Volusion Hosting Review: Long E-Commerce Track Record, Advanced Features
The seeds of Volusion were sown when the company’s founder, 16-year-old Kevin Sproles, began building custom websites for his clients in 1999. Initially, Sproles ran a one-man-shop from his Simi Valley home, handling everything from design to support.
Today, Sproles’s business has grown to employ over 250 people and working with over 180,000 entrepreneurs and businesses around the world.
Volusion is an all-in-one solution for individual entrepreneurs and small- to medium-sized businesses looking to get up and running with an online store.
Volusion offers website building, e-commerce, and marketing functionality in one easy-to-use package at a price that is palatable to its clientele, which tends to not have thousands and thousands of dollars ready to invest in an e-commerce solution.
Screencapture via Volusion
- Offers a reliable, all-in-one product that includes everything you need to operate an online business: a sitebuilder, e-commerce platform/shopping cart, and marketing tools
- Geared toward entrepreneurs and small businesses, offering powerful, yet easy-to-use features.
Read on for more details.
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How Volusion Works
The best way to see if Volusion offers what you need and is a good option for you is to sign up for a free trial (bonus: the company does not require you to provide credit card information at this point).
Volusion’s functionality and feature set can be divided into three overarching categories:
- Those that help you create
- Those that help you sell
- Those that help you grow
Let’s take a brief look at each category.
Screencapture via Volusion
Volusion ships with everything you need to create a visually-impressive, professional e-commerce store. Rather than sitting you down in front of an empty page and handing you editing tools, Volusion has you begin by choosing from one of the many responsive themes and templates it offers.
Once you have your theme or template selected, you can customize it as much (or as little) as you would like. You can:
- Customize its layout using the drag-and-drop content blocks that, together, create the site as a whole
- Use the Rich Content Editor to fine tune your changes
- Implement a website search so your customers can easily find what they are looking for
The whole purpose behind using Volusion over just a website builder is to take advantage of its e-commerce functionality and sell things. As such, this is an area where Volusion really shines.
To get your store up and running, Volusion offers you the tools you need to create your product catalog. You can:
- Set variant pricing (eg, one price for a certain size or style, another price for slightly different options)
- Import products listed in a CSV file
- Use and edit Rich text in your product descriptions
Furthermore, to ensure that search engines pick up on the fact that you offer certain products, Volusion offers built-in SEO features, as well as the ability to create and manage discounts, so you stand apart from your competitors.
When it comes time for your users to pay, you can implement payment processing functionality using Stripe, PayPal, or both. Volusion takes care of everything that ensures the transaction goes through smoothly and securely.
Note that Volusion does integrate with other payment gateways and processors, but Stripe and PayPal are some of the easiest ways to get started.
Volusion offers a comprehensive order management system that allows you to:
- Track your orders
- Manage your customer records
- Enable flat, free, or special shipping rates for your products
To help you grow your online store, Volusion includes built-in marketing tools that you can use.
First, Volusion comes with robust SEO tools, which ensures that search engines know about your site and searchers can find it when desired. This includes a number of features, such as:
- Custom metadata tags that make it clear what is on your site (and what is not):
- Photo attributes
- Search-friendly URLs — the more descriptions you can provide to search engines in a way they understand, the better
- Automatic sitemap indexing, so search engines do not miss any pages of your website
- Robots.txt file, to keep search engines away from pages you want them to ignore
- Built-in analytics so you know what works and what doesn’t
Once you have potential customers, you can use Volusion’s support for discounts, coupon codes, and promotions so that you stand apart from your competitors, price-wise.
They also offer integration with imprortant website tools:
- Google Analytics
- Facebook Pixel
If you are curious about things like where your customers are coming from, how long they stay on your site, or what your customers are looking for, you will want to gather customer behavior metrics. You can do so with Volusion’s integration with Google Analytics. Not only will you learn about what you are doing well, but you will also be able to identify any weak spots and correct them.
Themes and Templates
We briefly mentioned Volusion’s themes and templates in the Create section above, but we thought this topic was worth revisiting.
We mentioned that all of the themes and templates Volusion offers are responsive, but we also think it is important to mention that they are professionally designed by those who specialize in creating for the e-commerce sphere.
