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.
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
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.
- What is the Best Ecommerce Platform For Entrepreneurs – Darren DeMatas
- When to Avoid WordPress Ecommerce By Joe Robison
- Shopify vs. WordPress (WooCommerce) for e-commerce? By Robert Mening
- E-commerce plugins – choosing the right WordPress shopping cart plugin By Chris Lema
- WordPress eCommerce Plugins Comparison By Thomas Höfter
- Ultimate Guide to WordPress eCommerce: Plugins and Plugin Installation By Al Davis
6 free popular WordPress plugins (and their upgrade costs)
- BigCommerce – Free, but BigCommerce account is required.
- 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
Choosing the Best Theme for Selling Products
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.
Resources On WordPress Theme Selection
- 35 Best WordPress Ecommerce Themes For A Fast, Sexy Site
- The Beginner’s Guide to Selecting a WordPress Theme By Ragnar Miljeteig
- 25+ Considerations for Selecting a WordPress eCommerce Solution By Rebecca Gill
- How to Spot a Rogue or Subpar WordPress Theme By Charles Costa
- How to Pick an SEO Friendly WordPress Theme By Joe Can Write
How To Build A Secure, High-Performance Site
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 and Performance Resources
- The Complete Guide to WordPress Security by WPshout
- Improve Your WordPress Security with These 10 Tips By Dan
- 3 Essential Insurance Policies for eCommerce Sites by Beka Rice
- WordPress Security Checklist by Nirav Dave
- Trim the Bloat: An Introduction to Keeping WordPress Healthy by Rian Orie
- WordPress Security – 19+ Steps to Lock Down Your Site
WordPress Security Plugins
- P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) – Helps identify plugins that are slowing down your site.
- Cloudfare & W3 Total Cache – Useful site speed plugins.
- Login LockDown – Blocks IP addresses with repeated failed login attempts.
- WP-DB-Backup – Automatically backs up your WP database.
- Sucuri: Website AntiVirus + Website Firewall (WAF) – SSL & PCI Compliance and complete security for $300/yr.
- iThemes Security – The free version has over 600K active downloads. The paid plan starts at $80.
- Mijireh Secure Checkout – A secure, hosted checkout with no transaction fees. $49/yr
Create a Full-Fledged Shipping and Fulfillment Program
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.
- Best Practices for eCommerce Shipping by Lauren Jow
- To Beat Ecommerce Rivals, Know Your Shipping Options by Samantha Drake
- The Psychology of Free Shipping: Why it Works as a Marketing Tool by Anna Kegler
- Adding Free Shipping Threshold Increases eCommerce AOV by 7.32% by VWO
- The Beginner’s Guide to Ecommerce Shipping and Fulfillment by Richard Lazazzera
- FedEx vs. UPS vs. USPS: Who’s Best For Shipping?
Shipping Plugins and Tools
- WP E-Commerce Weight & Destination Shipping Modules – Offers weight-based shipping options.
- Woocommerce Table Rate Shipping – Define multiple shipping rates based on location, price, weight, shipping class or item count.
- FedEx Shipping – A shipping calculator for WP E-commerce. $79.
- Shopp Shipping Modules – Various shipping modules for Shopp. $75.
- Shipwire – An enterprise-level shipping platform.
Ecommerce SEO: Turn a Trickle Of Traffic Into A Steady Flow
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.
- Outrank Amazon With These Ecommerce SEO Tips By Darren DeMatas
- 17 WordPress eCommerce SEO tips to sell more product by Dan Zarzycki
- SEO 201, Part 4: Architecture Is Key by Jill Kocher
- E-Commerce Link Building — The Challenge That Won’t Go Away By Eric Ward
- Targeting ‘Where to Buy’ Pages for Large eCommerce Sites By Jon Cooper
- 17 SEO Best Practices That Could Double Your E-Commerce Sales By Trond Lyngbø
- Advanced SEO For Ecommerce: Maximizing Keyword Spread By Nick Eubanks
SEO Plugins and Tools
- WordPress SEO by Yoast – Makes it easy to update basic SEO data.
