Online shopping is big business, as evidenced by companies such as Amazon and Ebay and the shrinking retail high street. Thus the underlying technology driving these websites has had to become more sophisticated and user-friendly to meet the demands of what the customer expects from their online experience.
There are many shopping content management systems, such as Shopify, Opencart and Magento to name but a few, however with the continued popularity of WordPress as a foundation for commercial web design, many companies are now turning to this platform for eCommerce.
WordPress has a number of eCommerce plugin solutions which include WooCommerce, WP eCommerce, Jigoshop eCommerce and Shopp. It is generally accepted that WooCommerce is the favourite eCommerce solution available for WordPress, but the other plugins can be useful depending on your needs.
In this overview we’re going to take a brief look at some of these eCommerce solutions on WordPress, to give you a base understanding of their respective functions.
This is the most popular of the eCommerce plugins with a large amount of addons and themes. It is supported by a large and passionate user and developer community with excellent documentation, knowledge base, helpdesk and forums. There are also hundreds of extensions and themes available to help you expand and make the most of your eCommerce site, plus complete inventory management, built-in support for popular payment gateways and the ability to sell both physical and digital goods.
Impressively, WP eCommerce is not just one of WordPress’ oldest plugins, but included many functions before they were ever incorporated into the WordPress core. In many ways, the development of WP eCommerce over the years has helped pave the way for new innovations in WordPress itself. The experience then of the team behind this plugin has ensured its continued growth and ability to match any and all alternative eCommerce solutions. The plugin is as feature rich as any, although many of the theme customisation options do have a rather steep learning curve for those unfamiliar with the process. This aside, WP eCommerce is a more than viable option for your online shopping website.
Developed around the same time as WooCommerce, the Jigoshop plugin is as feature-rich as they come, is completely free and runs on a minimalist code base, allowing you to get your online shop up and running quickly and easily. Functionality can be easily extended with over one hundred extensions and over 40 pre-built shopping cart themes. In particular, the UI is easy to use with solid explanations for settings, and the front-end provides an easy to understand consumer experience. All in all this is a solid alternative to the other eCommerce solutions mentioned here.
The Shopp plugin is a little different from the others mentioned above in that it is actually a paid-for plugin out of the box. However this does mean there is additional functionality included that is not provided as standard in some of the other free plugins. In particular, its implementation of subscriptions is extensive and really useful if you were an online magazine, for example. It also includes highly detailed shipping options, more so than any of the other free plugins. Overall, the Shopp plugin does a lot of what the other free eCommerce solutions do, plus the extra subscriptions support and shipping options, however unless you specifically needed those options, you may still find one of the free plugins equally as suitable for your basic eCommerce needs.
Overall, it is clear from the above that there are quite a lot of different eCommerce solutions, many of which cover a lot of the same bases, with a few offering additional functionality. There are numerous other eCommerce solutions available on WordPress which we are not covering here, but they may also be worth having a look at, however for most users the above selection should be suitable for all of your eCommerce needs.