What is Bluepark?
Bluepark is one of the UK’s longest established ecommerce platforms, having been around since 2004 and have helped over 2,000 small businesses start selling online.
Specialising in the UK market, they have become a popular choice on some UK business forums and are highly rated by their customers, but how good is the platform? are they a good alternative to Shopify? and should you consider it for your business?
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Bluepark have three offerings when it comes to their packages and they are well suited to small and medium size businesses.
Bluepark Retail – £24.99/m
Bluepark Business – £39.99/m
Bluepark Enterprise – £59.99/m
The pricing is very competitive and the monthly fees are slightly lower than their competition but you do need to factor in an SSL certificate that will cost you £69.99 + vat for one year or £119.99 + vat for two years.
You will have to make sure that your images are optimised to make sure you do not go over the storage limits, you can purchase an additional 1gb of storage space for £10 a month once you are on the enterprise package. This can be done up to a maximum of 12gb.
While the packages are really good, I think Bluepark would do well by having a specialist package for larger businesses.
To see how Bluepark’s pricing compares to its competition, check out my How much does a UK Ecommerce Website Cost post.
Bluepark do like to let you try their platform out before you buy. You don’t need to input any credit card information to take advantage of their free trial, all you need is your name and email address. If you want to start your free trial, just click the button below.
Free 14 Day Bluepark Trial
No Credit Card Needed
Before I get full on into my review, I thought I would take a look at what some of their existing customers thought of the platform. For this I look on Trustpilot, Facebook and Google.
4.7 out of 5
4.5 out of 5
Bluepark offer all of their users a host a great features for building an ecommerce store from their entry level Retail package all the way up to the Enterprise package.
With Bluepark, you get all of the features already installed, which means you don’t have to go and install apps and as you move on to the larger packages, you do get more and more features to help you grow your business.
- Onsite Search Tool – let your visitors enter a search term rather than trying to find the product manually
- Embed YouTube Videos – increase sales and conversion rates by embedding a YouTube product video on your product pages
- Product Comparison – lets your customers compare two of your products side by side to see which one is the better option
- Shareable Wish Lists – let your visitors share their wish list with their friends and family
- Product Labels – advertise new products or any special offers that you are running
- Language and Currency Auto Detection – grow your business internationally with auto conversion into local languages and currencies
- Related Products – show your visitors other options that you have available
- Customers Also Bought – show your customers what other have bought alongside the product they are buying
- Digital Products – offer digital and/or physical products to your customers
Marketing and SEO
- Affiliate Network – create your own network of affiliate marketers to promote your products for you and manage it from the Bluepark dashboard
- Email Newsletter – create and manage your email marketing directly form the Bluepark dashboard
- Social Sharing – let your customers share their favourite products to their social media accounts
- Coupons Discounts – create discount coupons for marketing campaigns
- Abandoned Cart – send auto emails to customers who have abandoned their cart and encourage them to return and complete the purchase
- Google Shopping – add your product library to Google Shopping and many other shopping feeds
- Back in Stock Notifications – send customers automatic emails when products they are interested in come back in to stock
- Blog – add content to your site in the form of blog posts
- SEO Friendly URLs – automatically generated SEO friendly URLs, these can also be edited if you want to improve them
- Custom Meta Data – set your own product titles, meta description and keywords
- Automatic 301 Redirect – automatically redirects your pages and products when you change the URL structure
- XML Sitemaps – automatically generated XML sitemaps for search engines
Reporting and Analytics
To help you keep track of how well your website is performing, Bluepark offer a range of reports including:
- Top Sellers
- Referral Conversion Rates
- Top Notification Requests
- Top Wish List Additions
- Google Analytics – easily link your Bluepark website to your Google Analytics account
Honestly, Bluepark offer a lot of features even with their basic Retail package and far too much for me to list here without copying their website word for word!
You want to get paid when you sell online and Bluepark offer a great selection of payment gateways including PayPal, Stripe, SagePay and Worldpay. I haven’t seen anything about integration with Klarna or Amazon Pay at the moment.
Do Bluepark charge transaction fees?
No, they do not charge transaction fees on any package.
Bluepark Theme Selection
Bluepark offer a great selection of 42 free, mobile responsive themes (Bluepark call them templates).
If you want a custom theme, then you can contact one of their design partners who will build one for you and prices start from around £700.
One of the things I was really impressed with when I ran an online store with Bluepark was the quality of the support. While not 24/7, they will respond to you as soon as they can and the quality and helpfulness of the responses was always really high.
They also have a community forum that is a great place to ask questions and there is input, not only from Bluepark staff but very knowledgeable users. The beauty of the forum is that there are people in there all the time and in some cases you can get an answer quicker than if you contacted the support team directly.
