Both Volusion and Shopify have their own pros and cons, and the frustrating thing is that it’s almost impossible for you to know which one is “perfect” for you.
Even when you go to a clothing store, it’s challenging to know which pants are a better fit without first trying on a few pairs – and you’ve probably tried on a lot of pants throughout your life already.
So in my view, it would be premature to say one ecommerce store builder is better than the other without first testing both out.
In this article, we’ll try to highlight some of the more important aspects of your decision-making process when you are choosing between Shopify and Volusion.
But at the end of the day, it’s not a bad idea to sign up for a trial account with both of them so you can get a good feel of which one better suits the needs of your business.
It’s well worth investing a few hours logging in and testing a few things out if you’re serious about your business.
So let’s get going on what we view as important things to consider in this Volusion vs Shopify review.
We feel that the following 6 features (plus conclusion) are some of the more important considerations when we evaluate an ecommerce builder:
Click on the following to see the specific sections regarding Volusion vs Shopify:
1.VOLUSION VS SHOPIFY – THEMES / DESIGNS
Here’s the thing. Design is really important.
You can get the best ecommerce tools available today but if your online store doesn’t look good, if the design isn’t professional, it won’t inspire trust. And if it doesn’t inspire trust and credibility, you’ll have a really hard time convincing someone to buy from you.
Your store design is one of the best marketing tools you can have. It’s just human nature as we’re drawn to better-looking things. It’s natural for all of us to give the benefit of the doubt to professional looking websites – and that’s how your prospective customers will likely act when they see your ecommerce store.
Shopify’s themes are very modern, professional and updated. They look great and can help give the impression to your prospective customers that your business is trustworthy – at least enough confidence that they are more likely to stay and look around (instead of hitting the “back” button and going elsewhere).
What we really like about Shopify is that they hire professional designers to build design themes.
Most of their themes are built by designers who are up-to-date on ecommerce store designs that actually work well today.
Their themes are also mobile responsive so your store will look great across mobile phones and tablets. This is quite important as more and more consumers are purchasing products with their mobile devices.
Shopify themes range from free to $180 per theme. Overall, it’s really not a huge investment if you are serious about growing your business. And you can rest assured that even at $180, you’re getting some of the freshest design you can find online today.
You can also start off when the free themes first, and eventually purchase and upgrade your design if you want to.
Have a look at Shopify’s themes and you’ll see what we’re talking about. They’re elegant, professional and can add credibility to your store.
Volusion provides 49 themes for you, having revamped their designs and design options in late 2016. Previously the selection were ok and not too bad looking, but the relaunched themes have been designed by professionals with ecommerce stores in mind and are much more eye-catching – which is great to see. They have different themes for a range of industries so it’s easier for you to find one that suits your business.
There is a mix of free and paid themes – 11 are free and 38 are paid, costing $180 each, so about the same as Shopify – this is a good improvement to see because Volusion’s old theme choices were very expensive compared to Shopify. Now the playing field is more level, so you can focus purely on which design catches your eye the most!!
Volusion have also taken steps to ensure that 100% of their themes are mobile-responsive, so that your ecommerce store looks great anytime, anywhere and on any device. It’s worth remembering though, that while all of Volusion’s themes are responsive, that’s still only a choice of 49 designs to work with whereas Shopify gives you a much bigger choice.
A nice touch is that Volusion also offer the chance to talk with an in-house ecommerce consultant about which themes and design options would best suit your store. It’s a nice offer of hand-holding if you need it, but isn’t available on every plan though.
As mentioned, design is very important as it is the first impression that you can make for your prospective customers.
We feel that Shopify gives you a bigger choice of attractive design themes than Volusion to help you build a nice looking ecommerce shop.
Both platforms offer themes that are designed by professional designers, so whoever you choose, you’re getting designs that are fresh and effective in today’s competitive world of ecommerce.
Shopify offers way more designs and themes than Volusion, which can be really handy if you’re new to ecommerce and aren’t too sure exactly how your website should look. I’d rather be spoilt for choice than pick my favourite from a limited selection.
Further, Shopify has almost twice as many mobile responsive designs for you to choose from. Shopping with mobile phones is one of the faster-growing trends nowadays for consumers. So it’s important for you to keep that in mind when picking designs, and Volusion has made good in-roads to support this, Shopify still gives you way more choice here.
Prices for themes are pretty even at around $160-180 for Shopify designs and a flat $180 for Volusion. So they are pretty even here, which frees you up to focus on picking a theme that attracts you with no need to worry if it’s going to be outside your budget.
So we feel that Shopify really outshines Volusion here.
2.VOLUSION VS SHOPIFY – ecommerce TOOLS
Giving you the tools to run a successful ecommerce store is important and we think that both Shopify and Volusion provides you with all the basics here.
