WooCommerce is a free, fully customizable WordPress e-commerce plugin. It’s considered one of the best ecommerce platforms on the market and powers over 25% of all online stores. With WooCommerce, you get the flexibility to tailor your ecommerce website to your personal business needs.
If you’re wondering whether WooCommerce is the right solution for your business, don’t worry; this article will help you decide. In this WooCommerce review, we’ll provide a comprehensive breakdown of the WooCommerce plugin by covering its best features, costs involved, detailed pros and cons and more.
What Is WooCommerce?
First, let’s start with the background information.
WooCommerce was the creation of two ex-WooThemes developers. Its first release was in September 2011. By 2015, both WooThemes and WooCommerce had been acquired by WordPress and merged into one platform – WooCommerce. As you can probably assume by now WooCommerce is intended for websites built using WordPress. As of early 2021, more than 4.4M live websites use the WooCommerce plugin.
The WooCommerce WordPress plugin is an e-commerce platform that makes designing and managing an online store easy. It offers several essential features like secure payment integration, inventory management, and shipping.
It’s been downloaded an impressive 27 million times and counting worldwide. 99% of all WordPress-generated online stores use WooCommerce. It’s widely considered to be one of the best tools available for launching online storefronts.
The WooCommerce plugin is used to build an e-commerce store within a WordPress site. Once it’s installed on your WordPress site, you can set up your shop. You’ll have the option to choose a WordPress theme, personalize it with your business information and logo, then start building your store pages. Here are some of the reasons why WooCommerce is so popular:
- WooCommerce is driven by trust. It’s built on WordPress, the software powering more than 34% of the websites on the web. In addition, it is regularly audited by Sucuri, the internet’s leading company in online security, so you know you’ll be in good hands.
- It is wholly open-sourced, which means anything and everything can be modified and customized. You can add unlimited users, products and process infinite orders with complete control. Also, it’s being updated and expanded constantly by the community using it.
- It’s fully compatible with any WordPress site. Simply install it and set it up like any other plugin.
- For ease of use, it offers plenty of assistance. You don’t need to be a developer to build a professional website using WooCommerce.
- As more and more people shop on mobile devices, WooCommerce offers responsive design to ensure their user experience is seamless and mobile-friendly.
- It offers a suite of robust security features.
- It has a global community. WooCommerce storefronts and developers are based worldwide, from Canada to Japan and from South Africa to Norway.
- It has a modular system. It’s kept basic, so you can add the features you require for your business. It works seamlessly with WordPress, so you can continue using the features you want.
WooCommerce Top Features
Before we dive in, let’s take a look at some of the top features of WooCommerce:
Fast Inventory Updates and Tracking System
After setting up your initial product features, you can quickly and easily update inventory when you receive more products. The built-in inventory management system keeps an eye on your stock for you.
Numerous Integration Options
It works well with several major platforms, including Google Analytics and other popular systems used by website owners and bloggers. And if you are familiar with NTFs for example, then WooCommerce already has plugins that allow you to sell NFT tokens for fiat money (USD, EUR etc.) or sell any cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ether and more, on your website.
Robust Payment Options
WooCommerce works well with PayPal, credit card merchants, and most other prevalent payment options. Your customers can also pay by check or cash on delivery.
Takes Care of Your Tax and Shipping Costs
It computes your tax and shipping costs to ensure your charges are accurate.
Supports Affiliate Sales
WooCommerce offers an easy setup to sell affiliate products on your website. Anything can be sold, from physical products to digital downloads and from subscriptions to online content.
If you sell products that require downloading, such as music or e-books, you can configure the plugin to sell individual items, like tracks from an album.
Customizable and Adaptable
WooCommerce allows you to modify your storefront to meet changes in business trends easily.
Mobile Access to WooCommerce Stats
The WooCommerce mobile app offers a convenient way of tracking your WooCommerce stats on the go.
You may be wondering what pricing we’re referring to. As we mentioned earlier that WooCommerce is free to use. However, there are some unavoidable costs to pay before your WooCommerce site can go live.
Here’s a breakdown of all the expected costs associated with running a fully-fledged online store. Note that expenses listed here are necessary whether you decide to use WooCommerce or not.
To make a free WooCommerce plugin functional, you will spend at least $10 per month. This covers the basic features required. All the bells and whistles will cost an extra $200 annually, and large-scale WooCommerce websites costs increase to around $1,000 a year or more.
