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In this Volusion vs Shopify comparison review, I’m going to put two well-known online store builders head to head.
Read on for a discussion on their pricing, ease-of-use, pros and cons and key features — by the end of this post, you’ll have a much clearer idea about which of these ecommerce platforms is best for your business.
Let’s start with an overview of Shopify and Volusion. What are they exactly?
About Volusion and Shopify
Volusion and Shopify are website building tools that allow you to create an online store.
They work in a similar way, in that they are ‘hosted’ solutions — they run in a web browser and you don’t need to buy any hosting or install any software to use them.
This means that you can build and manage your store from anywhere, and on any suitable device — so long as you have an Internet connection.
Both are ‘software as a service‘ (SaaS) products — you pay a monthly fee to use them, and this gives you the tools to create and maintain your store, namely:
- a content management system (CMS)
- credit card processing
The basic idea behind both tools is that even if you don’t have coding or design skills, you can create an online store easily using them.
Let’s find out how the two products live up to this goal — and how they compare. First up: a look at pricing.
Shopify offers 5 pricing plans:
Lite: $9 per month
Basic Shopify: $29 per month
Shopify: $79 per month
Advanced Shopify: $299 per month
Shopify Plus: pricing varies depending on requirements, but a Shopify Plus plan usually costs around $2000 per month.
A free trial of Shopify is also available, which you can access via this link.
With Volusion, there are 4 plans to choose from:
Volusion Personal: $29 per month
Volusion Professional: $79 per month
Volusion Business: $299 per month
Volusion Prime: custom pricing, based on requirementsand turnover
Like Shopify, you can try Volusion free for 14 days.
Entry level plans
Shopify can get you selling online cheaper than Volusion via its $9 ‘Lite’ plan — this is $20 cheaper than the $29 Volusion ‘Personal’ plan.
However, this Shopify plan doesn’t allow you to actually set up a fully functional online store but rather allows you to:
sell on Facebook
sell on existing websites using a Shopify ‘Buy Button’ (this works in a similar way to a Paypal button, but with more sophisticated options regarding inventory syncing available)
make use of the Shopify point of sale kit (more on that shortly).
Volusion’s entry-level plan — ‘Personal’ — by contrast allows you to create a fully-fledged online store for $29 per month.
However, there are key limits to be aware of with this plan, regarding:
the revenue you can generate — it’s capped at $50k per year
- the number of products you can sell — this is capped at 100 items.
By contrast, no sales or product limits apply on any of the Shopify plans (the Shopify Lite plan does however restrict support to email or live chat only).
In addition to charging you a monthly fee to use their software, some online store solutions take a cut of each of your transactions.
One key advantage of using Volusion over Shopify is the complete lack of transaction fees on any of its plans.
With Shopify, you can only avoid transaction fees on all its plans if you are happy to use Shopify’s own payment processing option, Shopify Payments.
Doing so is a good idea as not only does it let you avoid these fees, but also provides you with access to multicurrency selling (more on this later).
However, the catch is that Shopify Payments is only available to users selling from certain countries, namely:
United States of America (not available to US territories except Puerto Rico).
Shopify users based in countries not included on the above list can make use of a wide range of third-party payment processors; but if you use one, transaction fees will apply (2% on ‘Lite’ and ‘Basic’ plans, 1% on ‘Shopify’ and 0.5% on ‘Advanced’).
design your store using a range of pre-existing templates
create catalogues of products
manage your store using a CMS (content management system)
optimise your products for search
accept online payments via a range of payment gateways.
Let’s zoom in on a few key features, and see how they compare against each other.
Both Shopify and Volusion offer a wide range of templates, all professional in look and feel. They are responsive too, meaning that they will automatically resize themselves to suit the device your store is being viewed on (desktop, mobile, tablet etc.)
In terms of quality, the Volusion and Shopify themes are all of a high standard and I wouldn’t have any particular reservations about using any of the themes I’ve encountered from both companies as a starting point when designing an online store.
What about quantity though? Well, when it comes to free templates — Volusion offers you 11 free ones to Shopify’s 15.
However, you should note that some of the Shopify free templates — 9 of them, in fact – are effectively ‘legacy’ templates that don’t support its new ‘Online Store 2.0’ drag-and-drop editing system. So in my view the ‘real’ number of free templates available for Shopify is actually 6.
As for paid-for themes, Shopify gives you more to choose from: its theme store contains 74 paid-for themes (of which 68 support the new drag-and-drop editor), to Volusion’s 34.
