Volusion vs Shopify

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shopify-vs-volusion
In this review, we’ll compare two of the most popular shopping carts on the market; Volusion vs Shopify. Both are web-based solutions that allow you to create and maintain an online store. Shopify claims more than 175,000 customers and counting, with notable businesses including Github and Amnesty International on their client roster. Volusion powers more than 40,000 sites and maintains an impressive list of customers as well, including National Geographic UK and Nalgene.

Both carts are relatively easy to use and are a good value for small or medium-sized online retailers. They also each have their own strengths and weaknesses. In this review, we will highlight the most important details and distinctions between the programs. Users looking for a solid Shopify alternative will see if Volusion can answer their eCommerce needs.

Read on to see how Shopify and Volusion stack up against each other.

Pricing:

Winner: Shopify

Shopify’s minimalist plan costs a mere $9 a month and its mid-range plan is set at $79 a month, and a top plan weighing in at $179 a month. Check out pricing details here. All Shopify plans come with a fully functional 14-day (no credit card required) trial. While most options include a transaction fee (see below) as of August 2013 customers signing up for the company’s payment processor Shopify Payments have transaction fees waived and can integrate an additional, secondary payment processor like PayPal for no additional charge.

You won’t be charged anything for upgrading, downgrading, or canceling Shopify plans. In addition, committing to one year earns you a 10% discount and signing up for two years ahead of time earns you 20% off your monthly bill. All plans include unlimited bandwidth, which is a big plus.

Like Shopify, all Volusion plans include a full 14-day trial. Volusion’s pricing is similar to Shopify’s, with options ranging from $15 to $135 per month. But Shopify gets the edge in our comparison, mainly due to the facts that Shopify has a more inclusive feature set across respective price points (which include unlimited products,) the starter prices are slightly lower, and they do not charge bandwidth overage fees.

Volusion’s stance against transaction fees is very appealing, and earns them a very close second to Shopify. As far as relative prices are concerned, Volusion vs Shopify is a close match.

Ease of Use:

Winner: Tie

Once a user accepts that there is a learning curve, both systems are easy to pick up. Both services have reasonable onboarding assistance through videos, KB articles, and brief on-screen walkthroughs.

I like Volusion’s one-page checkout, out of the box Facebook and Twitter integrations, and quick access to help. But while Volusion is feature-rich with 24/7 phone, chat, and email support, newbies may have to commit a little more time to learning the ropes. But as for the day to day operation of the software, they’re on equal footing here.

Even if I had no experience building stores I’d feel comfortable getting started with either platform. Both contenders are well-established in the market, and most of that credit is due to their focus on creating a user-friendly experience for first-time retailers.

That covers the usage of the software, but what about how each developer makes your business easier as a whole? For example, both developers created value-added videos for improving your product photography. I found that Shopify takes the win in this larger scope. Check out this supplemental video by Shopify:

Compare this with the competing video tutorial by Volusion. As I am a photographer myself, I can verify that all the information in both videos is useful and correct, but Shopify kept it more simple and more professional.

Features:

Winner: Tie

Both Shopify and Volusion have some real selling points and disadvantages. Each cart allows you load and manage products, complete transactions, and ship products to customers. Shopify and Volusion also offer several other overlapping features, including an abandoned checkout list and reporting tools (although you’re going to want to integrate Google Analytics to gain more thorough info about user patterns.)

Volusion earns points for its ‘soft add’ feature, which allows customers to place products in a cart without completing a purchase. I’m also a fan of Volusion’s Daily Deals feature and SmartMatch technology, which only displays product combos that are in stock. Plus, Volusion offers one-page checkout, while Shopify does not.

Volusion gives merchants access to more free templates than Shopify, but in my opinion Shopify’s templates are stronger. While Volusion sites are optimized for smart phones and tablets and you can integrate third-party mobile integrations, Shopify’s recently introduced mobile theme has garnered great reviews. Volusion doesn’t offer an auto-generated H1 tag for category and product pages, but Shopify does.

Also, Shopify recently rolled out important additions to SEO, including built-in meta tags, image and page title alt tags, and editable meta descriptions for blog posts and products. But overall, Shopify comes lighter out of the box than Volusion, with several features that come standard with Volusion (email newsletters, eBay integrations), only appearing as add-ons with Shopify. Check out our individual Volusion and Shopify reviews to learn more about each cart’s feature set.

Web Design:

Winner: Shopify

Shopify has seen some major overhauls in recent years. The totally redone backend includes a helpful live theme editor that gives you the ability to easily customize templates. Shopify’s skins are some of the most eye-catching, elegant templates in the business and make Shopify hard to beat in the design department. But the real deciding factor here is that Shopify offers 137 (at last count) Responsive templates, which ensure your website will look its best from any device. Volusion only offers 23 Responsive templates.

Even though Volusion offers merchants a respectable number of themes from which to choose, its skins are generally a slight notch below Shopify in terms of font usage, page flow, and overall design. You’ll find a file editor to access raw code in Volusion and Shopify, but overall Volusion’s backend admin is less flexible and intuitive than Shopify.