Screencapture via Volusion
Volution offers 14 stylish themes for free:
- Fork & Dagger
- Lock + Key
- Threads & Laces
One of the professional services offered by Volusion is graphic design. So if none of the free themes works for you, you can opt for this add-on service. Alternatively, if you do like a provided theme, you can still get implementation assistance.
Regardless of whether you use stock or a custom theme, all are easy to customize with its drag-and-drop implementation. This is the easiest way to make large changes (eg, layout changes), but you can also make finer changes as well.
One of the key aspects of an e-commerce platform is its shopping cart and check out functionality.
With Volusion, the shopping cart itself is automatically enabled. Any time someone adds an item to their cart, the preview pane (which shows everything that is in the cart) automatically appears. This pane also includes an option to provide a discount or promotional code (if you have activated this feature), as well as options for checking out and paying for the items.
Once the customer has opted to check out, they will be guided through the process of selecting a shipping option and providing their information (billing information, shipping address, custom requests, and so on). Once the customer is done, and their order was successfully received, they will see the order confirmation screen.
Prices begin at $15 per month for a store supporting up to 100 products. You’ll also get 1 GB of storage, online support, and secure checkout functionality.
If you would like a product catalog that supports additional products, or you need more functionality, you will need to upgrade to a more expensive package.
Volusion charges for its plans based on store-size (as measured by the number of products sold), as well as features — more expensive plans offer more features than the cheaper ones.
What surprised us, however, was the features Volusion chose to include (or not include) in certain plans. Review your options carefully to make sure the one you choose actually includes the features you want or need.
Trials, Refunds, and Money Back Guarantees
Volusion does not offer any type of money back guarantee.
All new users to Volusion get a free, no-risk, 14-day trial. After that, Volusion does not offer any refunds for any reason.
On top of your monthly subscription fees, Volusion charges a per-transaction fee as well. These range from .5% to 2% of each order (the more expensive your subscription package, the less expensive your transaction fees).
When you are pricing out e-commerce platform options, the variability of transaction fees is definitely something you will want to consider.
Behind the Scenes
Volusion offers a custom control panel that the company designed in-house. This is where you will manage everything related to your website, online store, and digital marketing.
The control panel is similar in feature and functionality to more commonly-used options, such as Plesk and cPanel, but as it is a proprietary solution, there will be a learning curve for all new users.
Volusion is hosted using Google’s Cloud Platform. Users do not get a choice as to where their store is hosted, but the company does offer a CDN network featuring ~90,000 points-of-presence (PoPs).
One of the services that Volusion does not provide is domain name registration. You will need to provide your own domain name, and while Hover is the company with which Volusion partners, you are welcome to purchase your domain name from any company.
Yes, Volusion is PCI-DSS compliant. Depending on the specifics of your store, you may need to take steps to secure your store (on top of what Volusion has done), but you can contact Volusion for assistance with this if necessary.
To help keep your store and your customers’ data secure, you will need an SSL certificate.
If you purchase one from Volusion, Volusion will install it on your behalf free of charge within 3-5 days of purchase. If you purchase an SSL certificate from another vendor, you will need to install it yourself — Volusion provides documentation to help with this process, however.
Volusion’s customer support team can be reached 24/7 via Live Chat. If you upgrade your hosting plan, you will also get phone support. Users with the two most expensive packages get priority support from Volusion.
Volusion’s support material, which extends past what it offers in its Help Center, is excellent.
Generally speaking, great documents are important, but when your options for getting in touch with the technical support team are as limited as they are with Volusion, they become indispensable.
The Help Center is excellent. When you first navigate to the site, you can search for an answer to your question, or you can follow any of the curated guides to accomplish your task. There are many articles to which you can refer, and all are well-written, detailed, and easy to use.
Tools and Tips
For general ideas, the Tools and Tips section offers detailed advice and guidance on how to make your store better — you will find optimization tips and techniques, inspiration, and other thought pieces.
For those completely new to the Volusion platform, the Guides section features Volusion’s learning resources. In addition to tutorials, you will find webinars and other videos that you can watch on your own time to learn how to use Volusion and how to run an online business.
Migrating your store from your current platform to Volusion is your responsibility. Volusion provides an in-depth guide on migrating your existing online store to Volusion, as well as importing and exporting tools, but you are responsible for the transfer itself.
Volusion does not offer any type of backup services. You are responsible for creating backup copies of your store and archiving the copies appropriately.
