Let's get started.
In this Volusion Review, I'll cover the following:
- How I conducted the Volusion review
- Reasons to trust the research
- A quick description of Volusion and what it does
- My likes and dislikes of Volusion pricing
- Pros and cons of the Volusion backend
- My view on the designs and themes from Volusion
- App offerings from Volusion
- Volusion sales channels and whether or not they're good enough
- Social media options from Volusion
- Advertising possibilities on Volusion
- A Volusion review of its payment gateways
- Volusion fulfillment options
- If it's easy or not to ship with Volusion
- Volusion marketing tools and if they stack up with the competition
How I Conducted Research for this Volusion Review
Having said that, research tends to vary a bit since all platforms have their own pros, cons, features, and pricing.
To make things easier, I took these usual steps for my ecommerce platform reviews and have followed the same outline for the Volusion review:
- I started by analyzing the baseline facts about Volusion. What's the current status of the company? How's the userbase? Are there any significant hurdles they've encountered recently?
- I then go into a general Volusion review of the basics. This information is most often listed on the platform's site, in user reviews, or scattered across the internet. We're talking pricing plans, standard features, and even what the brand (in this case Volusion) looks like.
- I begin the hands-on part of the Volusion review, acting like a brand new user, creating an account, picking a pricing plan, and checking out the backend interface.
- I ran rigorous feature testing to see how everything works and if it's all comparable or better than the competition.
- I complete a full build of a Volusion website with elements like payment processing, product pages, and shipping all configured.
- I mark down the problems encountered during that process, along with the areas that were easy to complete.
- I list the most unique features, my views on pricing plans, and figure out if this is actually a platform I'd like to sell with.
Reasons to Trust Our Research
The Ecommerce Platforms website has a mission to provide unbiased, detailed research on all ecommerce platforms and the tools that help you sell online.
From general ecommerce tips to in-depth platform reviews, we take it upon ourselves to act as the user and go through the crash test before you have to mess with anything that's going to cause problems in the future.
This way, we're not simply giving you a recap of what's already on a company's website. We actually use the products we review and run several tests on areas like payment processing, website design, and tax calculations.
In addition, we strive to provide unbiased information that's best for our readers, as opposed to recommending products based on outside compensation or affiliate programs.
Our site is funded, in part, by affiliate links, but we never award more praise towards certain tools or platforms since almost all ecommerce tools have these affiliate programs, so there's no need to lean towards one over another just because of payments.
With an experienced team of writers and ecommerce researchers, we're proud to offer you straightforward advice from the perspective that matters most: someone who's actually selling online.
What is Volusion?
Volusion is an ecommerce platform company founded in 1999. The brand offers shopping cart software with ecommerce web design and processing tools for small to large businesses.
We could talk about the history of the company, but we'd rather cover a few points that should mean something to potential/current users:
- Volusion truly does focus mostly on small businesses. It has a relatively small number of active stores at around 30k.
- The pricing plans look plentiful and rather affordable.
- Volusion has overhauled its interface a few times and it appears they've done an excellent job of making the backend user-friendly for beginners and non-tech people.
- Volusion filed for bankruptcy following a credit card data breach in 2019. We were wondering if the company would be able to power through that massive problem, but it appears they've done a decent job at emerging from the Chapter 11 protection.
- Founder Kevin Sproles returned as CEO in 2016. As of right now, Troy Pike is CEO and Kevin Sproles is an executive position.
Volusion Review: The Pricing
Let's get started with a Volusion review of pricing plans. That's the primary question people tend to ask when looking at an ecommerce platform.
Is it the most important question? Probably not.
But I understand that an entrepreneur or small business owner has a budget, so we're stuck with figuring out if a small monthly fee could cut into that budget to an extent that makes it undesirable.
Luckily, Volusion makes its pricing affordable for small businesses.
How affordable? I'll look through the pricing plans and decide which one makes the most sense for me and if there are any downsides to Volusion pricing.
First of all, I can see that Volusion offers four pricing packages:
- Personal: $29 per month.
- Pro: $79 per month.
- Business: $299 per month.
- Prime: Based on online sales.
I can immediately see that those rates are on par with Shopify and Volusion. In fact, someone definitely started the trend and everyone copied since they're all almost exactly the same (with BigCommerce adding $0.95 to each of its plans for some reason). Other than that, Volusion, Shopify, and BigCommerce all have plans for $29, $79, and $299 per month.
But a problem arises right from the beginning with Volusion pricing. In the Personal Plan, I found that you're limited to selling 100 products. Shopify and Bigcommerce give you unlimited products.
When it comes to advantages, the Volusion Personal plan offers a drag-and-drop website builder, free themes, secure payment processing, unlimited bandwidth, and social media integrations. You also gain access to built-in SEO tools and inventory management.
Yet, I feel the Personal plan fails as a viable option with its limit on products. Why are they making the pricing the exact same as intro plans from the competition but not following up with unlimited products?
Furthermore, the Personal plan lacks customer reviews, newsletters, abandoned cart reports, and support for third-party gateways. You also have to buy your own SSL certificate. Not a good start in my eyes, but let's take a look at the other pricing plans.
The Pro plan seems like a much better starting point for me and all online store owners, especially if I plan on having thousands of products. The plan offers support for 5,000 products, which is still lower than what I want (unlimited) but the average small business shouldn't have any problem with that.
The Pro plan also opens up features for phone orders, abandoned cart reports, and newsletters, along with customer reviews, and the importing/exporting of products. That's a huge step up from the Personal plan.
The Business plan is the ideal situation with unlimited products, 15 staff accounts, and a much longer list of features: an advanced report builder, third-party gateways and shipping rates, loyalty plans, and Amazon and eBay integrations. But, is all of this what I need at this moment of starting an online store? No.
My choice for a pricing package:
I've launched several online stores and can say that support for 5,000 products is usually more than enough. Obviously, the Personal Volusion plan is plenty if you're only selling one invention or a handful of custom products.
However, I decided that the $79 per month Pro plan offers the ideal setup for most businesses. Why?
First off, you get the 5,000 product limit. It's still not as good as Shopify or Bigcommerce, but I can't imagine running too many stores past that number.
