One of the greatest strengths offered by WordPress is its ability to handle ecommerce transactions. An entire generation of small traders and entrepreneurial businesses has evolved using WordPress websites to promote products and services, all around the world.
However, the open-source nature of WordPress plugins means that new payment gateways and shopping tools are being launched all the time. And while some existing WordPress ecommerce platforms are endlessly fettled, a few have fallen into disuse or been deleted. This makes the choice of which WordPress ecommerce plugin to use a challenging (yet important) decision.
A quick search for “ecommerce” on WordPress.org reveals over 1,500 different plugins available to download via the official WP store. Third-party websites host many other portals, albeit with less assurance of quality or integrity. As a result, it’s best to stick to officially sanctioned programs whose software will have been rigorously tested before being uploaded. The WordPress community is also very proactive at identifying and marking down flawed or insecure plugins, making consumer reviews a key reference point before installing any additional software.
As of October 2018, these are some of the best WordPress ecommerce tools currently available through the official download portal:
Powering an estimated 30 per cent of all online stores, this is by far the most successful ecommerce platform ever created for WordPress. WooCommerce has gradually been augmented with a small army of extensions; some are free, while others command a premium. However, the basic package fulfils most retailer needs, whether they’re selling digital goods like media files or tangible products such as clothing. Payment portals accept BACS, cash on delivery or PayPal, while supporting ancillary services such as memberships and recurring subscriptions. It even offers drop shipping, supporting stack-em-high-and-sell-em-cheap purveyors of wholesale or imported goods.
2. WP eCommerce
WP eCommerce still has a loyal band of adherents as the very first WordPress ecommerce plugin, launched way back in 2006. It offers a beginner-friendly setup, courtesy of video tutorials. More advanced users may customise their site using dedicated CSS or HTML tweaks. Designed to integrate with popular courier firms, WP eCommerce simplifies delivery – the final stage in any ecommerce transaction, yet often the most critical. Users can build a bespoke online store which quite literally places ecommerce functionality at its heart, though mixed user reviews testify to the number of people who’ve discovered glitches in the platform.
A shopping cart rather than an entire ecommerce solution, the peculiarly named Ecwid supports 40 international payment options, and even more languages. Like WP eCommerce, it dovetails with major courier firms for seamless deliveries, automatically calculating local taxes and shipping rates. Android and iOS compatibility improves usability on mobile sites, while store data is hosted on secure servers, negating many GDPR obligations from the end user’s perspective. Ecwid has received the highest PCI DSS Level 1 security certification, and it updates customers at each transactional stage about how close they are to completion.
4. Easy Digital Downloads.
As its unambiguous name suggests, this plugin is specifically focused on document and file downloads, from songs and graphics to ebooks and software packages. If your business model involves selling physical goods, the three options listed above will be more suitable. However, Easy Digital Downloads deserves a place on our list for various reasons. It offers compatibility with numerous payment gateways (including Stripe and Coinbase), plus marketing tools like MailChimp and AWeber. From a consumer perspective, there are shipping calculators, discount codes and recurring payments. There’s also an extensions catalogue of plugins, bringing added functionality.