We wanted to know which WordPress ecommerce plugins are free, given the size of the market. Our conclusion is that WooCommerce is the best free WordPress eCommerce plugin. Over the last two weeks, we reduced the field to eight. Easy Digital Downloads and Ecwid were right behind WooCommerce. WooCommerce is a favorite because of its excellent integration tools and stunning potential layouts. EDD offers better tools for digital goods while Ecwid is the easiest for beginners.
Online shopping has never been easier thanks to the advent of the internet. There are steps you must take to ensure your success. You can transform your website by having the right ecommerce solution.
It is important to know which WordPress eCommerce plugins you should use. Google gives you tons of choices, from HubSpot to SendinBlue (email marketing) and landing pages.
Which solution do you recommend?
WordPress ecommerce plugins integrate seamlessly with existing WordPress sites. This is a good thing. If you own a blog and decide to sell ebooks or merchandise, then you can integrate them with your existing WordPress site. Since free solutions are often better than paid solutions, we mainly focused on free ones.
These plugins can be used on existing WordPress sites. Some reputable WordPress hosting companies also offer WooCommerce one-click ecommerce installation. Your WordPress blog or website will gain functionality immediately after installing an ecommerce plug-in. This plugin can be used to sell digital and physical products.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published October 24, 2013. It has been completely rewritten and updated to ensure accuracy and completeness.
A blog, business, or non-profit could sell.
- Products such as jewellery, clothing and toys can be physical.
- Digital goods include music, software, templates and eBooks.
- Subscribe to and join memberships that require recurring payments.
- Services like web design.
- If you run a church, or another non-profit, you can accept donations.
Although there were many factors that went into our final decision, WooCommerce (read the WooCommerce review), is free to create a substantial online store. The market is centered around WooCommerce and developers are creating all kinds of themes and extensions that work with the plugin. This is because WooCommere’s open-source nature means that users have access to a large and active support and development community.
WooCommerce allows you to sell subscription, real, and digital products. It’s also one of the few plugins that can scale quickly with your company’s growth. The feature-set surpasses any other free ecommerce plugins. It includes many marketing extensions, such as email marketing and social media, as well as dozens of top payment gateways and product pages with variants and groups.
The other options are more appropriate for certain situations. Some of them can be more helpful if a company sells digital downloads. Some are extremely easy to set-up and manage on a basic blog, making them ideal for beginners. A few plugins can be integrated with other CMSs (content management system), giving bloggers a little more flexibility if they don’t use WordPress.
One great example is the comparison of WooCommerce and Ecwid. While WooCommerce has a better overall feature set than Ecwid, Ecwid is more popular if you want to integrate with Wix, Joomla, or Weebly. WooCommerce can only be combined with WordPress.
WooCommerce supports digital products. However, you should consider EDD if this is all you sell. WooCommerce is great for companies that sell both digital and physical products. You get all the tools.
We won’t discuss the price of any of the solutions, as they are all free. An easier comparison tool is the pricing and availability of themes and extensions.
EDD has a solid collection of extensions. One of them supports physical products. It is second because you have to pay for the extension. EDD is the best solution on the market. It offers everything, from codes and discounts to data reporting. EDD’s extension library is the main advantage, as many other options don’t offer anything beyond the core features. The EDD checkout is very simple and user-friendly.
Why you should trust us
After graduating college, I began a career as a web designer and marketing professional. Over the course of three year, I worked on websites and email campaigns. Then I moved to ecommerce. My clients are WordPress plugin and theme developers. I also have web design and ecommerce magazines that cover everything, from coding to expert WordPress theme roundsups.
My articles often include reviews. This makes it easier for me to see what I need to consider when reviewing a digital product such as a plugin. I often test the products for several days and then use them in my own business. Easy Digital Downloads is my preferred choice in the digital ecommerce space. I manage WooCommerce sites for some of my clients.
