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Updated: 2022-08-30 / Article by: Jerry Low
Background: WooCommerce enables you to sell products and services to your customers. It gives you the flexibility to be creative with your product offerings. You can add unlimited products and services and take as many orders as you want.
A leading WordPress plugin, WooCommerce has had phenomenal success since its inception. More than 500,000 online stores around the world are built and powered by the application.
We like WooCommerce for its omnichannel sales support, great features, and extensive customization options. However, it does require a fair amount of initiative and time to build your eCommerce store with. Also, the zero cost of WooCommerce can be deceptive – You'll need a web host and domain to run your WooCommerce store.
Statistics show that companies with 10-50 employees and $1M-$10M revenue often use WooCommerce (source). Many of these are small businesses, but large companies are also fairly represented. On a personal basis, WooCommerce use is predominant among single-owner online stores as well. The top industries that use WooCommerce include retail, restaurants, hospital, and health care.
WooCommerce is an easy-to-install WordPress plugin. It is suitable for small businesses looking for a basic, stable solution. The seamless integration between WooCommerce, WooCommerce Extensions, and StoreFront mean greater efficiency in uptimes.
The basic WooCommerce themes and extensions are suitable free options for those with tight budgets. Being built by reputable developers, you can be assured of its stability.
A large number of themes provide more choices for businesses. It has excellent features that are being upgraded continuously. The variety of extensions available gives you more options in enhancing your storefront.
Important: You can't run your online store with WooCommerce alone
WooCommerce (and WordPress) are both free, open-source applications. But to set up and run your WooCommerce store online, there are minimal costs – a web host and a domain name. For newbies – Nexcess, officially recommended by WooCommerce, is a good place to start.
2. Sell on Multiple Channels – Why Stop at One?
You can sell your products through multiple devices, including mobile apps. This channel diversification capability enables your customers to shop anywhere, anytime.
The integration with Google, Amazon, eBay, and Walmart gives products greater global visibility. A customer selecting your products on Google, for example, will have them shipped from your storefront. You control the product listings, including stock control, price, and product name.
Your store ships goods sold through the respective channel to customers.
3. Customers are Kept Safe Thanks to Secure Payment Services
There is a large number of payment gateways with multiple payment channels. Your customers will have a wide choice of payment options. Aside from integrations with well-known third parties like Stripe and PayPal, WooCommerce has its own as well.
WooCommerce Payment Services has its payment gateway integrated with the Dashboard services. There is no setup charge and no monthly fee, while transaction fees are kept low. The advantage is that customers can shop and pay within the WooCommerce platform.
4. You Can Sell Almost Anything
There are a wide variety of product categories you can sell from, spanning physical products to digital. In fact, with WooCommerce, you can even sell physical services, virtual services, and even event tickets.
Much of this is driven by the nature of the WooComemrce platform. However, it has one significant advantage over many others – WooCommerce Point-of-Sale (PoS). If you own a brick-and-mortar storefront, then take advantage of WooCommerce POS.
It allows you to sell online products in your store. By turning your browser into a cash register, you can manage your products, orders, and customers. It suits a broad market such as retail stores, food vendors, and jewelers.
5. Extensive Customization Options
There are two ways to build your WooCommerce theme. One is to build from scratch by coding, and the second, the easier way is to use WooCommerce Themes from the WooCommerce Theme Store (more about this below).
You can also make more surgical improvements by manually editing CSS, but this requires some level of coding know-how. There are other ways to consider as well, such as using a Plugin to add on functionality.
Even if you decide not to touch any customizations at all on your own, there are many developers you can hire to do it for you.
6. Lots of Help and Support Services Are Available
There is a comprehensive documentation system. Added to this is the large community of users who support each other. This ecosystem is beneficial for the DIY crowd who may need their hands held from time to time – especially beginners to eCommerce.
The abandoned cart recovery feature is to reconnect with visitors who left without checking out. The average abandoned cart rate within industries is 55-80%. A follow-up email can recover at least 30% of sales.
The WooCommerce Abandoned Cart Recovery extension enables the recouping of lost sales.