I also enjoy the 0% transaction fees, five staff accounts if expansion is in my future, and the ratings and reviews feature.
Receiving and displaying customer reviews makes for an incredible marketing opportunity, so you must consider opting for the Professional plan due to that added benefit.
What else comes with the Professional plan that's not in the Personal plan?
- Phone orders and a (CRM) customer relationship management tool: I can't see myself using the phone orders that often, but it's a nice element to have just in case. I also like the CRM.
- Abandoned cart reports: An abandoned cart tool is an absolute must for me. I know the power of bringing back potential customers when they leave without buying, so it's a great way to boost profits.
- Import/export: I'm a little confused why importing and exporting isn't available in the Personal plan. Anyway, it's essential to be able to have full control over your data.
- Newsletters: I'm a strong advocate of email marketing as the first type of marketing to activate for ecommerce. That's why this plan looks like a winner. You can launch email campaigns and send out things like coupons and company information.
- Ratings and reviews: I raved about this feature above. It's a must-have.
So, I'll opt for the Professional plan because there isn't much that's absolutely necessary for small businesses in the Business plan. Sure, I'd like to run batch orders and get third-party shipping rates in the future, but I can always upgrade when those things are necessary. The third-party payment gateways aren't required if you go with Volusion's less expensive option.
The only feature I'm truly missing from the Business plan is the eBay and Amazon integration. However, small businesses should focus most on their website sales before expanding into marketplaces like those. Also, you can still run an Amazon store, it just won't be directly integrated with Volusion.
Volusion Review: The Backend Interface
So there we have it. The Pro plan comes out on top during our Volusion review. $79 per month is what you'd pay with the other big players like Shopify and Bigcommerce. The only limit is the 5,000 maximum on products.
But now it's time to get into the backend interface of Volusion. Is signing up for Volusion easy? What happens once you land on the dashboard and start designing?
Here's a tip when launching your store: click through the Start For Free button instead of going right for one of the pricing plans. They don't give you the 14-day free trial through the pricing page for some reason. You'll want to at least test out the platform for a few weeks.
After signing up, I was sent right to the dashboard setup area, where Volusion gives you step-by-step website creation tutorials with options for choosing a theme, adding a product, and setting a logo.
These are the essentials, but after that, I can go into the more advanced elements of Volusion in the primary menu.
Anyway, I love this type of configuration, since no one wants to create an ecommerce website from scratch. I don't care how experienced you are with code, it's silly to not have a simple setup like this.
Volusion gives me a long list of prebuilt themes to choose from. I'll pick one and see it show up in the preview to the right.
As you can see, I now have a completely different theme ready to go in Volusion. It looks nice for my brand with a clean design, large banner area, and some immediate buttons to send people to other parts of the website.
Remember to look through the entire theme library as not all of the themes in there are made the same way.
Following that, Volusion asks me if I want to upload a logo or stick with a text logo.
As with many of the Volusion settings, it only took me a few seconds to see a logo after uploading. They cut right to the basics and ensure you have what's absolutely required in place before selling anything.
They even helped me put together my first product page. That consists of uploading an image and filling in a handful of fields, like for pricing, product code, and product name.
My saved product is shown in the preview. And just like that my website is starting to look rather professional.
The Volusion startup interface includes an area to add my navigation menu. This is a tough part of many ecommerce platforms because merchants tend to leave this until the end or forget about it altogether. The only problem is that a menu is one of the most important parts of any website.
So, I can go with the default menu items such as Products, About Us, and Contact Us to get my site off the ground.
My impression of the Volusion dashboard is that it's simple to understand, shows the most important metrics on my main screen, and there's a wide range of graphics to see data for orders, top products, and categories.
Furthermore, all of my next steps are within the dashboard menu, with buttons to view the storefront, check out my orders, and see customer lists. I can also go to pages for Inventory, Marketing, Design, Reports, and Settings.
Let's take a look at how Volusion functions when customizing the more advanced parts of a product page.
To get there, all I have to do is click on Inventory > Products.
I'm pleased with the cleanliness of the product creation pages, seeing as how I can search for a product from any page, add a product, delete a product, or share the item to social networks right from the dashboard.
The basics like product name, code, price, and description are all there.
It's also nice to see that a Categories field is provided, along with one for Options. I've found it tedious to create collections/categories in Shopify, so it's a breath of fresh air that Volusion allows for both selecting and creating categories right from any product page.
Scrolling down on the product editing area shows several other sections to get creative with my product listing and provide more information to customers.
The Image Management panel lets me upload all of my product photography. There's even a spot to include YouTube videos for more engagement with customers.
Some other sections include Vendor Rules, Inventory Control Grid, and Advanced Info.
I'm a fan of the way Volusion has its advanced product fields organized in one separate section. Not only is it easy to find (and hide if you're not interested in any of the advanced tools) but they offer a simple vertical menu for switching between the advanced info elements like pricing, shipping, and product descriptions.
Also, I'm glad they provide several settings for things like stock, vendors, and recurring pricing, as some ecommerce platforms make you download an app to activate those types of features.
Overall, I'd say the Volusion user interface is user-friendly, simple enough for anyone to start using, and filled with the right types of graphs and metrics on the homepage. Furthermore, the setup process sends me right into building a store with options for uploading logos, picking a theme, and customizing my new product pages with elements like descriptions and shipping options.
I never felt overwhelmed during my Volusion review of the backend interface. And I really liked that right beside the to-do list were several buttons and links to search the knowledgebase, check the Volusion blog, and contact the customer support phone line or live chat.
My Volusion Review on its Themes and Designs
One of the main reasons DIY ecommerce platforms stand out from the likes of Magento and WooCommerce is because you can typically start with a theme that's ready to sell with minimal customizations.
DIY platforms like Shopify also provide some sort of drag-and-drop or visual editing so that you need no coding expertise. To be fair, Shopify doesn't actually have a drag-and-drop editor like you would find from Wix or Weebly. It's more of a sections-based configuration where you drag large chunks of content up and down on the homepage.
Regardless, I want visual page building from my ecommerce platform. I need a large collection of free or affordable themes that make me look like a professional web designer, all with the click of a button.
