Setting up an online store is far easy and more affordable than setting up a traditional brick-and-mortar store. For starters, it is far more convenient for your customers because not only can they shop from the comfort of their homes, but they can also shop and buy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Better still, a comprehensive solution like that offered by Volusion can have your e-commerce store set up in a matter of minutes, including populating the site with all your products, creating an attractive website, and processing the payments. Basically, clearing through your user cycle straight to delivering the purchased products–physical or digital–to your customers.
It’s not enough to simply have a generic e-store on the Internet. You need to “build a superior ecommerce website” and Volusion provides you with tools that make “creating an online store easier than ever.”
- Free, ready-to-use templates
- vZoom image viewer
- Unlimited product options
- Product comparisons
- Integrated one-page checkout
- Deal of the Day feature
- Integration with your eBay Store
- Coupons and discounts
- Real-time customer reviews and feedback
- Social and mobile
- Volusion CDN
Hundreds of Templates: Everything about Volusion is meant to be comprehensive and reasonably easy to use. This starts with the design of your online store. There are over 300 different templates offered by Volusion, many of which are free. These are pre-designed and optimized to work as e-commerce stores, allowing for product galleries, feature images, product listings and more. Available styles include boutique, modern, and seasonal, as well as ones targeted at different industries like apparel, business, food & beverage, and pet products.
Comprehensive Solution: This is a one-stop shop for someone who wants to set up an online shop! Included in the pricing with a Volusion plan is not only the templates and mobile commerce support, but it also comes with best in class hosting technology, complete with 100% redundancy for the hardware, systems, applications and data. Your site will never go down, so your customers will always have access to buying your products and services. They offer a 99.9% uptime guarantee and there is the Volusion CDN, powered by Akamai, that makes your website load faster. This content delivery network has tens of thousands of servers around the world, making sure customers connect to the server that’s closest to them. The fully PCI Certified solution provide a very high level of security as well.
E-Commerce Tools: It’s not enough to simply list a series of products on a website and take customer payments, though those two features are clearly very important. Volusion truly is a “business in a box,” in that it has the full range of tools needed to run an online store. There are utilities for processing orders and handling recurring billing, as well as managing returns and RMAs. There is a complete CRM (customer relationship management) utility, making it easier to handle customer information. There is inventory control, vendor management, receiving, and product key distribution too.
Daily Deals: With the rising popularity of sites like Groupon and Living Social, online shoppers are constantly on the lookout for the best possible sales on the products and services that they desire. Taking that fundamental business model, you can also offer and manage daily deals on your Volusion-powered online store. By offering daily deals, you offer an incentive for customers to revisit your website every day, checking to see what is the deal of the day. These return visitors are more likely to buy more products from you and, thus, you are more likely to earn more revenue and make more sales.
Free to Try: It can be quite challenging to sign up for a service virtually sight unseen. That’s why Volusion allows you to try it for free. This gives you full access to the full admin dashboard, including access to all the site templates and e-commerce tools available. This gives you a better understanding of what is being offered to you with the various utilities, reports, functions and features. Only when you choose to “activate” your store and make it live on the Internet do you have to pay for anything. It’s like taking this e-commerce engine out for a test drive with no obligation and no strings attached.
Robust Reporting: Key to a successful online business is having the right statistics and the right information. Volusion has extensive reports that can help you zero in on the products and categories that are being the most successful, based on the day, the week, or the month. You can also look at how your orders are growing over time, as well as track your ROI and look at the performance of your affiliates. Yes, Volusion includes affiliate support too.
Facebook Social Store: Not everyone is going to visit every online shop on the Internet, but an increasing number of people are spending an increasing amount of time on the world’s most popular social network. There is a feature in Volusion called Social Store that lets you list your products directly on your Facebook page, running promotions and generating sales. Customers can view and purchase your products instantly from within Facebook. Volusion also lets you post directly to Facebook and Twitter, as well as manage YouTube videos. A mobile-optimized version of your online store is automatically generated to help encourage purchases from potential customers on smartphones and tablets too.
- Editing site design requires manual code editing
- Beginner “Steel” plan only includes 100 products and 1GB of monthly bandwidth
- Admin dashboard can be very overwhelming for novices
- May be difficult to migrate to other service providers
- Must manually enter different tax settings individually
- No PayPal or Google Checkout support for payment gateway
The Bottom Line
The available website designs from Volusion are quite varied and, for the most part, they are also visually appealing and incredibly functional. Uploading multiple product images is easy and you are able to manage multiple tax rates and shipping fees. It is unfortunate that there is no support for a more widely used payment processor like PayPal, but Volusion does have its own merchant services by way of Authorizenet, plus support for Skrill (Moneybookers).
There are other easier site editors on the Internet that allow for a drag-and-drop interface, but that’s not the case with Volusion as you will need to edit the code manually. Even so, the default designs are usually perfectly functional and you have access to a full suite of e-commerce tools on the backend to manage inventory, customers, orders, marketing, and more. Plans start at just $19/month and are completely comprehensive, including support, mobile commerce, web hosting, ratings and reviews. You will need to upgrade to at least the Gold ($99/month) package for eBay integration and API access, however.
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Erez is an experienced web designer and also the founder of website-builder.com. He writes for dizyne.net and IM Now.