- Broken Link Checker – Helps you make sure your site isn’t leaking link juice.
- WooCommerce Product Reviews Pro – Adds structured data markup and other features to reviews.
- SEMRush – My go-to keyword research tool.
- Ahrefs – My go-to link analysis tool.
How To Make Email Marketing A Powerful Sales Channel
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.
Useful Articles On Ecommerce Email Marketing
- Email Marketing for Ecommerce Websites: How To Make Emails Personal by José Carlos Cortizo Pérez
- 5 Tips to Improve Email Order Confirmations By Carolyn Nye
- 13 Amazing Abandoned Cart Emails (And What You Can Learn From Them) by Dan Wang
- How to Upsell with Emails by Jordie van Rijnl
- Lessons From The World’s Smartest Email Marketers The Amazon Experience by Jimmy Daly
- Get More Sales with These 5 Email Receipt Marketing Tactics By Tucker Schreiber
Email Marketing Plugins and Tools
- Loyalty Rewards for WooCommerce – Incentives customers to help market your store in exchange for points. $22.
- Woocommerce Abandoned Cart Lite – Sends emails to logged in customers when they abandon their cart.
- Transactional Email Plugin for WordPress – An ecommerce email plugin from MailChimp.
- WooCommerce Follow up emails – Sends automated drip emails to customers after they purchase. $100 – $250
- WooCommerce Pretty Emails – Allows you to add additional styling and images to emails. $14
- Remarketly – A complete email marketing solution for ecommerce. Plans start at $30/month.
- Klaviyo – Personalized drip email. Has a free plan.
- Get Vero – Automate emails based on what your customers do. Plans start at $99/month
Kick Your Branding into High Gear with Social Media
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 Articles
- Digital Convergence, Retail Imperatives and the Social Customer by David Amerland
- How to Make More Effective Use of Social Media in Your Ecommerce Strategy by Brett Relandery
- 5 Ways to Generate More Ecommerce Sales with Facebook Ads by Pawel Grabowski
- How to Motivate Customers to Share Your Products By Nicole Kohler
- How to Use Video Marketing & YouTube for Ecommerce by Alex McEachern
- Instagram Exposed: Advanced Instagram Marketing Tactics to Get a Ton of Followers by Richard Lazazzera
Social Media Ecommerce Solutions (Plugins and Tools)
Separate Your Storefront from the Pack with an Amazing User Experience
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.
Ecommerce UX Resources
- 105 User Experience Tips: How to Seduce Ecommerce Visitors to Buy By Darren DeMatas
- Mega Menus Work Well for Site Navigation by Jakob Nielsen
- 11 Low-Hanging Fruits for Increasing Website Speed (and Conversions) by Peep Laja
- Shopping Cart Usability: Why a simple, honest checkout sequence (usually) wins by Toby Biddle
- User testing, explained by Jerry Cao
- Guide to eCommerce Facets, Filters and Categories by Frank Scharnell
Useful User Experience Plugins and Tools
Maximize Sales with Conversion Rate Optimization
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 Ecommerce Articles
- Introduction to Conversion Rate Optimization for E-Commerce by Francis Teo
- E-Commerce Tracking in Google Universal Analytics – Complete Guide by Himanshu Sharma
- How To Boost eCommerce Sales With Upselling By Tommy Walker
- Dealing with Abandoned Carts on WordPress e-Commerce Sites by Chris Lema
- Testing ideas for E-commerce and retail sites
- Holy Grail of eCommerce Conversion Optimization – 91 Point Checklist and Infographic by Pancham Prashar
- Ecommerce Optimization: 27 Examples of High Converting Product Pages by Talia Wolf
CRO Plugins and Tools
- Enhanced Ecommerce Google Analytics Plugin for WooCommerce – Makes setting up Google Analytics easier.
- Visual Website Optimizer and Optimizely are two testing tools that I’ve used.
- Optimizely has a free WP Plugin worth checking out.
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.
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