If you are thinking of creating an eCommerce store to sell your products online, WordPress is a great option. By using WordPress, your chosen theme, an eCommerce plugin, and a selection of extensions, you should be able to build an online shop that includes all the features you need to sell your products and offer a customer experience to match your brand.
However, while WordPress is free, not all of its themes, extensions, and plugins are. So in this post, we will take a look at some of the expenses you may incur while building your online store with WordPress.
The aims of the post are to give you an idea of what tools and services you might need to build the store you want, while also helping you to establish the cost of creating the kind of shop you need. This should give you the information you need in order to you decide if WordPress is the right platform for your online store.
The True Cost of Building an Online Shop with WordPress
This post will take a look at everything you need to get an eCommerce store up and running with WordPress, from hosting through to any additional features you might want to add to the store. The associated costs involved in acquiring all the recommended tools will be listed to give you an idea of what your project might cost to complete.
The options covered will all be off the shelf tools or services. Although you may need to create custom solutions if you have any specific needs that have not yet been met by an existing plugin.
WordPress: The Foundation of Your Store
If you choose to build your store as outlined in this guide, WordPress will be the foundation of your shop. Thankfully WordPress is open source, which means it’s free to use and you are free to use it how you wish.
While there are other open source shopping cart solutions, this is lack of cost is one clear advantage WordPress has over its commercial competitors.
The Cost of WordPress Website Hosting
When it comes to choosing a web host for your online store, the options are endless. Your needs will vary from the next, as much as the different products you will be selling.
However, those just starting out, with a small inventory and smaller ambitions could get by with budget, entry level shared hosting. Most shared hosts give you the option of leveling up as your needs grow in order to enable you to meet the demands of your growing store.
Those planning on launching with a large store, or scaling their store quickly, would be better off start out with a high-performance web host. Premium managed WordPress hosting is a good option for serious eCommerce stores. This is due to the fact your store will be hosted on a server optimized for WordPress for a faster loading website. The addition of expert support staff who are proactively monitoring your website, as well as being on hand should anything go wrong, can alone justify the higher price tag.
To simplify the decision of which web host to choose from your store and what the costs might be, here are two suitable options which can help you get your eCommerce website up and running in a stable environment:
- Budget option: HostGator shared hosting from $3.96 per month
- Premium option: Pagely managed WordPress hosting from $64 per month
While some web hosts include a free domain name, you might be better off purchasing one separately from somewhere like Namecheap.com. This can ensure an easier migration process, should you need to switch hosts in the future.
Cost: from $3.95 per month + domain name ($10)
The Price of the Best WordPress ECommerce Plugins
There are a number of great eCommerce plugins available for WordPress, with the majority of them being free to use. Of of the available options, WooCommerce is a safe choice and is a popular plugin that has been downloaded over 5 million times and has 4.2 stars out of 5 rating.
If you are setting up an eCommerce shop to sell physical products online then WooCommerce is a great option. However, if you are planning on selling digital products online then you can’t go wrong with the free Easy Digital Downloads plugin and its extensive library of optional add-ons.
ECommerce Theme Pricing: Free vs. Premium
With so many themes available for WordPress, you should have no trouble finding a suitable option without having to turn to the services of a developer.
While those on a bigger budget or with greater aspirations may want to commission a custom built theme, those just starting out with eCommerce should be able to find an off the shelf theme that meets their needs.
When it comes to premium vs. free WordPress themes, in most cases its worth investing the $50 to $100 that can get you a high-quality Premium WordPress Theme. If you choose wisely, you should be able to find a theme that is well supported and looked after by its creators, ensuring a long shelf life and someone to turn to should any problems arise down the line.
Although most themes will work with an eCommerce plugin like WooCommerce, you may want to look for one that offers compatibility with your online store builder plugin of choice. This can save you some time and effort as the theme will include templates for essential shop pages such as the product, cart, and checkout pages.
You could start out with a free theme, with the intention of upgrading to a premium template at a later date. However, the switchover could entail more work than you might expect, especially if you need to reformat any images or descriptions for 100s of products to meet the different formatting and styling settings of the new theme. This migration could end up costing you more time and lost sales than what you would’ve saved by not investing in a premium theme from the start.
For some advice on selecting a suitable theme, read our previously published guide to finding an SEO friendly WordPress theme.
Cost: $50 to $100
Commissioning a Store Logo
While this isn’t a cost unique to WordPress, it is a cost that most online store builders will want to factor into their budget. If you already have a logo then you can skip this step. However, for everyone else, unless you have the graphic design and illustration skills to create a professional logo then you will need to spend some money.
While you can get by with a custom logo from Fiverr, if the aim of your store is to make money, then a premium logo could end up portraying a better image to your potential customers. Crowdsourcing sites like 99designs.com make it easy to commission the perfect logo in a matter of days, or get a full refund.
Cost: from $5
Premium Ecommerce Extensions
This is where the costs can quickly start to mount up. Most of the WordPress eCommerce plugins work on a similar revenue generating model which sees them give away the core plugin for free while charging you to add extra features to your online store.
Creating premium add-ons for popular eCommerce plugins can also be a lucrative activity for third party developers. While this is great for those building stores with advanced requirements or non-standard needs,the costs of these extensions can often be overlooked when planning a store.
However, this isn’t a cost that is unique to WordPress users. Premium hosted online store builder tools also have their own app stores, where users can upgrade the functionality of their store for a price.
Popular Premium WooCommerce Add-ons:
Out of the box, the core WooCommerce plugin will allow you to accept payments from your customers. However, you can install additional extensions to offer your shoppers more payment options, and streamline the checkout process to make it look more professional and user-friendly.
Popular extensions for adding more payment options to your store include:
Table rate shipping is one feature that a lot of store owners will want to add to their shop. The add-ons in this category allow you to set multiple rates of shipping based on the individual details of the customer and their order. This could include their location, the size and weight of the products, and other custom factors.
Popular extensions for adding table rate shipping to your store include:
- Table Rate Shipping by Mangohour: free to $25
- Table Rate Shipping by Bolderelements: $21
- Table Rate Shipping by WooThemes: $199
There are add-ons available for WooCommerce which can detect abandoned shopping carts and will then email the shopper to prompt them to complete the transaction. These plugins can help you recover what would otherwise be lost sales and revenue, making them a worthwhile investment.
You can also offer your potential customers who didn’t make it to the checkout a discount coupon in the reminder email to help entice them back to the store to complete the checkout process. This can all be automated, making it a hands-off way to increase sales at your store.
Popular extensions for recovering sales from abandoned carts include:
- WooCommerce Recover Abandoned Cart by FantasticPlugins: $21
- WooCommerce Abandoned Cart Pro by Tyche Softwares: $119
Other interesting and useful premium extensions for WooCommerce you might need include:
While there is a large number of premium add-ons for WooCommerce available at the WooThemes store, you might be able to find a cheaper alternative on marketplaces like Code Canyon. Although it’s important that you check out reviews, customer feedback, and the level of support on offer when making a purchase.
Whether you are building an online shop to sell your own custom made products, items from a range of manufacturers, or list products for sale on a drop shipping basis, WordPress is a great choice.
With so many plugins and extensions available that can add a whole host of additional features to your website to turn it into the fully functioning eCommerce shop you need, not to mention the number of WordPress developers out there ready to take on custom development work, you should have no trouble building the ideal store for your needs.
Just remember to carefully consider the features your online shop will require, and factor in the cost of any premium extensions and add-ons you will need, before making your final decision of which eCommerce plugin or platform to use.
If you have any WordPress eCommerce related questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below.