Bigcommerce vs Volusion (2019) - Comparison Review

Bigcommerce vs Volusion — image of the two logos side by side on a notepad

In this Bigcommerce vs Volusion review, I compare two leading online store building tools to see which comes out tops.

Read on to find out more about both products’ key features, template quality and support — by the end of this article you should have a much clearer idea of which of these two platforms is a better fit for building your online store.

Let’s start by taking a look at pricing.


Bigcommerce pricing vs Volusion pricing

Volusion and Bigcommerce both offer four plans.

Volusion's plans are as follows:

  • Volusion Personal: $29 per month

  • Volusion Professional: $79 per month

  • Volusion Business: $299 per month

  • Volusion Prime: custom pricing, based on requirements

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

This makes the Volusion and Bigcommerce offerings very similar in price to each other (and indeed rival Shopify’s — see our Shopify review for more information).

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 their more expensive plans (the $299+ Business plan and higher).

  • Sales limits: Both Volusion and Bigcommerce apply sales limits to each of its plans. Volusion’s limits on its entry, mid-level and expensive plans are $50k, $100k and $500k respectively; Bigcommerce’s corresponding limits are $50k, $150k and $400k. On the enterprise level plans, these limits are ‘custom’ (read negotiable).

  • Ratings and reviews: This functionality is included on all Bigcommerce plans; by contrast, you’ll need to be on a $79+ Volusion plan to avail of this.

  • Importing and exporting products: This functionality is available on all Bigcommerce plans; again, with Volusion, you’ll need to be on a $79 plan or higher to access this.

  • Integration with Ebay and Amazon: Both Bigcommerce and Volusion allow you to integrate your store with Ebay and Amazon, but Bigcommerce allows you to do this much more cheaply — you'll get this functionality on their $29.95 plan, whereas with Volusion you'll need to be on an expensive $299 plan to avail of it.

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. And speaking of which…


Transaction fees and payment gateways

The good news with both Volusion and Bigcommerce is that neither product charges transaction fees — i.e., a cut of every sale. This is not the case with all competing solutions.

However, in order to accept credit card transactions on your website, you’re going to need to make use of a payment gateway. This will generally involve a fee (either a monthly fee or a credit card fee or both).

Both Volusion and Bigcommerce let you integrate a decent number of payment gateways into proceedings: 34 in the case of Volusion and around 40 in the case of Bigcommerce. However, which of these can use depends greatly on the country you live in — if you live in the US you’ll be able to use a large number of these, but European merchants will have a much lower number to choose from.

Neither Volusion or Shopify charge you for using a payment gateway — this contrasts positively with Shopify, which applies a 2% transaction fee if you use a third-party payment gateway (there are no transaction fees from Shopify however if you are happy to use their own payment gateway system, Shopify payments.)


Templates

The free templates that Volusion and Bigcommerce provide are solid, professional offerings - but Volusion offers more free templates than Bigcommerce: 11 vs 7 respectively. 

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. 

 

Example of a Bigcommerce theme

 

Both companies also provide a  range of fancier-looking, paid-for templates.

Volusion offers 34 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).


Apps

Apps allow you to add on a lot of additional functionality to an online store, and integrate third party web applications with it. 

Both Volusion and Bigcommerce have app stores, but Bigcommerce users can benefit from a much larger range of apps than Volusion ones: there around around 600 Bigcommerce apps you can integrate with your store, to Volusion’s 73.

When it comes to accounting apps, there are a couple of significant omissions in the Volusion app store — you won’t find Volusion integrations for either Xero and Freshbooks, both of which are important tools for online store owners. By contrast apps are available for Bigcommerce which can integrate these important services into a store.


Mobile storefronts and smartphone apps

Both Volusion and Bigcommerce automatically create mobile and tablet friendly versions of your store, via responsive templates.

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.

There are some third party apps for managing a Bigcommerce store on a smartphone available - for example, the 'Store Manager for Bigcommerce' app - but you won't be able to rely on support from Bigcommerce for them. 

So all in all, it's probably fair to say that Volusion has an edge over Bigcommerce in this area.


Importing and exporting products

Both Bigcommerce and Volusion allow you to import data into your products in CSV format. When it comes to exporting your products, Volusion provides a bit more flexibility, because it allows you to export into CSV, TAB, PIPE, and XML formats — Bigcommerce supports CSV and XML only.

However, and somewhat incredibly, you only get access to import and export functionality on Volusion if you are on a $79 ‘Professional’ plan or higher! This makes Bigcommerce a much better option for any merchant who wishes to upload or download products from their online store.


Marketing

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. However, this CRM functionality doesn't currently integrate with Office 365 or G Suite email accounts or any other email system requiring SSL integration — thus ruling out a hell of a lot of users — and can't be tested in trial account mode. So it’s not terribly useful in my view.

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 send limits apply — most merchants will be much better off using a dedicated email marketing platform like Getresponse or Mailchimp.

Whilst the idea of being able to use Volusion for both running your online store and marketing it is nice, it’s my view that the functionality provided for this 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 saving

Abandoned cart savers let you identify the visitors to your store who add something to their cart but 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 on their $79+ plans.

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).

All in all, it’s a total win for Bigcommerce over Volusion in the important area of abandoned cart saving.


