This post was written by Skubana. Skubana is an all in one solution that unifies operations for online merchants after the checkout. Skubana automates everything from order management, order fulfillment, inventory management and purchase order management.
Running an eCommerce business is an outstanding way to make money, either as a full time job or a side hustle. Whether you are selling on Amazon or on your own custom website, an eCommerce store can give you the freedom to work from wherever you want, whenever you want.
And there has never been a better time to be in the eCommerce business. Here are a few statistics to demonstrate just how big the eCommerce market is.
In 2017, $5 billion was spent online in the United States alone during black Friday
Millennials now make an average of 54% of purchases online.
4 in 10 purchases are made using only an online channel for searching and buying.
96% of Americans have shopped and purchased online, with 80% in the past month alone.
Americans spend 36% of their shopping budget online. 40% of US males and 33% of females aged 18-34 say they would ‘ideally buy everything online’.
On top of the staggering size of the eCommerce market, it’s never been easier to set up an online store. Unlike the early internet days, when you had to have either in-depth programming knowledge or hire an expert, now you can build a website with just a few clicks.
WordPress in particular makes it very easy to build an online store. Whether you simply want to create a “storefront” with pictures of and links to products sold on Amazon, or a full-fledged store, you can do it with relatively little trouble.
One particular advantage of WordPress is the number of “plugins” available. A plugin is a small bit of code you can add to your WordPress site to extend its functionality. There are literally millions of plugins available, many of them free.
Of course, with so many plugins, it can be difficult to know which ones are best. To help you, we’ve created a list of the 5 best plugins for your eCommerce store.
Plugin #1: WooCommerce
When it comes to building an eCommerce store on WordPress, WooCommerce is, hands down, your best bet. It’s the most popular WordPress eCommerce plugin and was actually acquired by Automattic (the company who created and owns WordPress) in 2015.
WooCommerce offers both WordPress eCommerce themes and plugins/extensions. This allows you to create a powerful site that’s really easy to navigate AND functions effectively as a full-fledged eCommerce store. Additionally, there are numerous web hosting companies who specialize in WooCommerce hosting solutions.
Why should you choose WooCommerce? Here are some specific reasons:
Hundreds of themes and plugins/extensions. When designing and creating your site, you have hundreds of options and can easily customize it to match what you’re selling. Whether you’re creating your own t-shirts or listing products that are available on Amazon, WooCommerce makes it easy.
Support for digital and physical products. Maybe you’re an author selling digital downloads of your books. Maybe you’re a woodworker selling custom pieces of furniture. WooCommerce can handle both. And if you want to sell photos, you can use Envira Gallery, which integrates nicely with WooCommerce.
Support for external and affiliate products. As noted above, WooCommerce makes it really easy to link to external products, such as those on Amazon or eBay or other affiliate markets.
Integrated payment and shipping options. WooCommerce has out of the box support for numerous payment gateways, and it can also easily calculate shipping and taxes.
Plugin #2: Easy Digital Downloads
If you’re focusing on selling digital products, such as music, software, or digital books, Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) makes it really simple.
Some specific advantages include:
Ease of use. Because EDD is designed specifically for selling digital products, it has a much simpler learning curve than some of the full-suite eCommerce plugins. If you’re new to eCommerce and only selling digital, this is probably your best bet.
Numerous extensions. EDD also features numerous extensions, such as payment gateways like Stripe and PayPal, file hosting services like Dropbox, and chat services like Slack.
Integrated themes. If you already have a WordPress theme chosen, EDD will integrate with it. If you don’t, they have a number of themes designed specifically for the plugin.
Outstanding support. There are numerous free support forums, tutorials, videos, and even a chat room. If you’re a premium user, you get priority support.
Plugin #3: MemberPress
MemberPress is unique in that it allows you to sell subscription digital products and services. For example, if you sell a software and charge a monthly fee, MemberPress allows you to do that within your WordPress site.
Some specific advantages of MemberPress include:
Numerous recurring payment options. Whether you’re selling pay per view content, membership to an online community, or a monthly paid newsletter, MemberPress has you covered.
Total control of access. You want to be able to strictly control who can access what content, and the various access level and content restrictions let you get very granular with permissions.
A variety of extensions. MemberPress integrates with dozens of third-party platforms, such as LearnDash, HelpScout, MailChimp, PayPal, Stripe, and many others. These extensions allow you to increase the functionality of your site.
Plugin #4: Shopp
Shopp is an all-in-one eCommerce plugin that has several unique features that distinguish it from other plugins.
Some specific advantages of Shopp are:
Use of separate database tables. This is a bit on the technical side, but Shopp uses separate tables within the product database. The creators of the plugin believe this increases overall performance so that all your pages load faster, which matters a lot these days.
Support for multiple product types. Shopp is unique in that it supports physical, digital, AND recurring payments without needing to purchase an extension.
Strong emphasis on security. Shopp places a strong emphasis on digital security, and the plugin is specifically designed to be PCI compliant. With news of security breaches happening every day, this is a critical component.
Plugin #4: Relevanssi
Relevanssi supercharges the search function on your WordPress eCommerce site. Why does this matter? Because the native WordPress search function doesn’t always work particularly well, which means your customers may not be able to find the products they’re looking for. That’s where this plugin comes in.
Some specific advantages of Relevanssi include:
Limiting search pages. You can limit which pages Relevanssi searches to ensure that it only scans product pages and not other content, such as blog posts.
Searching for partial terms. It’s common for users to only enter partial terms when searching for an item. Maybe they don’t know the full name or are searching broadly at first. Relevanssi can return results that contain the partial term within the full name.
User friendly. When it comes to eCommerce, few things matter more than having a site that’s user friendly. If it’s not, people will leave in a hurry. Relevanssi makes it much easier for your customers to find what they’re looking for.
Plugin #5: Redirection
Redirection keeps you from losing money on broken pages. Few things can hurt your eCommerce store more than “404 Page Not Found” errors. If a visitor clicks on a link and the page doesn’t exist, they’ll probably go to another site, costing you revenue.
The Redirection plugin allows you to create rules that will automatically send people to other pages if a page is broken.
Some specific advantages of Redirection are:
Automatically redirect 404s. If a visitor does come upon a broken page, Redirection will seamlessly send them to a page of your own choosing, such as a product page. This keeps them on your site and increases your chances of making a sale.
Easily redirect to different URLs. Let’s say you change your website URL. Instead of going through the hassle of manually redirecting every single page, you can use Redirection to handle all of them.
Find links to old pages. There will probably be times when another website links to an old or non-existent page on your site. Redirection allows you to find those incoming links and then redirect them to the proper pages.
No matter what type of eCommerce store you’re running, there are numerous WordPress plugins to improve your site. Whether you want to sell handcrafted products, digital files, or memberships to an online community, WordPress can handle it.
And the good news is that WordPress itself is free. Yes, you may need to purchase a few plugins and a good theme, but compared to a platform like Shopify, your expenses will be minimal.
So what are you waiting for? Go out there and start selling!