- Founded 1999
- Headquarters Austin TX, USA
- Merchants 30,000+
- Inventory Source
- US Direct
Top 5 eCommerce Platforms
Volusion is one of the most established eCommerce platforms around. It was founded in 1999 by then 16-year-old Kevin Sproles, who started out coding and designing websites for clients, gradually moving into what we now call eCommerce territory, answering his clients’ need for a ‘shopping cart’ functionality. With the launch of his shopping cart software, Kevin founded Volusion, which offered an all-in-one solution for running a business, also including specific features for sales, support, and design.
Over the years, Volusion has built an impressive client portfolio, helping over 180,000 entrepreneurs all over the world to build better online stores. The numbers are dazzling: more than 185 million orders were placed with a total value of more than $28 billion, which explains why currently more than 30,000 merchants use Volusion to run their online businesses. More than 250 employees tend to the various needs of clients – including customer support and marketing and design services, from their head office in Austin, Texas.
With a focus on supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs, Volusion launched their new eCommerce platform – V2 – in 2018, designed to simplify and streamline the process of opening an online store. Built-in to the new platform is Volusion’s dropshipping app, which offers direct access to US-based dropshipping suppliers via Inventory Source, a global dropshipping supplier directory. The app makes managing a dropshipping business easier by automating most of the process, including product sync, order notification, and fulfillment.
In this review, we’ll take a close look at Volusion’s store builder, with a special focus on its dropshipping features and functionalities.
Templates & Editor
Opening a Volusion account involves answering a few questions to enable the system to provide users with a basic store setup. First of all, we came across the following two steps:
The third step involved the question in which line of business we’re active (‘Clothes & Accessories’).
After answering these three questions, we are redirected to our Volusion store dashboard, with a draft version of our online store available for checking on the right side of the screen.
Before we take a look at what Volusion prepared for us, let’s go over the available themes to see if we can find an option that suits our expectations.
The available templates, all of which are responsive and as such fit for mobile platforms, look very good, and we do have an idea which ones we could potentially use for our store. Now, let’s take a look at what the draft version of our store looks like.
The template Volusion selected for the initial setup matches very well with what we had in mind so we don’t have to choose a different template, but we do still have to start editing our store to make it ready for launch. On the right side in the above screenshot, you may have noticed the ‘Edit your Store!’ pop up window, indicating where we need to click to enter the editor.
The editor is part of a larger menu with all kinds of options to edit your store. You can set how
orders are handled, you can add products and product categories, arrange the signup process for new customers, add pages, add specific apps from the Volusion app store, set up the site analytics, and more.
The store editor itself enables you to edit all the elements that are on your site. It’s a very compact toolbox with a surprisingly large amount of features. You can simply go through all the options and make the desired changes from the default setup. You can add a logo or change the store name, edit the navigation menu (based on categories – see screenshot below) and add products, change the content within the theme, changes colors and fonts, and even change the theme.
Updating the content is done fast with the store editor’s guidance: you start by selecting the Content submenu from the store editor menu, and after that you just follow the steps in the editor and make changes where and how you want them, by selecting the available options from the Content menu as you go along. The editor doesn’t save automatically, so it is important to use the Save button (always located at the top of the page) to make sure your changes will be implemented on the website.
While Volusion’s themes are responsive and a specific mobile editor is not available, the store editor does offer a special section to customize the navigation menu for mobile devices, which is convenient, especially when you have a lot of sections and subsections.
The Volusion Dropshipping App
Volusion offers a range of dropshipping tools and integrations, to not only encourage, but also assist store owners to start dropshipping. As a matter of fact, the Volusion platform comes with its own dedicated dropshipping app. This app, found right in the center of the store builder dashboard’s home page, supplies store owners with all the options necessary to create their dropshipping store.
Installing the Volusion dropshipping app gives users direct access to a gigantic database of products they can add to their store. The app’s product database is provided by one of the largest US-based dropshipping suppliers- US Direct- via leading dropshipping supplier directory Inventory Source. With its dropshipping app, Volusion aims to support the US economy by giving users direct access to the product listings of trusted US-based suppliers. Volusion users, mainly small businesses, are able to offer their customers all over the United States very fast shipping services since they are dropshipping products domestically, using US-based suppliers.
Some of the best-selling dropshipping products available from US-Direct include:
- Camping & Outdoors
- Clothing & Graphic Apparel
- Eco-Friendly Home & Grocery
- Pet Products & Supplies
- Fragrance & Beauty
Selecting Products to Sell through the Volusion dropshipping app
Once the app is installed, it is very easy to add products to your store. You browse through the product list and select the items you want to list on your site. Alternatively, you can search for specific products instead to save time.
When you see a product you want to add, click it to see the available quantity, weight, pricing details, the suggested retail price (which you can change immediately or later), and the margin you make based on the suggested retail price. To add the product to your store, you simply click the ‘list this product’ button.
The system informs you once a product has been successfully added to your store’s product offer.
* Once you start adding products to your store, it is recommended to open an account with your dropshipping supplier, in this case US Direct. US Direct, a dropshipping supplier directory that’s part of Inventory Source’s network and exclusively works with US based suppliers, manages all the orders from dropshipping stores built on the Volusion platform, and you need an account to enable automatic order fulfillment of purchases made in your store.
On the main screen of the dropshipping app, check the ‘Listed products’ tab to see an overview of products you selected to sell in your store.
Sell first, purchase later
You don’t need to purchase any items upfront. When you use the Volusion Dropshipping app, you pay your supplier once your customers have paid you. Any item you sell in your store, is delivered to the customer straight from the supplier’s warehouse.
Saving time with the auto-sync feature
When a customer makes a purchase in your store, you need to make sure this order goes through to the dropshipper. When you’re using the native dropshipping app in Volusion, this will happen automatically.
