WooCommerce eCommerce Solution
- Best For those fully conversant with WordPress this is an excellent E-Commerce platform
- Wide Choice Of Designs: The choice of free and paid for designs in a major plus
- Customer & Store Admin: Flexibility is the key. Different accounts afford different access. Customers without an account have the ability to check-out with a guest account
- Plugins & Extensions galore: There is a huge choice of both that allow larger stores to become even more powerful
- WordPress Knowledge: Those who do not have experience of using WordPress will require a sharp learning curve
- Set up: Although a pre-installed version is available, those with little technical ability will find the set-up challenging
- Support: Unlike other eCommerce platforms there is no centralised support. This can lead to problems down the line
What is WooCommerce?
The popularity of the open source WooCommerce platform has made it one of the most popular selling platforms on the globe.
Being a plugin for WordPress it has the ability to turn your website into an extremely powerful online store.
Both WordPress and the WooCommerce plugin are free for personal as well as commercial use. This means that once installed they can be used immediately to establish an online store presence.
Point to note: Although both WordPress and the WooCommerce plugin are free, anyone going down this route to establish an online store must take into account additional costs such as:
- A domain
Ease of use:
As mentioned in the ‘cons’, setting up WooCommerce can be very challenging for those with little or no technical nous.
The WooCommerce reviews you will read often mention professional help and support when setting up an ecommerce store using this platform. It is a recommendation that we would endorse you seek services of a professional ecommerce support team.
Features & Flexibility:
The features and flexibility of a WooCommerce shop come in two flavours. There is a ‘core’ and an ‘extensions’ model to consider.
Out of the box:
The ‘core’ features available at no WooCommerce cost offer everything required ‘out of the box’. These features will allow you to begin selling immediately through a WooCommerce website. Such things as standard shipping options and easy to use checkout features are yours.
Themes & Templates:
The range of themes and templates that can be used are one of the real strong points behind a WooCommerce shop. WooThemes Storefront is offered free to all users and in addition there are 14 child themes. 2 are free of charge, the other 12 cost ($39 each). While not the most exciting themes ever, they are adequate. It is also important to remember that there is an extremely wide choice of other themes and templates available as add-ons. you will more likely find a more unique and premium theme from a major theme provider in this arena such as Template Monster.
One comment to understand when looking at WooCommerce reviews is that although technically WooCommerce can integrate into any WordPress.com theme, we would advise that those setting up their online store use an approved WooTheme.
The reasons for saying this are two-fold: 1. You will reduce any potential issues when you apply WooCommerce updates to your store. 2. It needs to be understood that web-based support only applies to Woo approved products. Take time to read the support document (much more detail in our support section below) on the WooCommerce website before making a decision.
3rdparty Apps market:
Another huge plus is the number of 3rdparty apps available. You really should find anything required in terms of adding additional apps.
It should also be remembered that if you are looking for a totally unique WooCommerce shop app that this can be achieved due to the fact that the platform is open source.
This is a key consideration. If your base is WordPress.com then you will need to choose a pricing package to meet your storage needs. If your base is Worpress.org then you need to find your own hosting provider.
Those of you already using WordPress will have chosen a package/provider to meet requirements and as long as you are happy with the service being provided this should suffice when introducing the WooCommerce plugin to enable your WooCommerce shop.
If you need to appoint a hosting provider when implementing the WooCommerce platform then this review along with other WordPress reviews strongly recommends that you consider Siteground services.
This must be a priority and should be done on a very regular basis. Bear in mind that when a new transaction is completed it will not be backed up until your next backup is scheduled.
Two sensible options are to ask your hosting provider what type of backup policy they have and do they offer a specific WooCommerce/WordPress backup service and is the WooCommerce cost of backup included in the hosting cost or is it an additional option. Some hosting providers offer automated back-up every 1 hour. The other alternative is to install a backup plugin. If this is your choice then free and premium plugins are available and backups can be automated.