The ability to list your products with different product variations and images, discount engines, management of inventory, shipping, tracking orders, setting up payment gateways, etc. All these are provided by both ecommerce builders.
So we’d like to raise a couple of bigger issues that we feel you should be aware of here.
Shopify charges you a transaction fee, ranging from 2%, 1% all the way down to 0.5%, depending on which plan you subscribe to.
A transaction fee is charged whenever you sell a product. So if you are using Shopify’s middle plan (the “Shopify” plan), you will need to pay 10 cents for every $10 you sell. So if you sell $10,000 in products, Shopify will charge you $100.
Now, it’s natural for you to cry “foul” that Shopify is taking your profits. I get it, everybody wants to keep all their profits, right?
But there’s good reason for this.
Shopify gives you unlimited bandwidth to run your store.
Think of “bandwidth” as the “fuel” that is required to power your website. Bandwidth is used whenever visitors (or search engine bots) visit your website. The more pages your visitors visit, the more bandwidth is required to keep your site online. Also, if you have a lot of product pictures, that uses up a lot of bandwidth to as it takes “fuel” to load these pictures.
So if you have 10 million people flooding your website, that eats up a ton of bandwidth. But with Shopify, your webstore will be online and work just fine.
Volusion, in contrast, does not charge you any transaction fees so you get to keep all your profits.
However, they only give you limited bandwidth, which in our view can be problematic.
The higher the plan you subscribe to, the more bandwidth you get – ranging from 1GB to 35GB.
Volusion have introduced a fixed-fee option too, which can help minimize overage charges without necessarily needing to upgrade to a more expensive plan.
This does give you the option of choosing the billing model that works best for you – however, you have to actively contact Volusion in order to get a fixed-fee plan and the costs are personalized, so we have no way of saying here just how much it will cost you or how much bandwidth you’ll get!
This lack of transparency on fixed-fee pricing is a little odd, especially when Shopify lays everything out on the table for you. Unlimited bandwidth is standard with most paid ecommerce plans, so the fact Volusion don’t offer this is a real drawback.
So what happens when you run out of bandwidth? You’ll have to buy more from Volusion for $7.00 per additional GB you use. This isn’t a huge figure, but still – the fact you may have to pay additional charges if your data gets eaten up from traffic increases or from stocking more products, then it does sort of feel like your success is being penalized
Thankfully, Volusion do at least help you track your bandwidth usage with their Smarter Stats tool, which could prevent overage charges. But again, when everyone else provides unlimited bandwidth it’s not a consideration you should have to worry about in the current ecommerce market!
So let’s say you subscribed to their Plus Plan and you get 3GB in bandwidth. Now, bandwidth is impacted by a lot of different factors, from the number of visitors you get, to how frequently search engines crawl / index your website, to how many pages your visitors visit, to how much content and how many images you have on your pages, etc.
So if Volusion tells you used up 4.5 GB for that month, you’re going to have to pay up for the extra 1.5 GB.
Surprisingly, you didn’t used to be able to track your bandwidth usage with Volusion, but their new Smarter Stats tool does make it easier to keep on top of how close you’re coming to your limit.
But as I’ve said before – this shouldn’t be a consideration you need worry about at all, yet with Volusion it is.
This is one of the main reasons we think that Shopify charges a small transaction fee every time you make a sale – so that it gives them the resources to power your store with unlimited bandwidth.
We prefer Shopify’s offer because not only is it extremely transparent and you know exactly what you’re paying each month, but you also know how much bandwidth you can use – an unlimited amount (within the fair use policy, naturally!) – which means you can worry about your business, rather than worrying about data usage each month.
To be fair, Volusion have introduced new tracking tools so you can stay on top of bandwidth usage and hopefully avoid overage charges – even if it is just $7.00 for each additional GB. This is helpful, but doesn’t get rid of the feeling that you need to be looking over your shoulder each month in order to avoid extra costs.
They do also offer fixed-fee plans to help users avoid overage charges, but these are bespoke plans that you need to contact Volusion for – this isn’t really ideal.
So, despite the fact you can now better track your bandwidth usage with Volusion, the fact you need to track it at all means that we still prefer Shopify’s model much more.
3.VOLUSION VS SHOPIFY – SUPPORT
Running a business is tough enough. Imagine if you run into website / technology issues, getting timely support is so important, especially for online stores as it’s “online” 24/7.
So having a good support team from an ecommerce builder should be an important consideration for you.
Shopify has one of the best support systems amongst website builders.
You can reach them 24/7 through the phone, live chat or email.
They also have a forum where you can post questions and other Shopify users can interact with you by exchanging tips. So if you have any business related questions, you can also post them here and interact with other entrepreneurs. It’s a great support system here.
