WooCommerce powers over three million eCommerce sites worldwide. This free, open source WordPress plugin adds a suite of essential features for building an online storefront on any self-hosted WordPress website. But even though WooCommerce includes all the eCommerce basics, you can choose from a number of free and premium WooCommerce WordPress plugins to create a unique, customized e-store in just about any niche.
WooCommerce Works with WordPress
New entrepreneurs planning to launch an online business can choose from among a number of eCommerce hosts that provide storefront space and a variety of tools and templates to create and run an eCommerce store. These fully hosted platforms handle most of the technical heavy lifting for clients, but there are often limits on scaling your store over time. If the eCommerce website crashes or closes down, your store goes along with it.
WordPress is a free site builder that is installed on your own domain and hosting account – a “self-hosted” alternative to hosted marketplaces that offers complete ownership of the site and the ability to move it to any hosting environment you like. The WordPress source code contains all the elements needed to create a generic website that you can customize in a variety of ways, from working with its core code to installing a combination of WooCommerce theme options and plugins to create the site you want.
WooCommerce is one of the thousands of WordPress plugins that have been developed to add specific functions and features to a WordPress site. Plugins are small sets of code that can be installed either from the WordPress Plugin Directory available on your site’s admin dashboard, or from a long and growing list of third-party developers worldwide. Once installed and activated, plugins work with the current features of your eCommerce website to add new functions or extend the reach of existing ones.
WooCommerce is a robust plugin with a number of existing functions that integrate with your theme, such as product pages and galleries, shopping cart options, and payment gateways. These features blend smoothly with your existing theme to create a seamless shopping experience that focuses on your brand and the products and services you offer.
Even though WooCommerce comes with the basic features for setting up an online storefront, it may not have the exact functions you want, but you can easily add those features yourself with one or more of the many plugins designed to work with WooCommerce and WooCommerce based WordPress themes. Plugins can add things like specialized shopping cart functions, payment gateways, statistics, or foreign language support to your site, and you can mix and match them as needed, as long as they’re compatible with your WordPress theme and other plugins running on your site.
Choosing the Best WooCommerce Plugins for Your Site
Hundreds of free and premium WooCommerce plugins, or extensions, can be installed on your WordPress site. The best plugins should easily integrate with your version of WordPress and WooCommerce, and work seamlessly with other plugins you may be using.
Premium plugins for WordPress typically offer support, upgrades and a variety of additional features for your e-commerce store. For example, the MailChimp extension for WooCommerce includes tools for collecting and managing emails as well as for creating forms for various purposes. Other useful WordPress plugins, such as the premium FedEx API, perform just one function – but it may be key to making your store work smoothly.
Plugins can be installed in WooCommerce from your WordPress admin dashboard, or downloaded from a third party site and installed through your site’s plugin page. Pay attention to the version of the plugin you’re installing to be sure that it works with your theme and other plugins. As your site grows and changes, you can install other plugins to meet those new needs.
Here’s a look at seven of the best free and premium plugins for extending the functions and features of your WooCommerce site.
PayPal for WooCommerce
WooCommerce includes options for payment portals, but this premium plugin adds full PayPal functions to your store for managing transactions securely and easily. Customers can simply select PayPal as a payment option and payments are routed to the PayPal account of your choice.
WooCommerce Currency Switcher
One reason for the popularity of online shopping is that it opens doors to a global marketplace, and a number of WooCommerce plugins are designed to accommodate international visitors to your site. The WooCommerce Currency Switcher allows users to convert the standard currency used in your site’s product pricing to their preferred currency.
A number of WooCommerce theme options come with multilingual support, which allows visitors to view your eCommerce site in their preferred language. If your site’s theme doesn’t support translation into other languages, the WooCommerce multilingual extension adds this functionality.
If your online store deals in physical products, you might find ShipStation useful. This free WooCommerce extension includes a set of tools for fulfilling orders and shipping them to locations around the globe, such as carrier rate calculators and forms for printing labels.
WooCommerce Gift Cards
Whether you’re selling physical or digital goods, or even offering services or subscriptions, offering gift cards can extend your brand’s reach and even create new customers. The WooCommerce Gift Cards plugin allows you to set up a variety of gift card options and ways to redeem them when customers make a purchase on your eCommerce site.
Subscription sites are a popular form of eCommerce, and this premium plugin provides the tools to set up and sell subscriptions to services or products, such as online magazines. Woo Subscriptions include tools for functions such as managing recurring monthly billing and maintaining subscriber databases.
WooCommerce Products Slider
Sliders and carousels can provide an eye-catching way to showcase selected products or highlight special sales or other events. The WooCommerce Products Slider is a free plugin from WooCommerce that allows users to place sliders anywhere on the site using shortcodes.
Free and easy to install on any WordPress site, the WooCommerce plugin has all the essentials for setting up a working online store – and with a long and growing list of plugins and extensions to choose from, WooCommerce can help improve any online store.
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