In this post, I’m going to review and compare Shopify and Volusion. Both are competitive eCommerce website builders so I was curious to find which offers a better solution to start an online store.
Both Volusion and Shopify have a hyper-focus on creating an extremely easy-to-use platform. The main difference lays in the approach: Volusion goes by offering a range of plans tailored for different sizes of businesses and Shopify allows customizing the needed features with an extensive app store.
From the general view, Volusion is a veteran in the eCommerce industry. It offers an excellent eCommerce platform with extensive store management and marketing tools.
Having eCommerce features as the focal point, Volusion makes it easy to upload products, manage inventory, add discounts, automate shipping rates, and more.
All that sounds great, but then we have Shopify.
Looking at the popularity of this eCommerce builder, Volusion seems to be struggling in the competition.
But it’s easy to see why Shopify’s stellar design and performance brought it to the top of the eCommerce industry.
Shopify takes the lead with over 70 free and paid-for templates to choose from. While Volusion also has a range of templates, Shopify offers the most modern and sleek selection.
Shopify’s platform is especially intuitive, and with a huge app marketplace, it enables further eCommerce features. This allows personalization of your website but it can also become costly.
Taking about prices, both Volusion and Shopify follow regular schemes. While the smallest are affordable, to get premium plans the prices get pretty high. This said, Shopify’s most basic package includes more capabilities than Volusion’s.
Finally, if performance is your primary concern, I may instantly call Shopify as a clear winner. Volusion did not fare well in my performance tests, while Shopify exhibited excellent page speed and responsiveness results.
Overall, both of these eCommerce platforms offer their users access to extensive eCommerce features and intuitive design platforms. From what I saw, each allows building a modern eCommerce website. However, Shopify stands out with its feature list and is markedly better in terms of performance.
Volusion and Shopify pricing looks completely identical: each offers three plans with the starter one at $29/month and the top plans reaching $299/month. On top of that, Volusion and Shopify have custom enterprise solutions.
But let’s take a closer look at each.
The ‘Basic Shopify’ eCommerce plan for $29/month includes an online store, unlimited products, 24/7 support, two staff accounts, SSL certificates, and other core features.
What pleasantly surprised me, Basic Shopify also includes abandoned cart recovery. That always helps to improve the sales but way too often eCommerce platforms allow it only with higher plans. Go Shopify!
For those who want access to gift cards, professional reports, and better credit card processing rates, the middle plan ‘Shopify’ gives all that and costs $79/month.
This plan will also allow you to create five staff accounts, so it’s a better option for slightly larger online businesses.
But if your business requires up to 15 staff accounts, the ‘Advanced Shopify’ plan is where you get that. It also gives cheaper credit card processing rates, advanced report building, and other premium features.
This said, the ‘Advanced Shopify’ price jumps to $299 per month, so it’s significantly more expensive than the other price points.
Shopify also offers enterprise solutions for grand businesses.
If you need unique customizations, an enterprise solution might be appropriate. For these cases, the Shopify team works with you directly and these plans can cost over $2,000 per year.
What I liked about Shopify, unlike many eCommerce providers, there are no limitations to how many products you can sell. So if you have a small business but with a lot of inventory, you make a great deal even with Shopify Basic.
In regard to Volusion’s pricing, prices depend mainly on product numbers and the amount of turnover your business has each year. There are three plans, each providing more features for bigger needs and an option for a customized plan.
The ‘Personal’ plan, which starts at $29 per month, offers access to 100 products, one staff account, and is capped for $50,000 annual sales.
You get access to basic tools, such as built-in SEO, social media integrations, a robust site editor, free themes, secure checkout, and other core functions.
Next step is Volusion’s ‘Professional’ plan costing $79 per month.
It allows 5,000 products, five staff accounts, and $100,000 in annual revenue. You can also benefit from phone support, reviews feature, newsletters editor, product importing, CRM, and other additional benefits.
Lastly, the ‘Business’ plan at Volusion costs $299 per month. It offers 15 staff accounts, unlimited products, priority support, and $500,000 in annual revenue.
You can also contact Volusion for a custom enterprise system if you have additional requirements.
There is no specific information available on the cost of an enterprise system since at this point, it will depend on your particular needs.
Worth noting, Volusion pricing rises up to 10% if you pay monthly instead of a yearly subscription.
