I recently registered with Volusion to setup my own commerce store at FinchPremiums.com. I’ve been experimenting with the software for 2 weeks now, and I’m impressed at how many bases they’ve managed to cover. If you sell products – online or offline – Volusion is a powerful beast that deserves a closer look.
If nothing else, it’s certainly a step up from E-Junkie.
Volusion: The Basics
Volusion simplifies the process of running an online store. It’s branded as the definitive all-in-one ecommerce solution, boasting 24/7 support, and over 35,000 active websites currently using the software.
Volusion looks mighty fine in the presentation stakes. It’s sleek and professional. The product listings, checkout process and homepage are distinctly un-Clickbank, which is always a good thing in my book.
You can choose to install one of the many existing design templates, or hack it together yourself. I got lucky with one of the ready-made templates being a perfect match for what I was looking to achieve.
There are a number of payment gateways available; including PayPal, Google Checkout, wire transfers, electronic cheques, money orders and straight up cash (seriously, how many online stores accept a fistful of dollars these days?).
You can also apply for a merchant account to handle credit and debit card transactions in-house. While I do like the idea of a one-page checkout, I don’t hate Paypal enough to want to go through the ball ache of setting up a merchant account. Horses for courses, right?
Why I’m a Fan
Before using Volusion, I had been selling my products via a rather primitive ‘Add to Cart‘ button on your typical WordPress page. There are three features I wanted that required ugly hacks to mesh with the E-Junkie shopping cart: coupon codes, Facebook integration and an efficient affiliate program.
Coupon codes are easy to setup with Volusion. You can set as many codes as you want, and they look far less jarring than they did with E-Junkie. Previously I would be forced to ask the customer for their coupon code in a dirty text field before clicking any checkout button. This led to many customers bailing on a purchase because they couldn’t find a coupon code and didn’t want to miss out on a deal. Not a problem with Volusion.
The Volusion affiliate program is a must-have for anybody like myself who relies on word-of-mouth buzz to promote his products. Affiliates can sign up and receive a fixed % commission, or a specific payout set at the product level. If you have ‘super affiliates’, you can reward them Amazon-stylio by ramping up their commission for extra sales delivered. Very nice, very sleek and very easy to manage.
Volusion is also nicely prepared to jump on future trends. There is complete integration with Facebook, the ability to set ‘Daily Deals’, and even the option to run your own rewards scheme. Some of the more visual features, like bestselling lists and featured products, can be added in the space of about 5 seconds using the many fully customisable widgets.
I haven’t immersed myself in these features yet as I’m only selling 4 products, but they look like excellent tools for increasing sales. Arguably Volusion’s greatest selling point is how effectively it presents your products, and how easily it lets you promote them.
If you have a great idea, there’s every chance you can execute it within the hour thanks to the huge array of features Volusion packs in; many of which are likely to sit dormant for months until a sudden brainfart alerts you to their potential.
Click to enlarge.
Problems I’ve Encountered
I expect I will get to grip with the following grievances as the software becomes more familiar. But that leaves a question mark hanging over the learning curve. How long does it take to get to grip with Volusion? I think you’ll need at least a week to learn this thing inside out. Even then, you’ll still be finding new functionality hidden four menus deep.
Some problems I’ve noted:
Shipping has been behaving randomly.
Perhaps the biggest problem – one that I’m still in conversation with support over – is the tendency for some shipping emails to get lost in the shuffle. I’ve had to send several customers their purchases manually. It would be mighty foolish to expect all orders to come in through 9-5 BST, especially with customers scattered all around the world, so I’d like this to be automated and foolproof ASAP.
I’m told that the issue is now fixed. Fingers and bollocks crossed.
Too many options?
I understand the need for flexibility on an ecommerce platform, and I’m admittedly biased from the viewpoint of a guy who only wants to sling his digital products. However, the number of options to get your head around in the configuration process may prove slightly overwhelming if you’re not a numbers man.
Just to add a product to the store, there are no less than 121 fields begging for your attention. Do they all merit the inclusion? It depends what you’re selling, but I’ve left a good 80% of my options empty.
If you’re buying Volusion with the sole intention of selling digital products, there’s a lot of information to digest that will never be relevant to your business, and yet you will still need to comb over it in case you miss something important.
Volusion could perhaps benefit from a modular approach. “Will I be shipping physical products?” If the answer is no, disable these four million extra options and Finch will stop drowning his neighbour’s kittens in dismay.
So, Volusion: Worth The Investment?
I shudder to imagine how many sales I lost with E-Junkie’s clunky interface and lack of marketing features. Volusion is exactly the opposite, and I’m optimistic that it’ll make a positive impact on my bottom line.
All things considered, the price is outstanding. I’ve started on the Bronze Package which is paid for with a single sale of my Premium Posts.
You can take a 14 day trial to setup your entire store on a demo server. Throughout the process, I’ve found the support team to be highly responsive and well worth their salt with the “We’re here 24/7” claims. I’ve had answers to my questions usually within 30 minutes of submitting a ticket. And I’ve been submitting a lot of tickets.
If you like what you see, upgrading to a paid package and putting the site live is relatively pain-free. It took me 5 days to go from a completed demo site to the public launch. A little longer than I expected, but worth it in the end.
I recommend taking Volusion for a trial spin if you’re in the market for a good shopping cart. It’s surpassed my expectations so far.
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