One of your first and most foundational expenses is web hosting. This is the space on the internet where your website lives. The hosting provider ensures that the web servers your site sits on are maintained. This is one fee that can’t be avoided. Popular web hosting providers include Bluehost, HostGator, and GoDaddy.
Bluehost is the web hosting provider recommended explicitly by WordPress. In addition, it offers a tailored hosting plan specifically for WooCommerce customers. Here’s a summary of its different pricing tiers:
Though it’s relatively straightforward to install WooCommerce, Bluehost’s WooCommerce plans conveniently come with all the software and the Storefront Theme pre-installed. They also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can see what it’s like before paying a dime.
If your customers can’t get to your website because it’s offline, you may lose out on sales. Therefore, when deciding which hosting provider to go with, check what they say about their “guaranteed uptime.” Guaranteed uptime is the amount of time in a given period that the server is up and running. If your web server goes offline or is unavailable, the provider may be liable. Consider working with a hosting provider that offers at least 99.5% uptime.
Registering Your Domain Name
Your domain name is your internet address. You can either buy it through a hosting provider like Bluehost, which includes a free domain name when you sign up for one of their hosting plans, or from a registrar. The annual renewal price is usually between $10 and $20, depending on the extension you choose (.com, .org, .us, and so on).
Alternatively, you could purchase your domain name through a domain name registrar like Namecheap or GoDaddy. Some web hosting providers operate independently as registrars. You can purchase your hosting with one provider and have your domain name registered with another.
Like hosting providers, domain registrars offer first-year introductory prices that go up slightly after renewal. For example, for a .com extension with Namecheap, the first-year introductory price is around $8.88 per year. Then it rises to $12.98 annually.
The design of your online store requires a theme, and WooCommerce has many theme templates to get you started.
Your website should look nice to offer your customers the best user experience, as well as ease of use. For a high-quality design, consider one of WooCommerce’s paid themes. They have customized themes created for the Storefront template. For a more powerful version of the basic Storefront, a template will cost between $39 and $129. Other reasons to invest in a paid theme include:
- Simple incorporation of branding to make your business stand out.
- Easier to expand your store with additional functionality.
- You’ll receive a personalized customer support service.
That being said, there are of course many free themes available to get you started if you are low on budget to begin with that will do the work just fine.
SSL certificates offer a simple way for e-commerce websites to protect the transmission of sensitive data. The website will use encrypted connections to keep your information safe. Your customers will also expect to see evidence of a secure connection before making a payment at your store.
SSL certificates are not expensive and, over time, will pay for themselves many times over with the prevention of data breaches or lost business.
SSL certificates can be basic or advanced. For example, an advanced SSL certificate would offer the additional protection you need for handling customer payment details. You can buy an advanced SSL package through domain registrar companies like Namecheap. Or, depending on the features you require, a hosting provider will generally charge between $7-$150 annually.
Security is one thing any ecommerce store owner can’t overthink. There are many woocommerce integrations that can solve this issue, especially with WordPress sites.
To heighten security protections, in addition to your SSL certificates, you can consider anti-malware software like SiteLock. In addition, some hosting providers offer anti-malware protection as part of their packages. For example, if you join SiteLock via Bluehost, you can pay just $23.88 per year for a basic version.
Pros and Cons of WooCommerce
Now let’s take a look at some advantages and disadvantages of using the WooCommerce platform.
Business owners appreciate WooCommerce, as it can be used to sell all sorts of products regardless of the niche. Here are some examples:
- Tangible items like clothes or couches.
- Downloadable products like books or comics.
- Invitations to training sessions or webinars.
- External products like Amazon affiliates.
You can add unlimited products lists in several categories. It offers scalability to cater to any size of business. You won’t need to worry about your business growing past its capabilities.
Vast Personalization Options
WooCommerce will assist you in designing a store specific to the types of products or services you offer. It offers close to an infinite number of free plugins available from the WordPress Plugin Directory. Paid variations can be found on WooCommerce.com.
They also have an impressively wide variety of themes. These themes help to diversify your e-commerce website and enhance its functionality according to your business needs.
If you don’t find a theme you like, you can choose the one that’s closest to what you want and then customize it to get it just right.
The WooCommerce wizard feature will support you in your design, so no need to be super tech-savvy. You can experiment with themes by trying an assortment of colors and styles for a creative design of your choice.
