Volusion Review 2019

Volusion logo

A solid and convenient ecommerce solution.

Val​​​​ue
Functionality
Features
Customization
Support
  • No coding knowledge needed.
  • Built-in SEO and marketing features.
  • Volusion does not charge transaction fees.
  • No blog support.
  • Very weak extendability.
  • Far too reliant upon additional paid services.

What is Volusion?

Founded in 1999 by 16-year-old Kevin Sproles, Volusion is an all-in-one ecommerce platform that has grown immensely over the past two decades. Over 30,000 merchants currently run their stores on Volusion, and it has brought in $28 billion from over 185 million orders, which is enough in principle to make it worth considering for your store.

Based on the criteria, and how many currently-live sites are using Volusion, it sits fairly close to (and sometimes inside) the top ten platforms in the world. That means you needn’t be concerned about being duped or swindled, or about finding some measure of useful support when needed - 24/7 support and an strong knowledge base are provided, but there’s no forum.

Through Volusion, you can create a store, choose a design, start selling, and market your business. Notably, the company doesn’t charge transaction fees on top of whatever fees are charged by your payment gateway. The pricing tiers scale the number of sales you can make and incrementally step up the number of features provided.

Overall, the main selling points of Volusion are that it’s intuitive, requires no coding knowledge, and can suitably cover the basics without costing you a huge amount. Let’s get more into the details behind it.

Volusion Benefits Overview


The main goal of Volution’s design was clearly to provide optimal accessibility and usability, prioritizing ease of use and making life as easy as possible for sellers. Its sales copy shines a light not on any kind of remarkable power but on a simple contention: that if you want a solid overall solution that won’t cost you a great deal or sap your profits, Volusion is the way to go.

Volusion Pricing

Volusion has the following four pricing tiers:

Tier

Cost Per Month

Sales Per Year

Bandwidth

Support

Personal Plan

$29

$50K

Unlimited

Online

Professional Plan

$79

$100K

Unlimited

Online + Phone

Business Plan

$229

$500K

Unlimited

Priority

Prime Plan

Custom

Custom

Unlimited

VIP

You can get started with a 14-day trial if you just want to see if the system is right for you. As for the tiers, it’s hard not to compare to those of Shopify, because the prices are identical — and the comparison isn’t very favorable for Volusion.

Shopify’s Basic tier supports unlimited sales for $29 per month, and also cuts the transaction fees if you use its internal payment gateway. That means that Volusion’s Personal tier would only be preferable if you were sure that you wouldn’t (couldn’t) sell more than $50k per year — in that exact situation, the free transactions might tip it over the edge.

You can save up to 10% if you pay annually instead of monthly, but it isn’t going to make all that much of a difference. In short, Volusion’s pricing isn’t enough to make earn it a position close to the top of the quality list unless you intend your store to have very specific limitations.

Features/Type of Plan

Personal Plan

Professional Plan

Business Plan

Prime Plan

Responsive Themes

Built-in SEO Tools

Social Integrations

Ratings and Reviews

Newsletters

Abandoned Cart Reports

Amazon & eBay Integrations

API Access

Dedicated Success
Team

One on One Setup

Volusion Features Summary


Volusion offers a variety of features that will help you manage your ecommerce store.

As an all-in-one solution, Volusion has a very respectable feature set that encompasses everything an aspiring online seller would need to get started. It’s certainly aimed at beginners and anyone unwilling or unable to get too involved in the minutiae of their store’s configuration, so if you fit one of those categories, you might want to give it a try.

If you have grand enterprise-level goals, however, then you should think carefully before opting for Volusion. As solid as its default array of options is, it can only offer a small selection of plugins, and while developers can technically create customer integrations, the extension process is neither as straightforward nor as popular as that of other platforms.

In short, with Volusion being a comprehensive suite with no major gaps needing to be patched up with plugins or custom code, it should go down well with anyone who wants a hosted ecommerce CMS that covers all the basics for them — all the way from store setup to digital marketing and SEO — for an easy-to-understand monthly fee.


Dashboard


The Volusion dashboard offers a clean and modern aesthetic that keeps everything neatly spaced out and uses graphical representation where useful. The navigation is simple and straightforward so you shouldn’t have any issues finding what you’re looking for — it even breaks things down into clear steps to show beginners what needs to be done.

In addition to a storefront view and an overall view of priority tasks and notable metrics, there are sections for orders, customers, inventory, marketing, design, reports, and settings. Everything is snappy and set out intuitively, and each category provides a solid range of options. You won’t see anything on the level of something like Magento, but you may not need that kind of functionality.

The admin area can be accessed by adding /admin to the end of the store domain URL. It’s easy to add or remove users in Volusion: simply go to your account page and choose “Manage users”, and you can edit your list of users (plus define their permissions).