Bluepark Web Hosting and Performance
While features are an important part of an ecommerce platforms offerings, the quality of their servers is hugely important as you want your site to be performing as well as it can. Bluepark say the following about their servers:
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- PCI Compliant Servers
- 99.9% Uptime
- 24/7 Server Monitoring
- Daily Back-ups
- Fast Servers
I have to say that this all sounds mighty impressive but how good are they in the real world? I don’t like to take companies at their word, so I took five of their customer example sites and ran them through Pingdom’s speed test tool (London, UK server) and Google’s Page Speed Insights once a day for five days to see just how well they performed.
Some pretty good results for Bluepark, especially when it comes load times as a sub 2 second average is always good. Google scores were somewhat underwhelming, especially mobile which is on the wrong side of 50, so some improvements to be made there.
But nothing overly concerning and the sites certainly felt responsive when testing them out.
To see how Bluepark’s performance compares to their competition, check out my fastest UK ecommerce platforms post.
How Easy is Bluepark to Use?
Having impressive facts and figures is one thing, being easy to use is another! Back when I ran an online store with Bluepark, their dashboard wasn’t the easiest to use and the amount of options was almost overwhelming but in Autumn 2019, they revamped their dashboard so lets take a look! When I look at ease of use, I look at the following 5 areas:
- Getting Started
- Navigating the Dashboard
- Customising your theme
- Adding and Managing Products
- Managing Orders
As I mentioned above, signing up to the Bluepark free trial is really easy. Simply fill out your name and email address and you are good to go. No credit card details needed.
Once you have signed up to Bluepark, you go into their dashboard and are welcomed by a very well laid out set up guide that is accompanied by a very helpful video. The guide takes you through nearly all of the important sections that you need to complete before making your site live, the only thing missing is to set up your websites pages.
They also have some well written documentation, just in case you get stuck and you will receive an email from one of the support team welcoming you to the platform and giving you contact information if you want to speak to them.
Navigating the Dashboard
As I said above, Bluepark redesigned their dashboard in Autumn 2019 and it is definitely a big improvement over their previous design. They now have a side bar with well laid out sections and it makes the platform really easy to navigate.
Due to the amount of things you can do with Bluepark, they do have a lot of sub-sections and it will take a while to know exactly how many options you have with the platform. In some instances, I think there is almost too much you can do and it can be a little daunting to people who are completely new to running a website.
On the flip side, if you are used to running an online shop, then you may really like the amount of options that you have.
Customising Your Theme
One of the things that is really good about the Bluepark platform is the ability to customise your theme. They offer many different options due to the block system that they use, this allows you to control the layout of your site but also a variety of sections you can add and remove.
This allows you to take one of the already well designed Bluepark themes and really change so they fit your business and your brand. Not only can you control the layout but you can also change colours, font type and font size. When it comes to customising your theme, there really is not much that you cannot do.
The only thing that I am not fond of when it comes to customising your theme and that is editing your footer. It is not the easiest thing to do as you use a text based editor, I would like to see the block system extended to the footer.
Adding and Managing Products
To me, there are three main areas when it comes to managing stock with an ecommerce platform, they are adding and editing products, organising your products and managing your inventory. I have to say that Bluepark do all of these things really well!
Adding new products is really easy, they use a tabbed layout with headings for all of the important sections you need to complete to give your products the best chances of selling. Editing products is just as easy and you are brought back to the same pages you used to create a product to make any changes.
You can also organise your products in multiple ways, which makes it really easy for your customers to not only navigate your site but also to search it. The main way is to use the tried and tested category method, you can also add sub-categories as well. If you stock branded products, you can also organise them by brand alongside the categories.
Managing your inventory is really easy and can be done from the main product overview page, this allows you to add or remove stock without having to edit the products individually. A nice little feature on this page is that you can enter the cost and sale price to quickly figure out your gross profit margin.
You want it to be easy to manage your orders as hopefully this is the area of your website where you are going to be spending most of your time.
With the Blupark platform, you manage all of your orders easily. You can update order statuses and print of invoice and packing slips in bulk or individually. If you use any third-party order management or shipping software, then you can export your orders in CSV format.
Is Bluepark a good alternative to Shopify?
Yes, Bluepark is definitely a good alternative to Shopify. The platform has improved since they redesigned the admin area, it is a lot more user friendly now. There are still lots of options within the platform that can be a little daunting, especially if you are just starting out. Sometimes simpler can be better!
• Good UK based support
• Well laid out set up tutorial
• Good theme selection
• Theme customisation options
• Well laid out admin dashboard
• Super fast page load speeds
The Not so Good:
• Some features like the blog and email newsletter aren’t the easiest to design or manage
• Sometimes there are too many options within certain sections of the dashboard
• Having to buy an SSL certificate on top of your package
So there it is, my full review of the Bluepark platform. A really good option for UK businesses, especially if you are moving from another platform and want more control over your site.
Free 14 Day Bluepark Trial
No Credit Card Needed