Saturday, September 24, 2022

Shopify Vs Volusion – 2018 Comparison & Review Update

I know it can be had to decide which online store front provider to go with. There are so many on the market these days, ranging from simple plugins, like Woocommerce, to full on all in one solutions like Shopify. While it’s nice to see diversity in the market place, it makes comparing some of these solutions a little difficult. They might end up doing the same thing, but most of them focus on niche audiences. That is not true for this piece though. Volusion and Shopify both offer very similar services, so similar that a direct comparison can be made.

Volusion is the older of the two companies. You might expect then that they have a larger number of subscribers, a more loyal client base. Not the case for some reason. Shopify is a relative youngster in the market and already they are eating up the competition. It isn’t what one would expect going into this, with Volusion being available seven years ahead of Shopify you would expect it to be the opposite.

Regardless, both companies offer a competitive product, with plenty of features and excellent support. Let’s see how they do in the head to heads.

Shopify Vs Volusion – Appearance, Professionalism, & Overall Look

The first thing a prospective customer is going to see is your site, obviously, so you’re going to need a design that is eye catching, pleasing to look at and, most importantly, appropriate to what you’re selling. Now I’m not telling you that your site selling life jackets online cannot look like the fanciest boutique storefront around, but I would argue that it would hurt sales. Thus having a plethora of themes available form your chosen Store Store is a must.

Volusion:

volusion themesA cursory look through the available themes on Volusion will reveal a wealth of information. The vast majority are well made, they have designs suited to a wide variety of industries and there are a little under eighty free ones. You’ll also find that the most expensive ones are a little under a grand. That is an awful lot of money to be spending on a theme, especially seen as Shopify have free designs that are around as aesthetically pleasing as the most expensive offerings on Volusion.

These days it is important to maintain quality across a range of devices too. More and more people are browsing on mobile devices, like their phones and tablets, sadly Volusion currently only has 23 designs that work well both on the computer screen and the phone. It seems a little short sighted these days, with the growth in that market. It makes them a significantly less attractive option.

In the end that might clinch the decision for you, not being able to sync the look between devices. It is still possible with a little programming knowledge to fix that, but that sounds a little antithetical to their business model, that of making joining the online market as painless as possible.

Shopify:

shopify-themesShopify, by contrast, has a far larger selection of themes, both free and premium. Their premium themes are all well designed, but seen as their entire catalog has been designed by professionals there is a level of polish to all of the available options. You can find your boutique-esque looks nestled in there side by side with the more rugged amazon-like options. I may have mentioned before that I prefer a more shop like look, items next to items with prices right there, minimalist with little fanfare, and Shopify deliver well on that front. But they can do pretty too.

The most you would pay for a premium theme on Shopify, if you find one you cannot do without, is $180, much cheaper than the most expensive offered by Volusion. In addition many more of their themes are automatically mobile compatible, around seventy or eighty of them, with more to come. I expect that gap to close eventually though, if Volusion wants to claw back some of its market share.

Between the two of them there is a clear winner. It’s Shopify. They have more variety at a lower price, and the extra functionality in many of their themes put them head and shoulders above this specific competitor.

Winner – Shopify

Shopify Vs Volusion – Features & Integrations

When you move into the online market place there are many more things to concern yourself with than inventory control and stock taking. For one thing stock taking is now done as you go, so in inventory management. Your new concerns are SEO capabilities, social media integration and language set up. Thankfully both of these companies offer all the features you could need.

Volusion:

volusion-paymentWhen it comes to core features both companies offer broadly the same thing. You can set up shop, list an unlimited number of items, configure for multiple languages, all manner of things. The nice thing about Volusion is its automatically integrated with eBay, having multiple store fronts on a variety of sites and social media is a must for maximum market penetration. Volusion is ahead of the curve on social media integration in general, having most of them not on separate apps, but as part of the core package. It makes it a touch more attractive, especially when you see their one page check out options. A feature shared by both is their robust SEO tools, being able to add meta tags and meta descriptions for the integrated blogging features.

