WordPress E-Commerce Solutions, Compared.

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E-Commerce

Picking the right WordPress E-commerce solution for your needs is a critical step for your online business. If you’re ready to take the plunge into the world of selling online, be it a physical product or a digital one, I have some recommendations you might like.

Here I’m going to compare some WordPress E-commerce solutions helping you find the right product that fits your needs.

Form plugins and payment processor addons

Adding a form plugin and a payment processor is one way of adding E-Commerce functionality to your website. I recommend Gravity forms or Ninja forms for this. 

It could see you taking orders, quickly and with minimum effort. 

If you’d like to go more in-depth with forms, Alex has written an excellent guide on how to build an online store quickly using a forms plugin.

Main benefits of this are:

  • Relatively simple to set up
  • Perfect for products with minimal user input (i.e., products with few options)
  • Low overhead in terms of maintenance, set it, and forget it.
  • Place the form anywhere you like in a post or page via shortcode.

Drawbacks of forms and payment processors:

  • Not ideal for complicated products with lots of variations.
  • Form load could become massive with products with various conditional logic fields.
  • Confusing for the user equals loss of sales.
  • Page load, with a form with lots of variations and conditional logic, they could take quite some time to load on your site, equalling a loss of sales.
  • Lots of fields in forms means lots of work.

Forms are great and don’t get me wrongand they are, but they generally are ideally suited to products with minimal options—simple products or ordering services, the fewer product options, the better.

If you have complicated products with more options, say, for example, digital products, then you might want to consider something a little more.

Easy Digital Downloads

Easy Digital Downloads is a plugin specifically for WordPress, adding a digital download store function to your install. EDD is perfect for those selling subscriptions and digital downloads, such as music, software and anything that’s download orientated.

Benefits of Easy Digital Downloads:

  • The Easy Digital Downloads plugin is free, well coded, and easy to use/set up.
  • Works with most WordPress themes. 
  • From a customer point of view, navigating to downloads and viewing product details is a breeze.
  • Customer management, as opposed to form plugins, EDD gives you a complete overview of what’s selling and what’s not. View orders, delete orders, customer tracking, and more. 
  • Create vouchers and deals to make products more attractive to visitors.
  • EDD has some killer free extensions such as Locking downloads to IP addresses (prevents misuse), discount widgets, and more.
  • A complete suite of paid-for extensions. Including software licensing, Amazon S3 storage, and more.

Drawbacks for Easy Digital Downloads:

  • Easy Digital Downloads is perfect for digital downloads, but for physical products, not so much.
  • You’re locked into offering purely digital products and limited ability with physical ones. 

There is an extension called Simple Shipping available for EDD, allowing you to ship physical products; however, a flat rate shipping method is the only solution possible. This is not ideal if you are dealing with physical products that are exported globally.

The WooCommerce E-commerce platform

WooCommerce is a complete online store system made for WordPress. It offers both digital downloads and physical products.  

If forms are not enough for you, and you need to sell digital products as well as physical or physical only, then WooCommerce could be the right choice for your needs.

Benefits of WooCommerce:

  • Simple to set up, and your store could launch quite quickly.
  • The base version of WooCommerce is free. 
  • Plenty of extensions available. Free and paid.
  • Customer management system, view, track, approve, and reject orders.
  • Works with most WordPress themes.
  • Stock administration set stock levels for physical products, track and receive notices when items are low on stock. 
  • Offer discount codes/vouchers, with time constraints, or use by dates.
  • Product variations, such as if a t-shirt comes in blue, red, green, you can set this at the product level.
  • Shipping options, enable or disable shipping geographically, choose shipping charge, either a flat rate, free, weight-based, and more.
  • Sell physical products, digital products, and services.

Drawbacks of WooCommerce:

  • It can be a little overwhelming to those new to E-Commerce.
  • It could be overkill if you have a minimal product range, for example, one or two products.

Selling access to content on your website

The previously mentioned WordPress E-Commerce solutions all deal with specifics, such as the sale of goods, digital and physical.

Another recommendation I’d like to mention is the Restrict Content plugin. Why?

The Restrict Content plugin deals with access to your blog/website. If you’ve spent the time creating valuable content and looking to monetize it, then RCP will help you do just that.

Think of the Restrict Content plugin as a membership system of sorts; consequently, it’s a different beast compared to the other WordPress E-Commerce solutions. 

Restrict Content Plugin

This plugin comes in two flavors: the free base version and Restrict Content Pro. The pro version offers a way for users to pay for access to your content, and a whole host of other addons and functionality.

Benefits of the Restrict Content plugin:

  • Great for locking content via a simple shortcode, place the content you would like to hide between the shortcodes, and users will get prompted to register to access.
  • Collect user emails for future campaigns, great for growing a user base. 
  • Control access to specific areas of your site, offer free content, and locked content via the plugin.
  • Restrict access to content from posts, pages, media, and more.
  • A simple way to run a membership site, the free version does the job admirably. 
  • The pro version adds payment processing, integration with WooCommerce to restrict products, email marketing via various providers, and much much more.

Drawbacks of the Restrict Content plugin:

  • May put some people off of accessing your content if they have to sign up.
  • Overuse of the plugin could restrict your website via promotion methods, such as social sharing.

In addition, there are various options available for the Restrict Content Pro plugin, and if you’d like to get paid for your content, you’re going to have to pay for the pro version.

Sure it’s an investment, but one that could be more than worthwhile.

In summary

If you have a simple product range or service and minimal options, forms are a great way to go. Be wary though, as your product range/service range grows, forms can be problematic, take a look at this article written by Alex highlighting some telltale signs you have outgrown your forms plugin here. 

If you’re selling digital products/services, you might like to entertain Easy Digital Downloads. The free version should get you up and running quite quickly, then extend into paid-for addons as and when you need to. 

If you’re selling physical products that need to be shipped globally, WooCommerce is your best bet, with various shipping methods available. Plus, the ability to sell digital/physical products, the free version should be enough. WooCommerce can scale with your business, in the beginning, you might not need all the bells and whistles. However, additional functions through extensions are available as and when you need them.

So if you want to run a simple membership site and restrict access to content or a series of courses, then the Restrict Content plugin is the way to go. Purchase Restrict Content Pro if you’d like to offer paid-for access to your content and a host of other features.

You know your business better than anyone, at DesignFrame Solutions, they can advise you on the best platform to help your business work. All of the E-Commerce solutions for WordPress outlined above are available in DesignFrames Solutions E-Commerce maintenance plans, and they can take care of your business, letting you do what you do best, sell. 

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About Ben

Ben has been working with WordPress for the last ten years. While he's not a coder or developer, a vast majority of his time is spent writing reviews and tutorials for other WordPress users.

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