7.5 Out Of 10
|Support||Help Desk, Phone & Knowledge Base|
|Best for||It is easy to set up a storefront|
|Strengths||Inventory management and speed|
|Weaknesses||Poor SEO & Design Options|
Volusion is a popular hosted eCommerce platform. Volusion offers a complete toolkit to eCommerce owners looking for hosted solutions. They are a great choice for small eCommerce businesses that value their inventory and operations.
View Volusion’s current plans & pricing
Volusion V2 was launched in July 2018. Volusion V2 is Volusion’s next-generation platform. It aims to be the best solution for intermediate and entry-level eCommerce sellers. They place a strong emphasis on simplifying pricing and onboarding.
Volusion V1 was the original platform I used for this review. However, I recently tried their V2 platform in a research project. This post has been rewritten to reflect Volusion V2. There are many Volusion V1 stores.
Volusion reviews are plentiful online. They often include user-generated reviews that are based on personal experience and anecdotes. It’s all fine, but I prefer a different approach. It’s like any other option. There are pros and cons. But ultimately, it comes down to whether it’s the right fit for you. This Volusion review will focus on the 6 pros and 6 con’s that are most likely to impact your decision.
What is Volusion?
Let’s start with a brief overview of the online shop software landscape. As I mentioned in my choosing the right online store platform article, eCommerce platforms are a spectrum that has many technical considerations. These considerations can have as much impact on your online business online as can your physical store type and location.
Although technical factors are not as directly related to your success, they can have a significant impact on your day-to-day and long-term growth. There is no one “best” or “top” option. This is just like when you choose to lease versus own a location. It’s up to you to decide what makes sense for your situation, goals, and budget.
Volusion is the ultimate eCommerce solution. It offers everything you need to create, manage, and grow your online business. Volusion also gives you your own online “space”, which you can control and customize.
This is in contrast to solutions that allow you to buy, install, manage, but wholly own, different parts of what makes your store unique (think installing WooCommerce). Also in contrast to platforms which allow you to simply list your products on their site instead of having a store of them (think eBay, Amazon or Etsy).
Volusion allows you to personalize your store and lease it to yourself. The landlord is responsible for all aspects of the business, including marketing and sales. However, you can leave plumbing and security to the landlord.
To make all of these points clear, I also built an entire Buzzfeed-style eCommerce platform quiz.
Volusion (See Volusion plans) competes primarily with the two other big hosted eCommerce platforms.
- Shopify: Check out their plans, and my Shopify review
- BigCommerce: Check out their plans, and my BigCommerce review
Volusion is in direct competition with other non-turnkey options such as WordPress + WooCommerce (see the setup instructions here), and more website builders like Wix and Weebly, which often add shopping carts but do not have order management or inventory options.
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Pros Of Volusion
Based on my experiences, here are some considerations I believe are an advantage for the Volusion platform.
Education & Professional Services
In my BigCommerce review I pointed out that there are plenty of guides, ebooks and courses to help you manage your online store. There are many freelancers, agencies and experts who can assist with design, development, or marketing.
Curation and specialization are often the problem. It can be difficult to find information specific to your store. While you might find great SEO and Facebook store advice, it will be difficult to implement that information in your [ naming your platform] store. It can be difficult to find a freelancer who is familiar with your store’s platform. This can also make it more costly.
Volusion excels in this area. They have a range of onboarding materials and account specialists that can be used to help you get started. Volusion does the store setup email sequence, knowledgebase and knowledge base in a manner similar to Shopify and BigCommerce.
Volusion takes it a step further by having account specialists who really care about your store and get it up and running. Even smaller stores seem to attract a lot of attention.
Volusion offers professional services, which can be a big con. But we’ll give it the benefit of our doubt and treat it as a pro. The pro is that Volusion provides professional services directly to clients. This includes everything from design and SEO to shopping feeds.
Everything is provided by Volusion and not through freelancers such as Shopify’s Expert directory, so you can be sure that they are experts in providing this service on the Volusion platform.
This can be a place where customers can upsell, but it can also work as a useful arrangement, similar to Ikea, where you can either buy the furniture from them and then do it yourself, or pay them to do it. Volusion is not for you if you hate upsells. However, this option and the education are a great pro to Volusion.
