Finding the right niche and creating the marketing strategy for an ecommerce store is just half the battle. The other half is choosing the right platform for your store that fulfills all your requirements with the budget.
When choosing the ecommerce platform for the first time, the following questions simplify the process and ensures that you opt for the best fit for your business model.
- How much flexibility do I need for my store?
- Should it be based on open source platforms?
- How important is customization of store’s UI/UX for my business model?
- The question of hosting
- What is my budget for store maintenance?
In this article, I am going to discuss two worthy contenders: Magento and Volusion.
Magento is a self-hosted, fully customizable, open source, community backed ecommerce platform that is used by around 7% of all ecommerce platforms in the world. On the other hand, Volusion is a recently launched, hosted, all-in-one ecommerce solution for small businesses that is used by around 200,000 stores around the world.
The competition is tough because as a beginner you have little to no idea about the best fit for your business. Both are great platforms in their own right and each has solid user base. To help you make the choice, I decided to compare the two platforms on several important factors.
Can’t read the whole review? Check out this table of Magento vs Volusion comparison.
|Ownership & Hosting||⭐⭐⭐||⭐|
|Security & Encryption||⭐⭐||⭐⭐|
|Design & Usability||⭐⭐||⭐⭐|
|Community & Support||⭐⭐⭐||⭐|
Or, let’s get the show on the road!
Hosted or Self-Hosted?
Given the importance of hosting solutions, it is surprising that nobody discusses the issue of server management hassles. If you have technical expertise (or could hire a sysadmin within your budget), opt for self-hosted solutions such as Magento. On the other hand, if you do not wish to be bothered by server level challenges, opt for Volusion that offers its own hosting.
However, this ease comes at a steep price. Magento allows full customization of the platform and the store elements. Volusion, in exchange for ease of hosting, restricts server level customization.
- Magento grants you complete ownership of the platform, allowing you to customize the themes and extensions in anyway you want.
- With Magento, you don’t have to sign a contract with any third party. This way you do not have to confirm to pre-set rules.
- Magento is a self-hosted platform that could be hosted on any suitable ecommerce hosting solution. This way, you could change the hosting if it doesn’t perform as per your expectations.
- Volusion is great at hosting your ecommerce store. However, it does partially take the ownership of the store. If you opt for Volusion, remember to backup store data to an offsite location. In addition, you cannot move your store to any other hosting platform.
Beefing up Security
When it comes to the security of the stores, the following are the bare minimum requirements:
- A secure checkout plugin
- Store-wide SSL certificate
- DDoS protection
- Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Let’s see how the two platforms fare in this comparison.
- Magento often releases security patches and critical updates to improve the security and decrease the number of “bugs”.
- Magento is powered by PHP 7 and Zend Framework 3 with security plugins such as DA-level SSL certificates.
- Your ecommerce store at Volusion is backed by SSL certificate and includes a free CDN. You will also get integrated Paypal and other payment methods.
Ensuring Better User Experiences
User experience directly translates into sales. If a user doesn’t feel comfortable with the shopping experience, chances are that the store has lost a sale and the possibility of several future sales.
UX for online stores is a combination of theme, UI elements and the overall ease of finalizing the transaction. In many cases, this is where the store owners often drop the ball.
- Magento based websites have a great user experiences because the layouts are completely customizable. However, the customization requires extensive technical skills. This is why a developer is often a part of the store’s team.
- Magento and a host of third party providers offer free themes for your store(s) so that you can customize it in anyway you want.
- Volusion offers a great user experience but limits the customization options for the themes.
Scaling the Business
Once your business is stable, the next step is to take it to the next level. Depending on the type of ecommerce platform you use, the strategy for scaling up the store could be easy to implement or a road blocker.
- As Magento is self-hosted, the store could be scaled up easily. You can add as many products to the catalog. The only limit is the hosting of the store.
- Magento 2.x offers significant improvements including near-instant server response times, double-digit decrease in response times for cart and checkout pages, and improved handling of extra-large catalogs and customer lists.
- Volusion powered stores could be upgraded to higher packages automatically – each user can be upgraded to the higher pricing plan if the prescribed monthly sales’ limit exceeds.
Cost Matters – Choose Wisely
It is a good idea to have an estimated budget for your store. Hosted stores have more overheads because they include the platform and the hosting price. While, most self-hosted platforms are free and you will only have to pay for the hosting server you use.
On an average, for a small online store, it will cost < $1000 for the development ,and then around $10 per month for the hosting server on a self-hosted platform. On the other hand, for a hosted ecommerce store, the price varies depending on the number of products and the bandwidth it consumes.
- Magento is free. You only have to pay for the hosting.
- You may have to hire a developer to set up and maintain the store. If you don’t have the desired technical skills, you have to pay a developer for the maintenance of the store.
- Volusion has varying price plans depending on how many products you upload to the store.
- Volusion also charges 2.15% for CC based transactions, and 2.9% + $0.30 on every Paypal transaction.
Customize at Will
When launching the store for the first time, keep in mind that you will have to change the default UI and other elements to fit the store to your business model. The customization could be as simple as changing the color theme or as complex as adding a landing page
- Magento is completely customizable. All you have to do is change/alter the code or integrate modules and themes.
- The Magento Marketplace is a great resource for customizing the store to your design specifications.
- Volusion limits customizations to changes in HTML and CSS.
- The platform offers 69 plugins out of which 10 are free.
It is better to choose an ecommerce platform that is backed by an active community for obvious reasons. If you get stuck, all you have to do is go to the community and ask for help.
- Magento has a huge community of developers and users who focus on all aspects of the platform. This community tests and endorses the plugins and themes so that you could easily select the best option for your store.
- Volusion has a small community of developers and designers. However, the community makes up for its small size by being very enthusiastic about the platform.
Choose What Works
Choosing the platform for your ecommerce shop is not easy. Particularly, if you are a first-timer, the importance of the choice increases because of the impact on the future of the store.
As you can see, Magento has fared pretty well on all important points, while Volusion lacks behind because of several platform level limitations
Still stuck? Need guidance in choosing a platform? Let us know by stating your problem below.