Bigcommerce vs Volusion (2018) - Comparison Review
In this Bigcommerce vs Volusion review, we compare two leading online store building tools to see which comes out tops - and which is right for your type of business.
Bigcommerce pricing vs Volusion pricing...
Volusion's plans are as follows:
- Mini - $15 per month
- Plus - $35 per month
- Pro - $75 per month
- Premium - $135 per month
Bigcommerce's plans are:
- Bigcommerce Standard: $29.95 per month
- Bigcommerce Plus: $79.95 per month
- Bigcommerce Pro: $249.95 per month
- Bigcommerce Enterprise: pricing varies depending on requirements
The most obvious thing you'll notice from the above is that Volusion lets you start selling more cheaply, with the cheapest Volusion plan ('Mini') costing just $15 compared to Bigcommerce's $29.95 entry plan ('Standard').
The main differences in terms of features to watch out for between the two sets of plans are:
- The number of products you can sell: Bigcommerce allows you to sell an unlimited number of products on all their plans; Volusion only facilitates this on the most expensive 'Premium' plan.
- Abandoned cart reports: with Volusion, you can access this information on their $35 ('Plus') plan and up - with Bigcommerce, you need to be on a $75.95 ('Plus') plan to avail of this functionality (but as will be explained below, the Bigcommerce abandoned cart functionality is significantly better)
- Bandwidth: this is unlimited on all Bigcommerce plans, whereas Volusion limits it to varying degrees on all their plans (at the starter end of the spectrum, on Volusion's 'Mini' plan, you can expect a limit of 1GB per month; even on their premium plan a bandwidth cap also applies, of 35GB per month).
- Sales limits: Bigcommerce applies sales limits to each of its plans (for example, you can sell up to $50k worth of products on its 'Standard' plan, $150k on its 'Plus' plan and $400k on its Pro plan) - exceed these and you'll have to upgrade to a more expensive monthly plan.
It's worth remembering too of course is that with either a Bigcommerce or a Volusion plan, you will need to factor in the costs associated with using a ‘payment gateway’ - the software that allows you to process credit card payments.
Additionally, the Volusion free themes are more distinct from each other; some of the Bigcommerce templates are so similar in appearance that it's probably a bit cheeky to label them as individual templates - it's more a case of different colours being applied to the same template.
Both companies also provide a range of fancier-looking, paid-for templates.
Volusion offers 35 paid themes - all priced at $180 each.
Bigcommerce offer 120, and and these range in price from $145 to $235. However, as with Bigcommerce's free themes, many of these are so similar in appearance to each other to the point where this number is a bit misleading.
Overall, I'd say it's a bit of a win for Volusion in the template department, certainly as far as the free template offering goes. But there is enough choice on offer from both companies to allow you to create a very attractive storefront (so long as your product images are up to scratch).
Mobile storefronts and smartphone apps
Volusion also provides iOS and Android apps for managing aspects of your store on the go. No user rating is currently available for the iOS version, but Android users seem to like the Volusion app, giving it an average of 4 out of 5 stars.
Bigcommerce used to provide apps to manage your store too, but they are no longer available. The company does state that their control panel may be accessible by some versions of Android - so you may be able to access the Bigcommerce back end on the go via your smartphone - but is not supported by the BigCommerce technical support and product teams.
So all in all, it's probably fair to say that Volusion has an edge over Bigcommerce in this area.
- stock a wide range of products (digital and physical)
- accept a wide range of payments (via a selection of payment gateways)
- add new pages to your site and edit them
- capture customer data and access analytics on your store visits / sales.
Let's delve into a few more features in depth.
Both products offer a good range of marketing features including discount coupons, gift cards, Facebook storefronts and banners.
Volusion goes further with marketing features, in that it offers a CRM tool on the Pro and Premium plans (note however, that this CRM functionality doesn't currently integrate with Gmail accounts or any email system requiring SSL integration - thus ruling out a hell of a lot of users - and can't be tested in trial account mode).
Volusion also allows you to set up your own affiliate program, which might be genuinely useful to some users (those with very popular stores / high levels of traffic in particular).
You can also send e-newsletters with Volusion, but fairly ungenerous limits apply - on the Plus Plan you can send 200 e-newsletters per month; 1000 on the Pro plan and 2000 on the Premium Plan.
Whilst the idea of being able to use Volusion for both running your online store and marketing it, the functionality provided is not necessarily up to the job of doing the marketing bit (it feels like a 'jack of all trades, master of none' scenario). If you do decide to use Volusion as your online store builder, you'll probably find that dedicated CRM and email marketing apps will beat the in-built marketing tools hands down (and help you grow your business faster).
Abandoned cart savers let you identify the visitors to your store who add something to their cart only to leave your site without making a purchase.
This is very useful because you can then email these visitors encouraging them to reconsider this decision, offer them a discount code to tempt them back and so on.
This functionality is available from both Bigcommerce and Volusion, but is offered at a cheaper price by Volusion – it’s included with their $35 plan, whereas you need to be on a $79.95 + plan with Bigcommerce to get abandoned cart reports.
However, the abandoned cart functionality that comes with Bigcommerce is much, much better than Volusion’s – with Bigcommerce, you can predefine what you’d like to happen when somebody abandons their cart (i.e., send them a series of pre-written emails automatically); with Volusion, you get access to a list of users that have abandoned their carts, but you will have to email them manually (using Volusion's 'send retention email' option).
An automated setup like the one used by Bigcommerce is much better - it's a 'set and forget' process which will save users a lot of time.
