Busy signal at Volusion

Volusion just came out with a new release of their shopping cart software. I wanted to blog about it – but I also wanted to ask them about whether bandwidth-based pricing in hosted e-commerce (which they use) is inherently misleading. Some people have reported significant surcharges for “exceeding their bandwidth allocation” – are they just anomalies? What percentage of Volusion’s clients pay an additional bandwidth charge every month? Do any users at the lowest tiers not pay surcharges? When I didn’t receive a response for five days, I thought I’d check the ticket, but found that it had been closed with no acknowledgement! When I pressed them on the issue, they deleted the ticket. It’s almost as though they’re dodging the issue. Hmm…..

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28 Responses to Busy signal at Volusion

  1. Volusion does indeed charge bandwidth overage charges. There is full indication of this when customers sign up.

    Most of our customers do not pay bandwidth overage charges since they are not locked into any specific plan. If a customer is on a bronze plan which is $59 a month, he or she can easily upgrade to the next plan up which is $79 a month rather than pay overage fees.

    Excessive traffic on a site does translate to more expensive hosting costs for us, so we choose to charge overage fees rather than let our other customers subsidize the additional cost generated by these sites.

    I would be happy to discuss the new features of version 5. Please email me any questions you have.

    Regards,
    Michelle Greer
    Marketing Specialist
    Volusion Inc.

    Like

  2. Kristin says:

    Bandwidth is truly a killer with the Volusion solution. We now pay over $1000 per month due to bandwidth overages and there is no flexibility to create a customized plan based on our traffic.

    We began exceeding our bandwidth early on … probably the first month or two and have upgraded to the highest available plan, but it’s still not enough for a mid-sized store.

    So, unfortunately this will just go up-up-up. Definitely something to consider when planning your budget!

    Like

  3. cartguy says:

    Bandwidth pricing is probably not a sustainable model, since carts are coming out now that do not charge for it. For instance, Shopify has an unlimited bandwidth policy. This will definitely be something to watch in the hosted cart space. Thanks for your update!

    Like

  4. Kristin says:

    Yes… we are hoping for a change in the future, for we actually would like to stay with Volusion because there are many aspects of the service are satisfied with (e.g., we have always found their support to be very responsive and the back-end system to be flexible).

    While Michelle makes a good point that small retailers shouldn’t be expected to pay more and that it is appropriate to have low cost plans for those just getting started, we would just like to see a pricing plan that is not “one-size fits all” on the other end, where there is currently no limit to charges based on bandwidth.

    In other words, perhaps the gross margin percent generated by Volusion should be reduced for retailers that bring in high revenue $$ – and volume discounts should be considered.

    If Volusion (and other carts) would create new pricing plans for stores that generate 100GB+ in traffic without charging overages, many might go for it and stick with their ASP providers for the long haul.

    I actually find the charging a “percentage of sales” model intriguing if the price is reasonable- not because I want to give up a piece of the pie, but because I think a sales volume based plan could have the effect of being a “North Star” for a shopping cart development team.

    For every bit of development effort, they’d have to ask the question “is this something that will improve retailer revenue?” and prioritize efforts based on what will have the greatest impact on sales, for their own success would be tied to that of their customers.

    I don’t know if this has worked for Yahoo! or not, but I definitely think it could have an interesting impact on the development culture of an e-commerce house.

    Like

  5. Kristin,

    Many carts charge a “percentage of sales”. Commonly these fees are called “transaction fees”, and thousands of merchants complain about them all the time.

    I have spoken to hundreds of customers who switched from Yahoo to http://www.volusion.com because of transaction fees. Some literally spent thousands of dollars every month because of them. The number of transactions does not cost Yahoo a penny. The amount of bandwidth merchants use does.

    All of our features come directly from Volusion merchants. If you feel our cart is missing something that would generate more revenue for your store, by all means, tell us. Our success does not depend on search engine marketing revenues or the success of other ventures. It depends on the success of you, the merchant.

    If you have not already, please consider a semi-dedicated solution. A semi-dedicated premium plan will translate to faster speed for your site and should accommodate your bandwidth usage.

    Be careful what you wish for. “Percentage of Sales” might sound enticing, but can be very costly in the end.

    Like

  6. Dan says:

    I am just about to sign up for a Platinum ( we have just over 1200 products) Account and started to check around on issues.
    I like the software features and operation.

    I thought that we would have a great little store and not exceed bandwidth from what the salesman expressed.
    When I talked about traffic and use his response was :

    “The platinum store has 15 GB of bandwidth a month, which equals to between 1500-2250 customers per day on the site.”

    He failed to mention the “other traffic” the spiders, and other creatures of the web.
    Well I didn’t really ask that and he is a salesman after all.

