WooCommerce is, arguably, the most popular and important WordPress ecommerce plugin. Its ease of use, features, and flexibility make it a leading ecommerce platform, capable of rivaling even the best known ecommerce solutions.
Although WooCommerce is a plugin, when combined with WordPress’ long list of features and capabilities, it creates an ecommerce platform worthy of being considered alongside Magento, Shopify, LemonStand, Volusion, PrestaShop, Mozu, and similar.
There are at least seven features that make WooCommerce a compelling ecommerce platform.
WooCommerce’s relationship — dependence on — WordPress is its greatest strength. WordPress is certainly one of the best publishing solutions, and by placing its foundation on WordPress, WooCommerce inherits a lot.
Here is one example. Many online retailers understand that video content, such as video product demonstrations, can boost conversions. But many ecommerce platforms don’t support an easy way to manage videos. Current versions of WordPress, however, do this standard.
If you want to add a YouTube video to WooCommerce products, simply place the video’s URL into the product description, and it will automatically appear in the post. What’s more, many well-built themes will actually make the video responsive, so that it will adapt to mobile devices.
This same feature not only works for embedding YouTube videos, but the most recent versions of WordPress can be used to embed rich media from Vimeo, Viddler, Instagram, Flickr, Spotify, SlideShare, Blip.tv, Imgur, Hulu, Twitter, and several other sites and services.
WooCommerce gets this embed feature because of its relationship with WordPress. There might be dozens of examples that further this point, including how WordPress manages media, version control, or similar.
2. Content Marketing
Content marketing is the practice of creating and publishing useful, valuable content for the purpose of building relationships with folks who could eventually become loyal customers.
Content marketing is also one of the most powerful tools that online sellers have for building a successful business over the long term.
Because WooCommerce is built around a publishing platform, it can be much more closely integrated with content marketing strategies. You don’t have a store and a blog, you have a store with a built-in blog.
WooCommerce comes with several shortcodes for adding product and ecommerce-related content to pages or posts.
Shortcodes are bits of text that can be added to a post or page. These shortcodes invoke a function, which adds content. For example, if a marketer wanted to add products to a special landing page, it might be a matter of adding a little bracketed text.
WooCommerce shortcodes can be used to insert order tracking information, user account data, change password information, edit user accounts, show recent or featured products, or show individual products.
Imagine how this feature might be used to create landing pages for email or social media campaigns.
4. Ease of Use
WooCommerce and WordPress are exceedingly easy to use.
As an example, WooCommerce and WordPress can be installed and running in ten minutes or less. In fact, even someone completely unfamiliar with the process would have to move slow to take ten minutes.
Adding products — which I addressed in “3 Things to Know about WooCommerce” — is as simple as filling out an online form.
Nearly everything in WooCommerce simply works the way you would expect it to.
5. Superior Flexibility
A common problem with even the best ecommerce platforms is that for one reason or another they are not as flexible, in terms of design and functionality, as one might like or expect.
Some are inflexible because they are proprietary and limit what merchants can or cannot change and control. Others are flexible, if you can master their technically complex database schemas and theming structures.
In contrast, WooCommerce and WordPress are extremely flexible. Developers have complete control of WooCommerce functions and features. Nearly anything that you can imagine is possible. Designers have control over style, page layout, and responsiveness. Finally, thanks to the many WooCommerce themes, even someone with no experience can get a good looking WooCommerce-powered site.
WooCommerce, and WordPress underlying it, also shares a feature with many modern ecommerce platforms in that it is extensible, meaning it can be extended.
Without exaggeration there are tens of thousands of plugins available for WordPress, and hundreds, if not thousands, of plugins for WooCommerce, aimed at extending its functionality.
As examples, WooThemes’ Product CSV Import Suite lets merchants upload products in bulk; WooCommerce Instagram uses hashtags to find and display Instagram photos of your products; and there are extensions for dozens of payment processing services so that you can take payments using your favorite processor or gateway.
WooCommerce plugins exist for many common features and function updates. And thanks to WordPress, writing custom plugins is relatively easy.
WooCommerce is part of the WordPress community that extends worldwide. This means that there are likely thousands of other users sharing your experiences, asking questions, and working to improve the platform.
Merchants who choose to use WooCommerce benefit from this shared experience and the improvements it brings.
As an example, search for “WooCommerce selling streaming video” on Google or Bing. The former returns about 1.7 million results, including links to extensions and a link to a digital download tutorial on YouTube.
A search for “WooCommerce order processing” returns links to WooCommerce documentation, YouTube videos that show basic WooCommerce order processing, and even links for trouble that other users have experienced.
This information is readily available because of the action community.
A Superb Class of Ecommerce Platforms
It is worth mentioning that online sellers, perhaps more than they have in the past, are enjoying an environment wherein there are dozens of very good ecommerce platforms to choose from. I addressed this environment last month, in “Navigating 2014’s Crowded Ecommerce Platform Market.”
Just a few years ago, there were really only a handful of good options for small ecommerce businesses, but now you have solutions like WooCommerce, Ecwid, LemonStand, Magento, Shopify, and many, many more.
Take the time to find the right ecommerce platform for your business. But know that WooCommerce is one of the solutions that deserves your consideration.