This is actually a really difficult topic to cover because eCommerce solutions cover all the topics we’ve already discussed (ease of use, design and layout, flexibility and extensibility) and ones we have yet to cover (cost, hosting, security, and data portability). So our goal in this posting is not to robustly discuss everything WordPress can do for your eCommerce store, but rather some general guidelines for functionality that you can achieve when it comes to your online store. Everything we’ve already discussed regarding WordPress and everything we will discuss is still true of WordPress whether you’re using a plugin to sell products online or not. You can still find some amazingly beautiful themes for your online store and most of them now come with Woocommerce templates packaged with them.
We have used both Woocommerce and Cart66 for client websites and both work well for small businesses looking to get started with an online store. They both offer some great features and they both have some extended functionality that allows you to get more specific with how your workflow will go when you get a sale. They both allow you to pick a payment processor (Paypal, Stripe, Authorize.net) and they both have great support to guide you through how to set up your store. Both of them also allow you to tailor how they look to your website brand. You can get very specific about how the store looks and functions which can be very appealing to many website owners looking to distinguish themselves. The nice part about these plugins for eCommerce is they integrate so well into your current website if you’re running WordPress. You don’t have to create a completely new website to have a store, it can simply be part of the ethos of your current website. eCommerce solutions for WordPress also scale nicely with the growth of your store. You many only be selling 20 products now and have a handful of sales, but in the future when you’re selling hundreds of products and have thousands of sales, WordPress can keep up with you.
The biggest challenge we see to eCommerce plugins for WordPress is that they usually require some help from a web guru in getting them set up. Once they are set up, store owners can easily add new products and process sales without help. They aren’t as easy to use as some drag-and-drop solutions out there, but they are also more flexible with their functionality and allow you to do more with your online store. Furthermore, you often need to purchase and install an SSL certificate so you can securely process credit cards. This process can be time consuming and difficult. The cost for these plugins is also reasonable so it’s possible to get a store up and running with a very minimal budget. We think WordPress is great for stores selling more than 20 products where standing out in a crowd is a must.
ECommerce plugins for WordPress are flexible and easily adapted to a store owner’s needs and design preferences and aren’t very expensive. However, to maximize these plugins, a website guru is often needed to implement the wishes of the store owner. Therefore, we give WordPress 7 out of 10 for eCommerce.
The drag-and-drop interface of many Website Builders mean that a store owner can create an online store fairly quickly without any help. However, with ease of use comes limited functionality so the level of sophistication of your online store could suffer. It’s important to know the functionality of the store for the Website Builder you would like to use because once you get your store set up, you can’t easily move it elsewhere. Once you start getting sales, it becomes even more difficult to move all that data over to another platform in the future. If your online store grows exponentially, you may be stuck using a platform that isn’t growing with your needs.
However, Website Builders are a one-stop shop that gives you all the tools you need to get your store up by yourself. If you’re adventurous and want the power of selling in your hands and if you’re selling 20 products or less, Website Builders may be a great option for you. If you are looking to sell a lot of products and have a large store and you don’t mind paying more money for high-end features, you may also look into Shopify or BigCommerce.
While Website Builders such as Wix, SquareSpace, Weebly, Blogger, and GoDaddy’s Website Builder have a great drag-and-drop interface that makes creating an online store a breeze, the functionality and future growth of the online store could be negatively impacted due to a limited feature set. For these reasons, we give Website Builders a 6 out of 10 for eCommerce.
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