Finding the right template
The Shopify theme store is set up in a way which makes it easier to find the right template for your online store: you can browse using a wide range of filters, including price, style, industry and more. By contrast, Volusion doesn’t provide any filters at all (other than tabs which let you chose between free and paid-for).
Overall, Shopify gives you more choice when it comes to templates — both in terms of the number available and the way you can pick one.
Types of products you can sell
Something that’s really important to consider in the Volusion vs Shopify debate is the types of products you can sell.
With Shopify, you can sell whatever you like — physical products, digital products, subscriptions or services (in the case of some of these you’ll need to add an app to proceedings — but this isn’t particularly complicated).
With Volusion, you’re pretty much restricted to selling physical goods — remarkably, you can’t sell downloadable products. This means that for content or software creators, the better choice is definitely Shopify.
The other thing to watch out for with products in a Volusion vs Shopify debate is quantity: whereas with Shopify, you can sell an unlimited number of them on any plan, Volusion caps your product inventory size at 100 items on its ‘Personal’ plan and 5,000 on its ‘Professional’ plan (the other plans don’t apply any limits, however).
So as with templates, when it comes to products, it’s another win for Shopify.
But how can people pay for these products?
Both Shopify and Volusion integrate with various ‘payment gateways’ — third party tools that process credit cards on your behalf.
However, you can use considerably more payment gateways with Shopify — over 100 to just 8 with Volusion (to be fair to Volusion however, the big-hitters like PayPal, Stripe and WorldPay are all catered for in this selection).
Both tools come with an ‘out of the box’ payments solution too: ‘Shopify Payments’ and ‘Volusion Payments’.
Shopify Payments, as mentioned above, can be used by merchants based in 17 countries. Volusion Payments is only available to merchants in one country however — the USA.
All this means that when it comes to the payment gateway department, the hands-down winner is Shopify.
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Apps allow you to bolt on a lot of additional functionality to an online store, and integrate third party web applications with it.
Both Volusion and Shopify have app stores, but Shopify users can benefit from a much wider range of apps than Volusion ones: there are around 7,000 Shopify apps available that you can integrate with your store, but only around 80 apps for Volusion.
Although Volusion’s apps do provide integrations with quite a few key business tools (for example Mailchimp, Quickbooks and Xero), the reality is that Shopify users will benefit from a significantly larger number of options when it comes to apps.
Now, let’s take a look at apps and integrations.
Key alternatives to Volusion and Shopify — Squarespace and BigCommerce
Volusion and Shopify are two of the best-known ecommerce solutions, but there are alternatives available.
One such product is Squarespace, which comes with more bundled templates than Shopify and Volusion, excellent blogging and gallery features and the ability to host a pay-to-access members’ area.
Shopify has the edge over Squarespace when it comes to general ecommerce features, but Squarespace is the more flexible tool when it comes creating content and laying it out. You can learn more about Squarespace here.
Another tool worth checking out is BigCommerce — which is a much more powerful tool than Volusion, and offers quite a lot of built-in features that you can’t avail of in Shopify without resorting to an app.
Dropshipping in Volusion vs Shopify
Many potential users of Volusion and Shopify will want to know how well it handles dropshipping.
Dropshipping is a method of selling products where you don’t keep the actual products in stock. Instead, you take an order, pass it onto a supplier, and they deliver the goods to your customer.
A lot of people are attracted to this way of selling products because you don’t need much capital to start up your business; the down side is that competition in the dropshipping marketplace is fierce, and sourcing products that are made ethically by reliable suppliers can be a challenge.
If dropshipping is what you want to do then — as with much else discussed in this review — you’ll find that the options are considerably more extensive in Shopify.
There are loads of apps available for Shopify to facilitate highly automated dropshipping (429 at time of writing), but with Volusion, there are just two available: Doba and Kole Imports.
The Shopify dropshipping starter kit
If you’re interested in dropshipping, I’d recommend that you take a look at Shopify’s dropshipping starter kit — with this, you get 14 days of free access to Shopify plus lots of bundled resources and tools that show you how to launch a successful dropshipping Shopify store.
Point of Sale options
Shopify facilitates Point of Sale (POS) transactions — in other words, you can do business in the real world (selling goods in a retail outlet, pop-up store or event) use these platforms to both accept payment and sync inventory.
You can buy POS hardware directly from Shopify to faciliate point of sale transactions — this includes a barcode scanner, a receipt printer, a till and a label printer.
