- Feb 02, 2017
- by Brad Litwin
WordPress – by all accounts – is a powerful and versatile platform, but there are some things it can’t do right out of the box. It can’t, for example, enable you to power an e-commerce store.
While the popular Content Management System (CMS) doesn’t include e-commerce functions by default, you can add them through the magic of plugins. With the right tools in hand, you can do anything from accepting payments to handling inventory, all via your WordPress website.
In this article, we’ll explore the concept of WordPress e-commerce plugins and what they can do, then we’ll introduce you to five outstanding examples with different functions. Let’s go shopping!
What WordPress E-Commerce Plugins Are (and Why You Should Use Them)
WordPress plugins are handy tools that enable you to add a host of functions to your site. They run the gamut from simple tweaks to full-on solutions for specific niches.
When we talk about WordPress e-commerce plugins, the first name that comes to mind is WooCommerce. This popular e-commerce tool offers its own extension system which comprises add-ons that enhance the plugin’s functionality.
Aside from WooCommerce, WordPress also provides an extensive collection of other e-commerce plugins. Few, if any, of them offer as many features, but in many cases, users may not need them. If all you want to do is process payments online, for example, installing WooCommerce can be overkill. An example of a much simpler e-commerce plugin is Sell Downloads, which enables users to sell virtual items.
In this particular case, you could gain the same functions by using WooCommerce, but you’d be left with a bunch of features that you wouldn’t use. Sometimes, it’s much more efficient to look for a specialized tool that can provide advanced functions for your unique needs.
In the next section we’ll introduce you to five e-commerce plugins you might not know about, and also talk a bit more about WooCommerce. In case we haven’t featured what you’re looking for, you can also find plenty of options at WordPress.org and CodeCanyon.
5 Top E-Commerce Plugins for WordPress
For this section, we decided to stick with only the highest quality plugins. They all have plenty of downloads, high ratings, and – best of all – are regularly updated. Let’s kick things off with a name you already know.
We’ve already mentioned this plugin quite a few times, but in case you’re unfamiliar with it, here’s what you need to know. WooCommerce offers a full-featured solution for WordPress users looking to get into e-commerce. It enables you to sell physical and virtual items, handle shipping, payments, and inventory.
- A complete e-commerce solution which can handle every aspect of the process.
- Comes with its own extension system, offering both free and premium options.
- Enjoys a broad range of support across most web hosts, thanks to its popularity.
- Offers excellent documentation.
eCommerce Product Catalog is one of the closest alternatives to WooCommerce if you’re looking for a full e-commerce solution. While this plugin only enables you to create a product catalog, it also implements an extension system. Some of the available extensions include support for payment gateways and shopping carts.
- Implements a product catalog and displays prices.
- Offers a full-fledged extension system for additional functions.
- Enables you to specify shipping options for your products.
- Includes drag-and-drop functions for customizing your publications.
- Comes with two built-in product templates.
On top of a shopping cart, this plugin provides you with a catalog function and enables you to process payments. That’s everything you need to run an online store using WordPress – with a high level of polish, to boot. However, the free version only supports up to ten products for your store, which might be a dealbreaker.
That being said, if you’re looking for a light alternative to WooCommerce, and don’t mind paying for it, this is a good pick.
- Enables you to list and sell products online.
- Integrates with multiple payment gateways.
- iOS and Android apps enable you to manage your store on the go.
This handy little plugin enables you to add products to your store, as well as offering a shopping cart function. It doesn’t provide much in terms of customization, but it’s perfect for small online stores selling digital products or services. As you might infer from its name, the plugin only works with PayPal, so keep that in mind before installing it.
- Lists products on your website and has the option of a shopping cart function.
- Enables your visitors to pay for goods or services using PayPal.
- Includes a coupon feature for discounts during payments.
WordPress Simple PayPal Shopping Cart is 100% free.
When it comes to e-commerce, it doesn’t get much simpler than PayPal Buy Now Button. This straightforward plugin enables you to create payment buttons for predetermined products or services, and process their payments. It’s a great fit for sites that don’t have ample product catalogs.
- Adds a Buy Now button anywhere you want on your site.
- Includes the option to configure each button to charge specific amounts depending on the product or service you’re offering.
While WordPress wasn’t built with e-commerce in mind, nothing is stopping you from adding the necessary functions to the CMS using plugins. Whether you need a complete online store or the odd shopping feature or two, there’s bound to be a plugin solution that fits your needs.
If you’re not sure where to get started with WordPress e-commerce plugins, check out the five picks we’ve talked about in this post:
- WooCommerce: A full-featured e-commerce solution for all types of stores.
- eCommerce Product Catalog: A great alternative to WooCommerce, with its own extension system.
- Ecwid Ecommerce Shopping Cart: A solid pick for smaller online stores, or those that don’t mind paying for a premium plugin.
- WordPress Simple PayPal Shopping Cart: A plugin than enables you to add simple shopping cart and PayPal checkout functions through your site.
- PayPal Buy Now Button: The perfect choice for users that only need to sell a handful of products or services.
Image credit: Pixabay.