With WordPress easily create your own online store? With the store plugin WooCommerce there is a solution that is relatively simple and also flexible! The advantages, disadvantages and my experiences with WordPress Shop Plugin WooCommerce I present to you in this article.
WordPress is THE CMS – so it’s not surprising that there are already several mature online store solutions. With a worldwide market share of 30% of all store systems, the store plugin WooCommerce enjoys great popularity and is widely used. Woocommerce offers you many advantages. On the one hand, WooCommerce is constantly updated due to its widespread use and new functionalities are also integrated. On the other hand, there are countless plugins for WooCommerce (which itself is only a plugin for WordPress). So should you need more than the extensive standard features, there is nothing that doesn’t exist. Apart from that, WooCommerce (just like WordPress) is open source software – this means with the necessary programming know-how you can customize WooCommerce to your liking (or have it customized by a WooCommerce freelancer). Sounds great, right? But let’s start at the beginning…
WooCommerce – the history of the unique online store system
Before we look at what WooCommerce can and can’t do, we should first look at where this “WooCommerce” came from in the first place. WooCommerce was born in 2011. The company WooThemes makes the e-commerce plugin available for free download. At that time, WooCommerce was not a real competitor for professional store solutions like Magento or xt:Commerce. However, it was already impressive back then how the WordPress blog logic was boosted to publish a store seamlessly with WordPress on-board means as a plugin.
At that time, WooCommerce was a real alternative, especially for small stores – with little effort, you could sell items directly from WordPress. Already two years later, in 2013, the WooCommerce Shopplugin counts one million downloads. Thereby, WooThemes focuses on the constant development and improvement of the Shopplugin for WordPress. Only one year later, the download number of WooCommerce quadrupled to 4 million downloads. This makes WooCommerce one of the most popular plugins for WordPress. In 2015, the first WooCommerce conference was launched – a gathering place for online store operators and WooCommerce developers. People exchange ideas and thus also generate feedback and improvement requests for the developers of WooCommerce.
In the same year, the company Automattic finally took over the Woocommerce plugin. Behind Automattic stands Matt Mullenweg and WordPress itself. So today WooCommerce officially belongs to WordPress. In 2016, WooCommerce now counts over 7 million downloads and has a market share of 30%!
WooCommerce 3.0 was then released in 2017 and was improved from the ground up. In the meantime, WooCommerce can easily compete with store solutions in the 4 and 5 digit range in some areas. Of course, it always depends on what is to be achieved with the respective online store. Which brings us to the next topic: Advantages and disadvantages of WooCommerce.
WooCommerce – the advantages and disadvantages
WooCommerce is constantly being developed further. The update to version number 3.0 I have experienced myself in the backend desöfteren and was fascinated – a quantum leap in the e-commerce universe! Therefore, I think that WooCommerce will be the online store system of the future with increasing popularity and the constant development.
But let’s take a closer look at the current state of the online store plugin. The standard version of the plugin already comes with a wealth of features that are perfectly sufficient for simple online stores and are also in no way inferior to the paid stores (e.g. Jimdo).
- Many extensions and plugins
- WordPress as a base is the most powerful content management system
- Search engine optimization
- A large community provides great support
- The plugin is under constant development
- WooCommerce is free
- Simple installation
- Many customizations possible
- very many themes/layouts available for WordPress
- Not every enterprise resource planning system is supported
- Legal security in Europe must be retrofitted with a plug-in (Vendidero)
- With many articles the server can be brought to its knees
- Becomes confusing very quickly with many articles
WooCommerce – legal security in Europe
Many online store owners are not even aware of what a misconfigured store can cost you in case of a warning letter. Sure: WooCommerce is free of charge, the warning from the lawyer because of legal defects of your store, on the other hand, can set your wallet on fire. That’s why it’s especially important to adhere to the legal guidelines in Europe. And one thing is for sure: we Europeans love laws. Thus, the e-commerce sector is strictly regulated and subject to some peculiarities compared to America or other countries.
WooCommerce was developed for the US market. Therefore, you can’t use it in Europe without further ado. But don’t worry: With the free plugin WooCommerce Germanized, you can add important store components that protect you from warnings and make your online store legally compliant in Europe. You should pay attention to this! The setup of WooCommerce Germanized is very easy and possible even without a law degree.
WooCommerce – The setup
The great thing about WooCommerce is that it is based on WordPress. That means if you can use WordPress, you can use WooCommerce. Setting up WooCommerce as such is done with just a few clicks. But beware: If you want to create an online store with WordPress, you of course need to know which countries you sell to and what the respective shipping costs and tax rates are in those countries. If you really only want to sell in Germany, however, this is quite simple. It should also be noted that when shipping a lot of heavy products, the shipping costs will of course increase. So you should first find out what prices, etc. you have to pay.
So the online store is created in a few minutes – now you can start adding your first products. This works almost the same way as creating blog articles or content pages – so nothing new and quite easy compared to other store solutions.
I will show you how to set it up in detail in another article. At this point, it is enough to award the rating “particularly easy setup”.
WooCommerce – The performance
The speed of a website or an online store is becoming increasingly important in the light of search engine optimization. That’s why you should make sure that your WordPress store also runs quickly. WooCommerce can score here as well. Even though it is a very powerful plugin, it is programmed very lean and thus ensures a lightning-fast shopping experience for your customers.
But be careful – you should keep an eye on the performance. If you want to extend the functionality of your online store, you need plugins. And these can (but don’t have to) affect the performance. In my article Pagespeed Optimization for WordPress I show you in general how you can make your WordPress faster and achieve better rankings on Google.
WooCommerce – the extensions
There are now over 400 plugins for WooCommerce. Since I also offer WooCommerce as store solutions for my customers, I myself have also used many plugins and specializations in the one or other webshop project and am always amazed at what there are already ready-made solutions and extensions. And since WooCommerce is open-source software, anyone (with the necessary know-how) can also develop their own plugins and extensions for WooCommerce. So far, the plugins and extensions for WooCommerce have been completely sufficient in all my projects.
Even though the main plugin WooCommerce is free, the company Automattic makes itself pay well for the additional plugins: almost every plugin, no matter how small, costs from 100 euros here. But if you search on CodeCanyon, you can find partially better solutions for WooCommerce for a fraction of the price.
It’s true – the 10,000 Magento extensions and over 1500 plugins for Shopware solutions are significantly more compared to WooCommerce. For small and medium stores (which do not have hundreds of articles) the plugins are sufficient and offer a good usability for store owners who are not programming nerds.
About the integration into other systems like: ERP, newsletter or payment systems you can inform yourself here: Table from OscWare.de
WooCommerce – Fit for the future?
As already mentioned, WooCommerce enjoys great popularity. Tendency: Increasing! It offers an easy start and allows you to create an online store even with a small budget. And even if your store should grow, WooCommerce is scalable to a certain extent.
I have participated in the development (in the form of the WooCommerce developer) and must say: Here has done a lot! With the update to version 3.0, for example, the entry of shipping costs has been completely revised. Here you had to work for special requirements in the old version with a user-unfriendly plugin. Now I can attach shipping classes to certain products and configure them individually for certain countries. Sounds complicated? If you see the whole thing in the backend of WordPress, it’s child’s play.
Conclusion Woocommerce advantages and disadvantages
WooCommerce is perfect for small and medium store solutions. However, when it comes to larger projects (over 3000 items) or the connection to a very special inventory management system, then it’s worth taking a look at Shopware. Of course, Shopware is much more budget-intensive (sometimes five-digit costs) than the free store plugin WooCommerce. However, if you want to take the first steps with your first online store, WooCommerce is a good choice.