All these allow your Shopify store to become more than just an ‘virtual’ entity; it can double up as a tool for running a business in the ‘real’ world too. All your customer and order data is synced with Shopify, so everything to do with sales and inventory is kept neat and tidy.
You can use POS on any Shopify plan (using an app and a card reader provided by Shopify), but it’s worth noting that if you want to access the full range of POS functionality you will need to purchase a ‘POS Pro’ add-on, which costs a not insignificant $89 per month.
Doing so lets you:
- work with an unlimited number of retail staff
- facilitate ‘buy online, collect in store’ services
- facilitate product exchanges
- provide custom printed receipts
- create purchase orders
- define staff roles and permissions
- attribute sales to particular staff members (i.e., for commission / performance-analysis purposes).
POS functionality is also available in Volusion. However, it’s nowhere near as ‘baked in’ — there’s no POS hardware store, it’s quite fiddly to set up, and in terms of peripherals, you’re basically limited to using a scanner when selling (or entering a UPC — Universal Product Code — manually into the Volusion interface).
So for now, in the POS department, the clear winner is Shopify.
You tend to get more sales from an online store if you sell in the currency used by your site visitors.
So, if you’re selling in multiple countries, it’s good to be able to let your potential customers choose their own currency (or, better still, to present your products in your site visitors’ currency automatically).
As things stand, Volusion lets you display your product prices in multiple currencies, but it doesn’t facilitate checkout in them (i.e., when a user goes to pay for their products, they’ll see the store’s default currency again, which might differ from their local one). Additionally, you need to add HTML tags to your store’s theme to enable multi-currency selling, which won’t suit users without any HTML coding experience.
The built-in Shopify multi-currency functionality is much more sophisticated. You can use the ‘Shopify Markets’ feature to define selling areas (based on country or groups of countries) and set currencies for those areas. It’s really easy to use and works really well.
If there was one improvement I’d like to see made to the ‘Shopify Markets’ feature it would be the addition of fully automatic currency conversion; as things stand, users who are not using the default currency for your store are prompted to switch to their local one via a pop-up box.
(Fully automatic conversion like this is only available on the Shopify Plus plan, or via the installation of a third-party app).
But the bottom line is: if you need to sell in multiple currencies, then the better option is, again, Shopify.
Adding a blog to a Volusion or Shopify store
Shopify offers an extremely important feature out of the box that is missing from Volusion: a blogging tool.
You might not immediately think that a blog should be a key part of an online store, but in this day and age of content marketing and inbound marketing, the posting of quality blog content is absolutely essential to increasing traffic to a site (and by extension, to generating product sales).
That said, the Shopify blog is fairly basic — if you want to do advanced post categorisation and tagging, autosave features or an archive of older versions of posts, you might be better off with a third-party blogging platform such as WordPress.
But the majority of merchants will be able to make do perfectly well with a Shopify blog, so for me this gives Shopify yet another edge over Volusion.
How to save on Shopify
If you’re interested in using Shopify, you can save considerably on your subscription if you purchase your plan in a particular way. Here’s how:
- Start a trial using this link.
- When your trial is over, choose an annual or bi-annual plan. This gives you a 10% or 20% reduction in fees respectively.
Both Volusion and Shopify take a similar approach to their interfaces — you see a menu of options on on the left which allows you to access features or content on the right. They are both pretty straightforward to use.
One edge in the interface department that Volusion arguably has over Shopify is its drag-and-drop style editor; this lets you add and move blocks around pages (for most page types, Shopify still makes use of a WYSIWYG editor)
In my view however, overall Shopify has got a more intuitive interface than Volusion — it’s cleaner, more functional and more robust — and when testing these two products against each other, I’ve always found that putting a simple store together tends to be much quicker in Shopify than in Volusion.
The below tutorial video gives a walkthrough of key aspects of the Shopify interface.
Product options and variants
One area where Volusion has a bit of an edge over Shopify involves product options and variants.
Whereas in Volusion, you can create as many of these as you need, Shopify rather oddly places a restriction of 3 on product options (i.e., size, color, style etc.) and 100 on product variants (small / medium / large) etc.
Now, this limit can be lifted if you are happy to use an app from Shopify’s app store (there are quite a few available that let you use as many product options and variants as you like).
But this will usually involve an extra cost, which isn’t ideal.
Email marketing tools
Online store builders are increasingly striving to become ‘all-in-one’ platforms that let you not only sell products online but market them too.
To this end, Shopify recently introduced email marketing features (via its ‘Shopify Email’ feature). This allows you to create e-newsletters within the Shopify interface, lets you segment your mailing list and even send automated campaigns.
