WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems, and it’s extremely well known for its versatility.
With the number of themes and plugins, you can create anything from a simple blog to a complex business website or even an eCommerce store.
But is WordPress good enough for all your needs, or is there a better and more specific solution? Suppose you’re trying to create an online store or switch your existing eCommerce store to another platform. In that case, this article will tell you everything you need to know about relying on WordPress for eCommerce purposes.
WordPress can be used for eCommerce, but you will have to use third-party extensions to achieve full eCommerce potential while relying on WordPress.
Whether you choose a WordPress-hosted version or a self-hosted WordPress version, you will have all the needed options available, and you will only have to choose which ones you want to install.
These options come as plugins, and they include anything from one-click payments or subscriptions to help you achieve a fully functional eCommerce store that you can customize to your needs.
If you choose to go with WordPress.com’s hosted version, you will be able to choose between three paid packages that will fit your eCommerce needs:
- Quick and Easy Payments – $8/month
- Multi-purpose Business Site – $25/month
- eCommerce Experience – $45/month
Of course, you can also get a free self-hosted version of WordPress where you will only have to pay for hosting.
So yes, officially, WordPress supports eCommerce so you won’t have to worry about compatibility issues.
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WordPress is a good choice for eCommerce purposes for a couple of reasons.
First and foremost, WordPress fulfills all eCommerce needs via plugins and add-ons that help you create and run a fully functional eCommerce store in no time. Of course, this also includes unlimited customizability with the help of one of many WordPress eCommerce themes.
Secondly, WordPress is a brilliant platform for blogging and publishing content. So naturally, WordPress has everything you might need to rank your eCommerce store higher organically by optimizing it for search engines.
WordPress is SEO friendly which can help you attract a larger portion of your audience organically for free, so you won’t only have to rely on advertising, word of mouth, or other traffic sources.
Even though WordPress wasn’t built for eCommerce specifically, it is a well-adjusted content system platform that accommodates online stores, which is why it can be a good choice.
Check out some of the best WordPress alternatives here.
It’s no secret that WordPress is versatile, but while it fits many different purposes, can you count on it to be the number one choice for all your eCommerce needs? Here are the pros and cons you should keep in mind before using WordPress for eCommerce.
- WordPress can be free if you use the self-hosted version
- It’s very quick and easy to install WordPress and set up an eCommerce store
- With plugins such as WooCommerce, you can create a unique online store with endless customization options
- Great and easy product and inventory management
- Supports multiple currencies and payment processors
- WordPress is very SEO friendly which can help you acquire another source of traffic for free
- You can connect Google Analytics or any other analytical tool to keep track of your store’s statistics
- WordPress isn’t specifically built for eCommerce so it provides limited support for issues related to eCommerce
- Not all themes will be a good fit for eCommerce since you will have to find a theme that’s specifically compatible with the WooCommerce plugin (or any other eCommerce plugins you decide to use)
- Limited functionalities for complex or large eCommerce stores
- It can be hard to find a trustworthy theme that’s compatible with eCommerce and is regularly updated for security reasons
- Security issues can be a problem since you will have to ensure that the WordPress version is always up to date, all your plugins are up to date, and that your theme is up to date to avoid any exploitations or hacking attempts where these things can be the weakest link
If you plan on using WordPress for eCommerce, there are at least a couple of things you have to decide on and do before you get started:
- Decide if you’ll use a self-hosted WordPress version or a cloud-hosted WordPress version
- Find and install a WordPress eCommerce compatible theme
- Install and configure WooCommerce plugin
- Start adding products
- Install all additional plugins you might need along the way
- Start creating content that will help you convert customers
If you choose a self-hosted version, you will have to find your hosting, purchase a domain name, and install a WordPress version yourself. On the other hand, a cloud-hosted WordPress version makes things easier by providing a simple process to take care of everything for you.
However, no matter which version you choose, you will have to find a theme that’s compatible with WordPress and the eCommerce plugin you’ll be using in the next step.
While WordPress includes thousands of themes that you can choose from upon installation, it’s a better idea to find an eCommerce WordPress theme by browsing third-party theme providers such as ThemeForest or aThemes.
WooCommerce is the go-to plugin for running an eCommerce store using WordPress, that’s known for its simplicity, easy installation, and even easier customization. On top of that, WooCommerce is an incredible free plugin, considering that this plugin alone allows you to run a fully functional eCommerce store.
When you have the framework of an eCommerce store up and running in your WordPress website, you can start adding products, making customizations, and figuring out what else you might need in your store.
From there, you can install more eCommerce plugins that you might find useful.
When you’re happy with all the work you’ve put into your eCommerce WordPress store, it’s the perfect time to start focusing on the marketing aspect of the store.
There are a couple of really good eCommerce plugins for WordPress. Some of them include WooCommerce, WP eCommerce, WP EasyCart, and others.
