The process of creating your own online store with WordPress can be daunting, even if you’re an experienced WordPress user.
At its core, your ecommerce store must do the following things:
- Allow your customers to browse products easily
- Help them find the products they like and make the buying decision
- Easily add them to the shopping cart
- Make it easy for them to pay
I always keep these four things in mind when designing stores for clients.
Keeping these four criteria in mind, you’ll want to choose a good plugin for your store.
Choosing Good Plugins
Now let’s talk about plugins.
There are a variety of ecommerce plugins that will help you turn any WordPress website into an ecommerce store quickly and easily. You need to choose the right plugin for the job though.
Good ecommerce plugins will do these things:
- Help you manage your inventory
- Handle customer accounts
- Help you create products
- Create a shopping cart and checkout process
- Provide shipping
- Store customer orders
So which free ecommerce plugins are the best?
I’m sure you’re familiar with WooCommerce, but I really can’t not talk about it.
I can say that WooCommerce is one of those must-have ecommerce plugins. It currently runs over 10% of all online stores.
Because it is fantastic at providing you with all the essential functions of an online store. It has tools to help you track your inventory, calculate shipping and tax automatically, and create easy to understand sales and profit reports. It also offers advanced options like subscriptions and recurring payments.
And the best part:
WooCommerce also has a huge library of extensions, which will enable you to customize and enhance your store in any way you see fit.
Not just these, it also integrates and works well with other extensions and plugins.
As mentioned, WooCommerce pairs easily with other plugins and the excellent All in One SEO Pack has a staggeringly large amount of SEO support functions for WooCommerce. It’s easy and intuitive to use, meaning you can quickly find the functions you need like:
- Support for Google analytics
- Google AMP (Accelerate Mobile Pages) support (which is huge at the moment)
- SEO support for Custom Post Types
- XML Sitemap for your products and product images
All in One SEO Pack is the best free plugin to provide SEO integration for ecommerce sites like WooCommerce.
Easy Digital Downloads is the way to go if you’re selling digital products like music, e-books, or other digital files. The plugin is simple but still fully featured, with all the features you’ll require to sell digital products.
EDD helps you create the foundation for your store in only a few minutes and then lets you add all the product details you want.
It has a built-in reporting system that lets you easily see your profits and sales with interactive graphs.
It integrates easily with PayPal and Stripe as well as other digital payment processors. It gives you file access control, so you can specify how many people can download the file, or make it inaccessible after a certain amount of time (urgency).
iThemes Exchange is a great option if usability is what you’re looking for. The plugin is simple and streamlined so you can set it up and have a functional shop in no time. It supports PayPal and Stripe, as well as a wide amount of extensions.
iThemes focuses on a modular approach, which means that store owners only have to install the functions that their store needs.
This gets rid of much of the unnecessary features found in other ecommerce plugins, so your website will always be super quick with fast load and response times.
WP eCommerce is similar to WooCommerce but differs in a few ways. Like WooCommerce, it adds a functional shopping cart to a WordPress site and is free and easy to use. The main advantage of using WP eCommerce is its table rate functionality, which is part of the core package rather than as an extension.
It also offers some other good stuff:
There’s also a bulk discounts and cross-selling/up-selling functionality within the core plugin. Its tax management function is super-easy to use, and there are 27 official extensions that come with it.
Have any other great free plugins or tips for building great stores? Let’s talk in the comments!