11 best VoIP providers in the UK

By Aimee Bradshaw | Writer and researcher | Updated: 22 June 2020

Chances are, you’ve landed on this page because you are interested in finding a hosted VoIP phone for your business.

You’ve made a wise decision.

Did you know that VoIP solutions can save your business up to 70% on call costs?

And that’s while having the same features and functionality as a traditional on-premise system. Plus, with VoIP you can make calls on the go, support remote working, manage everything via a computer app and so much more. 

Without in-depth knowledge of the industry, choosing a VoIP phone system can seem like a daunting task. This is where we come in.

We’ve been in the industry for 15 years, and know that switching phone providers can be difficult, and setup can be time consuming – not to mention the economical impact of getting it wrong. If you have a couple of minutes, our custom-built tool can speed up the whole process for you. All you have to do is answer a few simple questions about your business to be matched to the best provider. It could be the most productive two minutes of your week!

Need to get to grips with VoIP providers first? This comprehensive guide has been compiled by our telephones systems expert, exploring the ins and outs of top-rated UK providers and VoIP products in 2020. 


What is a VoIP Phone System?

VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol and refers to the software-based technology which allows businesses to make their telephone calls using a broadband internet connection, rather than through traditional phone lines. Take a look at how it all works:

VoIP phones systems convert the sound signal of users' voices into digital data streams, which can then be sent in “packets” over the Internet.

The signal is passed through an Ethernet cable to the VoIP server or gateway, before connecting with the Internet. Investing in a VoIP Phone system means a business has the freedom to use a variety of different devices to make and receive calls, including physical IP phones, computers or laptops, and smart phones.

Once you’ve set up a VoIP phone system, get ready for cheaper domestic calls and low price per minute international calls, too.

VoIP desk phones can either be set up as a new system or integrated into an existing one.

If you’re looking to integrate business phone systems, contact your current system supplier for advice.

In this guide, we've highlighted 11 of the best VoIP phone models in the corded and DECT (cordless) phone categories. Each of them will integrate fully with a VoIP phone system.


If you've read enough, and are already sure that a VoIP telephone system is the best solution for your business, answer the quick question below. Then, simply provide us with a few brief details about your business, and the kind of phone system you're looking to implement.

It takes about thirty seconds to complete, and it's free. When you're done, you'll receive quotes from several leading VoIP telephone system suppliers. Why not give it a try?

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What is hosted VoIP?

With hosted VoIP, the infrastructure is based ‘in the cloud’ rather than on your premises. A service provider owns, manages and maintains the infrastructure in a secure data centre. You pay a monthly fee to use the service. Most businesses find hosted VoIP to be the best option as it’s so easy and low-maintenance.

VoIP Benefits


Top 11 best UK VoIP provider reviews

The following suppliers offer the best VoIP Phones available in the UK, as reviewed 14th January 2019. Read on for more information about the VoIP services and features of each supplier, and which businesses they are best suited to.

4com Plc

4Com is a successful, fast-growing company. They’ve installed thousands of business telecoms systems across the UK so far. 4Com provide hosted VoIP with UK based support, and were a finalist in the National Business Awards for the Customer Focus and Service category.

Read Review

What makes 4com’s VoIP phones stand out is their Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) system. CTI seamlessly integrates phone and computer information (such as customer records) for better call handling and customer satisfaction.

Their VoIP product is feature-rich and reliable. Any maintenance issues that do arise can be dealt with by their Bournemouth call centre, or local agents and engineers.

How 4Com VoIP systems can benefit your business:

✓ Comprehensive call reporting

✓ Computer Telephony Integration enabling instant caller information

✓ On-hold marketing messages

✓ Call recording

✓ Easy-to-use auto-attendant feature

✓ Voicemail to email functionality

✓ Easy installation and setup

✓ Excellent UK service and support

✓ Flexible for any size business, ensuring future compatibility

✓ No upfront costs

Save by Comparing VoIP Phone Systems Quotes from Leading Suppliers
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Lily Comms

A relative newcomer, Lily Comms has gone from strength to strength within the UK telecoms industry over the last ten years. They offer a broad range of services with well-priced basic plans, making them suitable for businesses of all sizes.

Read Review

Lily Comms currently supply over 2500 businesses. Their fully hosted phone systems are state-of-the-art. Horizon Unified Communications is their primary hosted VoIP product, with fixed and mobile telephony facilities via a high-speed cloud-based portal.

How Lily Comms VoIP systems can benefit your business:

✓ Reliable service with full 24/7 support, training and number porting

✓ An end-to-end single solution

✓ Powerful call handling features

✓ Virtual conference room

✓ Fixed and mobile telephony solutions

✓ Solutions for mobile and home workers

✓ Multi-language auto attendant

✓ Personal call routing

✓ Future proof and feature-rich


Vonage

Vonage are a leading global provider of cloud-based communications. They have nearly two million customers globally. They offer complete flexibility, with no installation charges, line rental, excessive contractual terms, or upfront costs. Their solutions are scalable and designed for today’s flexible working environment. All you need is a broadband connection and Vonage will take care of the rest.

Vonage have a UK head office based in London. Their core packages are offered at three levels: for home and small businesses, for offices of two to 30 employees, and for medium and larger businesses.

There are over 40 call features available with Vonage, only some of which are listed below. It really is a comprehensive VoIP telephony service, built with flexible working environments in mind.

How Vonage VoIP systems can benefit your business:

✓ Full call handling features

✓ Call recording with unlimited storage

✓ Hunt groups for incoming calls

✓ Multi-device extensions

✓ Conference and group calling

✓ Choice of UK area code and number, or port existing numbers

✓ Smart working in and out of the office with Vonage’s flexible solutions

✓ App for smart mobile phones, tablets, and desktops/ laptops


Berry

Berry is the “people’s choice” when it comes to providers of VOIP systems in the UK. Its personalised service and 24/7 support has led to a bagful of awards since it started out in 2011. And its overwhelming customer satisfaction levels online show Berry’s commitment to being the ‘berry’ best.

Read Review

As well as offering VOIP services, Berry provide on-premise phone systems – plus dynamic solutions that combine the two. Its handsets look great and offer a range of impressive call reporting and recording features.

Berry provides a scalable, flexible VOIP service that integrates seamlessly with your database. It connects with your CRM tool to equip you with all the info you need to never miss a sale. And Berry’s range of collaborative tools aims to bring your team members closer together. Which means happier staff and happier customers.

How Berry VoIP systems can benefit your business:

✓ Around the clock support

✓ Collaborative features to enable team coordination

✓ Comprehensive call reporting

✓ Flexible phone system options

✓ Personal Account Manager

✓ Easy to set up

✓ Highly scalable

✓ Knows the unique challenges faced by UK businesses

✓ Simple and intuitive web and smartphone interfaces


RingCentral

RingCentral is a global leader in cloud communications and collaboration solutions. It has over 350,000 businesses relying on their systems worldwide, and partnerships with leading carriers, like BT. Their simple to use, featureful products enable today’s mobile and distributed workforce to communicate, collaborate, and connect from anywhere, on any device. It offers a range of packages for the UK market to suit almost any budget, with prices starting at just £7.99 per user, per month. And let’s not forget there’s the option of a 14 day trial!

Read Review

RingCentral unifies voice, video, team messaging, conferencing, online meetings, and integrated contact centre solutions. What’s more, their open platform integrates with leading business apps and is highly customisable.

Their innovative cloud-based VoIP solutions suit businesses of all sizes, from small local enterprises to multinational organisations.

How RingCentral VoIP systems can benefit your business:

✓ Connect anytime, anywhere with mobile and desktop applications

✓ Cloud phone system, video conferencing, team messaging, online fax and more

✓ One provider for all your communications

✓ Low, all-inclusive, monthly pricing starting at £7.99

✓ IVR, auto-receptionist, analytics, and over 50 other features

✓ Out-of-the-box integrations with Salesforce, Google, Microsoft and more

✓ High-quality local 24/7 customer support

✓ Robust security and reliability


bOnline

With excellent customer approval ratings and free setup, installation, and support, bOnline is a small business' dream. Its new customer offer allows small businesses to benefit from unlimited VoIP for just £9 per user, per month, and make calls to a generous 36 destinations. Better still, those VoIP services are about as feature-rich as they get; virtual receptionist, call recording, and after-hours smart routing are all included as standard, while bOnline's mobile app is a pleasure to use.

bOnline's small-business focussed packages are tailormade to scale as your operations do. You'll have three packages to choose from:

  • VoIP talk (£9, discounted from £14) provides 100 minutes of calling to UK landlines and mobiles
  • VoIP talk 1200 (£13, discounted from £16) gets you 1200 minutes to UK landlines and mobiles
  • VoIP talk unlimited (£16, discounted from £18) offers… well, you can probably guess!

All plans come with a free domain and two business mails, along with full mobility across laptop, tablet, and smartphone. bOnline's VoIP phones also come equipped with more than 50 features, while an extra £3.25 to £8 per month bags you 500 minutes of calls to 50 countries. With the benefits you'll see on spend, productivity, and simplicity, it's never been more profitable to be online!

How bOnline VoIP systems can benefit your business:

✓ On-site set-up, configuration, and system changes performed by in-house engineers

✓ Completely customisable and adaptable

✓ Call recording powered by AI analytics

Affordable, friendly service that makes switching easy

✓ Mobile softphone application

✓ Simple contracts

Comprehensive CRM integration

Transparent international rates


Network Telecom

Part of Enreach, Network Telecom specialises in providing flexible, scalable solutions to businesses, and aims to make remote working seamless – which can only be appreciated at times like these. Its VoIP phone systems come with softphone functionality and integrate with your team's business mobiles, enabling them to take calls from anywhere, on any device – and even flip between devices mid-call. Plus, with an intuitively simple admin portal and CRM system integration, you'll be able to manage contacts and calls efficiently.

Network Telecom's cloud-based packages offer incredible flexibility and user-friendliness – especially in the new realms of widespread remote working.

NT Cloud PRO is Network Telecom's truly portable, fully hosted cloud phone system, which users can access from any device or browser, anywhere. Network Telecom also offers NT Cloud PBX, a feature-rich hosted PBX system.

Meanwhile, Network Telecom's sleek touchscreen desk phone, NT Multimedia, can be plugged in and used anywhere with a wifi connection. Better still, it boasts all the features of a smartphone, including free HD video calling, email access, and the ability to download apps.

How Network Telecom VoIP systems can benefit your business:

Offers three months of use for free

✓ Softphone and mobile integration mean you can take the system anywhere

✓ Sleek touchscreen desk phones are modern and intuitive

✓ Simple, easy to use portal for managing users and settings

Voicemail, on-hold marketing, presence checking, and call recording

Virtual receptionist

CRM system integration

Instant messaging and video conferencing


BT

BT are a household name and the world’s oldest telecommunication company. They serve a range of telephony and TV services to companies worldwide. BT cover everyone from the smallest to largest of companies. They have a range of solutions from fixed lines to VoIP and managed networked IT.

BT’s cloud-based VoIP phone systems are scalable, with powerful call management features. They offer three core packages:

  • BT Cloud Phone is “plug and play” for up to nine users
  • BT Cloud Voice is more sophisticated for five users or more
  • BT One Phone Office is an integrated mobile and premises operated system for five or more users or call centres. It’s perfect if you have a mobile workforce, and lets you manage all your calls from one mobile device.

Each of BT’s hosted lines comes with an inclusive geographic number, with the option of adding more for an additional charge

If you are already utilising BT fixed lines you may find the BT VoIP a cost-effective product to consider

How BT VoIP systems can benefit your business:

✓ Choice of regional phone numbers, or virtual geographic numbers

✓ Full mobile integration, and diversion for remote working

✓ Call forwarding, routing, voicemail and three-way calling

✓ Call monitoring and recording

✓ CRM integration

✓ Cloud-based, with software-based management portal

✓ Instant messenger for employees

✓ Audio and video conferencing


Focus Group

Focus Group have grown quickly in the UK since they were founded in 2005, going from a start-up with two employees to an organisation with over 300 staff. Their portfolio of web-based products spans IT, data, and telephony, and offer combined IP PBX telephone and fully cloud-based VoIP solutions.

Focus Group’s main VoIP product is Horizon Unified Communications. With fixed and mobile telephony provided by a simple to use web portal, it’s targeted at any size of business. It can be particularly suited to multi-site operations, and those with off-site employees.

Horizon is used by those who need a ‘business continuity solution’, as they describe it, with comprehensive support to continue operating in the event of a major issue. Services can be instantly moved to a backup or diversion plan, without losing functionality or using call forwarding.

How Focus Group VoIP systems can benefit your business:

✓ Combined IP-based and PBX option

✓ Free calls between branch offices and mobile phones

✓ Shared dial plans and directories

✓ On hold, marketing messages, and call forwarding

✓ Only pay for what you use

✓ Cost effective call recording from any location

✓ “One number anywhere” for desk or mobile

✓ Choice of telephone numbers


8x8

Multi-award winning global telecoms provider 8×8 boast big brand clients worldwide, including McDonalds. Their solutions focus on various sectors including government, healthcare and education. They have over 50,000 satisfied business customers and a full UK HQ.

8×8’s main product focus is on two provisions: Virtual Office and Virtual Contact Centre for call centre operations.

Virtual Office is richly featured and mobile, with extensive analytics for improving productivity. It’s easy to use, and offers a continuous communications services no matter your location.

How 8×8 VoIP systems can benefit your business:

✓ Extension dialling, auto attendant and ring groups

✓ Call recording

✓ Internet faxing

✓ Web conferencing and video meetings

✓ Desktop and mobile applications, or feature rich IP phones

✓ Extensive CRM integration


Mitel

Mitel are the fastest growing global cloud communications provider serving over 70 million customers in almost 100 countries worldwide. They have over 1,600 patents and applications with an excellent reputation for innovation. Their solutions stretch across business communications, contact centre specialisms and cloud services. They have regional offices globally, so pride themselves on ‘global reach, local touch’.

Read Review

Mitel categorise their solutions across industry and company size. They offer public and private cloud-based solutions, and combined hybrid cloud solutions for those who need it.

MiCloud is their cloud-based VoIP product, safely housed in multiple data locations to prevent downtime. Users have the same functionality in an office, in the field or working remotely. There are three industry leading packages – MiCloud Office, MiCloud Business and MiCloud Flex – to suit businesses of all sizes.

How Mitel VoIP systems can benefit your business:

✓ Complete mobile integration

✓ The same features on mobile and desktop

✓ Easily deployed and scalable

✓ Focus on the millennial generation and the tech-savvy

✓ Full CRM integration

✓ Call recording, playback, evaluation and storage

✓ Easily managed voice, IM and email from one screen

✓ Powerful business analytics

✓ Contact centre options and integrations


Top 10 VoIP Desk Phones

VoIP desk phones work with a cloud-based VoIP, or hybrid IP-PBX solution. They provide physical desk solutions – ie. not softphones – which are headset compatible. They can be used alongside other components from your VoIP phone system provider, such as smartphone applications and desktop computers.