Volusion also provides you with 24/7 support.
You can receive support via the phone, online live chat and also email. For added convenience, you can even arrange a callback at a specific time.
However, Volusion doesn’t have a forum where you can interact with other users.
Both Shopify and Volusion give you different ways to get hold of their support team, including phone support, email and live chat.
Having tested the live chat options on both websites, I found Shopify slightly more responsive but still not immediate. I waited a few minutes for Shopify to get back to me, while had to wait longer on Volusion – fortunately not as long as the ‘typically replies in a few hours’ that the chat box informed me I would have to wait.
Both online store builders offer 24/7 customer support services, which is fast approaching the bare minimum level of service for ecommerce online store builders!
4.VOLUSION VS SHOPIFY – APPS
As discussed above, both Volusion and Shopify give you the basic building blocks to build a good ecommerce shop. But what if you want more advanced tools?
This is where Apps come in. They are tools that are built by other developers, “tweaked” to become fully compatible with either Volusion or Shopify, to allow you to “extend” the functionality of your webstore.
For instance, if you want a more powerful newsletter creator, product fulfillment service, integration of your store with your accounting software, marketing tools, customer service tools,
Apps can automate a lot of these tasks for you.
The great thing is that both Volusion and Shopify make these tools to be fully compatible with their platform so to add them to your store is as simple as a click. No need to hire a programmer to help you write code to make them compatible with your store.
Shopify currently has over 1,500 Apps for you to choose from.
That’s a lot of Apps.
Not all of them are free as a lot of them are created by independent service providers so there is a fee to integrate those Apps into your store.
But in our view, it’s well worth the investment if it allows you to grow your business and automate a lot of the mundane tasks (such as automatically sending your accounting data to your accounting software).
Volusion currently only has 60 Apps for you to choose from. That’s a lot less than the 1,500+ Apps that Shopify has.
Even though Volusion has fewer Apps, they’ve made a real effort in recent times to integrate a lot of functionality into their builder – which means you shouldn’t necessarily need as many apps. This covers things like marketing, customer support, email newsletter creator, and accounting among others.
This can be handy if you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with your site, but for newcomers it can be a little overwhelming and bamboozling figuring out where to start.
Similar to Shopify, some of the Apps are free, and some are paid.
Shopify definitely gives you a lot more choices here, with over 1,500 Apps for you to choose from. This just goes to show how much more advanced Shopify’s App Store is.
Perhaps this is an indication of popularity, and that other tool providers are more willing to work with Shopify to integrate their services into Shopify’s platform.
On the other hand, Volusion has tried to incorporate as many tools and features as possible into its platform. This can be very handy and save you time browsing for just the right app. It also means you get some good out-the-box functionality, that might require an app on Shopify.
However, apps tend to be made by specialist third parties and so it’s worth considering whether the in-editor tool is as powerful or useful to you as a dedicated app might be.
5.VOLUSION VS SHOPIFY – CREDIBILITY OF BUILDER
The credibility of a service provider is important. And so we feel that it’s helpful to consider the credibility of Volusion and Shopify in this discussion.
Both are good e-store builders, so we’ve selected a few different criteria to evaluate the credibility differences between them.
1) Paying Customers:
- Volusion: 30,000+
- Shopify: 500,000+
It’s pretty clear that more merchants are paying Shopify to power their online stores. Consider that the pricing differences between them are not that significant, this suggests that Shopify is more popular than Volusion.
Considering that Volusion has been in business since 1999, and Shopify only started in 2006. This means that Volusion has a huge head start ahead of Shopify (7 years in total) and Shopify still has 10 times more paying customers than Volusion.
Shopify’s popularity trend has also been trending up much faster than Volusion based on Google Trends. In fact, Volusion’s popularity rating based on Google Trend has been trending down since 2013:
Another interesting analysis is that if you divide the total sales volume that each platform has helped its customers generate ($26 billion for Volusion and $40 billion for Shopify), by the number of customers / merchants, this suggests that the average Volusion user has sold $600,000 in products, and the average Shopify user has sold $80,000 in products.
The gap here is pretty incredible and we’re not placing a whole lot of weight into this analysis. It’s just hard to believe that on average a Volusion merchant sells over $600,000 in products.
We’re guessing that there are probably few mega stores that are skewing the data. It’s just an interesting way of looking at data, and is not an indication of how much you will sell with your webstore!
2) Support Level:
- Volusion: 24/7 support across all communication channels.
- Shopify: 24/7 support across all communication channels.
Both online store builders offer 24/7 support – right on par with each other when it comes to accessibility.