One of the most known and the most popular eCommerce plugins for WordPress is WooCommerce.
WooCommerce is an open-source plugin that’s free for all users. It’s a plugin that makes managing an eCommerce store simple with the number of features and customizations included with the plugin.
From importing your products, keeping your inventory in check, adding extensions to your store, to running your store from any device or any location are just some of the perks.
It also offers a decent level of flexibility and versatility, so while managing your store, you will be able to keep it unique and unlike any other store you’ve seen on the internet. Plus, if you’re a developer, you’ll be able to develop the plugin further with no limits.
Since the plugin is based on open-source code, you can take the code and develop the plugin further for your own needs.
Additional benefits are frequent updates and a global community full of users ready to help and share their ideas.
And did I mention that WooCommerce is free for everyone? These reasons combined are why WooCommerce is one of the best eCommerce plugins for WordPress, even though it has plenty of competitors.
You can easily install it by heading to the Plugins inside the WordPress dashboard, searching for it using the search bar, and installing it in only two clicks.
Interesting Comparison: Magento vs WooCommerce
WP eCommerce is another WordPress plugin that you can easily install in only a couple of clicks. Yet upon the installation, WP eCommerce will allow you to sell through your WordPress store effortlessly.
This plugin adds a nice store layout to your WordPress website so you can import your products, organize them, and have a way for customers to check out and pay for the products you’re selling.
On top of that, the WP eCommerce plugin can also help you convert the customers with a well set-up product page and automated marketing features such as social share buttons, showing products users frequently bought together, and much more.
When you import all your products, correctly set WP eCommerce to fit your needs and your store, you will be able to monitor sales, have visual reports, and even configure taxes and shipping costs with the help of this light but mighty plugin.
WP eCommerce also introduces various payment gateways, so you’ll always have options and never have to worry about hidden fees or being controlled by only one gateway.
I also like the WP eCommerce plugin because it also features robust coupon management, so you can create 100% custom coupons and even allow users to use multiple coupons on one checkout page.
Keep in mind that WP eCommerce is also free to use, and it’s based on open-source code so that you can develop the plugin further.
Check Out: WooCommerce vs Shopify
WP EasyCart is a plugin that combines commerce and a cart to turn regular WordPress websites into a proper eCommerce store.
All you have to do is install the WP EasyCart plugin in a couple of clicks, configure it, and you’ll be able to sell on WordPress but even improve your marketing game.
Besides including the necessities you’ll need to run a functioning eCommerce store using WordPress, WP EasyCart also includes additional tools that help you monitor and track your store’s performance.
These tools can include insights you might not spot yourself, yet these insights can help you keep up with your product inventory, see what’s working, and see what’s not working.
What is also great about WP EasyCart is that it is a super-secure solution since it’s backed up by safe and secure encryption that keeps businesses safe and thousands of merchants at ease.
When it comes down to limits, WP EasyCart hardly has any. You can sell any product, keep neat order management, create your shipping system that fits your store and products, and more.
On top of that, you can benefit from marketing tools that help promote products across your WordPress store, plus you’ll have access to plenty of third-party extensions that can help with accounting, taxes, and others.
You can get started with WP EasyCart for free for one store only, but keep in mind that you’ll have limited payment gateways to choose from and will have access to basic options only without any additional extensions.
However, there are two pricing plans you can choose from:
- Professional – $69/year
- Premium – $99/year
For the latest pricing, visit the official WP EasyCart pricing page.
Also Read: Business Catalyst vs WordPress
BigCommerce is one of the plugins trying to combine almost everything an eCommerce store owner would require, not only to turn their WordPress website into a store but also to efficiently and successfully run it on a day to day basis.
Therefore, BigCommerce won’t only turn WordPress into a fully functioning store. It will also help store owners optimize their store, advertise it across social platforms, and fulfill the products regardless of how many sources you get the product from.
This plugin works in three phases. The first and the most important phase is the build. This gives your WordPress a rock-solid foundation that you can base an eCommerce store on. This includes effortless design, operating, all needed functionality, great performances, and more.
The second phase of the plugin is innovation. BigCommerce is well known for connecting eCommerce stores with SaaS products that can help automate the store, improve the way it functions, and improve the way owners operate the store.
This all leads to the third phase, which is growth. BigCommerce is built to help you convert more customers, have powerful analytics, and no limit on the extensions you can include, or be limited to only the country you’re selling from.
BigCommerce is API-driven, has robust security in place, and provides great performance backed up by expert support. Some of the biggest brands, such as SkullCandy, LARQ, Burrow, and Ben&Jerry’s, are already relying on BigCommerce, which is a great sign.
