Practical Ecommerce

Cart of the Week: Volusion

Practical eCommerce counts over 300 different shopping cart platforms. In this, our “Cart of the Week” feature, we’ll profile—but not evaluate—a specific shopping cart and ask its management about strengths and weaknesses. We’ll then ask a customer about the cart, too.

Volusion is a hosted shopping cart that costs $29.95 to $197.00 or more each month.

This week, we asked Clay Olivier, COO at Volusion about his company’s hosted shopping cart platform. We also asked a Volusion customer, Julie Mikolajewski, who is the web and marketing coordinator at Marquette University’s Spirit Shop, for her thoughts about the cart.

Based in Simi Valley, Calif., Volusion has been in business since 1999 and has over 10,000 active merchants using its software, including world-famous businesses like Disney, Pez, and Crutchfield as well as small family operations. Volusion even powered President-elect Obama’s campaign store. Recently, the Inc. 500 named Volusion the fifth fastest growing software company in 2008.

For small or medium sized retailers, Volusion uses a tiered pricing structure based on the number of products on a store’s digital shelves. If your store carries 20 products, you’d pay $29.95. At 100 products, your monthly total would be $49.95. To post an unlimited number of products, you’d pay $197.00 each month for Volusion’s Platinum Plan. Larger businesses can purchase tailored solutions, but will need to request a price quote.

Clay Olivier, COO at Volusion

PeC: Describe Volusion’s greatest strengths.

Olivier: We are constantly adding new features and functionality and a great strength is having a team that can meet our client’s needs, which has helped us to become an industry leading ecommerce solution. Our developers work around the clock to design and implement new features, based largely on requests from the people that know what’s needed most- our clients. We also have an extremely scalable solution, so a business can grow and expand with ease. Also in regards to ease, we’ve created an easy to build and easy to use solution. Our clients can take care of their business, rather than worrying about their business being taken care of.

PeC: Describe Volusion’s greatest weaknesses.

Olivier: That’s a tough one. It’s a nice feeling to not have anything come to mind when asked that question. If I had to state a weakness, I would say that it would be not having enough time to implement every feature that is requested. We’ve been growing at such a tremendous rate, so the main features and functionality that are most important are our major goal while some smaller features that only a handful of store owners want takes more time to implement.

PeC: Explain any plans you have for future shopping cart development.

Olivier: The latest version of our solution will include new features, new functionality and new third party integrations. Most recently we released Social Store Builder, which lets clients sell online directly from their MySpace or Facebook profiles and we also released vZoom, which lets client’s customer’s scroll over images to instantly see enlarged product images. We’ve also begun work on a new mobile platform.

PeC: What are the top three reasons an online merchant should pick your solution?

Olivier: If I had to name three, I’d say features, support and the fact that it’s an all in one solution. Volusion offers more features and functionality than any other shopping cart on the market. Our solution includes hundreds of built-in features, like complete SEO optimization, top marketing tools, product features, and the list goes on. Whether you’re selling dog clothes or running for president, we have you covered. We also have free live support, available at all times. When you have an issue that needs to be addressed, you’ll talk to a live person based in-house at either one of our U.S. offices. In June 2008, we won The Stevies for Best Customer Service Team. Another top reason is the fact that we offer an all in one solution. Everything the client needs from marketing tools to shipping integrations is located in their ecommerce solution, which includes a website and built in shopping cart. We designed the solution to be easy for the client to setup, and once it’s set up, it’s easier for the client to manage their entire online business from a single location.

PeC: Is there anything else you want our readers to know about the Volusion shopping cart?

Olivier: Volusion has received some great awards this year. Online merchants picked Volusion over industry giant Yahoo! Small Business for the second year running, when we beat over 300 available shopping carts to win the 2008 Small Business Computing Excellence in Technology Award for “Best Ecommerce Storefront.”

Julie Mikolajewski, web and marketing coordinator, Marquette Spirit Shop

From a Customer’s Perspective

Julie Mikolajewski, web and marketing coordinator, Marquette Spirit Shop.

PeC: Why did you choose the Volusion solution and how long have you been using Volusion?

Mikolajewski: Marquette Spirit Shop began using Volusion’s Platinum Plan in 2006. When researching ecommerce solutions, I looked into what other colleges and universities were using for their sites. Through that research, I found Volusion.

PeC: Describe the Volusion’s greatest strengths.

Mikolajewski: We needed to be completely integrated from processing and charging orders to inventory management and marketing and shipping. Volusion was able to cover all these areas in a simple, easy to use way.

PeC: Describe Volusion’s weaknesses.

Mikolajewski: The only weakness I can think of is generating certain reports easily. It can take some time to create specific reports.

PeC: Is there anything else you think our readers should know about Volusion?

Mikolajewski: Outside the greater Milwaukee/Chicago area, it is very hard to find Marquette clothing and gifts. We wanted to reach out to MU alumni and fans across the U.S. Volusion allows us to reach out to those fans coast to coast. We also wanted to be able to provide more Marquette clothing and gifts to MU alumni and fans. With Volusion we are able to put up an unlimited amount of items. When we started our Volusion website in 2006 one of our goals was to be able to double the business our outsourced provided did within two years, with Volusion, we doubled it within one year.

Other Volusion Customers

Volusion Quick Facts

  • Hosted solution
  • Costs $29.95 to $197.00 or more monthly
  • More than 10,000 active customers
  • Founded in 1999
Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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Comments ( 8 )

  1. Steve Strickland December 9, 2008 Reply

    I developed for Volusion a couple of years back until I placed a larger customer with them. I had a few bad experiences I can share.

