Five Popular WordPress Ecommerce Plugins and Why You Need Them There is nothing short of a winning lottery ticket that is going to make you rich quickly. Starting an eCommerce website is hard work and has a learning curve for those who can’t fork out thousands of dollars for a web design firm, photographer, and the attendant staff to maintain the site. However, there are great tools to help you be your own staff, and stay on top of your growing business. The “Retail Forecast for 2014” report found that 87% of consumers planning to shop online are planning to shop for the same amount or more as in 2013, with 13% planning to shop less or not at all.
What are Plugins?
Plugins are also called extensions or add-ons, and they work with existing software to perform a specific function outside of the software’s core operating capacity. For example, most people add a plugin to their web browser to stop pop-up ads, warn them about dangerous or insecure sites, or just play Candy Crush – all of which are extensions of the browser’s functionality. Originally an open-source blogging tool, the plugin architecture began to attract online retailers with a low-cost alternative to a dedicated eCommerce website, with plugins and templates allowing for branding and customization. WordPress eCommerce plugins are just part of the roughly 30,000 plugins offered by WordPress.
Extending Your Abilities
By extending the operating capabilities of the WordPress platform, your online store can go from zero to hero in an economical, budget-friendly way.
A robust, scalable application WooCommerce is built using WordPress best practices and comes with an enviable user rating that brushes the coveted fifth star. With a wide variety of choices for preferred payment gateways, preferred shipping solutions, and even customizable, brandable themes and extensions, WooCommerce is the plugin of choice for businesses as small as a farmer’s market booth or larger eStores offering tens of thousands of material or digital products. Smart dashboard features and widgets operate with WooCommerce to keep you updated in real time on incoming sales, stock levels, and traffic stats, too requires WordPress 3.8 or higher.
Easy Digital Downloads:
Billing itself as the world’s easiest way to sell digital downloads for free, WordPress the digital downloads management plugin offers everything for the “soft goods” retailer. From music to needlepoint patterns, the plugin carries an impressive 4.8 star rating, with over 300,000 downloads. Offering top-shelf eCommerce features such as promotional codes to eager customers, the plugin has plenty to offer in functionality with complete customer histories, queuing system for multiple downloads, data export, and multiple payment options including Bitcoin. The plugin also comes with many available extension modules, such as software licensing, PDF watermarking, and an iOS sales and earnings tracker.
Only in the original Monty Python skit is there anything funny about large amounts of Spam. By securing your contact, comments and reviews, registration, and login forms, you’re keeping the bots off and the paying customers in. Wasting time on spam is not constructive, and can be a security risk for your store, your data, and your customer’s data as well. With over 108 million downloads by WordPress users, the plugin carries a 4.6 star rating, and has a slew of reviews attesting to the ease and functionality of the plugin. Singing Vikings and breakfast foods are not included.
Contact Form 7:
17 million downloads say something, and Contact Form 7 has no trouble speaking for itself with a 4.4 star rating and plenty of solid reviews by the user base. Simple but flexible, as the developer says, the plugin’s website has an impressive amount of documentation, and exhaustive instructional manuals that will help your through every aspect of deploying the extension including tips and tricks for spam filtering, comments blacklisting, and using with Google Analytics. The plugin is free, but the developer does have the hat out for donations, something that many developers of free apps and extensions do.
Simple, popular, and free is not a common configuration, but the free version of Mailpoet for WordPress is very impressive in what it has to offer. Sending is limited to 2,000 in the free version, but the robust extension allows drag and drop editing, autoresponders, and stats on opens, clicks, or bounces for each email, plus much more. For larger lists, the premium version offers spam testing your mailing before you send it, premium support to optimize your settings, and a DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Email) signature to improve deliverability. Both versions offer customizable themes and the ability to send via a web host such as GMail or any STMP.
Small is Beautiful
You may be small now, but don’t forget that small business, even when it’s a sole proprietor working out of a home office or garage, accounts for 56 percent of all sales in the US economy, according to the Small Business Administration. And even if you’re starting small, you might be starting at the right time, as an improving economy gives consumers the confidence to spend money again. In a Business Insider report, 87 percent of shoppers plan to purchase online this year, with 36 percent planning to do their holiday shopping online either on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Topping off all that good news is one caveat, this one from UPS – the heavy hitter in the shipping business. Customers want a smoother checkout experience, and 81 percent listed it as their top concern.
Getting your WordPress platform in tip-top shape with simple WordPress eCommerce plugins can satisfy your customers, and you, with a low hassle, high satisfaction experience.