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Bigcommerce vs Volusion vs Shopify Review: Which E-Commerce Shopping Cart Rules the Roost?

Ecommerce Comparison White PaperLaunching a full-featured e-commerce storefront requires the proprietor to make a lot of tough decisions. Enter our Bigcommerce vs Volusion vs Shopify 2014 review! From layout designs to payment processors, there’s far more that goes into a robust web shop than meets the eye. As is the case with most web development projects, the key to getting the most from your e-commerce shop is foreknowledge and planning. Most important of all is matching your particular shop with the right e-commerce software platform. Though the leaders in this space are pretty obvious, making a decision regarding which one out of the top dogs is right for you is always dicey.

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The Usual Suspects

If you like to craft your own solutions to a problem, there are plenty of e-commerce solutions like Magento that let you do all of the hard work. For those that want a comprehensive tool that works right out of the gate, there are just three major options: Bigcommerce, Volusion and Shopify. Each has its own upsides and drawbacks depending on the scope of your own little outfit. To find the right fit for your business, diving deeper into the bona fides of each is a must if you’d like to avoid a bad outcome.  This ecommerce shopping cart comparison gives you everything you need to know to make the right decision.

Top Features & Selling Points

Bigcommerce

One of the shining lights of e-commerce is without a doubt Bigcommerce. It boasts everything you’ll need to launch a web store in minutes. Any entrepreneur or SMB can immediately add products to their online shop and customize details as well as categories. Bigcommerce also comes with a slew of conversion optimization tools and analytics firepower to keep an eye on customer behavior. In addition, it supports loads of default payment options including PayPal, Google Checkout and Authorize.net. Thanks to 256-bit SSL encryption, it’s as secure as any other e-commerce portal available.

Volusion

Easily the most popular e-commerce software found online, Volusion powers 40,000 sites and has been responsible for over $14 billion in sales since 1999. It comes equipped with a fairly intuitive store builder as well as hundreds of free and paid templates. Shopping cart extras include Color Swatch and vZoom just to name a few. As a result of its robust API, Volusion makes it easy to craft custom solutions to development problems. They guarantee 99.9% uptime thanks to a flexible SaaS back-end architecture and the Akamai CDN as well as superb security due to PCI/CISP-certified servers.

Shopify

The primary appeal of Shopify is its simplicity. Anyone can launch a site in minutes by taking advantage of its slew of available free templates and apps. This fully hosted e-commerce engine allows users to bring their own domain name with them or purchase one during the setup process. Better still, it comes with unparalleled foreign language support, currency conversion capabilities and an instant VAT or sales tax calculator. It accepts all cards by default and can support 70+ additional payment gateways. Lastly, there’s automatic backups, 99.94% uptime and Level 1 PCI-compliant payment processing thanks to 256-bit SSL certificates.

Ease of Installation & Administration

Bigcommerce

As an all-in-one hosted solution, Bigcommerce takes the hassle out of launching an e-commerce storefront. Nearly everything is included such as a domain name, CRM capabilities and email accounts. You can get a store up and running in minutes via the setup wizard. If you need help, there’s a free 30-minute “Success Squad” guided training seminar. As for administration, one can easily create product options and categories, manage inventory and keep an eye on returns. You can even sell digital goods like downloads and tickets as you would with real merchandise.

Volusion

Like most e-commerce solutions, Volusion guides new users through the process of launching a digital shop via a simple quick-start wizard. If you want a custom URL for your store, they make it easy to set one up through Namecheap or Godaddy. While blogging isn’t baked in by default, it’s fairly trivial to tack on a WordPress installation in minutes. Importing product details and managing categories is fairly straightforward. Likewise, configuring payment and shipping providers can be achieved with just a few mouse clicks. Most beginner and intermediate webmasters have little or no problem navigating Volusion’s interface.

Shopify

All you have to do to create a Shopify shop is sign up, follow the installation wizard’s instructions and enjoy the journey. You can take a basic template and tweak the HTML and CSS to your liking quite easily thanks to the clean yet powerful back-end editor. Once you’re ready to add products, you can speed up the process by importing CSV files or using Shopify’s importer app. Slapping on a payment processor or five is similarly trivial. Thanks to responsive themes and an excellent Shopify Mobile app, managing the store from afar is an absolute breeze.

