Easy eCommerce for WordPress sites
WordPress is the most popular website content management program in the world, powering about 15% of the top million websites because it is so easy to learn and easy to use. It may have begun as a blogging platform, but has evolved into much, much more. The biggest problem with this wonderful program is that you can’t directly sell anything with it.
Today there are both free and for-fee plug-ins that can quickly turn a WordPress site into an eCommerce sales machine. There are many technical similarities between page management and product management, page categories and product categories, so the leap is not huge. But there is an extra layer of complexity with security issues that many WordPress site owners have not had to consider.
Many WordPress eCommerce plug-ins began modestly with generic names, like “WordPress eShop” and “WP E-commerce” which made it difficult for users and search engines to find. The notoriously poor WordPress “Search” function for plug-ins likewise made growth difficult. The market was also very fragmented, with many small plug-ins that were not updated when WordPress was updated.
Today the plug-in development teams are wising up, changing plug-in names to distinctive, easy-to-find names or domains like “GetShopped,” “Jigoshop” and “Woo Commerce.”
How to add eCommerce to your WordPress site
Adding an eCommerce plug-in to WordPress is much like any other plug-in: upload the file to your website, unzip it into the proper folder, and open your WordPress Admin and enable the plug-in. Then you can immediately add your product descriptions in your Admin as if they were pages or posts.
Merchants who plan to add an ecommerce plug-in though, and do not wish to pay a programmer to test and tune it, are well-advised to start by selecting a template that is specifically made for a WordPress eCommerce site. This is because many of these templates already include WordPress and a specific eCommerce plug-in. ThemeForest.net is the largest seller of WordPress eCommerce templates.
After installing the template/store/eCommerce plug-in all in one, immediately add some test fake products and do a little testing before and after you add each additional plug-in. There are many thousands of plug-ins available, and only a few dozen may be tested with your particular program. You may need to try a few variations of a plug-in, for example, a Facebook/Twitter plug-in before you find one that works well with your chosen setup. Or you can hire a programmer who will test and tweak each plug-in as it is added, before adding another.
All-in-one WordPress templates/program/plug-ins
Even if you are a tech-loving online merchant with graphics skills, I recommend that you buy an all-in-one template and customize that, rather than starting from scratch. This is because the templates already have many components integrated and tested for you, such as slideshows, working contact forms, widgetized sidebars, newsletters and/or Twitter integration. It’s only a single install compared to multiple uploads and testing if you do it all yourself.
Next month I will review the world’s top open source WordPress eCommerce plug-ins and important things to consider. If you must open an online WordPress site before then, at least you have some tools and methodology for making a decision.