There are two BigCommerce plugin versions. One is Essentials and the other one is Enterprise. You can test Essentials with a free 15-day trial, and after the trial, you can upgrade to one of the pricing plans:
- Standard – $29.95/month
- Plus – $79.95/month
- Pro – $299.95/month
- Enterprise – contact BigCommerce sales for pricing
For the latest pricing, visit the official BigCommerce pricing page.
Also Read: BigCommerce vs Shopify vs Squarespace
If you are looking forward to selling digital products, info products, or anything that customers can download straight away from your store, MemberPress is a great plugin to accommodate this.
MemberPress is a plugin that turns your WordPress website into a membership-type eCommerce store where you can display digital products, set prices, and everything related to the products as if you were selling physical products.
This plugin allows you to create anything from digital product pages to membership-only pages on your WordPress store.
Membership-only pages include content management, forums, and even social communities. On top of that, you can integrate third-party options if you ever feel like you’re missing something or if you’d like to expand your store’s functionality.
For example, you can integrate ConvertKit, Stripe, ActiveCampaign, PayPal, MailChimp, and other apps through MemberPress.
MemberPress is not free, and you’ll have to subscribe to one of the paid pricing plans:
- Basic – $179/year
- Plus – $299/year
- Pros – $399/year
For the latest pricing, visit the official MemberPress pricing page.
Shopify is an eCommerce company established with the sole purpose of providing an easy and simple way to build an online eCommerce store.
With this eCommerce solution, you don’t need design skills, coding experience, or much technical experience.
Shopify integrates everything into one platform so you can create an eCommerce store, market your business, manage everything your store requires, plus have additional support, access to an app store full of extensions, and even an experts marketplace where you can hire additional help.
It supports almost two million online businesses across 175 countries worldwide, where these eCommerce stores have made over $200 billion in sales by relying on the Shopify platform.
What’s even better yet is that Shopify is a great fit for all store sizes since it offers three pricing plans that most likely fit everyone’s needs:
- Basic Shopify – $29/month
- Shopify – $79/month
- Advanced Shopify – $299/month
For the latest Shopify pricing, visit the official Shopify pricing page.
- Quick and effortless set-up
- No technical knowledge required
- Responsive and mobile-ready design
- Included SEO and marketing tools needed to run a successful eCommerce store
- Highly customizable
- Analytics and app-support
- 24/7 customer support
- Secure and reliable hosting included
- Fees you will have to pay to use additional apps inside Shopify
- Only features 10 free templates
- Only one discount per order is available as default for all eCommerce stores powered by Shopify
Shopify can seem like the go-to platform if you’re looking to create an eCommerce store. However, while it doesn’t require much technical knowledge or design skills, the downside is a bit limited customizability of the store.
On the other hand, WordPress has two versions you can choose from, where the self-hosted WordPress version provides the most flexibility since you can do almost anything you wish with your eCommerce store. But, of course, this requires extraordinary technical skills to achieve or a bit of help from freelancers.
Shopify might be a better option for start-ups and smaller stores, but on the other hand, more complex stores that require higher customizability will likely switch over to WordPress at one point.
You should also consider content production and content management since that comes naturally to WordPress, and yet it might be a bit harder to keep up with using Shopify. WordPress is a lot more flexible and set up that way by default when it comes to blogging.
SEO-wise, Shopify is very decent since it integrates all marketing features you might need. On the other hand, WordPress is still a slightly better option since you can get all the SEO features via plugins such as AIO SEO or Yoast. Yet, you still have more flexibility if you host your store by yourself, keep cleaner URLs, and use content to your marketing advantage.
So while WordPress and Shopify are two different platforms, many factors come into play. Therefore, it’s safe to say that the verdict is a tie, or a slight win in WordPress’ favor, again, depending on your needs.
If you are getting started, are creating your first store, if you’re only getting into the eCommerce industry, or if you already run a small online store, Shopify is a great choice.
In this case, you can use Shopify to create and easily run a small eCommerce store in no time without needing any previous technical knowledge.
On the other hand, If you want to create a more complex store or already have a large and complex store, WordPress might be a better fit for your needs. Yes, WordPress might require a bit more technical knowledge and skill. However, WordPress provides more customizability, more freedom to the store owner, and better flexibility.
Also, other factors that come into play are budget, technical skills, needs & requirements, and the way you plan to build your store.
Shopify provides a more hands-off experience that’s super convenient, but it also has its downside. On the other hand, WordPress gives you more hands-on experience, where you will have to do more work but will have a greater reward.
Therefore, both WordPress and Shopify are two of the best platforms for eCommerce needs, yet it’s on you to find out which one fits your needs better.
WordPress is good for eCommerce, and it remains one of the top choices on the list.
Whether you’re only getting into the eCommerce industry or already have much experience, WordPress isn’t that hard to learn and adjust to. Yet, it can bring a greater advantage over any other eCommerce platform.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.