Flexibility & Customization

Bigcommerce

Extensibility is arguably the most appealing reason to opt for Bigcommerce, though it’s not the only one. From web design to plugins, there’s practically no limit to what you can do with a default installation. There are over 100 free templates to choose from that can be installed in seconds. If you want to tweak a template and know a little HTML and CSS, the back-end WYSIWYG editor is incredibly full-featured. QuickBooks and Ordoro integration are just the beginning when it comes to development options. The App Store gives you access to 60 different payment processors and much more.

Volusion

If you know your way around an HTML editor, it’s easy to tweak free Volusion design templates. Alternatively, you can rely on Volusion’s approved design professionals to help you out. When it comes to development, Volusion is much like most other e-commerce storefronts in that it enables third-party functionality via handy plugins. The Volusion App Marketplace will allow you to tack on a variety of payment portals such as Stripe and PayPal in addition to the major credit cards. Volusion Partners makes it easy to seamlessly integrate advanced functionality in short order without a lot of fuss.

Shopify

Flexibility is a central component of Shopify’s wheelhouse. With Shopify, you get access to more than 100 templates via the Theme Store for starters. In addition, you’ve also got 600 apps in the App Store to choose from for every purpose under the sun. Tinkerers can use Shopify’s unique Liquid templating language to put a custom spin on their website build. If you need design or development help later on, it’s available through official channels. Playing around with organization is likewise simple since you can group digital or physical products based on their price, general category, weight or even SKU.

Customer Service & Support

Bigcommerce

As you might expect, Bigcommerce boasts 24/7 Live Chat support, email support and phone support during regular business hours. They’re even willing to participate in conference calls between web developers and their clients to help out directly. The superlative Bigcommerce University helps small-time businesses to sort out issues themselves when it’s required. If that’s not enough, there’s also the Partners and Experts programs. They pair webmasters with professional web designers and developers. Bigcommerce goes out of its way to deliver a level of support that isn’t typically associated with a company of its size.

Volusion

If you need help with a technical or billing issue, Volusion has the usual array of options including IM chat, email and a toll-free phone number. In many ways, customer support is Volusion’s weakest attribute. Due to the size of the company and the scope of their user base, they’re not always very responsive when it comes to complaints. If you want hands-on assistance, you’ll need to go through Volusion Experts or check out their extensive documentation. The Knowledge Base and FAQs are quite solid though you’ll need to sift through them on your own to find answers.

Shopify

One of Shopify’s better attributes is the fairly caring customer service you’ll get when signing on. Since Shopify is easily the smallest of the Big Three e-commerce shops, they place an emphasis on providing relatively constant support via email, live IM chats and a toll-free number. If you need a more personal touch, Shopify Experts can put you in touch with professional designers and developers that can help you to make your shop perfect. Shopify’s documentation includes a comprehensive Manual, support forums and very solid FAQs. For small-time e-commerce shops, Shopify’s support is usually more than enough to solve most problems.


Ecommerce Comparison White Paper
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SEO & Promotional Capabilities

Bigcommerce

One of the most important considerations when choosing an e-commerce program is Search Engine Optimization and online marketing. Bigcommerce makes it easy to promote your shop via Amazon and eBay integration as well as a host of tools for analyzing data feedback. You can manage gift registries and certificates to entice new buyers. The Abandoned Cart Saver in particular is a key tool in the fight to retain sales. One can also use Mailchimp, Constant Contact or iContact plugins for email marketing. Sell on Facebook is another standout feature that sets Bigcommerce apart.

Volusion

One of Volusion’s definite strong points is their dedication to SEO and marketing power. Right out of the gate, they boast loads of standard features like Deal of the Day, automated newsletters, MyRewards and affiliate programs that can boost sales. There’s also live and abandoned carts functionality as well as default Facebook, Amazon, and eBay integration. Furthermore, social media integration with popular platforms like Twitter is first-rate. The checkout cart is fine-tuned to make soft up-sells easy for merchants, which can significantly improve the bottom line. Lastly, Volusion places a premium on Google-centric SEO health.

Shopify

Due to its reputation as the go-to solution for mom-and-pop shops, Shopify has been looking to expand its reach for years. One way they’re trying to do that is with advanced SEO and marketing. Their Abandoned Cart Recovery tools such as reminder emails go a long way in getting customers back on the buying track. It’d be nice if that functionality was included in the introductory plans, but it’s a good start. One thing that sets Shopify apart is the fact that it was designed from the get go to be a complete CMS that focuses on blogging power.