    As a hosted solution you can’t move to another host if you have serious problems. We suffered site outages at least once per week lasting up to 12 hours per incident. This went on for the entire 8 months we were on Volusion.

    Server lag would hit every 2 or 3 days. This increased cart bailouts dramatically, as much as 300%. This went on non-stop. It would take Volusion Support up to 24 hours to clear the problem.

    We had a small percentage of orders every day that never appeared in the Volusion fulfillment system. These unshipped orders created a steady stream of customer complaints.

    The ASP server they ran at that time injected illegal character encodings. We were never able to achieve W3C compliancy because of this.

    I found Volusion Support to be extremely poor at the time. Many support requests were never responded to. Many phone calls were never returned.

    Volusion doesn’t have any community support like that of some other ecommerce systems. Everyone’s asking questions in the forums and no one is answering.

    There are no third party developers. You’re stuck with whatever Volusion provides and cannot customize your store.

    Volusion uses a Microsoft database that you have no access to. This makes it difficult to integrate data across multiple applications.

    I hope that Volusion has solved some of these problems. From my perspective I would not recommend them for anything other than low volume boutique stores that don’t have much of a budget. Volusion seems to do a good job with this niche. For larger stores my personal experience is that I lost every customer I placed on Volusion, except for 1.

    Steve Strickland
    Ecommerce Retail

  2. 1stMateTech December 9, 2008 Reply

    I would agree with Steve take on Volusion. Scalability was our biggest concern.

    Also, order management is the where Volusion lacked in our research. They do SEO, Design for the Front End very well but order management and warehouse management left a lot to be desired. When we inquired about 3rd party integrations they did not have any real answers.

    I hope to see some feature releases in the future that address CRM,Fulfillment Integrations, Automated Credit Card processing and Inventory management.


  3. gpolk December 9, 2008 Reply

    The article should have mentioned the alleged low bandwidth allowances for each monthly payment package. While the actual fee isn’t posted on the website, the maximum amount for the "Bronze" package is only 2MB / month for a site that allows up to 100 items.

    You also have to be aware that one item with five different options such as color or size will actually count as "five items". There may be away around this limitation, but I don’t recall how.

    Despite the "problems" above, I think Volusion is one of the nicest packages I’ve seen for HOSTED e-commerce packages. The shopping cart looks great and the one-page check-out is very user friendly. I’ve only seen one cart that comes close so far, Pinnacle Shopping Cart.

    I hope this helps. Thanks. Greg

  4. Barney Stone December 9, 2008 Reply

    In response to Bryan’s comments, Volusion does now include full integration with the Stone Edge Order Manager ( So if you want to use Volusion but need more than they offer for managing your orders, customers, purchasing, pick-pack-ship, payment processing, etc., there is now a very affordable option available.

  5. Jan Riley December 10, 2008 Reply

    As a web marketer who promotes 3 sites that use volution, I can say that they have some serious weaknesses as well as their strengths, the biggest strength is the all in one functionality , CRM, payment integration and general ease of setting up a store, however, I run into site problems on a weekly basis. They do not allow split testing – which is the cornerstone of all conversion, I have had big problems with the system not saving changes and tech support not knowing what is going on altho in fairness I have had them help me alot too and they are available 24 hrs a day.
    the biggest gripe I have is the lack of standard needs for ecommerce like
    split testing (especially for homepage and category pages)
    ability to add a buy it now button onto the page < crazy that this is NOT available
    ability to choose what special products rotate on the homepage )
    ability to create a shorter page name < many times we need this for banners, bookmarking and such
    and other what I would think are important ecommerce functions relating to human beings, since after all they are the ones buying from the site!

  6. Michael June 17, 2009 Reply

    Sometimes I wish we could go with a canned ecom solution – but the loss of flexibility would be a killer.

    Sounds like a nice ecom package though.

  7. timhoff August 29, 2009 Reply

    I switched our company to Volusion after years of self hosting and designing, everything about them is good, UNLESS you do a lot of business online and have a lot of traffic. Firstly the max bandwidth you can sign up for is 50G after going through 200 gigs our first month and getting hit with $10 a Gig charge on top of the $200 set up cost and the $300 a month fee you can see why this would be a problem. This was also a slow month, we have used the same amount of bandwith in the last two weeks alone. They won’t or aren’t willing to offer and higher bandwidth packages so you are at the mercy of never knowing what your site will cost you on any given month.

    The second problem with their site, is that if you do a lot of shipping and we ship about 50-200 packages a day, we need any easy way to generate labels. Volusion does not integrate with UPS at all. You can export your orders to a CSV file and then import to world ship, but if you have orders coming in live all day you can’t do this all day long.

    After only two months we are in the process of switching to 3DCart, after extensive testing and very expensive lessons learned from using Volusion, 3dCart looks like a very favorable solution, and although they don’t advertise a high gig plan on their site they did tailor a plan that will give us 1000 gigs a month, allowing us not to have to worry about what our fixed costs will be monthly. Their system is fully integrated with both FedEx and UPS for easy and quick one click shipping in the admin panel right from the order without any exporting and importing.

    So if you do a lot of sale and ship alot, stay away from VOLUSION!

  8. Peter_Gogh July 24, 2013 Reply

    One of the main complaints against Volusion are their bandwidth overage fees. Other shopping carts like BigCommerce and Shopify have an unlimited bandwidth offering. What Volusion has currently are their loyal base of subscribers and features that BigCommerce and Shopify do not offer. For customer who stay with Volusion and want to keep features like e-mail marketing and abandoned shopping cart reporting, keeping track of bandwidth is something site owners could find beneficial. Services like is also a resource that people can find valuable. Volusion isn’t as bad as people are pointing it out to be.