With an overall coverage of over 20% on all online e-commerce stores, WooCommerce is certainly the main free alternative that is worth investigating. WooCommerce is basically a free plugin that allows you to sell products from any site developed in WordPress. In the basic version, it offers the essential functions necessary to sell your items, from the publication of the products to the payment, through the calculation of taxation and checkout. Here are some of the primary features of WooCommerce:
- Configuration of digital and physical products, classification by type, product variables and variants, SKU
- Automatic basic calculation of customer taxation and geolocation
- Supports all major payment systems including wire transfer, check, pay on delivery, Paypal, Amazon Pay, Stripe, Square, eWay, Pay Fast, Klarna and a multitude of others
- Integration with WordPress for publishing blogs and content
- Fully customizable website theme and layout
- Basic inventory management
- Basic management of transport costs
- Specific functions for SEO optimization
- Charts, reports and basic statistics
As already said, the “out of the box” version of WooCommerce offers all the basic functions, however to have a fully functional system we will have to install a good amount of additional extensions (Free or paid). For example, to integrate it with a CRM, to completely manage shipments and warehouses or to do marketing automation.
“Thanks to its popularity, most marketing automation platforms have built out integrations with WordPress and WooCommerce, providing ecom store owners with real options,” says Donald Chan, founder of Singapore-based martech agency IMPACT.
As for Magento, WooCommerce requires a dedicated domain and hosting, and must be installed and configured manually on the WordPress site that we will have taken care to install previously on the server. Being a plugin, WooCommerce is particularly easy to install on the site. The procedure is the same as any other WordPress plugin: just go to the WordPress plugin directory and load the plugin, or even more simply use the appropriate automatic installation feature available from the WP dashboard. Once installed, the entire system is operational in minutes thanks to the installation wizard, including payments and shipments. As in the case of Magento, however, customizing and configuring the platform at best takes some time and a minimum of computer skills to solve the most common problems.
Design and themes
WooCommerce relies on compatible WordPress themes. To find the right theme for us then we will have to turn to the WordPress theme library, obviously making sure that the chosen theme is compatible with our e-commerce plugin. Alternatively, we can find themes designed specifically for WooCommerce, both free and premium paid, by searching online. Or we could build one from scratch … if we have the skills to do it and have time.
WooCommerce needs the normal maintenance that all WordPress plugins need: it is necessary to periodically update it to the most recent version together with the WordPress core, themes and other plugins installed. As in the case of Magento, updating can create problems that cannot be solved in a simple way, and for which it is necessary to have programming skills or a dedicated professional.
WooCommerce is a free plugin in itself, but it doesn’t offer advanced features that other more professional solutions offer. Such as advanced SEO tools, functions for warehouse management and accounting, billing, etc. To obtain additional features, we are normally forced to install other specific free or paid plugins, or alternatively to develop the features from scratch. And all these costs must be considered in the overall calculation.
WooCommerce is probably a good choice for the curious who want to try eCommerce online for the first time, for free or without investing exorbitant amounts. Or for those who already have a WordPress site and are looking for the cheapest solution to start selling products online, without necessarily having a budget to invest to start and maintain the business and without having to create a special site for the sale. WooCommerce is fine for small and medium-sized enterprises that need a simple and cheap solution to try to sell on the internet, while it is absolutely unsuitable for large companies, which normally have very high sales volumes, need very advanced reports and statistics , and have internal processes that require integration and automation with ERP, accounting or other complex software systems.
- Basically, it is totally free. And on the net, there are additional plugins and equally free themes to extend its functionality.
- Large number of themes and over 400 extensions available to use for personalization.
- It is by far the most used among free/cheap e-commerce.
- The framework is fully customizable according to your needs. You can create totally customized themes, plugins and functions, provided you have the necessary experience to do it.
- To use it you need to have domain, hosting and site on WordPress platform.
- It must be kept up to date, and updates can lead to more or less serious problems.
- It is not nearly as secure as professional solutions or cloud services.
- Basically, it does not have all the advanced features made available by more professional solutions, such as Magento for example. It is essential to install (and in part, purchase) many other plugins to add professional functions, with exponential risk that the extensions used are totally abandoned by the developers or that the updates create conflicts that are difficult to solve later.
- You need to have computer knowledge and a little experience with WordPress to make it work properly. Installation and configuration are relatively simple, but dealing with the resulting problems can be difficult, especially if you are not a specialist in the field and above all if the system is reaching considerable dimensions.
- As it is structured, it can suffer from performance problems when the number of visitors rises above a certain limit. It is not very scalable.
How to prove it:
At the moment, the only public test site we know to test the WooCommerce backend without installing it is accessible at this link after solving the mathematical question.