The WordPress Content Management System has evolved tremendously over the years. Once known strictly as a blogging platform, developers have helped make WordPress a platform for business websites, portfolios, and even E-Commerce. Since online shopping is a billion dollar industry, taking your business online and reaching customers all over the country can significantly increase your profits and expose your brand to new markets you have never tapped.
But how do you set up an online store in WordPress? Believe it or not, it?s actually a lot easier than you might think. Using a combination of E-Commerce themes and plugins, you can have your online store up and running in no time at all. There are several benefits to using WordPress for an E-Commerce site:
? Easy to setup
? Easy to customize
? Great support
? Easy integration
WordPress Shopping Cart Plugins
In order to setup your online shop, you?re going to need to use a plugin to bring E-Commerce features to your WordPress. These plugins allow you to add features such as:
? Shopping carts
? Payment gateways
? Product categories
? Order forms
? Store front
? Product variations
? Shipping management
? And much more
There are both free and paid E-Commerce plugins for you to choose from. Some of the paid options come with more features, but the free solutions are definitely viable options as well.
Warning! The Importance Of A Solid Web Host
I would be doing you a terrible disservice if I didn?t mention how important it is to make sure you?re using adequate hosting for your E-Commerce store. The needs of an E-Commerce store are significantly different than just a blog or company page. You?re integrating payment solutions, managing several different customer accounts, products, generating several requests from servers constantly, and producing reports regularly. All of this creates an extra strain on servers, and Shared Hosting really isn?t optimal for this.
For this reason, I highly suggest you consider looking at our WordPress VPS Hosting. It will give you the scalability and flexibility needed to handle the complex needs of an online store. The last thing you want is for customers to have technical difficulties in the middle of making purchases.
With that said, here are some of the best E-Commerce WordPress Shopping Cart plugins.
WooCommerce is one of the most popular WordPress E-Commerce Plugins there is. The plugin integrates with the E-Commerce Woothemes for WordPress. The plugin has several benefits. One of its biggest strengths however is the reporting feature. You can get everything from sales reports, customer reports, and inventory reports all available in the dashboard.
The plugin was built to match the look and feel of the WordPress Admin panel so it is extremely easy to navigate and learn. One of the other features I really like about this plugin is how shipping is handled. With other E-Commerce solutions, shipping can be a messy feature. But WooCommerce allows you to set shipping cost based on individual products, charge a flat rate, or even offer free shipping. To sweeten the deal, WooCommerce has several extensions such as integrating UPS, USPS, FedEx, and other shippers to handle all of your shipping needs. Some of the other extensions available for WooCommerce are:
? Linnworks: Order and inventory management
? QR Code Generator: Allow customers to scan a QR code on their mobile device and be taken right to the
product on your site to buy it.
? Limited Deals: Add coupons/deals good for a limited time and limited quantities similar to Groupon.
? Shopdock: Add an AJAX shopping cart to any WordPress theme with WooCommerce so that customers can add products to their shopping cart without the page reloading.
? Accepted Payment Methods: This extension allows you to display the different payment options customers have.
? Twilio SMS Integration: Send order updates to customers via text message.
If you?re wondering how the customer can manage their purchases and track orders, don?t worry. WooCommerce has an excellent account management system so that each customer has their own login information and can access past orders, update billing information, and even change their own passwords.
WooCommerce allows you to use all the major Payment Gateways such as PayPal, Google Checkout, Authorize.net and 2Checkout as well so that you aren?t limited to any one option. Almost anything you could ever want or need from an E-Commerce store, you can do with WooCommerce.
Try WooCommerce out: Download
2. WP E-Commerce Plugin
This is the most popular E-Commerce Plugin for WordPress by far with well over 2.2 million downloads. One of the major benefits you?ll get with this plugin is that it is easy implementable into any WordPress theme that?s compliant with the WordPress API. The list of features for this plugin is quite lengthy so I?ll highlight some of the most attractive features.
You can completely customize the look of your store with this plugin with some tweaks to the HTML and CSS so you?re not ?stuck? with a look you don?t like.
As for the payment gateways, you?ll have access to 15 different options. The free version comes with 6 options, such as PayPal, Google Checkout, and Manual Payments. In order to access extra payment options such as Authorize.net and some other features, you have to use the Gold Cart Plugin ($47) along with this one. So that is a little upsetting. But if you?re just starting out your shop, the WP E-Commerce plugin alone should be enough to get you started.