The site is mobile-responsive, but Volusion does have a dedicated mobile app (available on iOS or Android) that presents a super-simple tile-based interface and allows admins to keep their stores running smoothly from any location.

If you plan to ship products to multiple countries and serve customers with varying native languages, though, Volusion is unlikely to suit your needs — you can insert content in any language, and even swap out UI elements if you’re willing to configure it manually, but there’s no option to have multiple site versions, and no default UI aside from the English one.


Themes


A big part of being successful in ecommerce is having an attractive storefront, and unless you feel like spending time and money on having a custom theme designed, you’ll likely want to choose an existing theme you can then customize. Volusion currently offers 34 premium (paid) themes and 11 free themes, providing a fair amount of stylistic diversity.

As you’d expect, every theme is mobile-responsive and will work well in any device or browser. You can also make manual edits if you’d like, allowing you to make your store distinct from any others using the same theme.

Each premium theme costs the same amount — $180 — which may sound like a lot, but keep in mind that you might rework the same theme various times across several years, so it won’t necessarily work out to a steep price overall.

Annoyingly, there doesn’t seem to any kind of third-party marketplace for Volusion themes. While you can certainly hire a Volusion expert to create a custom theme for you, you likely won’t be able to benefit from finding and buying preset themes outside of the official selection.


Content Management


There’s one thing in particular that must be noted about Volusion as a general CMS: it doesn’t allow an internal (locally-hosted) blog. You can create a blog link and send people to a blog hosted elsewhere — styling it like your store page to make them appear the same — but it won’t look as professional, and then there’s the sheer inconvenience of needing two distinct sites.

Consequently, if you want to build not just an ecommerce store but also a general retail brand, you’d very likely have a better experience using a platform built with blogging in mind.

For ecommerce content, however (product descriptions and images, homepage copy, etc.), Volusion is perfectly capable, using a simple tile-based system to arrange page content. You can upload images from elsewhere or choose from your library.


Plugins & Extensions


Volusion currently offers 75 apps through its marketplace, with 10 free and 64 paid. Through them, you can set up commenting, provide live chat, add social feeds, and expand the array of payment processors. Compared to other ecommerce app marketplaces, though (most notably those of Shopify and WooCommerce), the selection is unimpressive.

While you can create your own apps and integrations for Volusion (full API documentation is available to subscribers), the lack of existing apps to work with and the relative dearth of good developers make the prospect of taking your site in custom directions somewhat unrealistic. Volusion is far better suited for sellers who have no interest in ariming for anything beyond what the system provides by default.


Checkout


​Out of the box, Volusion can integrate with popular payment gateways including PayPal, Stripe, WorldPay, Amazon Pay, and Sage Pay. That said, it makes a point of noting that only its default payment gateway of Authorize.net is fully supported. While this seems to be a mere matter of configuration complexity (with every other gateway having a distinct set of installation instructions), it’s very difficult to be sure that other gateways would work flawlessly.

As for security, an SSL certificate isn’t provided with any tier, so you’ll need to provide one yourself. You can buy one through Volusion, starting at $89, or you can request that they install one you already have from elsewhere — though since they charge $99 for installation of a third-party certificate, you’re financially disincentivized from taking that route.

Every Volusion hosting plan provides access to a tool called Fraud Insights for the first 10 orders of each month. It will provide you with comprehensive risk analysis and help you identify fraudulent activity. If you want to use it for more than those 10 orders, you can pay for a plan: the cheapest tier is $12.95 per month and covers 250 transactions, while the most expensive tier costs $49.95 and covers 5000 transactions.

Because Volusion doesn’t provide support for any other anti-fraud services, Fraud Insights is your only option. If fraud is a major concern for you, then you’ll need to determine whether that particular tool is adequate for your purposes.

Shipping


In the Shipping section available in the main settings, you can set up four types of shipping: Free Shipping, Live Rates, Flat Rates, or Special Rates. Volusion will integrate with live rate feeds from various major carriers (USPS, FedEx, UPS, Royal Mail, Canada Post and Australia Post) but you will need to register with your chosen carrier or carriers first.

You can set up backup rates to apply when the live rates are unavailable, create tiered flat rates, and factor in location and weights (though there’s no distinct field for dimensional weighting). You can also offer downloadable products (ebooks, videos, etc.) through a specific downloadable products shipping method.

Once you’ve set everything up to your liking, there’s a Test Shipping Rates section that will allow you to preview orders to confirm that everything is working as it should. Altogether, Volusion’s shipping configuration is far from the most comprehensive out there, but — as with many of its aspects — it should be more than enough for small retailers.


Inventory Management


Volusion provides a fairly robust inventory management system. You can add digital or physical products, or use the baked-in dropshipping app to sell through third-party fulfillment. You can manually set up US or international tax rates, or (if you’re in the US) use an automated rate calculation based entirely on your zip code. You’ll likely want to stick with the former because there’s no guarantee that the suggested rate will be appropriate.