3) Quality & Quantity of Themes:
- Volusion:49 (all themes are mobile responsive for a better experience and prices range between free or $180)
- Shopify: 170+ (all themes are mobile responsive to give your visitors a better experience, and prices range from free up to $180)
We think that Shopify is the winner here. Not only do they have more mobile responsive designs, their designs in our view are more updated and professional than the ones from Volusion, and this also takes into account Volusion’s newly revamped and relaunched range of designs.
4) Free Trial Period:
- Volusion: 14-days
- Shopify: 14-days
Not a difference here.
Based on the analysis of some statistics from Volusion and Shopify, this suggests that Shopify is much more popular (mainly due to a much larger group of paying customers).
However, this does not automatically mean that you would like Shopify more than Volusion as your needs for your business may be different from others users.
Our metrics are simply guiding points for you to think about when you are stuck on choosing between one of these online store builders.
Since Volusion and Shopify both have 14-day free trial periods, you should consider taking up the free trial period and invest a few hours in testing them out yourself, to see which one you prefer working with.
6.VOLUSION VS SHOPIFY – PRICING
When it comes to choosing between products or services, it’s really easy to pick the cheaper option. Most of us are just conditioned to behave that way.
However, when it comes to investing in an ecommerce builder to build and grow your business, you want to make sure that you are arriving at your decision based on the builder that gives your business the best chance of succeeding, instead of picking the one that’s “cheaper”.
Making the wrong decision can cost you a lot down the road. You may need to migrate to a new store builder and that’s going to cost you money and time.
You should focus on “value” and what you get for what you pay, instead of rejecting a price plan because it is higher than its competitors.
Shopify start its plans at a monthly price of $29 for their “Basic Shopify” plan and progresses up to $79 for the “Shopify” plan, and $299 for the “Advanced Shopify” plan.
Shopify is often criticized that they charge a 0.5% – 2% transaction fee for their plans (Basic Shopify 2% / Shopify 1% / Advanced Shopify 0.5%). But as discussed above, you get unlimited bandwidth to power your store, and you can accurately calculate how much the transaction fees are at the end of each month.
However, if you use Shopify Payments to manage your payment processing, all transaction fees will be waived. Click here to see what it is and our review.
Note that there is still a credit card charge ranging from 2.4% + 30 cents per transaction if you have the “Advanced Shopify” plan, to $2.9% + 30 cents per transaction if you use the “Basic Shopify” plan. This credit card fee would have to be paid regardless of which online store builder you use (including Volusion), as it is a credit card fee that credit card companies charge, and there is no getting around it in the world of selling products online.
As discussed, one thing you should appreciate about Shopify is that they are very transparent in their fee structures, and this includes making it clear how much apps cost in the app store, which could be considered a hidden cost! A lot of other large online shop builders are well known for charging hidden fees, so you get a big surprising bill that you can’t calculate at the end of the month.
With Shopify, you can actually calculate how much you owe them based on the agreed upon monthly plan, and also based on how much sales you’ve made (which you know).
Remember that you are not only investing to access to their store building tools, the monthly plans also come with 24/7 support.
Volusion monthly fees range from $15 per month (Mini Plan) to $35 per month (Plus Plan) to $75 per month (Pro Plan) to $135 per month (Premium Plan). As you progress up the plans, you get more tools and bandwidth available to you.
If you purchase an entire year worth of service, you can get a bulk discount of 10%.
As mentioned above, although Volusion does not charge you a transaction fee for each transaction, they limit your bandwidth and so if you run out of bandwidth, you will have to purchase more from them.
Volusion do provide a tracker in their dashboard for you to keep an eye on your bandwidth. However, considering all the ways bandwidth can get gobbled up and the fact that all its major competitors provide unlimited broadband, Volusion could be doing a lot more for its customers.
As you can see from the above, bandwidth can be eaten up by a lot of factors and while one million kilobytes (aka a GB) might sound like a lot, it really doesn’t go as far as you might think.
Imagine if you have a busy trading month and have a big spike in customers, breaking 10,000 customers. Going by the above, you’d need almost 7GB of bandwidth, which leaves you needing to pay $7.00 per additional GB, or an extra $42.00 on top of your existing monthly fees. Not ideal at all!
Sure, Volusion have built a lot more functions into their editor so you could save some money by not paying for extra apps to realize these functions (as you might need to on Shopify), but these don’t in-editor tools don’t quite match the quality of specialized apps you can find in the marketplace.
At the end of the day, the price points of Volusion and Shopify are not massively different, especially for the lower plans.
When your store starts to grow, you should try to decide based on the value you are getting from each one of them, and which one is more likely to help you and your business succeed.
Don’t choose Volusion vs Shopify purely based on price as that’s short term thinking. Consider our discussions throughout this page to make your decision.
We do suggest that you sign up for free trials for both Shopify and Volusion and invest a few hours in testing each one. That’s the most effective way to make an informed decision on which one is best for your business.