All in all, both Volusion and Shopify can get quite expensive. But keep in mind that overall, Shopify and Volusion are some of the most expensive eCommerce options on the market, especially if you opt for the highest plan. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, you might want to check some other of the best eCommerce platforms.
Meanwhile, both platforms offer a free 14-day trial that doesn’t require any credit card information. I always enjoy seeing a web builder that lets you use its service for free for a few weeks. It shows that the company backs its product.
Before choosing the plan, note that in addition to the monthly subscriptions, you will need to consider payment processing rates. While Shopify’s rates start at 2.4% + 30c per transaction, Volusion is a bit cagier about what its users have to pay to process credit cards.
Rates for the ‘Advanced Shopify’ package starts at 2.4% + 30c for online transactions. If you purchase the traditional ‘Shopify’ package, you will need to pay 2.6% + 30c per transaction.
Lastly, if you’re using ‘Basic Shopify,’ you will need to pay 2.9% + 30c.
If you don’t use Shopify’s in-house payment processing platform, you will need to pay between 0.5% and 2% per transaction on top of the transaction rates from the third-party provider that you’re using.
Now in the case with Volusion, there isn’t quite as transparent policy about credit card fees.
While its primary pricing page claims transaction fees are 0%, further digging tells a different story. If you want to process payment via Volusion, it appears you will have to pay a monthly fee and 2.15% of each transaction.
While this might seem to be an acceptable rate for business owners with large order volumes, it’s essential to know these monthly fees beforehand. It’s simply disappointing that this information is slyly hidden away from the main pricing section.
Either way, transaction fees at Shopify and Volusion appear to be in line with industry standards. Just don’t fall for Volusion’s 0% transaction fee claim.
Shopify and Volusion both offer excellent web building features without any need for coding knowledge. While neither provider has a drag-and-drop tool, each builder allows for quick set-up and easy customizations.
Even for those with no previous website building experience, both options are suitable to start an online store.
To get a better understanding, let’s walk through their set up processes. I’ll start with Shopify.
I want to say right off, Shopify does an excellent job of making the set-up process as painless as possible.
After signing up for an account on the company’s website, I was prompted to enter a few details about myself and my business, including the company’s revenue and selling progress.
And that’s it for the registration. You get redirected to the editor page.
Unlike other web builders, Shopify doesn’t require you to choose a template. You start with Shopify’s empty ‘Signature’ theme and you can change it at any time via the main editing menu on your dashboard.
To make the edits, head to the ‘Current Theme’ tab in the editing menu and click ‘Customize Theme.’ This will direct you to the main editing interface, which you can use to change the overall design of your website.
As your website doesn’t come fitted with stock images, you need to add your own photos and text before you can use it in a professional capacity.
What I found a bit annoying, is that all controls are on the left-hand-side dashboard. And there’s no drag-and-drop type of editing. So it takes some time to get the grip of the controls.
I would rather prefer the interface when you can simply click on the object to edit it. Here, I had to work with the sidebar to insert images, product names, prices, text boxes, and so on.
Nonetheless, the menu is intuitive and as soon as you get used to it, the editing process goes on smoothly.
The same thing I would say for the management dashboard.
I found it easy to control every component from the dashboard – manage orders, add products, view custom profiles, view analytics, apply discounts, install apps, etc. Also, there is one of my favorite parts about Shopify – the search bar on the primary admin panel.
If you ever need access to any tools or features, you can search for them in the top search bar, and Shopify will provide a number of relevant options.
Clicking a link will redirect you to the portion of the editor that you’re looking for. This tool makes it extremely easy to navigate the platform if you can’t find what you need.
In addition to its core usability features, Shopify also offers a range of additional resources to its users. For example, at the bottom of the editing homepage, you’ll find a ‘Suggested Reading’ tab with business blog posts and content.
But now let’s move on to the Volusion account setup.
Volusion also has a heavy focus on providing easy-to-use web building tools to its eCommerce users. After signing up for an account and entering contact details, Volusion will generate an automatic theme in less than a minute.
You get straight to the editor and there is a selection of templates to scroll through on the left-hand side.
To find additional templates, head to the ‘Design’ tab on the top menu and select ‘Themes.’
Once you’ve decided on a template, you can edit various components by clicking on each block.
