Bigcommerce vs Volusion

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 and Bigcommerce both offer four plans.

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: $199.95 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 provides 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, $125k on its 'Plus' plan and $1m on its Pro plan) - exceed these and you'll have to upgrade to a more expensive monthly plan.

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.

Templates

With the introduction of 'Bigcommerce Next', Bigcommerce themes have become attractive and contemporary

The free templates that Volusion and Bigcommerce provide are pretty good, but Volusion offers significantly more free templates than Bigcommerce: 13 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 a bit cheeky to label them as individual templates - it's more a case of different colours being applied to the same template. As such I think it's a win for Volusion here.

Both companies also provide a  range of fancier-looking paid-for templates. Volusion's offer 27 paid themes - 10 for $50 and 17 for $180. Bigcommerce offer 80, 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 it's a bit misleading. 

Overall, I'd say it's a bit of a win for Volusion in the template department: there are more templates available and the paid ones are generally cheaper than the Bigcommerce equivalents.

Mobile storefronts and smartphone apps

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

Volusion also provides iOS and Android apps for managing aspects of your store on the go. Oddly, Bigcommerce used to provide one too, but it's no longer available. Bigcommerce do 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.

Features

Basic features

Both Bigcommerce and Volusion allow you to do all the basics when it comes to setting up an online store:

  • 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.

Marketing

Both products offer a good range of marketing features including discount coupons, Facebook storefronts and banners. Volusion arguably goes further with the 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).

Abandoned carts

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 (how very dare they). 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 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

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).

The Volusion CMS is unnecessarily complicated. The above screen - click to enlarge - is what the user sees when they try to edit the content on their site. ASP file anyone?

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.

To be fair, a lot of support materials - including several 'getting started' videos - are provided by Volusion, and there is phone and chat support available if you get stuck. My problem with the CMS however is that many people will get stuck rather too quickly.

Ultimately, I suspect 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.

Support

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 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 bandwith.
  • 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, $125k and $1m on their 'Standard', 'Plus' and 'Pro' plans respectively.
  • Volusion has a better selection of free templates.
  • Volusion's paid templates are, in general, cheaper than the Bigcommerce paid templates (although there are less of them).
  • 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.

Free trials

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

Feel free to add your own thoughts on Bigcommerce vs Volusion 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.

Alternatives to Bigcommerce and Volusion

For me one of the best 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.

See also

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