At first it’s quite tough when you know nothing about each of the different service providers, not to mention all the different types of shopping carts and software packages.
Do you need a merchant account or shopping cart software? Do you host on your server or use an external provider and why can’t you just use Paypal? (incidentally, I do just use Paypal now).
Today I’ve got a review for you of another all-in-one externally hosted shopping cart system, called Volusion, although Volusion appears to be much more than just a shopping cart.
One thing about doing these reviews is I never have enough time (or desire) to test or read about all the features of a site. Given only a few days to write the review is not a huge window of opportunity for testing, so I want to be clear right from the start, this review is my thoughts based on reading what the Volusion website states and my own experiences hunting around for a shopping cart provider. I cannot verify the quality of the service based on actually using it.
All in one solution
If you are a beginner at ecommerce the offer presented by volusion is a solid one – they will host your site and provide you with all the ecommerce tools you need to sell online.
On the surface this is a good thing. You only have to deal with one company for everything. Normally I’d be suspect of the quality of the hosting servers, but Volusion uses RackSpace, which has a great rep based on what I have read online.
The only issue with this is the “eggs all in one basket” syndrome. Once you become dependent on a company like this you are well and truly dependent. That may not be an issue if the service is good, but given the restrictions of time on this review I can’t verify whether that is the case. I couldn’t find any conclusive commentary online about Volusion services besides the standard few grumbles here and there, but there was praise too (no company has a 100% spotless online record).
Volusion has a nice looking site, some solid credibility boosters in the form of industry awards for best shopping cart software and says all the right things like “search engine optimized” AND they have a 14 day free trial too.
I was most impressed to see that they have a blog with a pagerank of 7, no doubt because their own site has a pagerank of 8, clearly demonstrating some SEO expertise. The fact that they are using blogs for reviews also demonstrates to me that they see the power of the blogosphere, demonstrating their knowledge of current trends in the online marketing industry. They also feature a ton of solid testimonials and a collection of high profile clients, including Barack Obama 08 campaign.
The pricing structure is good, with an entry level plan starting at $20 a month, going up to a $100 platinum unlimited plan. They offer SEO services and also “traffic services” as they call it, which is Pay-Per-Click advertising and yes, they are a certified Google AdWords expert too according to the website badge.
All in all, on the surface of it, the website is convincing, professional, has all the right credibility tools and is a company I would at least trial if I was in the market for a shopping cart solution and perhaps more, given they seem to do just about everything. I’d make sure I was sure of what I wanted, do my research first and then start my trial and ask all the questions then to be certain I knew that Volusion was going to meet my needs today and in the future. This would also be good a good time to test their support and see how thoroughly they respond to questions.
I sometimes worry about companies that appear to do *everything* well. I prefer specialist experts at one thing – like Perry Marshall for AdWords, or Jeff Walker for product launch – but there is still room for companies to offer all the services and do a good job, but in this case I just can’t vouch for Volusion based on experience. There are often inherent problems with jack-of-all service providers, but looking through the features of the Volusion website, they certainly have their game together based on their website presentation.