Are you a WordPress fan? Thinking about using this platform for starting an eCommerce store? Well, this is a great idea. WordPress being the most favored CMS can also be a great eCommerce platform. It can provide a perfect blend of required features and growth opportunity for your start-up.
You just need to take the very first step carefully – choosing the best eCommerce plugin. We know that WordPress is originally a Content Management System (CMS), not a standalone eCommerce platform like PrestaShop, OpenCart, Magento, or Shopify.
However, it can effectively be converted into a fully functional eCommerce platform cum the best CMS by simply installing a WordPress eCommerce plugin.
In this article, we will enlist and compare 5 most popular WordPress eCommerce plugins. Hopefully, this comparison will help you to take your first step correctly and choose the best eCommerce plugin that suits your start-up.
What makes a perfectly suitable WordPress eCommerce plugin?
There are Plenty of eCommerce plugins in the market developed by various WordPress developers. However, not all of them may suit your kind of start-up.
That’s why we have added this section to explain the way of choosing an eCommerce plugin that also fulfills the basic requirements.
There are plugins that are perfect for selling virtual products like eBooks, software, photos, music etc. Some eCommerce plugins are the best for selling physical goods that require inventory management and shipping management too. You may also find some plugins suitable for both of the types.
For a start, a perfect WordPress eCommerce plugin would always suit and support the kind of selling you want to do on your online store. Depending on the type of products, you can decide the features you would require to run your store and business smoothly in the long run.
Next step would be to check the payment gateways integration. You should always make sure that your chosen eCommerce plugin must support the popular payment gateways by default or through a plugin installation.
You should have enough flexibility to use at least the popular payment gateways of your region.
The eCommerce plugins come either theme-less or with a default theme. It’s obvious that you will need to install a custom theme by yourself. So, make sure your eCommerce plugin supports the eCommerce themes and there are plenty of choices available for it.
We have to understand that not every eCommerce plugin possess all the features and functionalities you would want to have. They can either have those features by default or can achieve them with add-ons installation.
So, it’s important to verify if there are enough add-ons available for the plugin that you might require in the long run.
5 Best WordPress ECommerce & Shopping Cart Plugins
Here is a list of 5 best plugins to start an online store with WordPress. All of these plugins are tried and tested and used by thousands of users.
A large number of WooCommerce add-ons and themes make this plugin well supported and flexible. It’s not possible to tell the exact number of WooCommerce themes and add-ons available. However, in a casual calculation, I have found that:
There are more than 800 WooCommerce themes on ThemeForest alone.
- Even the WordPress.org theme directory has more than 400 WooCommerce themes.
You can find more than 1000 WooCommerce supported plugins in the official WordPress.org plugin directory.
- WooCommerce official site too sells more than 350 plugin extensions.
It’s understandable that WooCommerce has a highly active community of users and developers providing different solutions.
Benefits of using WooCommerce
- Themes & Extensions : As explained above there isn’t any scarcity of WooCommerce supported themes and plugin extensions.
Suitable for virtual and physical products : WooCommerce supports the features and functionality for selling both the types of products. You can sell digital downloads as well as physical products. It can handle the shipping and inventory management very effectively.
Supports affiliate products : You can add affiliate products to your store with a simple back-office control.
Competent inventory management : The high-end inventory management controls are so seamless that WooCommerce even leaves many standalone eCommerce platforms behind in this category.
Payment gateways : WooCommerce supports various payment options by default. You can also install plugins for those payment options that do come inbuilt.
Highly active support and community : The comprehensive documentation is
available online for all. You can always refer to it. Apart from it, there are knowledge base, help desk, and community forums to support you in need.
Downsides of WooCommerce
Confusing: Though WooCommerce has a very easy to use interface, with so many options available, you might get confused and lost among the features as a new user. You might have to seek a professional help from expert WordPress developers.
Difficult to find right extensions – So many WooCommerce plugins available in the market make it difficult for a new user to decide the right plugin.
E-Commerce funnel – WooCommerce by itself do not provide a tracking of theeCommerce funnel. It’s not a con exactly because there are WordPressheatmap and A/B testing plugins that can track the funnel and also provide best A/B testing integration.
As the name suggests this WordPress eCommerce plugin has been specially designed to sell downloadable virtual or digital products.
If you want to sell only the digital products, Easy Digital Downloads plugin can be an effective choice. It comes with the powerful features to create awesome digital goods online store.
Benefits of using Easy Digital Downloads
- Loaded features for digital downloads – The plugin comes with loads of inbuilt features to facilitate a seamless business of digital downloads.
The fully loaded virtual shopping cart provides all the information and easy navigation throughout the checkout funnel. You can customize the “Add to cart” button and text on it. You can limit the number or downloads per customer and also fix a time period for download access.
- Easy to use: Unlike WooCommerce, the Easy Digital Downloads plugin concentrates only on digital products. So, it has a lot but focused features and controls which are easy to use and you can learn it in few days.
Moreover, the back-end interface for product management, customer management, and all the other controls is quite user-friendly andhassle-free.
- Discount management: Well, discounts are something that every customer would want from you, whether on a physical product or a virtual product.
Easy Digital Downloads allows a seamless creation of discount coupons and all coupons can be managed from a single location itself. You can also set different cart rules to put conditions on your coupons.
Easy download activity tracking : The plugin monitors all the sales and download activities on the store. It tracks how products files are being downloaded by the customers by monitoring the Date, time, and IP addresses of the purchased and downloaded products.