It’s cheap too — you can send up to 10,000 emails per month for free using Shopify Email; a fee of just $0.001 applies to every email you send over this limit (meaning that sending an additional 1,000 emails would cost you just $1).
There isn’t really an equivalent feature for Volusion — you’ll need to resort to a separate email marketing app like Mailchimp or GetResponse instead (which whilst giving you additional marketing features, will also increase your costs).
So as things stand, when it comes to email marketing, it’s a clear win for Shopify.
Now, let’s take a look at search engine optimization.
SEO tools in Volusion vs Shopify
Shopifys allow you to extensively tweak key SEO settings, including page title, URL, alt text, meta descriptions, 301 redirects etc. — all the stuff you’d expect to be able to change without any difficulty in a professional ecommerce solution.
When testing Volusion, I was able to do most of that for my home page, but couldn’t find a way to do this for other static pages on my store. I was able to change this information for individual products, however — but not as easily as in Shopify.
Shopify handles 301 redirects better than Volusion too, by creating them automatically for you every time you change a URL (or prompting you to do so); in Volusion it’s a case of going into a redirect management page and doing things manually.
To be fair to Volusion, the latter approach is how many other online store builders handle redirects, but Shopify’s approach is better and is safer from an SEO point of view.
Accelerated Mobile Pages format (AMP) is a Google-backed project which aims to speed up the delivery of pages on mobile devices (by stripping out unnecessary code from the pages).
SEO experts believe that AMP can bring some SEO benefits, as faster loading pages are given preference by Google, and people stay longer on faster-loading pages (thus increasing ‘dwell time’, which is also believed to help improve search rankings).
Whilst you can use AMP easily enough in Shopify (through the installation of a third party app), this functionality does not yet seem to be available with Volusion.
GDPR compliance in Shopify and Volusion
Please note: I’m not a lawyer, so this section should not be interpreted as formal legal advice.
With the introduction of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) laws by the EU last year, website owners now have to meet quite a lot of new requirements when it comes to data protection and privacy.
Whilst you can have confidence that Shopify and Volusion are meeting those requirements internally — keeping transactions and data secure etc. — you as a customer will still have to do several things on your store to ensure you’re not in breach of GDPR rules.
Specifically, you’ll need to
create a cookies banner that allows users to consent to cookies BEFORE they are run, and logs that consent
provide a means for users to revoke consent to cookie usage after they’ve run that cookie
Whilst it is easy enough to put together the relevant documentation (either using templates or a lawyer), and display it on your site, it can be hard to meet the requirements around cookie banners and cookie consent.
Yet again, Shopify has an edge here, because there are quite a lot of GDPR apps available in its app store (note: some are considerably better than others!), whereas there don’t seem to be any available for Volusion.
Userbases and history
There are two important ‘due dilligence’ questions to ask yourself when investing in any hosted ecommerce or website building solutions:
How many people actually use this product?
How long has it been in existence?
The answers to these questions are important, because they let you know how much you can ‘trust’ the solution you’re considering using – for example, a relatively new company with only a few users on their books is more likely to go bust or shut down their service, with serious consequences for your online store.
Builtwith reports that there are currently around 8,600 websites built with Volusion; this is dwarfed by the 3.9 million Shopify stores in existence.
Shopify is a newer kid on the block than Volusion; whereas Volusion has been around since 1999, Shopify opened its doors for business in 2006.
This puts the userbase and sales figures into context: Shopify has grown its business more quickly in a significantly shorter period of time, to the point where its userbase and sales have completely eclipsed the corresponding Volusion figures.
Ultimately you’ll need to draw your own conclusions from these numbers, but for me they point to Shopify being a safer bet than Volusion over the next few years: obviously, a bigger userbase reduces the risk of the company going out of business, taking your store with it (as was the case of Magento Go a few years ago).
Volusion offers online support on all plans, but phone support is only available on its $79 ‘Plus’ plan and higher. Shopify’s phone support is available on its $29 ‘Basic’ plan and up.
Unlike with some competing products, it’s easy enough to access Volusion’s phone support team: when logged into your Volusion Dashboard, you simply click the help icon and then a ‘schedule call’ option.
Accessing phone Shopify’s phone support service involves a slightly fiddlier process: you have to search for a solution to your problem and fail to find one before you can access phone support details (as with Volusion, a callback system is in operation).
In addition to phone support, both Volusion and Shopify provide ‘help centers’ that you can use to search for and access support materials.