If I were to level one criticism here it would have to be the selection of apps that are available. Although the company has been around for nearly twice as long as Shopify, their app store is painfully barren. I expected more from them to be honest, but what is there functions and each is designed to keep your site safe, or streamline a laborious task. In all there is a lot to take in with Volusion.

Shopify:

shopify-pricing-2016Shopify offers everything that Volusion offers and more. Quite recently they matched Volusion’s SEO tools in terms of quality, they offer unlimited listings, on the higher plans, and have many tools to help you integrate with social media. Their app store has literally ten times as many apps, both free and paid, and as always Shopify have their ace in the hole. Shopify POS. POS is an offline integration tool that allows you to track stock and make sales in your brick an mortar store. Rather than having to keep the information separate it auto records transactions via an Ipad and card reader. The service costs a little extra each month, $40, but it can be a real time saver, and is perfect for business that follow conventions or sell at festivals, as it allows you to take card payments in the field.

With all of the social media integration coming built in with Volusion it may take slightly longer to set up you connections with Shopify, as besides Facebook all other integration comes by way of an app. Disregarding that small issue, in reality it takes mere minutes to set up a plugin correctly, Shopify’s feature list is as robust as Volusion’s, and they offer the POS service as well. Have to give this section to Shopify.

Winner – Shopify

Shopify Vs Volusion – Dropshipping

Dropshipping is an excellent way to expand your product line, I have been researching and testing for a number of months now, looking at all the options available from all the different firms, and have found quite a few things out. For one thing there is an art to it. You have to use it to make a cohesive storefront, combined with content and SEO tweaks to make the most out of your store front. At its core it is simply adding items from existing stores, usually warehouse stores, to your shop, merging and meshing, trying to make a site your consumer base want to revisit. You can do so manually, buying, listing, storing, or you can use an app to streamline the process, allowing you to add dozens and dozens of items with a single click. Both Volusion and Shopify have options in the field, so let’s take a look at them.

Shopify’s options are probably my favorite, get that out of the way early. I am more of a supplementary user, adding a few choice items to round out my product line, and so Oberlo is my go to. It is cheap, easy to set up, and focused on Aliexpress.The focus here makes it a more streamlined experience, with little in the way of bugs, errors and other app nastiness. Its price also makes it safer to test the waters than many options. The other big name is The Shopified App, a more broad reaching option, able to integrate with all kinds of stores, and add direct. It is useful, but comes with a few minor trade offs, and one big one. The big issue is the price, the added expense is only worth it if you routinely move product, so be careful before upgrading. the other issues are purely cosmetic. It can bug out, due to having to work on multiple stores. Either option is great, and I feel it is clear that both are aimed at different customers. Chose whichever you feel fits best for you.

Volusion have the heavy hitter in their corner, Doba. They have shown up a couple of times with other firms, and while I love what their app does, i am less of a fan of the integration with all these different eCommerce providers. It is making the app a little less polished than I would like. Don’t get me wrong it does what you need it to, and if you decide to go with Volusion then you will be glad of the existence of Doba, but the price, lack of focus and the overall user interface leaves me a little disappointed.

Excellent options from both firms, but the diversity and competition on the Shopify app store has, unsurprisingly, led to the better options. At least know that if you do go for Volusion you have dropshipping at your finger tips.

Winner – Shopify

Shopify Vs Volusion – Flexibility, Ease of Use, & Scalability

This section is easy. Both Shopify and Volusion offer excellent scaling options, there back ends are as simple to learn as each other and they both allow you to create whatever kind of store you like. I think it is safe to say that Shopify offer a little more freedom in terms of high quality designs and a more filled out app store, but Volusion is no slouch in general. When It comes to really scaling up though I would argue that Shopify is the better option for most people, and it because of the way it charges a percentage on each sale.

