Here at Cognique, we are big fans of the WordPress content management system. It is simple and easy to use, yet has the framework available for enhancements allowing the core features to be built upon to create very complex websites. However the world of WordPress ecommerce has always been a bit of a grey area. We have evaluated many e-commerce plugins over the years, including WP eCommerce, MarketPress and JigoShop. However we have never found a solution we felt was a true competitor to the dedicated e-commerce platforms. At least that was the case until WooCommerce came along.
WooCommerce hits the big time
Launched in September 2011, this plugin has already been downloaded over 10 million times and claims to be powering 30% of all e-commerce websites. In May 2015, WooCommerce was purchased by Automattic, the company behind WordPress, with an aim of creating a joined-up e-commerce solution. For this reason you can expect the integration between WordPress and WooCommerce to become tighter with every release.
Intuitive WordPress Ecommerce
If you’re already familiar with the WordPress user interface, then the chances are you’ll already know your way around WooCommerce. The heart of WooCommerce has been developed upon the custom post types feature, which means most administration pages will contain a familiar user interface with an additional layer of options and settings. These extras do not complicate the already great interface and have been intuitively designed to blend in with the core WordPress editor.
An extensible ecommerce plugin
Out of the box, the WooCommerce feature set is pretty comprehensive with enough options to get a standard e-commerce website up and running without any hassle. The plugin is built upon the extensions model, which means the free core contains a set amount of options that can be enhanced by installing free or paid plugins from the WordPress and WooThemes extension library. WooCommerce also contains a comprehensive API which allows developers to create bespoke plugins to provide extra functionality on a site by site basis, which means the possibilities for WooCommerce are endless! A plugin built upon an extensions model means your website does not contain a huge amount of unused features, making it faster to load.
WooCommerce features include:
- Simple, variant and downloadable products
- Multiple image galleries
- Categories and tags
- Voucher codes
- Dimensions, weights and SKUs
- Product reviews
- Geo-location for tax and shipping calculations
- Stock management including back orders
- Customer and guest orders
- Reporting and analytics
Ecommerce payment gateways
WooCommerce integrates with over 100 different payment gateways, five of which are included out of the box. Other payment gateways can be purchased from the extensions library. You will be pleased to know that PayPal integration is included free of charge, and support is also available for SagePay and WorldPay which are very popular here in the UK. You are not just limited to using one payment provider; you can configure multiple gateways and allow your customers to choose the provider they are most comfortable with. You can also give customers the option to pay on delivery/collection or pay by cheque, which is useful for large items where customers would be more likely to collect from a shop/warehouse.
Integration with Google services
WooCommerce integrates with Google Analytics using the addition of a free plugin called ‘WooCommerce Google Analytics Integration’ created by the authors of WooCommerce. This plugin passes across e-commerce transaction and product values along with your visitor statistics, allowing you to track sales to different sources and build a picture about which articles and pages are contributing to your sales. It also creates analytics goals allowing you to track which products have been added to your basket. You can also purchase a plugin called ‘WooCommerce Google Product Feed’ with will output the products that you choose to the ‘Google Merchant Center’, allowing you to make use of Google Shopping and the remarketing features of Google AdWords. We also recommend the use of ‘WooCommerce Cart Reports’, which allows you to track the different shopping baskets that have been created on your website, to see which ones converted and which ones did not. Configured correctly, the details of customers who have abandoned their cart/basket can also be recovered.
Combined retail and trade ecommerce websites
If you need to sell products to trade/wholesale customers, WooCommerce allows you to set different prices to different WordPress roles using a number of available plugins. One of these, ‘WooCommerce Prices By User Role’, displays a standard price to the public and a different price to logged in trade customers. This makes it easy to accommodate retail and trade customers within one site and cuts down on the expense of building and managing separate websites.
Ecommerce themes and custom CSS
There are no restrictions as to how you can style your WordPress WooCommerce website but your WordPress theme must first be compatible with WooCommerce. You can install it on incompatible themes but you may find that certain pages do not function quite as expected or look a bit odd. Of course WooCommerce was written by the team behind WooThemes, so most of their themes are compatible with WooCommerce out of the box. Alternatively you can disable the inbuilt WooCommerce CSS and style all the shop elements yourself, allowing you to create a truly bespoke e-commerce website.
WooCommerce – great for simple or complex WordPress commerce!
If you are already familiar with WordPress and your ecommerce needs are pretty straightforward then WooCommerce is a very safe bet even for a beginner. For more complex or bespoke WordPress commerce solutions, like Bobbie Burns furniture website, we can customise WooCommerce to meet both your aesthetic and functional needs.
If you’re not using WooCommerce yet or you are looking for help with your ecommerce website, get in touch.