If you want to start selling products on your existing WordPress site, or you are about to build an eCommerce store from scratch, then today’s post discussing the best eCommerce plugins for WordPress is just for you.
Before we get started, it’s important to know that there is no single best WordPress eCommerce plugin. Every store will have different needs and every store manager will have a preferred way of working. So while it is possible to make general recommendations, the features required by your store will largely dictate which the best plugin is for you.
Hopefully, this guide will steer you in the right direction, and then after that, you will have to do a bit of self-directed research before making a final decision.
How Much Does it Cost to Build an Online Store with WordPress?
Apart from your domain name and web hosting account, creating a basic online store using WordPress is free. However, while the core eCommerce plugins are free, they can all be extended by purchasing premium extensions.
In some cases, you can get away with only using the core functionality on offer, but in most cases, you will at least want to invest in an extension that improves the checkout experience, or adds more shipping options to your store.
However, if your start-up budget doesn’t permit this type of investment from the outset, this can all be done after your store has been launched and is starting to generate income.
Another cost to take into consideration is the WordPress theme for your online store. While many free themes include support for these eCommerce plugins, for a more professional look for your store, you may want to invest in a premium theme or custom built design. However, with average themes prices sitting at around $50, this isn’t a major cost for a website that will soon be earning an income.
So in short, while you can start listing items online and take payments for free using WordPress and an eCommerce plugin, in most cases you will need to make a small financial investment to really make the most of your store.
The WooCommerce eCommerce toolkit is the most popular option for WordPress users who want to build an online store or add a shopping cart to their existing WordPress site.
The core WooCommerce plugin is free and has been downloaded over 3 million times. Thanks to this high level of popularity, there are many independent developers out there who are creating plugins and themes that are built for use with this toolkit.
This means you are never on your own when using WooCommerce and have a whole community of users to turn to should you need a custom feature or design created for your online store.
Is WooCommerce Really Free?
While the free core plugin is enough to get started with when it comes to building an online store with WordPress, this tool really comes into its own when you start looking at the extensions that have been developed for it.
The many extensions or add-ons for WooCommerce are a mixture of free and premium options, which add more advanced features to your store. This all helps you to offer a more professional shopping experience to your customers and hopefully sell more products and increase revenue.
Some of the WooCommerce extensions that are available have been created by the WooCommerce development team, while others have been produced by third parties. The thriving WooCommerce ecosystem is not only a testament to how popular this tool is but also shows that this platform will be around for a long time to come.
As many of these add-ons are premium options, it does mean that if you want to build a highly functional online store with WooCommerce and WordPress you are in most cases going to have to make some form of financial investment.
This means if you are choosing an eCommerce solution based on the price involved in setting up an online store, it’s important that you browse the extensions library and factor in the costs of those add-ons that you will need to build the type of store you require.
So while the core functionality of this eCommerce toolkit is free to use, building the site you want might not be. However, as the plan is to generate revenue and profit from your store, the costs should be justifiable.
How Easy is WooCommerce to Use?
When it comes to actually building an online store with WordPress and WooCommerce, it couldn’t really be any easier. If you can use WordPress to publish a post, then you shouldn’t have any problems creating products using WooCommerce and adding them to your store.
The admin interface is clearly laid out and built using the WordPress native user interface. This means it seamlessly integrates with the rest of the admin area of your site, making it feel like a part of WordPress itself.
Of course, the complexity of your store and its inventory will play a large role in how difficult your WooCommerce-powered website will be to manage. However, WooCommerce does have the capacity to handle most types of products and online store configurations, so providing you have a clear understanding of the technicalities of your store, using WooCommerce shouldn’t be a problem.
While the plugin should work with all WordPress themes, it’s not unheard of to run into some compatibility issues with certain themes and frameworks. However, in most cases, a workaround will have already been made available, as is the case with integrating WooCommerce with the Genesis framework and its child themes, and the plugin that was created to solve the issues that can occur.
Also, due to the popularity of this plugin, many premium themes are built with WooCommerce compatibility with in mind, so finding a suitable theme won’t be a problem either, especially if you start at the WooThemes portfolio of WordPress WooCommerce themes.
Overall, if you want to quickly build a basic online store that can list products, accept and manage orders, and take payments, then the free WooCommerce plugin is a great choice that offers many opportunities for expansion as your store grows.
Easy Digital Downloads
This is another eCommerce plugin for WordPress that follows a similar pricing strategy to WooCommerce. As with that plugin, in this case, the core Easy Digital Downloads plugin is also free, while there is a growing selection of free and premium extensions available to enhance the functionality of your store.
Where this plugin is different from WooCommerce and the other more traditional online store builder plugins for WordPress, is that it has been created to allow you to sell digital downloads and non-physical products online.