The Cons: Things We Dislike About WooCommerce
1. You Need Some Basic Knowledge
To handle web hosting, WordPress and WooCommerce require some basic knowledge to work. It isn’t exactly rocket science, but in the context of eCommerce, the leeway for doing something wrong isn’t wide.
For those who are not adept at eCommerce and website technology, security can be a significant issue. Don’t forget that you’re handling not just personal data but also financial information.
2. Advanced Customization Can be Difficult
WooCommerce gives you the freedom to build basic storefronts. For enhanced customization, you need to know how to code or have to hire extra developer resources. While WooCommerce itself is free, taking on developers to customize your store can be very expensive.
If you’re thinking of working around that with plugins, note that most plugins will follow a freemium model. That means they are free to use – but advanced features will also cost money.
Things You Need to Know (More) About WooCommerce
A leading WordPress plugin, WooCommerce has had phenomenal success since its inception in 2011. Widely used by most WordPress eCommerce websites, WooCommerce has taken a leadership position as a user-friendly, innovative plugin.
Targeted at a wide range of WordPress businesses, it competes effectively against major Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) brands like Shopify and BigCommerce in the eCommerce platform space.
What is WooCommerce Used For?
WooCommerce enables you to sell products and services to your customers. It gives you the flexibility to be creative with your product offerings. You can add unlimited products and services and take as many orders as you want.
There is a wide range of features available, including inventory management, multiple payment gateway options, shipping rate configurations, support, email templates, and sales tracking reports.
It is simple to install and customize, and being free is an attractive option for tight budgets. The open-source feature means you may modify the code.
How Does WooCommerce Plugin Work?
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that works together with the core Content Management System (CMS). The integration is seamless. Once dropped into place, it extends eCommerce capabilities to WordPress, allowing you to convert your website into an eCommerce storefront.
Thanks to WooCommerce, you can add products or services, a shopping cart, checkout, and even payment features.
Using your WordPress dashboard is the simplest way of installing WooCommerce.
Go to “Plugins -> Add New,” then search for WooCommerce.
Hit the “Install Now” button, and once that completes, you can Activate it and run the WooCommerce Setup Wizard.
What You Can Sell Using WooCommerce?
The simple answer to this is – literally anything. There are five major categories of products/services you can sell on WooCommerce.
Physical Products – Tangible products sold on a pre-order or subscription-based.
Digital Products – Delivered online such as eBooks, workout videos, and courses.
Access – Limited access to specific products/content based on membership.
Time – Selling your time for services (offline and online services).
Tickets – Online and offline events.
There are restricted products often disallowed, but they have more to do with associated service providers than WooCommerce.
A big part of WooCommerce appeal for store owners is the ability to customize store designs quickly. This capability comes thanks to the use of WooCommerce themes that drop into place easily.
WooCommerce comes with an official theme – StoreFront – but has many others available. Some are free, while others may cost a fee, but the options exist in abundance. Here are some samples of great WooCommerce themes:
WooCommerce Theme Sample #1: Deli StoreFront
WooCommerce Theme Sample #2: Stationery
As a WordPress plugin, WooCommerce has kept core WordPress functions and augmented them with eCommerce capabilities. It is accessible from multiple devices and integrates with many leading eCommerce players, Google, Amazon, eBay, and Walmart.
Extensions from the WooCommerce Extension library comprise free and paid plugins. Besides updating product listings and taking orders, other supporting features include automated tax computation, live shipping rates, and printing labels.
Help is available as documentation and public support forums. Account-holders can refer to the Customer Support team. For significant theme customization, developers are available for hire in the public market.
WooCommerce Plans & Pricing
WooCommerce costs nothing to use but building your eCommerce store may not be cost-free. Aside from web hosting and domain name, you may also have to pay extra for some themes and plugins as well.
There is a wide range of web hosts which can handle WooCommerce hosting. Some, like Hostinger, specialize at the lower end of the market, allowing you to host an online store for a few dollars each month. Providers like Kinsta cater to the performance market – at an accompanying high price tag.
WooCommerce Themes – Advanced themes can cost anywhere from $20-$100/year.
Store Management Options – Shipping and payment gateway fees often cost extra, depending on which partners you choose.
Marketing – Plugins can help with product marketing, but even this can accrue cost. For example, MailChimp can cost around $9.99/mo for use, while Jilt hovers at about $29/mo.
