- User-friendly interface
- Quick deployment of online store
- Fast and versatile platform
- 24/7 customer support
- No transaction fees
- Live preview of the storefront
- No options to define roles
- Missing blog function
- Cumbersome way to sell digital products and subscriptions
Whether it is an awesome product that you designed yourself or your hard work goes into selling a variety of goods from other people, the power of ecommerce is unstoppable. Online sales are rising every year, creating a great opportunity to increase sales by moving from brick and mortar stores to mobile-optimized online platforms. Austin, Texas-based Volusion, LLC is among the early ecommerce service providers having launched in 1999, and now powers the online stores of more than 30,000 merchants.
By focusing on simplicity, one of Volusion’s key selling points is that anyone can build an elegant online storefront, even without technical knowledge. So if you have an eye for detail, you’ll definitely be able to set up an appealing store online and start earning money selling physical goods. Volusion has a variety of options to help with this but even before opting for the cheapest $29 per month plan, users can test the service risk-free for 14 days.
Volusion is ideal for anyone looking to start selling online but that don’t have the technical skills or coding knowledge to deal with HTML and the integration of various tools. Volusion does the heavy lifting for its customers by providing the basic tools to start an online store, meaning that adding products, managing inventory, and charging customers for their purchase is a given straight out of the box. On top of its fast platform, Volusion amazes users with an appealing and easy-to-use user interface; all major options are just a click away, with visible labels to ease navigation. Of course, getting accustomed to the platform and available services requires a few hours of your time, but that is true of all ecommerce platforms.
Users can get started with their online store in under a minute since Volusion helpfully guides newcomers by listing the recommended steps and provides how-to videos and help documentation directly within the interface. Having the physical products to sell isn’t even a requirement thanks to the Volusion Dropshipping app. But even so, a store theme first needs to be chosen from the 14 free ones available at which point it can be customized it.
Compared to other ecommerce platform solutions, Volusion’s backend is much keener to immediately show how the storefront will look after any changes thanks to its WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor and its live preview feature. During store editing, the screen can be split to preview how the online store will look on a mobile or desktop device.
The dedicated section for the SEO tools of Volusion will provide its users with increased visibility for any product page, while a neat function assists with writing a description of the product just by asking simple questions. And while adding a new page to the store is an easy process, there is no blog integration, which is bad for marketing purposes.
Yet while everything is easy to customize for categories or products, the focus of Volusion is in selling physical goods. Selling digital products or subscriptions is possible, but it’s cumbersome to set up because it requires a specific version when signing up for the platform rather than just picking between selling digital or physical products.
Volusion’s focus on simplicity and ease of use is a trademark of the company and applies to all areas of its service. Those looking for a straightforward solution will absolutely love this because once the store’s name and address(es) are saved in the settings, the bother of sales tax can be removed since it is all automatically calculated by the platform.
It’s also here that payment is handled, with Volusion offering two by default: PayPal and Stripe. The latter is for accepting all major credit cards and mobile payment services such as Apple Pay or Google Pay, though an automatically created Stripe account is required and must be activated to work.
Simplicity is key for shipping, too, meaning customers can checkout fast and simply and don’t have to register an account to do so, although the system automatically creates customer records when they place orders. Oddly, Volusion doesn’t allow users to run test purchases.
However, the process of shopper account creation is equally as simple; just by filling in the password field the customer can create an account, and then simply log in and use it to place a new order the next time. User accounts can be manually created, too, but without the option to definite roles such as store admin or employee it’s not all that useful.
While the basic tools are included in the Volusion toolset by default, some features require users to install additional ‘apps’ such as Discount, without which it is impossible to run a promotion. Fortunately, Volusion makes the process of app-installation to be frustration free with a one-click install process.
The only thing users need to focus on is finding the relevant app to add. If the app is developed by Volusion, then it is available for free – such as the Live Chat add-on – but extending your ecommerce site with third-party apps with require a visit to the marketplace. Adding bookkeeping to the platform’s functionality, for example, could mean using the handy add-on from 1-800Accountant, but this requires a subscription and therefore adds extra costs to running the business. But don’t be surprised, though, since this is an industry-wide practice.
Volusion recommends offering free shipping to help retain customers, but users can still decide on whether to offer price-based or weight-based rates. Yet again, Volusion can bill users for shipping costs, though the shipping process isn’t automated as it is with competitors. Volusion lacks the integration with shipping partners, so it’s your responsibility to select a shipping company and get the best rate to ship your product to happy customers.
Volusion now offers unlimited bandwidth hosting plans, a fortunate move for its users since bandwidth overages were previously a major pain point for its users. However, the subscription price differs by the type of the selected plan. For starters, the free 14-day trial version is a good way to get accustomed to Volusion’s capabilities and the simplicity and ease of use of its overall service. That’s enough time to set up a store and polish everything down until the last word on the online store, but after the trial period users will need to select from the Personal, Professional, Business, or Prime plans. Not all plans offer the same benefits, either: the higher the price, the more benefits there are.
While it may be tempting to choose a low-cost plan, Volusion tracks a store’s performance and will automatically upgrade to a higher tier if it passes the defined sales-per-year threshold.
The basic plan at $29 per month is for customers starting a business as the threshold is set to $50,000 per year, but this doesn’t allow for the addition of fulfillment centers. For this the Professional plan (costing $79 per month) or higher is needed. Free one-on-one setup is limited to the Business or Prime plans, but that’s only really for stores with more than half a million in annual sales.
It’s clear that Volusion emphasizes simplicity and efficiency for its services and customer service is no exception, although there are several limitations. Users have all the necessary tools at hand when designing a store and adding products but if they come across a roadblock, then there are help videos that they can watch to solve the issue, dedicated sections in the help page that can be searched by keywords, or the option to chat directly with someone from the support team. In this case they usually reply in under 10 minutes, but if that’s not satisfactory, then they are also available via phone. Support is available 24/7, but priority access to a dedicated support team is only reserved for Business and Prime accounts.
Whether it is just a test to see how the market reacts to the product(s) or a long-term commitment, Volusion is a solid option especially for novice users. Considering the ease of use of the platform and the very handy guides and videos that lead the user through the setup process, Volusion is fantastic for any user starting an online business without knowing how to code. Such customers will be able to build an eye-catching online store using only drag and drop, a major advantage for people without any technical experience.
But simplicity comes at a cost, which hurts the range of tools that users have access to. Fortunately, Volusion does include SEO tools, but when it comes to content marketing the missing blog feature is a sorely lacking feature since such integration can attract more potential buyers by publishing awesome content. This could be a significant drawback when combined with the missing role functions, but that’s something Volusion could address in a future update.