If you have been in business for any amount of time and have decided it is a good idea to start selling your products online, or if you want to start a purely online business out of your home office, you have probably done some research and found lots of solutions. At some point, you have probably heard of WooCommerce, wondered what it is and wondered if it is the right solution for your business. To make that determination, here are some things you should know:
Some Strong Reasons to Consider WooCommerce
WooCommerce is an ecommerce plugin for WordPress websites. It is one of the most used ecommerce platforms online and is gaining market share every day. When choosing if WooCommerce is right for your business, here are some pretty strong selling points that business owners usually consider:
- WordPress is a content management system (CMS) for websites, and is currently running more than 26% of all websites on the web – and its popularity is growing. Since WooCommerce is integrated with WordPress, WooCommerce would be a long-term solution for your business.
- WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress and uses the existing structure of its CMS for its operation. This means that if you can already use WordPress then WooCommerce is not much different than other maintenance operations of your website.
- WooCommerce is in such high use that numerous developers are writing code for it and associated plugins are being created all the time for additional functionality. This is a quality about WooCommerce that you just won’t find with many other ecommerce platforms.
How WooCommerce Works
WooCommerce is not a stand-alone solution, it is an add-on to WordPress. Essentially, it utilizes the WordPress content framework so the product pages are, in fact, custom post types. The plugin is simply processing the requests in the same manner as any other WordPress post. Since it is built upon this structure, the ecommerce portion of your site becomes as stable and reliable as the rest of the pages on your website.
Within your site, it updates your database to keep track of inventory, allocates order requests to a user profile (customer), triggers the payment functionality and shipping, and notifies administrators of an order that needs to be processed. These and other processes are organized by the plugin and can be customized to meet the needs of most businesses.
Since it takes advantage of a full functioning database, many businesses use it as an all in one solution to manage pricing, inventory, and order tracking. If your business prefers to use your own software, then someone, somewhere has probably already built a solution to easily integrate the two.
Advantages of WooCommerce
WordPress is a very SEO-friendly platform. Since the product pages are simply WordPress blog post pages, this allows you to optimize them to an extensive degree for Google and other search engines in the same way you would optimize any other page on your site.
There are a multitude of other ecommerce platforms outside of WordPress. Drupal and Magento are open-source content management systems, so they can be free to use. However, if your employees are not familiar with these Content Management Systems, they can be very complex to manage. Due to their complexity, both Drupal and Magento can be very costly to develop and there are far fewer developers for either system as compared to WordPress.
There are also hosted ecommerce solutions such as Shopify that are built on custom platforms and are a part of the hosting company’s many offerings. This allows for a cost effective alternative but it will always be a part of another company’s system. This usually means you have fewer tools available for SEO improvement. It is also difficult sometimes to migrate to another platform if you ever want to change in the future.
Many businesses find limitations in reporting, design, and overall features when it comes to ecommerce platforms like Shopify. Having your own database within your website means you have full control. If the site loads slowly, you can address the issue. If you want to make a change in the future, you won’t lose SEO value because it’s your own site, and not being hosted somewhere else.
WooCommerce has these advantages in abundance. If Woo can’t do what you need it to do, there is a plugin or a developer who can perform the customization that your site needs.
Since it is built within your own website, your branding stays consistent. There is no need for a link to send to your customer to another website that serves as your store. Visitors can seamlessly navigate through your entire website, they’ll have access to all of your website content at all times, and you can fully design the call-to-actions throughout the site without any limitations.
WooCommerce is not the magic bullet for all ecommerce businesses. No solution can be. If you have a site that has hundreds of thousands of products or experiences high traffic volume with millions of visitors a month, then no, WooCommerce is not for you.
Ways to use WooCommerce
Most people consider WooCommerce as just for selling products online. This is WooCommerce’s primary use and it can be very effective for this purpose. However, as the core of the plugin manages a database of products in numerous ways, this allows for it to be used for a number of different purposes.
While most companies think of Woo as a platform to sell and ship physical products, Woo has built-in capabilities to sell virtual products as well. Software downloads and services with fixed prices are easily managed through the WooCommerce plugin.
Many companies often advertise products on their site but do not list pricing or even allow for completion of a sale. For such a company, you could easily utilize a WooCommerce feature that allows products to be added to a cart that would let a consumer click the “Submit for Quote” button rather than “Purchase.” In a scenario like this, you still get all of the features and functions of an ecommerce platform with product descriptions, sorting capabilities, detailed product pages, and so forth.
For a sales department to receive an order with the exact items requested with SKUs as well as full contact information, this becomes a much easier process for your business development team and a friendlier user experience for the client.
With a little work, ongoing membership fees can even become recurring billing.
One of the functionalities that business owners like about WooCommerce is the easy-to-manage database of products and client accounts. Discount codes, sale price items, account order histories – all of these features come standard.
If your business is looking for an easy to use and customizable ecommerce solution that gives you complete control over your entire platform, it would be difficult to find a better solution than WooCommerce.