These and more need to be factored in to understand your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for running a WooCommerce store.
WooCommerce Success Stories
If you plan to use WooCommerce to see how the eCommerce scene works, that’s fine. After all, many merchants have used WooCommerce to immense success – both in terms of design and financial positivity.
To outline this, here are some WooCommerce success stories:
1. Singer Australia
Category: Consumer Retail
Before we go into this, Singer is a massive, global brand. It isn't uncommon for some of these to use different technologies in various regions. Singer Australia happens to be using Facebook for WooCommerce to help them with lead generation.
This extension to their online store helps them connect with the right audience that’s interested in their products. The end result is a win-win scenario that helps both Singer and potential customers.
Singer Australia is a good example of segregated use of technologies across a single, large company. It also demonstrates well incisive use of WooCommerce, rather than an across-the-board, one-size-fits-all solution.
2. All Blacks
Category: Sports Merchandise
While not everyone is a rugby fan, there won’t be many fans of the game who won’t recognize this team. The All Black are practically a household name in the sport, thanks to their unique pregame haka performances and stunning win record.
Yet even sports teams need financial support and their merch store online is one way of getting it. They use an extensive combination of WooCommerce technologies for the store including MailChimp, Windcave, Anti-Fraud, and more.
The All blacks merch store is a good example of using WooCommerce for a full traditional online store. It’s straightforward and demonstrates how WooCommerce can be a single-stop solution.
3. Cosmos Magazine
Category: Digital Subscriptions
To diversify a bit, Cosmos Magazine is an excellent use case where publications sell subscriptions digitally using WooCommerce. Cosmos is issued quarterly and a very good example of a digital form of traditional publication.
Tradition hasn't kept them back though and using WooCommerce, they are able to vastly extend their reach. The WooCommerce plugins used by Cosmos are also very telling, including MailChimp which can help them stay in closer touch with subscribers.
The selection of Cosmos as one of our success stories is meant to demonstrate how well non-physical products can be sold via WooCommerce. For this case, even the extensions used are impressively relevant.
Conclusion: Is WooCommerce Right for You?
As you can see, the case for using WooCommerce is a strong one. However, it does require a fair amount of initiative and time to build your eCommerce store. There is also the consideration of TCO to consider since the zero cost of WooCommerce can be deceptive.
Who Uses WooCommerce?
Statistics show that companies with 10-50 employees and $1M-$10M revenue often use WooCommerce. Many of these are small businesses, but large companies are also fairly represented.
On a personal basis, WooCommerce use is predominant among single-owner online stores as well. The top industries that use WooCommerce include retail, restaurants, hospital, and health care.
If everything we’ve covered in this article sounds a bit overwhelming, that’s simply the nature of using a DIY-oriented web application. There are many moving parts to consider.
For those who are seeking more convenient alternatives to WooCommerce, many popular ones do exist, especially in the SaaS space.
Shopify is perhaps one of the best WooCommerce alternatives in the market. Like WooCommerce, it’s meant for the creation of online stores and offers many similar benefits. The key difference is that Shopify is SaaS.
This means you don’t actually need to do anything except use a visual editor to customize your shop. Almost everything else is taken care of for you – from hosting to application maintenance.
In a similar way to Shopify, Squarespace looks towards the consumer market for eCommerce stores. This means it’s easy enough for relative newbies to use and manage. Of course, many of the necessary tools are provided by Squarespace to make things simpler.
Here again, you won’t need to worry about anything except putting together and running your store. Squarespace also includes a support team that can answer all your questions on demand. It’s similar to a concierge service.
If you’re looking to pay with the big boys, BigCommerce has options that can do that. This major player in the eCommerce site building industry has separate services for small and large players – well into the enterprise scale.
While it may not be as user-friendly as Shopify or Squarespace, BigCommerce is massive in features and customizability. It plays well with other major eCommerce platforms and you can do cross syncs as well.
Founder of WebHostingSecretRevealed.net (WHSR) - a hosting review trusted and used by 100,000's users. More than 15 years experience in web hosting, affiliate marketing, and SEO. Contributor to ProBlogger.net, Business.com, SocialMediaToday.com, and more.