Shopify and Volusion are both popular webstore platforms for eCommerce entrepreneurs. With similarly low entry points and relative ease of use, they are both good fits for eCommerce newbies and even experienced merchants.
When you’re doing your analysis to pick an eCommerce platform, you’re likely to end up thinking “Shopify vs Volusion”, and because these products are so similar, it can be hard to decide.
This post will go through the similarities and differences to help you decide.
Shopify & Volusion Similarities
Shopify and Volusion are similar in many ways, and its important to recognize those similarities before diving into how they are different. (If you don’t care, though, you can skip this section.)
Basic eCommerce Functionality
Both Shopify and Volusion give you the basic eCommerce functionality you require to run an eTail business. This one should be a given, but some platforms don’t even meet these standards. I’m talking about the ability to:
- Create and manage products for your store
- Track and manage inventory
- Maintain basic customer data
- Apply pre-built or custom site design templates
- Use basic marketing enhancements to get your name out
There are obviously differences in how these work in each platform, but they exist.
Shopify and Volusion are both software-as-a-service (SaaS) eCommerce platforms. In other words, they are hosted in the cloud, so you don’t have to secure and maintain infrastructure.
Nowadays most new eCommerce platforms are SaaS, but there are still some big ones on the market which aren’t (Magento and Woocommerce come to mind). The argument could be made that going SaaS is best for everyone, but it’s especially helpful for the eCommerce novice who may not have the technical know-how to manage or purchase infrastructure.
The price points are different, and the functionality available at each price point is also different, but for the most part Shopify and Volusion are quite comparable. If you’re looking for an “under $150/month” solution, either can (and probably would) be on your list.
One difference worth noting is the entry point to get a site live. You can’t actually create a live webstore with Shopify’s cheapest plan (only a Facebook store), so the entry point is really $29/month. You can get a live, albeit limited, webstore for $15/month on Volusion.
This is a small difference in the big scheme of things, but could make a difference if you’re in experimentation mode or you have to really pinch pennies.
Shopify & Volusion Differences
Now, this is where we split hairs. These are the issues you should consider to make a decision between Shopify and Volusion.
There are clear differences with user adoption across Shopify and Volusion, and they might be painting an important picture of the future.
However, the trends are important to acknowledge. Over the last year, Volusion’s adoption is down about 8% while Shopify’s is up almost 50%. It’s also worth noting that Volusion is one of the top three platforms that merchants are abandoning for Shopify.
Take BuiltWith statistics with a grain of salt. They are estimated values. All the same, the trends are clear.
While all the basic functionality exists in both platforms, their administrative user interfaces are quite different.
Shopify’s interface is clean and modern. It’s very easy to use. It’s very responsive–very few page refreshes or long running operations. The ones that do take a long time (e.g. deleting a whole bunch of products at once) run asynchronously so you don’t have to wait. It’s what you would expect from an industry-leading SaaS platform.
Volusion’s interface, while functional, is less attractive. It’s much busier and just generally less elegant. However, part of this is that Volusion exposes quite a bit more functionality, right out of the box. For more advanced users, this might be a big plus.
Product data management is an important part of running an eCommerce business. How you attribute and list your products on your site has a huge impact on your sales. Don’t overlook the importance well attributed product data.
Shopify does give you the ability to add some attribute data to your products. You can set specific values for the SEO meta fields (e.g. SEO description) for the product pages. You can add products to collections, which are reflected on the site.
But, without any plugins that extend functionality, Shopify’s product management capabilities are much less robust than Volusion’s.
Right out of the box, Volusion gives you some pretty nice product management features, like:
- The ability to set up hierarchal category structures for products
- A much richer set of product attributes (probably a lot you’ll never need)
- Attributes integrated with systems like Google Products and Yahoo! Shopping
- Integrated QuickBooks data integration
- The ability to attach YouTube videos to products
- Specific fulfillment and shipping information
There’s a whole bunch more, too. This can be a plus for Volusion, but it’s also just paradigmatically different from how Shopify works–the plugin model…
Both Shopify and Volusion have app marketplaces for you to enhance each platform with additional functionality. But, this is functionality where Shopify really sets itself apart.
Volusion’s app marketplace is still in beta, and the list of apps just isn’t that long. As far as I can tell there are less than 100 listed on the marketplace in total. Most of them are integrations to less-than-recognizable platforms, too.
Shopify’s app store, on the other hand, touts over 1000 different apps. They integrate to all sorts of platforms, big and small. Others enhance the functionality that Shopify already provides. It’s just clearly a more usable, more mature marketplace.
I believe this is the case intentionally though. (And, this is just my observation.)
Volusion exposes quite a bit more functionality out of the box, throughout the platform. Just clicking through the administrative interface, you can see there are far more configurations and tweaks you can make. Compare that to Shopify, which has a simpler interface, but a giant marketplace of add-ons.
This is just a strategic difference. Shopify prefers to rely on the ecosystem to enhance its product to specific use cases, while Volusion tries to build them into the platform. I’m personally in favor of the first (Shopify’s) approach, but you could make an argument for Volusion’s approach as well.
Again, these are just my thoughts on a fundamental difference between these platforms.
The way Shopify and Volusion approach enterprise is much different, as well. This isn’t important for a small vendor who plans to remain small. But, if you’ve got growth aspirations or you’ve already grown, you need to be thinking about enterprise technology sooner than later.
Shopify Plus is their enterprise offering. It looks a lot like Shopify, only they provide more enterprise friendly enhancements:
- Larger API call limits, bandwidth thresholds, etc.
- Better caching and website performance
- Dedicated account management
- Even a subset of the app marketplace, specifically designed for Shopify Plus
It’s just a bigger, better version of Shopify. And, they are carrying some big names like Strava and the L.A. Lakers.
Volusion doesn’t have an enterprise version, per se.
The company provides a different platform entirely, called Mozu, for the enterprise. It’s a totally separate product, built by the same company.
We’re not reviewing Mozu in this post, so I’ll leave it to you to find the details. But, the fact that Volusion raised $55 million this year to mostly invest in Mozu is worth noting.
Take Your Pick
I wouldn’t say that one platform stands head and shoulders above the other, but unless you’ve got specific reasons otherwise, I would generally recommend Shopify.
It’s hard to argue with their inertia, the growing ecosystem of users and developers, the app marketplace, and the general direction of the company. Volusion is a viable solution, but if you’ve got growth plans, you’ll hit the ceiling than you will with Shopify.
What do you think?
While we’re on the topic of technology evaluation, check out our Multichannel Implementer’s Guide, which takes you through how to evaluate POS systems, ERPs, and of course, eCommerce platforms. It includes detailed analysis from our industry-expert CEO. It’s worth your time to read it. I promise.