In the ongoing struggle between the two most popular hosted ecommerce solutions, new faces and new features are the weapons of choice
Solidly built and well-marketed, Volusion spent the past twenty years making itself into one of the world’s biggest providers of hosted ecommerce solutions. Then, three years ago, a young rival showed up on the scene – BigCommerce. Today, both companies are thriving, and preparing themselves for the next round of competition.
Three years ago, the fledgling BigCommerce took advantage of their position as the newer, lighter, more agile platform. They had no cumbersome chain of command to slog through in order to make changes, and they showed themselves extremely adaptable and sensitive to the needs of their customers. Where Volusion’s custom was to release a new version every year or so, BigCommerce acted on the fly, quick to respond to what their customers want. They not only introduced features and functionality within a few weeks of becoming aware of the need, but they even anticipated and addressed needs in the making.
BigCommerce benefited from twenty years of Volusion’s hindsight. In their war-rooms, they made their lists of complaints customers had grudgingly accepted with the Volusion platform, and determined to release a product that excelled in those very areas. With that lightning-fast, agile freshness of a new platform, they quickly gobbled up a large share of market territory formerly considered to be safely in the hands of Volusion.
With features such as built-in accounting, social, shipping, analytical, and marketing tools, “hard-core SEO”, and with more than a hundred design templates included in the package, they positioned themselves as “the easiest way to sell online”. According to their blog, in just three years, they grew from 30 to 150 employees, from 200 to 25,000 clients, with hosted sites that bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
But Volusion hasn’t been sitting idly by, glorying in its past accomplishments. Both of these giant hosted ecommerce solutions have been preparing themselves for the end of August, at which time they both plan to release their latest and greatest offerings.
Here’s what’s on the way:
BigCommerce: New Features Pull Punches
BigCommerce’s newest version even simpler and easier-to-use than the last one. In their brand, the design of their site, and the user experience, BigCommerce is aiming to pare their application down to its most elegant form.
In functionality, that includes color-coding, drag-and-drop control on product-adding, a simpler and more intuitive dashboard, cleaner order tracking, improved navigation, and greater usability on key screens.
In appearance, changes include a simpler color scheme, more whitespace, and a nicer typography. In addition, BigCommerce is adding to their already long list of features, with a few smacking-new toys for its clients to play with, like a Carousel Builder, which allows the client to make a rotating carousel on the homepage, as well as customizable social media icons for the store footer. There are also a slew of new default template themes on their way.
That’s the application itself. But changes to the BigCommerce website and to its brand image also indicate its coming of age among the hosted ecommerce platforms. They’ve “redesigned the entire look and feel from scratch”, which includes a new logo, a new color scheme, and a simpler website. No longer are the new kids on the block “the easiest way to sell on line”. Their new tagline, “Sell More”, says it all, reflecting their maturation, progress, and focus on becoming an even bigger, BigCommerce.
Will these upgrades leave Volusion out for the count?
And in this corner: Volusion V13
All of these changes to the BigCommerce platform would seem to leave good ‘ole Granny Volusion with her two best friends (the horse-drawn wagon and the ice box), drinking watered-down scotch on the porch, and reminiscing about the good old days, when things were just simpler.
It’s true that, unlike BigCommerce, Volusion isn’t tampering with their deeply entrenched and well-respected brand. They are however, introducing five distinct sets of improvements to prove to their large customer base, and to all their new potential customers, that their age should be considered a mark of distinction that in no way hinders their ability to keep up with the rapidly-changing world.
- Admin Redesign: Volusion, like BigCommerce, is putting on a fresh face for the new year, with a cleaner, less cluttered design, brighter, warmer colors, and other stylistic improvements that (they are careful to point out) in no way affect the performance of their already functioning application.
- Ebay Integration: For Gold, Platinum and custom clients, Volusion expands the reach of their ecommerce stores, by seamlessly integrating the platform with the 100 million plus active eBay users. This enhanced functionality will greatly broaden the reach of these online stores, making Volusion even more attractive to potential ecommerce website owners.
- Enhanced Ratings and Reviews: With the newest release, the products sold on Volusion-hosted ecommerce sites will show their product review stars right on the Google results. This sweep of marketing genius will give the consumer the information about the product she wants right in her search results. A click saved is still a click earned, and so the value of this new feature cannot be overestimated.
- Tablet-Ready Admin: Volusion hasn’t taken its finger off the pulse of today’s trends. In the newest release, they’ve addressed the monotonous march towards mobility; they’ve thoroughly scaled their platform to the tablet. Lookout BigCommerce. Granny’s got a gun.
- Enhanced Product Image Viewer: Volusion hasn’t forgotten that seeing is still believing, and has therefore included a new product lightbox in its upcoming release. Full-size images of their client’s products take another peel off customer’s buying reluctance, adding to the marketing advantage of the Volusion platform.
There Can be Only One #1
Both the ecommerce hosted-solution giants have accepted each other’s presence, and look towards a long-term struggle for supremacy. Both Volusion and BigCommerce are just about ready to release their next round of firepower.
In short, BigCommerce has shed the pounds it gained on its struggle to the big time, by paring down functionality and appearance to its most elegant form. At the same time, Volusion has added some powerful marketing draws for its customers, addressing the ever-changing needs of the internet generation.
At New Edge Design, we work with both platforms every day and often guide clients in choosing between them. With the current race for upgrades, it’s often a close call.
Who do you have your money on?