Extensions: There are hundreds of extensions available all over the internet for Easy Digital Downloads. You can also install plugins for several payment options that do not come inbuilt. However, you will find many payment options as inbuilt itself.
Themes: The Easy Digital Downloads supports almost all the WordPress themes. Moreover, you can also purchase and install Easy Digital Downloads special themes if WordPress themes do not impress you.
Impressive support : The plugin is well supported with the comprehensive documentation.
You have the access to free support forums, video tutorials, IRC chatroom etc. The premium users can also leverage the dedicated priority support.
Downsides of Easy Digital Downloads
- Only for digital products : The plugin supports only the downloadable products to be sold on the platform. If you want to use the plugin to sell even the physical products, you can install some extensions.
However, it would be too complicated and still, you won’t have the WooCommerce kind of support for the physical products. Customization can be done but are very costly to implement.
- No Affiliate products by default- It does not support the adding of external or affiliate products by default. If you want to add such products, you will need to install a third-party plugin for that.
iThemes Exchange is a very strong contender in my list here. Created to provide the suitable selling environment for all types of products, this WordPress eCommerce plugin can be used to sell digital as well as physical products.
Benefits of using iThemes Exchange
Easy to installation and setup : Just install the plugin, and follow the on-screen instructions of the setup wizard and you are all set to start selling.
Easy to use : The intuitive user interface makes it very easy to navigate between different interfaces. You can easily understand the know-hows of using the back-office controls.
Free Stripe payment Add-on – Most of the eCommerce plugins in my list here would charge you for getting the Stripe payment add-on. However, iThemes Exchange goes a step beyond and provide this premium ayment add-on for free of cost. You can use this free add-on any number of iThemes Exchange stores you create.
Downsides of iThemes Exchange
New Plugin with a small community – iThemes Exchange is quite younger than most of the plugins in my list here. That’s why youmight not find a huge community of users yet. Even though there areenough documentation and add-ons to support it.
MarketPress plugin comes in both the free and premium version. We would here focus on the Premium version available with a subscription of $ 24.50/month. I have chosen the paid version in my list because of the several pros it has to offer that are not found in the free lite version.
Benefits of using MarketPress
- Access to premium plugins : With the premium subscription you get the free access to more than 134 MarketPress plugins. In other words, youdon’t have to worry about spending on plugins and extensions asthey are all provided to you in the package.
Themes : Similar to the plugins, you get the access to all the premium themes and child themes with the same subscription.
Sell any type of product : You can use this plugin to sell any type of product- virtual or physical. Moreover, you have the ability to add unlimited variations to any product and present them in intuitive galleries.
Inbuilt one-page checkout : For other eCommerce plugins and eCommerce platforms like Magento, you need to install the premium one-page checkout extensions to get a sophisticated checkout. MarketPress is the only plugin that provides an inbuilt one-page checkout which is quite competent. You can also enable/disable guest checkout option with a simple back-office control.
Downsides of MarketPress
Free version not competent : The free version of the plugin isnot competent enough. You will need to purchase and install a lot of plugins to match up with other competent plugins. So, you have theonly best option to choose the paid subscription model.
Most of the plugins are native : You will not find many third-party plugins in the paid subscription. You have to stay satisfied with the plugins offered in the package. Getting custom plugins other than in the package would be quite costly.
limited active community : As the plugin is new and not as popular as other plugins, it does not have a very large active community of users yet. However, the dedicated support for the premium users is enough to get any kind of help.
Although Shopify is a stand-alone hosted eCommerce platform, it extends it reaches to the WordPress users through its Shopify WordPress integration. We may not call it a WordPress eCommerce plugin, it is simply a WordPress plugin that allows you to show shoppable products on your WordPress blog or any page.
After installing this WordPress plugin you can easily drop your Shopify store’s products with buy options on any WordPress sidebar, page, or blog post. Customers can add the products to the cart and complete the shopping from there itself.
Benefits of using Shopify plugin
Sell your Shopify products from WordPress: As explained above, if you have a Shopify store, this plugin will extend the visibility of your Products on your WordPress blogging platform too. So, you have a quite effective way to market your Shopify products.
Fully functional shopping interface: The products shown on your WordPress pages will have dedicated “Add to cart buttons” which when clicked would show a quick pop-up shopping cart to complete the purchase from WordPress site itself.
Multiple products : The shopping cart is competent enough to handle the addition of multiple products to the cart and can be checked out will all those products
Theme support : The plugin supports all the WordPress themes without any hassle. You have the option to choose from thousands of themes available in the market for
Downsides of Shopify plugin
- It is not an eCommerce plugin but simply a WordPress plugin that integrates Your Shopify store with your WordPress site.
You need to be a Shopify store owner to use this plugin. Does not work without a Shopify Store.
Shopify is not free . It is a premium subscription based service. You need to pay monthly fees to use Shopify for selling.
limited payment options . Though you have the option to use any of the supported payment options, they still encourage you to use the Shopify payments. If you do not use Shopify payments, you need to pay additional charges for using other payment options, and the charges are taken on each transaction.
So, now that you have enough information about the most popular WordPress eCommerce plugins, it would not be so tough to choose the best one for your start-up.
Each of the plugins are best in their niche, while some like WooCommerce, and MarketPress provide a good competition in multiple niches. Just decide your business niche first and then choose the plugins according to the kind of products you want to sell.
For example, if only digital products are your choice, Easy Digital Downloads could be a great option.
Let us know in the comments if you have used any other WordPress eCommerce plugin that should be in this list.