Customer Support and Onboarding
When reviewing a company, customer support is the most difficult thing to evaluate. Only a company can really understand its culture and how it treats customers. You will only see the extremes of comments and ratings (i.e., absurdly positive or negative).
To understand how a company views customer support, I look at availability, various channels and how they handle the “onboarding” problem. (i.e., are they able to resolve potential problems before they become problems).
Volusion provides support by phone, email, chat and ticket system. They have been very responsive and helpful in my experience. They have made significant investments in their international phone lines, knowledgebase, chat software, and international phone lines.
Their customer service isn’t as good as BigCommerce and Shopify. The best thing about hosting an eCommerce site is the 24/7 customer support. It’s like having a physical store at a mall that has 24/7 plumbing available. This is in contrast to a store you own, manage and build yourself. Volusion has a platform that helps them solve the root problem.
This point is actually a good transition to the next benefit of Volusion – speed and security.
Speed and security
Making your website fast and making sure it is bulletproof secure are the two most difficult issues when you’re building your own store.
As I have mentioned in my Shopify as well as my BigCommerce reviews, speed is crucial in eCommerce. Customers don’t have the patience to wait for pages to load. Studies after studies have shown that conversion rates drop when pages take longer than 4 seconds to load.
Google integrated it into their organic search algorithms. It can be difficult to get the speed right for a website that has a lot of graphics and a large number of databases (as most eCommerce stores do). Volusion is an eCommerce platform that hosts your store on servers that are optimized for speed.
Speed is also a concern. Security is essential for modern eCommerce stores. Your site must be secure before you can accept credit cards. You have many options to send security to PayPal or other providers, but in order to process credit cards through your site and your merchant account, you must have a secure setup.
Volusion offers simple integration of 3rd party payment and bundles for SSL certificates.
Volusion allows you to have more control over your security, checkout, and provides support and guidance to help ensure that your security is always in order.
It can be difficult to find the right place for everything when you first set up your store on any platform. Many platforms and CMS’s have their unique lingo and layout (like WordPress Dashboard).
Volusion is not an exception to this rule. However, they have a preference for an intuitive interface and thoughtful navigation. They also prefer an easy setup. Recent updates have been made to the backend design. The user interface is simple enough to use for beginners, but has enough options to support large-scale eCommerce operations.
Cons Of Volusion
These are the drawbacks I have found with Volusion.
It can be difficult to compare the pricing options for an online store, regardless of what solution you use. It can be difficult to compare prices across all eCommerce platforms, such as Volusion. There are no tiers that match each other. This is how I breakdown the pricing so you can compare apples to apples.
Your monthly price. This is the price that you pay to get a particular set of features. This is what you will see on pricing pages. Volusion’s plans begin at $26/mo, and can go up to $269/mo.
Second, the platform transaction fees. Some platforms charge transaction fees on every purchase. These are above credit card processing fees. Volusion doesn’t charge transaction fees.
Third Your credit card fees. These were once fairly standard, but more platforms such as Volusion, Shopify and BigCommerce now offer their own credit card processing. The credit card companies would collect these fees regardless. Any discount or flexibility would be a win, but it is still something you need to budget for.
Fourth, add-on fees and exclusions. This is the area you need to pay attention. These fees can have a significant impact on your “walking out of the door” price, whether it is bandwidth fees or add-on apps.
Here are the results of Volusion’s comparison to its direct competitors.
Monthly Pricing – Volusion offers very competitive pricing at both the top and bottom levels. The middle tiers have a cap on products and exclude certain features from competitors. The middle tiers may be competitive or not, depending on whether you have many products or intend to use those features (e.g. Amazon/eBay). These are acceptable, but they are not exceptional.
Transaction fees Volusion does NOT charge transaction fees for any tier. This is a huge plus.
Volusion offers a service called Volusion Payments with low processing fees (competitive to Shopify), in addition to integration with other processors. This is a great place to start.
Add on fees This is where Volusion used to be in V1 when it had to pay strange bandwidth and link removal fees. All these fees seem to be gone with V2. You pay what you see in your subscription. There are still V1 shops that get hit with random bandwidth fees. (I received a letter from a reader a few months back). But V2 merchants should be fine.