We’ve included our top picks for entry-level, wired VoIP systems and DECT (cordless) VoIP systems below:

5 Best entry-level VoIP office phones

The selection of phones below includes basic, wired models that function a lot like conventional desk phones:

1. Yealink SIP-T21P Entry Level IP phone

Yealink SIP-T21P

This is a great all-round, entry-level IP phone. It has a slightly lower price point than the Grandstream GXP2200 (see below), but offers the same key benefits. Features include: two VoIP accounts, local three-way conferencing, voicemail, message waiting indication, direct IP call without SIP proxy, and phonebook (1000 entries). There is also an extra-large graphical LCD display, providing more visual information at a glance.

Price: £50

Overall Rating :

The Yealink SIP-T21P is the ideal entry-level phone. Cost effective and easy to install, the handset has a clear display as well as secure privacy settings. High-definition audio makes this phone a great choice for offices of all sizes. It also works seamlessly with IP or IP PBX.

Key features:

✓ HD voice, handset and speaker

✓ Group listening, SMS, emergency calling

✓ Phone book and black list

✓ Language selection and caller ID


2. Grandstream GXP2200 Android desktop phone

Grandstream GXP2200

This is an inexpensive corded multimedia Android VoIP phone. It features a responsive touchscreen LCD, in addition to hard keys for functions such as mute, voicemail, hold and so on. As this phone uses an Android operating system, it enables access to popular applications, such Skype, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Google Voice.

Price: £80

Overall Rating :

The Grandstream GXP2200 is a modern, feature-rich desk phone ideal for forward-thinking businesses. This VoIP phone will suit all types of organisations. Apps can be downloaded via Google Play Store, or you can create custom ones. It has a 4.3 inch touchscreen LCD.

Key features:

✓ Directory with 1000 contacts

✓ Call history holds 500 records

✓ Call transfer, forwarding and waiting

✓ HD wideband audio


3. Yealink T23GN Dual Gigabit Ethernet IP phone

Yealink T23GN

A well-priced phone with an easy-to-use interface and HD audio. Features include: call hold, mute, one touch speed dial and call forwarding. It also has local three-way conferencing, ring tone selection and import, and a local phone book with 1000 entries.

Price: £75

Overall Rating :

The Yealink T23GN is a full featured IP-PBX phone which accepts three lines, has caller display and anonymous call rejection. It’s a good all-round VoIP desk phone for any office, but especially small to medium sized businesses.

Key features:

✓ Large directory

✓ Extensive features

✓ Dual gigabit Ethernet ports

✓ 132 x 64 white backlit display


4. Polycom VVX 600

Polycom VVX 600

The Polycom VVX 600 is a more advanced VoIP desk phone option. It gives exceptional call quality and has a large, very responsive touchscreen. This corded phone supports up to 16 lines, video conferencing and playback through the use of external USB cameras. It also features HD voice technology.

Price: £215

Overall Rating :

The Polycom VVX600 is one of the most popular VoIP phones available. The bright display enables users to manage their calendars, and receive meeting and catch up reminders, all on their phone handset. This capability saves time and boosts productivity.

Key features:

✓ 4.3″ LCD touchscreen

✓ Bluetooth integration

✓ HD voice quality

✓ Dual USB ports


5. Mitel IP485G

Mitel IP485G

A general office VoIP desktop phone, the IP485G has a backlit colour display with a searchable, expanded directory. It has built in visual voicemail alongside standard transfer, conference call and on hold features.

Price: £75

Overall Rating :

The Mitel IP485G phone is ideal for an office-based professional. It has a full duplex speakerphone, visual voice and conferencing capability, and a 10/100/1000 Ethernet switch for Gigabit speed.

Key features:

✓ Eight lines

✓ Expanded call history

✓ LED indicators

✓ 480 x 272 backlit colour display


Best DECT VoIP Office Phones

VoIP DECT phones are cordless. This makes them more mobile than traditional VoIP telephones.

The most innovative phones have a wide range of features including large colour LED displays, SMS facilities, and integrated phone books. VoIP DECT phones are manufactured by many of the big telecoms companies including BT, Mitel, Siemens, Panasonic, Cisco and Gigaset.

Here’s our pick of the top five around today:

1. Panasonic KX-TGP600 DECT Phone

Panasonic KX-TGP600

The Panasonic KX-TGP600 suits small to medium sized businesses which need a more mobile desk phone. It’s a wireless VoIP DECT phone which can fit eight handsets to each base and will handle eight simultaneous calls.

Price: £85

Overall Rating :

This phone has a vivid colour screen and a long battery life. SRTP (Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol) is available for extra phone security. The phone has an excellent and extendable range.

Key features:

✓ Range of 100-200 feet

✓ Noise reduction technology

✓ 200 hours standby battery life / 11 hours talk time

✓ Repeaters available to extend connection range


2. Mitel Aastra 632 DECT Phone

Mitel Aastra 632

The Mitel 632 DECT is a hardy DECT business phone. It can be used outside, or in industrial environments. It’s perfect for factory floors and care or medical facilities, as it’s easy to clean and complies with hygiene requirements. It also has a sensor alarm and an emergency call key suited to hospitals or highly secure areas.

Price: £85

Overall Rating :

A superb quality workplace phone for both general and specialised environments. It has a colour TFT display, extensive telephone book, ambient noise filter, and a mini USB PC interface, and many more features. The Mitel 632 has all the functionality and navigation you would expect, plus the added benefit of its robust design for certain workplaces.

Key features:

✓ 12 hour talk time

✓ Man down, no movement and escape alarm

✓ Hands-free operation

✓ Compatible with high hygiene workplaces


3. Gigaset SL785 DECT phone

Gigaset SL785

The Gigaset SL785 is ideal for home and office-use. It has positive reviews for its touchscreen interface with integrated answering machine (45 minute recording capacity) and ECO DECT technology for reduced battery and power usage.

Price: £195

Overall Rating :

The slick design makes this model perfect for modern businesses and the clear display offers a number of functionality benefits. Other advantages include: directory transfer options and the ability to store multiple numbers under one directory entry.

Key features:

✓ Bluetooth enabled

✓ Base handset locator

✓ Call recording

✓ 15 hour talk time



4. Yealink W52P

Yealink W52P

With a 1.8 inch colour display and intuitive user interface, the Yealink W52P offers all the standard features you would expect including intercom, transfer, call forwarding and three-way conferencing.

Price: £90

Overall Rating :

With a 1.8” colour display and intuitive user interface. The Yealink W52P offers all the standard features you would expect including intercom, transfer, call forwarding and three-way conferencing.

Key features:

✓ Exceptional HD sound

✓ Highly scalable

✓ Up to 4 simultaneous calls

✓ Up to 5 VoIP accounts


5. Grandstream DP720 DECT IP Phone

Grandstream DP720

This is an inexpensive VoIP solution that gets the job done. Up to five phones can be attached to a single DECT hub and up to 10 SIP accounts per handset. It’s a full HD audio phone with a long range that’s perfect for small businesses or as a home phone.

Price: £50

Overall Rating :

The Grandstream DP720 is a high quality DECT wireless IP phone designed for homes and small business. It has three-way local conferencing, phonebook, and DECT authentication and encryption technology. With a modern design and high-end features, it’s a great phone for a great price.

Key features:

✓ 10 hour talk time

✓ 80 hour standby mode

✓ 300 metre outdoor range, 50 metre indoor range

✓ 5 phones per DECT base


Benefits of VoIP for your small business

VoIP Benefits for small business

VoIP brings several benefits for your business, no matter the size. Let's take a look four ways a VoIP system can help your business grow.

1. Reduce costs

The adoption of a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephone system for your small business can drastically reduce both your capex (capital expenditure) and opex (operational expenditure).

In other words, not only is it a great long term investment, but it will start saving you money on your calls from day one.

Providers such as One2Call offer free inter-site communication, which is hugely beneficial for your business, especially if you're looking to expand. Providers offer VoIP to UK landline calls for as little as 1p per minute.

2. Flexible and mobile communications

VoIP systems can work from any location with internet, or via a VPN (virtual private network). This makes them a great choice for if you run a smaller business, with staff who work from home. Telephone numbers can be retained and will remain directly associated with the main business office, allowing employees to use the same service.

One good example of what UK VoIP providers can offer your small business comes from Voipfone, who deliver up to 800 different extensions (per account).

These can be placed in any physical location, in the same office or internationally, and calls will be free of charge.


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3. Enable growth

VoIP offers the potential to scale up operations as your business continues to grow.

Additional ports can be easily configured and brought online to provide for an extended service, or withdrawn and taken down when you no longer need them.

This can all be achieved seamlessly without disruption or down time, ensuring that communication between your employees and customers will not suffer.

The V-Plan Business VoIP package from Vonage (from £12.25 per month) gives you unlimited dialling to UK landlines, as well as unlimited calls to Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Canada and the US. This makes it a great option if your business is looking to expand into exciting new territories.

4. Connect to the future

Studies have shown that over 45% of UK businesses were already using VoIP phone systems in 2016 and that the majority of the rest would be doing so in the near future. And with call charges of up to 50% lower than BT and other providers, it’s no wonder so many savvy small businesses in the UK are making the switch. Are you?


VoIP Phone Accessories

Some businesses choose to invest in VoIP headsets, which have a number of benefits including increased employee comfort when making long calls, freeing your hands for other tasks such as using a computer while you are on the phone and freedom of movement.

The latest models have significantly improved sound quality compared to earlier handsets. There are a number of different VoIP headphones available with prices starting from around £20 per set.

Other accessories available include conference call sound stations, and cases to protect cordless phones. There’s a wide range of suppliers of VoIP telephone hardware, so shopping around is always a good idea.

VoIP: The Verdict

As we’ve already seen, a VoIP service offers many important benefits that will help you run a more efficient, flexible business. To find out more about the costs and services available from service providers, fill in this short form and we’ll gather the most competitive prices for you – for free!

Aimee Bradshaw Writer and researcher

Aimee is Expert Market’s resident telephone systems and point of sale go-to. If she’s not writing about business products, you’ll find her daydreaming about dog walking on Dorset beaches.

Verizon Connect Integrated Dash Cam Review 2020

By Aimee Bradshaw | Writer and researcher | Updated: 11 June 2020

Are you an ambitious fleet owner looking to scale your operations while prioritising safety? You’re in the right place…


Verizon Connect Integrated Video Dash Cam

Pros:

  • Durable, 720p dash cam
  • Installation you can take care of yourself
  • Intuitive app interface is easy to get to grips with
  • Push notifications keep you in the loop
  • 3-month free offer available

X Cons:

  • Pricing isn’t transparent
  • The dash cam isn't standalone; you'll also need a subscription to Verizon's fleet management software
At a glance: Verizon Connect’s integrated dash cam solution offers slick, stylish hardware, and the scalable software to match.

With the fastest 5G network in the world and an employee base roughly equivalent to the population of Kingston upon Thames, Verizon doesn’t do things by halves.

It’s little surprise, then, that Verizon’s dash cams (part of Verizon Connect, the tech behemoth’s range of fleet management and asset tracking tools) are at the industry’s forefront.

But what can Verizon Connect Integrated Video do for your business?


What are Verizon Connect’s features and benefits?

Receive updates in close to real-time

If one of your employees is driving dangerously – or, worse still, is involved in a collision while out on the road – you’ll need to know about it as soon as possible.

With Verizon Connect, you’ll receive a push notification when any kind of aggressive driving occurs, such as harsh braking or hard cornering. Verizon Connect’s advanced algorithms also analyse the severity of these events for you, and classify them based on their risk to road users. 

Verizon Connect live notifications

Plus, Verizon Connect isn’t just smart – it’s speedy, too. After unsafe driving occurs, you’ll be able to view footage of it within three to five minutes. This allows you to respond to cavalier cornering and bad braking with speed and decisiveness, and demonstrate your fleet’s commitment to safer driving.

Complete fleet visibility – anywhere, anytime

The strength of Verizon Connect’s solution lies not in its dash cams alone. Rather, it’s within the synergy of that hardware with its powerful, cloud-based analytics platform, Verizon Connect Reveal.

Formerly known as Fleetmatics Reveal, Verizon Connect Reveal is an advanced vehicle tracking portal that offers a 360-degree view of your fleet. There’s nothing to download or install – you simply log in from a web browser on your smartphone, tablet, or computer, and get started.

verizon connect reveal software on devices

Your dash cam footage is also stored on that cloud platform, meaning it’s not taking up precious space on your computer. Verizon Connect saves your videos for up to 90 days before deleting them – helping you cut down on old, unnecessary footage, while remaining GDPR compliant (and avoiding big fines!).

Plus, when combined with Verizon’s fleet management and route optimisation tools, you’ll see savings across your fuel and maintenance costs, too.

For more information about Verizon Connect’s vehicle tracking and fleet management software, read our review.

Industry-leading hardware

Backing up all that intelligent software are the dash cams themselves. Verizon Connect’s devices shoot the road in 720p HD video, while offering an impressive 150 degrees of vision – meaning you’ll see exactly what the driver does.
Verizon Connect dash cam with software
Better still, Verizon Connect’s dash cams – unlike most of the cheap-and-cheerful varieties you’ll find on the shelves of your local Halfords – are built to last. 

Verizon Connect’s dash cams are built to withstand the vibrations and high heat of even the toughest environments, while their sleek design should add a touch of class to your cabs.

Free installation

And, when it comes to actually installing that hardware, you can do it your way. For DIY types, Verizon Connect provides installation instructions online, while you can activate it all through the Verizon Connect Reveal mobile app. 

For the less hands-on fleet owners out there, installation by a trained technician is provided for free.

Capture hard evidence of road incidents

When an accident occurs, a dash cam records it – but that’s just the absolute minimum. With Verizon Connect’s integrated solution, you’ll get so much more.

Its GPS-equipped dash cams let you know exactly where the vehicle was when the scrape occurred, who was driving it, and – crucially – how fast they were going.

This info (along with the footage itself, of course) can be important when it comes to settling insurance claims, and for driver training purposes. And, when combined with Verizon Connect’s fleet management and route optimisation tools, you’ll see savings across your fuel and maintenance costs, too.

Ready to start comparing tailored dash cam quotes? Let's go

How much does Verizon Connect cost?

To benefit from Verizon Connect’s integrated dash cams, you’ll first need to have a subscription to its fleet management software, Reveal. 

Verizon Connect Reveal is SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), meaning that you’ll pay a monthly subscription fee to lease the software. In Verizon Connect’s case, that’s around £20 per month, though it will vary depending on the features you need. 

On top of this, you’ll pay an additional fee of around £20 per month for Verizon Connect’s dash cam. However, it’s important to remember that all businesses are different, and what you’ll pay will hinge on the type of vehicles you operate, and how many of them you’d like dash cams installed in.

To get a better understanding of exactly how much your business can expect to pay for an integrated dash cam solution, tap into our free quote-finding service

Here’s how it works:

1. Provide us with some information about your fleet, such as:

  • How many vehicles are in it?
  • Are they cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles, or something else?
  • Which type of dash cam are you most interested in?
  • What is your postcode?

2. We match you with suppliers that are tailored to your fleet’s specific requirements, including location.
3. You’ll hear directly from up to three industry-leading suppliers (including Verizon Connect), who’ll provide no-obligation quotes that are tailored to your business’ requirements.

It’s that simple.

Verizon Connect is currently offering three months free when you sign up to a 39-month contract.

