ok’ job.

    I think EKM will be victims of their own business strategy (ie a cheap and ok website solution) – they’re going to have to sell the benefits hard and build trust in a £149.99 + vat service.

    They’re also starting a bit from a ‘back foot’ due to forgetting to mention the threshold for their fair usage policy until last week 😀


  • John
    10 years ago

    Georgie am I right thinking that your above 40 gig monthly?

    If ekm do basic for 20 quid but you could have better for more money – what sort of dosh do the more expensive companies charge for a big site?

    If its 150 then its no brainer. If its not then your comparin apples with pears. I wouldnt know if they are expensive for big sites compared to other companies
    but would guess the dear companies compared to ekm’s 20 quid would be even more expensive for big sites like you.

    I have my own server and it’s less than 150 to pay for it. Like I says earlier where I do pay a lot is maintenance and upgrades over a year its actually way more than 150 p month.

    I had to throw the towel in with using cart companies (tried 4!!) and bite the bullet using software cos I wanted specific things and these things were all locked away with ekm type carts or didnt quite work how we needed them to. The answer to manipulate or add bits in was always no. Unless you do what we did then I think what you get is much of a muchness. yours seems like a modern enough site ecommerce wise when I browse it nice design too!

    If you need really specific stuff and its stopping you growing your business (final straw for me was moving into our first warehouse and the system required the website to talk to it if you will) then take control and host your own. Failing that I believe as a busy website owner you will find niggles problems and if you are unlucky nightmares using the hosted carts which I think restrict you. As well a heavy charges for your data just googled some and Volusion runs out of price bands at 100 for 20 gig!

  • 10 years ago

    Thanks John,

    I’m thinking that way too 🙂

    I will be less circumspect in a couple of weeks.

    I used 62gb bandwidth, but this is measuring it the ‘ekm’ way, which appears to differ a bit from the rest of the planet…. not that that matters as long as they’re measuring everyone the same 😀

    Happy trades! Georgie

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