Create Robust E-Commerce Websites Using WordPress For SMES
Previously WordPress started as a blogging tool, but it has evolved into one of the worlds most robust CMSes that’s good not just for bloggers but also for small, medium and big size businesses as well as eCommerce sites. As of Sep 2013, 20.1% of the Web or over 60 million websites are powered by WordPress and it has a CMS market share of 58.5%. Even eBay Inc., which owns Magento, uses it for blogging purposes.
If you already have a content-rich WordPress website or blog, and want to take it to the next level, you can convert it into a feature-rich eCommerce site using appropriate eCommerce themes, third party plug-ins and frameworks. WordPress can be a robust eCommerce platform for you if:
- You already use WordPress and want a store added to it without having to start from scratch.
- You’re a small business owner and want to sell just a few products or services online in a fast, secure and easy to manage environment.
- You don’t need any specific requirements (like bespoke system) in regards to order fulfillment
- Your store is only a small part of your website.
- Your site has less traffic (less than 100,000 visits/month)
- Your budget is limited.
A few years ago, most of the web developers didn’t use to recommend WordPress for creating eCommerce website, but the scenario has changed now. WordPress is now in a better position due to rise of hosting companies dedicated to WordPress like page.ly and WPEngine and companies like WooCommerce and SquareSpace.
WordPress has following great features that make WordPress an ideal eCommerce platform:
- Multi images support
- Multi image and Zoom feature
- Social integration
- Review system and ratings
- Sales and inventory chart
- Custom Recommendations (You may also like feature)
- Multi currency handling of payments
- Affiliate system
- Save Cart/Publish Cart/Share Cart on social platforms
- Multiple Payment gateway integration
- Credit/Debit/Net Banking Direct integration
Here are some reasons why WordPress is suitable for your eCommerce requirements:
Content first platform:
To get your eCommerce site ranked higher in the search engines, it’s very essential to your site must have rich and relevant content. This is where WordPress beats many of the dedicated eCommerce platforms. WordPress has most of those features that can make your eCommerce site popular, by generating at least some traffic through content. The SEO friendly nature of WordPress helps small business owners to rank well in search engines for a wide range of long tail keywords that’s not easily achievable on other eCommerce platforms without a lot of additional efforts.
Easy to Use & Manage: The backend of WordPress is user friendly and extremely easy to use. It doesn’t require you to have deep knowledge of any programming language or be incredibly tech-savvy. With a few hours of training, even a novice would be able to add products and manage orders. Using WordPress as eCommerce platform, it’s extremely simple to monitor your sales, tweak your products and keep on top of your inventory.
Variety of Themes: WordPress offers a stunning range of free and premium WordPress eCommerce themes to choose from. The best thing is that they are easily editable and you can modify them as per your specific requirements. You can easily configure them and integrate popular eCommerce plugins like WooCommerce and WP e-Commerce.
Wide Range Of eCommerce Plugins: Today, a variety of WordPress eCommerce plugins is available to choose from, usually free of charge, that you can use to turn your normal blog or site into an eCommerce site. These plugins have all essential e-commerce features including order management, product variations, payment gateways, shipping management and more.
Supports Numerous Payment Gateways:
All the WordPress eCommerce plugins offers multiple payment gateways integration including Paypal, 2CO, CCAvenue, Sagepay, Worldpay, Chronopay, Google Checkout and more. In addition, these plugins also allow user to use Manual Payment option for transactions that involves money or cash orders. Offering your customers multiple ways of paying increases conversions and encourages sales and also gives you a lot of flexibility.
Seamless eCommerce Integration:
It’s very easy to integrate eCommerce with your existing WordPress blog. If you’ve suddenly decided to sell your products or services online, there’s no need to re-design the whole website. You can easily integrate eCommerce functionality into your site using various eCommerce plugins. Your home page, product pages and checkout page will be seamlessly integrated with one another and look like they were on your site from the start.
Provides ability to enhance the sidebar using widgets:
WordPress widgets allow you customize your blog’s sidebar with ease. Using widgets, you can easily add text, HTML, Java Script, images or gizmos to your eCommerce site. Widgets can be very helpful to fulfill you many useful purposes. You can create a list featured products, add HTML links and notices on special deals and rebates.
Enhanced product customization options:
A good eCommerce site is the one that gets updated on a regular basis. To be successful, it should have continuous addition of new products and removal of outdated products. WordPress offers a simple and easy to use dashboard to add and customize your products. All you’ve to do is to follow some simple instructions to add products and its information to your store.
A Continuously Growing Platform:
No doubt, WordPress is one of the most popular CMS’s across the globe. 10 years ago, it was released as a blogging platform, but now it has grown into a flexible and powerful CMS that can handle even heavier and high traffic sites. Since the day it was launched, there have been a number of updates to WordPress. It has a dedicated community of developers who continually update and improve it to take it to new heights and make it the world’s most secure, multi-functional, and fast CMS.
In addition to above listed benefits, here are some eCommerce plugins and themes that will turn your normal WordPress blog into a powerful e-commerce platform.
Let’s have a look at them one by one.
