Bigcommerce Vs Volusion shopping cart review

Bigcommerce is really not much of a comparison with Volusion shopping cart. They’ve gone to great lengths to market their cart with online buzz as being better, however, if you dig in, Bigcommerce doesn’t even come close. I’m writing this article because someone, maybe their PR team, has flooded the internet with this supposedly ‘better’ shopping cart.

If you have a small business and your own inventory, yes, it just might work for you with the built in SEO. I opened a test account and quickly realized how much is missing from the Bigcommerce features. As always, every cart has it’s pros and cons. There’s too much missing from Bigcommerce for me to spend all the time writing it up. I could barely get past the first section- customers.

bigcommerce vs volusion

To be fair, Bigcommerce does have some of these fields. The difference is Volusion has a single screen where you can record all your customer information and notes. The image below is only a portion of that screen:

volusion customers

Big commerce customer screen:
bigcommerce customers

What else is missing in Bigcommerce?
– NO option to drop ship.
– NO place to list your vendors ( since no drop shipping, they probably saw no reason to have this along with warehouses and receiving inventory from the PO’s)
– NO place to issue purchase orders. I guess they assume everyone is using an offline program. Bigcommerce does have low level inventory alert option.

Less critical missing items:
– no affiliate program built in
– the forum has tons of unanswered questions. In Volusion’s forum, most will have replies same day, if not minutes or hours.
– I didn’t see a way to enable free shipping over a certain dollar amount
– I think it’s more cumbersome to add and modify products. Bigc uses many tabs, Volusion uses a long page. I think it’s easier and more intuitive to get around Volusion admin than BigC. With BigC, you click on product name in admin and it takes you to the live page. You have to click on a teeny EDIT text in the far right of your screen to get to edit it. In Volusion the linked text to edit is on the left where you naturally have your mouse.

What does bigcommerce and Interspire do better?
Much easier to create the design you want, including easy to modify templates.
Statistics- Which products are selling best? Who are the best customers. This is simple with Bigcommerce, but not readily available with Volusion. Maybe you can see if you use custom options, but again, not easily.
– built in banner program for the store
– SEO tools. Volusion has good SEO set up, but Bigc has more.
The product page layout is far better right out of the box, including reviews.

PAYMENTS

In addition to the usual, Volusion has recurring billing and users can easily change their payment method. Merchants can easily collect more money right on the order page if the order is modified later (with customer permission and card details). Either site has the same needs to accept payments for an online store.
Bigcommerce states “We expect to have our compliance this coming May 2010”.

“Harper says BigCommerce’s main competitor is Yahoo Inc.’s Yahoo Merchant Solutions, also known as Yahoo Store, an e-commerce platform popular among small or start up e-retailers. He predicts that his company will grow from 3,000 to 13,000 clients by the end of the year and that they’ll mostly be e-retailers with fewer than 20 employees. He expects about 25% will have switched from a competitor.”

I could go on. Bigcommerce is a big solution for small niche companies. It does have some great features. But you need to know what’s missing before you start. Does it really have what your business needs. And check for PCI Compliance.

review of Volusion merchant accounts 101

Volusion references the standard fees for merchant accounts as Discount rate, Transaction fee, and Statement fee. Then additional fees you can avoid if you use Volusion which include the application fee, set-up fee, and customer support.

For the small business, all of the above is true. Most ecommerce businesses are offered rates that fit the above description. But what if you are processing hundreds of thousands or millions annually? If you are paying the above fees and nothing else, then actual costs are being averaged with a healthy profit built in.

How do I know this? Because EVERYONE PAYS INTERCHANGE. It doesn’t matter if you get your account from a bank, an independent service provider, or your local wholesale buyers club.  Interchange varies with hundreds of different rules creating hundreds of different rates, but in essence interchange for ecommerce includes a percentage rate and a per transaction fee. Then there are other fees such as the cross border fee, Visa misuse of authorization, authorization ( frequently bundled), MasterCard Brand Usage fee, and yes, the merchant discount.

If you are paying one fee, or a few fees, then your processor has estimated what their actual costs will be based on certain historical trends, then mark it up and charge you that.  The processor WILL ALWAYS estimate a healty profit to make sure they don’t lose money, because THEY PAY INTERCHANGE and associated costs, not bundled pricing. In summary, bundled fees equals higher costs and fees that are broken out into minute detail have the potential * to be the lowest cost.