To my confusion, Volusion claims that it offers a drag-and-drop design tool, but this does not appear to be the case. After customizing my site, I was not able to drag components around or alter the template design in any significant way.
Anyway, I still found the platform comfortable to use. Hover over a block and it will highlight itself in blue giving you the editing options.
Honestly, I found this editing style a bit more intuitive than what Shopify offered.
Most of your design control options are located on the left-hand side of your main editor. Here, you can change colors, fonts, and other core design elements. Working in the same window, you can also access other important features on the top menu above your website editor.
Both Shopify and Volusion have a template-based approach to the design process. You select a theme or template when you first start building your site, and then you can make some changes to it.
Fortunately, both providers have plenty of free and paid-for templates with modern aesthetics.
For those looking for a broad range of eCommerce-focused templates, Shopify delivers the goods. The company offers a mix of paid and free template options for its users.
If you don’t want to pay any extra money for your template, you have eight choices, all of which offer slightly different eCommerce features and layouts.
But to get more variety, you’ll need to search among paid templates.
The list of paid templates can be found in the ‘Shopify Theme Store’ on your editing homepage. You can freely browse over 70 themes or choose to look at different categories.
The prices vary, but I found some themes that cost near $200. It’s a one-time payment, but still, you’d probably want to choose carefully.
Before I built my test site, I browsed a variety of different template options on the Shopify platform.
Given that Shopify hasn’t always been hailed for its design features, I was surprised by how sleek, modern, and practical all the themes felt. It seems like a perfect combination of minimalism and graphic-focused designs.
Next to the style differences, the Shopify templates can be grouped by different product promotions.
For example, some shop templates place several products right on the front page. This layout might be appropriate for an eCommerce store with a large inventory selection.
On the other hand, if you have standalone products, some templates provide image-heavy designs to help you advertise your main offering.
But if your store design vision changes later in time, you can switch to a different theme.
However, it’s important to remember that you might lose some customizations. Products, blogs, pages, and other site elements will automatically transfer, but if you’ve made custom edits to the code or other core components of your theme, it won’t be carried over to your new template.
Anyway, let’s see what Volusion offers.
First of all, I found a much smaller number of templates. There are 11 free themes, all of which offer their own unique store layout. For more functionality, there are an additional 36 templates each priced $180.
The narrow list of free themes feels quite limited. But if you’re ready to pay for one, the range of unique options expands.
To my surprise, it’s hard to catch much of a difference between paid and free templates from the first sight. However, studying them a bit more, you may notice that the paid ones have a bit more innovative designs and specific functions for your store.
Overall, Volusion template designs are modern and present the products without overcrowding the page.
As with Shopify, Volusion offers access to themes that are good for large stock lists and standalone products. And each template is customizable within the limits of the editor.
But if you don’t feel like editing your website by yourself, Volusion provides professional help for that. For a price, of course.
Purchasing Premium Theme Plus, you’ll have someone who installs your chosen theme, uploads content for a homepage and sets up things like colors and fonts. This would cost you $1,250.
And for $2,500 you’ll get a team that creates a unique design for your store as well as sets up the basic SEO.
In my humble opinion, this seems really overpriced additional service. Volusion is a website builder and the idea of website builders is to provide an easy way for the user to build a website of their own.
On the other hand, it might be a way to save time and headache for those who don’t want to deal with the process of starting a website.
Both Volusion and Shopify offer automatic optimization for mobile browsing.
And that is an important advantage. Thing is, the majority of web traffic is now mobile so you want an automatically mobile-optimized website as you add products or edit your site.
Shopify not only optimizes the website for mobile but also allows you to view and edit the mobile format.
You can toggle the view by choosing the respective buttons at the top of the design interface. Choosing a mobile view, you’ll be able to see and edit its mobile layout.
Unlike Shopify, Volusion doesn’t offer you access to editing your mobile website. However, all templates are optimized for mobile use.
Overall, both platforms offer automatic optimization. Still, I prefer the Shopify mobile platform because it allows you to view and edit your mobile website. With Volusion, you simply have to trust that the website is properly optimized when you make changes or additions.
The primary purpose of using Volusion or Shopify is setting up an online store and successfully maintaining it. Both platforms have extensive eCommerce features allowing to exhibit products, process payments, automate shipping, display reviews, and more.
