WooCommerce is a popular eCommerce plugin mainly because it integrates seamlessly with an existing WordPress website and is very affordable compared to other eCommerce platforms. So, if you’re operating an online store on a WordPress platform, you’ll be able to take advantage of all the perks it has to offer.
Founded in 2001, WooCommerce is essentially a free open source eCommerce plugin. To date, it’s been downloaded more than 28 million times and helps operate nearly 1.7 millions stores. However, it’s important to note that, while totally free to download, you’ll be on the hook for operating functions like web-hosting and extensions in order to run certain advanced features.
WooCommerce and Usability
Merchants familiar with WordPress appreciate how seamless WooCommerce integrates with the blogging platform. If you don’t have a WordPress account, you will have to create one before using WooCommerce, because it functions as a plugin when connecting to your WordPress platform. Luckily, connecting WooCommerce is as simple as clicking on the “Add New” button on the WordPress plugin page, track down WooCommerce, click “Install” and then “Activate.” Once done, it will become a fully integrated plugin on your site in little to no time at all.
Once activated, you’ll be walked through a setup wizard that will teach you all the basic steps to get started. Once the setup wizard finishes, you’ll be able to download free themes or purchase premium themes and essentially begin outfitting your storefront with all the features you want.
When it comes to adding products to your store, WooCommerce even makes that easy by providing a Product Editor tool. Other functions that the WooCommerce plugin feature includes access and edit shipping settings, pending orders, product information, and much more.
Web Design Options with WooCommerce
In addition to being able to integrate with any WordPress theme, WooCommerce also offers WooTheme, a feature that gives users access to all of a Storefront theme for free. While not the most eye-catching, the Storefront theme manages to operate smoothly with other WooCommerce features. On top of this free theme, the plugin also offers 14 premium themes, each priced at about $39.
To help you customize your store page a bit to better reflect your brand, WooCommerce offers a number of extensions and tools that allow you to easily make changes to the appearance and functionality of your online store. These extensions and tools include:
- Upfront Checkout Customizer
- Storefront Designer
- Storefront WooCommerce Customizer
Tech-savvy merchants can even tinker with the CSS and HTML stylesheets to further customize their storefronts.
Hardware and Software Requirements
Because WooCommerce is a plugin that integrates with WordPress, there are certain software and hardware requirements that must be met before accessing WooCommerce. Some of these requirements include having an updated browser and a reliable Internet connection, along with server requirements like:
- WordPress 4.1+ or WordPress 4.4+, depending what version of WooCommerce you’re running
- WooCommerce 2.6 requirements
- MySQL 5.6 or above
- PHP 5.6 or above
- 64 MB or more of WP Memory
Useful WooCommerce Features
With WooCommerce, you’ll enjoy access to basic features for free so you can get your store up and running in no time at all. Some of the free features included with WooCommerce include:
- Access to a mobile-friendly, easy-to-navigate design
- Ability to sell both physical and digital products
- Access to geolocation options
- Single-page checkout option
- Ability to group products into categories for better organization
- Inventory management
- Access to shipping calculator and other shipping options
- Ability to create customer discount codes and coupons
- SEO tools
- Analytics tools and more
Customize Your Store with WooCommerce Add-Ons
The free version of WooCommerce has its limitations in that it is very basic. If you want to take advantage of and play with more advanced features, you will have to download add-ons and extensions, both of which are available for a fee. Fortunately, WooCommerce boasts a rather robust collection of more than 300 add-ons, including popular ones like:
- Avalara AvaTax
WooCommerce Pricing Options
One of the biggest reasons why WooCommerce is so popular is because it’s free, so there are no pricing options or different plans to choose from. Additionally, the plugin never charges transaction fees, and it doesn’t get involved in regulating storage or bandwidth.
That being said, while WooCommerce is free, you will still have to pay hosting fees for your WordPress site, and if you want to add more advanced features to your storefront, you will have to spend a nice chunk of change on extensions and add-ons, some of which cost upwards of $100.
To make processing a breeze, WooCommerce offers a variety of different payment gateways already built in, including:
- Check Payment
- Direct Bank Transfer
- Simplify Commerce (US-only)
- Cash on Delivery
WooCommerce also integrates with the following gateways that can be purchased or downloaded as add-ons:
- Apple Pay
- Amazon Payments
- PayPal Pro/Advanced/Express
Customer and Tech Support
Due to the fact that WooCommerce is a free open source platform, its customer and tech support options are limited. For example, unlike larger eCommerce platforms, you won’t be able to contact customer support via social media channels, live chat, email, or phone. In fact, the only way to access customer or tech support is by submitting a web ticket, which is usually responded to within 2 days.
Despite the lack of support from actual people, you will have access to many self-help resources, including video tutorials, user forums, the WooCommerce blog, and other forms of documentation.
Lack of WooCommerce Security Options
Unfortunately, as a free, self-hosted platform, the security of your store will be your responsibility.
If you have an existing WordPress store and you’re looking for a new eCommerce plugin, then WooCommerce is for you. Not only is it free, but it also comes with many impressive and useful features to make doing business online a breeze.