This article is part of a larger series on Retail Management.
What We Recommend WooCommerce For
WooCommerce is one of our top picks for free ecommerce platforms, scoring a 4.11 out of 5 based on our evaluation. WooCommerce’s extensive customization options, advanced selling tools, third-party integrations, and unlimited storage earned high software high marks. However, the need to pay for customer support and an SSL certificate, along with a complex user interface, prevented it from reaching a higher score.
We particularly recommend WooCommerce for:
- Adding ecommerce functionality to WordPress websites: WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, so it makes perfect sense to develop your online store within WordPress if your existing website is already there. If you also have experience working with WordPress and its plugins, WooCommerce installation and setup will be more straightforward for you.
- Businesses planning to hire a developer or that want to develop their own store: WooCommerce is open-source, so the sky’s the limit when it comes to customization. Whatever you want your online store to have, there will likely be a feature for it in WooCommerce. If there isn’t, you can develop your own and upload it to its extension marketplace.
When WooCommerce Would Not Be a Good Fit
- Individuals new to ecommerce or needing a user-friendly option: If you are looking for the same robust features WooCommerce can provide but in a more user-friendly and self-hosted environment, Shopify is your best choice. It is our top pick for the best ecommerce platform.
- Small sellers wanting a simple shopping cart for an existing site: If you have an existing website and want to incorporate an online store but do not have the bandwidth for WooCommerce’s lengthy setup time, consider going with Ecwid. It also offers a free plan and lets you connect or embed your online store to existing websites in a few simple steps.
- You don’t use WordPress: WooCommerce requires you to use WordPress, which is free, but the content management system can be complicated to set up and requires hosting. If you don’t have a website yet and are looking for something you can set up quickly, then Shopify and Square Online are more straightforward options.
- You want to create a content site that also has product sales: We recommend Squarespace. Shopify is great for ecommerce, but it’s not as fluid when it comes to maintaining content—the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor isn’t as user-friendly and powerful as Squarespace’s drag-and-drop page editor.
Looking for something different? Read our guide to the best free ecommerce website builders for small businesses to find a service or software that’s right for you.
|Most feature-packed free ecommerce platform||Steep learning curve—built with developers in mind and not for those looking for an easy-to-use, all-in-one solution|
|Ability to show customer product reviews and ratings||Hosting excluded|
|Charges real-time USPS shipping rates||Lengthy setup time|
|Open source—limitless customization; developer-friendly||No free customer support|
WooCommerce Store Examples
Here are some great examples of retail businesses that use WooCommerce as their ecommerce platform.
EcoKitty uses default WooCommerce styles for its shop, with Builder theme as its template. It is a perfect example of a scenario where you can set up a fully functional and aesthetically pleasing online store using WooCommerce’s built-in features in a short time.
J. Hornig’s online store has custom implementations (such as multilingual content translation—WPML), Google Tag Manager, and Google Analytics. It utilizes several WooCommerce built-in features and add-ons, which you can see in the photos above.
Nalgene is a giant online store that receives a huge amount of daily traffic. Product promotions and launches are consistently offered, and WooCommerce can handle the spikes in traffic without slowing down the website. However, note that how your online shop takes traffic spikes also depends on your hosting platform.
WooCommerce is free to download from WordPress as a plugin or extension. WooCommerce provides a lot of compatible extensions for marketing, payments, store management, subscriptions, and shipping needs, among other functions, with annual prices ranging from $0 to $599+.
Since there is no installation cost, WooCommerce is easily one of the leading free ecommerce platforms available today. Aside from being free, its bestselling point is the range of add-ons and extensions you can purchase from WooCommerce’s extension marketplace. While there are fees associated with some add-ons, they are worth it as they provide you with flexibility and customizable options for your WordPress site.
For startup expenses, you can expect to shell out anywhere from $500 to $1,000, with monthly recurring fees starting at $300, depending on your sales volume. From there, learn how to sell on WordPress using WooCommerce.
WooCommerce offers plenty of ecommerce tools for a free plugin. Since it is open source, it is customizable. You get access to hundreds of store themes and store management tools, including various analytical tools for reports and taxes, and you can monitor customer feedback through comments and reviews. WooCommerce can also support setup for affiliate sales and shipping management.
Below we’ll cover some of WooCommerce’s key features in detail.
Website Builder & Template Designs
WooCommerce provides many themes that have built-in blogging systems, with Storefront being its free official theme. It is possible to install mobile-responsive templates or even develop your own. However, be aware that customizations may require technical know-how.
