Consumers spent more than $860 billion on online purchases in 2020. eCommerce accounts for roughly one in five retail purchases, and it continues to trend upward.
The growth of eCommerce represents an increased opportunity for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Setting up an online store requires a smaller initial investment than traditional brick-and-mortar shops.
This guide covers the ins and outs of creating an online store, including a focus on the best WordPress eCommerce plugins.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- What you need to open an online store
- How to find the best WordPress eCommerce plugins
- Free and premium eCommerce plugins to use on your WordPress website
WordPress Website Basics
Creating a WordPress website is free, but that’s not the only reason it’s popular. WordPress uses an intuitive, beginner-friendly approach to website building.
However, users can design and customize more advanced websites, such as an eCommerce store, on WordPress using themes and plugins.
Themes are code packages that define a WordPress website’s look and feel with qualities like colors, layout, and font.
Plugins are pieces of software that add functionality to your website. You can use plugins to add elements such as forms, calendars, and security features.
There are thousands of themes and plugins built for WordPress, including free and premium options.
What You Need To Build an eCommerce Website
Building an eCommerce website takes a bit more effort than setting up a blog or personal page. But tools like WordPress make it simpler.
Let’s take a look at the must-haves for your online store.
Reliable and Secure Web Hosting
Website hosting refers to the services you use to store and access all of the files needed for your website.
Anyone who wants to publish a website needs to purchase web hosting services.
However, if you want to create an eCommerce website, there are some things to consider when choosing a hosting provider.
First, you need fast and reliable hosting services. If a customer goes to your website, and it’s down or takes too long to load, that’s bad for business.
Second, you need to find a secure hosting provider.
Think about it.
When a customer buys an item, your website will be collecting and processing personal and financial information.
You need a hosting provider that will help you keep your data and your customers’ information safe.
Service providers like Bluehost offer free SSL certificates and malware scanning tools.
Your domain name is your address (URL) on the internet.
Once you’ve chosen a web hosting provider, you need a domain name to publish your eCommerce store.
Many hosting providers offer domain search and registration services. You may even save money on your domain by registering with your hosting service.
In most cases, your domain name should be as close to your brand name as possible. To learn more, you can check out our guide on how to choose a domain name.
eCommerce Platform/Payment Processor
Finally, your website needs to be able to handle all the tasks involved in an online purchase.
An eCommerce platform gives your website the core functionality required for online transactions. These platforms include features such as:
- Product page design
- Inventory management
- Payment processing
Examples of eCommerce platforms include WooCommerce (a WordPress plugin), BigCommerce, and Shopify.
What To Look For in an eCommerce Platform
There are a handful of popular eCommerce platforms available.
How do you choose the right one?
The answer depends on your business. You don’t want to choose the most popular option. You want the best platform for your business.
Here are some things to consider when choosing an eCommerce platform for your WordPress website.
- User experience/user-friendliness
- Customer support
The eCommerce platform you choose affects your customer’s experience and your business’s success.
The right platform should meet your current needs while giving you room to grow without breaking your budget.
WooCommerce and WordPress
WooCommerce is an all-in-one solution for eCommerce built on WordPress. This plugin gives your WordPress website all the capabilities of an online store. Millions of WordPress creators use WooCommerce to set up product pages, process payments, and fulfill orders.
WooCommerce gives your website essential eCommerce functions like building product pages and processing transactions, but that’s not all.
You can also use the WooCommerce plugin for marketing your store and growing your business.
WooCommerce features include:
- Secure payment processing (including credit card)
- Fully customizable product types
- WooCommerce mobile app
- Automated tax calculation
- 140 region-specific payment gateways
WooCommerce also includes native integrations to popular software such as Stripe, Square, Yoast, and MailChimp.
The added flexibility and customization make WooCommerce one of the most widely used and highly-rated WordPress eCommerce plugins.
It’s free to use WooCommerce to build your online store, but the company does offer some premium extensions and add-ons for more advanced needs.
WordPress eCommerce Plugins To Explore
An all-in-one eCommerce solution like WooCommerce will give you many of the features you need for your online business.