However, my ecommerce journey began with WP Ecommerce. Both were enjoyable, but I found my favorite.
After a few years of being on the Ecommerce Platforms team and reading hundreds of articles about ecommerce, I am confident that I am an expert in training both individuals and companies. As a resident researcher, one of my first tasks was to review and compare the best WordPress plugins. Another tutorial was about how to create a fully functioning marketplace using WordPress and Marketify.
I am able to analyse these WordPress ecommerce plug-ins and break down their unique features. I also know how to implement the plugins in order to create an ecommerce website. Because the average person doesn’t have the time or interest to learn the intricacies of these plugins and ecommerce platforms I’ve assumed the role of expert.
Who is this for?
Online sales are not the only way that many people and companies make their money. There are physical shops and bloggers who make money through affiliate links. You can also find service-oriented businesses like cleaning services and law firms.
The service businesses may not appear to be selling products online, but they are. Technically, however, every type of business can offer online commerce.
Let’s begin with the obvious. Many companies start with great product ideas. Some people would prefer to buy items directly from the manufacturer or drop ship. Both of these types of businesses require an ecommerce platform. Your company will decide whether or not to use WordPress. WordPress plugins are a popular topic because around 19% of websites use them. These are essential information for any ecommerce professional, new or old.
We want to discuss WordPress plugins because about 19% websites use WordPress. These are essential information for any ecommerce professional, new or old.
WordPress is a good choice for those who need a simple system, but are concerned about scaling up. WordPress is easy to use, and you don’t have to know how code. There are many options available if you want to learn more about advanced modifications or hire a freelancer for your site’s improvement.
We have Shopify, which is a simpler platform. It’s simplicity and feature set are what I love about it. However, some people find the customization to be lacking.
Businesses that are primarily ecommerce-focused should strongly consider WordPress. You never know when you might need to update the code or increase your server space. Plugins such as these allow you to add functionality to your website.
These WordPress ecommerce plugins are also very popular with bloggers. WordPress has been the CMS of choice for blogging for a long time. It is easy to install and offers a variety of post formats, themes and plugins. The best WordPress ecommerce plug-ins can be integrated with your existing blog in order to sell an eBook or webinar.
This last group includes regular brick-and-mortar businesses and services. These plugins can be useful for anyone who is interested in selling services online or expanding their retail business. A local hardware store might decide to sell Weber grills online due to high demand. This could be done with a WordPress plugin and site.
These plugins are recommended for those who don’t have the budget. These plugins are free to download, and you can even try them before you commit. Solutions like WooCommerce offer a variety of free themes and plugins that are open-source. Organizations with limited budgets have unlimited options.
How I chose and tested the best WordPress Ecommerce plugins
It’s now clear who should be considering an ecommerce WordPress plugin. I also have my original thoughts about the options. Let’s take a look at the top 8 tools I tested for this test.
- Digital Downloads Made Easy
- Cart66 Cloud
- WP Ecommerce
All plugins were treated equally from the beginning. Some I’ve used in the past while others I don’t have any experience with. To make the comparison, I imagined that I was just starting out. By doing this, I didn’t have any bias and was able jump around and test features just like someone looking for as much information possible.
To begin, I chose three essential features to determine if there were any missing pieces. Also, I wanted to assess the user-friendliness and usability of the plugins. This is a critical factor for companies searching for an ecommerce plug-in.
These are the three essential features:
- A type of offering that allows you to sell both digital and physical products – Selling physical products requires that you look for product pages, shipping and taxes. Almost all plugins provide this functionality. It doesn’t matter if an extension adds physical product functionality, so long as it does the job. This is where many systems fail. Many companies want a secondary digital selling platform, but sometimes they need more. Automated emails are required with download links, customer profiles and restrictions.
