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08 June 2016

How to Choose the Best WordPress Ecommerce Solutions?

How to Choose the Best WordPress Ecommerce Solutions?
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By Manmeet Anand

Best WordPress Ecommerce Solutions

Today as many as 74.6 million sites are proudly powered by WordPress. And what makes WordPress such an ever-growing platform? Perhaps the number of plugins it boosts. There are more than 29,000 WordPress plugins available today, and a new plugin gets added almost every hour.

With such huge popularity that WordPress has, it is only obvious that people are now inquiring more about the WordPress eCommerce solutions. The trend to sell online is up, and since the people have good experience with WordPress, they want to use WordPress as their eCommerce solution too.

Moreover, the conception that the WordPress is free along with tons of easily available WordPress plugins proves to be an icing on the cake. Undoubtedly, WordPress lives up to the expectations quite well and has a lot of easily customizable e-commerce solutions to offer. But at the end, it is all about the details.

Make the Most Out Of Your Business – Learn About Your Needs Well, With Strategic Implementation

There is only one mantra if you want to setup a flawless ecommerce store and that is to delve yourself deeper into the details, specifications, and requirements. The ecommerce plugin that you have just thought of using should not be because your agency suggested that but because it meets your requirements perfectly.

You must be very clear regarding what all you wish to achieve from your online store. Are you targeting just a small area or a wide demography? Is your ecommerce solution robust and scalable enough to handle multiple users at a time? Do you need a pricing calculator? Would there be a different set of prices for customers and wholesale dealers? These are the questions you need to have answers of.

eCommerce is not as easy as it seems. Just like a brick and mortar store needs proper strategies and planning, HTML and CSS stores are no different. It is not just about a payment gateway and an online shopping cart. It is more than that. It is about the experience. It is about functionalities. It is about navigation. It is about products and a lot more!

You cannot simply wake up one fine morning, and decide to go with WordPress and eCommerce. You would need to study your requirements and goals properly.

You would need to figure out where you would like to see your business 5 years down the line. What all geographies would you be targeting and so on? You would need to consider factors like scalability, flexibility, and robustness.

A design firm can surely help you, but you would need to help yourself in terms of the goals and expectations. Makes sense?

Further, the most tempting reason why people tend to go for WordPress e-commerce is because it is free. Well, it is not! The basic versions might be free, but then they are not just enough to keep your store going and would simply not serve the purpose in the long run.

Having a clear idea about the needs would thus help you figure out a potential fit, costing, implementation and other aspects.

General eCommerce Considerations

Before you splurge into your idea of having your own e-commerce store, it is better that you know about the important e-commerce factors you need to worry about.

• Cost
Each plugin comes with its own cost. There are some which are free while the others are paid. There are different criteria for each one. You need to know about these plugins and choose accordingly. Some plugins come with an annual license that is to be renewed every year while others are simple; they come with a onetime fee. Know your budget and before you buy a particular plugin blindfolded, analyze all other alternative options.

• Aesthetics
An e-commerce store is all about the embedded UX/UI experience. You need to be very clear with the looks of your store. How would you like it to look? Should it match closely to your existing WordPress website?

Looks of your store might vary as per the different plugins used. You may even choose to go for a custom WordPress theme. A custom theme helps you design your e-commerce store the way you like – from the margin, padding, font, and text – everything is in your control. Hiring an expert WordPress designer would serve the purpose best here.

• Responsive
It goes without saying; your e-commerce store should be responsive. Do not even give a second thought to this, go with our words, and we’re sure, you would never repent! After all, you won’t like your e-commerce store to be rendered differently on different devices? While navigation might work just fine with phones, the text might be too much shabby on tablets.

This is where the responsive design store comes to the rescue. Responsive design makes sure that your store looks and behaves fabulous no matter on which device it is accessed. It works by rendering the same HTML differently on different devices such that the UX/UI experience is same all around.

• Ease of use
It is your store, and you would surely like to have a few customizations every now and then. You need to add new products, remove old products, introduce discounts, run offers and so on. Thus, choose a platform which provides an easy to handle mechanism.

Functional eCommerce Considerations

Obviously, you won’t like your customers leaving your store just because they were not able to find their preferred mode of payment. And thus to avoid such bad experiences, it is essential that your attention to functional e-commerce considerations should be very much required.

• Product types
You need to study the compatibility of your product offering with your selected software. Not all plugins support digital downloads, or affiliate links or other such offerings pretty well. Take out a chance and review this before settling on one plugin.