However, because there are two distinct versions of Volusion currently in circulation — V1 and V2 — it’s easy to end up on the wrong help site, accessing the wrong materials, and getting quite confused.
Volusion vs Shopify: conclusion
Overall, Shopify is the hands-down winner in a Volusion vs Shopify shootout. There are many reasons for this, but if I had to highlight a few key ones I’d mention the following: Shopify provides a wider range of templates, comes with a sophisticated point of sale system, facilitates multi-currency selling and has blogging functionality included. It’s also considerably easier to use.
The vast disparity in the size of userbases is also something to think about: personally I’d feel nervous about building a store on a platform like Volusion which, if Builtwith’s statistics are correct, has just 8,600 users.
The only area where I feel Volusion outperforms Shopify in a significant way is where product options / variants are concerned — there’s no hard limit to worry about, whereas Shopify limits options to 3 and variants to 100 (limits which can be removed via an app).
But in general, it’s hard not to conclude that Shopify is the much stronger and better value platform.
To sum up, here are the key reasons why you might use one of these platforms over the other:
Reasons to use Shopify over Volusion
- You can sell pretty much anything you like with Shopify (digital products, subscriptions, services etc.); Volusion essentially limits you to selling physical products.
There are more themes to choose from with Shopify, and its paid-for themes are cheaper than the Volusion equivalents.
You can sell in multiple currencies with Shopify.
Blogging functionality is built in — this is not the case in Volusion.
A much wider selection of payment gateways is available in Shopify.
Built in email marketing is included.
A significantly wider selection of apps and integrations is availablefor Shopify.
Point-of-sale functionality is available on Shopify — but not on Volusion.
- Shopify’s dropshipping capabilities are much stronger.
- SEO features are stronger in Shopify.
Abandoned cart functionality is available on the $29 Shopify plan; you’ll need to be on a $79+ plan to avail of this important feature with Volusion.
You can use AMP easily with Shopify; but not with Volusion.
There are no sales limits on any Shopify plans.
Shopify has a much larger userbase — which makes it a safer bet for your business (i.e., Shopify is much less likely to go bust, taking your store with it).
Reasons to use Volusion over Shopify
There are no transaction fees on any plans, regardless of payment gateway used.
There are no product option or variant limits to worry about.
Alternatives to Volusion and Shopify
For me the obvious alternative to either Volusion or Shopify is BigCommerce — it’s got a similar feature set to Shopify, and it some of its features are stronger (for example, its multi-currency selling functionality and its abandoned cart recovery tool). You can check out our BigCommerce review here.
Squarespace is definitely also worth a look — it’s not quite as good as Shopify in the ecommerce department but its interface is really great, and its website building features are stronger. Check out our Squarespace review, our Squarespace pricing guide, our Squarespace trial guide or our Shopify vs Squarespace comparison for more information on the platform.
For a competitively priced option, there’s Wix. While yet as sophisticated from an ecommerce point of view as Shopify, it’s a good all-rounder that gives you a lot of bang for your buck. You can learn more about Wix here or read our Wix vs Shopify comparison here.
For ultimate flexibility in terms of design and flexibility, look at self-hosted WordPress. This can be harder than some solutions to configure, but gives you a lot of control over how your site looks and how your ecommerce setup functions. Check out our WordPress vs Shopify and Wix vs WordPress posts for more details on how it stacks up against popular hosted website builders.
And finally, there’s always existing online marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon. Selling on these platforms is quite different from using a site builder like Volusion or Shopify to host an online store; but thanks to their massive customer bases, it can be a very lucrative option (when done correctly). Check out our Shopify vs Etsy shootout and our Shopify vs Amazon comparison for more information on this way of selling.
Any thoughts on Shopify vs Volusion?
I hope you’ve found our Shopify vs Volusion comparison helpful! If you’ve used either Shopify or Volusion (or both!) in the past, I’d love to hear your thoughts on both — feel free to your add comments or questions below. We read all comments and do our best to reply to any queries you may have.
How we tested these products
We tested these products out via independent research and, more importantly, hands-on experience of them.
We regularly help clients build online stores, and have extensive knowledge of how both the Shopify and Volusion platforms work. So this comparison is based on building Shopify and Volusion stores from scratch; editing existing ones; and using a wide variety of apps to configure them.
To find out more about the criteria we typically use when testing ecommerce products, you might like to check out our ecommerce platforms buyer’s guide — this contains a list of the factors we typically look at when evaluating online store builders.