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If you’re in the market for an e-commerce platform, two options you've likely encountered are Volusion and Shopify. Both services are similar in terms of ease of use and price, however Shopify offers more features, integrations and design options, while Volusion delivers cheaper payment processing. This detailed comparison can help you decide which option might be a better fit for your business.
Volusion: The basics
Volusion is a cloud-hosted e-commerce platform that allows merchants to sell almost anything — from handmade goods like furniture and art to digital products like subscription services and software.
To get started with Volusion you'll enter some basic information about yourself and your business. Volusion then guides you through a multi-step process to set up your store. You’ll be prompted to set tax, payment processing and shipping options, customize the look of your store and create your product catalog.
Once you launch your store, you’ll benefit from a variety of features, including inventory and customer relationship management functions, a mechanism to collect customer reviews, a mobile application, tools to improve SEO, reporting functions and a developer’s toolkit for the technically inclined. Note that the features you have access to will depend on the price plan you select.
Outside of these features, Volusion also offers an application store where you can extend the functionality of your website with a variety of integrations. If you ever run into any trouble, Volusion provides 24/7 support via phone, email or live chat, as well as a Help Center with an impressive amount of documentation.
In addition, Volusion is simple enough to use that even an e-commerce rookie could launch a store without too much hand-holding.
Shopify: The basics
Since launching in 2006, the Shopify platform has been used to build over 600,000 e-commerce stores and generate $82 billion worth of sales. Major brands that use Shopify include the New York Times, Budweiser, Nestle, Tesla and Red Bull.
When you build your store with Shopify, you’ll go through a process that is fairly similar to Volusion’s. It includes arranging your shipping, taxes, payment processing, site design and product catalog. You’ll also have an array of integrations to select from and 24/7 support.
Shopify offers its own Shopify point-of-sale system, in-house payment processing and shipping tools. That’s to say nothing of the greater variety of features you get to manage your e-commerce store.
Shopify can offer more because it is bigger and has a more diverse range of customers to service (10% of all e-commerce stores use the Shopify platform). However, this does not necessarily make it superior to Volusion.
The two platforms are very comparable in a couple of areas:
Ease of use
Both Volusion and Shopify offer straightforward setup processes that make it possible to launch your store in a single day. Once your store is live, both platforms provide a dashboard where you can manage store operations. From the dashboard you can perform a myriad of essential business functions, including updating your store settings, adding inventory, fulfilling orders and viewing your website’s analytics and performance. A particularly helpful feature of both services is the theme editor, which allows you to apply different designs to your website and see how the changes will look in real-time.
If you ever run into any trouble managing your store, both Volusion and Shopify offer 24/7 support.
Volusion and Shopify offer pricing plans that are strikingly similar. Volusion offers three different plans, ranging in price from $29 per month to $299 per month, and Shopify offers four different plans, ranging from $9 per month to $299 per month (the $9 per month Shopify plan allows you to sell via an existing website or Facebook page, and does not come with a Shopify store).
With each service, the more expensive the plan you choose, the more features you have access to. Volusion and Shopify will also lower your credit card processing fees if you sign up for a more expensive plan. Both Volusion and Shopify offer enterprise plans that feature quote-based pricing.
The one big differentiator between Volusion and Shopify when it comes to price is that Volusion enforces sales limits based on the plan you choose. For example, subscribers to the Personal Plan ($29 per month) have a limit of $50,000 in annual sales. If they exceed this limit, they will be hit with a fee. Shopify does not have this policy.
Where Shopify is better
Because Shopify is bigger than Volusion, it's able to offer quite a bit more with its services.
In no particular order, here are some of the features included in the Shopify platform: a content management system, inventory and customer relationship management functions, the ability to accept bitcoin, multilingual checkout, a POS, SEO tools, the ability to sell an unlimited number of products, free PCI compliance and an SSL certificate, customizable analytics reports and a developer suite. There is also Shopify Experts, a service that allows you to hire Shopify-approved e-commerce designers, an “Ecommerce University” featuring a series of ebooks, video series and webinars, plus hundreds and hundreds of website integrations.
Volusion offers a generous number of features in its own right, but it simply cannot match the volume of features within Shopify. For example, Volusion can integrate with 19 apps in its app store, compared to over 1,500 apps in the Shopify app store. Volusion also works with 30 different payment gateways. However, Shopify works with over 100 different payment gateways. Even with overlapping features, Shopify offers better value. For instance, to get abandoned cart recovery with Volusion you need to sign up for the $79 per month plan. Shopify offers abandoned cart recovery at $29 per month.
Another area where Shopify offers more variety than Volusion is the look and feel of your e-commerce website. With Shopify you can select from 71 different store themes, 10 of which are free. Volusion offers a total of 14 themes; however, all come at no charge. Still, from a branding perspective, variety helps your store look unlike anything else on the web. All Shopify templates also come with their own intuitive settings so you can customize every facet of your storefront.
Both Volusion and Shopify templates are mobile-responsive, and each service offers the option to edit the HTML and CSS of your website.
Where Volusion is better
While there are clearly some distinct advantages to using Shopify, Volusion is friendlier to merchants in one important area.
Shopify integrates with over 100 payment gateways, but it will charge you an additional fee if you use one of those providers and not its in-house system — Shopify Payments. Volusion, on the other hand, will let you use any of the 30 payment processors it works with at no additional charge. This is obviously preferable, as getting hit with an additional fee (on top of the credit card processing fee) can add up very quickly.
Furthermore, Volusion’s credit card processing fees for online transactions are cheaper with its in-house payment system — Volusion Payments — than Shopify’s are (2.15% plus 30 cents vs. 2.9% plus 30 cents). Even if you use Shopify’s $299 per month plan, your credit card processing fee is still only 2.4% plus 30 cents. Volusion’s rate is lower regardless of which plan you choose.
With both Volusion and Shopify payments you can take all major credit cards. Note that you can also accept in-person payments with Shopify via its POS system.
Reviewers appreciated both platforms but overall recommended Shopify. Here's what some reviewers had to say:
“When it comes to Volusion, I love their ”onboarding” process – they have prepared a clear checklist of things to do before you launch your shop. They also have awesome built-in marketing tools, like email newsletters and a social media posting tool, that make it easy to manage your marketing from the Volusion dashboard. Overall, I would recommend Shopify because of their awesome customer support (that matters, a lot!) and the variety of third-party apps and integrations with different service providers (including drop shippers Oberlo and Printful).” — Krista Krumina, freelancer
“After using both Shopify and Volusion to make e-commerce websites for my clients, I have personally come to prefer Shopify as I find their pricing structure more beginner-friendly to new online merchants. Also since many other retailers are using Shopify, there is no shortage of support, guides, tutorials and optimization techniques out there on YouTube and forums.” — Lewis Thomas, web designer, Webaroo
Before making your final decision, here are a few additional e-commerce platforms you may want to consider:
If you want to avoid software fees altogether, choose WooCommerce. This is a free plugin that turns any WordPress website into an e-commerce store. Because it works in conjunction with WordPress, you also get an impressive level of customization with WooCommerce. You can also extend the functionality of your store with a library of over 300 additional apps and integrations. Be aware that if you have never used WordPress before, you may face a steep learning curve with WooCommerce.
If you’re looking for something less complicated than Shopify or Volusion, consider Big Cartel. Big Cartel is a minimalist e-commerce platform for creatives looking for a place to sell their wares. You won’t get as much functionality with Big Cartel, but you also won’t pay as high a price: Plans start at just $9.99 per month. Note that Big Cartel does place restrictions on the number of products you can sell depending on your pricing plan.
A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.