eCommerce Options Within WordPress
Quick Intro on WordPress
According to a web survey by W3Techs, WordPress (WP) powers 30 percent of all sites on the web. That is a 5 percent increase from 2015. WP is a great platform that is easy to manage and customize for your specific business needs. You may already have a WP website, so why make a new one? All you need to do is use a WP plugin to create your online store. Some companies may consider rebuilding their WP site for eCommerce, depending on the theme they use. Consider your options. There are many out there. This blog will list some of those options for you.
Options for eCommerce in WP
WP has many options for eCommerce plugins. Some of these plugins are free and others need to be purchased. Each plugin has its own strengths and weaknesses. Some are specialized for selling digital goods, such as photos, music or eBooks (things that can be downloaded online). Others are suited better for selling physical goods that would need shipping and inventory management.
You also need to think about what payment gateways you will use to accept payments. Payment gateway options vary with each plugin.
When you create an eCommerce plugin there will not be a theme. Instead you will need to make sure the theme you have will work with the plugin you choose. If you already have an existing theme for your site, see what options already exist within that theme. Make sure there are support options for your theme.
WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce plugin. Woo has many themes available, which means you have many options to choose for the layout and design for your site. The benefit of using WooCommerce is the large, supportive open-source community. Having this community provides forums for Q&A support to help you with your site.
WooCommerce supports both digital and physical products, as well as subscriptions. Woocommerce has a great inventory management system and supports many popular payment gateways. Sorting through all the options available, finding the right setting, and choosing the correct add-ons can feel overwhelming.
WooCommerce works with all the WP themes, but it is not always easy to set up every theme that is available. I would recommend using a WooCommerce-ready theme.
Another benefit of WooCommerce is the option for multilingual sites.
The one downside of WooCommerce is that it will only combine with WordPress sites. If you don’t have a WordPress site, you will have to search out other eCommerce options.
If you are considering WooCommerce, it is free, but there are some payments you will need to consider. Typically, a domain name costs $14.99, an SSL Certificate is $69.99, and web hosting is around $7.99/month.
Overall, WooCommerce is the most popular WP option for a reason; it has a huge community behind it and gives you the most options for your eCommerce site. But I have listed other great options below.
Easy Digital Downloads
Easy Digital Downloads is an eCommerce platform designed to sell digitally downloadable products. This is a great tool for new developers. Once again, I would recommend using a theme setup for the Easy Digital Downloads plugin. While it works with most WP themes, you will need to be sure it works with yours.
If you become a premium user, you will be allowed access to free support forums and other priority support options. If you are just selling digital downloads, and you don’t plan on expanding your eCommerce store to selling physical products, this would be a good fit.
Easy Digital Downloads offers four plans starting at $99/year up to $499/year. You would need to sort through the costs and benefits of each plan for your business. If you’re not interested in WooCommerce or EDD, then consider Shopify.
Shopify and your WordPress Site
The great thing about Shopify is it is easy for beginners. You don’t have to be technical. There’s no need to worry about SSL, handling taxes, etc. On the other hand, those monthly payments required with Shopify can add up, and the reality is there will be long-term cost and personal time spent in developing a store on Shopify. You may want to explore what it may cost to have a developer build a WooCommerce site.
On the flip side, here is what Shopify offers. If it fits your business needs, it has simple payment and shipping options. Both digital and physical products can be sold, plus the social media integrations through Facebook and Twitter are already seamless.
The monthly fees vary on three levels – $29 for basic, $79 for Shopify, and $299 for an Advanced account. In addition to the monthly fees, Shopify charges you more if you don’t use Stripe, an online payment platform. You would need to set up an account with Stripe as well.
Overall, Shopify is good to have on your WP site for a simple, hassle-free eCommerce solution. The peace of mind can be nice in terms of having a one-stop provider for your eCommerce needs. It has many constraints when it comes to growing your business. If you decide to customize, you may run into more roadblocks with Shopify than with other plugins.
Not to overwhelm you, but here’s yet another option in the eCommerce world. MemberPress is a subscription-based plugin for digital products and services. If you are selling memberships and don’t plan to expand your eCommerce site, MemberPress is a good option.
It is $119/year, easy to use and has good support. This is not a versatile plugin. The checkout form is plain and simple. But if it suits your needs you don’t have to pay the additional cost of a more complex eCommerce site.
Even More Options
At this point, I have listed the mainstream plugins and eCommerce options. If you’re wondering what else you can choose from, here’s a list:
WP eCommerce is the oldest plugin available. Many say that is buggy, and they ultimately switch to WooCommerce. However, if you have interest and the time, you can look into it.
Similar to Shopify, BigCommerce is another cloud-hosted, eCommerce platform. BigCommerce gives more options than Shopify, but the drawback is the magnitude of options can be overwhelming. Like Shopify, it does not have native integration with a WP site, but you can embed it into your site.
This plugin is best for beginners. EcWid would be a good option if you just want to add eCommerce to your existing site rather than build an entire eCommerce site from scratch. It is free for 10 items and goes up to $99 a month for an unlimited number of products.
This plugin gives the best donation options. Give is good for non profits, as it keeps great analytics, data, and history and can work with custom forms. It is also free!
After looking at these many options, I have one piece of advice for you. If you need a highly-customized store that will drive a high-volume business, these options are not for you. Moving to another platform like Magento may be the best thing for your business in the long run.
For a WP site, WooCommerce is most likely your best option. It is the most versatile. If your business pivots and you want to make changes to your design or layout, WooCommerce provides the most flexibility. Easy Digital Downloads is great if you are just doing digital downloads. MemberPress is a simple solution for selling only memberships. Shopify is a perfect solution for a hands-off site, but remember it can only be embedded in WP and has limits as you expand your business.
If you are needing more consultation on the options surrounding your specific business needs, get in touch with me or one of my colleagues. At IT Hands, we can help you sort through the best route for you to follow in your business’ eCommerce journey.