Is Verizon Connect right for my business?

“I’m in the business of haulage. Is Verizon Connect a good fit for me?”

Verizon Connect’s integrated dash cam is ideal for truckers, HGVs, and fleets in the logistics industry. 

To explain why, we’ll contrast Verizon Connect’s integrated dash cam with a cheap, off-the-shelf one – in this case, the plucky RAC 100 (£14.95). Like all basic dash cams, the RAC 100 is ‘passive’ – to view footage, you’ll need your drivers to manually remove the cam’s SD card at the end of their journey, and download the video.

When you’re operating a fleet that’s making lengthy cross-country trips, there’s no time (or energy) to spare for this. Worse, you won’t know how your lorry drivers are getting on until the journey is complete, and will struggle to provide your clients with accurate ETAs.

Now, consider Verizon Connect Integrated Video. Unlike the RAC 100, it comes equipped with GPS capability. You’ll know exactly where your trucks are, and whether they’re following the recommended route. You’ll also get insights into driver behaviour in close to real-time, and be able to watch segments of each journey as it happens.

For truckers, it’s got to be Verizon Connect – or at least one of our other top picks for heavy vehicle fleets. Explore them below.

“I’m looking to add dash cams to a small fleet of between three and four vehicles”

In this case, Verizon Connect’s integrated dash cam solution might not be for you. Verizon Connect's dash cam isn't a standalone product – it relies on integration with Reveal, Verizon Connect's fleet management software. The additional expense of this package may be too much for some small fleets – who are also less likely to need the sophisticated variety of fleet data Verizon Connect's software provides.

For very small fleets, a basic, off-the-shelf dash cam might just do the trick. However, they’re not user-friendly, and you’ll have to get used to sifting through hours of footage at a time. As a short-term solution, basic dash cams fit the bill – but they won’t grow with your business in the same way that Verizon Connect will.

Ready to start comparing tailored dash cam quotes? Let's go

What do Verizon Connect’s customer reviews say?

We don’t write reviews that don’t take the customer’s opinion into account. So, what do Verizon Connect’s customer base have to say about the tech giant’s integrated dash cam solution?

Well, reviews of the dash cams themselves are surprisingly few and far between. Feedback about the software package (Verizon Connect Reveal, which also includes fleet tracking and management), though, is widely available. 

Let’s take a look.

Cindy says:

“We love this software, and we have improved employee driving safety by using it. We've been using [Verizon Connect Reveal] for years. We initially signed up because we wanted to keep track of what employees were doing in our company vehicles, but the software is capable of so much more. 

“From tracking our oil changes to sending us alerts when employees are speeding, we use this every day. The customer service is amazing, and there's a pretty nice referral program, too.”

As Cindy highlights, Verizon Connect’s software allows you to do more than merely monitor dash cam footage. You’ll also be able to track your vehicles, foster better, safer habits in your drivers, and benefit from good customer service to boot.

Another review highlights the mobile app’s refreshingly smooth interface:

Nate says: 

“I like the Verizon Connect Reveal app, through which I can track where our trucks are at any moment. I also like the reports that I can run to see the different metrics of each vehicle. The user interface is pretty easy to use; simple and concise.”

However, it’s not all good. 

Buz says:

“Even though the trackers were installed for free, I feel that the monthly service is too expensive. It seems maybe you could get incentives or price breaks.”

The software’s high price does crop up a lot as a sticking point for Verizon Connect’s customers. As do it’s waiting times, as Caity explains:

Caity says:

“I can go weeks waiting for an email back from their team.”


What other dash cams could I consider?

If you’re put off by the price point of Verizon Connect’s dash cams (or if the size of your fleet doesn’t yet warrant such sophisticated features), then don’t fret. There are several other providers you can consider.

For an off-the-shelf solution, you can’t go wrong with these options:

Expert Market logo vector transparentapeman c420Garmin Mini dash cammotorola mdc125Viofo a119 v3
Apeman C420Garmin MiniMotorola MDC125Viofo A119 V3
Display screen?X
GPS tracking?XXX
Parking mode?XX
Read more: Dash Cam Prices 2020: A Guide for UK Businesses

For larger fleets with more than five vehicles, we recommend looking at more high-end alternatives to Verizon Connect:

Samsara Dual-Facing CM22Nextbase 522GW

Samsara Dual-Facing CM22

Nextbase 522GW

Voice-based driver coachingCompatibility with Amazon Alexa
Infrared LED for driving at nightIntelligent parking mode
Automatic upload to the cloudEmergency SOS response feature

If any of these take your fancy, why not start comparing dash cam quotes now – with us?

It’s simple. Just take 30 seconds to provide us with a little more information about your requirements, and we’ll match you with leading dash cam providers. They’ll provide you with tailored quotes, that’ll take into account the size of your fleet and the features you need. It’s completely free for UK-based businesses, too.


Expert verdict

Verizon Connect Integrated Dash Cam represents some of the finest fleet optimisation technology on the market.

It is relatively expensive, yes – and certain customer reviews do raise a few questions surrounding Verizon Connect’s customer support. But, for businesses looking to make a long-term investment in safety, productivity, and their reputation, Verizon Connect is a must.

Do you use Verizon Connect’s integrated dash cams? Do you agree with our verdict? To chat more about your experience with Verizon Connect’s products, send me an email at rob.binns@expertmarket.co.uk and share your thoughts.

Ready to start comparing tailored dash cam quotes? Let's go
Aimee Bradshaw Writer and researcher

Aimee is Expert Market’s resident telephone systems and point of sale go-to. If she’s not writing about business products, you’ll find her daydreaming about dog walking on Dorset beaches.

Dash Cams: The Ultimate Guide for UK Businesses

By Aimee Bradshaw | Writer and researcher | Updated: 5 June 2020

What is a dash cam? How does it work? And which type of dash cam can accelerate your business’ growth?


Dashboard cameras. Once primarily the facilitator of questionable YouTube entertainment, dash cams are now gaining serious traction in the world of business. With one in four motorists in the UK using one, it’s not hard to see why fleet managers are flocking to them in their droves.

Dash cams can help you cultivate better road safety habits, cut out lazy or aggressive driving, and settle disputes. Dash cams aren’t just a boost for your reputation, either – with the savings available on fuel, mileage, and your insurance, they’re a breath of fresh air for your wallet, too.

But what is a dash cam exactly, and how does it work? Furthermore, how do you choose the right type of dash cam for your fleet, and ensure you’re getting the best value for your business?

Read on to find out. Or, if you’re short on time and want to get to the business end, simply let us know your requirements. We’ll ask about the types of vehicle in your fleet, how many there are, and what dash cam features you’ve got your eye on, if any. Then, you’ll receive quotes tailored to your business’ requirements. It takes 30 seconds, and it’s free.


What is a dash cam?

Dash cam attached to a car interior mirror

A dash cam is an onboard recording device, usually attached to the inside of the windscreen, which is used to capture video and audio from in and around your vehicle. This footage can be downloaded and viewed to provide insight into your drivers’ habits, and get to the bottom of things if there’s an accident.


How do dash cams work?

As with most tech solutions for businesses, dash cam solutions are comprised of two parts.

Dash cam hardware

First, there’s the hardware – in this case, the windscreen-mounted camera itself. 

Once it’s installed to the inside or outside of your vehicle (tucked in behind the rearview mirror is usually the safest bet), it’ll capture what you want it to: whether that’s a view of the road ahead only, or footage from within the car, too.

And – at least where basic, off-the-shelf dash cams are concerned – that’s all there is to it. When you want to view the footage, you’ll have to manually remove the camera’s SD card, hook it up to your computer, and download the recording. Unless…

Dash cam software

With more advanced dash cam solutions, though, there’s a second component – the software. Here, video footage is transmitted via the cloud to an app on your smartphone or tablet. 

Rather than having to wait until a journey’s over, you’ll get insights into what’s happening out on the tarmac in close to real time. With Verizon Connect, for instance, footage is available between three and five minutes after unsafe driving occurs. 

You’ll also receive push notifications that let you know when there’s been an accident, so you can address it straight away  – without having to sift through hours of footage first, or wait until your vehicle is back at base.

Providers offering this business-grade level of software include Verizon Connect, Samsara, and UK Fuels. Click below to tell us about your requirements, and get tailored dash cam quotes.

Want to explore how a dash cam can help your business grow? Yes, please!

What are the features and benefits of a dash cam?

Though recording the road is their raison d'être, dash cams bring a whole host of additional features to the table. Here’s a whistle-stop tour:

GPS (Global Positioning Service) capability

A GPS-enabled dash cam has obvious advantages. As well as recording your vehicles’ journeys, it allows you to see where those vehicles are – and how far they’ve travelled. The good news is that GPS also allows you to optimise your routes and save cash on fuel

The better news? These days, most dash cams do work with GPS – even the more basic varieties. However, the high spec dash cam options, such as Verizon Connect, still come out on top. Verizon Connect’s hardware sits as a function within its wider GPS fleet management software – allowing you to not only track your vehicles, but leverage data insights to get the most out of them, too.

G-sensors

Also known as an accelerometer, a G-sensor detects sudden changes in acceleration and direction, as well as harsh braking. Helpfully, it also measures the force applied during a collision – allowing you to extract important details from the footage, in the event of a crash.

Parking mode

Dash cams with ‘parking mode’ have the ability to record footage continuously – even when the vehicle isn’t in motion.

Parking mode (also known as ‘sentry mode’, or ‘360-degree surveillance’) is indispensable if you’re worried about your vehicles being vandalised or stolen when stationary.

While this feature tends to be restricted to the more high-end dash cam models on the market, we’d still recommend it – particularly for tradespeople that travel in vans full of expensive tools.

Night vision

Simple, but essential. If your fleet is in haulage or logistics, and requires a lot of travel by night, you’ll need to make sure your chosen dash cam supports this feature.

What do all these features mean for your business? Let us count the ways.

The benefits of using a dash cam for your business’ fleet include:

  • Helping settle insurance claims and determine liability
  • Identifying where drivers are relying on inefficient routes
  • Cutting down on fuel spend and reducing idling
  • Driving down your insurance costs
  • Acting as a deterrent for disruptive customer or passenger behaviour
  • Maintaining a record of collisions, even when parked
  • Determining the speed, acceleration, and location involved in an incident
  • Monitoring the progress of deliveries or jobs in near real time

However, not all dash cams are created equal. And not all will provide the entirety of features above. 

There’s a world of difference between a camera you might pay a few quid for at Halford’s, and a fully integrated, machine learning-driven piece of tech from a provider such as Verizon Connect.

Essentially, the benefits your business will get from a dash cam rely on how much you’re willing to pay, and on the specific type of dash cam your fleet needs.


What type of dash cam do I need?

Dash cams aren’t ever a ‘one-size fits all’ approach – just one of the reasons we always recommend a tailored, integrated dash cam solution, rather than a generic, off-the-shelf version.

Ultimately, the right dash cam for you depends on what you want to use it for. Whether that’s mainly for insurance purposes, or to make sure your drivers are on the ball, read on to find out what type of dash cam suits you best.

Front-facing dash cam

Lorry with front view dash cam

The bread and butter of the dash cam world, this device captures everything happening on the road ahead of your vehicle.

As the cheapest, most simple dash cam option around, front-facing dash cams are a great way to enter the market. They’re useful for proving who was at fault if there’s an incident, and for ensuring your employees are driving safely. And, if you decide you like it, it’s easier to scale up to a more high-end solution.

Front-facing dash cams are best for:

  • Individuals
  • Small fleets (less than five vehicles)

Front and rear dash cam

Lorry with front and rear view dash cam

Traffic accidents, when they occur, tend to happen from behind. One piece of abrupt braking from the vehicle in front, plus one distracted driver behind, equals a mess your business doesn’t need. Here’s where the front and rear dash cam comes in.

By capturing footage from the rear – as well as the front – of your vehicle, this type of dash cam doubles your coverage in case of an unwanted prang. 

That’s why we most recommend it for heavy vehicles, or those making long cross-country deliveries. It’s the law of averages, after all – the more hours you spend out on the road, the higher your chance of a scrape… and the more coverage you’ll require.

Front and rear dash cams are best for:

  • Lorries and other HGV fleets
  • Haulage businesses
  • Logistics

Cabin view dash cam

Lorry with front and cabin view dash cam

Cabin view dash cams record footage from both the inside and outside of your vehicle. Why do you need footage from inside your vehicle, you ask?

Well, it’s not about spying on your employees – though a cabin view dash cam does allow you to stamp out dangerous and distracted driving. Rather, this type of dash cam is useful for taxi firms, who wish to provide their employees with an extra layer of security.

Dash cam footage can – and, in fact, has beenused in court as supporting evidence. That means it can act as an effective deterrent for any antisocial behaviour in the back of your taxis, and make your drivers feel safe and supported.

Better still, the more advanced cabin view dash cams can even prevent accidents happening in the first place. Samsara’s AI-equipped camera can spot if the driver is distracted, has their eyes closed, or is looking anywhere other than at the road.

Then, this smart dash cam speaks directly to the driver, issuing a warning and urging them to refocus their attention. It’s a life-saving feature that could be the difference between a successful job and serious injury.

Cabin view dash cams are best for:

  • Taxis
  • Couriers
  • Plumbers
  • Electricians

How much does a dash cam cost?

The answer to this question really depends on how advanced (and how scalable) you need your dash cam setup to be.

The most basic dash cams (such as the RAC 100) start from around £15. Slightly more feature-rich off-the-shelf dash cams will set you back between £49 (for Nextbase’s rear-facing camera) and £89 (the Garmin Mini). Beyond this, you can pay up to £400 or more for higher spec solutions, such as the Blackvue DR900S front and rear-facing package.

Though these dash cams are available at a one-off (and relatively affordable) cost, we’d only endorse them for individuals, or for the smallest of fleets. If you’re in charge of at least five vehicles, you should consider a more advanced setup.

That's why (for businesses, at least) we recommend an integrated dash cam solution – one that backs up your onboard camera with intelligent software. A package like this will cost you a monthly fee to lease the software, with a single, one-time cost to purchase the devices themselves. Verizon Connect Integrated Video and Samsara are our top picks for this type of dash cam.

For more information about costs, check out our complete guide to dash cam prices for UK businesses.

FAQs

Am I responsible for installing my own dash cam?

Should you opt for a basic dash cam, then yes – you will be required to install it yourself. However, when you invest in an integrated hardware/software package, installation is often included at no cost, or is available from a team of experts for a nominal fee.

Many companies offer much-needed flexibility when it comes to installation. Verizon Connect, for instance, provides the option to self-install (with instructions online and activation available through an app), or to have a technician come to you.

Do dash cams constantly record?

Most dash cams are made to record continuously. However, some of the more high spec systems can be configured to only begin recording when sudden or adverse motion is detected. 

Dash cams with parking mode can record continuously, regardless of whether the engine is on or the vehicle in motion.

How long do dash cams keep footage for?

When it comes to reviewing longer-term insurance claims, having access to historical dash cam footage is vital. However, you’ll need to ensure that you’re remaining compliant in the eyes of the law – specifically, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

That’s why we recommend opting for a cloud-based dash cam setup. This software puts GDPR at the forefront, allowing you to remain compliant by not holding onto any data your business might not strictly need for longer than permitted.