That might sound like a bad thing but consider this. As you scale up your business you’ll be changing your Shopify package, buying more features as you grow. While you start at a 2% commission per sale when you hit the highest rung you’ll b paying them 0.5%. Whereas if you follow the same progression with Volusion you’ll be paying 0% commission, true, but they set a bandwidth limit. The more folk who visit your store the more bandwidth gets used. Once you go over the limit you’ll be charged per GB for the remainder of the month. If you have millions of visitors per month that is a tidy sum they would collect from you, even at the top tier package.

Granted that is the best/worst case scenario, but it is something to be wary of. At the end of the day you need to pay close attention to your traffic, and choose the best option based on that. If you can live with fewer features at the beginning, but want to maintain as high a margin as you can, then perhaps Volusion is for you, but I wouldn’t want to scale with it.

Winner – Shopify

Shopify Vs Volusion – Cost & Value

Ah, the cost. In the final analysis this is where we should be able to pick a winner. That tactic might work for mattresses, but when it comes to the hard fought world of e-Commerce these companies fight tooth and nail so as to be priced almost identically.

The basic plan from Shopify is $9, but it does not come with a store, the one you’ll be looking for when you first enter the market is the Basic plan, well priced at $29. The Pro is $79 and the Unlimited plan is $179. Bear in mind that no matter who you go with you will be charged a credit fee, ranging from 2.9%+30c to 2.2%+30c. Those are essentially universal, and charged by the credit card companies not Shopify. Remember those transaction fees mentioned earlier? Well you can get rid of them entirely if you use Shopify payments instead of a third party. Makes it a great saving, and that saved cash can go towards Shopify POS.

Volusion offer a slightly cheaper intro price of $15. That gets you a store and most of the features you’ll need to grow your business. The next rung up is $35, with the pro and the Premium packages being $75 and $135 respectively. Overall I would not say there is much of a difference in price, though I did mention that for some sellers the cheaper intro price might make Volusion the better deal.

Bear in mind that you will want to upgrade your package as your business grows, gaining more useful tools along the way. I don’t think there is enough here to call a winner on price. Most people will need the Basic package from Shopify, and entry level folks should probably go for the Mini from Volusion.

Winner – Draw

Sidenote: You can get started with Shopify for Free by Clicking Here to Apply the Promo.

Shopify Vs Volusion – Recap & Review

Shopify Pros:

  • All in one solution
  • Better themes
  • 24 hour support team
  • Shopify POS is perfect for certain businesses
  • Very quick and easy to set up and start selling
  • Competitively priced

Shopify Cons:

  • Shopify Liquid is not as familiar as css or PHP, though it doesn’t take long to get used to.
  • Long term, transaction fees can be a little excessive for smaller businesses

Volusion Pros:

  • All in one solution
  • 24 hour support team
  • Easy to set up
  • Slightly cheaper
  • integrated social media support
  • Bandwidth limit likely to not be an issue short term, leading to slightly hire profits

Volusion Cons:

  • Bandwidth limit long term is likely to be a killer
  • Blogging support too new, not as versatile as the competition

Usually the companies I compare with Shopify are younger, or aimed at a different crowd and in the process of modernizing, but this is different. Volusion has been on the market far longer, has a smaller user base, fewer features and very oddly priced themes. I think there is still a niche for it, smaller businesses taking their first steps online, and it can scale well, so long as the product is highly priced but still sought after, but for real scalability you’d need to go elsewhere to avoid bandwidth fees. Shopify is one of the better options on the market at the moment. Let’s see if Volusion can turn it around in the future, nothing like stiff competition to make the market better for consumers.


FREE TRIAL UPDATE: If you want to take advantage of a free trial for Shopify you can click here to automatically apply it when signing up. 

Barry W Stanton
Irish born writer who drinks too much caffeine and reads too much Terry Pratchett. I enjoy long walks on the server and Korean cuisine.
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1 COMMENT

  1. Wow is this article completely inaccurate. It’s sad that some people will make a business decision based off such a biased article. It’s tough to know who is paid to write what these days but it’s pretty obvious here. Do yourself a favor, call both companies and take comparative notes. Do you own research on the key points and then make your decision.

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