WordPress eCommerce Plugins
WooCommerce, developed by WooThemes, is one of the most popular and highly recommended WordPress eCommerce plugins that allows you to set up an eCommerce store and sell anything in a beautiful way. However WooCommerce is fully customizable and works with most WordPress themes, but WooThemes developers provide a wide range of appropriate eCommerce themes that are specially designed to integrate with this plugin. WooCommerce offers everything you require to start your eCommerce store including One Page Checkout, Account Panel, Shipping Calculator, Product Filtering, Social Media Integration, Product Ratings System, Intricate Tax & Shipping Options, Multiple Payment Gateways, Comprehensive Store Management, Reporting System, Marketing & Promotion, Retail Specific SEO and much more.
Though, the basic WooCommerce plugin can fulfill most of your essential eCommerce needs, but you can enhance your e-commerce experience by getting numerous free and paid extensions. Its Free extensions include Coupon Shortcodes, FetchApp integration, Product Details Customiser, Smart Sale Badge, Sold Out Products Widget and Several Payment Gateways, While Popular Paid Extensions are WooCommerce Subscriptions, Table Rate Shipping, Follow up emails, Recommendation Engine, WooCommerce Points and Rewards, ConstantContact Integration and much more.
Requirement: WP 3.5 or higher
Ratings: 4.1 out of 5 stars
WP e-Commmerce, developed by Getshopped.org, is a most popular and robust shopping cart plugin that lets you set up a highly functional shop in minutes. Using this plugin, you’ll be able to sell your products, services and digital downloads on your WordPress blog. It offers a free basic version plus paid paid version with extended functionality using add-ons. It allows you to use the same menus, interface and styles like WordPress in order to add products to your online store. You can even customize the look and feel of your online shop anf modify templates using your own HTML & CSS.
Downloaded over 2 million times, It’s very easy to install WP e-Commerce within only 5 minutes and works well with other plugins. Its key features include Orders management, One-Page Checkout, different marketing options, Multi-language support, catalog management, Search Engine Friendly, Product specific sales, Flexible coupon/discount pricing rules and more. Apart from this, it supports popular payment gateways such as PayPal, Payment Express, Authorize.net, eWay, Google Wallet, Chronopay, Paystation and many other trusted payment gateways. You can also use manual payment for check, money or cash orders. It offers a collection of themes that are specially designed for eCommerce and also has a massive community to help out novice store owners.
Requirement: WP 3.4 or higher
Ratings: 2.8 out of 5 stars
MarketPress is an easy to use paid WordPress eCommerce/shopping cart plugin developed by wpmudev.org. It lets your customers buy real objects, or digital downloads with ease. Using it, you can start your own Etsy or Ebay style stores as it is 100% compatible with WordPress Multisite and BuddyPress. One of the great features of MarketPress is that it allows you to import your existing WordPress eCommerce store (especially WP e-Commerce) into MarketPress using a built-in importer.
It comes with customizable eCommerce themes, popular product thumbnails with lightbox zooming, beautiful preset CSS styles and powerful widgets Product Categories and Product Tag Cloud. Besides, it works with multiple currencies and supports multiple payment gateways such as Google checkout, Authorize.net AIM, 2checkout, PayPal Express Checkout, Moneybookers, Cubepoints and others. Other features include Google Analytics eCommerce tracking, Coupons, Shipping, Unlimited product variations, Sales pricing, and much more.
Requirement: WP 3.3 or higher
Ratings: 4 out of 5 stars
Here is some more WordPress eCommerce plugins that you can use to convert your WordPress blog into a powerful eCommerce store:
- Easy Digital Downloads
- Ready! E-Commerce Shopping Cart
WordPress eCommerce Themes
Artificer, designed by WooThemes, is a free and responsive eCommerce theme specially made for people selling arts & crafts. The unique feature of this theme is its device agnostic design, means it delivers an optimized design for all types of devices whether its your desktop, smart phone or tablet. It has several built-in color schemes to provide a look that matches your brand identity.
Moreover, It has two custom shortcodes: Sticky note (to highlight a message on your site) and sale banner (to notify users when you’re running special offers). It also lets you customize your homepage that displays your latest posts, contact details, and featured products. It is specially designed to make full use of all of WooCommerce features to provide you a flawless front-end experience.
FrameMarket is a free and fully customizable eCommerce theme designed by wpmudev.org. It offers you amazing tools that you can use to customize each and every area of your online store including attachments, pages and search features, 404 error and archive pages, author and category information and more. It gives you the freedom to develop your own eCommerce theme using child themes. It has 12 color styles and 6 widget areas with customizable ad locations.
The FrameMarket theme is translation ready and allows you to create a professional design for your eCommerce store with an easy navigation, which is very essential to get more conversions. In addition, it lets you create your own custom menus, customize header and background and add featured images with product descriptions.
StyleShop, created by Elegant Themes, is a beautiful, sleek and responsive WordPress eCommerce theme that offers all the tools you require to build a powerful online store. It comes with a special “ePanel”, which integrates with the WordPress Dashboard and allows you to control theme colors, adjust layout, manage advertisements, optimize for search engines and more.
StyleShop lets you easily create contact pages, galleries, Sitemaps, blog feeds and much more, using pre-made styles and functions. You can even customize theme colors and background images using the Theme Customizer and can create complex layouts using their huge collection of shortcodes. The price of StyleShop theme is just $39.
About the author:
Ajeet is a professional web programmer, and He is passionate about writing on web design and development. He is associated with SeoSemanticXHTML, a leading company that provides high quality PSD to Magento Conversion, and like to keep myself updated on the latest trends.You can also follow him on twitter.