WooCommerce’s shopping cart comes with pre-installed payment options—credit card, PayPal, direct bank transfer, check, and cash on delivery. You can choose from various currencies, sell only to specific countries, and set rules to handle specific actions during the checkout process, like enabling guest checkout.
It provides built-in geolocation support to help your store auto-detect your customer’s address—making tax and shipping calculations simpler.
WooCommerce lets you sell an unlimited number of physical and digital products and services in several ways, like one-time payments, subscriptions, and installment plans. You can offer endless variations such as color, size, fabric, and more. In short, you can sell anything with WooCommerce.
This built-in feature provides an informative overview of the status of all your outstanding orders, as well as in-depth order details summarizing which products are sold, along with billing and shipping addresses and buyers’ information.
The following inventory tasks are available: set stock supply notifications, hide out-of-stock items from the storefront, and initiate stock holds. Note that if you plan on processing high-volume orders, you would need a more robust solution in the extension store.
You can create multiple shipping methods (flat rate, international, local delivery, local pickup, and free shipping), set up many shipping zones, and restrict shipping locations by country with WooCommerce’s shipping tools.
WooCommerce also has built-in shipping calculators that you can enable or disable in cart pages. For example, you have the option to hide shipping costs until a customer has provided a shipping address.
The WooCommerce plugin only allows you to sell through its online storefront. However, several extensions provide selling on platforms like Facebook, eBay, Pinterest, and Amazon. Native WooCommerce add-ons are free to install and use, while others grant you access to multiple markets for a price.
Add-ons & Integrations
WooCommerce’s extension store provides almost any integration you need to run your business such as social media accounts, payment processors, analytics, shipping, ecommerce CRM, and accounting. As of this writing, WooCommerce has over 400 official extensions or third-party integrations, from payments and shipping to accounting and marketing. If you need a tool to run your business, you can likely find an extension for it.
Marketing & SEO
You can create discount and coupon codes and apply them to only single or multiple products or by order. WooCommerce also has built-in product reviews that enable your customers to leave reviews on your site. You can even ensure those comments come only from verified customers.
WooCommerce is as good as it gets when it comes to SEO as it includes everything you need. However, you need external plugins such as Yoast and All-in-One SEO (AIOSEO) pack (both offer free and paid versions).
WooCommerce Ease of Use
- Email/Help Desk
- Knowledge base
- Training: Documentation and videos
Since WooCommerce is an open-source platform, getting support for its plugins can be tricky. It does not have phone support and only entertains emails through its help desk. The scope of support for customers is outlined clearly in its support policy.
However, WooCommerce users provide a great and supportive community, especially for developers. The platform also has an extensive knowledge base where you can find answers for almost any question you may have and train in the form of video tutorials.
It also has a list of acknowledged agencies and developers you can work with if you need to hire one. That being said, while WooCommerce’s help forum is very detailed and supportive, it is not for those new to website development or inexperienced with WordPress, its plugins, and CSS coding.
Top WooCommerce Alternatives
Best for: Small businesses and entrepreneurs offering in-person and local deliveries
Best for: Businesses that have existing websites (Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly)
Best for: Small businesses with ecommerce as their backbone
Offers a free plan? Yes
Offers a free plan? Yes
Offers a free plan? No
Paid plans from: $12
Paid plans from: $15
Paid plans from: $29
If you’re not sure WooCommerce is right for you, see how it compares with our top free ecommerce website builders.
What Users Think About WooCommerce
The majority of WooCommerce reviews online note that it is the perfect ecommerce plugin for WordPress. It is easy to install and often provides updates. However, most negative feedback centers around how setting it up can be challenging for those who do not know about custom coding or building websites. WooCommerce users also say that while the plugin is free, its add-ons can get expensive.
At the time of publication, WooCommerce reviews earned the following scores on popular user review sites:
When reading through user reviews, I noticed some of these trends:
Users Don’t Like
Easy to install
Some plugins are expensive
Works seamlessly with WordPress
Steep learning curve
Extensive third-party integrations
Platform can get clunky if too many integrations are installed
WordPress and WooCommerce are excellent partners. If you are more comfortable running a site on WordPress or have an existing one, setting up a store within your site is the most practical choice. Since WooCommerce is native to WordPress, you get all of the most popular WordPress themes available.
Most free ecommerce website builders do not include the ability to show product reviews and ratings, but WooCommerce does. This functionality is helpful as online customers often look for reviews before making a purchase.
Since WooCommerce is open source, it has unlimited expandability with free and paid plugins. Developers can tweak it as much as they see fit, but the downside to this is that WooCommerce is not a simple ecommerce website solution. It is built with developers in mind, so expect a learning curve. If you are not versed in building websites, this might not be the best option for you.