By Andreas Rivera, Business News Daily Writer | Updated Jan 03, 2018
We recommend WooCommerce as the best shopping cart plugin for WordPress websites and blogs. We chose WooCommerce from dozens of shopping cart plugins, shopping cart software and e-commerce software because it lets you build a free online store quickly and easily.
WooCommerce has everything you need to get your WordPress-based e-commerce business up and running. It lets you set up an online storefront on an existing website without all the fuss and costs of e-commerce software. WooCommerce is also a completely customizable, well-supported solution, so you can create an online store that looks, feels and works exactly the way you want it to.
Editor's Note: Looking for an e-commerce website builder for your business? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:
The best part about WooCommerce is that it offers vast capabilities — without breaking the bank. Of the WordPress shopping cart plugins we reviewed, WooCommerce offers the most features at the best price.
First, WooCommerce is completely free to download and install, and there are no monthly fees as on other shopping cart solutions.
WooCommerce-powered online stores are also highly customizable in look, feel and function, at no additional cost. This is because it's already packed with features to help you launch and run your online store, and you can add a ton more using website themes and extensions from the WooCommerce website. And because WooCommerce is completely compatible with WordPress, you have even more customization options using themes and extensions from WordPress and third-party developers.
Most WooCommerce website themes and extensions are free, but there are also paid versions that offer more advanced capabilities. Website themes can run anywhere from $79 to $139, depending on the features you want to purchase. Pricing for paid extensions vary, but the small business owners we talked to said that with the massive collection of extensions available, you'll likely be able to find what you need for free.
Another contributing factor to WooCommerce's affordability is that you don't need a merchant account, saving you money from your bank's fees. It directly integrates with PayPal, so you can just use your PayPal account to process and receive payments, and then transfer the funds for free to your bank account.
WooCommerce has everything small businesses need to turn their WordPress website or blog into a successful online store. Used by millions of brands of all sizes, it offers both basic and advanced features to help you launch, manage and grow your e-commerce business.
- Storefront. Build a storefront as part of your existing website or blog, or launch a stand-alone online store. WooCommerce also integrates easily with the free WordPress Storefront theme, so you can create an entire online store in minutes.
- Payment processing. Use PayPal to process payments and avoid the hassle and fees of setting up a merchant account with your bank. Or, choose from WooCommerce's wide range of payment gateways to accept credit cards, cryptocurrencies (such as Bitcoin and Litecoin), and even Cash on Delivery (COD). If you offer subscription services, WooCommerce can also handle recurring and auto payments so you don't have to waste time manually processing them yourself. You also don't need to worry about calculating taxes — WooCommerce lets you set tax classes and local tax rates to automatically populate for each customer.
- Back-end operations. Perform back-office tasks straight from the WooCommerce dashboard. For example, get a handle on order fulfillment using a wide range of shipping carriers, services and add-ons to make logistics work for your business. WooCommerce also offers inventory management tools and the ability to assign specific team members to certain tasks.
- Marketing. Boost sales and grow your business. WooCommerce lets you run several types of promotions, such as discount options, coupon campaigns and free shipping offers. Advanced options include the ability to limit the number of products that customers can purchase at discounted prices, and restrict promotions to select customers.
- Reporting. Measure your online store's success. Generate all types of reports, such as incoming sales, stock levels, product reviews, overall store performance and more.
The best shopping cart software lets you build an online store that works for your business and best represents your brand — and this is where WooCommerce shines. The biggest benefit of using WooCommerce is that it offers nearly endless customization options to make your WordPress-powered online store look, feel and function exactly the way you want it to.
Just like the entire premise of the WordPress platform, WooCommerce lets you build a tailor-made online store in two ways: using themes and extensions.
Themes. Choose from WooCommerce's vast collection of e-commerce themes and hundreds more offered by WordPress and third-party developers. Personalize them by adding your own logo, headers and other branding.
You can further customize these themes via built-in options. For instance, use drop-down menus and color pickers to change colors, and one-click buttons to change layouts and navigation. You can also add widgets and, if you're a little more tech-savvy, shortcodes and HTML/CSS.
