When WordPress was created almost a decade ago, it was designed to support bloggers and other content creators who needed a fast, easy way to manage their website. Over time, the WordPress way of managing websites became popular, so popular, in fact, that many people began using WordPress to manage sites that look nothing like traditional blogs.
In fact, WordPress has become particularly popular with small-scale manufacturers, service providers, and others who find that the software’s flexibility makes it perfect for staying in touch with customers, updating product lines, and keeping track of inventory. Here are a few essential tools you need to improve your e-commerce operations with WordPress.
As a rule, it’s difficult to compete with free, and WP e-Commerce plug-in has dominated the field, with more than 2 million downloads over the past five years. This full-featured plug-in has everything you need to start up an online store, from catalog management to shipping calculators to support for a wide range of payment services. There are also paid add-ons that will help you integrate with Amazon, expand your payment options, or improve your shopping carts.
While WP e-Commerce is the dominant free e-Commerce plug-in, a little competition never hurt anyone. The oddly named (even for a plug-in) Jigoshop was introduced in 2011, and has quickly joined the top tier of free e-Commerce plugins. For a fee, the company will provide extensive support for your online site, making it a good solution for someone starting out in e-Commerce with hopes of making it a full-time operation.
Setting up an e-Commerce site is a lot of work, even if all you have to do is enter in product descriptions, prices, and images into your system. Shopperpress is an out-of-the-box e-Commerce site, so if you’re pressed (ha ha) for time, you can set up your e-commerce site almost instantly.
Digital products are the easy to sell online, as you don’t have to worry about shipping costs, inventory, and all of the other annoyances of dealing with physical goods. But, the ease of selling the products is complicated by the fact that many sites charge significant overhead to sell your books, music, games, and other electronic products. WP Secure Downloads allows you to take charge of selling digital downloads, saving you from hours of modifying your content to meet a digital store’s specifications, and lets you sell your products without having to fork over a percentage of your sales to Amazon or Apple.
Even though WP-Commerce dominates the WordPress e-commerce market, there’s broad agreement that the user interface isn’t as good as it could be. MarketPress is a low-priced alternative to WP-Commerce that prides itself on its feature set, its interface, and the attractive online stores it allows you to create. MarketPress also features an importer that will allow you to move from one of the free e-commerce plug-in to its own more fully featured service.