Some other notable features are:
? Discounts based on Quantity
? Sales on specific products
? One-Page checkout or a step by step checkout
? Checkout as a guest or start an account
? Complete catalog management
? Supports digital products
? Taxes based on location
As I stated, the list of features for this plugin go on and on. In addition to everything I?ve already mentioned, you can even use this plugin to start a subscription site as well.
Try the WP Ecommerce Pligin: Download
This plugin comes in both a free and a paid version. Cart66 Lite is the free version and Cart66 Pro ($89) is the paid version. Don?t think just because the lite version is free that it won?t supply you with a ton of features. While the Pro version definitely has some very great features, the lite version is definitely a viable option.
With both the free and paid version, you get features such as:
? Order management
? Tax by location
? International selling
? Choose your currency
? Send customizable receipts by email
? Different product variations
? Affiliate program*
*In order to use the affiliate program, you have to buy the WordPress Affiliate Platform for $49.95.
Although the Lite version is nice, I have to say that the Professional version of this plugin is one of the best E-Commerce plugins available. It allows you to easily place a Terms of Service option in the checkout page (which is something Google looks for), integrate Google Analytics, and even allows you to have recurring payments and subscriptions for SaaS. In addition to all of this, they integrate several different modules such as:
? Constant Contact– Email marketing
? Spreedly– Managing Payments
? Zendesk– Providing customer support
? Gravity Forms– Creating forms
? iDevAffiliate– Affiliate program
? Mailchimp– Email marketing
I highly recommend using Cart66 specifically for selling digital products or services, but it can still definitely be used for physical goods as well. Another nice benefit of this plugin is that it allows you to add your store into your existing WordPress theme instead of requiring an E-Commerce theme. Through the use of shortcodes and easy customizable CSS, you can completely customize the look of your online store within WordPress. However, if you don?t want to deal with coding at all, simply use one of their Themes specifically made to work for Cart66. Aside from the higher than average price point for the pro version, this plugin is great.
Try out Cart66: Download
The last E-Commerce plugin for WordPress I want to tell you about is called eShop. Here is another fairly lightweight plugin. The great thing about eShop is that it is very much community driven. Meaning a lot of the features that really help it stand out were developed by their community. In order to get the most out of this plugin, I highly suggest making use of the Community Add-ons.
Some of the great additions from the community include:
? CSV Import: This makes it very easy to import bulk products into your store
? Affiliates: Set up an affiliate program for your store
? Handling Fee Add-On: This allows you to add a cost of for Handling in addition to the shipping cost from your carriers.
The plugin includes a lot of the features that you would expect/need from an E-Commerce plugin such as sales data/reporting, product variation, allow customers to create accounts, discounts, and inventory management. One downside to this plugin is that they don?t support as many Merchant gateways as the other plugins mentioned. Currently they support PayPal and Cash/Checks. They do offer other Gateways such as Authorize.net and iDeal, but they do not offer support for them.
A cool feature of this plugin is that you can actually use it as just a product catalogue without having the shopping cart integration to make sales. So for Call To Order businesses, this plugin would be ideal.
I have to say that while this plugin doesn?t have nearly as many features as WooCommerce or Cart66, it is extremely easy to use. Products are added through making new posts or pages, and as you can see in the image above, all you have to do is enter in the values and you?re set. It?s highly recommended that you use the Category Grid View Gallery plugin so that you can have a nice looking store front for your E-Commerce site.
Try out eShop: Download
5. E-Commerce Themes
Typically the easiest way to set up an online storefront is by using a WordPress E-Commerce theme. These are themes with online shopping features built in and are used in conjunction with plugins to set up your own online store.
As you saw with the plugins mentioned above, most of them have themes specifically designed to work with them. I recommend E-Commerce themes for people who want to jump right into selling online but don?t necessarily have the technical skill/experience to start everything from scratch. The themes compliment the plugins and give you a great place to start out. If you?re using the WooCommerce plugin, I suggest checking out the Woothemes website for themes. The Cart66 website also provides you a list of themes that integrate well with the plugin. If you don?t see anything there you like, visit Themeforest for a wide selection of E-Commerce WordPress themes.
I ll be more than happy to help you with any WordPress Hosting related issues. For creating an ultimate store using these Ecommerce WordPress Shopping Cart Plugins, I would highly recommend hosting WordPress on the Cloud. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Enjoy!
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