Verizon Connect’s software, for instance, can only retain footage for 90 days – helping you avoid hefty fines for non-compliance.

What are the best dash cams for businesses?

Our top pick is Verizon Connect’s integrated video solution, though we also recommend devices from Garmin, ASUS, Nextbase, and Cobra. For our full rundown on the best dash cams for small businesses, check out our bumper guide.

Or, for an even faster, more direct route to exploring the best dash cam selections for your business, try comparing quotes with us today. You know the deal – hit the button below to provide us with some details, and get free, no-obligation advice about the next step on your journey to dash cam success.

Want to explore how a dash cam can help your business grow? Yes, please!
Aimee Bradshaw Writer and researcher

Aimee is Expert Market’s resident telephone systems and point of sale go-to. If she’s not writing about business products, you’ll find her daydreaming about dog walking on Dorset beaches.

Mitrefinch Payroll Review 2020

By Aimee Bradshaw | Writer and researcher | Published: 24 April 2020

Flexipay is Mitrefinch’s flexible and intuitive payroll software program. But is it right for your business?


Mitrefinch logo

Pros:

  • HMRC-recognised
  • Easy to use and quick to implement
  • Comes with forward-thinking features, such as instant calculations and anytime pay
  • Free demo available

Cons:

  • Doesn’t transparently advertise its pricing
At a glance: Mitrefinch’s payroll software, Flexipay, is innovative, easy to use, and suitable for businesses big and small.

Picture the UK in the late 1970s. Ford Cortinas and Austin Allegros roamed the streets. ABBA was spinning in everyone’s cassette players. And Mitrefinch was busy pioneering computerised clocking in systems.

In the decades that have followed, Mitrefinch has continued to develop innovative workforce management solutions for businesses – from HR software to time and attendance solutions. Today, though, we’ll be holding the metaphorical microscope over Mitrefinch’s HMRC-recognised payroll system: Flexipay.

So, can Mitrefinch – and more to the point, Flexipay – meet your business’ unique payroll needs? Let’s find out.

Quick facts

  • Mitrefinch has gained over 7,500 customers around the world
  • Flexipay is used by some of the leading outsourced payroll providers in the UK

What are Mitrefinch's payroll’s best features?

Let’s kick off with a snapshot of our favourite things about Flexipay… 

Unique instant calculations

Quite possibly the most exciting thing about Flexipay is its unique ability to make instant calculations. That’s right – no more waiting endlessly for payroll calculations to run! In fact, during Mitrefinch’s benchmark testing, the software was able to produce gross to net calculations for 10,000 staff in just 20 seconds.

How does this work? Well, just as the Hulk’s secret is that he’s always angry, the key to Mitrefinch’s super rapid sums is that its innovative calculation engine is always running, 24/7, in the background. So essentially, whenever you need gross to net calculations, they’re just… already there.

As well as winning over the impatient among us, this feature also enables more accurate reporting, as well as more flexible submission deadlines. Mitrefinch has solved a prevalent payroll frustration here, and we’re impressed.

Adaptable paydays

Flexipay offers optional integration with Wagestream, which enables employees to draw down pay when they need it most, instead of having to wait until their official payday.

In enabling staff to access pay that they’ve earned whenever they need it – in the face of an unexpected bill or expense, perhaps – you’ll be offering an excellent workplace perk that’ll not only make your employees’ lives easier, but also show them that you care about their wellbeing. That can only boost their loyalty to you as an employer.

Speedy implementation and dedicated support

Paying staff is, of course, a time-sensitive endeavour – so when it comes to setting up a new payroll system, holdups and hiccups are the last thing you want. Fortunately, Mitrefinch promises pain-free implementation, providing an on-site “implementer” and a dedicated project manager to ensure the installation goes as smoothly as possible.

Plus, the company offers robust customer support and guided training to help your team get to grips with Flexipay quickly. In fact, Mitrefinch states that full implementation can be achieved within just three weeks. It helps, of course, that the Flexipay system itself is incredibly easy to learn and use, with highly-polished, intuitive, user-friendly dashboards.

Flexible integration

Mitrefinch’s workforce management solutions can work independently of one another. So, if Flexipay is all you want from the company, that’s fine – it’ll work well as a standalone product.

However, if you’re looking for a full suite of management software, you’ll be happy to know that Mitrefinch’s systems can integrate with one another to create a cohesive end-to-end management tool. This minimises the time you’ll spend inputting information and gathering reports across different platforms.

So, what exactly can you integrate Flexipay with? Well, besides payroll software, Mitrefinch also supplies time and attendance systems (don’t forget to check out our review of those here!), HR software, and access control systems.


How much does Mitrefinch's payroll cost?

One of the frustrations of working with a big payroll software provider like Mitrefinch is that its pricing is bespoke. In other words, it’ll depend on factors such as the size of your businesses, the number of users who’ll need to have access to the system, and whether or not you choose to integrate it with any of Mitrefinch’s other systems, as discussed in the section above.

The crux is this: we can’t tell you how much Mitrefinch will charge you right now. But tell us a bit about your business, and we can help you to quickly and easily gather tailored quotes from the payroll service providers that can best meet your unique needs.

Simply answer a few quick questions about your business, and we’ll match you up with the right payroll providers for you. They’ll then be in touch with no-obligation quotes that are tailored to you. It’s a super easy way to compare the price options and suppliers available, without hours of endless research. Oh, and it’s completely free!


Is Mitrefinch's payroll right for my business?

Check the statement that applies to you to find out!

“I run a small business with a handful of employees”

Flexipay is a breeze to use and pretty painless to set up, which makes it a solid option for small businesses that are new to the world of automated payroll. Plus, Mitrefinch’s focus on dedicated, responsive customer service means you’ll be in reliable hands if something ever goes wrong. It has to be said, too, that Flexipay is easy to scale – adding new payments and deductions is super easy – meaning it can grow as your business does.

All that being said, we know that as a small business, your budget may well be a limiting factor. Unfortunately, due to its bespoke pricing model, we can’t advise on whether Flexipay will suit you in that respect. But we can help you to quickly find and compare prices from providers that do suit your needs. Just answer a few quick questions about your business, and payroll providers that can cater to your unique requirements will be in touch with no-obligation tailored quotes. Simple!

“I run a larger business with 100 or more employees to manage”

That’s great – we think that Flexipay’s flexibility, scalability, and integration options make it ideal for businesses like yours! 

With so many employees to manage, any number of complex scenarios could arise while processing payroll. Fortunately, Flexipay is well-equipped to deal with all sorts of unique calculations, handling multiple pay groups, tax references, and pay elements and benefits all on one payroll. Plus, its instant calculations engine will save you serious time when it comes to running those numbers.


Compare tailored quotes from leading payroll system providers Request free quotes

What do Mitrefinch’s payroll customer reviews say?

Now, you can’t get a clear picture of what a supplier’s really all about without checking in with its customers. So we took to Mitrefinch’s Trustpilot page and scoured through acres of reviews to find out what real users honestly think of it.

Happily, the majority of Mitrefinch’s reviewers seem very pleased with the company – it boasts a rare ‘Excellent’ rating, with 74% of reviewers awarding it five stars. A further 14% gave it four stars, with just 12% of users rating it average to bad.

We have to bear in mind, of course, that not all of these reviews are about Flexipay specifically. However, we’ve plucked out a few of the most telling reviews that shed light on Mitrefinch’s payroll offering.

The majority praise Mitrefinch’s speedy customer service and system implementation:

“We chose Mitrefinch on the promise of a speedy implementation, having been let down by another provider who shall not be named.

 

“I'm happy to report that we went live on time and to budget – paying our staff accurately using the payroll module without a hitch. Having moved into support, we find the team both knowledgeable and responsive.

 

“Highly recommended and we are pleased we made the right choice.”

 

– Paul, Mitrefinch payroll customer

“Whenever I have a problem using the payroll system, or have a new payment to set up, the Mitrefinch support team is very efficient in sending a reply and easy to follow instructions, with screenshots, on how to do it.

 

“The online process to create a ‘ticket' for a query seems to work much better than waiting for an advisor to call you back.

 

“Often, with payroll, a response is needed pretty urgently, especially if a payday deadline is looming. Mitrefinch seems to understand this, and responds quickly.”

 

– Dianne, Mitrefinch payroll customer

Some highlight the fact that they have had technical issues with the system – however, that’s countered by the fact that Mitrefinch has been quick to fix those problems:

“I use Mitrefinch to process payroll, and although there have been some problems with the system, Mitrefinch has always been friendly and helpful in solving these issues.”

 

– Jenny, Mitrefinch payroll customer

Meanwhile, others laud the system for its ease of use, and the fact that all of Mitrefinch’s tools can be integrated for a smooth user experience:

“One of the things I like best is the interconnectivity of the software. We used to have several different softwares for the different sections of HR and payroll, and were constantly manually entering information several times into different systems. Now, if it’s in one it’s in them all, so there’s less room for human error. I also love how I can automate and customise pretty much anything through field calculations, reports, and overnight server processes.

 

“Flexipay is a godsend with HMRC. It does all the tax and NI automatically, RTI is a breeze, and month-end PAYE and year-end submissions are all done for you. It has all the AOE parameters set up in the background, and the sick diary makes SSP very simple. I can’t really say much bad about Flexipay – it does everything. I bought the p11d and benefits module, and that’s very straightforward too – it handles all the p46 submissions, which saves me navigating that awful HMRC website, and it sorts out p11d at the end of the year.”

 

– Stuart, Mitrefinch payroll customer


Mitrefinch payroll: the expert verdict

In our opinion, Mitrefinch’s Flexipay should definitely be on your list of payroll software programs to investigate. It’s forward-thinking – its instant calculations engine and integration with Wagestream are pretty innovative – and importantly, it comes with slick, intuitive dashboards that are easy to navigate. Plus, its existing customers seem to be very happy with it, which is always a fantastic sign.

Unfortunately, Mitrefinch’s downfall is that it isn’t very transparent about its prices. However, we can help you there. 

It’s so important to compare your options – pros, cons, prices and all – before committing to a single supplier. That’s what our service aims to help you to do. Simply answer a few quick questions about what your business needs, and we’ll match you up with the very best payroll providers for you. They’ll then be in touch directly with no-obligation, tailored quotes and further info. It’s fast, easy, and free – why not try it today?


What other payroll systems could I consider?

If you haven’t completed your payroll-hunting journey just yet, why not check out some of our other reviews of popular payroll software providers:

The GuildRead review

Compare tailored quotes from leading payroll system providers Request free quotes
Aimee Bradshaw Writer and researcher

Aimee is Expert Market’s resident telephone systems and point of sale go-to. If she’s not writing about business products, you’ll find her daydreaming about dog walking on Dorset beaches.

Best Fulfilment Companies for Small Businesses in 2020

By Aimee Bradshaw | Writer and researcher | Updated: 9 April 2020

Often, the smallest businesses come with the largest workloads. Find out how you can ease yours, with our top six order fulfilment providers in the UK


Growing your ecommerce business is fun. 

Seeing orders rush in, watching your bank balance grow, and witnessing your products (quite literally!) fly off the shelves – it’s all part and parcel of the adrenaline rush that is online selling.

What’s less fun, though, is the legwork. Staying up late to sort through stock and pack goods, with only a cup of coffee and a few flattened cardboard boxes for company… who wants to be doing that?

Not you – so it’s time to start outsourcing your ecommerce fulfilment responsibilities. By hiring a company to handle the picking, packaging, and postage of your sold stock, you can cut costs, streamline your operation, and free up time for what matters.

In other words, you can focus on growing your business – not running it.

But choosing the right ecommerce fulfilment company (also known as a third party logistics, or 3PL, supplier) isn’t always that easy. Most 3PL providers are geared towards catering to clients with larger sales volumes. Smaller businesses tend to get the short end of the stick, becoming saddled with minimum charges and bloated monthly fees.

It’s not fair. So, we decided to put together our list of the best fulfilment companies for small businesses.

Read on to explore which one is best for yours.

Fulfilment centre employees wearing hard hats in discussion

Time, money, hassle, coffee consumption… outsourcing your small business’ order fulfilment duties can save you more than you think


The best fulfilment services for small businesses

We compared the range of ecommerce fulfilment services in the UK to find the ones best suited to the needs of small businesses. In particular, we kept an eye out for low fees, straightforward pricing, and a focus on catering to the needs of smaller scale operations. And here’s what we came up with.

The best small business fulfilment companies in the UK are FedEx, Huboo, Core Fulfilment, Abstrakt, James and James, and Amazon FBA. 

The best order fulfilment companies for small businesses:


FedEx

Best for online stock and order management

FedEx is, quite simply, a huge name – if not the name – when it comes to delivery services. In the UK alone, FedEx boasts 75 locations, over 4,000 employees, and a fleet of vehicles that’s more than 2,200 strong. FedEx is common knowledge – but what’s less well-known is how adept this big business is at catering to small ones. As well as integrating with marketplaces such as Etsy, Magento, eBay and more, FedEx’s stock and order management software is among the best on the market. Why?

Well, FedEx’s cloud-based platform syncs with your existing software to provide insight into the whole ordering process – from placement to fulfilment, and all the way to transit and delivery. You’ll also know exactly when it’s time to order in new stock, while FedEx’s best in class analytics let you crunch the numbers to drive better business decisions.

Just ask FedEx Supply Chain’s senior vice president Ryan Kelly:

“FedEx Fulfillment gives small and medium-sized businesses the potential to achieve profitable and scalable growth. Online shoppers show deep-rooted loyalty to brands with fast shipments, easy returns, positive customer service experiences and flexible delivery options.”

Pros:

  • Its brand name inspires trust and confidence
  • Its broad network of fulfilment centres promises quick delivery
  • Integrates with payments, payroll and accounting tools, such as Square, Quickbooks, and Xero

X Cons:

  • Rates aren’t transparent, so you won’t know how much you can expect to pay unless you enquire with FedEx directly

FedEx pricing

FedEx offers pricing that's tailored to the unique product, storage, and packaging demands of your business. Get in touch with FedEx with a few more details, and they’ll be able to provide a better idea of what your fees will be. 

Alternatively, you could answer a couple of quick questions and receive quotes tailored to your small business right here, right now. 

It’s nothing like a survey – we’ll just ask for a little more info about how you currently deliver your products, where you deliver them, and how many parcels you ship daily. 

In return, you'll receive quotes from the best ecommerce fulfilment suppliers in your area. And you can rest assured that the companies that get in touch have all been hand-picked by our team, to help small businesses like yours scale.


Huboo

Best for lowest costs

If there’s anything small businesses shouldn’t have to do, it’s pay through the nose for fulfilment services. And with Huboo, you won’t – its rates are the lowest in the industry, and by a fair distance, too. Huboo offers two months' worth of free storage when you sign up, and tailored discounts on space after that. Huboo also boasts an incredible range of integrations – not just the big names such as Amazon and eBay, but the more obscure ones, too. And if they don’t already have it, Huboo promises to build that integration for you – for free!

