Volusion is a popular hosted SaaS eCommerce platform that’s gone through several iterations since its inception in 1999, now shifting from their V1 platform to their rebranded V2 platform. It offers a selection of plans at different price levels, ranging from $29/month to $299/month, as well as a “Prime” plan meant for larger enterprise-level businesses with pricing available by quote only. Naturally, many may think that, being a company that’s been around for much longer than most other eCommerce platforms, they’ve refined their available plans and associated features to be the best merchants can get. But, it’s important to do research into this assumption, because you may not be getting the fully-functional platform you think you’re paying for.
Volusion emphasizes that it’s “eCommerce for everyone” and has branded itself as the platform that gives you everything you need to sell online. But, is this claim true? Before you decide on the eCommerce platform you’d like to build your online store on, be sure to dig deep into what they’re actually going to charge you for and what features you’ll be getting with each plan. It’s also important to do research into other platforms to compare what comes with plans of similar price-points.
We’ll begin by taking a closer look at Volusion’s different plans and what each comes with:
One of the first things you’ll notice when going through the list of built-in features available on Volusion’s plans is the sheer lack of features available. Key eCommerce features needed for selling products online, such as saved carts, pre-orders, and even digital download support, are completely missing from all plans. Other features, like a product Q&A, require you to pay for a separate app to enable it on your store. If you run an Amazon store and need to sync your orders to your store on Volusion, that’s not possible on a Personal, Professional, or Startup plan; you’ll need to be paying for the Business plan or qualify for their quoted Prime plan to get this function.
Shipping is limited too, with several features being locked behind separate apps that need to be paid for and downloaded from their app store. Rather than being built-in, you’ll need to enable FedEx separately in order to access FedEx returns and HAL (hold at location). You’ll also need a separate app to display real-time shipping rates on your store, which should be a basic built-in function.
The main reason behind many essential features being locked behind paywalls is due to the restriction Volusion has on API access. In order to have API access, and therefore gain access to features like Amazon Order Sync, Google Shopping Feed, and QuickBooks Connector, you’ll need to be paying for the Business Plan (which is the most expensive plan they offer, aside from their Prime plan that is based on quote). By restricting API access to their highest paid plans, they’re locking essential features away from smaller businesses, negatively affecting them in the process.
The limitations don’t stop with products and shipping; Volusion places restrictions on merchants and how they can accept payments and make sales too. The most obvious instance of this is their restriction of credit card payments to Volusion Payments, which is their proprietary payment processor. They support Stripe and PayPal payment methods as well, which enables stores to accept Apple Pay. But, the only payment gateway that they officially support is Authorize.net, which puts a huge restriction on merchants who’s stores can’t utilize that gateway. Volusion actually outright says that their platform cannot support merchants that are based outside of the United States, most likely for this reason. Not to mention, their restrictions leave no way for sellers with high-risk products to do business on their platform.
But, it’s not just limited to payment methods. Based on the plan you sign up for, you’re restricted to a certain amount of online sales per year before you’re forced to upgrade your plan. This is normal for most eCommerce platforms, but what’s abnormal is how low their limits are in correlation to their plans. Their $29/month Personal Plan supports up to $50,000 online sales per year, while their $79/month Professional Plan's annual online sales limit is $100,000. You may need to upgrade before your budget is truly ready for it, so if you plan on growing your online business with Volusion, you’ll end up paying for it more than you think.
When it comes to marketing tools with Volusion, they don’t just lock some essentials behind paywalls; many essential marketing features are simply absent from their platform as a whole. Several essential marketing tools, like MailChimp integration, are relegated to Volusion’s lackluster app store. Others, like email marketing newsletters, are only available with their Pro and Business Plans. But, if you want your store to have a blog, you’ll need to use a third-party blogging site and link it to your store. In the case that you want to connect your store to any outside marketing tools, you’ll be forced to use Zapier to connect them (which comes at a monthly cost, of course).
If you want to be a legitimate business, and if you want visitors and potential customers to believe that you are, then you need your own domain name. Unfortunately, Volusion does not give you a domain name as part of their service, forcing you to seek out your own domain name that you need to buy and register yourself. If not, your Volusion store will use a yourname.myvolusion.com domain name, which looks less than professional. MyVolusion refers to the portal offered by Volusion to manage your account.
But, even if you do buy your own domain name, your checkout page will redirect customers to a Volusion sub-domain anyway if you’re on their Personal Plan. This can cause confusion and concern among customers, who may be wary of being navigated to a different site that they don’t recognize or necessarily trust. So, you’ll end up having to upgrade your plan if you want your domain name to remain consistent throughout your online store with Volusion.
The design of your store is one of the most important and influential ways that you can show your brand off to visitors and potential customers. It’s the first thing they see when they visit your store, and the look, feel, and navigation that they’re confronted with has the ability to shape their opinion of your brand forever.
With Volusion themes, you’re limited to a small number of similarly-designed themes that may not look the way you want your brand to. If you want to edit your theme, you may be out of luck unless you have the resource of coding knowledge or the budget for web developers. For something as important as store design, you need as many options at your disposal as possible to effectively curate the brand identity you want the world to see.
The most glaring issue in regards to the value of Volusion is their small list of features and available app integrations. While size doesn’t always matter, it becomes an issue when essential eCommerce features aren’t built-in or available through direct integration. This issue makes more sense once it becomes apparent that Volusion relies heavily on Zapier to make up for its lack of native integrations and built-in features. While Zapier is a fantastic service, it requires you to pay to integrate its available connections to your Volusion store. So, at the end of the day, it doesn’t even matter how expensive your Volusion plan is; you’ll still end up paying extra to integrate many desired features.
No matter what Volusion plan you choose, you’ll still run into locked doors for essential eCommerce features. Whether those doors are extra monthly fees in the app store or third-party integration solutions, you’re being forced to go out of your way to enable tools and functionality that should be built-in at the start. Volusion not only punishes you for wanting basic tools, but it also punishes you for growing by forcing you to pay for a more expensive plan at very low yearly online sale ceilings.
With Shift4Shop, you’re met with open doors that allow you to freely enable built-in features at no extra cost, while also giving you access to a wide library of apps if you want more advanced functionality on your online store. You won’t have to worry about paying for something as simple as API access, which becomes a huge roadblock for a long list of apps and integrations; we include it by default.