When you use a third party supplier (explained below), you can also sync automatically. Automatic syncing is very convenient, and again, it will save you a lot of time because manual syncing is a time-consuming process. That said, it is a good idea to go through the whole process of manual syncing at least once after a customer buys a product in your online store, just so you know what the process is like and which steps it involves. Once you know enough about the process, set the system to sync automatically.
Purchase information: automatically inform your supplier
Setting up dropshipping for your Volusion store involves making a choice from two possible scenarios: regular dropshipping or auto-dropshipping. While regular dropshipping is simple, it still requires the user to send out purchase orders to the supplier, auto-dropshipping is a fully automated process, which means that purchases made in your store will automatically go through to the dropship supplier, who then handles the order accordingly, including the actual order fulfillment. You do have to set the fulfillment method to ‘Automated Email’ to make sure your supplier will be notified of any order.
Using additional dropshipping suppliers
Besides using the supplier that comes with the Volusion dropshipping app (US Direct through Inventory Source), you can also opt to connect your store to other supplier platforms in order to add products to your store. The Volusion Marketplace offers a range of options.
The additional dropshipping integrations offered by Volusion include the following suppliers:
- Doba: Doba provides online retailers and small businesses instant access to more than 1.5 million products and dropshipping orders from a network of more than 250 connected suppliers and manufacturers. The product information necessary to list and sell Doba products is available in Doba’s online catalog which also includes a consolidated ordering process for the products you sell in your store.
- Kole Imports: Kole Imports offers dropshippers a formidable range of products: more than 7,000 items in over 40 different product categories. Adding their product information to your store is easy with their data feed. Same day shipping, a nearly perfect fulfillment rate record and easy order tracking make Kole Imports a great potential supplier for your online store.
- Printful: designers can bring their designs to life with Printful, a printing service that prints designs on a wide range of products, from mugs, to pens, to clothing – and anything in between. Printful specifically caters to dropshippers and can be integrated with your Volusion store via the 3rd party shipping management tool, ShipStation.
Volusion’s dropshipping app connects users to US Direct, responsible for handling all US-based dropshipping orders for Inventory Source. Inventory Source’s service is not limited to the US market and actually covers the whole international market, which is why Volusion also offers an Inventory Source integration.
- Inventory Source: With Inventory Source, online stores can connect to more than 200 dropship suppliers (offering more than 8 million dropship products) across different branches and are able to fully automate their dropshipping business: from uploading product data to inventory syncing, and from sending orders o syncing shipment tracking.
Using different suppliers than the one native to the dropshipping app is not a problem when using Volusion. However, keep in mind that the level of automation offered in the dropshipping app exclusively counts for Inventory Source. When you connect your store with other platforms, you have to take into consideration that it will take more work to set up dropshipping with those platforms, including manual syncing and the sending of purchase orders.
Once your online store is up and running, you can choose to extend the reach of your store by using an eCommerce marketplace to display your products. Currently, Volusion offers the option to integrate your store with Amazon by using the Amazon app, available in the Volusion App Store in the store builder dashboard. Integrations with marketplaces such as eBay and Etsy are expected to be launched in 2019.
Installing the Amazon app will enable you to connect your online store to Amazon. You can add your offer to existing Amazon products you’re also selling in your store, and you can create new listings for products you’re selling that are not yet available on Amazon. Using the app does require an Amazon Professional account, so you need to open one if you don’t already have one. This can conveniently be done straight from the Amazon app in your store builder dashboard.
Volusion offers four different plans to choose from. You can sign up for one of these plans immediately, or first try out the platform and move to a paid plan after the 14-day trial period is over.
The full feature list per plan looks as follows:
|Personal ($29/mo)||Professional ($79/mo)||Business ($299/mo)||Prime (custom price)|
You’ll be hard-pressed to find an online store builder more aimed at helping customers to reach their maximum results than Volusion. From the first moment of signing up, their US-based support team is with you, offering guidance and help where necessary. If you prefer to check out all the options and features by yourself first, before calling on any help channels, they respectfully keep their distance. But when you ask them a question on the chat, they’ll answer within five minutes.
Volusion offers its users a ‘personal’ ecommerce advisor, who’ll address you right after opening your account to check if you need any assistance setting up your store. It’s actually a very fast and convenient way to contact Customer Support directly from your Volusion dashboard, as you can schedule a one-on-one phone call or chat online to your dedicated advisor.
Besides the chat feature, which is the fastest way to contact Volusion during office hours, they offer help by means of a wide variety of very handy tutorial videos, explaining specific features of the platform in detail. The videos are basically short screen captures with voice-over explanations that are very easy to follow and offer great help in trying to figure out how a particular feature works.
The Help functionality, easy to reach by clicking the “?” symbol, offers two options: “Message us” opens the chat functionality, which is available 24/7 for paying customers, and from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM for trial users. The other option to choose is the Help Center, which is a knowledge base with all kinds of articles (blogs, feature descriptions/ explanations, et cetera) to help you understand certain aspects of the site builder, the dropshipping app, the editor, and more; basically, anything you need help with.
Volusion has their Customer Support organized to the smallest detail, resulting in a very high level of support – fast and accurate.
Technically not Customer Support, but very closely related to it are Volusion’s in-house professional services.
These include design services, which means a dedicated Volusion design team works with you to create the store you have in mind, starting with one of the existing themes, and all the necessary add ons (contact us, newsletter design, blogger design, social media kit, graphics pack, custom landing page, et cetera) you need to get started the right way. Also available are marketing services, including hands-on advice from SEO and PPC experts to market your business the right way and increase sales. These professional services are not part of any of the available Volusion plans, but if you have sufficient budget it is worth considering this option.