Through the Products section, you can create categories and products within them, and use contextual autofilling to minimize repetition. It’s easy to define the hierarchy, and you can create customer barcodes for convenience.

Importing and exporting functions are available, so you can easily move over an inventory from another system, though you will need a specific primary key for the CSV you’re importing. You can overwrite existing data or leave those records alone, making it possible to import a second range of products and resolve the overlaps later.

If you want to also sell your products through an external marketplace, you have the option of Amazon or eBay by default, accessible through the Marketing section: select the one you need, enter your details, and you can go from there. While it’s technically possible to connect Volusion to other marketplaces through the API, you’d need a custom solution to go down that route.

Through a function called Smart Match, you can set the different configurations of your products to be displayed only when there is stock available. If you offer a particular item of clothing in red or blue but the blue version is out of stock, for instance, the shopper will only see the red version. This can be useful for avoiding the negative impression formed by having items out of stock, though it could also be confusing for frequent customers who wish to place back orders.


Customer Management


Each customer account can store a standard complement of fields, including names, addresses, and notes. There’s also support for custom fields that can be configured with various parameters. To determine levels of store access, every account has one of the following types:

Customer: As the default type assigned to every new account (barring one exception which we’ll come to), this type allows a user access to basic account controls.

Partner / Affiliate: If you decide to offer an affiliate program to bring in more traffic, anyone who signs up for it will have their account upgraded to this type, allowing them to view a breakdown of the sales that have resulted from their affiliate link.

Administrator: For some reason (maybe because they can also be customers), Administrators are added and configured through the Customers section. Your account will have this type.

Membership Pending: If you set your store to be members-only and require people to request access first, every account will start as this type until you manually update it.

Cancelled / No Access: On occasion, you may have a customer who keeps abusing whatever access they have, perhaps through placing fraudulent orders or leaving incendiary comments. You can use this type to simply block a user from logging in without needing to delete them.

There is a field for an anonymous account that will be ticked when someone places an order without creating an account, so it’s possible to sell without requiring a login.

Numerous automated emails are defined initially, including order confirmations, recurring payment success confirmations, product review requests, and shipment notifications. There are also templates for scheduling emails that not all sellers will want to use, such as newsletters or abandoned cart reminders.

Ecommerce Comparison Features

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Magento logo
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Buy Now

Overall Rating

Price

From $9

Free to Install

Free to Install

From $29.95

From $2.99

From $5.00

Themes

100+

1000+

1000+

120

15

500+

SEO Tools

Ease Of Use

Functionality

Customization

Security

Support

Our Review

Marketing


In the dedicated Marketing section, you can do various things, most notably configuring third-party marketplaces, creating discounts and gift certificates, viewing affiliate partners, setting up Facebook store pages, and setting sitewide meta tags for SEO purposes. Volusion also supports integration with some systems including MailChimp (for email marketing) and Privy (for popups).

If you want to carry out segmentation of your customer list for sophisticated email marketing, though, you won’t be able to do it within the system. And a general issue with the marketing potential of Volusion is the emphasis placed on paying the Volusion team to do things for you: if you’re uninterested in paying for any service beyond the basic ecommerce platform, then you’d have a much better experience with a different CMS.


Sales/CRO


Volusion natively supports customer reviews with text and star ratings, and automatically generates the structured data required to have the review information appear in Google search results. It also provides free live chat functionality, though not automatically — you have to take the provided code and manually insert it into your theme, which seems wholly unnecessary.

There are also the features we’ve already mentioned, such as discounts and discounts, but overall Volusion doesn’t have a particularly interesting set of sales options, and the lack of an extensive library of apps proves quite damaging here. There’s nothing that will get in the way of your manual sales efforts, but little that will do much to support you.


SEO


Through separate sections, you can define meta tags for everything on your site, including your homepage and your product pages. You can also allow SEO-friendly URLs to get rid of nonsensical page addresses. While Volusion is perfectly compatible with Google Analytics, there’s no automated implementation: you’ll need to get the code from GA and paste it manually into your store template. This is simply lazy design.

Volusion will provide paid SEO services upon request, with yet more tiers to choose from, so that might be worth considering if you’re really not interested in learning SEO basics — but you’ll probably want to stick to the basics. They’re solid enough, and if you’re going to put more money into Volusion’s paid services, you’re better served investing in something else.


PPC


Volusion does have basic integration options for doing things like creating Facebook Business pages and posting directly to Twitter, but it doesn’t offer anything for PPC. If you want to run some PPC ads, you’ll be on your own, needing to configure them manually along with their analytics.

As a Google Partner agency, Volusion can handle PPC for you, but since we’re looking at the platform here and not the service, I’m once again inclined to consider this a net negative. Rather than equipping you to achieve things on your own, the central thrust of Volusion seems to be about cultivating your dependency on the Volusion team to achieve anything of note.


