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magento & ecommerce

The Limitations and Benefits of WooCommerce

WooCommerce is the world’s largest e-commerce platform for WordPress websites. Thanks to its versatility and ease of use, over four million websites use it as a retail shop plugin of choice.

But what are the advantages and disadvantages of this platform? This article shares the benefits and limitations of WooCommerce you should know about before signing up.

WooCommerce Basic Facts

It’s important to know the difference between e-commerce and WooCommerce. The former is a model allowing for the exchange of goods and services online. It’s a broad term that refers to all online businesses. WooCommerce, on the other hand, is a plugin for WordPress websites that allows them to start an online shop.

Users can sell different types of products with WooCommerce, including physical and digital products, tickets, external products such as Amazon affiliates, or protected member areas like online training.

So what are the technical requirements for using this plugin? Well, you need a PHP version 7 or greater, MySQL 5.6 or MariaDB 10.0 or greater, a WordPress memory limit of 128 MB or more, and an SSL certificate.

Now that we know what WooCommerce is, what it can do, and what you need to install it, let’s move on to the benefits.

Benefits of WooCommerce

Twenty years ago, it would have been hard to imagine that a single plugin could allow millions of shops to thrive. But the large-scale use is only one of the many benefits of WooCommerce. Here are some more.

Enhanced Flexibility

WooCommerce is best-known for its flexibility and versatility. Users can sell virtually any type of services and products, regardless of the business model. Whether you’re selling downloadable products, eBooks or physical books, webinars, or silverware, you can create a fabulous online store.

Plus, it lets businesses of all sizes (from small to large) set up their shops successfully. There are just enough plugins to cover the needs of any business size.

Free, Open Source Platform

Other than being free, WooCommerce is also open source. Users can create new extensions, add new features, or design custom themes to match their logo and website layout.

Many competitors’ e-commerce platforms have trouble finding developers who can do this kind of work. Basically, as a WooCommerce store owner, you benefit from plenty of professionals who create a top user experience for you. And if you ever want to tweak your WooCommerce shop, there will always be someone to help.

Plenty of Customization Possibilities

The fact that the platform is open-source directly impacts its customization options. Even as a first-time user, you’ll have an easy time installing themes and customizing headers, footers, checkout pages, or product sheets. Users have free access to HTML, CSS, and PHP style codes, making the platform suitable for professionals and beginners.

Also, there’s an almost infinite number of plugins in the WordPress directory. All it takes is navigating to the plugin section and typing “WooCommerce.” Users will be welcomed by tons of marketing, product management, shipping, analytics, payment integration, and other extensions.

As for the selection of themes, you can choose from thousands of designs. Even if the one you like doesn’t fit the store 100%, all sections are easily customizable to fit your needs to the tiniest detail.

High-Security Levels

WooCommerce is used for selling products, meaning plenty of sensitive information is entered onto its websites daily. Without a proper security system, your store risks being the victim of hacker attacks, identity thefts, and other cybersecurity threats.

The platform developers do regular updates to prevent cyber-attacks. Users can also install additional security plugins that scan the shops for viruses or add a backup to store the user information in the encrypted form.

Large Community

There are currently almost four and a half million active websites using WooCommerce. This supreme user base spreads across several blogs and forums where they share tips and guides on e-commerce configuration.

Tons of daily posts and comments are a great sign that the plugin is alive and that it isn’t going away anytime soon. If you’re interested, here’s a short list of popular online get-together places for WooCommerce users:

  • WooComerce Community – a closed Facebook group with almost 47k members where you can find answers to questions even Google doesn’t have.
  • WooCommerce Help and Share – yet another closed Facebook group with over 40k members mostly suited for beginners and intermediate users.
  • WooCommerce Forum – this is the official WooCommerce support forum that requires you to log in with WordPress first. Developers are always there to lead discussions and answer questions. However, the waiting time is a bit longer compared to Facebook groups.