That said, there are some third party tools available which can help Volusion users with automation – such as Autoresponder Max – but they tend to come at a price (Autoresponder Max costs $99 per month).
Integrating Volusion and Bigcommerce with Ebay and Amazon
Both Bigcommerce and Volusion allow you to integrate your store with Ebay and Amazon – but Bigcommerce allow you to do this more cheaply - you'll get this functionality on their $29.95 plan, whereas with Volusion you'll need to take out a $75 'Pro' plan to avail of it.
Disclaimer: I've not yet put both integrations to the test, so if selling on Ebay or Amazon is important for your business, I'd definitely road-test both products yourself first.
Ease of use
Bigcommerce's interface works in a similar way to many contemporary CMS platforms - such as those used by Wordpress, Shopify and Squarespace. There's a vertical menu on the left which allows you to choose what you'd like to do with your site (add a product, view a report, edit a page, write a blog post etc.) and once you've done so you'll be able to view/edit content or reports on the right hand side of the screen.
Put simply, its interface is contemporary, easy to use and intuitive; unfortunately the same cannot be said for Volusion’s, which makes doing basic things like creating a simple ‘about us’ HTML page bizarrely difficult.
I've worked with a lot of site builders and CMS systems in my time and I am really struck by how unintuitive the Volusion interface is - with rivals Bigcommerce, Shopify or Squarespace, getting a simple site / store off the ground (and editing its content) can be done with a minimum of fuss; the same simply cannot be said for Volusion, which I have not found at all easy to use.
Core tasks like creating a navigation or editing pages are unnecessarily confusing and this will put many users off the product - particularly those relatively new to building websites - before they have a chance to explore Volusion's selling and marketing functionality, a lot of which is quite good.
A lot of support materials - including several 'getting started' videos - are provided by Volusion, and there is always phone and chat support to help you if you get stuck; but my hunch is that with the Volusion CMS, many people will get stuck rather too quickly.
Ultimately, I feel that experienced web developers would not have a huge amount of difficulty using Volusion; but anyone new to putting a site together could struggle with it. The novice user would find things much more straightforward with Bigcommerce.
Blogging in Bigcommerce and Volusion
Bigcommerce offers an important feature out of the box that is missing from Volusion: a blogging tool.
In this era of inbound marketing, creating quality blog content is absolutely essential to generating traffic to a site – and by extension to generating sales.
It is possible to link a third-party blog (i.e., a Wordpress blog) to your Volusion store and edit the DNS settings so that it appears on a subdomain on your Volusion-powered site - but this is something that a less experienced user will want to avoid. These sorts of users will appreciate Bigcommerce's built-in blogging tool - you simply get a blog on your store that very easy to update.
That said, the Bigcommerce blog is fairly basic - if you want to do advanced post categorisation and tagging you would be better off with integrating a third-party blogging platform such as Wordpress (again, using the subdomain approach). And if RSS feeds are important to you, you'll be disappointed with the built-in Bigcommerce blog: it doesn't support them.
With Bigcommerce, you get 24-hour 'live agent' support. It's not particularly clear on their site what channels this covers - phone, chat or email - and before you get access to actual contact details you have to try to resolve the issue by searching their help pages first. There is also a large range of video and text resources available from Bigcommerce, and a community forum.
With Volusion, support comes in three varieties, depending on what plan you're one: online, phone and priority. This does not appear to be 24/7, but at least accessing the relevant phone numbers on the Volusion site is very easy.
Which is better, Bigcommerce or Volusion?
Bigcommerce and Volusion are both very fully-featured online store builders. There are however, quite a few differences in what they offer, and before you decide upon which tool to use, it’s a good idea to make a list of your ‘core requirements’ for your store so that you can identify which product (and plan) matches your business needs best: don’t pick a plan based on price alone.
Here are a few key reasons why one of these platforms might be more suited to your needs than the other:
Reasons to pick Bigcommerce over Volusion
- Bigcommerce is much easier to use – if you are a novice at putting together a website, you will find it a lot easier to get to grips with than Volusion.
- Its abandoned cart functionality is better: being able to pre-program a series of automated follow up emails to users who abandon their carts has the potential to save you a lot of time – and money.
- All Bigcommerce plans allow you to sell an unlimited number of products.
- You can sell on Ebay and Amazon on the cheapest Bigcommerce plans - Volusion restricts this functionality to its more expensive $75+ plans.
- You can sell an unlimited number of products on any Bigcommerce plan; you'll have to be on the most expensive Volusion plan to do this.
- Unlike Volusion, Bigcommerce does not have any limitations on bandwidth.
- Bigcommerce provides built-in blogging functionality (albeit of a basic variety).
- All plans include phone support - this is not the case with Volusion's.
Reasons to pick Volusion over Bigcommerce
- Volusion's cheapest plan is half the price of the Bigcommerce equivalent.
- There are no sales caps - Bigcommerce limits these to $50k, $150k and $400k on their 'Standard', 'Plus' and 'Pro' plans respectively.
- Volusion has a more extensive selection of free templates.
- Some of the Volusion marketing features - such as the affiliate program and the CRM tool - may prove useful to some users (the CRM program will not work with many popular email systems however, including Gmail).
As ever it's a case of defining your requirements well, trying both products out via a free trial and working out which tool meets your needs better before signing up to a paid plan.
You’ll find links to the Bigcommerce and Volusion free trials below.
Alternatives to Bigcommerce and Volusion
If you already have a site and you wish to add e-commerce functionality to it, you might also want to check out Ecwid.
Squarespace is also worth a look, particularly if you are interested in building a portfolio or brochure style site, and sell some products on the side.