• Pricing scenarios
How would the pricing work? Would you set it volume purchase or attribute? Do distributors need to have a different pricing? WordPress undoubtedly has come a long way, but still a lot more is to be achieved. There are not many WordPress plugins which can support you here.

• Payment terms
Next, what all payment modes would work for you? WordPress plugins perform well when it comes to universal payment modes like PayPal and credit card. However, if you like to make it global and are looking to have wire transfers, net 30 and others, you might not be left with a lot of options.

• Sales Tax
This is one of the trickiest portions. You need to choose a WordPress plugin which is robust enough to handle complex requirements and calculations. Thankfully, you can find various WordPress plugins that have the ability to distinguish between services and products and also between state, country and the respective tax laws.

• Shipping
Would you like to integrate your store with shipping vendors like USPS, FedEx, and others? Are you looking to have international shipping? How are shipping charges calculated? Get enough information on each of these subjects, and keep it all well documented before you finalize a shopping cart plugin.

• Discounts and coupons
Undoubtedly, this is going to be one of the most attractive parts of your eCommerce store. This is what could serve as one of the most efficient weapons to lure customers towards your store. Be very specific about the types of discounts and deals that you would need. Strategize if you would like to provide incentives every time a person purchases and so on.

• Returns and refunds
There are two ways to initiate returns and refunds. You can ask your customer to initiate return directly from their user account, or you can have an RMA process. This most likely would need to be managed by you, and in most of the cases, this is outside the reach of basic plugins.

Technical eCommerce Considerations

A lot is being said about functional and general e-commerce solutions. Next, let’s talk about technical e-commerce considerations.

• SSL certification
SSL certification boosts trust of your customers in your store. It is a secure socket layer that ensures that all the sensitive information like credit card numbers and stuff is protected and secured. Check if you would like to have this certification and accordingly check if your payment gateway and shopping cart provides it.

• Security
Since an e-commerce store involves sharing of secure information, if you want to collect sensitive info like credit card numbers and others, it is highly recommended that you have a PA-DSS and PCI compliant solution in place.

• Search Engine Optimization
How would you reach to your customers? One of the ways is by enhancing your store’s visibility in search engine results pages. And this could be fairly achieved by search engine optimization. Make sure that your chosen solution allows you to optimize your store with proper Meta titles and product descriptions. It should support schema and allow you to input all tags essential for on page SEO.

WordPress Ecommerce Solutions

You are all set now! You have all the required info about various aspects to look for in a WordPress plugin and all set to make a well-informed decision. It is the best time to review the various WordPress e-commerce solutions that are available to you. Check out!

• WooCommerce
This WordPress plugin ensures that your store looks beautiful. You can easily transform your WordPress site into a robust e-commerce store quickly with WooCommerce.

It is available for free by WooThemes and is known for rendering flawless looks and embeds awesome user experience, all thanks to its array of features and payment gateways. It comes with an average rating of 4.22 on 5. You can further choose to augment the functionalities of WooCommerce through various easily available free and premium extensions.

Further, it is secure, SEO friendly and boasts of an equally great community. Perhaps this is the reason that WooCommerce is been downloaded more than six million times till date.

• Cart 66
Cart 66 comes with easy to use interface, inventory management, affiliate program, Mijireh support, and others. It basically has everything that you would need in an e-commerce store. Its lite version is available for free. However, you would have to shed $95/year to use Cart 66 cloud version. With 165k downloads till date, cart 66 lite comes with a rating of 3.0/5.0.

• WP e-Commerce
This is yet another wonderful plugin available for e-commerce stores. It comes with a rating of 2.9/5/0 and is being downloaded three million times till date

• MarketPress
MarketPress like its counterparts is secure, easy to use and is compatible with all major payment gateways. It also features its own pre-made themes. With 150k downloads till date, it comes with a rating of 3.9/5.00.

In Nutshell

To conclude, like we already said, it is all about the requirements and your business needs. Just find out the most suitable match – one that matches exceptionally well with your requirements. You should always choose a plugin which matches 80% of your requirements. Avoid randomly picking a solution and then spending weeks on its customization. It would only hinder your productivity.

Setting up a WordPress e-commerce store demands a lot of hard work and strategic execution. It is thus highly recommended to focus on more important tasks and let an experienced WordPress designer do the required development and installation. It is always better to do the tasks we are good at and allow the rest to be handled by professionals. Agree?

Please leave your thoughts and comments below.

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