The 3 best WordPress e-commerce plugins

Are you looking to build an online store? If you’re already using WordPress for your website or you’re interested in getting started, installing an e-commerce plugin in the next step. With the holiday shopping season coming up, now is a great time to get your online store up and running. Here’s a look at the 3 best WordPress e-commerce plugins.

1. WooCommerce

WooCommerce is the best known and most popular online store plugin for WordPress. In 2015, Automattic — the company that runs, JetPack, Akismet, and more — acquired WooCommerce, virtually guaranteeing that WooCommerce will continue to be developed and supported for years to come.

Pros of WooCommerce

It’s widely used. Over 1.5 million websites use WooCommerce. This offers many of the same benefits as the wide usage of WordPress: lots of extensions and themes exist for WooCommerce. If you need to add something on to WooCommerce that it doesn’t support natively, there’s a good chance someone has already created it.

It supports a variety of product types. Whether you’re selling digital or physical goods, WooCommerce can handle it. You can also add variations on a product, like a color or a size. This is particularly useful if you’re selling clothing, but it’s useful for anything that could offer options.

It is extremely customizable. WooCommerce provides numerous payment and shipping options. Users can pay for your goods through PayPal, Stripe, Amazon, and many other options. You can also add a variety of shipping methods and set limits on how they’re used. For example, you can offer free shipping if someone purchases over a certain amount, you can offer a flat shipping rate no matter what is purchased, or you can adjust it based on shipping weight or location. It can also calculate taxes based on location.

Many themes support it. Because WooCommerce is so widely used, many themes ensure proper support and compatibility with WooCommerce.

The interface is familiar. Creating products in WooCommerce is very similar to creating posts and pages in WordPress. It has some obvious extra options to set — such as price, shipping weight, and so forth — but WooCommerce is easy to learn for WordPress users because it maintains the look and feel of WordPress.

Inventory management is robust and simple. WooCommerce can manage your entire inventory. When you create a product, you can tell WooCommerce how many you have in stock, and it will automatically track your inventory for you. It will even email you when your stock is running low and it will alert your customers when an item is out of stock so they can’t purchase an item that doesn’t exist.

Cons of WooCommerce

Some extensions are costly. Many great extensions are free, but some are fairly expensive. A shipping cost calculator for UPS or USPS costs $79. A subscription module, while very sleek and useful, costs $199. An appointment booking add-on, while also very useful, costs $249.

The initial setup can take awhile. MailChimp has lots of settings and options to set up. While it’s nice to have these options, getting all those options configured properly can be a tedious process. Sometimes it can also be difficult to locate a particular setting because of the various options available.

2. Shopify

Shopify is a standalone e-commerce platform, but it also integrates with WordPress.

Pros of Shopify

It integrates with everything. You can sell things on Shopify in an online store, with a point of sale system, through a Facebook shop, through “Buy Now” tweets on Twitter, through Buyable Pins on Pinterest, and even through Facebook Messenger. If you want lots of different ways to sell your products, Shopify is a very intriguing option.

It’s a complete solution. While most other e-commerce options are plugins that install into WordPress, Shopify can also function as a standalone website. If you haven’t started a website yet, this might be a more appealing option as you can build an entire website through Shopify. However, websites built in Shopify don’t offer all of the plugins, themes, and versatility of WordPress, so this decision comes with drawbacks as well.

Shopify manages your inventory. Like WooCommerce, Shopify manages your entire inventory. It offers the ability to edit and import items, and it manages both digital and physical goods.

Use the Shopify app to sell on-site. If you sell products at a physical store or events, fairs, or other locations, the Shopify app allows you to use your phone or tablet as a point-of-sale device.

Cons of Shopify

It’s a paid service. Many e-commerce plugins for WordPress are free, but Shopify isn’t. Shopify’s basic features cost $29 a month, and its Lite package (for social media and WordPress selling only) is $9 a month. However, with a mobile app and other additional features, it offers more than most other e-commcerce options as well.

3. Easy Digital Downloads

Easy Digital Downloads is a WordPress plugin designed to help you manage digital download sales.

Pros of Easy Digital Downloads

Lots of themes are available. Like WooCommerce, many themes exist for Easy Digital Downloads. These themes make it easy to ensure proper compatibility, and because the plugin comes bundled into the theme, setup is simpler.

It’s easy to use. Because Easy Digital Downloads has a narrower focus than many other e-commerce plugins, initial setup is simpler and it’s easy to navigate and learn.

Cons of Easy Digital Downloads

It doesn’t allow you to sell physical products. As the plugin’s name suggests, Easy Digital Downloads is only designed for digital products. If you’re selling physical items, this option own’t work for you.

Many add-ons exist, but most aren’t free. Easy Digital Downloads has a good assortment of add-ons, but many of them cost extra. Several features that are free in WooCommerce cost extra in Easy Digital Downloads.

Other options

Numerous other e-commerce options exist as well. For more options, check out WP eCommerce, iThemes Exchange, MarketPress, and Shopp. WooCommerce gets top billing for its versatility and numerous features, but depending on your needs, one of these other options might be best for you.