Did my Volusion review find some nice themes? Does it allow you to customize the themes with ease?
While checking out the Volusion Theme Library, I saw that it offers 11 free themes at the time of this article. Then, I can choose from 34 premium themes.
The free themes, although there aren't many of them, appear professional, clean, and modern. You can implement them with a click of the button and check out their unique features before committing to just one.
I have more Premium themes to choose from, but they cost $180 a piece. That's not terribly high but you can typically find a WordPress theme for $50. Shopify and Bigcommerce get closer to the $100 to $200 like Volusion.
I am impressed by the quality of Volusion themes. They seem to focus more on quality as opposed to filling the library with tons of options. I also located general designs during my Volusion review that work for just about every industry, along with specific themes for things like home repair companies and furniture stores.
For now, I think it's wise to stick with a free theme and only upgrade for the $180 if I'm in need of a more complex design or a feature that's not included with the free theme.
Speaking of features, I recommend checking out the feature list for any theme you plan on using in Volusion. Some have tools and elements that others lack. For instance, I saw in my Volusion review that some of the themes provide multiple navigation styles and infinite scrolling while others don't.
I also like to view the product page layouts for all themes. During my Volusion review, the platform stuck with its style of cleanliness and lots of whitespace for the majority of the themes I saw.
Throughout the implementation stage, I was able to scroll through the list of free themes and pick the ones I wanted to put into the preview.
It only took a few seconds to swap out themes and get a general idea of what each one does compared to the others.
I'd still like Volusion to create more themes, but at least the process of testing and activating a theme is painless.
Moving into the design part of Volusion, I checked around to see if there's a drag-and-drop page builder.
The short answer to that question is no.
Volusion, much like Shopify, only offers a visual builder. And I would argue that Volusion's visual builder is far less capable than what you receive from Shopify and Bigcommerce.
Volusion does, however, offer a Style Editor for adjusting colors, fonts, and custom styles. These are more for global style changes as opposed to going in and handling one bit of text or a button.
I found that I can click on some elements in the editor. Most of the editable modules are for buttons or text. Like with the footer content, I can edit my links to other pages, change social media icons, and modify headers. Outside of that, I'm unable to edit just about everything else on the page.
My edits primarily came from other sections of the dashboard. For instance, I typed in Banner Text and Call To Action button text in the Customize Your Site Setup page.
Although I have limited experience with coding, it's nice to see that the CSS and HTML customization areas are available without having to search around much.
For the average user, this is pointless, but you may eventually have to send over your Volusion site to a developer who needs instant access to CSS and HTML files.
I was rather disappointed about what Volusion has to offer for editing regular web pages. I figured I could edit most of the items on my Homepage or the About page from the visual editor, but that's not true.
This Volusion review showed that I had to navigate to the Site Content section of the dashboard to adjust articles and page content from a completely separate module.
The same can be said for most content on the Homepage. I eventually discovered a section of the dashboard for Product Display Settings. Under that page, I located a section for Homepage Featured Product Display settings, where I was able to change things like the number of products shown and if the list price should appear.
Throughout my Volusion review I concluded that the themes are top-notch, Volusion doesn't have a true drag-and-drop builder, and it's kind of a pain to edit your regular web pages.
Finally, I was curious about content creation in terms of blogging on Volusion. During my search, I couldn't find anything regarding a blog on the Volusion dashboard. That's weird, so I went to the knowledgebase and eventually discovered that Voluson doesn't offer a blogging tool, so you must link to a third-party blogging platform and direct a store subdomain to that external site.
That's no good for SEO or the fact that I want to write my blog posts on the actual ecommerce platform.
My Volusion Review: The App Offerings
It took me maybe five seconds to realize that Volusion doesn't have nearly as many apps or add-ons as its primary competitors.
The good news is that the Volusion platform tends to focus on giving you built-in features instead of a massive collection of apps that end up costing you way too much money. However, I would still like to see more apps and integrations that cater to unique situations like social media and marketing.
Another problem is that out of about 156 Volusion apps, only 20 of them are free. That means your monthly price is bound to increase if you consider installing some of these apps to scale or improve your store.
On the App Store page (apparently only available if you go to the Volusion homepage) I saw a nice list of filters to locate the apps that I needed most. For example, I can choose Accounting, Dropshipping, Marketing, or Mobile to examine apps that may advance the functionality of my store and help me sell more products.
I was unfamiliar with many of the apps being presented (not exactly a good thing), but as I filtered to specific categories I realized that Volusion provides integrations with some top app makers. There aren't many options under each category, but at least you gain access to integrations with known companies.
As an example, my search in the Email Marketing app category displayed Privy, Constant Contact, and MailChimp, all of which will serve me well while running an online store and small business.
However, that's still a rather short list. I'd prefer I had more options, especially for ecommerce-oriented email marketing apps, like Omnisend and Klaviyo.
My quest for dropshipping apps produced similar results: Sure, Doba makes for an excellent dropshipping partner, but I've never heard of Kole Imports. And where are the others top contenders like Printful, Teelaunch, and Modalyst?
As one last test, I examined the app offerings for Social Media. Luckily, Yotpo and Powr both provide incredible social media tools. But yet again, this is a category that should be filled with dozens of alternatives. I guess the upside is that Volusion makes it simpler for me to just select an app that works well and not think about it too much.
I also looked all over the Volusion dashboard for an App Store button, or some sort of way to click a link and install an app, but I couldn't find anything. The App Store is available on the main Volusion website but they don't offer a link to install them to your website. I'm not entirely sure how this works, but it's very unclear and could use some clarification. In general, my Volusion review showed that the apps look decent, but other platforms like Shopify let me click one button and run apps rather quickly.
My Volusion Review on Sales Channels
While looking through the Volusion apps, I also wondered if Volusion has any channels for selling outside of its standard online store.
Eventually, I'll want to sync my store's products with marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, while also bringing around a card swiper or point of sale tool if I plan to go to tradeshows or make a physical retail location.
First, I found that Volusion does have a POS (point of sale) system for scanning items and credit cards in person. It's not exactly as robust a system as you would find from Square, Stripe, or Shopify, but Volusion provides integration with physical card swiping tools for running cards and adding orders to the online store.
