WooCommerce is often brought up when you consider the best solution for rapidly growing online stores. You can build a store with 5 product or a huge collection of thousands of products. No matter the size of your business the plugin is always free! As long as your hosting and infrastructure can handle the visitors and unlimited products, you are good to go.
WooCommerce powers 41 percent of all online shops. That doesn’t just make it the most popular eCommerce solution for the WordPress platform but the most popular eCommerce solution, period. WooCommerce currently has three million active installs and in 2015, its parent company WooThemes was acquired by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com.
WooCommerce – Pros
Cost-effective – WooCommerce’s first advantage is its price tag — it’s free. You can download it without charge in the WordPress directory. Since WordPress is also free, you can build a full-fledged online shop for the cost of a hosting package. While some advanced features might be paid (more on that below) most extensions are quite affordable and, most importantly, only need to be purchased once and not subscribed to.
Easy to set up and use – Since we are talking about a WordPress plugin, setup is really easy. Download, install and activate. After that, a setup wizard will guide you through the beginner-friendly setup. Once you are done, creating and managing products is as easy as managing other WordPress content. Detailed settings also give you full control over your shop.
Feature-rich – Users of WordPress eCommerce can sell both physical and digital goods as well as affiliate goods. You can set up product variations, multiple shipping options, and payment gateways as well as coupons, take advantage of full inventory and order management, as well as obtain detailed reporting.
Highly extendable – Besides the standard features, the eCommerce solution offers a plethora of free and paid extensions. For example, you can add PDF invoices, multi-language capabilities, membership functionality, additional payment options and much more. The price range for a paid extension with WooCommerce is from free to $249 for a single-site license.
Customization – WooCommerce integrates well with most themes so you are free to choose your own design from thousands of possibilities. There are also special WooCommerce-ready themes, as well as child themes. Since everything is based on WordPress, with some technical chops you can basically customize everything and the plugin itself is also very developer-friendly.
Well supported – The support structure behind WordPress eCommerce is great. Users profit from regular updates and multiple support channels (WordPress forums, documentation, email support from WooThemes). It is also very well established, which makes it easier to find affordable hired help.
SEO and marketing – With WordPress in the background, users get to enjoy the search engine optimization of the platform and can take advantage of powerful SEO plugins like Yoast SEO. Most importantly though, the platform is a blogging powerhouse which shops can use for content marketing.
Full ownership – Finally, one of the main benefits of WooCommerce is that with a self-hosted WordPress website your online shop is fully yours and nobody else’s. With everything located on your own server, you have complete control over what happens with your shops and can always take it with you when you change providers.
WooCommerce – Cons
Advanced customization’s need skills – Users can change a lot about their site via mouse clicks and the UI. However, the possibilities you have in terms of design changes is highly dependent on the theme you are using. Advanced customization might require editing templates and styles, which beginners might find difficult and for which they will possibly have to hire someone else.
Dependent on WordPress – As mentioned, WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, not standalone software. For that reason, you have to be familiar with the WordPress platform and there will be a learning curve for those unfamiliar with the CMS. However, the same is true for all eCommerce solutions on this list.
True costs difficult to calculate – Running a WooCommerce-based online shop comes with different costs including hosting, maintenance and security measures. Many of these have to be set up separately and are dependent on the providers you use. Some research will be required, however, there are also many all-in-one service providers.