With more than 600 ecommerce platforms, it can be difficult to choose the best one for your business. WordPress is a leading content management system, with popular ecommerce plugins. But a merchant should answer important questions before she can decide if WordPress is right for her ecommerce site.
When WordPress Can Be a Good Choice
- Your website is primarily a blog. WordPress has a huge market share — around 60 percent of the CMS market — which means that millions of sites are already using it successfully. If you have an established site or if you have a new one that is blogging-centric, don’t change it just to sell a few products. In that case, adding on a WordPress ecommerce plugin is a good solution.
- Limited product catalog. Many of the WordPress ecommerce plugins like WP e-Commerce and WooCommerce advertise that their platforms can hold thousands of products. While that may be true, a WordPress plugin will generally not perform as well as a dedicated ecommerce platform.
If your product catalog is limited and straightforward, a WordPress store can be a good fit. Many sites just want to sell a few products to support their blogging efforts, or they are a brick-and-mortar store that wants to sell a few items online. In these cases, WordPress works fine.
- Simple products. If your products have limited variations and no customization options, then a WordPress store will function well. Examples of products requiring no customization might be small electronics or home goods that come in only one style and color. Products that require minor variations include clothing (different sizes and colors) or consumables (different package sizes).
I’ve assembled a very complex ecommerce store using WordPress — so it can be done. But other solutions should be considered when dealing with complex variations and customizations.
- You are familiar with WordPress and need a quick store. If any of the above requirements apply – your site is primarily a blog, you have a limited product range, and your products are simple — then adding a WordPress ecommerce plugin is a good way to quickly get your store live. But even if you’re familiar with WordPress, you will still need to learn the intricacies of the plugin to integrate with your site.
When to Avoid WordPress Ecommerce
- You don’t have a reliable developer. If you’re an ecommerce owner and you don’t have your own developer and you’re not a developer, it will be difficult to keep your WordPress ecommerce store running long-term. Although the store might be running fine after the initial setup, there are frequent updates to stay on top of.
Some other hosted ecommerce solutions could be a better fit than your WordPress store at this point. With these software-as-a-service platforms, you’ll pay monthly for hosting and running your ecommerce shop, but the platforms update themselves, and often come with tech support.
- Complex products. WordPress ecommerce plugins like WooCommerce and Jigoshop are good for quickly adding simple products with a few variations. Creating complex and variable products, however, takes significant customization. For many WordPress ecommerce plugins, you’ll need to add in additional third-party plugins to get what you want. Make sure you fully scope out your complex product needs before deciding on a platform.
- You don’t want to manually update WordPress and the plugin. When a new version of WordPress is released with updates and security patches, you’ll want to update. In addition to keeping the WordPress core updated, you’ll also need to update the ecommerce system that you are using with WordPress. You’ll also need to update any other third party plugins that you’re using on the site and make sure those are up to date as well. Before you can actually do the upgrading, however, you’ll want to test the upgrades.
- No time to test the upgrades. If you’re not a developer or don’t want to pay for a developer’s time when your website’s backend needs updated, WordPress might not be the best choice. Most seasoned WordPress developers know that testing the updates before going live is crucial. I have learned this the hard way myself, when I broke a website by pushing changes live before they were tested.