In short, Volusion seems to have a POS that's linked directly to the backend of its online store interface. So, I can't necessarily create a multi-device POS for a retail store with ease. It's more like bringing up the Volusion dashboard and typing in the orders by hand. However, I should note, that it is possible to configure a more advanced in-person system. And credit card swiping is available. I just know that a solution like Square already has the infrastructure built for retail stores, so it's probably a better idea to go with them when talking about a POS.
But what about marketplace sales channels?
My first process involves setting up a Facebook Shop and ensuring I could both sync my products with the store and link it to the Volusion shop so that changes to products are made to both on Facebook and Volusion.
I was able to set up a Facebook store right from the Volusion dashboard. It's all under Marketing > Facebook Store.
After that, I chose to display my products on the Facebook Store. I liked that I could select the products to send to the Facebook Store instead of syncing them all. There are also options to sort the products by default on Facebook and display a Deal of the Day.
Volusion provides an area to upload your store logo and pick a preset theme or customize the theme to your liking. Not many other platforms allow this type of customization, so I'm glad I can add some branding right on Volusion and incorporate parts of my store's colors to match the website.
After that, I clicked on the Install Social Store App button to proceed. It turns out this entire Facebook Store operation is done through a third-party app that's integrated with Volusion. It all felt simple and automatic, seeing as how the button sent me to Facebook to either generate a Facebook Business Page or continue with one of the previously created pages on my Facebook account.
I have no problem with this feature as a third-party app. If anything it takes Volusion up a notch since it can be tough to customize the colors of your Facebook store with other ecommerce platforms. Volusion gives me a bit more control over the way the Facebook Store looks.
Finally, Volusion showed me an example of what the store should look like when I'm done with my own customizations. As you can see, it presents a logo in the Facebook Store, along with a banner graphic, deal of the day (if activated), color theme, and product gallery.
Volusion also provides me ways to sell on eBay. The configuration process sent me right through the Volusion dashboard but I can also make an eBay account on the side and link it later.
The same can be said for an Amazon store. Volusion has both eBay and Amazon marketplace buttons under the Marketing area of the dashboard. I started the setup process in Volusion then got sent to eBay and Amazon for completing the stores. Besides the usual tediousness of configuring Amazon and eBay stores, Volusion made it feel a little easier since I can now sync my products with multiple marketplaces.
During my Volusion review, I realized that I would personally only sell on places like Facebook and Amazon. Maybe I'd venture into the eBay world, but I would like to keep my marketplaces to a minimum at the beginning.
However, that also depends on the industry any merchant plans on going into. For example, fashion and craft shops benefit from integrations with Etsy and Pinterest. I would also like to some sort of Instagram selling tool. Besides that, I've also noticed options for selling through Facebook Messenger on other ecommerce platforms. But for now, the Facebook, Amazon, and eBay stores are an excellent start for me and everyone looking to sell on multiple channels.
My Volusion Review of its Social Media Options
Social media plays a large role in ecommerce, even if you're managing a smaller online store or a startup with new products. Eventually, you'll want to build your followings on places like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, or at least the ones that make the most sense for your type of business.
I already covered some of the social media elements in my Volusion review of its sales channels. Yes, the Facebook Store is a style of selling that's done on a social network. However, I consider that to be more of a marketplace than anything.
For this section, I'd like to discuss the pros and cons of Volusion's social sharing mechanisms, options for adding social media buttons, and tools for sending posts directly from my Volusion store to Facebook, Instagram, and others.
Let's start out with simple social buttons that lead customers, or potential customers, to my social media pages like Facebook and Instagram. It appears that Volusion offers these types of icons in most of its themes so I don't have to mess around with installing an app or creating them myself.
For my current theme, social icons are shown in the footer area. I can click on them in the visual editor and delete the ones I don't need, add more, and link the buttons to my pages. Simple enough.
The only part I didn't understand was that there's not a manageable way to add those same social media icons to the header. I'm certain that can be done in the code, but I've searched throughout the dashboard and was unable to locate a setting for header buttons. However, I saw that some themes already come with header icons installed for social links. So, you may have to decide where you want your social media icons before settling on a theme.
I also need social media sharing and liking buttons on my product pages. This way, people come to my shop, see products they like and have the option to share them with friends on places like Facebook and Twitter.
Again, this functionality seems dictated by the theme installed. For instance, my current theme reveals several social media liking and sharing buttons on all product pages. They're not the prettiest buttons I've seen, but they do the trick for now. It looks like I have a Twitter, Email, Pinterest, and Facebook button in my theme.
Moving on, I want to have the ability to post directly to social media accounts while adding links or photos from my products to those posts.
I found this feature during the Volusion review by going to Marketing > Social Media Center.
The Social Media Center is straightforward and about as simplistic as you can get. Volusion lets you link to Facebook and Twitter accounts then post to those pages from the Volusion dashboard. I have a text box in Volusion to write out a clever post, and I can also add product and category links from my shop. I'm excited about the links, but I'd like to see tools for posting product pictures, as this adds a more visual element to my posts. Do they expect me to just stick with text posts the entire time?
Regardless, I'm fond of the Social Media Center in Volusion, particularly the product and category links. However, an improvement would include integrations with other social networks like Instagram and Pinterest. I also need a more robust post creator, since I'm not only going to use text posts on Facebook. Maybe that's okay for Twitter but not any of the other social networks.
My Volusion Review of its Advertising Options
Yes, advertising on Volusion is good. Not great, but good.
I'm inclined to think that the average online store owner wants to put a significant amount of capital into advertising, so it helps when I see ecommerce platforms that allow you to advertise on a wide range of search engines and social networks from the dashboard.
Volusion has the essentials. That is, Volusion lets me advertise on Google.
The good news is that Volusion offers advertising with two Google systems: Google Ads and Google Shopping.
This means I can start devising Google Ad Campaigns using the photos and product descriptions I already have on my Volusion store by using a pay-per-click model. Essentially, this is no different than setting up your own Google Ads account, but you get the convenience of linking it to your store and pulling in the inventory.