Pros:

  • Offers instant setup
  • Provides strong customer support
  • Huboo sports excellent online customer reviews across the board

X Cons:

  • You'll need to be shipping at least 30 units per month for it to be worthwhile

Huboo pricing

Huboo’s packing and packaging fees start from 29p for a small letter, going up to £2.95 for each extra-large parcel you wish to send. 

Storage fees begin at 7p for a large letter, and cap at £1 for a medium-sized parcel.

Monthly subscription rates are as follows:

  • Bronze (30 unit per month limit) £10
  • Silver (300 unit per month limit) £25
  • Gold (1,500 unit per month limit) £50
  • Enterprise (5,000 unit per month limit) £150

For corporate rates of over 5,000 units per month, contact Huboo directly. 

Ready to find out how the right ecommerce fulfilment provider can help your small business scale? Get Free Quotes

Core Fulfilment

Best for late order cut-offs

There’s a lot to get excited about when it comes to Crewe-based 3PL provider Core Fulfilment. Its industry-leading 10pm order cut-off times for next-day delivery, for instance. Its weekend order processing, too. Oh, and did we mention Core Fulfilment’s cloud-based software, and its seamless integrations with Magento, Shopify, and WooCommerce? Core Fulfilment is also totally upfront with its pricing, with a handy cost calculator on its website to help you understand exactly what you’ll pay in fees.

Pros:

  • Allows you to offer your customers a wider choice of parcel delivery partners
  • Has experience in several sectors, including cosmetics, clothing, and consumer goods

X Cons:

  • You’ll need to be processing at least 250 orders per month to be eligible

Core Fulfilment pricing

Core Fulfilment’s picking and packing fees start at £1.95 per single order with one item in it. It’s 25p extra for each additional item added to the same order.

Storage fees weigh in at £10.88 per pallet (approximately one m³), when you have up to 50 unique products (SKUs, or stock-keeping units) in your inventory. As you add more unique SKUs, storage fees will increase accordingly.


Abstrakt

Best for returns handling

These days, handling returns is a huge part of running an ecommerce business. If it’s not easy to return, a customer won’t buy it. That’s why it’s such a relief that Abstrakt goes the extra mile to accept and process any returned items; getting them repackaged, re-shelved, and ready for resale. Abstrakt also offers kitting, reworking, and gift-wrapping services, too, while its software chips in with daily insights into the status of your stock.

Pros:

  • Offers excellent integration with the big ecommerce marketplaces, such as Amazon
  • Its Birmingham-based warehouse allows it to cater to businesses from all over the UK

X Cons:

  • No pricing information available

Abstrakt pricing

Abstrakt doesn’t advertise its rates transparently on its website. All of Abstrakt’s pricing is bespoke, so you’ll need to get in touch with the supplier directly, and provide some information about your business.

Remember, though, that you can also do that here. Simply provide us with some brief details about where and how you currently sell online. Then, leading 3PL providers will be straight back in touch with quotes tailor-made for your small business.


James and James

Best for startups and micro-businesses

Unlike many 3PL providers in the UK, James and James offers a fulfilment service that caters to businesses taking as few as 150 orders per month. As well as being tailored towards young businesses looking to grow, James and James’ service is also highly scalable – which means it’s perfectly placed to handle spikes in demand from marketing pushes, fresh investment, or kickstarter campaigns. Better still, this is all powered by James and James’ award-winning cloud-based software, which offers real-time stock and dispatch information to keep you in the loop.

Pros:

  • Its highly intuitive software provides a 360-degree view of your stock levels
  • Its US, European, and New Zealand fulfilment centres pave the way for your business to scale internationally

X Cons:

  • Its network of fulfilment centres isn’t as wide as those of the big 3PL providers

James and James pricing

James and James is also coy when it comes to disclosing exact ecommerce fulfilment rates. What it’s website does tell us, though, is that you’ll pay three different types of fees:

  • Fulfilment services costs: These include dedicated customer support, integration with your shopping cart, and your order fulfilment software licence fees
  • Fulfilment centre costs: These are what you’ll pay for the receipt and storage of your stock at James and James’ fulfilment centres (warehouses)
  • Order fulfilment costs: These fees are for the picking, packing, packaging, and shipping of your stock, and include a returns handling service
Ready to dip your toe into the warm, inviting waters of ecommerce fulfilment? Get Free Quotes

Amazon FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon)

Best for selling small-sized, low value goods at high volume

Amazon may have its faults, but we’ll say one thing – it has big, big brand power. Its name and logo alone inspire enormous consumer confidence. And, for your small business, ‘piggybacking’ on that brand recognition can go a long way towards boosting sales – at least in the early days. Add to this Amazon’s slick returns handling, excellent customer care, and vast network of fulfilment centres, and you’ve got a whole host of reasons to give it a go.

Oh, and those faults we were talking about? Well, Amazon FBA hikes its prices during the leadup to Christmas. It’s also widely known that Amazon co-mingles stock, meaning the product your customer ordered may not be the one they actually receive.

Pros:

  • Provides 24/7 customer support
  • Has no monthly minimum order amount
  • Allows you to sell through a variety of ecommerce channels and platforms – not just Amazon

X Cons:

  • Amazon has strict guidelines for having goods shipped to their fulfilment centres

Amazon FBA pricing

Amazon FBA’s fulfilment fee starts from 60p for a small letter, and goes up to 80p for a large letter (providing the value of the item itself is £9 or less). Envelopes range from £1.35 to £2.17, while parcels start from £2.14 (for an item weighing up to 150g), and reach £5.52 for an item weighing more than ten kilograms.

These prices are for goods sold on Amazon.co.uk and fulfilled by UK-based inventory. It costs only slightly more to sell on Amazon’s European marketplace (providing it’s fulfilled with locally-based stock). However, you should steer clear of selling abroad with UK-based stock – it’s almost three times as expensive!

Amazon FBA’s monthly storage fees start at 39p for clothing, shoes, and bags (between January and September) and go up to 91p for ‘all other categories’ items between October and December.

Essentially, Amazon isn’t cheap. But, if you’re looking to sell small-sized, low value goods at high volume, it’s a solid partner to start your ecommerce fulfilment journey with.


Next Steps

Which ecommerce fulfilment provider you ultimately choose for your small business should depend on several factors.

The first is down to which kind of features you’re looking to prioritise. If it’s total visibility and control over your inventory and order management – with excellent reporting features to match – then FedEx is your best bet. If low fees are at the top of your wishlist, though, don’t look past Huboo.

As a young, growing business, you’ll also need to think about how to best optimise your customers' experience. To do this, we’d recommend both Abstrakt (for making the returns process as seamless as it can be), and Core Fulfilment (for offering your customers late cut-offs for next-day delivery).

Finally, you’ll need to take into consideration the size and specific needs of your ecommerce business. If you’ve literally just started out, James and James is the best option for you. Likewise, if you’re building your reputation selling low value goods at high volume, Amazon FBA is a good place to start.

Don’t just take our word for it, though – find out for yourself which ecommerce fulfilment service is the most well-suited to your small business. It takes 30 seconds, and it’s your shortcut to getting the best deal. 

Simply answer a few short, straightforward questions about your current situation. We’re talking about:

  • How long you’ve been trading for
  • How you currently deliver your products
  • Where you sell your stock
  • The number of parcels you deliver daily
  • The rough size of an average parcel you’d deal in

Once we have all this, we’ll match you with the suppliers that are most well-equipped to handle the channel and volume of the products you’re shipping. 

They’ll then provide you with quotes tailored to the responses you gave, ensuring you get an ecommerce fulfilment solution that’s as unique as your small business is.

Aimee Bradshaw Writer and researcher

Aimee is Expert Market’s resident telephone systems and point of sale go-to. If she’s not writing about business products, you’ll find her daydreaming about dog walking on Dorset beaches.

How to Take Payments Online and Over the Phone

By Aimee Bradshaw | Writer and researcher | Updated: 7 April 2020

Learn how to accept ecommerce payments, and safeguard your business against the uncertainties of COVID-19


“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change”.

For British businesses, at least, Albert Einstein’s words have never been more relevant. Because things have changed, and they’ve changed fast.

Though the first confirmed UK cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) didn’t arrive until late January 2020, by the end of March the high street was unrecognisable. Shops across the country have been forced to close their doors indefinitely, but – with the population in lockdown in an attempt to stymie the virus’ spread – does this mean they’ve been robbed of their customers, too?

Well, no – because online buying and selling (ecommerce) remains as strong as ever. The postal service is continuing to function, websites are still live, and people are at home with more time than ever before – and with the same desire to shop. 

So it’s time to take Albert’s advice: to change, to adapt, and to make the smart choice for your business. 

It’s time to start accepting payments online, and over the phone, too. But how? Let’s take a look at how you can embrace ecommerce to defy COVID-19’s impact on your sales – and future-proof your business while you’re at it.

Alternatively, get straight to the good stuff with credit card processing quotes tailored to your business. Answer a few brief questions about your business’ industry and requirements (it takes about 30 seconds), and we’ll match you with hand-picked merchant account providers that’ll help you accept online payments.

Before we begin: This article focuses solely on accepting payments online, helping businesses respond to the government’s recent measures to close bricks and mortar establishments. 

For information about how to accept payments in person (with a PDQ machine and an electronic point of sale (EPOS) system), dive into the article below.

Read more: How to Take Credit Card Payments 4 Simple Steps


How to take payments online

Making an online payment with a laptop

Merchant account

First things first, any business that's looking to accept credit or debit cards (whether that’s in person, online, or over the phone) needs a merchant account

Of course, if you were accepting card payments from your physical store (i.e. at the point of sale) before COVID-19 happened, you’ll already have a merchant account. 

If this is the case, you can skip to the next section.

Jump to: Payment gateway

If you’re completely new to accepting credit or debit card payments, though, you’ll need to apply for a merchant account before you can get online.

Think of a merchant account as a kind of holding pen. It’s where funds go to be settled, before they arrive in your business bank account.

Types of merchant account

Merchant accounts are either:

  • Dedicated (or traditional): This kind of merchant account exists to process your business’ transactions only. Dedicated merchant accounts offer negotiable rates and flexibility, and are ideal for businesses that process larger amounts of transactions.
  • Aggregated: This kind of merchant account is offered by providers that ‘batch’ together your transactions with those of other businesses. Ideal for small or seasonal businesses, aggregated accounts are typically easier to get approved for than their dedicated counterparts – and offer simple, flat rate pricing to boot.
  • High-risk: This kind of merchant account exists for businesses with poor credit, or those that operate in a high-risk industry such as gambling, travel, or online pharmaceuticals. If this sounds like you, we recommend our list of the best high risk merchant account providers in the UK – find it here.

You can apply for a dedicated merchant account directly through an acquiring bank such as Barclays. Your other option comes in the form of third-party merchant account providers. In industry parlance, these companies are known as ISOs (Independent Service Organisations), and include suppliers such as takepayments and First Data.

As the name suggests, ISOs are independent companies that offer dedicated merchant services directly to businesses. They still work with the banks, but are generally cheaper, and offer superior customer support. 

Sure, dedicated merchant account fees can be trickier to get your head around. But in the long run, a dedicated account is a more cost-effective route for businesses – especially those that accept more than £2,000 per month in card transactions.

Alternatively, you can opt for an aggregated merchant account through a company known as a payment facilitator. Funky name, but you’ll certainly be familiar with the likes of Square, iZettle, and SumUp – their modern, mobile card machines are a staple on the counters of market stalls and micro-breweries across the country.

Payment facilitators (PayFacs) are well-suited to small businesses and sole traders. They offer straightforward, flat rate pricing, charge no monthly fees, and are typically easier to apply for (Square, for instance, doesn’t run a credit check). 

PayFacs are also called ‘all-in-one’ providers, because they give you the ability to take payments via multiple channels (online, in-store, over the telephone, by mail, and via invoicing) with the convenience of handling everything through a single supplier.

As for the application process, you’ll have to do it the only way most of us have these days… online. When that’s done, it’s time to get down to the real business – accepting payments online. To do that, you’ll need a…

Payment gateway

A payment gateway is a piece of software that authenticates and secures payments made through your website. 

A payment gateway is hosted either on your website (to help maintain a consistent customer journey) or on the website of your payment gateway provider (cheaper and more compliant, but potentially disruptive to your customers' user experience). Either way, it can usually be customised to fit the look and feel of your business’ colours and brand. So how do you get one?

Well, how you source your payment gateway service will depend on the type of merchant account you’ve selected (head back up to refresh your memory on what those are). Take a look at your options below.

With a dedicated merchant account

If you’ve opted for a dedicated merchant account, a payment gateway should be available to purchase as an ‘add-on’. Most providers offer it as a service for which you’ll pay a monthly fee (typically around £20), and in return get a set amount of ‘free’ transactions (usually between 350 and 400 per month).

If you exceed your number of transactions, you’ll then be eligible for a small per transaction fee (most likely around the 10p mark).

To reiterate, most merchant account providers offer a payment gateway. But if yours, for whatever reason, doesn’t, then stress not. You can also integrate your merchant account with a payment gateway from a third-party provider

Many providers (Authorize.Net, Braintree, and Amazon Pay included) specialise in such a service. Some, such as Stripe, are customisable to the extent that they’re almost a white label solution. So, if you’re tech-savvy (or have a software engineer or two at your disposal), then this could be the best option for you.

Be warned, though – this is a more complicated solution, and will probably be pricier, too. We always recommend entrusting your credit and debit card payments to a single provider, such as takepayments or First Data.

With an aggregated merchant account

If you’ve opted for a PayFac such as Square or iZettle, accepting payments online is a fair bit easier. That’s because – as we mentioned earlier – these companies offer an ‘all-in-one’ service. It’s a payment gateway, virtual terminal, and invoicing tool, all rolled into one

All-in-one providers also help you remain PCI compliant, and also throw in a bunch of other added benefits – including fraud management, subscription billing, and customer loyalty features.

Providers such as Square also work with website builders such as Wix. This team-up allows you to use drag-and-drop functionality to create a stunning website, then start selling through it. These providers also integrate with a range of shopping carts and ecommerce platforms, including Shopify, Etsy, and BigCommerce – allowing you to manage your sales and inventory from a single, convenient hub.

Going down this route is surprisingly affordable, too. Unlike with certain dedicated merchant accounts (where there can be hidden fees), you’ll pay only a small fee on each transaction you accept via your website. This cost will be a bit more expensive than it would be if you were accepting card payments in person (because of the higher level of data risk involved with ecommerce transactions), but it’s still minimal.

Ready to receive payment gateway quotes tailored to your business? Yes, I'm Ready

How to take payments over the phone

Woman taking payments over the phone

Of course, you won’t only need to get on top of accepting payments online now that COVID-19 has shut down the high street. You’ll also want to explore the possibility of accepting card details remotely over the phone, or via mail order.

Here’s how.

Virtual terminal

A virtual terminal is a secure webpage that allows you to accept payments over the phone. You simply log into the page from your device, enter your customer’s card details (which you’ve received either over the phone, or via mail), and take the payment. These payments are called MOTO (Mail Order/Telephone Order) transactions.

Once chiefly the domain of freelancers, tradespeople, and food delivery businesses, MOTO payments might just be exactly what your SME needs to send sales back in the right direction. And they’re simple to accept, too – virtual terminals are basically an online version of a card machine.