As for specific needs, you can add third-party eCommerce tools for both services.
Shopify’s extensive store management tools make a long list. It can even leave first-time users feeling overwhelmed. But that is no way a bad thing – all those options in the menu help you host products, track inventory, add discounts, and more.
Most of the store management features are found on the left-hand-side menu of your main control panel. If you click on the ‘Products’ tab, you can add new products to your store. You can also categorize them, add images, group them into collections, and more.
Under the same ‘Products’ tab, you can also manage collections, track inventory, and issue gift cards. If you’re trying to find current or past orders, head to the ‘Orders’ tab, where you can view all orders and track abandoned checkouts.
The ‘Discounts’ tab will lead to promotional codes. You can choose to create codes for various purposes or simply create automatic discounts that are offered to all visitors.
Lastly, you can view customer profiles under the ‘Customers’ tab. Here, you will be able to view customer purchase history and other critical details that can help you understand your customer base and target repeat purchasers.
Volusion also does an excellent job of simplifying store management processes.
Most of your controls for store management are on the top menu in your control panel.
To add products to your online store, you can select the ‘Inventory’ tab at the top of your editing portal and click ‘Products’ on the drop-down menu. Additionally, you can click on the pre-existing product blocks in your website’s template to change or upload products.
Using the top menu, you can also manage orders, track customer orders, create customer profiles, set discounts, and more.
My favorite part about Volusion’s store management features is the ‘Dashboard’ tab. Volusion centralizes all the core details you need to run your store. You can view orders, top products, trends, and a range of other store management components.
It’s safe to say that both providers offer excellent store management features. While Shopify’s platform is slightly more intuitive, Volusion doesn’t fall far behind when you consider its easy-to-use dashboard.
Once you have your products, descriptions, and price uploaded, you’ll need to set up payment options. Both Shopify and Volusion have internal merchant accounts that you can use to process payments, but you can also access third-party payment providers if you wish to offer customers other choices.
If you want to start accepting payments on Shopify, click the ‘Payment Providers’ button under the ‘Settings’ tab.
Here you set up your various merchant accounts. Shopify prefers you to work with its Shopify Payments service, which allows accepting all major credit cards and payment options.
This said, you’ll also find a long list of additional payment providers, among them Amazon Pay and PayPal. On top of that, you can select ‘Choose a Third-Party Provider’ if you want to source an independent payment platform. Fortunately, Shopify is an extremely flexible partner if you want to utilize an existing payment service.
At Volusion, you can control all your payment configurations via the ‘Payment’ button under the settings tab. In addition to Volusion’s internal merchant services platform, you can also use PayPal and Amazon Pay to accept payments.
Volusion users can accept money orders, cash, checks, and a variety of other payment methods, but it won’t automate the transaction inside the Volusion payment system.
It’s hard to differentiate between Volusion and Shopify in terms of payment options, as they’re both very similar. Make sure to compare their rates before you decide which one is most suitable for your business.
Adding customer reviews on your website is a neat way to build a trusted business. This is especially true if you have a large number of products. Both Shopify and Volusion make it simple to let customers leave reviews on your eCommerce store. You just need to configure your store to allow this option.
Using Volusion, you’ll find the option under the ‘Products’ button in the inventory tab. Here you will find various options to enable product reviews, as well as other controls that customize the settings of your reviews.
With Shopify, adding product reviews is slightly more complicated, as you must head to the Shopify App Store and get the free Product Reviews app to do so.
All in all, both providers allow you to easily host reviews on your website. However, Volusion nudges slightly ahead because it doesn’t require you to download an additional application. While I found product reviews a useful feature, it’s up to you if you want to use it.
Having various shipping options can work as a marketing strategy as well so it’s no surprise that both Volusion and Shopify offer those.
Volusion’s shipping options include offers for free shipping, setting permanent shipping prices, customizing shipping based on weight, and even receive live shipping rates from leading shipping providers.
Shopify also allows control of a broad range of shipping features. Here, you will be able to set up rates for different areas and product types. An interesting feature is that you can source shipping labels at discount prices and print them directly from your control panel.
Lastly, if you want to streamline the shipping process, you can integrate with shipping platforms to improve your fulfillment capabilities.