If you are using a hosting provider that is not offering exactly what you require for your WooCommerce shop then migrate to one that does. By contacting your chosen new provider, they will assist with migration and often for free!
The simplicity of eCommerce tools offered makes the implementation of a WooCommerce shop a major draw. Here are just some of the features you will benefit from:
Selling digital & physical products:
Sell one or both ways is possible and simply by ticking a box it will show that no shipping is required for digital products.
The Geo-location tool can automatically detect customer addresses. This allows you to streamline the tax and shipping calculations put in place.
Flexibility is the key. You can group products by category and add variations to each product (Size, colour etc.) an added plus is that your WooCommerce website online shop also allows you to sell affiliate products.
Built-In Inventory management:
The WooCommerce inventory management feature allows businesses to track such things as:
- Stock levels
- Hide out of stock products
- Put a hold on stock in the event an order is cancelled.
Customers can create an account for ease of checkout, but there is also the ability for guest purchases.
Clearly display a shipping calculator on your shopping cart page. This means customers have a clear indication of any shipping costs. They can also choose to collect goods, take local delivery or opt for the shipping options you have in place.
This function allows you to send emails to customers automatically. Examples being; when a purchase is made and when it has been fulfilled.
Discounts & Coupons:
Flexibility in terms of applying discounts across the board or to individual items as well as utilising coupons.
Enable a product review function to allow customers to post reviews. It is also possible to stipulate publication of reviews that come from verified customers only.
Analysing activity should be part of good business practice for all companies. By using WooCommerce analytics tools you will receive reports on such things as:
- Order tracking
- Traffic levels
- Growth trends
- Deeper analysis: Those companies looking for deeper analysis of their WooCommerce shop activity should also integrate the free Google Analytics into their procedures.
SEO & Mobility:
The very friendly mobile design of your storefront as well as the ‘back office admin’ give an excellent appearance to your store for mobile visitors. It allows them to shop effortlessly on the go and for you to manage your store from anywhere.
As for SEO, there are some powerful WordPress and WooCommerce SEO plugins that you can make use of.
Some of these are free but if you intend to look after the SEO side of things yourself then it is recommended to use a premium, chargeable SEO plugin. By doing so you will take advantage of such things as monitoring multiple keywords for density on pages.
The choice of SEO functions related to a powered SEO plugin WooCommerce website is wide, varied and can be extremely effective.
If you do not have SEO expertise, or would prefer to get a far greater SEO advantage then a very wise investment would be to avail of the services of a professional digital media marketing agency. The benefits received for this outlay far outweigh such cost and it is important to remember that SEO requires off page works aswell as on page.
Support & Resources:
Any WooCommerce reviews you read should major on this section. We certainly intend to. Let’s get the less complex part put to bed first:
There are comprehensive resources available in the form of documentation, tutorials and video descriptions for users of the WooCommerce platform.
There is also a very active global community of users available to assist with questions, issues and advice. Do bear in mind that the community users are volunteering assistance so response times will vary.
We mentioned it earlier in the piece, but it is vital that you visit the WooCommerce website to read and understand the company’s support policy. Here are some key pointers on what does and what does not come under their support policy.
As you will see, there are far more considerations to take into account in terms of what is not covered.
What is covered:
Only products sold on WooCommerce.com are supported. The support service for these products includes assistance with installations, configuration and use. It is recommended that you first check the resource documentation as well as their FAQs pertaining to the specific extension. If no answer is found then a support ticket must be submitted.
Any ‘retired’ themes will be supported until a user’s subscription expires.
Any defects found in their products will be fixed as quickly as possible. They also state their helpdesk will try to fix smaller defects and errors.
Any bugs found should be reported, but it is recommended that you initially follow the steps in the resource self-help guide. Failure to do so could have the helpdesk asking you to go through these steps before assistance is given.
What is not covered:
WooCommerce support service does not cover 3rdparty supplied products delivered by unregistered resellers or any other 3rdparty products and services. They also state that it may be required that you disable 3rdparty products installed with WooCommerce products before they will assist.