If you are in the market for an e-commerce platform, but Volusion is not right for you, check out these alternatives:
Shopify is one of the the leaders in the world of e-commerce platforms. There is almost nothing you could not do with the Shopify platform. Furthermore, Shopify is a relatively open platform, which means that it is easy for software developers to create themes, contribute to the app store, and other additions to extend the functionality that comes with the base package.
There is a downside to all good things, however, and for Shopify, it is cost. Shopify is powerful, feature-rich, and easy to use, but using Shopify can cost a fair amount of money. The company does offer some cheaper plans (Shopify Button, Shopify Payments), but these are fairly feature-light compared to the full plans and options.
BigCommerce brands itself as the less expensive, more feature-rich alternative to Shopify.
Like Shopify and Volusion, BigCommerce is a full-featured option that includes everything you need to get your store up and running. The biggest difference, however, is that BigCommerce provides explicit details about the infrastructure it uses to power the sites it hosts. BigCommerce also makes performance guarantees (eg, an uptime guarantee/service level agreement).
If you want what Shopify offers (or more), but you can’t justify its cost, consider BigCommerce.
osCommerice is not a hosting company; it is an open-source shopping cart application. But for people interested in Volusion, it is worth looking into. Check out our guide to osCommerce hosting for details.
Volusion is a platform-as-a-service where pretty much everything is cloud-based, and you only have to worry about the front-end of your store. You tackle the website design, product catalog creation, and so on, while Volusion staff handles web hosting and system administration. All of this comes with a higher price tag for you.
osCommerce is the opposite, in a way. You get a full e-commerce platform, but you are responsible for setting up, configuring, and maintaining both the front-end and the back-end. Basically, in exchange for a free product, you do all of the heavy lifting. (Obviously, you will still need to seek out and pay for a web hosting service and a domain name.)
This is not an easy option. But for those on a budget who have the time and technical know-how, osCommerce can be a boon for the bottom line.
Pros and Cons of Volusion
Now that we have covered the nitty-gritty of the Volusion platform, what are the upsides and downsides of choosing this vendor?
- Volusion is reasonably priced for individual entrepreneurs and small- to medium-sized businesses. The company’s offerings fall nicely in between the free-to-use, open source products that require lots of work and full-featured e-commerce platforms that can charge up to thousands of dollars per month.
- Volusion is an all-in-one product featuring a sitebuilder, online store/shopping cart, and marketing tools. Depending on the plan you choose, you may not need to purchase any additional products for your online store.
- Volusion is easy-to-use, is backed by top-notch support, and makes excellent learning materials available to its customers.
- Volusion could offer more in terms of professional services — currently, the company only offers marketing and design services. It would be nice for those who want to outsource everything to offer site setup assistance or backup and migration services for those who want an entry-level e-commerce option, but don’t necessarily want to handle all these tech issues by themselves.
- Prices begin low, but as you opt for a plan that offers more features (some of which are rather basic, such as support for customer ratings and reviews and manual order creation). Similarly, as the number of products you sell gets larger, you will need to upgrade to a more expensive package.
Volusion is an e-commerce option for individual entrepreneurs or small- to medium-sized businesses looking to get up and running with an online store. There is a lot to like about Volusion, especially at its price point, but there are glaring deficiencies as well.
Whether Volusion is a good option for you depends on your needs. Be sure to review the provided details about the plan options so that you are crystal clear on what you are getting (and more importantly, what you are not getting).
Most Popular Volusion Hosting Plans
|Price||$13.50 / mo||$31.50 / mo||$67.50 / mo|
|Visit Volusion||Visit Volusion||Visit Volusion|
|Unlimited||35GB||$121.50 / mo Visit Host|
Volusion Frequently Asked Questions
- Does Volusion offer any type of professional services to help me set up my online store?
Yes. In addition to the support team, which is available 24/7 to answer your questions, you can opt for one of the higher-end plans that come with Dedicated Startup Consulting services. Your consultant will help you with everything you need to do to set up your store. Volusion also offers design and marketing consultation services.
- Does Volusion offer any type of discount off its usage fees?
Yes. If you launch multiple stores with Volusion, you will receive a 10% discount off all subsequent stores that you open. Furthermore, if you choose to pay upfront for an annual contract (as opposed to a month-to-month contract), you will save 10% as well.