    Is it the pictures that cause the traffic? Would it be less for a members only store or do they still creep in and squander bandwidth?

    thanks for any replys

    Dan

    Like

  7. angry customer says:

    Volusion’s bandwidth plan is insane. almost EVERYONE go over the plan and they shut people up. the bandwidth pricing is extremely high and that BS. we have to reduce pictures, reduce pictures quality just to save on bandwidth. thats totally BS. we are stuck with volusion and we are planning to move to other solution with better deal. V is a monster eat your money

    Like

  8. rick says:

    I love the Volusion cart, I HATE the bandwidth fees. It would have been different if they didn’t wait six months till I had the store set up before tripling my bill through bandwidth charges.

    I’m looking strongly at purchasing a shopping cart to host with a different hosting company. I think it’s unfortunate that Volusion stopped selling their cart about the same time I started getting ripped with excess bandwidth charges. I would have gladly dropped 3-5K for their software.

    Like

  9. Ronnie Liddle says:

    The bandwidth issue is huge. I had major overages with support saying “too bad”. It is horrible that they give you such little bandwidth. It is like a bait and switch. I left volusion and went to Network Solutions, but now I am with CoreCommerce. They gave me a lot more bandwidth and the software has the same or more features than volusion. I think they will give volusion a run for their money.

    Like

  10. David says:

    We have been charged bandwidth overages many times and finally moved to semi-dedicated. Though Volusion have nice features, their support is very poor. They do not care about their customers. I have been with them almost 4 years and their support is always rude except for the first couple months when I was on Trial where the representative will call me to check up on the trail and when I expect to enroll.

    Worse, email problems. We had several email incident where we cannot access email and customers did not receive email confirmation. Overall their response was too bad. Just wait wait until it gets fixed. Couple days later, the same problem.

    Also, many times the application pool or whatever has the be recycled. I thought this should be automatically. Nope, they said that the customer has to request it. I have to request it after receiving many calls and complaints from customer that cannot place orders. What were they thinking? If they know it should be recycled, recycle the pool then. Why wait… dah!

    Many upgrades on the backend recently, no documentation. Cannot access the email administration because it requires login and password. I never had one before and when I created ticket, they said there is no problem. Just login. Well…. I do not know which email is for the admin and what is the password. It was never required before. I used My.Volusion login and password but it did not work. Used my store login and password, and it did not work. Try to get support and still waiting. Overall… good features on the product but bad support. Very very bad support.

    Overall, if you run serious business, I do not recommend them. You cannot run a businees without good support or your business will limp on one leg.

    Right now testing couple other applications to get ready to move unless a miracle happen to Volusion and they become nicer, have support, and really care about their customers. I do not think that will happen any soon though I wish they would so that I don’t have to spend so much time on IT and spend more time on business.

    Like

  11. Jay says:

    I’m really interested in Shopify.com. We are currently using Volusion and are getting frustrated with many aspect of the cart.

    Specifically:

    1) It is limited and not as customizable as we need it to be, especially on the 1 Page Check Out.

    2) Weird things happen like shipping options disappearing randomly and controlling text alignment on featured and category items can not be done.

    3) It’s buggy with PayPal; If a customer proceeds to PayPal it registers a sale even if a customer decides to abandon the sale.

    4) Bandwidth costs really start adding up and it takes doing a ton of business online for 1% of sales to adding up vs their bandwidth costs. Actually, bandwidth costs are plenty more than 1%.

    5) We have to make a lot of changes to move our store to Volusion 5 (which is even more restrictive in terms of customization). This has forced us to look at what other hosted services are available.

    6) I don’t bother making suggestions the ones I have made fall on deaf ears.

    Overall, Volusion is far better than what we were using before and it has some great capabilities. That said, investigating moving to a new cart really makes sense at this point.

    [TheCartBlog: The Shopify guys are great. Click here to learn more about Shopify.]

    Like

  12. Jay says:

    Yes, I did e-mail the folks at Shopify. Their backend is nice and simple, and they make the shopping experience really nice. Unfortunately, it’s too simple for our needs at this point and there are definite limitations.

    1) Shopify does not allow mass import or exporting. This is a really important feature. Although, they did say this is coming.

    2) It does not integrate with Stone Edge.

    3) No API (there are rumblings that this is coming, as well).

    They were quick to get back to me, and I really do want to give them a try once they get some of the back end stuff worked out.

    [TheCartBlog: Readers: For more information about Shopify, see my interview or their website.]

    Like

  13. Current Volusion User says:

    Thanks for the info. on Shopify. Mass import/export is a requirement since I have over 1000 items.

    I am with Volusion and my suggestions have also fallen on deaf ears, so I have given up on making suggestions. There loss. They should celebrate suggestions to improve their product, but they get all defensive. The bandwidth charges are annoying and a big negative.

    Like

  14. Jason Mathene says:

    I currently use Corecommerce and like that. I use their mass import/export for around 4,800 products. Maybe something to look into for you.

    Good luck.

    Like

  15. Just for information about Shopify.com:

    1.) Shopify now has bulk import/export support (more info at: http://blog.shopify.com/2008/7/1/product-import-export)

    2.) The API is pending a full release. It’s accessible through the beta portal at http://www.shopify.com/developers as an early access program, but it’s fully functional and many companies are already preparing shopify applications for the full launch.