General WordPress support is not given. For this you must look for resources and answers elsewhere such as in WordPress.org forums.
Any customised product, whether that be supplied as a WooCommerce product or a 3rdparty one is not something they can assist with, although it is stated their helpdesk will do their best to offer advice and point you in the direction of the most appropriate resources.
Support services are only provided via their helpdesk. They do not provide support through any other channel. This means no support via such mediums as direct e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or Telephone.
In the first instance a support ticket must be submitted to the helpdesk and depending upon the issue, there may be live chat available, but this is certainly not guaranteed.
Each product page on the WooCommerce website clearly shows information about who handles support on a particular extension. Those extensions developed by WooCommerce will be the responsibility of their developers, other extensions developed by certified extension developers will be marked “Handled by xxx” A support request for the latter will be sent directly to the developer concerned.
Monday-Friday 08.30-17.00hrs (South African Standard Time – GMT +2). Although the helpdesk will strive to respond within 24 hours, there is no guarantee of this.
Support in short:
Not comprehensive. Unless you have technical expertise within your organisation then you should outsource this to a website support company that does.
While WordPress and the WooCommerce plugin are free there is a need to understand other WooCommerce fees related to establishing a store.
If you are starting on a ‘shoestring’ budget consider the following:
Starting with a ‘bare-bones’ cost structure for your online store:
- Start-up costs: $0
- Hosting costs: This will depend on your chosen provider, but can start from $6.95 per month
- Credit card processing & Shipping fees: Based on your sales
A more realistic cost for a small to medium size business WooCommerce shop:
- Start-up costs: $200+
- Hosting costs: $12.95 per month
- Premium Plugins: $100-$200 per year
- Credit card processing & Shipping fees: Based on your sales
It should be made clear that start-up and operating costs of a WooCommerce shop can be very low, but if you wish to make the most of a very powerful e-commerce platform then you should be prepared for an initial investment and also have finances ready to invest in future premium plugins down the line as you business grows.
These related WooCommerce fees can only be calculated as you see the need to add such things as WooCommerce CRM and other premium plugins to enhance and grow your WooCommerce shop.
Conclusion & Recommendation:
For those who actively use and have already created their site with WordPress the WooCommerce plugin is a natural progression when ready to open an online store. Indeed, many WordPress users and WooCommerce reviews see it as practically a default choice for setting up your WooCommerce online store. We would not argue with this and use WooCommerce for our clients who are using WordPress.org CMS sites.
Do bear in mind that some technical expertise within your organisation is required and that there will be additional costs. The more functionality you add, the greater the cost, but also, the greater the impact.
For those with little or no WordPress or technical expertise consider one of the following 2 options:
- Outsource your WooCommerce shop to a web agency with expertise in WooCommerce Ecommerce design. Yes, it will cost, but you really will get huge benefit if the right company is chosen and it will give you far more time to concentrate on what you do best: Promoting your brand and increasing sales of your products or services.
- Look at easier to manage and run ecommerce platforms for your online shop. Shopify and Weebly offer excellent alternatives.
WordPress and the WooCommerce plugin continue to build a loyal, global following for those looking to start their online store.
Do bear in mind what we have said about having the correct expertise in-house or opting to outsource. By doing so and using a WooCommerce store you will greatly increase the chances of growing your online business in a very positive manner.
You may be interested in our related website builder, eCommerce platform review and comparison articles below;
- WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
- WordPress vs WIX Comparison
- WordPress vs Shopify
- WIX eCommerce Review
- Weebly eCommerce Review
- Shopify Store Reviews
That’s all for now:
We hope you have enjoyed this eCommerce Solution WooCommerce review and have gleaned some useful information. Please do keep an eye out for our articles as we have lots of information relating to online services offered.
Being a veteran in the website building and eCommerce game definitely has its benefits. Richard has long been in the industry with more than 10 years of experience with building websites and constructing eCommerce platforms for clients. He’s also a bit of a whiskey connoisseur.