Social


If you want to allow customers to create their accounts using their Facebook or Google accounts, then you’re going to want another platform, because Volusion doesn’t support this. It also doesn’t seem to support Open Graph, which is something of a problem if you want people to share your product links on Facebook.

It does provide a simple sharing function for particular pages that will allow people to share them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google Plus (that last one not being very useful, but it’s there) or via email, but that’s a very basic feature these days. Factor in the lack of support for an internal blog and it’s hard to see how it’s a very suitable choice for social media activity.


Email Marketing


Through the Volusion marketplace, two email marketing platforms are currently supported: Constant Contact and MailChimp. If you already use one of those, or you’d be willing to, then you can manage to create some sophisticated automation synched with your customer base. Given the disconnect, though — you won’t be able to make campaign changes from within your Volusion admin area — it’s not much of a selling point.


Hosting


The quality of ecommerce hosting is massively important because a website that’s down or running slowly can’t make sales. Volusion is a fully-hosted solution, so everything is handled for you, meaning you have support if something goes wrong.

It also guarantees 99.9% uptime, though what this practically means is unclear, because there will always be unexpected issues. It does give you some leverage if you do suffer an outage, though, and it’s in line with (or better than) similar guarantees from other platforms. Additionally, tests have found typical speeds to be within touching distance of those of its rivals, though your mileage may vary.

Since bandwidth is unlimited at every tier, you needn’t worry about using too much, and Volusion’s dedicated CDN is enabled by default to boost loading speed. You can manage your DNS settings through Volusion, but you can’t get a domain internally — you’ll need to secure one elsewhere and configure it that way.

Volusion does provide integrated email accounts: you can create them through your admin area, and even set up alias accounts to handle different parts of the customer support process. You can also use external email addresses if you’d prefer.


Analytics


For financial information, Volusion provides a reasonable report generator: you can easily create reports for selected date ranges, tweaking formats, filters and styles as needed. You can look at the most popular products for a particular period, or get an overview of returns processed during a given period. It isn’t the most comprehensive system around, but it’s perfectly solid.

For general web analytics, though, it doesn’t bring much to the table (as noted earlier). You’ll need to set up Google Analytics and review your traffic through GA itself or through a third-party system of your choice.


Development


​Using the Volusion API, you can develop custom integrations with third-party systems, but there’s no equivalent option for making custom alterations to your store (something that Shopify offers through Liquid, its own template language). You can, however, make all the Javascript, HTML, and CSS tweaks you like within your theme — and will need to if you want to set up Google Analytics — so there’s a fair amount of flexibility.

As far as migration goes, there’s nothing beyond importing or exporting products. If you want to move to or from Volusion, you’ll just need to do your best to reproduce your old designs if you want to ensure some degree of continuity.

Support


Every tier of Volusion has some support provided, with the lowest tier offering online support only, the next tier up offering phone support as well, and the next two tiers raising the level of priority afforded to your support requests (and providing a “Dedicated Success Team”). It isn’t hard to find complaints about Volusion support being inconsistent, but it’s difficult to reach a firm conclusion based on anecdotal evidence — it’s simply something to be aware of.

There’s a Facebook community page, but nothing more than that — no internal forum. And with the relatively scarcity of Volusion developers, you’re going to have a tough time finding assistance that doesn’t run directly through the official support channels.

As for documentation, it’s quite solid in principle, with an extensive knowledge base (the V1 Help Centre) featuring articles and explanatory videos, but there’s a massive caveat that renders it hugely frustrating: the content isn’t dated. Anything last updated more than 7 days prior is simply described as “Updated over a week ago”.

That means that the article you consult for guidance might have been updated one month or 5 years prior — you have no way of knowing. And since Volusion has gone through some wide-ranging updates in recent years, with pricing tiers and features changing heavily, you’re realistically going to need to consult support directly if you want reliable information.


Experts


Through the Experts section of the Volusion site, there are currently 20 partner companies listed: 5 in Canada, 5 in the US, 5 in the UK, and 5 elsewhere in the world. This isn’t a very broad selection, and is going to leave you with very limited options if you want to use Volusion at scale but don’t want to pay the Volusion team for development.

And while you can find developers happy to work with Volusion if you simply carry out a standard search, you’re not going to find anywhere near as many as you would for any of the most popular platforms such as Shopify or WooCommerce. If there were that many companies concentrating on Volusion development, there would presumably be a much larger range of apps available in the marketplace.

volusion logo

Put simply, Volusion might be worth a try if you want a lot of assistance with your ecommerce journey, you’d prefer to get it all from a single source for convenience, and you prioritize simplicity over functionality and flexibility. Does that happen to describe your circumstances? If so, sign up to the trial and see how it goes.