The Google Shopping tool makes sense as well. I'm one to look at Google Shopping listings whenever I search for products online, so I definitely understand the value of getting my own products on the search engine. After all, those Google Shopping listings are located at the very top of the search result page.
Overall, both Google Ads and Google Shopping tap into my Volusion inventory for a streamlined advertising situation without any hassles. It gives me an ad management module in one spot (the Volusion dashboard) and I can rest easy knowing my products are up-to-date on the ads and payment still goes through my store if someone plans to buy something with Google Shopping.
I also don't have to pay any extra fees to use this integration through Volusion. I simply look at the rates provided by Google for my particular ads and choose what I want to spend.
As I said, Volusion offers the essentials when it comes to online advertising.
But the essentials aren't necessarily good enough for me. Although I'm sure some merchants will have no problem sticking to Google, I'm more experienced with Facebook and Instagram Ads. Not to mention, I'd really like to get into the Pinterest Ad space. Come to think of it, I've seen advertising features for Snapchat, Bing, and various other social sites and search engines from Volusion's competition.
Volusion Review: Payment Gateways
Following its tendency to keep things simple, Volusion enables merchants to activate a payment gateway within minutes and connect that merchant account and payment gateway to the shopping cart and checkout area.
When I'm setting up payment gateways, I usually want a few questions answered:
- Are the payment gateways easy to configure?
- Are they affordable?
- Does it work in my country (usually not a problem at all since I'm in the US, but I understand non-US merchants often have to think about this)?
- Can I accept multiple forms of payment like popular credit cards, digital payment solutions, or money orders?
To get started, I want everyone to know that Volusion does support third-party payment gateways. However, it also has its own Volusion Payments offering which is fully integrated, offers the best rates, and is really just a white-label version of Authorize.net. Therefore, we know it's a quality payment gateway.
Having said that, Volusion Payments is only available to US merchants. The restriction doesn't apply to me, but non-US merchants must consider an alternative payment gateway if they want to use Volusion as their ecommerce platform.
It's also worth mentioning that the approval process for Volusion Payments is more thorough and prolonged than what you may find from Stripe or Square. I found it usually takes about 5-7 days for approval, and that involves a credit check. The great news about that is you don't have to worry about signing up for a payment gateway that only approves people quickly to get them in the system. Square and PayPal are known for this but you're not technically approved right away, so any sales funds are held in escrow.
Moving on with our Volusion review, I found the payment gateway setup area easy enough for anyone to figure out. I chose my country, used the dropdown to select the available payment gateways, and then moved onto the areas where they ask for my Authorize.net API ID and Transaction Key.
Since I run my business from the US, I also saw Skrill and Stripe available to use as payment gateways. It appears Volusion offers a tool for adding any type of other payment gateways, so you're free to use that if you can't find the payment gateway you like.
Keep in mind, however, that non-US merchants are limited when it comes to payment gateways. Volusion lets businesses in some countries add custom credentials to the Other field. Yet, some businesses, based on their country, are stuck with the Skrill payment gateway as the lone option. Luckily, Skrill has a strong track record and should work as a viable solution for the vast majority of merchants.
During my Voluson review, I discovered a few alternative payment gateway settings for changing how I capture payments through my store. I'm able to automatically authorize and capture the payments by default, or I can go with a setup where Authorize.net authorizes the payments but leaves it to me to capture those transactions.
As a last possibility, Volusion lets me cut out all automation by manually authorizing the payments and capturing them all in one step.
Another question remains from our Volusion review: What types of cards and payment methods are accepted when I sell through Volusion?
Under Card Settings, Volusion lists multiple card types and allows you to check the ones you want to accept. By default, my store had Visa, Mastercard, and Discover checked off. Under the Inactive Cards header, I also activated card providers like JCB, Diners Club, and American Express. It looks like a handful of other card options are there if I ever need to turn them on.
In short, Volusion supports all the major credit card providers. And it's possible to connect my store to reputable payment gateways like Stripe and Authorize.net.
Finally, the world of ecommerce has charged forward with a myriad of alternative payment methods including digital phone wallets, online payment systems, and even cryptocurrency.
My Volusion review showed a page for activating some of these alternative payment methods, most notably Amazon Pay and PayPal. In the future, I'd like to see some of the others like Google and Apple Pay, but they're off to a decent start.
It's also nice that I can accept electronic checks, money orders, checks by mail, wire transfers, and cash. I'm not sure that any of my customers would try to pay with those methods, but I know it's common in some industries, especially for B2B sales.
Lastly, I noticed a Custom Type field at the bottom of the More Payment Types module. This shows me that I have options for incorporating other types of payments into the Volusion store, whether it's through the API or by typing in my own merchant credentials for those payment methods. For instance, it seems I may be able to accept payment through Apple Pay or Bitcoin, but that's not entirely certain.
Volusion Review: Volusion Fulfillment Options
Fulfillment preferences vary depending on your type of business, the people running the show, and what types of products are being sold. In my experience, third-party fulfillment and dropshipping work well, but I can see the benefits of fulfilling your items from an owned warehouse as well.
It doesn't really matter what type of fulfillment you use with Volusion since the primary fulfillment features are for storing contact information and sending out quick orders to your vendors. The dashboard tools function like vendor management software where you type in most of the information manually and check off options for the type of fulfillment from each vendor.
Let's say I partnered with a third-party fulfillment company like ShipBob or Fulfillment by Amazon. Those are both perfectly reasonable choices, but Volusion doesn't have a direct integration to either of them. Not to worry, though, since I can type in the vendor details and make them active for receiving orders when they come in.
What's more, is that Volusion provides a Dropshipping checkbox to indicate that the supplier can automatically pick and ship the items when customers purchase them from my store. Other than that, each vendor page has options for me to fill in their name, the vendor address, shipping options, terms, and communication templates. So, realistically, I could opt for any type of fulfillment method with this type of configuration.
There's a warehouse management area in Volusion as well. I'm not too fond of running my own warehouses, but it's an essential aspect of many businesses. This way, you type in the warehouse names and contact information to keep track of them and run your own fulfillment operation alongside the business.
