Getting your own e-commerce website up and running is easier now than it’s ever been and the choices are wide and varied. One of the most popular choices is WordPress, a name that might already be instantly familiar to you as a blogging platform. While WordPress may have started out just for bloggers, it has since grown into a content management system (CMS) that is powerful and flexible enough to be used for a number of different applications. Because WordPress is often one of the first options people consider, we wanted to single it out and discuss the pros and cons, as well as provide the simple steps to get a WordPress shop online.
How does e-commerce for WordPress work?
WordPress doesn’t provide e-commerce functionality out of the box, but is easily added using an e-commerce plugin (plugins come in both free and paid varieties, and allow you to build upon WordPress’s native functionality). The most popular e-commerce plugin for WordPress is WooCommerce, now owned by the company behind WordPress.com. Plugins like WooCommerce handle all of the essential functionality needed to sell online – the storefront, payment gateway, shipping, inventory management, automatic transactional emails, and more. There are even plugins for the plugins themselves, allowing you to extend the functionality even further. It’s this level of customisation that brings us neatly on to the pros of using WordPress for your e-commerce website.
What are the pros of using WordPress for e-commerce?
- It’s easy to use. If you’ve ever used WordPress before, you might have been surprised at how intuitive it is, especially if you’ve encountered different, less user-friendly CMSs in the past.
- It’s cheap to get started. You can pick up a WordPress theme with the e-commerce plugin built it for well under £100 (many are under £50), and your only other costs will be your domain name and hosting package. With no ongoing subscription charge, it’s possible to get your website started with minimal investment.
- You have loads of options. WordPress is one of the most popular CMSs in the world. The result is that there are thousands of themes for you to choose from and the number grows daily, so you’re not limited for choice.
And what are the cons?
- Security can be an issue. WordPress, being as popular as it is, comes with disadvantages as well as advantages. One disadvantage is that WordPress websites are frequently targeted by those looking for security vulnerabilities, the result being that sites get hacked and malware making it onto the server. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to prevent this, but it’s important to keep it in mind.
- WordPress has not been designed exclusively for e-commerce. E-commerce functionality is not native to WordPress and is added using plugins. These plugins do a great job of handling the complicated requirements of an e-commerce website, however, the experience will likely not be as slick or robust as a dedicated e-commerce platform such as Magento or Shopify. When starting out, WordPress can serve as a fine solution, but as your e-commerce business begins to grow, you’ll probably find yourself exploring alternatives.
How do I get started with my own e-commerce website using WordPress?
- Find yourself a theme. There are so many themes available for WordPress – browse for them on Themeforest, on the plugin’s website, or do a Google search.
- Buy your domain name. It’s important to choose the right domain name and is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when getting started online. Get help on choosing your domain name in our advice section, and search for your domain name using our Get a Domain search tool. If you need help on choosing the registrar to buy your domain name from, we have a guide on that too.
- Purchase a hosting package. You can either get a hosting package at the same time as buying your domain name, or you can buy hosting using a different provider. Whichever you do (keeping them under one roof is easier), ensure that the hosting package allows you to install WordPress (many provide dedicated WordPress hosting) and you can purchase an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate makes the connection between your website and your customers’ secure. Many payment portals, such as PayPal, handle the secure connection themselves, but it’s wise to secure the rest of your website. Your hosting provider will be able to help you with this.
- Install WordPress. Most hosting providers allow you to install WordPress simply in a ‘1-click’ process via the control panel, and many will install it for you.
- Install your theme and upload your content. Once WordPress is installed, you can install your theme from the dashboard and start getting your content and products uploaded – instructions on doing this will likely be provided along with your theme.
WordPress continues to be a popular platform for those wanting to start up their own e-commerce website and there many good reasons to consider it when starting yours. Hopefully our introduction to e-commerce for WordPress has been helpful – if you have any other questions, we’d love to hear from you on Facebook, Twitter, or email, and we’ll do our best to help.