Volusion is one of the leading ecommerce store builders in the market. As per the company, over 30,000 merchants actively use its platforms building $26 billion in sales. That’s impressive! Also, I have heard good things about the platform from my friends and some clients. So I thought why not try Volusion, play around with its features and do a detailed review to help you make an informed decision.
1.Pricing & Plans
Volusion offers 4 plans-
- Mini- $15/mo
- Plus- $35/mo
- Pro- &75
- Premium- $135
All plans have the following features included-
- Free, Responsive Themes
- Powerful Site Editing Tools
- Drag and Drop Tools
- Add Products in a Flash
- Securely Accept Payments
- Easily Manage Inventory
- Built-in SEO Tools
- Social Media Integrations
- Powerful Reporting
- 24/7 Expert Support
- Helpful Resources
- In-House Services
The plans also differ from each other in some of their offerings. So depending on the plan you choose, you will get additional features like-
There’s a catch you must be aware of. While the features in plans are pretty similar to what you get on other ecommerce platforms, there’s a bandwidth restriction on each plan. Like in its ‘Mini’ plan, you can only upload up to 100 products and utilize 1GB bandwidth. All the content uploaded to your store like images, texts etc., and when displayed to visitors consume bandwidth. So the more traffic you get in your store, the more the bandwidth consumption. In case you cross the limit, you have to pay more to buy additional bandwidth. How much? You have two options: upgrade your plan or stay on the same plan and pay in blocks of $7 per GB of additional bandwidth consumption. So do your maths and make a choice.
Another thing worth knowing is that the SSL certificate is not part of the plan. SSL certificate is a key component for a safe, secure ecommerce site. Adding an SSL certificate will protect your business and boost customer confidence by safely encrypting your customers’ most sensitive data. You have to pay an extra fee to get the certificate for your store. The charges for Volusion SSL Certificates are $89 for 1 year and $149 for 2 years. There is a bundle offer of SSL + Fraud Protection Plan at $99/year. If you already have a third-party SSL certificate, except for wildcard or multiple-domain/SAN certificates, there is a $99 fee chargeable for the transfer process.
One positive of Volusion in pricing is that its entry-level plan is much cheaper than its competitors. That works well for niche ecommerce stores with limited products and low traffic.
2. Creating the store
On the dashboard, you’ll see a list of sections where you can customize your store.
The first step is to choose a design for your store. Volusion offers 11 free themes and 38 paid themes to pick your choice. You can use filters like free or paid theme and responsive to close down on your choices. To make changes to your template, you can use the HTML or CSS editor.
Once you have found a theme of your choice, simply click the “Get It” button and you’re good to go!
Similarly, you can add your logo to the store. There are two choices- text and graphics- to add a logo. If you don’t have a graphic logo designed at this point, you can upload it at any time. Until then, your theme will generate a text logo.
If you wish to add a slide to your home page then you can go to Design>Homepage Slideshow from the admin panel. You can upload your slide images, choose a layout out of 4 available choices, pick the transition way and the autoplay time as per your needs. Setting up a homepage slideshow is easy and quick.
Navigation menus are important to help your customers give quick access to other pages to your website. Most customers will interact with your navigation menu. Adding categories to navigation menu is simple in Volusion. Go to Inventory > Categories. From here you can change menu titles, edit categories and subcategories, and reorganize the order in which they are displayed by simple drag and drop.
Volusion also allows you to change the style settings and menu formats for the navigation bars. You can change the menu background, text color, alignment etc. Each menu within your storefront can be set to one of 11 specific types like rollover colors, rollover images, links, smart tree, and custom etc. Each with its own specific settings or display effects.
Unless you have a solid understanding of HTML and CSS coding skills, you will be stuck in creating a store. The dashboard is good and intuitive but the moment you move on customizing your theme (which you would like to) or creating a web page; you would need do a bit of coding. To the credit of Volusion, it has a exhaustive help section wherein there are a lot of blogs, guides, and videos to take help in making those customizations. You can also connect with their customer support to get help in need. But I don’t think many would be able to manage that way. Plus, it means, you need to spend time learning the platform. Considering the ease with which you can do the same things on Shopify and BigCommerce, it’s a negative for Volusion.
The other limitation of Volusion is in limited options in themes. Though 49 is a good number to pick your choice from, other platforms offer more choices.
Creating navigation menu on your store is simple and easy. And you have a lot of options to stylize it to align it with your store needs. Volusion beats the competition here!
