If you want to start earning online, the way to go is to have an ecommerce shop. But it can be tricky finding the right shopping cart solution. In the ecommerce website builder space, there are many providers that lets you build a fully functional online store from scratch and without coding. So it’s important to know what you need and what features are nice to have to choose the right one for you.
In this much contended space, Volusion stands out as the one provider that asks zero transaction fees but comes with many marketing tools and third-party integrations. Following its competition, it offers a gallery of modern themes. It comes with a visual builder similar to Shopify.
It’s one of the oldest oldest ecommerce website builders around, created as early as in 1999. Traditionally, it was the tool of choice for mid-sized businesses. Since its redesign in 2018, it also caters to entry-level businesses with a simplified inventory system. This review only concentrates on this new version, although there are stil plenty of businesses using Volusion V1.
- Pros and cons of Volusion
- A little bit of background
- Who is Volusion for?
- How easy is Volusion to use?
- Volusion design and themes
- How to manage your ecommerce store in Volusion?
- Volusion integrations
- What marketing and SEO tools does Volusion have?
- Payment options
- Volusion security
- Volusion customer support
- Volusion pricing
- Is Volusion the right tool for you?
Pros and cons of Volusion
Volustion is a fully hosted shopping cart. It gives you all the tools so that you design your webshop, manage catalogues and customers, and on higher plans launch promotional campaigns. It handles all the features needed for an online shop such as such as checkout, payment processing, and order management.
Since it’s a fully hosted shopping cart, you don’t need to take care of installation or maintenance, instead you pay it a subscription fee.
It’s an all-in-one ecommerce website builder offering all the basic functions you need to operate your online store and also some marketing features that makes them stand out from the rest that I’m going in to a bit later.
- A large choice of payment gateways
- You can change the theme any time you want and Volusion will automatically repopulate your content
- Detailed analytics and reporting
- Extensive marketing features
- No free plan, but you can test it out for free for 14 days and without credit card
- If you’re using a VPN, you might not be able to access your dashboard and need to work without the VPN
- No built-in blogging tool, you need to set up a separate blog, for example on WordPress.com, and link to it
- Some pages pages are not well designed in the backend
- The backend is also not mobile ready, you need to set up and manage your store on a desktop or laptop
- The themes are feature-specific, so you need to first check out the feature list for any theme you plan on using
A little bit of background
Volusion suffered a credit card data breach and as a consequence filed for bankruptcy in 2019. Its future looked bleak to say the least but its now end of 2022, but it looks like it managed to leave the valley of tears.
Who is Volusion for?
Volusion didn’t set it sights on a specific industry. Instead, it’s designed its offering to appeal to people just starting out on their ecommerce adventure.
It’s easy to set up and is just as easy to use. Just after signup, you already have a working shopping cart with store front and backend. You only need to tweak the settings to your needs, add your products, and customise the design to reflect your brand identity.
It’s also a good choice for mid-sized businesses, offering a bunch of marketing features and third party plugins so that you don’t need to hunt for separate services. This also means, it can grow with your business.
The sweet spot would be for small to mid-sized business, including startups who want a a rich features set. For example, you can offer your clients to place orders via phone.
How easy is Volusion to use?
Setting up a store is pretty easy, you just fill out the signup form and are taken directly to the dashboard. Volusion prepares everything so that you can start selling immediately after setting up a payment gateway.
After your first login, your dashboard is populated with sample data until your first sale. If you scroll down, you’ll see a 4 steps checklist to get your store up and running. After setting up the essentials, you can tweak the more advanced elements via its main horizontal menu.
Customising the more advanced elements like adding pages pretty self-explanatory. Even though Volusion hasn’t structured its interface like how others in the website builder space do, you shouldn’t run into much trouble.
Volusion design and themes
You only get 11 free themes at the time of writing. The paid thems costs $180, but you only need to pay once. It’s worth mentioning that the themes are feature-specific. This means you need first scrutinise the feature list of any theme you plan on using. On the plus side, you can change the theme any time you want and you don’t need to worry about your content.