Sage Pay virtual terminal

Sage Pay offers a slick, simple example of what a good virtual terminal interface should look like


Virtual terminals can also be used to process invoices, and you can save customer card details to speed up service. Better still, they’re totally secure – virtual terminals use AVS (Address Verification Service) to authenticate the payment, and are fully PCI compliant, too – providing, that is, that you don’t leave anyone’s card details lying around on a scrap of paper in your office.

Virtual terminals – a no-brainer, right? So how do you get one?

With a dedicated merchant account

Well, as it turns out, it’s as simple as obtaining a payment gateway. A virtual terminal is available as an optional add-on with a merchant account. It’ll set you back a monthly fee, usually starting at £10, plus a small cost per transaction beyond an agreed limit of sales made through the terminal.

With an aggregated merchant account

If you opt for an all-in-one provider, a virtual terminal will be included as standard – no monthly fees or hidden costs in sight. However, you will pay a percentage-based fee for each transaction you accept through it. With Square, that’s 2.5%, while SumUp will set you back 2.95% + 25p.

Ready to receive virtual terminal quotes tailored to your business? Yes, I'm Ready

Next Steps

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”.
Albert Einstein circle

This is another Einstein quote. Like the one we referenced earlier, it also sums up the days and weeks you have ahead of you.

Because, though COVID-19 will continue to test your business, it also presents a myriad of opportunities to take a look at your existing processes – and how you can improve them. How much does your business have to gain by accepting card payments online, or over the phone? 

More sales, for example? More customers? More ways to connect people with your services, products, provisions, or pleasant diversions that might even help them through a tough time?

Plus, even if the current pandemic wasn’t happening, accepting payments online and over the phone would still make perfect business sense. So let us help you get started.

To begin, simply take a minute to answer a few short questions

We’ll ask you about your industry, and the total number of card payments you’re looking to accept per month. We’ll also ask for your postcode, so we can match you to suppliers in your area.

Once we have a sense of your requirements, we’ll match you with merchant account providers that fit the bill. They’ll then be in touch directly, with quotes tailored to the specific needs of your business, and information about your next steps towards accepting payments online and over the phone.

It’s free to complete, and you could be speaking to an expert today. Why not give it a go?

Aimee Bradshaw Writer and researcher

Aimee is Expert Market’s resident telephone systems and point of sale go-to. If she’s not writing about business products, you’ll find her daydreaming about dog walking on Dorset beaches.

The Best Countries for Social Distancing and Remote Work During COVID-19

By Aimee Bradshaw | Writer and researcher | Updated: 27 March 2020

Social distancing. As the world writhes in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been cited again and again – along with hand washing, of course – as the public’s best defence against contracting and spreading the deadly coronavirus. 

So what does it actually mean? Well, social distancing measures include staying home, avoiding large gatherings, and refraining from touching others – fist pumps are out, elbows are in, and traditional handshakes have been replaced by the Wuhan variety. People all over the world have been told to work from home, and – when allowed out for essentials – they must remain at least two metres from one another.

Covid 19 spelled out with wooden blocks

It’s gotten so bad that most of Western Europe has clamped down, enforcing increasingly draconian measures to keep people indoors. Yet – in the UK, at least – people are still ignoring the advice. Similar circumstances have been seen in the furbizia of Italian citizens, and the Parisians’ flouting of the French capital’s strict lockdown laws en masse. Which begs the question…

How good are we all at social distancing? More pertinently, are certain countries better set up for success in minimising the ravages of COVID-19 through effective self-isolation?

Let’s take a look at what the data says.


Our research

We wanted to find out which of the world’s citizens are best-placed to work from home during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. To do this, for each country, we’ve examined nine of the most useful metrics for exploring the comfort, speed, and overall effectiveness of the average white collar remote worker:

  1. Number of internet users, relative to population
  2. Broadband download speed
  3. Contactless mobile wallet payments at the point of sale
  4. Number of households with a computer
  5. Social media usage
  6. E-government development
  7. Intelligent connectivity
  8. Mobile download speed

Sources: 1, 2 & 8, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

We ranked the world’s countries across each of these nine metrics to come up with a total aggregated score for each. The higher the score, we reasoned, the better-equipped the country is for social distancing success… and, therefore, the better it’d be at slowing the spread of the virus.

So which countries came out on top?

RankingCountryIndex score
1South Korea6.7
2Denmark6.5
3Sweden6.2
4Singapore6.1
5Norway5.7
6Netherlands5.6
7UK5.4
8USA5.3
9Switzerland5.1
10Canada5.0
11Australia4.7
12New Zealand4.3
13Japan4.0
14China3.4
15Germany3.2

The top five: unpacked

With huge smartphone penetration, high internet usage, and a particularly prominent penchant for social media, South Korea tops our list. Denmark is next, and is joined by two of its closest comrades – Sweden and Norway – in the top five.

Like Scandinavia, East Asian countries fared well – and it’s Singapore that rounds out our top five countries for social distancing during a pandemic. Let’s take a closer look at these countries… and why they might just be some of the best places to hole up, hunker down, and work from home during COVID-19.

South Korea flag

South Korea

  • Has the highest social media usage
  • 95% of South Koreans regularly access the internet…
  • And almost 9 in 10 of them own a smartphone

South Korea. One of the hardest-hit countries in the early devastations of COVID-19, its denizens can at least take solace in their smartphones. More than 87% of South Koreans own one, while basically all of them utilise the internet.

It’s no surprise, then, that South Korea’s social media usage is the highest in the world. As well as the usual suspects (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), South Korea sports a vast array of its own local social media platforms. So – even if its citizens must continue to stay at home indefinitely – social media, at least, will ensure that the distancing remains only geographical.

South Korea also ranks third in the world for e-government services, second for broadband download speed, and first for mobile download speeds. This potent combination has allowed South Korean authorities to succeed with a ‘self-health check’ mobile app, empowering those entering the country to monitor any potential symptoms of the virus.

Denmark flag

Denmark

  • Boasts the best levels of internet access
  • Has a near perfect score for e-government development, which takes in online services, human capital, and telecommunications infrastructure
  • 88% of Danish citizens interact digitally with public authorities

Denmark’s excellent levels of internet usage, computer penetration, and hygge propelled it to number two on our list of the best countries for social distancing. 

Similar to the rest of Scandinavia, the last 20 years have seen Denmark’s public sector undergo a rapid push towards digitisation. This, combined with the Danes’ already elevated levels of trust in public authorities, makes communication during COVID-19 a speedier, safer, and more effective proposition – particularly when 88% Denmark’s people already interact digitally with the government.

And why wouldn’t they, when their country dominates the rankings for e-government development? With top telecommunications infrastructure, high human capital, and on point online services, there aren’t many better places to hole up during a pandemic.

Sweden flag

Sweden

  • Ranked highest for digital evolution
  • This includes supply and demand conditions, as well as innovation and change
  • Swedish businesses reacted quickest to quell the onset of the coronavirus

Not to be outdone by its next-door Nordic neighbour, Sweden topped our rankings for digital evolution. This metric takes into account the growth rate of a country’s digitisation, and is based on supply conditions, demand conditions, institutional environment, and innovation and change – and Sweden bosses it.

Sweden’s always provided a nurturing home for startups, and its corporate stars were characteristically ahead of the curve when it came to COVID-19. Big names including IKEA and Spotify reacted swiftly to the virus’ spread, closing their offices and initiating remote working procedures even before anything official was announced. Great spot!

Singapore flag

Singapore

  • Scored higher than any other country for broadband speed
  • Ranked well across all data points
  • One of the first to use a mobile app to combat COVID-19

Singapore’s quick internet and mobile download speeds (plus its impressive e-governmental development scores) haven’t just made it a haven for working-from-home wizards. It’s also helped authorities and citizens join forces in using tech to combat COVID-19. 

How? With an app, of course. TraceTogether allows local authorities to use wireless Bluetooth technology to track people who’ve been exposed to those with the coronavirus, helping medical teams to react quicker to new cases.

Norway flag

Norway

  • Almost 97% of the population uses the internet
  • Over 95% of households have a computer
  • Tied with Sweden as the most digitally evolved country

More commonly known for fjords and expensive beer, Norway has a few more feathers in its cap. Alongside Sweden, it boasts the highest ratings for digital evolution, and 19 out of every 20 households have computers. On top of this, almost all Norwegians access the internet on a regular basis.

To be honest, there was barely a metric that Norway didn’t excel in. If it was let down by anything, it’d be its lower e-government development score, which saw it sink below Scandinavian rivals Denmark and Sweden in our index.

Still, with fast internet, good mobile wallet penetration, and the Northern Lights on your doorstep, it’s certainly not the worst place to be stuck during an outbreak!


…The rest

How do the remaining ten countries in our top 15 stack up?

6-10

Claiming the next five places is a predominantly European contingent, with the Netherlands, the UK, and Switzerland being joined by the US and Canada. 

As it turns out, the Dutch are pretty well-equipped to work from home, with almost 98% of households owning a computer. Switzerland and Canada achieved average scores across the board, while here in the UK our folks have a bit of a mixed bag.

While Britain’s percentage of internet users, e-government development, and computer penetration are all good, we’re let down by – wait for it – the second worst broadband and mobile internet speeds on the list (it’s the Aussies that take that unwanted plaudit). Still… wifi in the UK is slooooow.

Want the proof? A mere fortnight into the more serious anti-COVID-19 measures, and our broadband is already floundering.

That said, it’s not all bad for Britain. We do, after all, have magnificent e-government development scores. Take the MyGP app, for instance – which recently updated its remote consultations section to streamline COVID-19 diagnoses – or NHS software provider AccurX, which has added video consultation to its services. 

USA flag

Spotlight on: USA (8th on our list)

  • Ranked highest for intelligent connectivity
  • This metric is based on ICT (information and communications technology) investment, ICT maturity, and economic performance in broadband, cloud, IoT (Internet of Things), and AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology
  • Scored poorly for percentage of internet users relative to population (75%)

Ah, the United States. The Land of the Free – at least, until state orders instructing over half of its population to stay at home came into effect this week. Luckily, the US population has the tools and technology in place to successfully self-isolate, and work from home with ease.

The USA’s investment in the growth and performance of broadband and cloud technology is empowering its workers to keep the communication lines open, and pave the way for real-time collaboration through the internet. 

After all, most businesses are powered by some form of cloud technology – whether it’s CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, payroll, or a communication tool such as Slack or Google Hangouts

However, the US was let down by its internet usage, with only three quarters of the country using the worldwide web. Though, as more and more states order citizens to stay home without much to do, we’d be surprised if this number doesn’t start to accelerate!

11-15

Further down our list, it’s a trip down under, where New Zealand and Australia’s strong social media usage and e-government development should see them through these dark times. They’re joined by Japan and Germany in our 13th and 15th positions, while in 14th place, it’s the country where it all began…

China flag

Spotlight on: China (14th on our list)

  • Lowest number of internet users on our list
  • Highest mobile wallet usage (by far) at the point of sale
  • High contactless cap encourages more hygienic, cashless spending

China’s story is a tale of two halves. On the one hand, its citizens’ efforts to work remotely and effectively socially distance were stymied by the worst levels of internet access on the list – just under 59% of Chinese people have accessed the internet in the last year

Away from the confines of the (home) office, though, China excels – particularly when it comes to making purchases in stores. China’s contactless usage was unprecedented, with a whopping 36% of transactions at the point of sale being made with mobile wallets

Experts around the world have already pointed the finger at banknotes as a major culprit in the spread of the notoriously contagious virus. So, China’s propensity to favour a completely hands-free way of paying should help its citizens to social distance effectively. 

Plus, at CN¥1000 (over £100), China has one of the highest contactless spend limits in the world. That means Chinese consumers can buy more, without reaching a cap at which they have to handle a well-thumbed card machine and enter a PIN code. 

For context, this is something we’re desperately trying to replicate here in the UK – our own contactless limit was increased by 50% just days ago!


Our methodology and metrics: explained

Methodology

Our index was created to measure how countries stack up when it comes to the factors that contribute to a digitally advanced society. These countries are more well-equipped to work from home; and their citizens, therefore, have a better chance of successfully social distancing.

These are the nine metrics mentioned above, and countries were only chosen if data was available for seven of the nine sources we used (Sorry Finland, Iceland, and Hong Kong; we tried). 

In order to be able to accurately quantify how digitally-equipped a country is, we awarded each one a score from 1-10, on each metric. The higher the score, the better a country’s capability in that specific area. 

We obtained a score for each metric from the raw data, via this formula:

Score(i) = 10 * ( ( (x(i) – x(min) ) / ( (x(max) – x(min) ) )

Final scores (the ones you see in the table up at the top) were calculated from the total sum of the points awarded for each category, divided by the number of datasets that we had for them.

Metrics

The nine metrics were chosen because we felt they represented the most accurate, overall reflection of how able a country's citizens are to work from home, connect with one another remotely, and buy essentials without too much contact. We figured that people who are more empowered to do these things will be more successful at social distancing.

Basically, these countries are the best ones to ride out the current COVID-19 pandemic in.

To further narrow down our nine metrics, we sorted them into five categories:

Internet capabilities

This includes:

  • Number of users of the internet
  • Broadband download speed
  • Percentage of households with a computer

Why is this important?

The distribution of decent internet (and functioning computers) across a country is instrumental to the effectiveness of home-working. Anyone who’s ever had to struggle through a video meeting with slow internet – or fill out a spreadsheet without a computer – will know exactly what we mean.

Digital infrastructure

This includes:

  • Digital evolution
  • Intelligent connectivity

Why is this important?

Endava defines digital evolution as a country’s:

“[I]ntentional choice to rapidly accelerate its organisational rate of digital adoption and change, through the simultaneous creation, renovation, and marshalling of digital products, alongside the creation, flexible reinforcement, and agile maturation of their platforms and infrastructure.”

Essentially, it refers to how committed a country is to going digital

Intelligent connectivity, in this context, is a country’s commitment to investing in, and making available, technology that facilitates human communication.

Without a more digitised, cloud-based approach to connecting people, a country’s population will struggle to work remotely – just look at the current mad scramble for cloud services for all the evidence you need of this!

Digital communication

This includes:

  • Social media
  • Mobile download speed

Why is this important?

The importance of social media in maintaining virtual (if not physical) human contact in pandemic times simply can’t be overstated. Instagram, TikTok, and Zoom are but a handful of the big platforms to have benefited since real-life social events began slipping off the calendar.

Why does it matter? Well, the more access a country’s citizens have to social media, the less need they’ll have to defy government warnings against gathering in public. Thus, they’ll be better at social distancing, and more effective when it comes to working from home.

Public services

This includes:

  • E-government development

Why is this important?

E-government development relates to the effectiveness of a country’s online services, plus its telecommunications infrastructure. 

It matters, because how well a country’s existing processes are equipped to handle communication and coordination during a crisis will affect its citizens’ ability to concentrate on work, and maintain a commitment to social distancing practices.

Contactless payments

This includes:

  • Mobile wallet penetration

Why is this important?

Supermarkets are basically some of the only shops left on the street – and, COVID-19 or no COVID-19, buying food will always be a necessity.

