WooCommerce is the undisputed champion for turning your WordPress website into an ecommerce selling platform. It stacks up very well against its competitors but there are some important details you need to know, so we’ve dissected all the good and bad parts about potentially using WooCommerce for your online store.
Comparing WooCommerce to the Best Ecommerce Platforms
WooCommerce is the best ecommerce plugin for WordPress, with the entire platform built on top of the WordPress ecosystem. This has its advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, you get a sturdy and robust platform that makes your already reliable WordPress site even better. But, you don’t get a helpful site builder with WooCommerce that you do with other platforms like Shopify or Squarespace, for example.
If you want to review other options for building an ecommerce store we’ve dissected the top providers out there in a single post. You’ll learn how each one can help you build an ecommerce store worthy of your products and services. Reading this post will enhance your knowledge of the best places to start if WooCommerce turns out not to be what you need. Head to our post to see all of our top ecommerce platform picks.
WooCommerce: The Good and the Bad
Easy implementation: WooCommerce is a plugin you simply add to your existing WordPress website. It makes selling merchandise, services, and just about anything you want possible. In a few clicks you can be on your way. This plugin is flexible because of the several themes and layouts you can choose from. You also have tons of support from WooCommerce professionals, so you’re never left in the dark.
Free forever: Getting started with WooCommerce costs you nothing. In fact, if you can figure out a way to get by with the bare minimum the platform has to offer, you’ll never have to pay for the software. Yes, it’s free forever, and you get premium features included. If you are already using WordPress, this is a slam dunk.
Endless features: Think about your cellphone for a second. It probably does more things than you even know about. WooCommerce is the same way. Manage your cart your way, take payments in person or online, improve conversions with specialized extensions you can add for free, or level up even more with paid ones. If you think you’re confined to a low-budget, limited store because WooCommerce is free, you need to take a closer look.
Support and resources: The businesses that succeed are the ones with the best information and resources at their disposal. Think about it. Even professionals have a coach. You are no different. WooCommerce makes it easy to take flight with the guides, documentation, and customer support they provide. Get guidance on where to start and know where you will end up after you implement the steps. You don’t have to be a mastermind to get the most out of this plugin.
Scalable: When you’re ready to grow, WooCommerce’s open source platform doesn’t stifle your potential. Nothing changes about this platform when you start raking in the sales at an all-time high rate. And you’re not limited to the constraints of other platforms. For example, have a developer build an entirely new extension only your store can use. Scaling your business from one customer into thousands is something you never need to worry about on WooCommerce.
Requires WordPress: Like we mentioned earlier, WooCommerce is built on the WordPress platform. So the primary restriction is that you have to have a WordPress website. WooCommerce is not an all-in-one platform. You first must have a WordPress site to add this plugin to.
Other plugins needed: WooCommerce can do a lot on its own, but you’ll likely find yourself adding other plugins to get the most out of it. Some are free while others may come with a one-time or monthly cost. That can add up if you want a robust store with lots of specific features. This also can cause your website to be slower, with more plugins requiring your site to process more information. This can make the overall user experience less appealing—people don’t want to wait even three seconds for a page to load these days.
Updates can cause issues: Frequent updates are a good thing for plugins in order to prevent security vulnerabilities and eliminate bugs. But, it’s key to be mindful of when these updates occur and if they happen automatically. Sometimes a new update can complicate things, by (temporarily or permanently) messing up connections with other elements of your WordPress site. You can quickly go from pumping out sales to visitors not being able to checkout from the cart because a new update changed the payment process. This can be a costly scenario. So it’s up to you to remember to consistently check if an update is necessary.
Uphill learning curve: One of the biggest complaints about WooCommerce is the fact that every plugin you add requires new settings and understanding what comes along with it. WooCommerce’s learning curve is a bit steeper than an all-in-one platform since you have to mind the way it interacts with other elements of your WordPress site. You may have to spend more time doing admin work on your platform to make sure everything is optimal.
WooCommerce Pricing and Options
WooCommerce is free forever. But you do have several options for upgrades and extensions when you are ready to start tapping into the full potential WooCommerce has to offer. That can cost you some money.
For example, if you want to add subscriptions or product reviews to your store, there are plugins for that. There are hundreds to choose from.
So, the reality is that there is no one price point for using WooCommerce. It really depends on what you want to add to your store. This makes WooCommerce difficult to compare to other platforms that include all-encompassing pricing plans.
Let’s run through the main offerings from WooCommerce and dissect any potential associated costs.
WooCommerce Sales Platform
This is the bread-and-butter platform we’ve been focusing on so far. All you do is find the plugin in the WordPress Marketplace (directly within your WordPress plugins dashboard) and download the plugin. After that, activate it and you can begin building your store. It’s very simple and totally free.
There is a step-by-step wizard you follow that eliminates any room for error. You can sell physical products, subscriptions, digital products, consulting, and you can even bundle products and services together. There is nothing you can’t sell (though some of these product options require an additional plugin or WooCommerce extension).
With extensions, you can add just about any feature you want to your WooCommerce store. Improve marketing with specific features, upgrade the look and feel of your checkout pages, make taxes even easier to manage and track, and so much more.
