In the beginning….there was commerce.
Building out an ecommerce store used to be a very involved process requiring a skilled programmer, and it still is! But luckily we now have access to plugins that essentially create an entire ecommerce experience for you with little to no coding experience required. WooCommerce is arguably one of the most extensive and well supported plugins, and is now maintained by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.
WooCommerce is built for WordPress and integrates seamlessly with the WordPress ecosystem reducing many conflicts right out of the box. The plugin is built to be mobile friendly and designed so your products look good on any device, you can even turn your existing mobile store into a mobile app with no custom coding by utilizing a few third-party tools.
Since WooCommerce is managed by Automattic, you know the code is reliable, scalable and secure. Because WooCommerce is an open source product, you own your data. Unlike private services like Shopify or PayPal Stores, WooCommerce is owned by you. When you create a store on a private software you technically never receive the rights to the store, so if the server suddenly shuts down, changes policies, or changes hands, your data may become compromised. With WooCommerce, you own the data.
The WordPress community is known for creating incredible amounts of documentation on virtually everything. WooCommerce is no exception. With more than 350 contributors and 7 million downloads, WooCommerce is one of the fastest growing open source communities out there. There is also a large extension marketplace with over 300 free and paid extensions, making adding functionality to your ecommerce store very simple.
WooCommerce Core + Extensions
WooCommerce is separated into two categories, Core and Extensions. The core software is the basic features baked into every free copy of WooCommerce. Set up a store in just a few hours and begin selling your wares online. Extensions are custom plugins, both free and paid, that extend the functionality of your basic WooCommerce store and provide a lot of cool features. Let’s look at both.
The Core Features:
WooCommerce comes with many great features included in the free version. A lot of free counterparts to expensive ‘pro’ plugins are usually just a taste of the pro content, leaving a lot to be desired. But the free version of WooCommerce is a complete product, and the paid content only adds extensibility to the Core software.
A benefit of the Core components is that they are made to look beautiful. WooCommerce is made to seamlessly integrate with the trends of default WordPress themes, providing synergy between your theme and store. The backend is just as well thought out, with a thoughtful UI design that works well on hand-held devices allowing you to update your store on the go.
WooCommerce comes with five preinstalled payment gateways including Direct Bank Transfer, Cheque Payment, Cash on Delivery, Credit card payment with PayPal or Simplify Commerce (available for US only) which supports Hosted Payments (a PCI Compliant hosted payment platform).
You can also enable and disable guest checkout and force secure all checkout processes. Only operating in the US? No problem, you can specify which countries you want to sell to from the admin panel, not to mention set specific page urls to handle specific actions during checkout.
Set the default currency from a range of options.
Geo-location support allows your store to auto-detect the customer’s address making shipping and tax calculations a breeze, also, product pricing store wide will adjust to reflect the customer’s local tax markups.
You can also choose for the page to redirect to the shopping cart after an item is added by the customer. Alternatively, WooCommerce uses AJAX on ‘add to cart’ buttons which means your store won’t reload each time a customer adds a product or edits the cart. Magic.
Some Exciting Extensions:
WooCommerce has an enormous extensions library that makes adding unique features seamless and pain free. Products like Sensei can be linked with WooCommerce to create online courses. WooCommerce also has prominent membership, subscription and booking extensions that are easy to use and create beautiful functionality.
WooCommerce is built for the WordPress platform, so WordPress and PHP developers should have no problem customizing WooCommerce, building extensions, and utilizing countless actions and filters unique to the WordPress environment.
It is easy to migrate existing e-commerce data to WooCommerce using a variety of migration tools which facilitate a painfree experience.
WooCommerce also utilizes a REST API that ‘works on a key system to control access linked to WordPress users on your website.’ Pretty cool!
WooCommerce also allows you to setup custom AJAX endpoints which can do powerful things like speed up adding items to your cart. AJAX also allows your users to continue shopping without being redirected every time they add and item.
Additionally, the API has a UI for the Webhook system which makes it easier for 3rd party apps to integrate their services with your WooCommerce shopping experience.
Let’s dive into the plugin on WordPress.com and take a look at the different features and settings.