- A beautiful shopping basket – But, the problem with calling shopping carts beautiful is that they are essentially my opinion against yours. We can however identify the key elements that make a shopping cart beautiful and easy. First, you need to look at where you are sent for checkout. The checkout should be hosted on your site to ensure that customers are not redirected to third-party sites. It’s great to have a simple shopping cart that has a few steps. Branding should be flexible. I also don’t want any branding from plugin companies. This is your ecommerce website, not theirs. A shopping cart is a great example of simplicity. Is there enough white space at the checkout? Are popups and advertisements avoided?
- An extension library that expands the basic features. One of the main reasons I recommend WordPress is because of its open-source community. You get everything, from third-party themes and plugins to enhance the functionality of your website. WordPress plugins are also extensible. This is a great advantage, as every ecommerce site is different. You might be able integrate with a membership plugin to recurring payments, or you may be more interested in accepting payments through a different gateway. Usually, extensions are available with the correct plugins. Note: The WordPress plugin library was not considered an extension library during my evaluation.
The other features that I looked at include:
- Integrations with the most trusted payment gateways. Payment gateway offerings need to be both high-quality and quantity. To verify that the plugins offered good payment options, I looked through each one. We see too many ecommerce platforms choosing only one or two default payment methods. This is not something I like. Each store should be able do their own research and determine which rates are best for them.
- Themes created specifically for the plugin. WooCommerce is a good example. You may have issues with your WooCommerce shopping cart or product display. We want to make sure that the theme is easily searchable online by third-party developers who were able to create a plugin.
- Advanced user capabilities (wishlists, saving a shopping cart, creating a profile) A customer might want to check out with a guest account when they land on your site. The most loyal customers, those that make you money, will need profiles to save their searches and carts. Many of these features are included in user profiles. They include wish lists and an area that allows them to re-download digital products. Customers can also create profiles to look up shipping times and estimated arrival times.
- Integrations with multiple CMSs– This is where WooCommerce falls short the most. This is not a major problem, especially since this article is about WordPress plug-ins. However, some plugins on this list may be more appropriate for other content management systems.
- Marketing tools (such as email marketing and affiliates – If a feature isn’t in the plugin you can usually check out the extensions library. To locate the item you need. We place a lot of importance on the extension library. Marketing tools can be anything from Facebook shops to social media sharing buttons. A Weber integration is also a must for your store.
- Tools to sell Subscriptions and Memberships. If you are looking to create a membership or subscription site, there are many features you need to consider. These tools should be your top priority when setting up your website. Some companies offer subscriptions or memberships as a secondary product. You should therefore be more focused on core product settings, payment gateways and marketing tools. Content dripping is an area you should be looking for in memberships. Content dripping is a way to reveal content as the user moves through the site (like an online course).
- Customer management – Viewing customer history and checking which customers buy what products is just a few of the many uses that the customer management area can provide. It will help you market to your customers and offer support. You’ll be much more successful in increasing your conversions if there is a graph or a spreadsheet that shows which customers are most likely to purchase a particular shirt. You can then send relevant emails directly to customers. Customer management is a great way to help your customers. You can trust that your system will quickly respond to any call regarding a recent purchase.
- Promotions and Discount Codes – Sometimes, discount codes and promotions may be slightly different for digital and physical products. This is true for subscriptions, memberships, and even selling online services. It all begins with an area where people can enter their promotional codes. There is also a place to generate the codes and make sure they aren’t misused. My favorite discount system offers far more options than what you might need. A coupon could be used for a specific item or amount of money.
- Advanced Reporting WordPress offers a simple and modern dashboard. This means you can easily check your site stats without having to go to a separate tab. With WordPress ecommerce plugins I need a quick snapshot of my online selling stats. Also, I want a page that allows me to export graphs and charts. The dashboard should include net and gross sales, but a breakdown of refunds may be found elsewhere. Some ecommerce plugins allow you to access reports via mobile apps. This is a great feature that I have noticed, which has helped me move them up a bit in my book.
