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  1. Factors to Consider in WordPress eCommerce Plugins

    Setting up an online shop has never been easier, with so many options available, one can easily get lost in the maze of plugins that developers launch every single day. 

    So what WordPress options do you have? What should you look out for when setting up a WordPress eCommerce website? Below I have reviewed some of the possible solutions and particular features that make them stand out from the rest.

    WordPress eCommerce Solutions

    WooCommerce

    First, we have the WooCommerce plugin developed by the WooThemes team. It’s no doubt it is the most popular plugin to date with over 3 million downloads.  The open source plugin provides users with an extensive array of features that make it easy for eCommerce startups to set up online shops with ease and with little to no cost at all.  

    The most unique feature of the plugin is the flexibility it gives to its users: Without having any prior knowledge of the technicalities of setting up an eCommerce website, you can easily do so using this plugin. Through its WordPress-centric user interface, you can easily configure many aspects regarding an eCommerce business including pricing, currency, shipping, emails, and even tax options. 

    The dashboard provides a wide variety of options that deals with all various types of business, leaving you to choose what options that best works for your type of business. 

    Possibly one of the best things from a developer’s perspective would be its vast customizations options: You can select from the various free themes available at the developer’s website and tweak the preset CSS to fit your precise taste and liking. Possessing a vast following of users, independent WordPress theme developers also work on themes that incorporate this plugin as basic core functionality, giving end users a huge variety of themes to select from. 

    You can also extend the functionality of the plugin by purchasing third party extensions that make the plugin even better. Visit the official website for more details about WooCommerce.

    Easy Digital Downloads

    With slightly over 300k downloads and a user star rating of 4.8/5, Easy Digital Downloads is an eCommerce plugin that caters to a specific niche in the market. The plugin is built to cater to an eCommerce site that is focused towards selling digital products. 

    The developer, rather than deciding to include all the features under the sun for a complete eCommerce plugin, opted to deliver specific features that will make selling of digital products much easier.

    Key features include:

    • a cart system for purchasing multiple downloads
    • multiple files per downloadable products
    • complete promotional code system
    • bundled products on one sale
    • complete earnings and sales chart report for your sites
    • ...and many more

    The plugin is open source and one can download it directly via the WordPress plugin repository or the official developer website. Just like most open source plugins in order to realize all the possible functionality, you can purchase all the extensions at a fee. 

    Get Shopped

    Get Shopped is among the first WordPress eCommerce plugins to be released. The plugin has over 2.7 million user downloads to date.  Even though the plugin has faced a number of challenges as user complaints continue to swell by the day with a user star rating 2.8/5, it boasts of having a number of features and tools that an eCommerce website would require.  

    Being in the market for quite a long time it has over time proven its maturity as a WordPress eCommerce platform over other new plugins rocking the market. Some of its features include:

    • Marketing: You can come up with pricing and discount rules and put some particular products you're selling on offer.
    • Shipping: The plugin has integrated UPS, UPPS, and Australia post for real time shipping rates, in case you want to use FedEx you have to buy a premium extension.
    • Managing Orders: You can configure the plugin to generate electronic mail notifications when specific orders are raised by customers, plus receive all the reports about your store in a CSV format.
    • Payment Options: With the free download one can get a PayPal (standard, pro, and express) and Google checkout as the standard payment gateway. You can get additional payment gateways by purchasing extensions .
    • Check out: Get Shopped allows guest checkout, giving customers' option of not registering on the site to buy a product, it also provides the choice of creating an account at the beginning of checkout. Clients are entirely required to check out on one page where it also includes shipping and taxation options.

    There so many WordPress eCommerce plugins out there, looking at them one-by-one in depth may take more than one article, but there some that particularly stand out from the rest. 

    For example: 

    Before I wrap up this particular article, it's important I mention some few key things one should consider when choosing an eCommerce plugin for a WordPress website:

    • What is the type of product you're planning to sell? If, for example, you're just planning to deal with digital downloads or credit deposits, it will be wise you choose a solution that specifically caters for that niche as it may provide better options, and make it easier to quickly set up. 
    • What is your level of technical knowledge? With plugins like WP-eCommerce created with WordPress technical development in mind, this particular solution will best be tweaked by someone with more than just the business knowledge. WooCommerce, on the other hand, comes from a background of those with WordPress themes s a user with basic WordPress knowledge may find his way around. Evaluate your skills and what you need before choosing a specific plugin.
    • How much does it cost? It's important you look at how much you’re willing to spend on a solution, a plugin that will require you spend a lot on extensions and add-ons may prove to be expensive and even difficult to put together. Evaluate and anticipate what you exactly need when your shop is up and running and choose a solution that covers the majority of your needs from just the basic set up.
    • Support, User Reviews, and Updates. A solution that has a good support base will help you tackle difficulties that arise when setting up your shop. From the user reviews one can tell the kind of support he will expect when he uses a certain solution, for example, WooCommerce has been acclaimed as a solution that has an incredible support base from the developers themselves. Updates are key for your site scalability, so find out when the last update was done and how frequent the developer does it before choosing a plugin 

    Conclusion

    Its evident that WordPress platform has a lot to offer in the world of eCommerce, some of the plugins are more popular than others, but really it boils down to client preference. Share some of your experiences with this or other plugins. 

    In the next article, we will look at some of the challenges that we face when using WordPress as an eCommerce solutions and how we can over come them.

     

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