As you can see, both platforms make it easy to ship items. Volusion makes it effortless to check live rates, and Shopify offers extensive discount shipping from major delivery companies.
Most online stores start small so it’s essential to use a platform that can grow with your business. Shopify and Volusion’s different membership tiers mean you can upgrade features as your business grows. Upgrading to a higher plan allows more staff accounts, reporting features, marketing features, and more.
But while both of these providers allow you to scale, if I had to choose one, it would be Shopify.
The first thing that impressed me with Shopify’s plans was that there are no limits on the product amount. Volusion removes limits with the Business plan, but with Shopify, you may be subscribing to the Basic plan and already having the freedom to put out as many items as you want.
Also, Shopify’s third-party integrations mean that you don’t have to worry about whether or not an upgraded plan has the features you need. It’s easy to improve specific components of your website according to changing demands.
To help you reach new customers, Volusion and Shopify offer a broad selection of marketing and SEO tools that help you to market your products via various digital channels.
Shopify makes marketing your products extremely straightforward.
Besides the in-house options, there’s a large number of external integrations that help increase marketing exposure. Although it can be seen as a downside – you will need to integrate with various third-party platforms to take advantage of the best advertising tools.
Many of these are already installed under the ‘Marketing’ tab on your left-hand-side dashboard. Otherwise, you can download them in the app store.
To start a campaign, I just went to the ‘Campaigns’ tab under the ‘Marketing’ button and chose the ‘Create Campaign’. Then I could pick a provider to facilitate the ad campaign: Facebook marketing, email marketing, Microsoft marketing, Snapchat story ads, etc. You can also download additional options.
But what I found even more useful, is the Shopify’s marketing automation features.
Here you can select automation that will instigate a range of marketing actions. This way, things like emails for abandoned carts or follow-up messages can all be done effectively without your input.
Switching to the SEO area, I must say Shopify’s SEO tools are slightly more confusing.
To set SEO elements such as site titles, tags, and others, you need to head to the ‘Preferences’ tab under the ‘Online Store’ section. But there’s no simple way to fully set the website – get ready to do some digging around. To make better choices, I found the given ‘Best Practices’ article helpful as it explained the ins and outs of website optimization well.
Working with Volusion, you’ll also find plenty of marketing tools inside. Moreover, I found the entire platform to be extremely intuitive.
One of my favorite parts about the company’s marketing platform was its ‘Social Media Center.’ Here you can link accounts to Facebook and Twitter, allowing you to send out messages via your store and include links to products.
As with Shopify, you can integrate with eBay, Facebook, and other selling platforms.
The navigation is simple: scroll over the ‘Marketing’ tab at the top of your editing dashboard and a drop-down menu will provide you with a full display of different marketing tools.
Under this tab, you can create discount codes, sales, and other promotional offers that are redeemable on your website.
You will also find the button to control your website’s SEO.
This is where you can input meta tags, meta tag titles, meta tag keywords, and other critical SEO elements. Different pages can be selected on the left-hand-side menu.
Both platforms place an excellent emphasis on SEO and marketing. While Volusion has very simplistic access to store promotion and SEO, Shopify’s integrations and automations make it a platform that is almost impossible to beat.
Third-party apps and plugins are a focal point of Shopify but also important to Volusion.
Shopify has an extensive app marketplace that covers everything from marketing to shipping integration. Meanwhile, most of Volusion’s third-party integrations are focused around selling on external platforms and processing payments.
To access Shopify’s app list, click the ‘Apps’ button on the left-hand side menu, and then proceed to click ‘Visit the Shopify App Store’ tab on the top right-hand corner. Here you will find an app search bar that allows you to find third-party tools for almost anything you can think of.
Whether you want to add discounts, track metrics, improve shipping options, integrate dropshipping, print product labels, or add photo reviews, you can find it in the Shopify App Store.
This is certainly one of the most comprehensive third-party application centers I’ve seen inside any web builder.
Meanwhile, Volusion claims to have an extensive ‘Marketplace’ however, the company makes it hard to access any additional third-party integrations outside of the ones on its primary control menus.
Still, if you want to sell on Amazon or eBay, it’s easy to integrate your website with these platforms. It’s also simple to integrate with an external payment processor, such as Amazon Pay and PayPal Express Checkout.