Extensions. From payment processing to order fulfillment, accounting, analytics and many others, WooCommerce's massive library of free and paid extensions lets you integrate different business apps and functions that work best with your business.
Compared to other shopping cart plugins that force you to use their own services or limit your back-end choices, WooCommerce lets you better streamline your operations in a way that works for you, while giving you more control over how you run your online store and business. Popular extensions include UPS and FedEx for shipping; PayPal, Amazon and 2Checkout payment processing; Xero and FreshBooks accounting software; and Zapier automation.
To give you even more options, WooCommerce works seamlessly with extensions and widgets offered by WordPress and third-party developers. These extensions give you a wide range of customization options, such as personalized deliveries, PDF invoices and packing slips, custom product and order numbers, Google Analytics integration, the ability to incorporate affiliate programs into the platform and more.
Need help using WooCommerce? From installation to setup, Web design, extensions, plugins and more, WooCommerce offers a plethora of resources to help you resolve any issue.
To start, if you need one-on-one help, WooCommerce's help desk can connect you with customer or tech support. Simply submit a help ticket with your issue and contact information, and a representative will get back to you. When you submit a ticket, the system will require you to choose a category to ensure your ticket reaches the right place.
If you prefer to troubleshoot issues yourself, there are many ways to find the help you need:
- FAQs. The FAQ section has answers to the most common questions users have about WooCommerce and the WordPress platform. It covers general questions, presale and account questions, licensing, extensions, plugins and more. For more in-depth answers, check out the Knowledgebase.
- Knowledgebase. Visit the Knowledgebase and find hundreds of articles and tutorials on how to install and manage WooCommerce, troubleshoot issues, customize extensions, use the iOS app and more.
- Community. Ask fellow WooCommerce users in the Community section for help, or search through existing posts for similar issues.
- Documentation. Search WooThemes Documentation to find reference materials, tutorials and other documentation for everything about WooCommerce. This includes WooCommerce extensions, WooCommerce themes, storefront extensions, WordPress plugins and coding references. It also features a Getting Started guide (which covers installation; settings and options; adding and selling products; shipping; order management; and sales reports); API documents for developers; presales questions; and a troubleshooting section for common issues.
- Videos. Don't feel like reading? Check out the videos section for video tutorials on all things WordPress, such as how to install plugins like WooCommerce, settings and configurations, and how to design your online store, add widgets, use the dashboard and more.
To further help you troubleshoot problems, WooCommerce has published this help guide, which features step-by-step instructions on how you can efficiently find solutions before contacting the company's help desk. You can also use this page to ask questions and quickly solve problems.
The biggest limitation to using WooCommerce as a shopping cart solution for your WordPress-powered website is that it is simply a plugin. This means it only powers the e-commerce part of your website, so you'll still need to set up everything else.
Unlike full-featured e-commerce software, WooCommerce doesn't provide the infrastructure for your online store. You'll still need to find your own web host, purchase a domain name, and set up your WordPress account and website. The upside to this is that you have complete control over where you host your website and from which registrar you purchase your domain name. The downside is that this requires you to consider additional costs and time it will take before you get your online store up and running.
Another limitation of WooCommerce is that there may be a learning curve for some merchants. For instance, the platform doesn't have a drag-and-drop website builder, so you'll have to learn and rely on whatever options your theme and extensions offer to change your store's look and feel. If you're already familiar with the WordPress platform, however, WooCommerce will be very easy for you to use.
It's a great option for those who are just starting out or already have a WordPress site. But if you find that you no longer want to use WordPress for your store, or that your operation is outgrowing WordPress' capabilities, you'll have to deal with the hassle of switching to a different platform. This will require a bigger investment of time and money than if you had started with full-featured e-commerce software on a non-WordPress website instead.
Ready to choose an e-commerce solution? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:
- Choosing the Right E-Commerce Software for Your Needs
- Best E-Commerce Software 2018
- Best E-Commerce Platform for Small Businesses
- Best Enterprise E-Commerce Software
- Best E-Commerce Software for Digital Downloads
Additional reporting by Sara Angeles.