July 16, 2012, 3:11 PM

Volusion’s CEO promises upgrades following last week’s outage

But e-retailers that use its e-commerce platform report more problems. 

Paul Demery

Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

Lead Photo

Following a power outage in its main data center that left retail clients of Volusion Inc. without operational e-commerce sites for several hours on July 9, CEO Clay Olivier issued a statement saying Volusion is spending heavily on new data center technology and operations.

“We understand the frustration that you experienced during this time, and are equally frustrated that we could not restore services to you faster,” he wrote in a July 12 note to clients posted on Volusion’s web site. “We assure you that our promise of delivering an excellent e-commerce experience for you and your customers remains our No. 1 focus.”

To make good on that promise, Olivier says Volusion is using a $150 million, 250,000-square-foot data center built last year and that the center “exceeds standards across the board for power, cooling, security, structure and support.”

In addition, Volusion will invest $10 million this year in additional redundant data center infrastructure, he says.

Despite those improvements, however, several of Volusion’s retailer clients say they experienced another power outage for more than two hours late in the afternoon and early evening on Sunday, when Volusion posted online status updates about service interruptions.

Volusion noted today on a web page where it reports its technology system status that its technology was running without interruption. Volusion offered no further details about its data centers or where they are located.

A Volusion spokeswoman, however, said Sunday’s outage affected a small percentage of clients. “While this isolated issue impacted a small percentage of merchants, our engineering team was able to get the majority of affected customers back to functionality in a short period of time,” she said.

Volusion serves mostly smaller retailers, including 11 merchants in the Internet Retailer Second 500 Guide and two in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

One retailer who contacted Internet Retailer and asked to remain anonymous said Sunday’s outage lasted for about 2.5 hours during what is usually a busy shopping period on his e-commerce site. Although he didn’t have an estimate of how much business he lost on Sunday, he said the prior outage for about four hours on July 9 cost him several thousand dollars in lost e-commerce sales.

“Our site was down for four hours and they gave me a credit for $52, but I lost more than $4,000,” he said. The credit, he added, was based on a formula tied to contract terms under which Volusion promises a minimum web site up time of 99%.

Comments | 20 Responses

  • Remember when AOL oversold their dial up product in the 1990's and customers got busy signals? Volusion has become the AOL of ecommerce. Remember when AOL sent everybody in the US an AOL CD in the mail...like every week? That's known as quantity over quality. Volusion seems to be trying to get as many on board as possible while the product has become stagnant. Mr Oliver should direct some of those funds to intelligent product development and tidy up the numerous half-baked features and product deficiencies that Volusion has released in the past few years.

  • rickh: you're exactly right! What do you do when your product is ****** You go after new Customers because you can't keep the current ones you already have. They have no interest in making their product an elite level program. exactly why I don't give V any credit for the "apology letter", the only reason the letter was sent was the outage was made "public", so the only response is a very public "apology" and "solution". If this whole thing had been kept quiet like most of their issues, it never would have led to this public letter. Stay away from Volusion. Every error by Volusion big or small will be made public. The company has ZERO appreciation or respect for it's customers.

    • I agree 100%

    • could not agree more. i will note that the problems started with the new CEO, things were running pretty well when the founder was CEO

  • This is what happens to a company that is started by a 16 year old boy in his bedroom. Lots of money comes in but eventually, when the competition starts to create a better product, your inexperience starts to show and your company starts to fail.

    • Birdsafe operates a very small operation in a very limited market and appears to be a one man band working out of his home and 20% of nothing is nothing. This is the type of merchant is *easy to please* because they lose very little when Volusion has failure. Compare that with merchants that have a lot more at stake and bigger responsibilities like payroll and health insurance for dozens of employees. So, Birdsafe lives in his world and we live in ours. Bless us both. However, both of our stores exist on Volusion servers that fail. As Edmund Burke stated, "The equal treatment of unequals is the greatest injustice of all."

    • Oops. Meant to post this as a reply to the comment below. Hope the moderator fixes it.

