There’s plenty of reasons to love WordPress, but access to a huge catalog of plugins to extend what the platform can do has to be one of the most important reasons. As the folks at WordPress.org say, these snippets of code can make your blog do just about “anything you can imagine”.
And they do mean anything, including e-commerce.
Today, it’s sometimes difficult to remember how revolutionary that is. There was a time, not too long ago, when successfully selling of electronic or physical products through your website meant finding and evaluating cryptic back-end software. This either required a lot of knowledge to install and manage, a lot of money to obtain, or accounts with several services to function properly. Now it’s as simple as installing and configuring a few plugins in your WP admin panel. Many are free, and some are not, so take your time and explore your options. To get you started, here are a few of the most popular e-commerce plugins to consider:
WP-eCommerceShopping cart software is the cornerstone of e-commerce. Your customers need a way to browse and select products on your site as well as a way to eventually place their order. WP-eCommerce is a free shopping cart solution that covers all the basics, allows coupon codes, works with numerous payment gateways like PayPal and Google Wallet, and claims to play well with any standard WordPress theme. A plug-in that works well with your theme is a huge benefit since you don’t want to change the entire look and branding of your site after you’ve developed a loyal audience.
WooCommerceWooCommerce (WooThemes.com) is a premium e-commerce solution for WordPress, optimized to work with WooThemes. It’s also available through the same vendor. WooCommerce is an extensible solution, allowing users to choose and pay for the features they really need to make their e-commerce dreams a reality. You’ll enjoy the insights you can obtain from this package’s reporting capabilities, but keep in mind these stats focus on product performance. For insights into customer behavior and other aspects of your business, you may need to invest in a more robust business intelligence solution. You can read up on several advanced solutions at Netsuite.com or turn to Google to find a reporting solution scaled to your needs.
Cart66Cart66 (Cart66.com) is $25 per month with an annual subscription, but it’s money well spent. This premium plugin showcases strong e-commerce security features and allows for the sale of physical and digital products. What sets it apart, however, is it’s ability to manage orders and payments for both membership sites and subscription services. That’s important. As Inc. Magazine points out, bloggers who can offer expertise and deliver real value to an online community by solving problems in their niche can reap handsome rewards through the regular revenue offered by the membership model.
WPDepositIf you’ve ever purchased stock photos online, you know that the biggest services sell users credits they can then exchange for the picture they want. Essentially, these vendors are establishing deposit accounts for their customers. It’s a smart model, because bulk purchasing is done up front while the users can return at their leisure to find the specific items they need. As CodeCanyon explains, WPDeposit lets you set up a credit/debit system on your WordPress site that allows you to take advantage of this e-commerce approach.
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