But you may want to explore other eCommerce platforms and plugins that add more capabilities to your WordPress website.
Here are some of the top WordPress eCommerce plugins to use when customizing your online store.
Free eCommerce Plugins
There are several free eCommerce plugins to choose from. Below are a few of our favorites.
Easy Digital Downloads (EDD)
Easy Digital Downloads is an eCommerce solution specifically for businesses that sell digital products such as software, documents, or e-books.
Key features of Easy Digital Downloads:
- Product pages
- Customizable checkout
- Stripe and PayPal integrations
- Digital file protection
- Customer management
- Discount codes
Price: Free. Premium extension passes start at $99/year.
Best WordPress eCommerce plugin for: Selling digital goods.
eCommerce Product Catalog
eCommerce Product Catalog is a WordPress eCommerce plugin that helps you create your online product catalog with ease. This plugin has you covered from your product image and description to categories, search, and tags.
Key features of eCommerce Product Catalog:
- Customizable product displays
- Multi-level categories
- Product tags
- Product search and filters
- Import and export products with .csv
Best WordPress eCommerce plugin for: Online stores with an extensive range of products.
Ecwid E-Commerce Shopping Cart
Ecwid is one of the best WordPress eCommerce plugins for online shopping setup on your WordPress website and even your social media. Ecwid empowers you to turn an existing website into an eCommerce store.
Key features of Ecwid:
- Centralized inventory tracking
- Order management
- Website, social media, and marketplace selling
- 70+ payment gateways
Price: Free (with limited features). Premium plans start at $12.50/month when billed annually.
Best WordPress eCommerce plugin for: Businesses with multiple sales channels.
WP EasyCart lets you sell a variety of product types on your WordPress eCommerce website, including subscriptions. With the WP EasyCart plugin, you can edit your products, process payments, and manage shipping and fulfillment all in one place.
WP EasyCart is an excellent WooCommerce alternative for those selling subscription-based products.
Key features of WP EasyCart:
- Order fulfillment
- Customer account management
- Marketing tools and discounts
- Tax management
- International support
Price: Free (with limited features). Premium plans start at $69/year.
Best WordPress eCommerce plugin for: Small businesses.
WP Product Review Lite
WP Product Review Lite adds user review and rating capabilities to your eCommerce store. Its interactive user experience makes it easy for customers to leave feedback, and you can choose from multiple layouts to find the best match for your website.
Key features of WP Product Review:
- Affiliate links
- Pros and cons
- User reviews
- Review widgets
- Product review comparison tables
Best WordPress eCommerce plugin for: Product reviews.
Premium eCommerce Plugins
If you’re looking for a more robust plugin for your eCommerce store, take a look at two of the best below.
BigCommerce is a comprehensive eCommerce platform that offers strong, customizable online stores. With BigCommerce, you can build and market your eCommerce store or connect the platform to your WordPress website.
BigCommerce provides specific features for B2B sellers, including customer groups and bulk pricing.
Key features of Easy BigCommerce:
- Checkout customization
- Digital wallets
- Faceted search
- Social and marketplace selling
- B2B payment
- Quote management
Price: 30-day free trial. Plans start at $29.95/month.
Best WordPress eCommerce plugin for: Large businesses and B2B selling.
Constant Contact is a flexible email marketing software that offers tools specifically for eCommerce businesses. Email is an essential part of running an online store, whether you use it for order confirmations, lead generation, or both.
Bluehost partners with Constant Contact to make it easy for you to grow a solid base of repeat customers.
Key features of Constant Contact:
- Drag and drop email builder
- Library of email templates
- Sign-up forms and landing pages
- Email automation
- Audience segmentation
Price: Plans start at $3/month.
Best WordPress eCommerce plugin for: Lead generation.
As e-commerce continues to take the retail world by storm, more people can open their own businesses.
It’s essential to choose the right tools for your website to give customers a safe and positive user experience.
Find the perfect home for your eCommerce website with Bluehost’s fast and reliable WordPress hosting services.