Easy to Use
WooCommerce is easy to use, especially if you’re comfortable working with WordPress. Entering your store items is as simple as going to “add product,” adding a title and brief product description, stating whether it’s a physical or digital item, then setting the price. Product images and layout can all be changed at any time fairly easily.
If you have any issues, you can get help from WooCommerce Support.
Easy Reporting and Analytics
One common issue experienced by e-commerce business owners is keeping track of inventory, sales, income, and other elements. Luckily, WooCommerce manages all that for you with its built-in analytics module to help you get valuable data about your store. You’ll have access to simple and straightforward reports offering you plenty of insight into how your business is performing.
You can access these reports at any time via the WooCommerce website or the mobile-friendly app. Reports include:
- What items are selling well?
- How many times has your website been visited?
- How many of those visits convert?
- Inventory Management. You’ll receive frequent updates regarding your stock levels.
Your search engine rankings are crucial for business growth. If your store doesn’t appear in the search results, your customers will go to your competitors. It can be a challenging aspect for website developers, but with the WooCommerce SEO plugin, optimizing your web pages is made a lot easier.
The WooCommerce SEO plugin is compatible with WooCommerce and its extensions. In addition, it offers specific functionality to handle the SEO requirements of your e-commerce store. Also, it’s secure and is regularly updated to ensure it provides the best services to WordPress users.
Integrations and Apps
WordPress software powers more than one-third of the internet. The reasons for its popularity are that it’s versatile, works well, and has a large community supporting it. WooCommerce also benefits from these factors, as it has been a part of the broader WordPress community for many years.
The seamless integration between the two is essential, as WooCommerce can use features from the complete collection of plugins, themes, and tutorials.
Yoast SEO, for example, has been hugely popular and offers lots of advanced SEO features and superb usability. There is no other hosted platform like it. However, since WooCommerce is combined with WordPress, Yoast also integrates with WooCommerce.
The same is true for popular themes. Themes support the same PHP setup as WooCommerce. Developers tend to include bonus features to WordPress themes for the additional appeal to WooCommerce users.
The WooCommerce store has a growing selection of apps and extensions. It’s a collection of quality plugins that allow you to control 3rd party software for things like payment processing, shipping, inventory management, cross-product listings, marketing, bookkeeping, and more.
Due to the extensive functionality offered by WooCommerce, it has the potential to take up a lot of space. If you’re using it with other large plugins, your web pages could take slightly longer to load. This is bad news for your business. If your web pages are not loaded correctly within three seconds, visitors are likely to click away and try another site and may never return.
WordPress Experience Is Required
Since WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, you’ll need to know how WordPress works to take full advantage of its features. In addition, WordPress and WooCommerce are interrelated, so if you’ve never used WordPress before or run an e-commerce store on a different platform, WooCommerce might not be the right platform to use.
The WooCommerce support forum is the primary place to seek assistance and requires registration with WordPress to gain access to WooCommerce developers. Here, you can ask the developers and other advanced community members any WooCommerce questions. This is an incredible idea, as the developers that wrote the code for WooCommerce are the best people to get help and advice from. Nonetheless, you may at times find yourself waiting for a response.
It Includes Many Expenses
Although the plug is free to download and install, not all extensions are free. Usually, the extensions that require payment are often those needed to ensure your store operates at optimum capacity. This may come across to business owners as a hidden cost. For example, if you want to include a secure payment gateway using PayPal, that will cost more money to set up.
WooCommerce Review: Is WooCommerce the Right Platform for You?
As you can see, WooCommerce offers everything you need to run a successful e-commerce store:
- Its establishment in the WordPress community makes it a trusted, free, open-source plugin.
- It has a wide variety of extensions and themes to customize your website’s look and unique functionality to meet your business requirements.
- It supports all major payment options, including an option to pay cash on delivery.
- Its reporting keeps you informed about your business metrics and on top of stock quantities.
- Robust security suite options.
However, there are a few things you should consider first:
- You’ll need some WordPress experience., or for the least a website built with WordPress even if you didn’t build it yourself.
- Additional functionality may cause your pages to load slowly.
- Plugins for additional functionality will cost extra.
To consider the overall expense, research the price of a WooCommerce storefront with all the functionality you’ll need, including web hosting, domain name, and security fees from your preferred providers. This can help you make the final decision about whether WooCommerce is the solution you’ve been looking for.