The Best Small Business Ecommerce Solutions
Shopify vs. Volusion: The Ecommerce Showdown
Ecommerce is the wave of the future, and if your business doesn't have a web presence, you are dead in the water. Since many business owners don't have the technical or design prowess to create competitive websites, SaaS (software as a service) Ecommerce platform providers make easy work of these gargantuan tasks.
Shopify, with its classy designs, competitive prices, and sweet set of features, and Volusion, competing in ease of use, support, and options, are two well-liked providers that offer tons of options, features, and benefits to businesses, making website design and management shockingly easy. Which one is the better option for your business? Check out each of these business platforms, their pros, and cons, and see which one winds up on top.
Ease of Use
The ease of use category is really a tough one to call. Originally, Shopify won hands down because of its smart wizard feature that walks you through all of the trickier parts of things like setup, site design, and more. Recently, though, Volusion has revamped their portal, so everything is a lot easier to work with than it used to be. Additionally, Volusion has everything right on their dashboard and included in the packages, so there’s no need to deal with add-ons or other complicated design tricks. It makes both design and management of your ecommerce site as simple as can be. Since all these options are built in and ready to apply without having to jump through the app store hoops, we’ll give Volusion props for ease of use.
Choosing a good website design template can make your online store really stand out from the competition. While both Shopify and Volusion have loads of template designs that are both professional and responsive (meaning they’ll change the sizing to fit the screen that it is being viewed on), Volusion simply can’t compare with the sheer number of templates that Shopify has to offer.
Shopify has several free templates that are beautifully designed, so you won’t look like you got them out of a cereal box even if you go for the free versions. What’s more, Shopify’s paid templates are much cheaper than Volusion’s. Volusion themes, regardless of which one, cost $250 for the paid versions. Shopify, on the other hand, offers a range from $140-$160, so if you opt for a template with a price tag, you won’t have to pay as much. To top it all off, Shopify has a great search function that helps you hone in on the right types of templates for your business. You can filter your searches according to style, colors, industry, and price range.
Features & Apps
A good Ecommerce solution will provide you with smart tools that are easy-to-use and help you both set up your new website and manage various aspects of your online business such as inventory management, product promotion, and design. Both of these great options offer some excellent standard features such as:
Website design based on colorful templates in many designs
Product cataloguing for fast referencing, sales, and inventory management
Customer database management
Search engine optimization
Online payment gateways
Now, for the juicier parts. Shopify clearly outshines Volusion in the apps department. With around 2,000 third party apps available in their app store, Shopify provides a staggering number of customization options. Volusion has around 70, not nearly as exhaustive a list. Granted, Volusion’s app store does cover all the basics, but you won’t get the variety you want from their selection. At the Shopify app store, there are also hundreds of free apps to choose from, so you can really find everything you could ever want to make your online store exactly the way you want it. Volusion’s freebies are severely limited.
Another thing that Shopify does really well is bandwidth availability. Volusion limits your bandwidth, which is a big issue if you have digital products or if you regularly receive high traffic spurts to your site. The limits range from 1GB-35GB depending on your plan, but Shopify offers unlimited bandwidth all the time.
Standout Shopify features include:
Unlimited inventory, meaning you can add as many items to your online store as you’d like. Volusion gives you only a certain number of items per plan. If you want to add more, you have to go up to the next plan.
Powerful SEO capabilities
Social media plugins
Accounting apps that help take care of those sticky numbers
Of course, Volusion does have some great options of its own including discount code creators and calculators; it just doesn’t stack up to Shopify's selection.
Value for Money
Shopify and Volusion both offer users a 14-day free trial that you can sign up for without even entering a credit card, which is a good value proposition for both sides. When you look at Shopify’s Lite plan, it certainly seems a tempting offer, but read the fine print before you dive in. You see, the Lite plan doesn’t actually let you set up a fully functional Ecommerce site. Rather, it limits you to Facebook selling, Buy Button sales, and other similar limitations. In contrast, Volusion’s start package, the Mini plan, is a few dollars more, but you'll be up and running without the limitations. To really make an accurate comparison, you need to drop the Lite plan (because it is so limited in its scope) and start the comparison from the Basic plan.
Additionally, Volusion pulls ahead of Shopify in another pricing department. Volusion does not charge any transaction fees, on any plans. Shopify makes a similar offer, but only if you are willing to use Stripe as your payment processor. Aside from the fact that this is somewhat restrictive for businesses (especially considering the fact that Shopify offers close to 100 payment processors), Stripe isn't even available in many countries (though it is in the US). If you opt for a different processor, you're looking at transaction fees ranging anywhere from .5%-2% depending on the plan you’ve chosen.
For these little details, Volusion definitely wins the value for money category of this battle.
As mentioned, Shopify does make its payment gateway offer a little less appealing by limiting the no-transaction fee clause to users that take advantage of their own payment gateway since Stripe is available only to sellers in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Canada, and Puerto Rico,
However, Volusion’s out of the box payment gateway, Volusion Payments, is even more limiting. Not only do you have to get approved for this service (a process that takes up to a week), but this option is only available to US sellers, and a monthly fee applies, and sometimes a 2.15% transaction fee is also applied (rules vary). Of course, since sellers can use a different payment gateway, this doesn’t really discredit Volusion or Shopify. What we can look at as a legitimate comparison of the two brands is the number of gateways they each offer. Volusion has about 30 available, but Shopify more than doubles that offering, making them the obvious leader in this area.
Additionally, Shopify also has a better handle of POS (point of sale) purchasing. This brand lets you connect a card reader to an iPad, creating a mobile payment station that you can take payments from wherever you are. Shopify also lets you make both virtual and brick and mortar sales a real thing by providing certain necessary hardware options like a barcode scanner, receipt printer, and label printer.
Just to clarify, many of these options are also available from Volusion. So, what’s the difference? Volusion will charge you for each of the add-ons and makes it harder to connect to them, too. Shopify’s out of the box functionality makes it a smarter choice for these pieces.
Shopify has a lot to offer customers in terms of support. First off, support lines are open 24/7 and can be reached via phone, email, or live chat. Additionally, the provider has a solid knowledge base where users can find answers to a lot of the more commonly asked questions.
Volusion also starts out with some promising customer support options. It has a great knowledge base, and you can find just about any answer you might need within the well-sorted categories. What we didn’t like at all about Volusion’s customer support offering, though, was the fact that phone support is only available from the Plus package and up, while online and email support is available for all plans. Shopify, in general, makes it easier to get in touch, offering several toll-free customer support numbers that are prominently displayed throughout the site.
Overall Winner: Shopify
It wasn't an obvious decision choosing between two such great ecommerce solutions. Volusion really has a solid offer, providing many features that are attractive and at a price that any business owner can appreciate. However, Shopify gains a lot more points with its exhaustive app store, beautiful and competitively price template designs, and tremendous assortment of payment gateway options. If you are looking for a quality Ecommerce solution to set up a new website, design your site, supply you with all the right online selling tools, and more, Shopify is the solution you’ve been waiting for.