Yet banknotes are a proven conductor for the virus, and consumers will always require a quick, seamless experience at the checkout. The availability of contactless-equipped terminals, penetration of mobile wallets, and ability to spend more with contactless will always be huge factors during a pandemic.


Conclusion

We are in truly unprecedented times. COVID-19 has swept the earth, sending the world’s countries into panic and its economies into recession. Governments are responding by enforcing oppressive lockdown measures, and businesses by sending their employees home – with a paycheck, or without one.

People all over the world are faring differently. So how does your country stack up?

As we’ve seen, the data suggests that South Korea should be the country most capable of weathering a lengthy spell of remote work and social distancing. Denmark, Sweden, Singapore, and Norway also all possess the infrastructure and technology in place to ride out the devastating storm that is COVID-19.

To what extent our research will bear out in real life, though, we can’t say. How well a country reacts depends on when it gets hit, where it is, and the customs of a nation’s people and culture… not to mention the scope and accuracy of reporting on the pandemic.

What we can say is this – with almost half a million recorded cases (at the time of writing), COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere soon… and neither is remote working. And everyone, whether you’re in Swansea or Switzerland (and regardless of the speed of your broadband!), has a responsibility to stay home, and follow government advice about social distancing.

That’s all from us. Tweet @robdbinns to chat. Alternatively, send us an email at rob.binns@expertmarket.co.uk if you have any questions about the data, or our approach to it.

But most of all, stay safe.

Aimee Bradshaw Writer and researcher

Aimee is Expert Market’s resident telephone systems and point of sale go-to. If she’s not writing about business products, you’ll find her daydreaming about dog walking on Dorset beaches.

What are the Best Alternatives to Amazon FBA in the UK?

By Aimee Bradshaw | Writer and researcher | Updated: 28 February 2020

Is Amazon’s ecommerce fulfilment solution the best option for your online business? Or can you Find Better Alternatives elsewhere?


Your ecommerce business is taking off, your product range is expanding, and your inventory has finally outgrown the size of your basement. In other words, it’s time to ease the load, cut a few costs, and start outsourcing your ecommerce fulfilment responsibilities

If this sounds like you – and you’ve already started looking at where you could go to outsource the storage, packaging, and delivery of your goods – then chances are you’ll have already come across Amazon FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon).

FBA is a big name in fulfilment, attached to an even bigger name in the world of ecommerce. And we won’t lie – with 66% of Amazon’s top 10,000 sellers using FBA to fulfil their orders, it’s certainly a popular choice.

But is it the right choice? We’re taking a closer look at Amazon FBA; its triumphs, its pitfalls, and – most importantly – which fulfilment companies might be better-suited to the unique demands of your small business

So, read on to explore our list of the best alternatives to Amazon FBA – or if you’re short on time, try our shortcut to finding the best third party logistics (3PL) supplier for you. Simply provide us with a few details about your business, and we’ll match your requirements with leading ecommerce fulfilment companies near you.

You’ll then receive free quotes tailored to where you sell, how you deliver your parcels, and how many of those you deliver daily. Take 30 seconds to do it now, or dive into the list below to get immediately acquainted with the best Amazon FBA alternatives in the UK.

alternatives to Amazon FBA

Just can’t decide who to trust with your business’ ecommerce fulfilment? Let us help!


What is Amazon FBA?

Amazon FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon) is Amazon’s own order fulfilment solution. It allows growing ecommerce businesses to outsource storage, packaging, and shipping, directly to Amazon. 

If you choose this option, your inventory will be stored in a fulfilment centre (basically a big warehouse) operated by Amazon, who’ll also take care of the customer service involved in the delivery and returns process.

Basically, what it comes down to is this – you sell it, Amazon does the rest.

Here are FBA’s key benefits:

Customer care

Amazon is renowned for putting the customer first – and it shows. After sending the product, Amazon follows up with the buyer, handling any questions and collecting feedback. And, in the event of any consumer dissatisfaction with your product, FBA also takes care of returns, logging products back in and getting them ready for resale.

Quick delivery

Amazon FBA draws upon an extensive network of fulfilment centres across the UK and beyond. This means your products won’t ever be too far from your customer’s shipping address, and is what allows Amazon to offer next (or even same!) day delivery.

Versatility

Just because FBA is Amazon’s own channel, that doesn’t mean you’re restricted to selling through Amazon alone. Amazon’s multi-channel fulfilment (MCF) lets you sell through a wide variety of ecommerce platforms and channels, while still having Amazon shoulder the storage, packaging, and shipping duties.


What are our issues with Amazon FBA?

Amazon FBA isn’t for everyone. And, somewhat paradoxically, the things that make FBA great are also some of the biggest issues that we have with it. 

Because, as we mentioned before, FBA puts the customer first. Sure, this is a plus when it comes to Amazon handling questions and aftercare – but it also means that you, as the seller, come second

Here are a few things you should consider before jumping into a deal with Amazon:

You may see more returns

FBA makes it very easy for customers to return goods – it’s all part of the service, after all. But (let’s face it) when it’s that simple to send stuff back, people will exploit the system. Consider that 30% of goods purchased online are returned anyway… do you really need to be making it any easier?

Your stock may get mixed up with that of other sellers

It’s not just your business’ inventory being stored in Amazon’s UK-wide fulfilment centres. There are plenty of other sellers also using FBA, and selling similar (if not identical) products. 

Here’s where the issue arises. For organisational reasons, products of a similar nature are stored close together in these warehouses. And all it takes is one individual mistake to have a product from another seller shipped to your buyer.

At its worst, this could mean products of a lower quality (or even counterfeit goods) are sent to your buyers; impacting on your brand’s reputation, and leading to bad reviews. Amazon has suspended seller accounts as a result of these mixups, so be wary. 

FBA is expensive…

Amazon’s storage fees are among the highest. Unlike Huboo and other 3PL providers, FBA offers no period of free storage – rather, you’ll pay from the word go. Worse still, FBA hikes prices from October to December, cashing in on sellers at the most cruel and inconvenient time – during the leadup to Christmas.

…and complicated

Amazon’s guidelines for having your products shipped to its fulfilment centres are notoriously strict. Each product has to be labelled and packaged individually, and then sent to a multitude of different FBA warehouses. 

Doing all this is a head-scratching experience, particularly if you’re just starting out in business – and when it comes to shipping costs, all it does is shrink your bottom line.

Amazon deliveries on Christmas

Amazon FBA: is it really all smiles?


Is Amazon FBA right for your business? 

So, let’s recap. Amazon FBA excels when it comes to quick delivery and simple returns, and its multi-channel options are fantastic. However, its customer-focussed approach hamstrings sellers with more returns, more fees, and more paperwork.

Also, what you’ve got to remember is that Amazon is in the business of selling… not storing. So, while FBA offers cost benefits for ecommerce businesses that make regular sales, its hefty storage fees make FBA less ideal if you trade in items that take up more space (and those that don’t exactly fly off the shelves).

Essentially, FBA works best when you’re dealing in high volumes of low value goods. Think books, batteries, cheap electronic stuff (chargers, cables, phone accessories, etc.)… basically, whatever can be bought at scale.

Alternatives to FBA work best if you’d like a solution that values your ecommerce business as much as it does your customers. Amazon FBA alternatives also offer an inherently more customisable, personalisable way to outsource your fulfilment – and smaller storage fees give you more leeway when it comes to both inventory and total spend.

Take a look at the table below to decide whether FBA or a 3PL alternative is the right selection for your business.

FBA logoFBA alternatives
Choose FBA if you…Choose one of our alternatives if you…
Sell at high volumeWant to pay lower fees
Deal in smaller, lower value goodsNeed the flexibility to house inventory of varied size, value, and volume
Prioritise the security of working with a big namePrioritise personalised customer service
Want Amazon branding on the products you shipWould prefer to develop your own brand image and presence
Are excited to draw on Amazon’s fast shipping promisesRequire a highly customisable solution, or one tailored to your industry
Would like to make it super easy for your customers to send back purchasesDesire ultimate control over your channels and integrations

Got your heart set on an alternative? Great – simply complete our free, 30-second webform to receive tailored quotes, and start comparing top ecommerce fulfilment providers in the UK. Otherwise, read on to choose an FBA alternative from one of our top four selections.


What are the best alternatives to Amazon FBA?

We’ve put together our list of the top four ecommerce fulfilment alternatives to FBA. The following 3PL (third party logistics) providers, between them, offer fewer fees, less hassle, and more personalised service. 

So, let’s get straight to it. Our best alternatives to Amazon FBA are Abstrakt, Huboo, Green Fulfilment, and Sprint Logistics.

The best alternatives to Amazon FBA for UK ecommerce businesses:

Read on to find out why.


Abstrakt

Best FBA alternative for returns handling

Anyone who’s ever shopped online knows how vital the returns process is to the overall customer experience. It’s a relief, then, that Abstrakt handles all returns with speed and efficiency. As a seller, you can rest easy in the knowledge that anything that gets sent back will be inspected, and then either added back to your stock, held in quarantine (gulp!), or disposed of as necessary. Better still, returns are dealt with on a daily basis  ensuring that you stay in the loop with regards to stock levels, and enabling you to act quickly in refunding customers.

And, if you do ultimately decide to go with Amazon FBA, Abstrakt can still play a role in streamlining your order fulfilment. It offers a service that's tailor-made to work hand in hand with FBA; applying Amazon-compatible barcodes to your goods, and packaging them to the ecommerce giant’s strict standards.

Pros:

  • Boasts an impressive 90% client retention rate
  • Offers tax and savings benefits to your European customers

X Cons:

  • Its online reporting methods aren’t as strong as the other alternatives on our list

Huboo

Best FBA alternative for the lowest costs around

What’s better than a 99.9% accuracy rate and simple account setup? The best ecommerce fulfilment rates in the country, that’s what. Huboo offers all this, but the benefits don’t stop there. You’ll also get two months’ worth of free storage (blowing Amazon’s offering right out of the water) plus discounts tailored to your product type after that. What’s more, Huboo’s service is personal, and bespoke to the nature of your business and industry. When you call up, you can be sure of a real person on the other end of the line – Huboo even goes the extra mile to put you in touch with the very team managing your orders, and help forge a lasting relationship.

Huboo also does away with the stress of integrating it with your ecommerce platform. Its extensive array of multi-channel integration options rivals that of FBA, and here’s the kicker; if it can’t currently work with the channel you sell through, it’ll build that integration from scratch – for free.

Subscriptions start at £10 for businesses that dispatch a maximum of 30 units per month, and cap at £150 per month for up to 5,000 units. Larger businesses can get in touch to bag a corporate rate.

Rates for individual items start from £0.92 (a large letter, processed within 48 hours) and go up to £7.45 (an extra large parcel, processed within 24 hours). This fee includes all receipt, picking, packing, and postage/courier costs. 

See Huboo’s website for its full range of up-to-date fees, or use our free, 30-second webform to get quotes from Huboo and several other hand-picked 3PL providers.

Pros:

  • Outstanding customer reviews
  • All prices are available online, for absolute transparency

X Cons:

  • When it comes to customer care, Huboo can’t compete with all the trimmings Amazon FBA has to offer

Green Fulfilment

Best FBA alternative for the environmentally-conscious business

When you’re processing hundreds of orders per month, it can be easy to forget about the impact your business is having on the planet. That’s why it’s handy that Green Fulfilment does the remembering for you. As well as using only eco-friendly paper, it recycles plastics and cardboard, and does away with using styrofoam as packaging void fill. Plus, Green Fulfilment doesn’t just think about the earth – it lets you store stock around it, too, making for easier, quicker international shipping.

Green Fulfilment also offers a live, online dashboard to help you track sales, stock, and shipment. Pulling together data from across multiple channels and locations, you’ll have access to everything you need to dominate your ecommerce business’ orders and inventory – 24/7, from wherever in the world you are.

Pros:

  • You can be set up within 24 hours
  • Its relationships with carrier partners help drive down shipping costs

X Cons:

  • Green Fulfilment’s rates aren’t available to view online

Sprint Logistics

Best FBA alternative for online stock control

Based in London, Sprint Logistics sorts, packs, and ships thousands of parcels every day. And, while its team does the (literal) heavy lifting, Sprint’s simply excellent online interface puts you in the driver’s seat. As well as automating re-orders and providing granular stock usage reports, Sprint’s platform offers multi-level, multi-user access, and works with multiple channels to boot.

Sprint also offers logistics tailored to the needs and pain points of specific industries. Fashion, retail, marketing, travel, and cosmetics are among the sectors Sprint caters to with bespoke solutions. 

Pros:

  • Excellent customer service
  • Offers a comprehensive returns handling process

X Cons:

  • Its range of ecommerce platform integrations is more limited than that provided by the other 3PL suppliers here

Next steps

To FBA, or not to FBA; that is the question. Hopefully, though, it’s one we’ve gone a fair way to addressing. If low fees are on your mind, call Huboo. Try Abstrakt for hassle-free returns handling, and Green Fulfilment for a logistics solution that cares.

And, while all of these providers offer online dashboards for managing stock levels and deliveries, Sprint Logistics’ interface is the most intuitive and feature-rich of the lot. So, which one’s right for you?

If it still seems like there are too many ecommerce fulfilment providers to get to grips with, why not let us help break it down?

Simply take a moment to answer a few quick questions about where you sell, and how many parcels you ship daily. We’ll match you with 3PL suppliers tailored to your business’ size, sales volume, and location, who’ll then provide quotes made just for you. 

It’s free, easy, and designed to help you scale. Try it today.

Aimee Bradshaw Writer and researcher

Aimee is Expert Market’s resident telephone systems and point of sale go-to. If she’s not writing about business products, you’ll find her daydreaming about dog walking on Dorset beaches.

Ecommerce Fulfilment

By Aimee Bradshaw | Writer and researcher | Updated: 25 February 2020


There are two hard and fast rules when it comes to online businesses.

The first? All businesses have to begin somewhere – and it’s usually at the bottom. Do a little digging, and you’ll find that even the most accomplished ecommerce entrepreneurs probably started out with a pair of scissors and a roll of parcel tape in hand, filling orders from their front room.

The second? As your small business grows, you’ll need to start offloading some of your workload. You’re already taking on new staff, and outsourcing everything from payroll and HR to website design… so why not put down those cardboard boxes, and hand over the keys to your ecommerce fulfilment, too?

With an ecommerce fulfilment service, you can wave goodbye to the hassle of managing your own warehouse team, and know that the picking, packing, and delivery of items is (quite literally) in safe hands. As for you, an online dashboard makes it easy to keep tabs on your stock’s comings and goings in real time, while dedicating your own day to growing your business.

But what is ecommerce fulfilment, exactly? What do we mean by a 3PL service? How does it all work, and which provider offers the best value for your business? Let’s find out.


What is ecommerce fulfilment?

Ecommerce fulfilment refers to the process of getting the stock you sell online to the customers that have ordered it. It primarily refers to the sorting, selection, packaging, and delivery of items to your customer.

 

Ecommerce fulfilment can be done either in-house (not recommended for growing businesses) or by outsourcing the logistics to a third party company, who’ll do it all for you. Handily, this company is called a third party logistics (3PL) provider

Rather than arranging for the products you sell to ship straight from the supplier to the customer (drop-shipping), you’ll instead have them shipped to a fulfilment centre (a fancy name for the warehouse where your goods are stored) operated by the 3PL of your choice. You’ll own those goods (inventory), but the 3PL takes care of their storage and management. 

