The second stop on my quest to learning all things eCommerce at 1Digital Agency took me through the Volusion trial, where I built a store from scratch and explored the ins and outs of managing a retail business through the Volusion platform. Within a week I had produced a site I could feel good about. A big part of that success was due to multiple built in features and overall user friendliness. Here’s a look at my experience.
After logging in with some basic information, Volusion takes you straight to the control center, aka your dashboard. It was very useful to watch the quick videos and take a virtual tour before anything, since there are so many things to do from this starting point. From there the next step was to choose a template.
The filtering tools on the left help to narrow down your search by color, price, style and industry. You can easily switch to a new template without losing any product information you’ve already entered. I started with Technologik then switched to District 2.0 because I wanted more white space and responsive design.
Once you’ve settled on a template, it’s time to add your products. Save yourself some time by adding your categories first. This way you can attach the products to the appropriate categories in one smooth step. The image below illustrates this point, just underneath the product description.
(click to enlarge image)
For my Volusion trial, I set up a golf equipment store called Caddy Clubs. Volusion makes it easy to add options to your products. In my case, I needed to offer clubs for both right and left handed players. I also had some shirts which came in different colors and sizes. Each time I created a new option it was auto saved, that way if another product required the same option it was quick and easy to check the new box, rather than having to add it every time.
You’ll want to make this template feel like your own by branding it with your company’s logo. In the Design section of your Dashboard menu, go to Logos and then upload the text or graphic you want to use. Volusion conveniently adjusts the size of the graphic to fit mobile screens as well as company invoices.
Making simple changes to things like your homepage slider is a great place to start.
Once you’ve got your images uploaded, you can rearrange the order and the layout of the slideshow. Depending on how much content your images contain, you can speed up or slow down the transitions as well.
Since you are working in a template, there are limits to what you can do design wise. If you want to make custom changes to the site, you either need to know how to code or have someone make custom changes for you. Consider that once you start adding code to your site, it becomes much harder to switch to another template.
The nuts and bolts that hold any eCommerce business together can be found under the Settings tab. Design and imagery may be fun and interesting, but you will need to spend some time configuring things like shipping, taxes and payments.
In the shipping section you have the option to set flat rates, special rates and real time rates from shipping providers like FedEx, USPS, Royal Mail and others. This feature adds transparency between you and your customers, which gives you credibility and is helpful for sales.
Taxes are never fun, but Volusion will automatically integrate a standard set of U.S. tax rates when you launch your store. Much like the content feature that generates company information, this can save a ton of time for a business owner. With a Volusion account you will also have access to several payment gateways. Volusion Merchant Services is a good place for any new business to start, with low transaction fees and fast setup.
Preview and Launch
You can preview your site at any time in this process by clicking the View Store logo in the top left of your dashboard . Jump back and forth between the site and dashboard as you see things that need to be adjusted until you feel your site is ready for launch. Now it’s go time!
I would encourage anyone interested in building a site to take advantage of a free trial period like this. For the same reason I would tell someone to test drive a car before buying it. Once you’ve spent some time with it, you’ll know your comfort levels, what you can and can’t handle, and if you need to continue your search.
- Dan Kogan
- June 25, 2015