But comparing Volusion and Shopify, there’s no way to put Shopify down in the match of apps. Although Volusion works on providing all needed tools in-house, having a huge library of third-party tools Shopify is a clear winner.
If you’re running an online business, having knowledgeable customer support can save you a lot of time. Fortunately, both Volusion and Shopify offer 24/7 support with all of their plans.
Before reaching out to Shopify support, I tried out its help center. And I really approve of this one as it has an extensive library of topics covered. Doing a couple of searches allowed me to get all the processes explained.
But if you can’t find the answer, there a ‘Contact Us’ section at the bottom of the search results page. It leads to options for email, chat, phone, and Twitter support.
Having tried it out the chat support, I must say that the agents responded almost immediately. And they were helpful as long as the questions weren’t too techy.
So, keep in mind, that although Shopify support is easily accessible it has its knowledge limits.
Volusion also offers several support channels. I found live chat, phone call and of course, knowledge base.
The knowledge base had principal categories, however, to me it seemed significantly less useful than Shopify’s. Compared to it, the issue list is short, and the explanations are very vague.
Therefore, you might want to use the online chat much more often. It can be accessed at any time when you’re logged into your account. And from my experience, the agents are helpful and polite. Although the wait time can vary – at times I only waited a couple of minutes, while sometimes it took hours for someone to respond.
To assess the nuts and bolts of these two eCommerce web builders, I made sure to include a performance test in my Shopify vs Volusion comparison. While Shopify performed well in page speed and responsiveness, Volusion left much to be desired.
I started by running a GTMetrix test on my Shopify test site. Both the PageSpeed score and YSlow score returned scores of ‘A,’ which indicated exceptional performance.
Next, I ran a LoadImpact test on my Shopify test website. While the response times (blue) were strong despite large visitor volume (green), there were a few inconsistencies throughout the test.
Still, the response time didn’t get slower than 100ms. So it’s safe to say that Shopify’s overall results of the test were positive.
Contrary to that, when I ran the GTmetrix test on my Volusion test site, I was left disappointed. The PageSpeed test returned a ‘C’ and the YSlow test returned a ‘D.’
To put it simply, this wasn’t a strong performance.
Next, I ran a LoadImpact test on the test site from Volusion. And again, while response times were promising, there were some inconsistencies throughout the test.
The response time spiked several times and reached up to 200ms. From that I can tell, that if your online store gets more visitors, Volusion won’t be able to assure the best experience.
Both Volusion and Shopify offer extensive eCommerce features, strong customer support, and easy-to-use design portals, but Shopify is clearly ahead in every aspect.
While Volusion has excellent in-house tools, Shopify’s app marketplace gives access to hundreds of third-party features and services with just a few clicks. More importantly, Shopify’s website performed way faster and the responsiveness test also brought far better results.
Shopify’s templates were superior in terms of selection and aesthetics. Furthermore, the customization process has a better, more intuitive structure. Not that Volusion wouldn’t offer a comfortable editing interface, but compared to Shopify’s, it has some improvements to do.
So, there it is, although both builders have much to offer Shopify has outrun Volusion in many ways. But in the end, it’s for you to decide which one is best for your online store.
While my Volusion vs Shopify comparison showed that these two providers offer great eCommerce services, there are plenty of alternatives if you don’t feel that either option is a good fit for your business. Below, let’s take a close look at three of the most formidable competitors in the eCommerce sector:
Squarespace is a popular web building platform that has recently become a major player in the eCommerce industry. While it isn’t built exclusively for eCommerce, it now offers excellent online store tools that help you host products and market them to your customers. The platform is famous for its flawless template designs and affordable price points.
One advantage of working with Squarespace is that the platform primarily uses in-house tools, which means that you don’t need to rely on external integrations to build robust online stores.
BigCommerce is one of the other major eCommerce platforms available to individuals without previous coding experience. If you’re looking for a service that offers bespoke customizations for different eCommerce industries, this is a good option.
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that has developed into one of the world’s most popular eCommerce platforms. It offers a range of in-house features and works seamlessly with WordPress templates. You can also choose your own hosting with this eCommerce tool.
If you have a bit more experience building websites or eCommerce stores, WooCommerce can be an excellent choice. As a WordPress plugin, it gives you more freedom in terms of design and functionality.