Technology should make our lives easier
• 24/7 customer support
• Customer shopping tools
• CRM features
• Good selection of marketing tools
• Good selection of marketing tools
• Limited variety of free templates
Volusion has been in business since 1999 and offers all the business essentials with a little extra flair. With support around the clock and a selection of customer and marketing features, Volusion is another solid ecommerce provider you can rely on.
Volusion is an inexpensive way to create a store that includes all you need to sell, collect payments and market your products. We’ve looked closely at Volusion to give you the detail on its ecommerce offering.
Plans start with the Steel package which gives you capacity for 100 products, with 2GB of data transfer, and range up to the Platinum package for unlimited products and 20 GB of data transfer. Sign up with a credit card. There’s no contract – you pay month by month.
The free templates are a little plain, but they are functional and come in a range of color options. The premium templates are a whole lot prettier but come with quite a hefty price tag. Volusion offers a custom design option if you need extra individuality but you’ll probably find something to suit you from the basic and premium templates available. You can use your HTML and CSS skills to make your store look more individual. Volusion web pages are written in ASP/VBScript and HTML.
If your business has more to it than just sales, you can create other content pages alongside your store to communicate with customers and increase traffic to your site. The pages are easy to construct and match the theme you’ve chosen as your template. You can also do it the other way around – embed your store into an existing website.
The Volusion Color Swatch view is a good way of letting your customers make the right choice – you can display all the different colors and textures of your products and let the customers pick their favorite. The Product Compare feature may be good for you if you want your customers to make a decision from similar items such as electronics or phones, but it may be a little too much over-kill for products like cupcakes or makeup.
One good feature is the zoom mode that allows people to get a closer look at the detail in your product images. Make sure your images are of good quality and display the product to best advantage to make this feature work for you.
You have the option to upload unlimited photos per product and every image has a thumbnail attached.
Payments – There are a number of options for collecting payment from your Volusion-based store. Accept credit cards directly on your site, use PayPal or Google Checkout, or one of the other payment processing features on the site. You can specify when payment takes place – at the time of the sale or once the order has been fulfilled.
Shipping – Volusion is linked into a number of providers like UPS, FedEx and Canada Post so you can make a choice who to work with. There’s a label printing feature in the Volusion software and you can add a link to the latest shipping prices.
Customer features – One of the good things about Volusion is the attention it pays to the shopping experience for the customer. After all, it’s not enough that you, the owner of the business, is impressed with the Volusion experience. Customers need to be impressed too. There’s a wish list feature, a search box, the option for posting reviews, and the checkout process is all on one page. This may help avoid dropped orders through minimizing the amount of pages the customer needs to navigate in order to pay.
Volusion has built-in SEO capabilities to help you make the most of your store. There’s also a built-in email and newsletter feature which means you don’t need to use a separate system to send discounts and offers to your customer base.
Volusion features a selection of promotional tools, coupons and discounts that you can offer your customers. Multiple campaigns keep the interest flowing. Other features include a loyalty program, gift certificates, a gift registry, and gift wrapping options.
You’ve got to know how you’re doing and how well your store is performing in order to succeed in your business and Volusion does a pretty good job at providing you with a set of robust reporting tools. There are plenty of tools, so you’ll probably only use a few tried-and-tested ones on a day-to-day basis. There’s also an option of creating customized reports for specific performance indicators. A useful addition is a full-feature CRM program for managing your customer feedback and personal details.
mCommerce is a free-of-charge add-on that lets you reach your customers through a version of your store that’s optimized for mobile devices.
Add-ons that you can purchase include a fraud checking system that calculates the risk attached to any order. You can also install live chat software that allows you to respond to questions and issues in real time, with a prompt that asks customers if they want to chat.
Volusion claims it exceeds industry standards for the security of ecommerce transactions. It is PCI/CISP-certified and independently audited. There’s the usual range of SSL encryption, security protection for administrative areas and an integrated IP blocking feature. Volusion also claims 99.99% uptime, which is pretty standard for an ecommerce provider.
On a couple of occasions, navigating through Volusion generated error messages. But in general, the Volusion online store is made to be simple and deliberately designed so that people with little or no experience in ecommerce can handle the process. Straightforward layouts and a clean back-office function help you process your business smoothly.
One thing we like about Volusion is its 24-hour, 365-days-a-year customer support function. You can call, email or chat at any time – great when you’re having problems and need to meet an urgent deadline. The customer support comes from Volusion’s headquarters so you know there’s some practical, expert advice on the other end of the line.
Volusion is a solid, economical way of building a business online. Volusion currently offers a free 14-day trial and if you decide to go forward all your work is carried into a paid-for store.
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