Looking for the best Ecommerce platform to launch your online store and thinking about using WooCommerce? You wouldn’t be the only one. With almost 13 million downloads, WooCommerce claim to power over 30% of all Ecommerce stores. Our WooCommerce review will give you an introduction to the best and worse things about WooCommerce and help you decide if it’s the right solution for you and your online business…
If you’ve got further questions or would like more information then please drop us a comment and we’ll update our WooCommerce review for you…
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is a rather different proposition to other dedicated Ecommerce platforms like Shopify and Magento. Built by a company called WooThemes, WooCommerce is a shopping cart plugin for WordPress. It’s not an Ecommerce platform in and of itself. WooCommerce is either used to add a store to an existing website or to build an online store using WordPress.
For many users, WooPress is very attractive because it gives you the option to add a few products to an existing WordPress site. If you’re a blogger or have a successful site and want to branch out into Ecommerce then it’s an easy way to bolt an online store onto your existing website. You won’t have to change much, and you’ll already be very familiar with the infrastructure and functionality of WordPress. If the store isn’t working, you can always uninstall the app.
For others, it’s the WordPress ticket that makes WooCommerce such an attractive option. If you’ve used WordPress in the past – headline users include BBC America and Sony Music – then you’ll know how good a CMS it is. This site is built in WordPress, and we love it. WordPress is powerful, popular and has a huge range of high quality plugins. Best of all, it’s open source, which means that you don’t have to pay for the IP behind it and thousands of highly-skilled developers contribute to its ongoing maintenance and improvement. If you like WordPress and want to set up an online store then WooCommerce is clearly going to be an intriguing option for you.
If you’ve used WordPress then you’ll know that the key ways to customise your site are through Themes and Extensions. WooCommerce works in exactly the same way. You’ll want to choose a custom theme for your store (which can be further modified – either yourself or by a developer) and then add in the extensions that you need to improve the functionality of your store and get it doing exactly what you need it to. There are already loads of extensions out there – and if you really can’t find what you need then you can always commission a WordPress developer to build it for you.
What Features Does WooCommerce Come With?
With more than 300 extensions available, there’s almost nothing that WooCommerce can’t do. However, most of you will be interested in features that you get with the free version of WooCommerce.
To be honest, the functionality is rather limited.
- There are 5 pre-installed payment gateways that come with WooCommerce. Paypal is the most useful but you can also accept payment by bank transfer, cash on delivery or even cheque. For small stores this is fine but in time you’ll probably want to consider giving customers more options.
- You can choose your default currency (if you couldn’t do this then you probably wouldn’t be too happy!) and auto-detect your customers addresses to configure the delivery charges and taxes automatically. There is some control over product variables including size and colour – and the ability to vary the images and price that are displayed for each variable.
- The core version of WooCommerce lets you switch product reviews on or off – and you can do exactly the same with coupons and special offers.
In a nutshell, experienced store owners will need to pay for various extensions to get the most out of a WooCommerce store. Then again, that’s true for almost every Ecommerce platform and shouldn’t be a reason to dismiss WooCommerce out of hand.
How Much Does WooCommerce Cost?
WooCommerce is free to download and install. Unlike other Ecommerce platforms which claim to be free but then have various hidden charges, WooCommerce really is free. Yes, you’ll need a website – which will mean you’ll already be paying for your domain and hosting. However, WooCommerce gives you the ability to convert an existing WordPress website into a store with just a few clicks.
However, as soon as you try and add functionality it will come at a cost. As we’ve already explained, unless you’re prepared to use the free versions then you’ll end up paying for your WooCommerce extensions and themes.
What are the Advantages of WooCommerce?
In many ways the advantages (and, as you’ll see below, the disadvantages) of WooCommerce are pretty obvious:
- It’s free
- There are hundreds of extensions available
- 13 million people have downloaded WooCommerce – making it the most popular Ecommerce solution on the planet
- If you like WordPress then you don’t have to change your CMS to launch a store
- WordPress is pretty much unbeatable when it comes to blogging and content creation – if you’re producing a lot of content then WooCommerce is likely to be a much more attractive option than the likes of Shopify of Magento which offer much more limited blogging functionality.