Due to this more niche functionality and narrower target audience, Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) has been downloaded a relatively fewer amount of times, with the current figure sitting at around 300,000, rather than the 3 million enjoyed by WooCommerce.
However, EDD has a very positive user rating of 4.8 out of 5 which shows that is a quality option for anyone wishing to sell digital products via a WordPress site, despite is a relatively smaller number of users.
Like WooCommerce this plugin has been built to seamlessly integrate with the admin areas of a WordPress site, making it look and feel like part of the core functionality of your website.
What about Extensions?
While EDD isn’t short on out of the box functionality and includes everything you might ever need to start selling multiple digital products on your site, the list of add-ons available is surprisingly large.
Again like WooCommerce, some of the EDD add-ons have been made by the core development team, while others have been created by third-party coders. This means that whatever functionality you would like to add to your store, there is a strong chance it has already been thought of and made available as an extension.
If this isn’t the case, then the list of trusted consultants should contain someone who is able to help you realize your goal of adding a certain feature to your store.
Is Easy Digital Downloads Easy to Use?
Perhaps because of the increased simplicity that comes with selling digital downloads as opposed to listing physical products for sale online, EDD is even easier to setup an online store with than WooCommerce.
You can create an online store with Easy Digital Downloads that is able to list, sell, and deliver downloadable files and content, on autopilot, in practically no time at all. While the many extensions available can increase the setup time, depending on which ones you choose, it’s still one of the easiest tools to use and manage an online store with.
If you want to sell a digital download, such as an eBook or media files, then EDD and the growing community that surrounds it makes it the perfect choice.
While not as popular as WooCommerce, at least in terms of downloads, Jigoshop is another plugin that lets you start selling products and services online with WordPress for free.
In fact, WooCommerce was born out of a fork of Jigoshop, as the Woo team legitimately built their plugin on top of the version of Jigoshop that was available when they created this fork in the road.
After this fork, the two plugins continued to grow and develop, but each down their own separate paths, overseen by different groups of developers. This means that the user experiences, from both the front and the back end perspectives, aren’t that different. However, enough has changed over the years since the fork took place, to make these two plugins different enough to both warrant a mention here.
How about Extensions and Themes?
While WooCommerce is undoubtedly the more popular option of the two, and therefore benefits from the larger ecosystem that has built up around it, Jigoshop is not without its own selection of extensions and premium themes that have been optimized for use with Jigoshop.
WooCommerce vs. Jigoshop
WooCommerce is probably the better choice of the two, if for no other reason than its popularity and market share, which increases the chances of it outlasting its competitor.
The larger number of extensions and compatible themes for WooCommerce also makes it a better choice, and for those reasons, it’s probably best to choose WooCommerce. That is unless you can find a feature in Jigoshop that is critical to your business and isn’t part of the WooCommerce core and is too expensive for you to purchase as a premium extension right now.
Whether you agree with how the WooCommerce plugin was created or not, in most cases it will make better business sense to go with the market leader when comparing these two options.
WP eCommerce is another free to use a plugin that can be upgraded and expanded by installing additional extensions. It’s been downloaded a healthy 2.8 million times, however, the user rating is less than impressive with a score of 2.8 out of 5.
Disappointing User Feedback
If you delve into the user feedback for WP eCommerce on the WordPress plugin directory, you will see that the 1-star rating was the most popular rating chosen by users leaving feedback. This is pretty worrying and would make it hard to choose this plugin over the other options, such as WooCommerce, which has a very positive user rating.
Does it Have Extensions and Themes?
If you’ve heard good things about this plugin and still want to give it a go, then you will be pleased to know that there is a good selection of extensions and optimized themes available for WP eCommerce.
WP eCommerce certainly looks good on paper and the admin interface doesn’t pose any problems. However, the less than positive feedback that has been posted online must be taken into consideration when making a selection.
If you are feeling adventurous and have time to thoroughly test this eCommerce plugin before using it on a live store, then it could be worth investigating further.
However, if you would rather play it safe and go with a more popular WordPress plugin, then WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads, depending on the type of products you would like to sell, would be better options.
Conclusion: Which is the Best eCommerce Plugin for WordPress?
As you can probably tell from this write-up, WooCommerce gets my vote for anyone who wants to build an online store using WordPress to sell physical products; while Easy Digital Downloads is my preferred option for those planning to sell digital downloads.
Both plugins have a large user base, community, and ecosystem that have built up around them. As well as both being well regarded by users and developers, they each have many extensions available for them which allow you to expand the features and scope of your online store, either from the outset or as your business grows.
However, as these plugins are all free, you can test drive them yourself. As everyone’s individual requirements will be different it is vital that you are aware of your needs and are able to check them against the features and specification of the different plugins and their extensions that are available.
Which WordPress eCommerce plugins have you used and which features did you find most useful for your store?
Read More The Cost of Building an Online Store with WordPress