// Begin Editor’s Note //
This post is in the process of being updated from 2012 to 2017. It’s still fairly useful, but needs some freshening.
Please check out the following related posts –
- Shopify vs. WordPress + WooCommerce
- Choosing An Ecommerce Platform
- Setting up a WordPress Ecommerce Website
// End Editor’s Note //
One option was to use software to build a website – then “plug in” shopping cart software to use.
When it comes to building websites, few can match WordPress.
It powers millions of sites from CNN to this humble website.
What many don’t know is that it can be an incredible eCommerce platform.
Here’s 8 reasons why you should use WordPress for your online store (and and overview of what shopping carts to “plug in” to make it work.
8 Reasons To Choose and Use WordPress
1. No ongoing fees
Many hosted, out of the box ecommerce platforms charge a monthly flat fee (plus a transaction fee).
That can add up.
For a small store – a monthly fee can be a big barrier to just get started.
And for larger stores – it can really start to add up against the bottom line.
Even add-on software (like a shopping cart) is always sold by license – so it’s just a one-time purchase price.
So if you are able and willing to learn how to maintain your site (mainly updating your software, which any designer or online tutorial can show how to do) – you can make your monthly overhead as cheap or as pricey as you want it or need it to be.
2. Open-source with a large community
WordPress is free because thousands of people deeply involved in the community contribute time and expertise to keep it updated.
What is usually done at a company by a few paid developers is done at WordPress by thousands of volunteers one bit at a time.
The advantage of running open-source software is that you aren’t relying on a company’s finances or hiring ability to keep your store running.
WordPress has thousands of eyeballs looking at the code, and thousands willing to step up and contribute a bit of code – which makes it a very reliable, long-term solution.
Which also ties in with #3….
3. Deep pool of developers and designers
Since WordPress is used by so many websites – and has such a large community – there’s always someone out there with the expertise to do whatever you need – whether you need someone just to set things up, design, do SEO, or scale your store to compete at the top tier.
In contrast, hosted eCommerce platforms usually don’t have the contributors available (or at the right price) to make anything and everything just right.
4. Infinite customization
With WordPress, you can create whatever store you want – with any feature you can imagine. Now, you may have to pay a custom developer – but at least it’s possible – unlike many out of the box solutions, which limit what you can do because of their built in systems.
5. Free, easy to install resources
WordPress terminology is that a Theme controls how your site looks, and a Plugin adds to what all your site can do (like a shopping cart). Here’s a screenshot of my screen right now.
You can see the Add New plugin button, and how the page editor is setup (like a Word document). It has a learning curve, but definitely not a Computer Science degree. If you can use Excel or rock out Gmail – you can learn to use WordPress.
WordPress allows you to plan for success. If your store takes off – and starts doing really well, WordPress can handle it. It handles sites as big as the New York Times – and can certainly handle yours, even with 1000s of products, and tons of traffic.
There are lots of stories about hacked WordPress blogs. And WordPress is a huge target for hackers. But WordPress also has the resources, and people to keep WordPress secure.
As long as you follow basic protocols (like not installing sketchy plugins, keeping WordPress up to date, etc) and installing a security plugin like WordFence or WP Better Security – your installation is as safe as trusting your data to another company.
8. Tons of extra functionality available
Need to order products in your categories independently? There’s a plugin for that.
Need to [insert random need here]? There’s a plugin or a developer for that.
The beauty of WordPress is that you can extend it and make it your own.
Shopping Cart Plugins For WordPress
WordPress by itself does not do eCommerce – you need to have an extension do that.
Here’s my favorite eCommerce plugins for WordPress.
WooThemes is a major producer of WordPress designs and themes. They have also produced the sleekest, easiest to install (and free) eCommerce plugin called WooCommerce. It has most everything you’d ever need to build a store (we use it at ShivarWeb side projects). The only downside is that it doesn’t work well with every type of WordPress design – so you may need a custom design to integrate it well.
WP eCommerce by GetShopped is by far the most flexible WordPress plugin. It works with nearly every theme, has lots of features, and it’s free. The only downside is that its support forums are a bit spotty, and the software still has a few nuisance bugs in it. Not as sleek as WooCommerce – but still a good option.
Shopp plugin is sort of the best of the WooThemes and WP eCommerce – it’s feature rich and flexible, and it works with nearly every design and theme. However, it’s paid – but at $55, it’s still a very affordable deal especially long term.
MarketPress, like Shopp, is an ecommerce plugin developed by a specialist company. It’s paid – but only $19. It has tons of features and works well with any WordPress design – it’s marketed as WP eCommerce without the bugs.
Read the full guide on how to set up a WordPress ecommerce website here!