If you are creating an online shop then there are many providers to choose from as your hosted e-commerce software solution. This review is going to be focusing solely on Volusion, one of the more popular companies at the moment.
The company was founded back in 1999, making it one of the oldest online shopping cart providers in the world. With just under 500 employees, the company still competes with the likes of Yahoo!, OpenSky and eBay. Volusion is a cloud-based or also known as hosted platform that has some impressive elements. Along with the standard ecommerce features, Volusion offers its users a wide range of ecommerce templates, vZoom for product image precision, product comparison tool, color swatch capability, one-page product integration and add-ons, and SmartMatch technology for stock control.
Volusion offers a number of different ecommerce plans to suit the customer. Every plan the company offers includes online support, tools for social media, a Facebook store (allowing customers to purchase right from your Facebook page as opposed to linking to your own website) and a mobile store to take advantage of the boom in smartphones.
You can try Volusion for 14 days for free - fully functional setup and you don't need a credit card to sign up.
For $15 a month, customers can purchase these features with Volusion's Mini Plan. This is Volusion's entry level plan. The other options are as follows:
Bronze Plan: You receive phone support 24/7, their built-in system for easily sending newsletters to customers, a ratings and reviews system that allows customers to rate products and provide feedback, and abandoned cart reports, which show you when a shopper decided not to complete a purchase.
Silver Plan: You get everything above plus the ability to complete orders through phone or e-mail, which is helpful for customers who need more assistance with their purchase. Their Import/Export assistance makes it easy to add large amounts of information to your website (i.e. products and pricing) simply by importing a spreadsheet. Additionally, their content resource management tool helps you to better serve your clients while receiving valuable analytics.
Gold Plan: Volusion cites this plan as their best value. You receive everything in the Silver package plus priority support, which means that you will take precedence when in need of help. This could definitely come in handy during an emergency. You will even receive an Account Manager dedicated to you and your store. Your account manager will help you to get your shop up and running, and then will stay with you along the way to offer advice and answer questions. With the Gold package you can also increase your business by using their Amazon and eBay services which let you sell to customers on these sites directly from your store. API Access lets you open third-party applications to share important information about products, pricing, orders, etc.
Platinum Plan: The Platinum plan is Volusion's most expensive. It encompasses all the prior features mentioned but also allows you to sell as many products as you like without limit. To further facilitate this, it comes with 40 GB of bandwidth to support the kind of traffic that might purchase the kind of volume you are looking to accommodate with this plan.
As mentioned, the starter Mini plan starts at $15, though they will also charge you $25 a month for a PCI security fee.
For the main plans listed above (and in a more detailed chart below), monthly costs are as follows:
Bronze: $35 / month
Silver: $65 / month
Gold: $125 / month
Platinum: $195 / month
Keep in mind these plans cover building your site. Extra SEO or social media features will come with additional costs.
They say you can't tell a book by its cover, but most people are quick to judge a website by its look. That's why an attractive template is so important.
Volusion has hundreds of templates for sale and even a number for free. Their website does a good job of making this large number of templates easily searchable by color, theme, industry and price. You can expect to pay anywhere between $50 and $900 for their premium themes. If you can’t find one you love, Volusion can custom make you a theme starting from around $1,200.
Like any good hosted ecommerce software, Volusion makes managing SKU and inventory easy. Whether you have 100 products for sale or 1,000, Volusion makes uploading inventory in bulk a simple process, though you will want to have the Silver plan or higher.
Adding descriptions, photos, etc. is also very user-friendly. Best of all, Volusion sends you an alert when inventory is running low.
Obviously, any good hosted ecommerce software should come with a level of search engine optimization built in. After all, you won’t sell anything if people don’t know you exist. Volusion boasts that its integrated schema.org markup leaves you with nothing further to do here.
Volusion websites come ready to be found. According to Volusion customers gain 96% more organic traffic after only six months of using their product. At the conclusion of their first year with Volusion, the average customer saw an increase in organic revenue of 202%. Here too, the company sells their products in three separate SEO plans: Starter, Advanced and Custom.
You can change your discount settings at any time to offer your customers savings. Newsletters are an easy option for any customer who selects a Bronze plan or higher. Volusion will all but automate the process for you.
There is plenty you can do with social media free of charge in order to help your site. For example, Volusion makes it easy to actually sell from your store through social media sites. However, they also offer additional services. The Starter plan costs $600 a month. A plan customized for your business will vary in price.
Your Volusion website will come optimized for mobile devices. Better still, it will come with a mobile app you can use to access your website from your phone. This will allow you an easy way to keep an eye on business no matter where you are.
Your website will come ready to process not just credit cards, but a number of other payment methods. While you select the versions that you will accept, other methods include PayPal, Money Order, Cash and Wire Transfer.
Credit card processing fees are 2.17% at time of writing.
Plans come with security benefits, like the PCI protection mentioned earlier CISP protection that covers credit cards. You can also ban users, get a fraud score on potential shoppers and trust that all your information will be encrypted.
However, Volusion will also try to sell you on a number of certificates and accreditations. These can range from $79 to as much as $300 extra every year.
Volusion websites do not come with SSL certificates, but they do sell them on their site. The cost is $79. This includes installation which will take a week to 10 days. You can choose to purchase your certificate through a third party, but the installation will have to be cleared by Volusion and will cost $99.
Ultimately, you are in charge of backing up all of your website content. Volusion looks to do their part by making templates that are fully customizable and easy to save. However, if you lose information, Volusion is clear in their Terms of Service that they will not be held responsible.
Customer support is significant, however, the amount and kind you receive will also depend on the plan you purchase. The kind of support that you are eligible for also seems to play a large role in the quality you receive.
For example, people who have an Account Manager report greater satisfaction than people who receive chat support. This is to be expected, but the discrepancy in some situations is large.
Volusion on Twitter
Volusion Sentiment Analysis
Number of mentions by sentiment
Top users by mention
There are clearly a number of positives Volusion brings to the table. If you want to start an ecommerce site, the company is certainly an easy solution that will get the job done. That being said, their pricing is a bit high. While this may be money well spent, it’s still money you will need to spend.
Many of the services Volusion offers in its plans come standard with competitors and often at a more affordable price. Lastly, you’ll want to search for reviews of their service. While Volusion stresses customer support, there are a number of testimonials online and on Twitter that suggest otherwise.
If you are in the market for an ecommerce website, you certainly have a number of options. Volusion is a great place to start as they are a popular company with the services that you will need to succeed. That being said, be sure to shop around and do your homework so that you are not overpaying for services that you don’t need. Also, spend some time reading reviews from entrepreneurs similar to yourself.
If you like to decide for yourself if Volusion is right for you then why not give their 14 day free trial a go. Volusion offers a fully functional 2 weeks look-try-and-feel free trial of their ecommerce software. No credit card is required, and plus you get 24x7 live support and assistance from a personal ecommerce consultant.