Finally, my Volusion review uncovered a few apps for dropshipping and fulfillment. The most notable one is Doba, a dropshipping and distribution service for sourcing products, listing them on your site, and having Doba store and send them out when customers make purchases. You can also opt for other fulfillment services through their Volusion integrations. For instance, GlobalShopex is one of them. The eFulfillment Service app looks like a decent solution as well. I'm not as familiar with these two, but it gives me an idea of my potential for fulfillment.
Fulfillment options are far more plentiful from ecommerce platforms like Shopify and Bigcommerce. But, when I think about it, the fulfillment “tools” provided by these platforms are only integrations with your store. So, you can opt for ShipBob, Amazon Fulfillment, or whatever fulfillment service you want, and effectively run your business through Volusion. The only difference from the other platforms is the integration, which isn't giving you that much of a benefit to begin with.
My Volusion Review of its Shipping Tools
Most parts of shipping for a Volusion store are managed in the Settings section of the dashboard. It appears that Volusion does a solid job with shipping by offering fields to choose flat rates, live rates, special rates, and locations. You can also tap into the popular shipping providers for your country to further understand shipping rates and times.
However, while completing my review of Volusion's pricing, I saw that third-party calculated shipping rates from couriers like UPS and USPS are only available in the $299 per month Business plan. That's a bummer since my own sites will run on the Personal and Professional plans, and I'm assuming that at least everyone with the Professional plan wants that type of functionality. And they're paying enough for it.
Besides that, let's take a look at what's available in the current shipping setup from Volusion.
The Volusion dashboard is so much easier to understand for the average user when compared to the likes of Shopify and Bigcommerce. They just seem to simplify everything, and it was no different during our Volusion review of the shipping features. I like how I can immediately choose a Ship From Location and a Ship To Location, while also adding countries or regions to exclude from my shipping area.
I also went down to the Free Shipping module and noticed a free shipping rate already included on my site. That's great since I can go in there and edit the terms of that free shipping like adding a minimum purchase requirement.
The Live Rates section is where the real magic begins. I can set a carrier like USPS, UPS, FedEx, Royalmail, CanadaPost, DHL, or AustraliaPost. Those are the only options right now but that's perfect for me and anyone in serviced areas.
After that, I'm able to register with the carrier to receive live rates on my store. Each one is a little different but it doesn't take too long to get it all configured. It's an incredible system, but as I said before, the live rates are only for users paying for the fairly expensive Business plan. In my opinion, it's worth upgrading just for the live rates.
Moving on, I can set flat rates based on package size, weight, or price, while also choosing special rates like if I wanted to include a shipping option for in-store pickup.
The Advanced Settings section includes fields for showing a “rates unavailable message,” and some other settings for things like extra shipping costs and how shipping rates factor into the tax fees.
Finally, I was pleased during my Volusion review to see a Test Rates area for creating a mock shipping situation where I set the To and From addresses, mark the cost, and set the weight. The calculator then determines the shipping rates based on all of the information inserted.
Volusion has it all for using the most popular shipping carriers, linking to the live rates, and establishing special and free shipping options for my customers. Outside of the fact that I must upgrade to the most expensive plan to get those live rates, I can't see many other downsides to the Volusion shipping offerings. You can even use the shipping rate calculator to get a stronger understanding of what customers will have to pay.
Volusion Review: Marketing Tools
I'm glad Volusion provides a separate Marketing tab in its main dashboard menu. Everything I need for marketing is stored under that menu item and available with the click of a button.
We've already discussed the Social Media Center earlier in my Volusion review. The same can be said for the Facebook Store, Selling on Google, Selling on Amazon, and Selling on eBay. But we should remember that those are all aspects of the Volusion marketing machine that improve our potential for making more money.
So what's next to cover? What other features does Voluson have for marketing my business?
Although my Volusion review mainly shows it as a simplified, beginner-friendly ecommerce platform for those interested in launching a quick website and processing payments, the marketing competes like crazy when compared to the more robust platforms out there.
This Marketing tab is filled with features like Deals of the Day, MyRewards, and a Newsletter function that works by sending out emails from your dashboard.
I'm pleased with the quantity and ease of use of the marketing tools available, so let's begin with the Google Customer Reviews – then touch on every marketing feature – to understand the pros and cons.
The Google Customer Reviews page links to a Google Merchant Account. I've handled several Merchant accounts for clients in the past and can say that's one of the easiest ways to bring in new customers. You can fill out all your company information, post pictures, and let Google work its magic by presenting your brand to people seeking out similar services or products.
Another reason it's a good idea to claim my Google Merchant Account is that I can then link it to Volusion. The Google Customer Reviews page on Volusion asks me to enable the feature and paste in information like my Google Merchant Account Number and the estimated days it usually takes to ship an item. In addition, I can choose the review and badge display position on my site. For instance, I could reveal those reviews as a popup module in the center of the homepage.
These reviews won't automatically start coming in faster with this configuration. There aren't any marketing elements involved with the feature. My Volusion review showed that it's more of a way to add social credibility to your website by pulling reviews that are on Google. What's nice is that all of my future ratings will also be added to my website. The Google Reviews feature works like a one-and-done type tool where you link it up the first time and never have to think about it again. Unless you're thinking about moving the location of those reviews.
Next up, I can make a Deal of the Day through Volusion by selecting any product from my inventory and changing its price for a set period of time. This is a temporary marketing strategy but can become part of a more consistent program where you generate a deal of the day, send out an email to alert customers, and allow them to buy one product at a discounted price. The deal feature also includes fields for typing in a headline for the sale in order to explain what it's all about and to convince people to buy.
A deal of the day structure isn't for everyone, so a more consistent way of offering deals is through the Volusion Coupons and Discounts page.
I like how I can grab a preset discount or coupon generated by Volusion. On the other hand, I'm able to click the Add button and fill in information for the coupon like whether it's a percentage or dollar-based discount and for how long the coupon is valid.
I also noticed Volusion provides me a wonderful quick view of all coupons and discounts, with details about the lifespan of each coupon, the value, and the maximum quantity for each. Deleting a coupon only takes a quick click, and I can take the coupon codes and use them elsewhere on my site, like in a promotional banner or newsletter.
