WooCommerce: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly - Iceberg Web Design

WooCommerce: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

E-Commerce: Selling Online?

If you decide to sell a product online, you have many options to choose from when looking for software to power your online store.

The most popular website publishing platform today is WordPress. In fact, more than 25% of all websites today are powered by WordPress, with the closest competitors not even coming close. WordPress is popular for a number of reasons. Our website development firm uses WordPress as our primary publishing platform for quite a few reasons:

  • WordPress is Open Source, meaning that the software is, ultimately, free and the license allows you to modify it as you need.
  • Because it is Open Source, WordPress is consistently being updated for features and security.
  • WordPress is fully expandable, with thousands of free and premium add-ons readily available.
  • WordPress is, by far, the most user-friendly website publishing platform for our customers, who don’t need to know HTML to update their website.

Given the global popularity of WordPress, it isn’t surprising that WooCommerce, a popular e-commerce add-on for WordPress, is the leading global e-commerce platform today.

What is WooCommerce?

WooCommerce: WordPress Shopping Cart

WoocCommerce is a free e-commerce add-on (plugin) that embeds directly into any WordPress website. This cool open source plugin is capable of selling any product straight from your website. When you install WooCommerce on your website, the entire basic online purchasing process is set up for you: product management, adjustable price points, shopping cart, and checkout process.

To add WooCommerce to your WordPress site, simply go to the Plugin section, perform a search for WooCommerce, and download and install. Once WooCommerce is activated, you will be able to edit all of the settings to configure your unique online store and begin selling.

WooCommerce: The Good

Many businesses turn to this popular plugin to implement what complicated coding would take several hours and heaps of money to create.

There are a lot of delightful features to the WooCommerce plugin, and it is difficult to create an exhaustive list of all of the great features WooCommerce includes out-of-the-box. Let’s take a look at some highlights:

  • Free: WooCommerce in its basic form doesn’t cost you a dime; many of its add-ons are also free.
  • Lots of Add-ons Available: A variety of free/paid add-ons means WooCommerce leaves no stone unturned. With multiple ways to pay and different types of orders, your customers can have the ability to shop online, create online bookings, or personalize their orders.
  • Easy to Use: This is a plug and play add-on. One installed you can simply enter your product information, add your PayPal account, and let it do its thing. It comes with every page template you need for checkout, so you don’t miss any steps in the buyer’s journey. WooCommerce even has an onboarding guide that walks you through the entire process.

From the customer’s vantage point, buying from a WooCommerce-powered website is incredibly smooth. Like any other online store you select your products, shipping, and payment methods. No need to contact the business directly, or go through any hoops – the entire online purchasing experience is streamlined.

  • Adjustable Shipping Rates and Taxes: WooCommerce allows adjustable shipping and tax costs. You enter a flat rate based on the location of your customers and chose if you want to include taxes. You can make some items ship for free and others cost or even base the shipping fee on how ‘bulky’ the item is.
  • Coupon Integration: Got a special? Easily set up online coupons for your customers!
  • Mobile Friendly: Everyone is browsing and buying via their phones these days, which is why it’s important your site is mobile friendly. Of course, your main website needs to be mobile-friendly as well, but WooCommerce is built to perform exceptionally well on mobile devices.
  • Order History, Order Status, Customer Accounts: Shoppers appreciate a website where they can fully manage their orders. WooCommerce makes this easy, with an integrated account section for your customers, and customizable e-mail templates to keep your customers updated about the status of their orders.

WooCommerce: The Bad

No plug-in is perfect; WooCommerce is no exception and has drawbacks you should weigh carefully against your business plan. Long term advantages of using WooCommerce should be as important as the short term—you want this add-on to grow with you, not hinder you. With that being said, there are some things that are not too attractive about WooCommerce.

  • Doesn’t come with themes: WooCommerce’s look and feel is based on your current WordPress theme. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if your theme integrates with WooCommerce, and you enjoy tweaking and personalizing your site. However, it will take some time to set the store to your exact tastes. We set up the vast majority of our websites in WordPress and can help customize your WooCommerce installation to match the rest of your website.
  • It’s a Resource Hog: Generally, website hosting plans include specific upload space and resources. WooCommerce can eat up a lot of it so you may have to budget for a better hosting plan.
  • Plugins Slow Down Performance: Incorporating lot of WordPress plugins can slow down the performance of your site. WooCommerce is no different, especially as it takes up a lot of space and memory.
  • Prices Can Add Up: While WooCommerce includes a lot of features out-of-the-box, many store owners will find that they need to purchase premium plugins in order to achieve the e-commerce website their business needs. WooCommerce has released a number of premium (paid) extensions to improve store performance, and there are hundreds of other online market places and authors with premium WooCommerce extensions available.  E-commerce features such as allowing customers to book services, sign up for subscription products, or personalize their products with images or text fields will require the purchase of a premium plugin license. These licenses often run on a per-year subscription basis, and can cost anywhere from $29-$500 per year depending on the feature you need.

WooCommerce: The Ugly 

Coding may be necessary when working with WooCommerce

If you are trying to put together a website without support from a professional development company, WooCommerce may not be the best fit for you. There are many downsides to WooCommerce that are down right ugly – and may be a deal breaker for the average DIY business owner. If you are the type of person who prefers to build your own website, consider these downfalls to WooCommerce before you sink hundreds of hours into building your store.

  • Coding and Scripting Conflicts: While one of the great features of WooCommerce is the ability to customize it with plugins, more often than not two independent plugins written by different authors may clash, and create chaos on your website. This is because most premium WordPress plugins use script libraries to function, which may conflict with the script libraries other plugins are using.We have worked with customers who, for example, have a great website add-on (let’s say a Wish List) on their WooCommerce website, and later wished to add an AJAX sorting plugin. The two plugins conflicted with one another and the site had a host of issues, from PHP and jQuery warnings, to broken page layouts. Unless you are familiar with the languages that WordPress and WooCommerce plugins are written in (PHP, jQuery, Javascript, and MySQL), you won’t be able to troubleshoot scripting conflects. You can always hire a professional to assist, but this will come with a high price tag. It’s best to know what you’re getting into before you hit download.
  • Vulnerable to Hacking: WordPress is particularly subject to hacking, as is WooCommerce because they are open source (coding is easily available to everyone). If you use WordPress/WooCommerce we advice you have a reliable developer and hosting provider who can keep your website updated and is clued in to new security releases.

Is WooCommerce Right For Your Business?

WooCommerce is wonderfully user friendly, and great for online stores. But you must ensure you have the support and help of professionals alongside it if you want peace of mind.

At Iceberg Web Design, our experienced developers can create your WooCommerce store, while making sure that you don’t experience any of the bad or ugly features outlined above. We also offer secure, managed WooCommerce hosting, full support, and we guarantee security updates and virus mitigation should any issues arise.

About the author

Jessi Gurr is the Master Penguin at Iceberg Web Design. She is an entrepreneur at heart, and loves all aspects of business growth, branding, and team building. Jessi frequently speaks at WordCamps throughout the US and internationally, and holds positions on the board at the Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce and Montessori Renaissance Academy, both in Anoka, MN. Jessi is currently working on a little SEO experience to determine who is the smartest person in Anoka Minnesota, and who is the smartest person in Minnesota. These links and articles are tongue-in-cheek, but humor her as she waits patiently for Google's indexing on this subject.

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