So you’ve laid the foundation for your website with an established web host, a registered domain name and an SSL certificate. It’s now time to trick it out with compatible features.
Some types of plugins will be essential to your eCommerce operations and others will be nifty extras to help you with conversions. There’s no cut and paste method to choosing them – they need to be selected with your particular business in mind. For example, are you selling physical goods, digital products or both?
WordPress has a plugin repository containing tens of thousands of options. In this post, we highlight eight popular plugins. Many of these are free up to a point. If you require Pro versions with additional functionality, you should factor that into your budget.
If you’re considering plugins both on and off this list, be sure to search for reviews on them to check if they’re fit for your purpose. Some plugins can affect speed, effectively turning your site into a tortoise. A high number of active installations of a plugin signals quality so look out for that in the WordPress directory.
Woo is the go-to platform for WordPress eCommerce – it’s responsible for 94.3% of all WordPress stores because it’s built with WP best practice in mind. WooCommerce is one of the most user-friendly, flexible plugins.
It provides loads of design options and integrates social selling which is helpful. The dashboard allows you to incorporate reviews/ratings and coupon codes and there are extensions available if you want to add elements like loyalty programs.
Detailed reports give you insight into store performance and help you keep tabs on sales and stock. The only downside to this plugin is that there’s no support unless you’ve paid for certain add-ons.
2. Easy Digital Downloads
You could sell physical goods through Easy Digital Downloads if you really wanted to. But as its name suggests, it’s made for selling digital products like ebooks, audiobooks and PDFs.
This holistic eCommerce platform provides features that digital retailers appreciate. For example, file access control lets you set how many downloads are allowed for a certain product. You can also determine dates after which a product will no longer be available for download.
There aren’t a lot of third-party plugins for this platform but you’ll find much of what you need in terms of extensions in the EDD add-on library. Amongst other add-ons you’ll find MailChimp for email marketing and social media buttons.
The main disadvantage is that the payment gateway options are only available at an additional charge unless you’ve purchased the EDD plugin. This is not the case with many other free plugins.
3. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO has been around since 2008 and it’s acquired quite the following since then. This is the plugin you need to help you improve your ranking signals and feature high on the SERPs.
The free version provides templates for title and meta descriptions. It also includes content analyses and previews of what your page will look like in search results including on mobile. Premium services include a year of support and optimising for synonyms and related key phrases.
Forms are versatile. You can use them for Contact Us sections, email subscriptions, orders and payments. If you’re not using a full-service plugin, WPForms can actually tick a lot of boxes for you.
The interface couldn’t be easier to use. Drag, drop and hey presto! You now have a way for your customers to get in touch and stay in touch. The plugin is also optimised for performance and mobile so your forms will look professional and load quickly no matter how they’re accessed.
Another well-liked platform that’s not unlike WooCommerce when it comes to setup, Ecwid is known for its clean and simple checkout experience.
Some elements that Woo facilitates through extensions are part and parcel of Ecwid’s offering. It also works beyond WordPress on other types of websites which is great for multi-channel selling.
At least 40 different payment gateways are catered for and real-time shipping integration is built-in. If you list less than 10 products, the plugin remains free. Premium features include abandoned cart recovery.
Digital marketers will be familiar with Neil Patel. The successful blogger also happens to be the founder of Kissmetrics. Kissmetrics and Kissherder are tools that give you the analytics data and customer behaviour knowledge necessary to improve conversions and sales. You’ll get a fairly comprehensive idea of what’s going on and who’s going on. Figure out consumer preferences and track traffic, shares and other relevant stats at the drop of a hat.
7. Product Countdown
A countdown clock is an awesome way to convert those who might otherwise have passed on purchasing. Scarcity is a remarkably motivating factor. We always want in on exclusive deals and things that are in short supply.
Running a sale for a short period of time nudges people who haven’t tried your product or service before. It can also prompt loyal customers to stock up. Dangle added value or limited quantities in front of visitors and many will bite. Simply select a sales date and price and activate.
PayPal is a very pared down eCommerce option that won’t suit complex stores but if you only sell a few products, it should suffice for payment collections. Customers can add items to their shopping cart and pay with their PayPal accounts or their debit and credit cards.
PayPal allows you to manage inventory, start subscriptions and create gift certificates. The simplicity of this plugin means that it doesn’t take up much hosting space and could cost smaller stores less than other options.
The Wrap Up
As you can see, plugins come in all shapes and sizes. Some are fully-integrated platforms and others are focused on a particular aspect of the eCommerce life cycle.
Figure out what’s relevant and fundamental to your offering at an early stage. You can always insert nice-to-haves later on when you have a better handle on your budget.