Recent Additions & Upgrades

Bigcommerce

Though smaller, more incremental tweaks are certainly welcome, the latest upgrade is Bigcommerce Next. In a nutshell, it’s an all-encompassing initiative to make the platform as a whole more simple, streamlined and effective. It brings a slew of new mobile-friendly responsive templates to the table and allows admins to modify stores from their smartphones and tablets. Bigcommerce University and Success Squad make up a good part of the package. The whole idea is to fine-tune the end-user administrative experience to be more fluid, hassle-free and intuitive for greater productivity and conversions.

Volusion

While they haven’t rolled out any groundbreaking features lately, Volusion has made a number of gradual, incremental improvements to the overall service. For starters, there was the introduction of Stripe integration earlier this year. In addition, the native mobile app for Volusion has received notable upgrades insofar as reporting and remote management is concerned. Whether you’re an iOS or Android fan, you can keep a close eye on your store and play around with product listings from any location. Finally, customers will soon have access to an improved Volusion Storefront API and a cutting-edge theme engine.

Shopify

Though hardly a brand-new feature, Shopify’s POS integration allows shop owners to blend their offline stores with their online presences. In recent months, Shopify POS has brought reduced transaction fees to shop owners as well as in-store and online gift cards. There’s also custom barcode printing and scanning as well as multi-language receipts and tax overrides. Long story short, Shopify is striving to make it easier for traditional bricks-and-mortar shop owners to get onto the web with the fewest obstacles possible. At the same time, Shopify’s theme and plug-in menus continue to grow gradually with each passing day.

Pricing and Overall Value

Bigcommerce

Currently, Bigcommerce offers three basic tiers of service: Silver, Gold and Platinum. The Silver plan comes with 3GB of storage and 1.5% transaction fees for $29.95 per month. Gold comes in at $79.95 per month and features unlimited storage as well as zero transaction fees. The Platinum package costs $199.95 per month and tacks on White Glove Setup support and additional enterprise features. Each plan comes with unlimited bandwidth, product listings and a free, 15-day trial. No matter how you slice it, Bigcommerce is a bargain when compared to the competition.

Volusion

A decidedly mid-priced e-commerce storefront, Volusion offers four distinct plans: Mini, Plus, Pro and Premium. The Mini plan starts out at $15 per month and includes 1GB of bandwidth and support for 100 products. Plus clocks in at $35 per month and includes 3GB of bandwidth and 1,000 product listings. If you really want to go all out, the Premium package delivers 35GB worth of data transfer as well as unlimited products. All plans feature unlimited storage, no transaction fees and an initial 14-day free trial. For mid-sized businesses, Volusion boasts a fairly reasonable pricing scheme.

Shopify

In the Shopify world, there are three plans to choose from: Basic, Professional and Unlimited. Basic gives you 1GB of storage for $29, Professional kicks it up to $79 per month for 5GB and Unlimited provides unlimited storage for $179. All plans feature unlimited product listings and no transaction fees if you use Shopify Payments. Otherwise, the transaction fees vary depending on the plan you choose for credit cards. Rates vary from 2.9% to 2.25% plus $0.30 per payment outside of Shopify Payments thanks to their “swipe fee” regimen. All plans boast unlimited bandwidth, which is highly attractive to small merchants.

Thumbnail Sketches: Pros & Cons

Simply put, Bigcommerce does nearly everything very well and stumbles in essentially no areas that really matter. Customer service and technical assistance are outstanding, more than making up for a lower number of plugins. Though the most popular e-commerce platform by the numbers, Volusion boasts a growing number of defectors due to lackluster support. Shopify is a good option for beginners, though it is a bit pricier than its rivals. As such, it’s a favorite among SMBs that operate in industries that boast above-average profit margins that offset the slightly higher transaction costs.

Who Will It Be in the End?

When all is said and done, Bigcommerce is at the top of its game in a way that neither Volusion nor Shopify can claim to be. They power 50,000 online stores and counting thanks in large part to their continued efforts to evolve and improve their service. While Volusion and Shopify do have their winning qualities, Bigcommerce is the way to fly for the majority of businesses that need an e-commerce shop. Due to its even-handed approach to all aspects of hosted e-commerce, they’re the outfit to beat at present. But, you don’t have to take our word for it. The best thing to do is take them for a test drive of your own:

Bigcommerce Free Trial:

Bigcommerce Trial

Volusion Free Trial:

Volusion Trial

Shopify Free Trial:

Shopify Trial

Ecommerce Comparison White Paper
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