Integrations and Add-Ons:

Winner: Shopify

Shopify offers an enormous amount of integrations, including a free-to-download mobile app and tons of social media and accounting plug-ins that are both free and fee-based. Have a look at what’s available in the Shopify app store. But keep in mind that some of these extras may already be included in Volusion’s suite of features. Here’s a sneak peek at the Shopify App store:

Shopify App Store snippet

Even though Volusion has been around for over 16 years, its app marketplace offers relatively few add-ons and remains in beta. While you’ll find a Quickbooks and MailChimp plug-in, there’s still a whole lot of room for improvement.

Payment Processing:

Winner: Shopify

Integrating with more than 70 payment gateways including all the major players, Shopify works with a wide variety of processors. In-house processor Shopify Payments launched in August of 2013. Entry plans come with a 2.9% + 30¢ fee per transaction, with Professional and Unlimited customers qualifying for reduced rates (2.6% + 30¢, and 2.4% + 30¢ per transaction, respectively.) If you sign up for Shopify Payments, transaction fees are waived.

While it isn’t compatible with quite as many processors as Shopify, Volusion integrates with several domestic and international gateways. You can check out the full list here.

You can also opt into Volusion’s credit card processor, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Volusion Merchant Services charges 2.15% per transaction (read the fine print and you’ll see that only “qualified” transactions apply) and a $3.41/month PCI compliance fee on top of that. You’ll also need to purchase your own SSL certificate, which will cost a minimum of $89 per year (for Volusion’s certificates.) If you want one from a more established and trusted site, you’ll have to pay extra.

Although I’ve never directly completed a sale using Shopify Payments, the fee structure reads as cleaner and more straightforward. And with a broader set of integrations than Volusion, Shopify is our pick as the cart with stronger payment processing integrations.

Customer Service and Technical Support:

Winner: Volusion

While both carts offer a variety of ways to get in touch, the kudos go to Volusion for offering 24/7 live support via email, phone, or chat for all plans with the exception of its starter “mini” package, which still qualifies for online support. Volusion also guarantees that you’ll reach a friendly, knowledgeable human being in under 5 minutes, which I personally found to be true.

volusion-support-screenshot

Shopify also offers strong customer service options, including 24/7 phone support. Also, you’ll be able to access answers to questions via several channels with Shopify, including live chat, email, phone support, and online resources, such as a wiki and discussion forum. I also like Shopify’s uber-helpful blog and Ecommerce University. You can reach out to team members on Facebook and Twitter. Even though Volusion has indefinitely suspended its user forums, in my opinion its all day (and night) access via email, chat and phone make it the better option.

shopify-support-screenshot

Negative Reviews and Complaints

Winner: Shopify

The main beef merchants have with Shopify? Transaction fees! Remember that if you sign up for Shopify Payments, transaction fees are waived, so that negative is a less of a downer than it used to be. Also, since Shopify is a bit feature-light out of the box, the cost of add-ons can add up. In addition, users miss one-click checkout, as well as real-time shipping for Shopify’s less expensive plans.

Volusion customers reported different common complaints, including $7 overage charges for every GB over monthly bandwidth limits, blasé free templates, and limited guidance for newbies getting a shop started for the first time. With fewer overall significant negative reports from customers, Shopify gets the win here.

Positive Reviews and Testimonials:

Winner: Tie

If you’re doing your own research online for Volusion vs Shopify, you’ll see that users have plenty of positive feedback for both shopping carts. Merchants generally love Shopify’s ease of use, killer templates, and strong customer support. Shopify users also like the cart’s mobile integrations, great uptime record, and free bandwidth.

While some Volusion users had a bit more to complain about, much of that feedback was out of date. Many users are quick to sing its praises today. Volusion users like that the cart doesn’t charge any transaction fees, offers a range of resources, and comes with out-of-the-box features like Daily Deals integrations and a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. Personally, I found their customer service to be a huge selling point for them, and a recent push to develop their previous “problem areas” gives me some significant peace of mind.

Final Verdict:

Winner: Shopify

The Volusion vs Shopify matchup has been a solid competition. Our final decision is a difficult one, but we have to hand it to Shopify on the mere fact that they edged out a lead in more categories. It is not because we found any glaring issues with Volusion. Both carts have earned reputations as being some of the most advanced, accessible web-based carts on the market. But at the end of the day, Shopify’s many recent improvements, lack of overage fees, and beautiful templates make it hard to beat.

Though we give the “Volusion vs Shopify” victor’s crown to Shopify in this comparison article, Volusion is definitely a well-regarded cart with many years of experience and a large roster of satisfied users who testify to its quality and value. I recommend that you take free trials of both Shopify and Volusion, and see which shopping cart is the right fit for your store. With a competition this close, it often comes down to personal preference.

Erik Robie

Erik Robie

Erik is a writer, small business developer, and photographer, making his home in Northern Colorado. He has been publishing his writing for 15 years, and occasionally sells his photos when he can pull himself away from the keyboard. When he's not writing the CRM, HelpDesk, and Shopping Cart categories for Merchant Maverick, he can usually be found on his mountain bike, playing volleyball, hiking with his camera, or keeping the local coffee shops in business.
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1 Comment

    Yvonne Russell

    As a user of shopify, let me say there are other complaints. Calling for help, I often leave feeling what did they say. Secondly someone with lots of options you have to buy an app and then pay to install it because of the liquid on shopify. Then the app doesnt work so you pay for another app.
    Im tired of getting apps some of the best rated only to find them not work the way you want or its an another added cost.
    Yes volusion is expensive and I am worried about band width but overall. Four years with shopify and I can say, I am close to leaving them for better options.

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