Website rendering & revisions
Volusion V2 was an all-new rewrite using “the most recent technology.” They even moved hosting from Google to Amazon. The platform was disappointing for me as someone who has a strong background in Technical SEO. It is beautiful. It’s intuitive and seems to “work” with browsers. However, I did find some issues.
It looks like the site uses AngularJS to render. This is very innovative and trendy, and it’s all from a developer’s point of view. It makes me sad as a marketer responsible for helping websites gain traffic, convert sales and analyze data. It is very sad. It was very sad. SEOs don’t like it even though some charge quite a bit for fixing issues. Google claims that Angular websites are searchable, which isn’t very reassuring.
Volusion, for example, has what appears to be useful SEO tools in its Dashboard. Volusion even has improved product URLs since V1.
However, the page does not actually render any meta information. It doesn’t even render any new meta information when a crawler visits it. This is the product page.
This platform is not for those who depend on paid or organic traffic. I can only imagine how frustrating it would make your life. This is not all.
The actual Analytics are secondarily erroneous and were set up in a very amateurish manner. Without consent or approval, you are automatically given a Google Tag Manager account. There are also third-party trackers who have access to the same information that you and your visitors. This platform wouldn’t fly outside the USA under GDPR. It was still very strange to see, even though it was in the Privacy Wild West of the US.
For reasons I can’t understand, my personal account information was embedded into the public source code on the website.
Volusion stated in its PR releases that V2 had not reached feature parity with V1 but that it is constantly improving. It was surprising to me that the product is publicly available. There are some basic CSS errors and insecure elements. This is something I have not encountered on other platforms.
It seemed like the product was too focused on design and usability, while neglecting the details of programming.
Blog, CMS & Analytics Feature Pack
Your store catalog is the beginning and end of your website for some online merchants. For others, however, your store catalog is just one part of the website experience that you want.
A basic Google Analytics installation is sufficient. For others, however, it is important to add conversion pixels, modify the analytics code, or make edits.
Volusion is really bad at these last issues. While it is not that BigCommerce and Shopify offer world-changing content management systems, or even built-in blogs, they do have them. Volusion offers very few options.
Easy analytics implementation is another problem with Volusion. Analytics is installed via Google Tag Manager and can run Google Analytics. However, I have not been able to access that account. Volusion actually recommends installing another Google Analytics account onto the website. Yes, you can do it. It’s not a good idea. Google Tag Manager’s purpose is to fire once and then let it lazy load all tracking scripts.
This is an example of marketing features that aren’t available on the platform. There are many more – depending on which solutions you use – but suffice it to say that it’s worthwhile to try a trial and see if the features you need are available in the platform.
Volusion’s design features on mobile sites are very constrained, which is a no-no. Volusion’s downside starts with a Very limited Template store
Volusion’s templates, unlike other companies, are all hard-coded. They are also set up in a difficult to navigate file structure. You can edit it if you are proficient in HTML or CSS, but it is not suitable for anyone who just wants to tweak HTML. They don’t offer drag and drop like Shopify, which is a major advantage over competitors.
A self-serve platform would be great if it had an easier design editing interface.
Extensions and Apps from Third Parties
My Shopify & BigCommerce Review mentioned that your store will change and evolve over time. You should ensure that the platform you choose has the features you require now and in the future. Shopify addresses this problem by offering a large add-on store. BigCommerce has an app store, but also offers a lot of functionality.
Volusion does not have this expansion capability. While they are expanding their feature set, there isn’t a strong app store nor a huge list of incredible features. (See the blog for an example). Volusion offers a basic feature set that can be used to create a store. However, it doesn’t allow you to customize or add to it. Developers can build on it but that’s not ideal for solo DIYers or small stores that are looking to avoid paying developer fees.
So. Volusion is a viable option for online stores?
Volusion is a great fit for online stores that need a platform with order fulfillment and inventory management. It does not depend on paid or organic traffic.
View Volusion’s current plans & pricing
If marketing and design are your top priorities, I recommend Shopify (get their trial here; read my review there) or BigCommerce (get the free trial here; read my review here). These hosted platforms offer a host of features.