Another marketing element that blends well with other marketing tools is the Nav Menu Promotions. Essentially, this helps me take control of the navigational menu area on my website and list things like promotional banners, email subscription forms, and more.
I'm not a huge fan of the way nav menu promotions are created, but at least I have access to the header area of my website. Overall, I have to mess with HTML code in order to adjust the way these promotional menu items look. Luckily, I usually have no problem with modifying simple HTML. However, I know some store owners will find this tedious or have to send customizations off to a real developer. In the future, I'd like to see more of a drag and drop builder for the nav menu promotions, especially since these are a must-have feature for an ecommerce shop.
Just to give you an idea of what I mean, I opened up the Mailing List Sign Up nav menu promotion to make some edits during my Volusion review. The Body field does in fact provide a visual, WYSIWYG editor, but it's about as rudimentary as they come. I would assume most edits would have to be made in the actual HTML field listed lower on the page.
During my tests with other ecommerce platforms, I've found that many of them opt to leave out rewards systems, instead asking users to install third-party apps for the most efficient solutions. Volusion obviously feels that rewards deserve their own built-in features, so I can click on the My Rewards tab and configure a rewards setup that gives out points for products or points for cash. Either way, my customers come to my site, purchase items, and receive points that they can eventually build up and redeem for products or cash to pay for those products. There's also an option to completely disable the rewards program if it's not in your current marketing plan.
What do I like about the MyRewards program from Volusion?
First of all, it's simple. There are only a handful of settings to configure and then it all starts running on my store. I'm also able to set limits like the points redeemed per currency unit, minimum points required to redeem, and the time until rewards are redeemable. Finally, it lets me set an expiration date with the Time Rewards Are Redeemable field.
Could the MyRewards feature use some fancier characteristics like the ability to name my points and set reward benchmarks? Sure, but I'm not one to complain considering this comes free with my Volusion membership and it only takes a few minutes to launch. After that, it functions as a passive marketing machine and lets my customers know that their business is valued.
Another aspect of the Volusion marketing suite that you can't find on many other ecommerce platforms is the newsletter creator. Much like the rewards system, these newsletters are barebones and uncomplicated. There's nothing like the design and targeting prowess of MailChimp and Constant Contact, but sometimes I wonder why I get so excited about those tools when in reality they just take longer to make emails and cost a lot of money.
Volusion, on the other hand, enables me to make quick newsletters with an email subject line, email body, and scheduling function. I can generate an HTML version of the email body (by using the visual editor or finding a template online) or consider using the text-only version. In fact, it looks like both of them are required for sending a newsletter, ensuring all of my customers, regardless of their email client, can read the email.
I also like the fact that there's a test email field for shooting myself a preview of the email before it goes out to all of my customers.
What's more, is that Volusion doesn't completely forget about target marketing. My Volusion review showed a special section for only sending to certain customer groups. I either make these groups myself or have site visitors choose the types of emails they want to receive.
Another way to market my ecommerce store on Volusion is with the Gift Certificate feature. In short, Volusion helps me make a product page to sell gift certificates. After that, the bought gift certificates show up in a list for managing and seeing which ones are still valid or expired.
In addition to that, I can generate my own gift certificates if a customer makes an order over the phone or in person. I would simply type in the gift amount, the date it was created, and the expiration date if needed. It's nice to see that the gift certificates get assigned to Customer IDs for improved tracking. I can also go in and check individual gift certificates to see how much spending power is left on each one.
Most ecommerce platforms and website-building tools offer SEO (search engine optimization) features for adding items like meta tag titles and descriptions. I would consider Volusion a leader in the pack when it comes to SEO since it provides an entire list of all my pages where I can edit the SEO fields for each one.
The basics are there: meta tag title, meta tag description, and keywords. I'm enjoying the meta tag override checkbox along with the globally amended meta tags, both of which help with adjusting past meta tags for an established site.
But as you can see from my Volusion review and the screenshot below, I can also jump to other pages like the About Us page or the Deal of the Day page to manage the SEO settings for those as well.
The last marketing feature that makes sense for me to rave about is the In-stock Requests tool. This is yet another excellent marketing element from my Volusion review that I had trouble finding elsewhere.
It's about as simple as it sounds, but it activates a powerful messaging system for those customers who have shown real interest in products and are bound to come back and spend money at your store. I mark the checkbox, then everyone who opts for an In-stock Notification gets an email when a product they want is replenished in my inventory.
From a merchant's perspective, I can't ask much more from Volusion when it comes to marketing features. I get simplicity around every corner, a wonderful rewards program, all the coupon features I could want, and some extras like in-stock requests and navigational menu promos. The only part that's missing – and this is a big problem for me – is a blogging interface. Although it's possible for me to link a third-party blogging platform (like WordPress) to my store's subdomain, that's been known to limit SEO potential. Not to mention, I'd much rather write blog posts from one interface.
My Volusion Review of Their Customer Support
Ecommerce platforms usually have their customer support set up so that you're pushed through a knowledgebase prior to getting in touch with a real person on the support team. That's not always terrible, but sometimes I want the fastest reply possible, from a person who knows what they're talking about. Therefore, I'm not that keen on endorsing companies that try to automate the system too much. This type of automation also comes in the form of chatbots and online guides.
Again, I feel there's a place for these types of support options, but I also think that a paying customer should have the option to immediately skip all of that and go straight to a person.
During my Volusion review of their customer support, I've found that there's a healthy mix of automated, online support and a more direct option to either call or live chat with a representative.
In my situation, I had some questions about related products. How do they get added to every product page? Is it random or is there some sort of algorithm behind it? Can I remove related products from some product pages?
So, what are the customer support steps I must walk through to find an answer to my questions?
First off, the bottom of my Volusion dashboard offers links to support resources, release notes, and the Volusion blog. Those are all online resources that require my own research and time instead of speaking with a support rep.
I do think it's wise to search the knowledgebase prior to calling or live chatting with a representative, since the answer may be much easier than you assume.
For instance, I can search “adding a product” in the knowledgebase search bar to view articles already available to resolve my issues.
I also checked out the “related products” articles and found that all I have to do is check a box in the Product Settings page to reveal related products for all of my items.