- Shipping and Tax Calculators Being honest about your pricing is one of the best ways to reduce cart abandonment rates. You should display shipping and taxes before you go to checkout. This can sometimes be done automatically, but we often see calculators that allow customers to enter their zip codes.
- Variable product options Product variants can be used for physical and digital products. This allows you to offer your customers options such as shirt sizes or colours. Customers may also be able to get a discount by purchasing a group of related products.
Our Choice for the Best WordPress Ecommerce Plugins Free: WooCommerce
After looking at the features, WooCommerce wins my comparison. You shouldn’t assume that WooCommerce is the best route for you. If you are going in blind, is it the best option? Yes. Before you make a decision, think about what kind of selling you will be engaging in. Absolutely.
Although pricing was a big topic, WooCommerce offers the best selection of extensions and themes for free or very cheap. WooCommerce makes many of these themes and plugins (like the Boutique theme or Woo Sidebars), but others are available from other sources, which opens up the possibility of you developing an online store without having to break your bank account.
WooCommerce recently released a Facebook extension for WooCommerce that allows you quickly to create sponsored Facebook ads based upon the products in your store. It allows you to quickly find customers on Facebook, track the results, and create a complete Facebook shop without needing to add any additional details.
While some other ecommerce plugins may have themes and extensions, none of them match WooCommerce’s quality and quantity.
Let’s look at WooCommerce’s performance in each category, considering how I broke down the many features that are most important to online store owners.
- Integrations with the most trusted payment gateways The WooCommerce plugin includes five payment gateways. You can accept direct bank transfers, cash-on-delivery, and check payments. It also allows credit card payments via Simplify Commerce or PayPal. These will work well for smaller stores, but medium-sized and large stores need more options. That’s why WooCommerce had some free and paid extensions for options like Amazon Payments, Stripe, Authorize.Net, PayPal Pro/Advanced/Express, FirstData, and Braintree. WooCommerce now accepts Apple Pay, which allows you to increase the number of accepted payment methods.
- Themes created just for the plugin. There are many options, whether you want a theme from WooCommerce or one developed by a third-party developer. You can find WooCommerce themes at places like Tesla Themes or Elegant Themes. WooCommerce extensions can be found on the WooCommerce website or anywhere else online.
- Advanced user capabilities (wishlists, saving a shopping cart, creating a profile) Users can log in to your website using WordPress and WooCommerce, but most of the other capabilities are available with extensions and addons. Extensions can handle reward programs and wish lists, but full user profiles can be set up without the need for an extension. Customers can scroll through thumbnails faster and slide around images to get better views.
- Integrations to multiple CMSs WooCommerce integrates only with WordPress. If you don’t have an interest in WordPress or have a site running on another CMS, it’s better to choose a different ecommerce plug-in.
- Marketing tools (like affiliate marketing and email marketing) This is where extensions can come in to play. An add-on provides loyalty marketing. Email marketing, social media buttons, and many other features can be found using WooCommerce themes or add-ons. You can use the built-in marketing tools to promote your business, such as SEO, discount codes and codes, product reviews, and owner verification.
- Tools for Selling Memberships and Subscriptions – All subscriptions, bookings and memberships come in the form extensions. These extensions are not the cheapest, but they can be obtained for one-time payments. This allows you to make your money back with a limited number of sales.
- Customer management The best way to see your customers’ information with WooCommerce, is to view the customer history list. The plugin gives you access to any personal information that they have entered on your site. This includes email, address, phone number and more. You can export customer lists and evaluate which customers are important to your business, while payment information is secure.
- Promotions and Discount codes – These were mostly covered in the Marketing Tools tab. The support for promotions and discounts is solid. MailChimp extensions can be used to integrate with MailChimp. We don’t need any other information, as we have already discussed them.
- Advanced reporting It all depends on how you want your WordPress dashboard to look. Most stores have a basic stats section, which can be easily accessed through WooCommerce. All sales reports, from net to gross, can be exported directly from the dashboard and shared with others in the organization. You can get email alerts whenever a new report is created.