So, what happens when an order comes in?

Employee in flourescent jacket packing boxes in a fulfilment centre

How much time, money, and hassle could your business save by outsourcing your ecommerce fulfilment duties?


Want to explore how outsourcing your ecommerce fulfilment can help your business scale? Yes, let's go!

How does it work?

It all starts with your customer. Browsing your website from their home, office, or commute, they – on an impulse – hit the ‘Buy Now’ button. It’s then that the cogs of the ecommerce fulfilment process slowly begin to turn….

Receiving

The order details are transmitted in real time to your 3PL provider, which receives them at the order fulfilment centre where your inventory is stored. Sounds deceptively simple, right? So how is it achieved?

Well, most 3PL companies offer integrations with all the primary platforms you’d think of selling through – Amazon, eBay, Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, you name it. This allows for the bidirectional (and completely automated) flow of order, stock, and shipping information between your ecommerce website (where the order is placed) and the fulfilment centre (where it’s picked and packed).

Picking, packing, and shipping

‘Picking’ refers to the selection of the right items from the fulfilment centre. It won’t just be your inventory stored on the many shelves of the warehouse – one centre can cater to the fulfilment needs of multiple different ecommerce businesses. 

Similar products being sold by various sellers may also be housed in the same area of the building – so the picking of the correct goods by your 3PL team is a crucial part of the process. Thankfully, it’s done for you when you outsource your ecommerce fulfilment, so you won’t have to worry about it too much!

Woman pulling out a cardboard box in a fulfilment centre

The items are then ‘packed’. Fulfilment centre staff (in a method pre-arranged with your team) package the goods so that they look nice, are protected against the perils of a potentially bumpy journey, and arrive to the customer in perfect condition. The 3PL ships them off; you’re left with a happy customer, and a full bank account.

Did You Know?

3PL (third party logistics) providers are key to the success of the world’s biggest companies. 86% of all Fortune 500 companies (and 96% of the Fortune 100) already use 3PL companies to streamline their operations and cut costs.


What is a 3PL service? 

A third party logistics (3PL) service is a business to whom you’ll outsource vital responsibilities in your end-to-end supply chain. When it comes to the process of getting products from A (your supplier) to B (your customer), a 3PL is what makes the journey a smooth one, and does most of the work in-between. 

For ecommerce businesses, a 3PL handles the receipt of goods from the supplier, and is then responsible for their secure storage, packaging, and shipping to your customer. 

But how do you choose the right one?


How to choose a 3PL service

Take it from us – choosing the right 3PL service is the most important decision you’ll make this year. Important… but not easy. Read on for our four top things to consider when choosing an ecommerce fulfilment service.

Speed

How quickly can a 3PL provider fulfil your orders? Can they offer same-day delivery, or at least next-day turnaround? How soon will they log in any items that are returned, and get them ready for resale?

Stock

How adept is the 3PL provider at managing your stock, and keeping you updated about deliveries and inventory levels?

Shrinkage

Shrinkage is a diplomatic way of referring to lost, broken, or stolen items. There’ll be an ‘allowance’ for this in any contract you sign with a 3PL, usually between 2% and 10% of your inventory. You’ll want this figure to be as low as possible, so remember to negotiate!

Site

Location, location, location! Choose a fulfilment centre that’s located centrally, and will therefore have better access to the major cities.


Which ecommerce fulfilment provider is right for your business?

Probably the most well-known 3PL provider around the world is Amazon FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon). It’s convenient, and offers excellent return management. However, FBA is also one of the more expensive fulfilment options in the UK – and, though the Amazon branding across your packages offers additional credibility, it can also be detrimental to efforts to build your own, independent brand.

That’s why we’re endorsing several other 3PL providers we’d recommend for UK ecommerce businesses. These include:

  • Huboo
  • Sprint Logistics
  • Green Fulfilment
  • Core Fulfilment
  • Abstrakt

All of these companies feature in our separate article about the best alternatives to Amazon FBA. If you’re new to ecommerce fulfilment, it’s a must-read – so check it out here.

If you don’t have much time on your hands, though – and since you run an ecommerce business, we’re guessing that’s the case – why not cut straight to the chase and receive quotes tailored to your business? Here’s how:

  1. Start by providing us with a few details about your business. We’ll ask a couple of questions about how long you’ve been trading, where you currently sell your products, and the number of parcels you deliver daily
  2. Pop your postcode in too (we’ll only match you with suppliers that are in your area)
  3. You’ll receive quotes tailored to your business’ location, and the size and quantity of the parcels you’re shipping. It’s that easy.

Our form takes about 35 seconds to complete, and is 100% free to use. You just have to be based in the UK to be eligible. 


FAQs

What is fulfilment in ecommerce?

‘Fulfilment’ is the process of receiving, packaging, and shipping goods to a customer. In ecommerce, it refers to the logistics of the process that takes place after a customer orders their goods, and before they receive them. 

Online (ecommerce) businesses outsource fulfilment to save time, reduce the need for staff and storage space, and boost scalability and customer satisfaction.

Is ecommerce fulfilment the same as drop-shipping?

Nope! Drop-shipping involves selling items on your online store which, when ordered, are sent directly to the customer – you never actually own the stock you’re selling. With ecommerce fulfilment, you’ll buy the inventory, and then outsource its storage, handling, packaging, and shipping to a third party logistics supplier.

Drop-shipping comes with less risk, and less initial investment – though you’ll have no say over how the goods your selling are picked, packed, and shipped. Ecommerce fulfilment gives you control over the entire process, and comes with vastly better profit margins to boot.

Does an ecommerce fulfilment provider handle returns?

They do indeed – in fact, processing returns can actually be one of a 3PL provider’s central functions. Why? Well, the faster your stock is back on the shelves, the sooner you can sell it – and the sooner your customer will get their refund. Plus, the right 3PL provider may also handle customer service when a return happens, and handle discounted orders for returned or damaged items.

How much does ecommerce fulfilment cost?

What you'll pay depends not only on the 3PL provider you choose to outsource your fulfilment to, but on the size and weight of your products, and the rate you're selling them at.

For a closer look at ecommerce fulfilment fees, head to our complete pricing guide. Alternatively, hit the button below to grab quotes now.

Want to explore how outsourcing your ecommerce fulfilment can help your business scale? Yes, let's go!
Aimee Bradshaw Writer and researcher

Aimee is Expert Market’s resident telephone systems and point of sale go-to. If she’s not writing about business products, you’ll find her daydreaming about dog walking on Dorset beaches.

Site123 Website Builder Review 2020

By Aimee Bradshaw | Writer and researcher | Published: 18 February 2020

We found using Site123 as easy as ABC – but is it the best website builder for your business?


site123 logo

Pros:

  • Free plan available
  • Very easy to use
  • Excellent customer support

X Cons:

  • Premium plans required to unlock the majority of useful features
  • Restricted creative freedom
At a glance: Site123 is one of the best free website builders for creating simple sites

Site123 is one of the most popular website builders around today, largely because it’s so simple to use. Ideal for blogs or small business websites, Site123 enables anyone to quickly build an online presence – but how does it all work?

True to its name, this platform has streamlined website building into three simple steps. After signing up, Site123 will ask which type of website you need (1), invite you to name your website (2), then let you customise and publish the generated template (3).

All sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

Well, unfortunately, Site123 sacrifices power for simplicity. While it’s easy to use, we wouldn’t recommend using Site123 to build large ecommerce stores or complex websites. It just doesn't have the same quality of design tools that you’ll find on other free website builders, such as Wix or Weebly.

That said, if you need a free website created quickly, then using Site123 makes perfect sense. And if you’d like to know more about this website builder, you’ve come to the right place.

We signed up and tested Site123 ourselves so we could really understand what makes it tick. We examined its features, customer support, customer reviews, and price plans to help you decide whether it’s the best website builder for you.

Ready to go? Let’s get this Site123 review started in 3,2,1…

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the best way to communicate with your customers and clients is online. Whether you’re looking to sell your products or services over the web, show off your creative work, or simply get your company’s name and details out there – the first thing you need to do is set up a website. Fortunately, DIY website builders enable you to set up your own website quickly and easily – and they’re pretty inexpensive, too.

In these unusual times, we understand that time is money. That’s why we’ve done all the research for you – testing and comparing top website builders on priceease of usefeaturescustomer support, and more so you don’t have to. We’ve selected and reviewed our five favourite builders for businesses like yours – check out our quickfire comparison of those website builders here.


What are Site123’s features and benefits?

Is Site123 a sorry sight, or a sight for sore eyes? In this section, we’ll uncover this website builder’s most impressive features, and explain why it’s one of the best free website builders around.

Dan's Business Website

Based on our experience, building a business website with Site123 is a breeze


 Multilingual website options

Unlike most website builders, Site123 offers the ability to translate your website accurately into multiple languages using a built-in tool. With up to five languages available besides English – namely German, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Italian – this tool duplicates your website and translates the content into your chosen language. However, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan to have access to this feature.

 Excellent customer support

Site123 understands the importance of fixing issues quickly. With efficient customer support, you can spend less time worrying about crashing websites, and more time focusing on cashing cheques, sharing blogs, and growing your customer base online. Site123 offers help via email and social media, as well as 24/7 live chat support, meaning you can keep your website up and running around the clock.

site123 customer support

Site123 is always ready to resolve your website-building issues


 Super SEO tools

Search Engine Optimisation is the process of improving your website’s visibility on search engines like Google and Bing. Site123 makes this process very easy, allowing you to update the metadata for each of your site’s pages (i.e. what the search engines display about each page on their results pages), and add alt text to your images (descriptions which help search engines categorise the image).

 Integrated Google Analytics

Most website builders use their own built-in analytics tools, which can lack strength and depth. However, Site123 comes integrated with Google Analytics, offering trustworthy customer statistics and analysis. You can’t really do better than Google, can you?


What are Site123’s cons?

When making any business decision, it’s vital that you have a clear picture of the product or service you’re considering. We’ve listed below our main concerns when it came to using Site123 to help you understand how Site123 compares to the best website builders.

 Weak ecommerce

Site123 is a solid option for building quick, simple, professional websites. However, if you wanted to sell lots of products and build an ecommerce empire, then you’ll struggle to find success on Site123 due its lack of financial and ecommerce tools. For online selling, you should look at industry leaders such as Shopify, BigCommerce, and Wix.

 Free plan doesn’t offer much

One of the main reasons why Site123 is so popular is because it offers a free plan. However, this plan is relatively limited in terms of its tools and features. For example, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan in order to access ecommerce tools, remove the Site123 subdomain (e.g. expertmarket.site123.co.uk), or use multiple languages.

While this is the case for most ‘free’ website builders, Site123’s pricing plans are quite expensive compared to its competitors, which we will explain in more detail below.

site123 premium package features

 Little creative freedom

Unlike WixWeebly, or Squarespace, Site123 doesn’t use drag-and-drop design. This is an intuitive design tool that allows you to click on any element – like an image or text box – and place it anywhere you like. In contrast, designing on Site123 is quite rigid in terms of what you are able to customise.

If you are keen to get creative with your website, then we would recommend using Squarespace – it has the most powerful design tools of any website builder, enabling you to create truly stunning websites.


How much does Site123 cost?

As the old saying goes, money makes the web go around. Site123 has four price plans to choose from (as well as the free plan), which unlock a wider range of features to help your website grow. You can find out more about Site123’s pricing plans below.

Quick jargon buster:

  • Storage: more storage allows you to upload (store) more media to your website
  • Bandwidth: media requires bandwidth in order for your website to run smoothly
  • Domain: your website’s identification, e.g. ‘.com’, ‘.co.uk’, ‘.org’

Plan

Price

What you’ll get

Free

£0

  • 500MB storage
  • 1GB bandwidth
  • Site123 subdomain at the end of your URL, which doesn’t look very professional

Basic

£10.10/month

  • 10GB storage
  • 5GB bandwidth
  • Remove Site123 ads
  • Send emails to 100 email addresses per month
  • Remove the Site123 subdomain

Advanced

£15.65/month

  • 30GB storage
  • 15GB bandwidth
  • Send emails to 1,000 email addresses per month
  • Two mailbox addresses, e.g. dan@website.com
  • One additional language
  • Remove Site123 footer advert

Professional

£22.72/month

  • 90GB storage
  • 45GB bandwidth
  • Send emails to 2,500 to email addresses per month
  • Five mailbox addresses
  • Three additional languages
  • Ecommerce
  • 500 orders per month
  • Accept credit card payments
  • Website statistics

Gold

£27.45/month

  • 270GB storage
  • 135GB bandwidth
  • Send emails to 10,000 email addresses per month
  • 10 mailbox addresses
  • Five additional languages
  • Unlimited orders per month
  • Advanced ecommerce tools

When thinking about the cost of a website, not only is Site123’s pricing relatively expensive compared to the rest of the market, but you can also get access to more powerful tools elsewhere. For example, Wix offers excellent premium plans starting from just £3 per month, while Shopify provides access to the industry’s best ecommerce tools for just £23 per month.

This really solidifies Site123’s position as a quick and easy tool for building simple, professional websites, but nothing more.


What do Site123’s customer reviews say?

We trialled Site123 ourselves and found it was simple to use, but creatively restrictive. But why only take our word for it?

We also trawled the review site Trustpilot to see what Site123 customers think about the platform. Site123 has a 4.5-star rating, and is classified as ‘excellent’. Here are some of the most useful reviews we found:

“Easy to use with excellent support.”

Patricia, Site123 customer

“Building my site was relatively easy, and the support was helpful, but they assumed a little too much technical IT knowledge. Some minor issues with mailboxes still to be resolved, but overall a pretty good experience.

– Leonard, Site123 customer

“So far, so good. Looks very professional, and I hope to continue on this road and enjoy the service.”

– ASA technician, Site123 customer

site123 website examples

Some examples of Site123’s finest sites


Expert verdict

Site123 is a wonderful website builder for creating simple sites quickly and easily, whether it’s for your small business, blog, or portfolio. When we tried the platform, there was no messing about on their end – you sign up, edit some text boxes, then voila! It really does feel like 1, 2, 3.

If you want to build a more complex website, such as a large online store, then you’ll find Site123 starts to crack. It doesn’t provide enough tools for you to build an online empire, which means you’re better off using platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, or Wix for your ecommerce ambitions.


What other website builders could I consider?

As we’ve mentioned above, there are plenty of options when it comes to picking a website builder. Site123 may not be the best option for you, so what else is out there? Below you can see some of the best free website builders, and some of the top ecommerce platforms…

WixBest overall website builderVisit Wix
SquarespaceBest for creative flexibilityVisit Squarespace
WeeblyBest for small business websitesVisit Weebly
GoDaddyBest for building a website quicklyVisit GoDaddy
ShopifyBest ecommerce website builderVisit Shopify
BigCommerceBest for large online storesVisit BigCommerce
Aimee Bradshaw Writer and researcher

Aimee is Expert Market’s resident telephone systems and point of sale go-to. If she’s not writing about business products, you’ll find her daydreaming about dog walking on Dorset beaches.