Large Community

Powerful Analytics

Running an e-commerce is not only about selling products. It’s about understanding what your customers want and learning how to solve their problems. Fortunately, WooCommerce is designed to work through analytics. A built-in system allows users to get to know their customers and learn how they interact with their products. Insightful data business owners receive can help retarget their products or present them in a better light.

Plus, users can always integrate the online store with Google Analytics or other popular analytics services.

Smooth UI

WooCommerce is designed to offer the best experience to store owners and shoppers. Customers have access to warehouse management and Point of Sale (POS) systems allowing a smooth purchase process. They can also track orders and delivery status with a single click.

It’s All About Selling

WooCommerce has just about any feature retailers need to start their business. With over 100 payment gateways, plenty of shipping methods with configurable shipping classes and zones to intuitive stock, refund, order, and email management, running an online store doesn’t get any better.

Limitations of WooCommerce

Even though it seems like a perfect platform, WooCommerce comes with a few limitations. Although not severe, they could eventually be the make-or-break point for some users.

Specific to WordPress

In the end, WooCommerce is only a plugin. This means it can only be used by WordPress website owners. Businesses from other CMS platforms that consider running an e-commerce store with WooCommerce would have to migrate to WordPress. This would cause too much trouble, and they’d be better off using the e-commerce plugins available at their marketplace.

Hidden Expenses

WooCommerce is a free plugin on the surface. There’s zero cost associated with downloading and installing the software. However, many extensions require one-time or monthly payments to run at full capacity. For example, installing PayPal as a payment getaway is free. But to add other solutions, you have to subscribe to the service and pay from around $40 to $250 per year, depending on the store size.

Naturally, you may wonder whether it’s necessary to pay all these fees. In short, if you want your online business to grow and develop, at some point, you’ll have to pay a subscription to use advanced features. But whether you’re just starting a business and want to avoid costs or have a big volume of sales and want to pay for premium features, WooCommerce can deliver.

Potential Steep Learning Curve

Users experienced with WordPress will have no problem acquainting themselves with WooCommerce. And since the e-commerce plugin is only available for WordPress, there’s a chance you already know how to run a website with this CMS.

However, those without knowledge of WordPress may experience a steeper learning curve when getting used to WooCommerce. These users have to get familiar with terms such as checkout flow, listings, payment tokens, plugins, permalinks, posts, but also some self-hosted jargon such as page load speed, differences between HTML and CSS, and more. At this point, Weebly, Wix, and even Shopify have an easier onboarding and setup learning process.

Regardless of your level of experience, it’s well worth investing the time to learn the ins and outs of WooCommerce, especially if you want to be the sole person in charge of your online business.

Potential Steep Learning Curve

WooCommerce Alternatives

It’s hard to beat WooCommerce in most categories. However, some users may not need all the features of this giant platform, or they run a business on a non-WordPress website. If you belong to any of the two categories, check out some noteworthy alternatives.

  • Shopify – the main WooCommerce competitor that can be used on non-WP websites, with automatic updates and backups, starting at $29.95 per month.
  • Wix – best for small-scale businesses on a budget and those who don’t need too many features.
  • MemberPress – a WordPress plugin built for selling paid memberships. It beats WooCommerce for this business model.
  • BigCommerce – offers a $29.95 monthly subscription perfect for businesses that operate on eBay and Instagram, but it still doesn’t beat WooCommerce in selling small-scale products.
  • Volusion – a solid e-commerce solution for non-tech-savvy business owners with 24/7 support, with the cheapest plan of $15 per month for selling up to 100 products.

Is WooCommerce Right for You?

WooCommerce is packed with possibilities. This open-source e-commerce platform has everything you need to get your business up and running – plenty of customization options, full-scale order management tools, analytics, interactive community, and ease of use. One major downside is that it’s only suitable for WordPress websites, so Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, and other site management platform users will get no use from it.

Be that as it may, there’s no denying the power of WooCommerce, and hopefully, this article has helped you better understand the qualities of this platform.

By interactivated • on November 30, 2021

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