- Shipping and Tax Calculators – Selecting a shipping method is done during checkout. WooCommerce also has a shipping calculator. You can activate flexible shipping destinations and reveal multiple shipping options right from your shopping cart. All of these options will be displayed before the last page. The shipping calculator can also be hidden. WooCommerce allows you to create custom tax calculations for your customer. The geo-location tax calculator uses information pulled from mobile device GPSs to pinpoint the location of the individual (for checking their tax rates).
- Variable product options WooCommerce offers top-of-the-line product variables that can be managed through the product creation pages. When creating a product, it is important to remember to set a product parameter. Variables can be used for digital and physical products.
Easy Digital Downloads is the runner-up
is placed in second place. This begs the question, “Was there anything that could have knocked it off the top spot?” Easy Digital Downloads is the best digital product for selling digital goods. Although it can be used as a physical goods platform, we prefer it to be the main recommendation for digital sellers.
Look at the bullet points below and you will see that Easy Digital Downloads was unable to compete with WooCommerce.
- Integrations with most trusted payment gateways Securely processing payments is easy with EDD. You get options like Stripe. Braintree, Authorize.net PayPal, Bitpay, and many more. Both the quality and quantity look great, but some extensions will require you to pay extra. This is not true for major WooCommerce payment gateways.
- Themes created specifically for the plugin. – The EDD library provides a number of high-quality extensions such as EDD Messages, ConvertKit and MailChimp. These add-ons are usually quite expensive and there won’t be many third-party plug-ins. The library is the main place to find the add-ons. EDD doesn’t require a specific theme to function.
- Advanced user capabilities, such as wishlists, saving a shopping cart, and making a profile Each user has their own profile, which they can use to check out, or whenever they choose. The profiles can be linked with customer records so that users can see what downloads they might like to use in the future. This helps you improve your customer service by showing what customers have purchased recently.
- Integrations to multiple CMSs– EDD is similar to WooCommerce but doesn’t integrate with any other CMSs than WordPress. This will work for some people. However, if you already have a site built on Weebly or another CMS, EDD won’t be able to help you.
- Marketing tools, like email marketing and affiliates – There are many newsletter extensions available with options such as MailChimp or AWeber. Extensions can be found to keep a solid collection of marketing tools, such as landing pages, SEO, and social media buttons.
- Tools to sell Subscriptions and Memberships EDD has many membership and subscription addons. One of these add-ons allows you to accept regular payments . The Bookings addon is also very useful.
- EDD offers one of the best customer management systems in the industry. Each customer is assigned a separate file. You can access and modify any customer at will. EDD is a great tool for customer management. It has an area that displays customer lifetime value for each customer. EDD is a great option for this department, as it links customer records to profiles.
- Promotions and Discount Codes – WooCommerce’s discount codes and promotions are comparable to WooCommerce’s. EDD allows you to choose between flat rates and percentage-based coupons. You can specify the products that you wish to discount, and then set an automated start/end time. You can set limits on who can use coupons or the minimum cart amount.
- Advanced Reporting – EDD monitors sales and downloads, and allows you to view earnings by category or date range. The dashboard provides a quick overview of stats, but the true magic happens in the primary reports area. Other reports provide information about taxes collected each year as well as exportable data.
- Tax and shipping calculators – The default EDD download does not include any calculators. The Simple Shipping extension is a great tool for understanding shipping and letting people know what shipping costs they will be paying. Although I have yet to find an EDD tax calculator, I will let you know if I discover one.
- Variable products – There isn’t much in EDD to support variable products. The Variable pricing switcher plugin is an extension. This plugin allows customers to quickly switch between pricing options for your website. If you want to offer three payment options for a set of WordPress themes, your customers will be able to choose the option they prefer. Variable product extensions work well with pricing tables because you can discuss the differences between the plans and push customers through the actual payments.
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