Ease of use / interface

User-friendliness is the area where in a Bigcommerce vs Volusion shootout, Bigcommerce is a hands-down winner (in fact it’s one of the easiest-to-use store builders to use that I’ve tested to date).

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.

The Volusion CMS is unnecessarily complicated. The above screen - click to enlarge - is what the user sees when they click ‘Design > Content’ on the main navigation. ASP file anyone?

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 in Volusion and this will put many users — particularly those relatively new to building websites — off the product 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 necessarily not have a huge amount of difficulty using Volusion; but anyone new to putting a site together could struggle with it. The novice user will find things much more straightforward with Bigcommerce.


Blogging in Bigcommerce and Volusion

Bigcommerce offers a very 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 probably 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.

But for most users, the Bigcommerce blog will be totally fine.


SEO in Bigcommerce vs Volusion

When it comes to SEO in a Bigcommerce vs Volusion shootout, Bigcommerce is a winner.

Although Volusion does allow you to change tweak SEO settings extensively — page titles, meta data, headers and so on — it is generally easier with Bigcommerce. And there are a couple of areas where Bigcommerce is noticeably stronger in the SEO department:

Search friendly URLS

Search engines generally prefer short, 'clean URLs' containing keywords rather than variables (i.e., 'www.mystore.com/blue-dress' rather than 'www.mystore.com/cat125/?productid=1234'). By default it seems that Volusion prefers the latter approach, and if you want the former you have to go into settings and ensure that a 'search-friendly URL' setting is switched on.

Additionally, the process involved in tweaking URLs in Volusion in order to get them into a search-friendly format seems overly-complicated — as their help page on the topic demonstrates.

In Bigcommerce, by contrast, it’s really easy to edit your URLs and ensure they are search engine-friendly: you just go to a page, post or product and enter your preferred URL into the URL field.

AMP

Accelerated Mobile Pages format (AMP) is a Google-backed project which speeds up the delivery of pages on mobile devices (by removing unnecessary code and scripts from the pages). SEO experts believe that AMP can bring some benefits with regard to search results, as faster loading pages are given preference by Google, and people stay longer on faster-loading pages (thus increasing ‘dwell time’, something which is also believed to help improve search rankings).

Whilst you can use AMP very easily in Bigcommerce (all of its free templates support it out of the box, as do many of its paid plans), this functionality does not yet seem to be available with Volusion.

Check out our Bigcommerce SEO guide for more details on how search engine optimisation works on the platform.


Support

With Bigcommerce, you get 24-hour 'live agent' support. It's not particularly clear on their site which 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.

With Volusion, support comes in three varieties, depending on what plan you're one: online, online+phone and priority. Support on the cheapest plan is online only, which compares negatively to Bigcommerce. On the plus side, accessing the support information is easier in Volusion — the company’s phone number is listed prominently on the home page of the site (with Bigcommerce, you have to go to a support page and ask a help question and review answers before getting to a phone number).

In addition to in-person support, both Bigcommerce and Volusion also offer a wide range of online resources — how-to articles, FAQs and searchable help databases.

Volusion’s help materials can be quite confusing however, because there are two versions of the product - ‘V1’ and ‘V2’, each with their own set of help materials. This means you can often end up reading support material which isn’t relevant to the latest version of Volusion.


Which is better, Bigcommerce or Volusion?

Bigcommerce and Volusion are both very fully-featured online store builders but ultimately I have to come down on the side of Bigcommerce, chiefly because it is SO much easier to use than Volusion. It’s also better specced.

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 SEO features are stronger.

  • 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.

  • You can sell on Ebay and Amazon on the cheapest Bigcommerce plans - Volusion restricts this functionality to its more expensive $79+ plans.

  • You can sell an unlimited number of products on any Bigcommerce plan; you'll have to be on a $299+ Volusion plan to do this.

  • Bigcommerce provides built-in blogging functionality (albeit of a basic variety).

  • All Bigcommerce plans include phone support — this is not the case with Volusion's.

  • You can import and export products on the entry-level plans; this functionality is not provided by Volusion unless you are on a $79+ plan.

  • There are lots more apps / third-party integrations available for Bigcommerce.

You can get a free trial of Bigcommerce here.

Reasons to pick Volusion over Bigcommerce

  • Volusion has a slightly larger selection of free templates to choose from.

  • 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).

You can get a free trial of Volusion here.


Free trials

As ever with these comparison reviews, you are getting on person’s take on these products, and I generally advise that, where free trials are available, that you try both products being compared out and make your own mind up!

You’ll find links to the Bigcommerce and Volusion free trials below.

Feel free to add your own thoughts on Bigcommerce vs Volusion in the comments section below, and if you enjoyed this article, it'd be great if you could share it or post a link to it on your site. (Note: if you’re viewing this on a mobile device, you may be seeing the faster ‘AMP’ version of the post, which disables comments - click here to view the regular version, which will allow you to post a comment).


Alternatives to Bigcommerce and Volusion

For me one of the best hosted alternatives to Bigcommerce and Volusion is Shopify - you can read our Shopify review here.

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.

Similarly, Wix or Jimdo might appeal to some users - check out our Wix review and Jimdo review respectively for more details on this product.