Why the POTENTIAL and not the actual lowest cost? The same card could go through at 2.2% OR 2.95%. This is for another discussion. Basically, you need to see what interchange levels you hit so that you can MANAGE interchange qualification. Yes, you can manage costs. Well, probably not you, but with an expert service like what we provide, you’ll hit a lot more at 2.2% vs 2.95%. And we’ll get you wholesale prices instead of bundled rate packages.

Compare your Gateway and processor with one company vs two companies. After the initial account set up it’s virtually unheard of to have any problems with either the gateway or the processor if you are using quality companies. Volusion isn’t in the payment processing business. They outsource and get a referral fee. I believe you should pick the best gateway to achieve specific needs and the same for the processor. For example, do you need a virtual terminal? How important is online reporting for reconciliation? I think this is really a non-issue and I’m personally indifferent as to the benefits of using one or two companies. You should be too.

What is the application process like? Why is it faster with some processors vs others? It’s not because the application is vastly different, it’s almost always the quality of pricing and services you are hoping to get. I can place you with one merchant processor and have it approved in days but another might take a week or two. The longer process is for a provider that does a more thorough underwriting review and requires additional documentation beyond the basics. The benefits are numerous including ‘best in world’ online reporting and true wholesale pricing.

In conclusion, the overall Volusion merchant accounts 101 is a great starter review. However, unless you are a very small business, you can do better with pricing and other benefits without sacrificing service and quality.  I like the Volusion shopping cart and their service and I recommend them. Like all shopping carts though, you really need a thorough understanding of what you need to accomplish on both the front and back end to determine the best solution for you. That’s why there are so many carts out there- because people have different needs.

paypal payments pro vs Paymentech for ecommerce

Recently I switched a Volusion hosted ecommerce store from credit card processing with Paypal Payments Pro to the Paymentech platform via my ISO. (3D Merchant is not an ISO, but your blog author is an agent with multiple payment processing solutions to choose from, including Paymentech.)

I chose Paypal years ago when the store first started. It was just a ‘buy now’ button. Then it became a full fledged store, and I upgraded from regular paypal to Paypal Payments Pro. With Volusion, I bought the Volusion branded security certificate and used in the integrated Paypal checkout. This means customers would pay with a credit card just like on any other web site. Shoppers normally never know who a company’s processor is. They just get a receipt from the business they bought from. I also kept the Paypal option. This means a customer could also check out with Paypal or with any credit card.

Paypal Summary:
Paypal regular- customers checkout on the paypal web site.
Paypal Payments Pro- checkout just like any other store with your credit card, all on one page.
In either case, merchant fees are deducted from every transaction. Additionally, you have to login to Paypal, then request to transfer deposits from transactions to your bank. The transfer time to my bank account was about 2-3 business days, sometimes longer.
My typical transaction cost was 2.95% (excludes factoring in the monthly fee). This is not the same as effective rate covered below.

Processing via my ISO/paymentech
Credit cards- customers use a one page checkout. I’m using authorize.net as a gateway. I can login to authorize.net or Paymentech to view transaction information. The transfer time to my bank account with Paymentech is 2 days FIRM, add 1 day if Sunday is in the 2. Merchant fees are deducted once per month, which makes it much easier for reconcilation.
I’m paying pass through interchange now instead of being lumped into one big rate. For example, I hit the CPS Rewards rate of 1.9% most frequently. My worst interchange rate is 2.3%.

Customers who use this same scenario also need to add the merchant discount, per transaction fee, dues and assessments, and monthly statement fee. Paypal checkout is still offered; customer checkout is on the paypal web site. Customers rarely use it.

The old Paypal effective rate was 3.75% when I ran it just before switching and the new effective rate for my B2B stores which usually hit higher interchange rates because of corporate cards is probably going to be about 2.2%. The effective rate includes all fees- monthly statement, percent of transaction, per transaction fee and everything else.

Summary:
The old way (Paypal Pro) was cost efficient when the store first opened, but later became costly and I didn’t like that customers would see ‘paypal’ on their credit card statements when they paid via normal checkout. It was also a manual process when I wanted to partially refund a customer.
The new way (regular merchant account) , which includes authorize.net, has reduced bookkeeping and customer care time because of the superior transaction flexibility. In reality, those costs are probably much higher than what I am saving on the processing, but the hard cash savings is great too!

Old effective rate 3.75% vs new effective rate 2.2%. Your ecommerce effective rate will vary since the merchant discount, a fee over and above interchange, is usually tied to volume. Additionally the type of buyer correlates to the type of credit card used.

Click here to get a new merchant account or fill in our online form for a merchant account analysis.