There are thousands of tools and features you can add via the WooCommerce extension store. And, a surprising number of them are free to implement and use. Just be mindful that the ones that do cost money can get pricey, running as high as $249 per year.
WooCommerce also offers extension collections for everything from booking appointments to selling in person. These collections make finding every extension needed for a particular process or selling strategy extremely easy. You can buy the entire collection or single out the one you need most and just get started with that.
Themes change the look and feel of your online store. The best part about themes is your ability to tailor them to your brand, industry, customer base, or anything else. Just like with the extensions, WooCommerce provides a marketplace of themes featuring an array of free and paid options.
Just head to the Themes tab on the WooCommerce website to pick a specific category and sift through all of the modern themes on offer. Make a store that is not only eye-catching but lays out your products and services perfectly for customers without your pages being too cluttered.
Once you pick your theme, you can then see the full view of how your store looks on any device, and see exactly the experience your visitors will get when they arrive at the site. And since they are all optimized, you won’t lose sales because someone chose to purchase on mobile instead of desktop or vice versa.
Marketing is the glue that keeps a business together. So knowing where to start and how you can make it easier for you is worth its weight in gold.
WooCommerce delivers a suite of marketing tools that help you reach more shoppers with ease. They all exist as extensions you can get from the WooCommerce store.
Whether you’re marketing on social media or email or want a way to run promotions, a lot of extension options are totally free. For example, set up Facebook ads and Google ads through a pair of free add-ons.
Or, do email marketing from directly inside the WooCommerce platform. This will let you recover abandoned carts, send newsletters, or set up automations so you don’t have to lift a finger after you do the work the first time.
Some WooCommerce extensions for more powerful tools or niche platforms will cost you. For example, WooCommerce offers its own tool for running drip campaigns for $79 per year. Or, if you want to integrate your storefront with Etsy or eBay, that will run you $199 annually for either option.
It’s crucial to give your store visitors a convenient array of ways to pay. WooCommerce’s own payment gateway add-on offers buy-now-pay-later options, digital wallet payments, and even subscription and recurring payments.
Take credit cards, cash on delivery, bank transfers, checks and more. Plus it works on any device. And with WooCommerce payments you can manage all your payments and track everything from within your store’s dashboard. There are no set up costs or monthly fees for that either. You get it for free.
Shipping worldwide used to be a pain in the you-know-what. But, on WooCommerce, it’s been simplified for you. In fact you can print DHL and USPS labels directly from your dashboard, which saves you a lot of time.
With one handy, free extension, you can handle domestic and global fulfillment with ease. Expand your business worldwide without breaking a sweat with the power and convenience of WooCommerce’s shipping options and partners. Hello unlimited selling potential.
WooCommerce Mobile App
Managing your store on the go is a feature not every ecommerce provider offers. Yes, the store may be available on cell phones, but having access to your store’s admin features on your phone is what sets WooCommerce apart from the rest.
You can add products, answer emails, get notifications, and literally run your store from anywhere you have an internet or cellular connection. And, if you have multiple stores, you can easily switch between them. All your stats are available, too, so you can make adjustments on the fly. You are in full control of your business in the palm of your hand.
WooCommerce for Developers
Ecommerce is a living, breathing industry. It’s constantly requiring more from you. And when you are ready to meet those demands, you have the freedom to build the store your customers need on WooCommerce.
There is no restriction on the amount of products you can sell, the design options, or the conversion features you can create. Developers have full access to the codebase to make any changes. If you can dream it and have a developer with the skillset to build it, you can have it. Your scalability is never an issue with WooCommerce.
How WooCommerce Ranks
WooCommerce is definitely a top contender among ecommerce platforms. The only thing you must remember is the limitation of needing a WordPress website to run it on.
As far as features, support, scalability, and reliability, WooCommerce stacks up with (or exceeds) the other big names in this space. Plus, you start with zero costs, which is a game-changer.
If for some reason WooCommerce does not meet your needs, take a look at our list of the other best options for running a web store. It’s all in one place right here, with plenty of details to help you make your decision. Take a look below at the other platforms we reviewed there.
- Shopify – Most ecommerce platform for most
- Debutify – Best theme for Shopify stores
- Wix – Best ecommerce platform for beginners
- Bluehost – Best for automatic WooCommerce store setup
- Squarespace – Best portfolio-based ecommerce builder
- BigCommerce – Best for multichannel sales
- Shift4Shop – Best ecommerce platform for developers
- Ecwid – Best free shopping cart extension
- WooCommerce – Best ecommerce plugin for WordPress
- Easy Digital Downloads – Best WordPress plugin for digital products
- Volusion – Best ecommerce platform for large stores
- Magento (now Adobe Commerce) – Best enterprise ecommerce platform
In the end we highly recommend WooCommerce. They’ve been around for more than a decade and have mastered the art of ecommerce on WordPress. Yes, you will have to manage plugins and, yes, you will have to learn new things as you add more features. But that’s the sweet taste of entrepreneurship you’ve grown to love in the first place. WooCommerce will give you everything you need to sell anything you want at a cost of $0, with a return on your investment of time that’s limitless.