That answers one of my questions and shows that the Volusion knowledgebase has plenty of value. It's also worth mentioning that when I browsed around the knowledgebase articles I saw some excellent animated gifs and detailed images within the articles. It's not that common to see visuals like these, so I give Volusion a thumbs up for that.
As for the blog: It's nice to have as an extra resource, but it's more for reading during your free time to obtain knowledge about the ecommerce industry, learn from experts, and find tools that may help you scale your store.
The blog articles are short but they provide actionable tips and suggestions for tools that you may have never heard of before. But like I said, the blog doesn't fix my problems right now, so I would sign up for the email list and read those articles later.
One area that functions similar to the knowledgebase, and could potentially guide you through roadblocks on the dashboard, is the Ecommerce Guides page. I enjoy these types of resources since they're mainly videos and picture-heavy articles meant to focus on one or two specific topics. They cover everything from analytics to best practices and dropshipping to holiday marketing.
But what about my pressing questions from before?
I'm now aware of how to show related products thanks to the Volusion knowledgebase, but what about removing related products from only some of the pages? And how are these related products compiled? Randomly? By category? Magic?
Now it's time for me to test what Volusion is made of in its customer support department.
The dashboard provides two areas for more direct customer support: at the bottom of the dashboard where it says “Chat With Us” and the top right dropdown menu with options to Message Us and Schedule a Call. They even have a phone number listed in the dashboard which is amazing. I've had a tough time finding listed phone numbers from competitors like Shopify and Bigcommerce.
Starting a live chat works right in the dashboard. It immediately opens and tells me information like how they'll be with me in 10 minutes and that they'll notify me at an email address if I log out.
Much like other platforms, Volusion attempts to send me to related knowledgebase articles based on what I've typed into the chatbox.
As mentioned before, I have no problem with the knowledgebase as a resource, but seeing as how I'm already in the chatbox, it stands to reason that I'm not looking for more automated suggestions. Just give a person to speak with.
Lucky for me, the live chatbox rep started talking to me within three minutes. I'm assuming they overestimate the wait time so people don't get mad, but I wouldn't assume that a three-minute wait time is always going to happen.
Moving on, I asked about how to implement related products. For that, the live chat rep had to confirm my email, phone number, and repeat my question.
Not an excellent start.
After the pointless few back-and-forths, they sent over a link about related products in their knowledgebase.
Okay, I get it. Volusion has already logged instructions about this topic so why not share that information instead of typing it out again?
I also asked about how to remove related product suggestions from only some of my product pages. The response was that “unfortunately, there is no option.”
I'm not sure if the chatbox is controlled by an AI system or an outsourced company, but the responses weren't much different than speaking to someone using a script. I asked a few more questions. Every time they repeated/confirmed my question in a kind of broken English sentence (bot or non-English speaker). So, I'm definitely not chatting with a reliable problem solver here. I'm thinking it's a call center-type situation where they're trained to send over knowledgebase links (and not much else). Or it's a bot.
But I still have the phone call option to use!
During my Volusion review, I found two ways to get ahold of a Volusion customer support rep on the phone: Call the listed phone number or schedule a call (only available for Business and Professional customers).
So, I typed in the phone number and waited for the ring. To my surprise, I was only sent to a quick automated system that asked whether I'd like to speak with technical support or sales. After choosing technical support, I heard a friendly-sounding man named Carl who was waiting to address my issues.
I rambled off a few of my lingering questions: What about removing related products from only some of my pages? How are the related products selected?
Carl spoke with me for about ten minutes. He was able to tap into the backend of my website by only referencing my phone number. He did have to look up some solutions for removing related products from individual pages, but managed to find a workaround with what I'm assuming was some custom coding on his end. I'm not certain if you get this type of customer support for large changes, but this was pretty nice.
Finally, he wasn't exactly sure about how the related products were aggregated on my pages. He mentioned that it's not completely random and he believes it's a combination of product categorization and keywords.
Overall, my customer support experience with Volusion was more informative and personable than I can say for Shopify, Bigcommerce, and most other ecommerce platforms. The likes of Shopify and Bigcommerce are hard to beat when it comes to online resources, but Volusion holds up with its video guides and knowledgebase. And although the live chatbox from Volusion isn't that great, I'm all for the attempt at a legitimate customer support operation through the phone.
There you have it! My Volusion review is long and in-depth but it takes you through the setup process, outlines the features most valuable to a real merchant, and touches on what stands out and what's missing.
Here's a summary of my findings to help you decide whether or not Volusion is the right ecommerce platform for you:
What I Like Most About Volusion
- It offers a simple and intuitive backend interface that's easier to navigate than the competition. I find this appealing for DIY online sellers and those who don't want to spend too much time customizing their site.
- The pricing is in line with competitors like Shopify and Bigcommerce.
- I can use powerful marketing tools right from Volusion. Examples include newsletters, ratings and reviews, in-stock notifications, and navigation menu promos.
- Although there aren't that many, the themes are beautiful, modern, and super easy to launch.
- The dashboard stats focus on the most important aspects of selling online.
- Product pages are easy to make, but they also have highly advanced settings for items like pricing levels, vendors, and recurring pricing.
- There's direct access to the Volusion API and coding sections for HTML and CSS.
- You can sell on Facebook, eBay, and Amazon.
- The payment gateways are top-notch and only take a few minutes to configure.
- All aspects of shipping are there for the utmost flexibility, including live rates.
- Although the live chat seems like a bot or scripted person, the phone customer support makes me feel safer going with Volusion over competitors. Not to mention, Volusion offers excellent online resources.
Where Volusion Falls Short
- There are product limits on some of the lower pricing plans.
- The social media sharing and selling features are limited.
- Volusion lacks a true drag-and-drop page builder.
- The app store is far from useful.
- I would like to see more sales channels and advertising tools on places like Pinterest, Instagram, Etsy, and more.
- Fulfillment must be done with a third party and without any direct integration to Volusion.
- I have to pay for the priciest plan to get live rate shipping calculations.
- Volusion doesn't have any blogging functionality.
Leave us a comment in the section below if you have any further questions about this Volusion review or the platform in general. Also, share your thoughts if you've used Volusion in the past and have any things to add.