What are the Disadvantages of WooCommerce?
- The basic package is very limited and only really suitable for the most simple of stores.
- It’s not as sophisticated as other Ecommerce platforms and there are much better options for high volume or more complex stores.
- You need to be familiar with WordPress. Whilst this is a real advantage for many existing WordPress users, WooCommerce isn’t as easy to use as an out-of-the-box solution like Shopify.
- You’ll have to manually upload your products or purchase an extension to help you import bulk products into your store.
- Like with any WordPress site, the reliance upon extensions and plugins can cause a few problems. If you’re installing extension or updating a plugin this can cause site-wide problems, and security isn’t always as bomb-proof as other platforms.
Which Websites Use WooCommerce?
Unlike more illustrious Ecommerce platforms, you won’t find too many household name brands using WooCommerce. However, a quick look through the showcase section of the WooCommerce site shows that international brands like NewBalance have used WooCommerce.
They’re not the only ones. Taylor Swift’s UK merchandise store is also powered by WooCommerce.
How Easy is it to Transfer Your Store to WooCommerce?
If you’ve already got an online store and want to transfer over to WooCommerce then you’ll be pleased to hear that there are various apps to help you do exactly this. Best of all, the basic versions of both the apps below are free – helping to keep your costs to a minimum when setting up a WooCommerce store.
If you’ve looking to move from Shopify to WooCommerce then you’ll want the Cart2Cart Shopify to WooCommerce Migration plugin. This is a great little tool that will help you to migrate your product categories, products, images, customers and orders from Shopify to WooCommerce. It’s free to download but costs $69 to actually transfer your data – so you’ll probably want to have a good look at the app before committing to purchasing it.
If you’re looking to move from Magento to WooCommerce then you’ll want the FG Magento to WooCommerce plugin. This is very similar to the Shopify version above – although produced by a different developer. This time you get a more basic free version with the option to pay about $100 (about $100) for the premium version.
What ‘s the Support and Online Community Like?
It’s good, but not great.
The documentation provided by WooThemes is pretty strong, and of course you’ll get documentation from individual developers when you download an extension or theme. Forums and videos are also a great source of information.
There are loads of Facebook groups set up for WooCommerce users to share their experiences and get help from other members of the community. These groups tend to be most useful when you’re just starting out because lots of us have similar questions at this point. Good places to start would be Advanced WooCommerce and WooCommerce Help and Share.
However, because it’s not a dedicated Ecommerce platform, WooCommerce won’t give you the kind of 24/7 support helpline that you might expect.
WooCommerce Review: Our Conclusion
We hope that our WooCommerce review has answered some of your questions – if it hasn’t, please drop us a comment below.
In a nutshell, WooCommerce is a really solid option for those who are already on WordPress and want to add a store to their website. We wouldn’t necessarily recommend it if you’re starting out from scratch as a product like Shopify is likely to be much simpler. However, if you’re trying to diversify your WordPress site then it’s a no-brainer.
A lot of WooCommerce reviews get hung up on the fact that you’ll need to purchase extensions to improve the functionality of a WooCommerce store. This is correct – nobody is disputing the fact that the free version of WooCommerce is pretty limited. However, to get the most out of any store you’ll probably end up subscribing to various apps – and shelling out a monthly fee – as you grow your business and hone your store. We don’t think that this should be a significant factor when considering whether WooCommerce is the right solution for your store.
Instead, we’d encourage you to consider whether you want to run a store through WordPress. If you’re looking for the best blogging and content-creation platform and this is a key part of your business model then WooCommerce should definitely be on your radar. If you’re not currently using WordPress – or think that you’re going to need a more sophisticated, dedicated Ecommerce solution – then we’d recommend that you look elsewhere.