How to Build a WordPress Ecommerce Website

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There is a lot more to make a profitable e-commerce store up and running on WordPress than installing a few plugins. Yet, people everywhere are setting up WP shops in droves.

And why not?

Setting up an e-commerce site on WordPress is an attractive option for entrepreneurs.

  • Once you have your ecommerce store idea, you can go live in a few clicks without spending much money, if any.
  • You have full control over your site and can customize it as you see fit.

That’s plenty of convenience, but it doesn’t address the real goal of your site – driving a profitable business online. If you think hitting “publish” is all you need to drive traffic and sales – you’re sadly mistaken.

Turning WordPress into a selling machine requires a lot of moving pieces. When you sell online, you obviously need a beautiful, user-friendly site that’s secure. But you also need an online business plan, SEO, shopping cart software, payment gateway, social media, email marketing and conversion rate optimization to succeed in the long term.

WordPress Ecommerce Resources

From choosing an online store builder to ramping up traffic and sales, this guide has the best collection of ecommerce WordPress plugins and resources.

Choosing a Plugin to Build a Scalable Shop

Top Ecommerce Platforms By Market Share

When selling online, there’s no shortage of ecommerce platforms to choose from. From hosted to open source options, the choices are innumerable. Everyone has an opinion on the best platform, but the numbers don’t lie: WooCommerce is the overall leader.  In terms of a hosted ecommerce platform (done for you ecommerce platform) Shopify is at the top.

Resources Comparing Ecommerce Platforms and Plugins

These resources compare the top platforms head to head and gives you all the options you have to build an e-commerce site on WordPress. While there are many pros to hosted platforms, this entire guide focuses on WordPress.


Popular WordPress plugins (and their upgrade costs)

  • WooCommerce – Endless premium features to customize online stores.
  • WP Ecommerce –  Comes with out-of-the-box features like marketing automation. The Gold Cart upgrade is $100.
  • Jigoshop –  Has a minimalist code base and is geared towards getting a shop up quickly.
  • eShop – Hangs its hat on being accessible. Over 500K downloads.
  • Ecwid – Has a completely free plan for ecommerce sites with fewer than 10 products. For unlimited products, the cost is $99 per month.
  • Shopp –   The free version is supported by volunteers, and the paid version starts at $75.

2 paid plugins

  • MarketPress ecommerce – Is a fully featured plugin from WPMUdev and costs $19/month.
  • Cart 66 – Bills itself as the all-inclusive ecommerce WP plugin. The pro version is $95/year and comes with marketing automation like drip email and coupons.

Choosing the Best Theme for Selling Products

Ecommerce Layout

Themes are more than just skin-deep. Your theme needs to connect with your ideal customer, but it also has to be SEO- friendly and geared towards ecommerce. These resources will guide you in choosing a solid theme and get your creative juices flowing.

How To Build A Secure, High-Performance Site

Getting your WordPress site secure.

Site security is mission-critical for e-commerce. Every second your store is down is lost revenue. Keeping your site secure and running at peak performance is a must. A slow loading site can send your hard-earned visitors shopping somewhere else.

These resources will help you minimize security risks and create a fast-loading, bloat-free e-ecommerce site.

WordPress Security Plugins

Create a Full-Fledged Shipping and Fulfillment Program

Shipping Resources for WordPress

Shipping and fulfillment are often overlooked because they’re complicated and a little boring. However, it’s an important part of your brand’s marketing. You have to determine shipping terms, partners and packaging. You also have to make it easy for customers to calculate shipping costs (if any) and track their order.

You’ve worked hard to get a sale, so don’t flop when its time to deliver the goods. Brands like Zappos build their customer service reputation on shipping and fulfillment.

Shipping Plugins and Tools

Ecommerce SEO: Turn a Trickle Of Traffic Into A Steady Flow

WordPress Ecommerce SEO

Almost every new ecommerce site struggles to get traffic. Stop following blogger advice for search engine optimization (SEO) and invest some time understanding the real info on site architecture, keyword research, and link building.

Just because a theme or plugin is ”SEO-friendly” doesn’t mean you can tick SEO off your to-do list. I can vouch for all these ecommerce SEO resources because they have helped me on several projects.

SEO Plugins and Tools

How To Make Email Marketing A Powerful Sales Channel

Ecommerce Email Marketing

When you buy something online, I guarantee you open the order confirmation email. I am also willing to bet that the email is boring and doesn’t get you to go back to the store.

Getting a sale marks the beginning of a relationship with your customer —  not the end. Let smart email marketing do the heavy lifting for you. An effective campaign automates cart abandonment, upsells, builds loyalty and creates user-generated, optimized content for your site.

Email Marketing Plugins and Tools

Kick Your Branding into High Gear with Social Media

social media ecommerce articles

I’ll be the first one to say that social media can be a huge time suck. When compared to search or email marketing, the ROI with social media just isn’t there. But its where your customers are.

To compete with big brands like Amazon, you have to build a real relationship with your customer. You need more than a “presence”– you need to integrate your persona into your overall digital marketing strategy to build a brand. These resources will help you maximize your time on social media.

Social Media Ecommerce Solutions (Plugins and Tools)

Separate Your Storefront from the Pack with an Amazing User Experience

User Experience for Ecommerce

Most of the WordPress ecommerce sites I see are riddled with web store design usability issues. Hidden ecommerce software “add to cart” buttons and cumbersome menus hurt sales. User testing is the best way to identify usability issues on your website, but surprisingly few shop owners make this a priority. A superior user experience is a sure way to separate your site from the others that just use the base themes.

Useful User Experience Plugins and Tools

  • WordPress Mega Menu Plugin – You’ll need this if you have a lot of product categories. $18.
  • User Testing – Get videos of real people speaking their thoughts as they use your site.  Starts at $50.
  • FacetWP – Adds Amazon-like filtering to any WordPress content listing.

Maximize Sales with Conversion Rate Optimization

Maximize Sales with CRO

CRO has come to the forefront of ecommerce marketing, and deservedly so. Conversion rate optimization is a data-driven discipline designed to increase sales without increasing traffic.

The first step to CRO is collecting and analyzing accurate data. These resources will help you set up Google Analytics for eCommerce and give you ideas to test.

Remember: Testing is the only way to improve conversion rates.

CRO Plugins and Tools

Build A Better WP Site

A successful ecommerce business is more than just setting up a theme and adding products. When trying to build a website, it takes an integrated approach to turn your site into a well-oiled sales machine.

If you think this resource is helpful, please give it a share.

Am I missing anything? Broken links? Let me know in the comments.

About the author

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Darren DeMatas
Darren has an MBA in Internet Marketing and 10+ years of experience marketing retail, manufacturing and Internet marketing corporations, 7-figure brands and startups online. Follow him on TwitterLinkedIn

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