3591 words|13.8 min read|

For years, choosing the right shopping cart platform for an e-commerce website has been a challenge that entrepreneurs have always had to grapple with. Unless you plan on spinning up your own custom solution, you essentially have three options worth considering: VolusionBigCommerce and Shopify. As they’re constantly changing and evolving, it can be difficult to know how well each stacks up. This makes pairing the right e-commerce shopping cart with any given scenario particularly troublesome. Whether you’re building an e-commerce site from the ground up or renovating an existing installation, the following comparison will clear things up.

Core Functionality

Volusion

As you’d expect, Volusion boasts an easy-to-use website builder that allows users to quickly assemble a fully functioning store in minutes. With more than 120 free themes to choose from, customization is a breeze. Volusion is a fully-hosted solution that takes the headache out of setting up servers, SSL certificates and email accounts. Thanks to the robust Akamai CDN, a Volusion e-commerce installation is incredibly fast. It’s also quite easy to administer inventory with the proprietary Smart Match technology. For a more in-depth rundown of Volusion’s primary features, check out our earlier review.
Points: 2

BigCommerce

On the user-friendliness front, BigCommerce doesn’t put many obstacles in the way of beginners that are just getting started. Their website builder and its guided installation wizard are straightforward enough for even the least tech-savvy merchants. Once you sign up, you’ll find that BigCommerce has everything you’ll need to get an e-commerce shop launched in minutes. You get a domain name, hosting, email accounts and a scad of online marketing tools with your chosen plan. For small to medium-sized businesses that want a ton of functionality as well as flexibility, BigCommerce is difficult to pass up.
Points: 3

Shopify

The primary difference between Shopify and its rivals is a holistic approach to e-commerce. From day one, their goal has been to deliver the e-commerce equivalent of WordPress. As a hosted e-commerce CMS, it boasts powerful blogging capabilities that augment its considerable transaction-handling firepower. As intuitive as the setup process is, the back-end admin panel is just as easy to navigate. Thanks to slick inventory management, shipping notifications and order tracking, doing business with Shopify is a dream. Furthermore, the App Store and Theme Store make customization a breeze. Shopify even has its own payment gateway.
Points: 3

Store Customization

Volusion

In the design department, Volusion is great thanks to the professional look it can deliver right out of the box. With so many free polished themes to choose from, it’s easy to switch up the look of your store with just a few mouse clicks. If you feel like diving a bit deeper, you can tweak HTML and CSS markup on the fly as needed to make your layout truly unique. If you don’t want to sweat the design details yourself, you can hire a professional affiliated with Volusion to do it for you.
Points: 2

BigCommerce

Above and beyond the default layout, there are plenty of ways to improve your store’s look in short order. Within the extensive template library, you’ll find more than 100 ways to easily personalize your shopping cart. As with Volusion, installing a new theme is a simple matter thanks to BigCommerce’s intuitive back-end admin panel. If you need to craft a distinctive design in a hurry, you can always take a free theme and tinker with the HTML and CSS. For truly unique themes, you can always hire a BigCommerce Expert that specializes in web designs and layouts.
Points: 2

Shopify

To put your own personal stamp on your store, Shopify has the Theme Store ready and waiting to make your design dreams come to fruition. With more than 100 themes, many of which are free to download, the Theme Store allows shop owners to quickly attain the right look for their stores. There are loads of suggestions for your store based on your niche, including everything from electronics to clothing and fashion. For greater customization, you can manually edit HTML and CSS markup as well as upload third-party font packs, brand logos and images as needed.
Points: 2

Extensibility & Add-Ons

Volusion

Volusion makes it easy to add extra functionality thanks to its rich ecosystem of optional plugins. Everything from MailChimp to Authorize.Net can be quickly added to your store by simply visiting the Volusion App Marketplace and downloading the appropriate plugin. Thanks to Volusion’s bevy of third-party Partners, there’s little that can’t be achieved with a default installation if you’re willing to poke around a bit for the right tools. If you have a development problem that can’t be addressed with an available app, the Volusion API makes it fairly easy to craft a custom solution.
Points: 3

BigCommerce

Like its competitors, BigCommerce boasts tons of add-ons that can be installed via a specialty app market. BigCommerce Apps include Constant Contact, Ordoro and FreshBooks, to name just a few. Though there are apps for pretty much any service you can think of, you may need to spin up a custom solution to a problem. If so, the BigCommerce Developer Portal should be able to provide you with all the tools you’ll need to create custom apps. Thanks to the popularity of the platform, it’s easy to find third-party developers that are familiar with BigCommerce.
Points: 3

Shopify

As you might expect, Shopify has its own one-stop shop for add-ons called the Shopify App Store. Within the App Store, you’ll find an app for everything from social media marketing to inventory management. Popular plugins include Facebook StoreShipStation, and Mapify, to name just a few. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty with some code, the Shopify API will enable you to slap on any needed functionality not covered by existing apps. Shopify’s own development forums are a tremendous resource for advice from fellow developers when customizing a stock storefront installation.
Points: 2

Customer Support

Volusion

Especially in the early stages of your store’s existence, it’s important to have solid customer support to iron out any wrinkles that might crop up. Volusion manages to deliver strong customer service and technical support that rival the offerings of BigCommerce or Shopify. If you run into trouble, you can always call up a phone support technician as long as you have your store ID handy. Alternatively, there’s email, traditional support tickets and liv