    Like

  16. Jeremy says:

    Thanks for the info. Some of the themes here seem consistent with what I’m reading elsewhere. Perhaps enough feedback will encourage Volusion to address some of these issues.

    Like

  17. George says:

    I’ve been using Zoovy.com for a couple of years now and very satisfied with their ecommerce solution. They’ve got the best support I’ve ever had to deal with, very helpful, and they not charge for bandwidth at all.

    Like

  18. Ryan Kirk says:

    I got to this page by Googling “better than volusion”. It’s what I always do when I’ve settled on a product then start to have second thoughts. I’m glad I did. After calculating the bandwidth necessary for my site, I’d go way over Volusion’s plans.

    Like

  19. John says:

    Wow! glad I ran across this blog. I was just considering using Volusion for my new business after trying their 14 day free trial but now I am really concerned about the bandwidth issues and ridiculous over charges.

    Thanks for posting your comments everyone… you probably saved me a lot of headaches and financial problems.

    Like

  20. Michael says:

    I just looked at Volusion and after speaking with them they told me that they have reduced their pricing and increased all bandwidth on all plans. Any thoughts on this?

    Like

  21. The actual worst part of volusion is their “tough sh^t” attitude in customer service. I don’t know how many times our site has gone down or just been VERY slow (and we’re on dedicated server). They just bumped their bandwith allowance, but its not enough for me. I’m actively looking to switch. I need something with POS function and would love a multiple-storefront option.

    anyway, it’s because of their CS attitude that I’m done with them.

    Like

  22. Craig says:

    They changed because they left Rackspace and now host on their own. Since then there has been outage issues with volusion.

    Like

  23. BillyBaroo says:

    Volusion has based their business model on BW overages and makes an absolute fortune on these charges. And its a shame because their Cart is great otherwise. We pay $1200 per month in BW overages and are desperately searching for another cart solution. Bottom line, if you think your site will receive ANY amount of substantial traffic, look elsewhere as you will get KILLED with overage fees.

    Also, their recent “upgrade” and bump in BW allowances is a joke. Woohoo, they gave us 15 extra GB per month…now we’re only over by 200 GB

    Like

  24. Their prices went way down and they also increased the badwidth. . .

    Like

  25. YancyD says:

    So from the last oomment from Freelance on 10/16/09, does that mean they got better and I should still think about using them??

    Like

  26. Yana says:

    Bandwidth isn’t cheap. But Volusion does overcharge for it and does not provide enough monitoring to the customer to see if they will be overbilled in the current month. They also claim to have a dedicated servers, but they dont guarantee bandwidth / hardware allocation. Not worth it.

    I work with Shopping Cart Elite (www.shoppingcartelite.com), similiar to Volusion except much more features and they show you where you are with bandwidth and offer real dedicated solutions.

    Like

  27. KathyT says:

    I downloaded the free trial of volusion and fell in love with the software. But as I began to question the bandwidth – and contact customer support about it – I was totally turned off. I asked what happens when you go over the max amount alloted in the plan — they said it is $7 per GB over. OUCH! I asked, where is this info documented so I would know it BEFORE spending my money and signing up. They said “IT’s NOT DOCUMENTED” — so not only is it hidden unless you ask – they can change that price at any time! I contacted them on Facebook about this issue (making it more public) and they said it is documented. . . and then sent me a link to a Blank Page on their site. I did a search for Reviews about them — HORRIBLE!
    This is so said, they have such wonderful software that tons of people would love to use (or purchase right out) – but they are a shady company that really tries to rip you off in the end. Thank goodness for web reviews!

    Like

  28. John says:

    This is what most successful e-commerce websites will eventually encounter with Volusion. Not only it is a financial issue, it is also a customer service issue. Volusion just does not share the same customer service values required to run a successful business.

    Even Google reverses AdWords clicks that do not bring value to their customers, which is a basic principle.

    Hello,

    What we determine to be “illegitimate” bandwidth usage would be if our calculation system or stats has failed and is calculating traffic that has not actually occurred on your site. While I do understand that this was not solicited bandwidth, the nature of conducting business with an online store does lend itself to receiving traffic from bots that are crawling/indexing your page, as well as possible spammers driving up bandwidth. This is not something that Volusion would monitor for you . We do provide tools within the software to block unwanted traffic from specific IP addresses. Since this IP did legitimately use this much data by crawling your site however, it is legitimate bandwidth because our stats page did not miscalculate the amount of overages that were generated by this traffic. We are not able to provide a refund for bandwidth overages. I apologize for any inconvenience.

    If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us by email response, submitting a ticket through http://my.volusion.com or via phone at 1.800.646.3517 option 1. Please allow up to 2 business days for us to respond to requests submitted via email or ticket.

    Thank you for choosing Volusion!

    Kind regards,
    Caitlyn W.
    Volusion Account Services

    Like

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