  • I've been with Volusion 2 years and had well over 99 percent uptime, including this power outage. While it's unfortunate that they deemed this not their fault -- which I disagree, it was a failure of their equipment -- their service and support has been outstanding. I've been operating an ecommerce site for 11 years and Volusion is our third platform, and not only has the support and service been well above what we were used to, sales grew 20 percent year over year after starting with them. Volusion is a big player, and therefore you are going to have more unhappy customers and they are going to be more vocal. Before selecting Volusion, we evaluated four other platforms, spent some time with their trial stores, reached out to support, and spent time on their forums. By and large there were just as many people complaining about issues with those platforms as there are about Volusion. Success with a partner such as Volusion depends on a two-way professional relationship that produces better results for the end customer.

    • Ignore Birdsafe. He is a Volusion shill. Never has a bad thing to say about them, his site is never down, his sales are outstanding, love is always in the air. You say this same **** in the foums. When people complain about their sites being down, you jump in telling all of us how wonderful your sales are, how awesome Volusion support is and how you almost never see any downtime. Brown noser or paid shill. Find a girlfriend dude. Two way street????? Tell me how I can control the data center being down almost every day. The stories on the internet dont lie. Volusion couldnt keep their data center up for a week in their lives depended on it.

    • LOL! This guy is a piece of work. Has to be paid by them, it's hilarious. Go back to selling your overpriced bird sticks. Thousands of people cant be wrong, cause your the ONLY one talking good about them.

    • I think birdsafe works for volusion just look how he writes

  • We have just been down yet again. We can't through to support without long waits, when we finally do they have no answers. Support tickets go unanswered for months. Their status page is a joke that is when it is working. Volusion is killing our business. We have been with Volusion for many years and had hoped that they would get their act together but I am afraid that Volusion is broken.

  • Volusion likes to ban and remove from their forums all who speak negatively of them, you cannot even bring up any issues. if you do, you are banned. I was threatened by them for pointing a member to another forum where they could get the help they needed and volusion threatened to bring down my store if i did it again.

    • Volusion does rush to threaten to shut down your store and you lose all your products and data, they are acting like mafia and refuse to fix the problems they are causing their customers

  • Man -- IR really needs to fix thier child restriction limits -- too many spoil rotten brats in here that want to do nothing more than bash a company because have downtime! Grow up guys. Quit stomping your feet when things don't go your way and act like adults.

    • birdsafe you either don't have a real business or you work for volusion

  • The problems are not limited to increasingly frequent downtime, they keep having technical and payment processing glitches too.

  • Matjoy -- as you are about other things, you are incorrect on both assumptions!

  • I'll be the 1st to admit that I DO work for Premium Web Cart so you know I'm strongly biased but there is a history of Volusion having great uptime when they used RackSpace as their data center. RackSpace is widely known as the preeminent server colocation service provider but they charge accordingly - in other words, they are not bashful when they quote prices to their customers. The key is that RackSpace keeps your servers running 24/7 and you will never, ever, hear of a "power outage" from one of their customers unless a nuclear strike lands a bullseye on their facility. A "real" data center as full capacity diesel generators to keep their operations going 100% regardless of outside power supplies. Volusion is now managing their own servers and it looks like they learned the hard way that RackSpace was actually earning more of their princely fee than they thought. We continue to use RackSpace and I can tell you from 1st hand experience that they resolve problems in minutes versus hours.

  • I met with Kevin Sproles (the Founder of Volusion) a couple of years ago asking if the software would get any better as to keep up with the growth of my company, I was told that Volusion would continue to grow with "industry standards" and does not have the capacity to innovate according to customer requests. The honest truth is that Customer Service agents are cheaper than Software Developers, so Volusion is making a larger profit dealing with angry customers and getting new customers, then to fix and innovate the software. Its unfortunate as they used to be a good platform, and now they are just falling behind and eventually will sell-out or disappear. (I personally think they sell the company before the end of 2013, all signs point to them prepping) Good Luck All! (ex-Volusion customer)

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