3. Products and Inventory
Products are the meat of your store. Managing products is an essential. Something you would do on regular basis. And therefore I believe any platform should make it easy for a merchant to manage its products. Let’s see what Volusion offers you in product management-
To add a physical product, you only have to enter four pieces of info: Name, Code, Price, and Weight.
Here’s how to do it:
- Go to Inventory > Products.
- Click Add.
- Enter the Name, Code, Price, and Weight of the product. For the Code, you should assign each product with its own unique combo of letters, numbers, hyphens, underscores and periods.
Like other ecommerce platforms, you can add a description for your products, create product variants, add images and videos.
Adding virtual products like graphics, ebooks, music, and movies etc., is also simpler. A downloadable product can be associated with only one downloadable file. Therefore, you need to create separate products for each downloadable file. The products have no maximum size limit. However, your store only allows uploads up to 10MB in size. To upload larger files, you must FTP them to your /v/vspfiles/downloadables/ directory.
Inventory management is simpler with an easy-to-use system. It displays product status, tracks stock reorder quantity levels, provides quantity verification and sends low stock alarms. Here’s what you can with your inventory-
- Categories: Manage all of your categories, subcategories and their settings on this page.
- Products: Manage all of your Products and their settings on this page.
- Options: Manage your product options and option categories here.
- Vendors: Create and manage your vendor information here.
- Purchase Orders: Create, edit, and manage your POs on this page.
- Receiving: Inventory system used for adding incoming merchandise using the keyboard or scanner.
- Product Key Distribution: This page is used to manage product keys for software products.
- Warehouses: Create warehouses here, used for drop shipping and shipping charge calculation.
Volusion makes it easy for you to manage your products and inventories. A big positive considering that products are integral to your business and you will spend a lot of time doing this. I also liked the ease in creating virtual products with no restriction on file size. Other platforms have restrictions on the size of the file you can upload for a product. Inventory management is also impressive. So Volusion has got it right here.
4. Payments & Taxes
Payments and taxes are an integral part of your store operations. Good platforms offer you a lot of choices in payments to help you shoppers easily buy products. Taxes can be complicated. More so if your business is spread across many countries. So a platform must make it easy for store owners to manage taxes. Let’s see what Volusion offers us-
Volusion integrates with over 30 payment gateways. Check the full list of payment gateways here.
Volusion also provides support to other payment types like-
- Amazon Pay
- Money Order
- Check by Mail
- Purchase Order Number
- Wire Transfer
- Electronic Check
Setting up tax rates for your store is easy with Volusion. For US merchants, there is a default tax rate, set to the state you entered when purchasing your hosting plan. You can change the tax rate or opt for manual entering if required.
For merchants outside the US, there are provisions to add different taxes like VAT, GST etc.
Volusion offers good payment integration options to merchants. It has support for Paypal express checkout. Setting up tax rates is also pretty easy and if you are in U.S then it becomes much easier with default and automatic tax rates.
Other competitors in the market offer a much wider choice in payment gateways and payment methods. Shopify offers support for payment using BitCoin. So Volusion is good here but not the best.
5. Point of Sale (POS) System
Point of Sale is an excellent feature if you also operate a traditional brick-and-mortar retail establishment or sell products or services in person. It can also be useful if you attend business events trade shows and fairs.
Volusion’s Point of Sale (POS) system allows you to quickly create and complete orders directly from your Admin Area. It helps you to use the functionality of your online store to check out customers at your physical storefront, like a cash register.
The following POS hardware can be used with Volusion’s Point of Sale system:
- UPC Barcode Scanner: Volusion supports a variety of UPC scanners, provided they are supported by your computing platform. Consult your POS hardware distributor for more information on using UPC scanning devices with desktop computers.
- Credit Card Swipe/Magnetic Stripe Reader: However you need to make sure your swiper can read tracks 1 and 2 on standard credit and debit cards, and uses a USB interface in Keyboard Emulation mode, such as the MagTek SureSwipe. It should also work with Keyboard Emulation mode. Volusion doesn’t support swipers produced with HID mode.
- 3-inch Receipt Printer.
Volusion’s POS system is closer to Shopify in features. But then you have to ensure that the hardware- scanner, card swiper and receipt is compatible to the system. So if you already have the hardware then check if it works with Volusion’s POS or else you have to buy new ones.