If you know or have access to web development skills, you can change the design of your template. You can access the source code of the theme and edit both the HTML and CSS files.
There’s also a Style editor for you to adjust colours, fonts, and custom styles. This is a bit different from its competitors where you have to go in and change each and every single button. With the Style Editor, you can change how a button or any other element looks like globally.
How to manage your ecommerce store in Volusion?
One of the things that you want to pay attention to when running an online store is how easy is it for you to add and manage products.
It’s simple to add products and if something is not quite clear, just click a field’s question mark icon for more information. Just like with the dashboard, Volusion starts with sample products. There’s also a search function to quickly find your products.
A nice touch is that you can create Categories right when you add or edit a product – unlike the tedious collections in Shopify.
Volusion has quite a lot of built-in features already so that its list for third-party plugins may look small compared to its competitors. Still, it has over hundred integrations which fall into the following categories (non exhaustive list):
- Business resources
- Email marketing
What marketing and SEO tools does Volusion have?
This is the strong side of Volusion – except for publishing a blog. It’s nice to see things like
- Wish lists
- Customer reviews
- Custom daily deals
- Amazon and eBay integrations
- Abandoned cart
On the higher plans, you can use its social media integrations and email newsletters. Volusion works with Mailchimp hand in hand so that you can use your customer and their shopping history data to send post-order emails, promotions, and other news.
Volusion comes with a set of SEO and marketing integrations. If you need the abandoned cart feature, you’ll have to hook up your account to a third party app such as Mailchimp and then use its automation tool. This may prove more complex to set up in contrast to how easy to use Volusion is.
To help rank your store, you want to optimise it for search engines, de-facto Google (since it’s the market leader). Volition lets you edit metadata, including descriptions, title tags, and URLs.
Nowadays, ny self-respecting website has a blog. It’s a way to generate traffic for SEO and marketing. But this the weak point of Volustion. You can use its Article feature to add non-store related content but it’s not really a blogging tool.
Volition itself recommends to use an external service like WordPress and link it to your store. But it involves quite a few steps. The biggest no-no for Google is that your blog will live on a subdomain and you have to set it up with your domain registrar.
Volusion also has a built-in feature so that you can sell offline. With its POS (Point of Sale) you can let your customers scan your their credit cards in person (and of course your products). But you still need a computer to process the orders.
If you want to accept payments online first of all, you need to setup a payment gateway. There are over 50 to chose from with the known market leaders such as Stripe or Paypal. It also has some in-house payment gateways, but these also impose transaction fees, just like Stripe or Paypal.
Sadly, Volusion forces you to buy an SSL so that you can accept credit card payment online. This means more work and more costs for you. You need to apply for the SSL and then pay for it.
Since Volution is a hosted solution, it theoretically should take care of hosting, maintenance and security. I say theoretically because it doesn’t have the perfect track record. It suffered a breach in October leading to it filing for bankruptcy. Also, you have to get the SSL yourself so that you can accept payments.
Volusion customer support
Your not on your own, when you set up and run your store. Support is just a click away. You can schedule a call or browse the help centre.
Volition bases its pricing both on how many products are in your inventory as well as what it calls Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) – in simple terms your revenue.
Although it doesn’t slap on a transaction fee, you get hidden costs such as the price for the SSL certificate which will raise your total costs.
Is Volusion the right tool for you?
Having an online store is not only about product pages and check out forms. It’s also about marketing, seeing your best customers and best selling products. Volusion has kept that in mind and gives you a dashboard that shows you your product statistics. It also comes with a CRM so that you see the history of your customers. To help with your marketing and sales, it offers you several features so that you can also start with cross-channel selling and promote your store and products. Sadly, it missed the blogging tool.
Volusion is built for data-driven people, you see it in the dashboard and in its detailed reports. If you don’t mind spending a bit more, you get some pretty nifty advanced features for marketing and sales. In the end it might even be more affordable and practical, since you don’t need to hunt for third party services, connect them and of course fork up the subscription fees.