If you’re thinking about building an online store, it’s reasonable to assume that you’ll encounter numerous options for setting up an online shop. These options might initially appear to you as gifts that you simply need to choose and take, but quickly they can become overwhelming, and you’ll discover challenges in making decisions due to the many possibilities available in the market for creating digital commerce stores on the web.
In this post, we will take a look at one of the most popular solutions available in the market, called WooCommerce. We’ll provide a general overview of the plugin and explain why you should at least consider using this extension to build a virtual store on the platform we all love, WordPress.
What is WooCommerce Exactly?
WooCommerce is an extension for WordPress that comes in the form of a free plugin available for download from the WordPress plugin repository. This plugin is currently installed on over 4 million WordPress sites and is used by 37% of all online stores.
With WooCommerce, you can create a basic virtual store and use it to sell physical products, digital products, and even subscriptions. When installed and activated, WooCommerce provides basic store functionality, such as product management, order management, and a shopping cart system.
It also offers essential features for online stores, including inventory management, handling international customers, managing product taxes, shipping cost calculations, and even coupon usage and management, all without the need for additional extensions beyond WooCommerce itself.
However, it’s important to note that you can expand the default options through numerous extensions that allow you to add features like pre-ordering, product bundles, order tracking, customer documentation, returns, warranties, and even options for selling online courses.
Before we continue and discuss some of the competitors to WooCommerce, let’s take a look at a graph depicting the rise in WooCommerce store usage from 2011 to 2018. Pay attention to the exponential growth rate:
There are quite a few competitors in the market for WooCommerce. They range from free and open-source systems to enterprise-level solutions. The popular ones among competitors include:
- Magento – Not WordPress
- Shopify – Not WordPress
- PrestaShop – Not WordPress
- iThemes Exchange – Free WordPress plugin
- WP e-Commerce – Free WordPress plugin
- Ecwid – Not WordPress
However, WooCommerce boasts a wider usage and a higher percentage of usage compared to them all. You can take a look at the following graph to get statistics on the usage of various systems in our small country – you can clearly see that WooCommerce dominates in Israel with a market share of 68% as of the end of 2018:
WooCommerce was originally created by the team at WooThemes in September 2011. In May 2015, WooThemes was acquired by Automattic, and today there are more than 350 developers contributing to the WooCommerce codebase. Some of these developers are part of Automattic’s team, while many of them are independent developers within the WordPress community.
There are many developers and agencies that collaborate with the plugin developers, building extensions and creating WordPress themes that present the store differently. They also provide services for installation and customization of these stores, both functionally and aesthetically.
Advantages and Disadvantages of WooCommerce
Like any software, WooCommerce has its pros and cons when it comes to working with it. These are subjective and vary from person to person, but it’s important to consider them before choosing it as your system for building a virtual store:
- WooCommerce is an open-source system and a free plugin.
- The plugin can be easily installed on WordPress.
- There is a wide selection of themes available for building and designing the front-end of the store.
- There are over 300 extensions available in the market, making the system more robust.
- WooCommerce has over 1200 reviews and ratings averaging almost 5 stars on WordPress.org.
- The system receives regular updates and improvements.
- There are many WordPress developers available in the market who can assist you in building and maintaining your virtual store.
- Setting up WooCommerce may be a bit more complex compared to other hosted solutions like Shopify.
- While the WooCommerce plugin is free, you might need to purchase extensions to add specific functionality to your store.
- The multitude of options and extensions can sometimes be overwhelming for beginners.
- Managing a WooCommerce-based store, especially with significant traffic, might require reliable and potentially more expensive hosting.
- Customization beyond the capabilities of themes and extensions might require a good understanding of WordPress development.
Extensions – WooCommerce Extensions
One of the major advantages of WooCommerce, as mentioned in the list above, is the extensions for the plugin (Extensions). Here is an example of some interesting extensions:
- WooCommerce Google Analytics Integration – Connects WooCommerce to Google Analytics and enables more advanced reports.
- WooCommerce PDF Invoices – Provides customers with invoices in PDF format that can be downloaded or printed.
- AutomateWoo – Sends emails with coupons for license renewals.
- Genesis Connect for WooCommerce – Connects WooCommerce with the Genesis theme framework.
- Yoast WooCommerce SEO – Sends schema data to search engines like Google and Bing to prevent search engine issues.
These are just a few examples of the extensions available in the market, and there are many more. As mentioned before, these extensions allow website owners to take a basic virtual store and turn it into a highly robust and functional system.
Is WooCommerce the right E-Commerce platform for Your Online Store?
There is no system that is ideal for every user or every situation. If you are unsure which system to choose, it would be wise to go through a process that will help you determine the most suitable solution for building your virtual store.
Instead of going and reading reviews about WooCommerce, it would be better to start by writing down a list of your personal needs and desires from the virtual store you are about to build.
Consider functionality, documentation, and even support in the decision-making process. Once you have a well-organized list of needs, compare it to the variety of solutions available in the market and see if the extension meets your requirements.
If you are already using WooCommerce for your digital store, take a look at the guide on how to set up a virtual store using WooCommerce or click on the WooCommerce and Online Stores category in the top menu.
In any case, I would love to hear your thoughts on the system, the advantages, and disadvantages you see compared to competitors, as I might be a bit biased… 😉