6. Abandoned Cart Recovery
Cart abandonment is a major problem for ecommerce stores. Online stores lose a major part of their business in cart abandonment and if that can be recovered partially, it would add to their growth. All major platforms offer abandoned cart recovery solutions wherein merchants get data on cart abandonment. You can also set email reminders for every cart abandonment if you have customer’s email id. Let’s see what Volusion offers here.
In Volusion, the software assigns the cart a random ID whenever a shopper on your store adds an item to their cart. The system displays information for every cart that is abandoned or currently open in your storefront, along with customer info if the shopper logged in when they filled their cart.
You can then send a helpful reminder email with the Retention Email button. This email asks the shopper if they have any questions or needs help completing the order.
By default, a cart must be abandoned for 12 hours before the Send Retention Email link will appear. However, you can modify the wait hours if you want to send retention emails sooner.
If you compare the abandoned cart recovery process of Volusion with a Shopify and BigCommerce, you will find it similar to Shopify. BigCommerce has the best cart recovery process wherein you can automate the actions to follow whenever there is cart abandonment. In Volusion, you get a list of customers who abandoned their carts and you have to manually take action using the retention email link. So again Volusion is good here but not the best.
7. Mobile Commerce
Mobile is important for your business as the number of people doing their shopping research and buying from their handheld devices is significantly increasing. Let’s check what Volusion offers us on mobile.
Volusion offers some mobile responsive design themes. With these themes, you can make your store mobile friendly. It works with all payment methods and is good. You can also enable a separate mobile-friendly version of your store using Volusion Mobile Commerce in case you don’t want to use a mobile theme. Here’s the process to enable mobile commerce.
You would like to monitor your business on-the-go. Volusion offers a mobile app to help you monitor your store trends. You’ll be able to view orders, check inventory levels, and stay connected to your store’s performance.
The Volusion app is currently available in US, Canada, and Australia and will be available for other countries in the near future.
Volusion’s mobile commerce features will work well for you if you choose a responsive theme for your store. The choices are limited in responsive themes in comparison to other platforms. Setting up Volusion Mobile Commerce store is a time-consuming process. Also, the features are very limited which can hamper the user experience. So pick a responsive theme and your mobile commerce is good to go.
The mobile app for merchants is excellent and gives you good access to features to monitor and manage your store on the go.
8. App Store
Volusion has an app store with over 60 paid and free apps across various categories like payments, chat, CRM, sales, accounting etc. The apps are useful in integrating third-party applications with your store and adding new functionalities to your platform.
The app store is good. The number of apps in the store may be less than Shopify and BigCommerce but it offers some excellent apps. However, the number of free apps are very limited. It’s just 5. Volusion must add more apps to the store, especially free apps.
Data is power in ecommerce business. Insights can help you sharpen your strategy. So analytics and reports are critical to running an ecommerce business.
Volusion supports integration with Google Analytics to help you get data on your store’s performance.
The platform provides following reports-
- Order Details
- RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization)
- Product View
- Category View
- CRM Ticket
- Revenue Reports
You can view the reports in the bar graph or pie chart format.
Google Analytics is a powerful tool to understand your store performance. Volusion’s analytics and reporting cover the basics. That’s it. It would require good understanding of SQL to create custom reports.
Volusion offers an impressive range of marketing features including-
- Email Marketing
- Facebook Store
- Sell on Google, eBay, and Amazon
- Deal of the day
- Social Media
Volusion also offers a CRM tool on its Pro and Premium plans. However, the CRM tool doesn’t integrate with email clients requiring SSL integration.
You can also create and send newsletters to your customers. Each of the plans comes with a predefined maximum number of newsletter emails you can send from your store each month. By default, you can send no more than the following number of newsletter emails per month:
- Mini Plan: newsletter emails not included
- Plus Plan: 200 emails / month
- Pro Plan: 1000 emails / month
- Premium Plan: 2000 emails / month
Please note that the newsletter sending limits refresh on the first day of each calendar month, rather than on the first day of your plan’s billing cycle.
The list of marketing features on Volusion is really impressive. I liked the CRM integration. But the tool not integrating with email clients requiring SSL integration is disappointing. You would lose out Gmail services and that’s huge. The newsletter feature is impressive but the maximum number of email sent on each plan is very low. So it will only serve small businesses who have just started their business and have limited list of customers.
Overall, Volusion is a good ecommerce platform. It may look light-weight in comparison to other platforms but it does pack a punch in some features, especially in inventory management. It comes at a lower price. Around 50% less than a Shopify and BigCommerce. Its entry-level plan allows you to build a store and run your business.
Play around with its various features. Check if it meets your requirements. And then take a call.