If you want to build an online store, you need to look at the best e-commerce and shopping cart plugins. With nearly two trillion online-store sales around the world, e-commerce sites make up more than 45% of the sites on the internet. Of the most popular online sales sites, WordPress plugins like WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, and Cart66 are the most popular choices on the market, but there is a range of solutions currently available.
The key features of each e-commerce plugin often incorporate:
- Design & Customization: It should look and feel like part of your business. How easy is it to customize the plugin?
- Payment Processing: It should support the payment options you need. How easy-and-secure is it for you to process payments?
- Integration Options: It should be part of your overall business processes. How well does it allow you to integrate your e-commerce plugin to your marketing, reporting, CRM, accounting, and logistics requirements?
- Support: It’s essential to determine what the level of current support and updates is for the plugin you’re considering.
To start, you’ll want to make a list of what your expectations are for your e-commerce solution. If you are starting and you don’t have any idea of what you need or what kind of site you want to launch, here are some of the most popular e-commerce and shopping cart plugin solutions. How do the best WordPress e-commerce plugins stack up?
The Best WordPress e-commerce Plugins
If you’ve never heard of WooCommerce, you’ve been missing out. It’s one of the most popular and customizable WordPress e-commerce plugins, with 93.4% of the WordPress store market share. It’s the top-notch leader in the e-commerce space, ideal for that new business you’re launching, or for converting your brick-and-mortar store to an online portal. You can quickly and easily build the e-commerce site and extend the functionality to support the evolving needs of your business venture, with the hundreds of extensions and WooCommerce themes that are quickly and easily available.
Beyond the flexibility and customization options, you can also sell any product type, whether digital or physical products. It’s also set up for ease-of-use for affiliate marketing ventures, so there’s the granularity of what you can offer and how you can offer it, with inventory management solutions to easily track your product offerings. WooCommerce also seamlessly integrates with standard payment gateways and logistics solutions, with additional integration options available as needed. No matter what your skill set or technical knowledge, you have access to the support you need via paid and free options, with a help desk, knowledge base, forum, and more.
WooCommerce is an excellent solution for just about any use-case scenario or need, but it’s a little too over-the-top. It can be difficult to hone in on the solution you want and need for your online storefront. After trying ten plugins, it’s easy to give up and go with a different solution that is more along the lines of what you need instead of seeking the myriad of almost-right add-ons. To get the best possible use and the easiest-to-configure set-up for a WooCommerce e-commerce solution, you can find or purchase a site theme that’s already been optimized for use with WooCommerce.
Easy Digital Downloads
If you’re looking for a quick-and-easy way to sell online digital downloads, Easy Digital Downloads is a free solution with multilingual support. You can use it to sell photos, software, ebooks, graphics, songs, and other types of media files. You can easily extend the core functionality with plugins that support software licensing, commissions, recurring payments, user submissions, reviews, and more.
With that ease-of-integration and power, you can use virtually any theme with the Easy Digital Downloads plugin, or you can use the themes that have been specifically designed to for it. The plugin is also well documented and supported with an IRC chatroom, free support forums, videos, and more. It’s a bit of a one-trick pony since it is only successful for digital downloads, but it’s top-notch for what it allows you to do in its specialized sphere.
Go To Easy Digital Downloads (we use this one on WPLift)
If you’re looking for a veteran e-commerce solution, Cart66 has been around longer than WooCommerce. It’s still one of the most popular all-in-one shopping cart solutions. You can integrate your site into more than 100 different payment gateways, with built-in security. It’s also one of the world’s most popular content management system. Cart66 also features a built-in recurring billing engine, with a dynamic content delivery network for your digital products. While it’s easy to set up, with everything in one system, you don’t have access to add-ons or customizations. It’s limited in functionality, though Cart66 offers a range of documentation, tutorials, quick tips and videos to get you up-and-running quickly.
Ecwid e-commerce Shopping Cart
If you’re looking for an e-commerce solution that supports multilingual sales, the Ecwid e-commerce Shopping Cart is an easy-to-use platform used by more one million online sellers from around the world. In addition to language support, Ecwld integrates with multiple payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe, and 40 others. The Ecwid e-commerce Shopping Cart offers mobile options for managing your store while you’re on-the-go. You can scan products, update your products, track inventory, accept payment, and manage your sales.
If you’re looking for an e-commerce solution for your global brand, Jigoshop e-commerce is a well-established e-commerce platform with more than 25 plugin options. UK-based Jigowatt first developed this plugin in 2011, so it’s one of the oldest and most well-established solutions. It’s still one of the best, and it has inspired the evolutions of the other e-commerce plugins. With more recent dev upgrades and rebranding, Jigoshop now supports a myriad of product types, both physical and digital. Jigoshop e-commerce is still open source and free, though the range of themes from third-party developers generally ranges in cost from free to $50.
If you’re looking for an e-commerce solution for use with your subscription-based digital products and services, MemberPress is a powerful membership plugin that’s great for beginners or more advanced online store owners. It offers you the flexibility to provide pay-per-view digital content solution but also membership-plan options. Since you’ve got that membership-based functionality, you can give permission-based user access and restrictions. Although the plugin supports limited payment processing (it just supports Stripe, Paypal and Authorize.net), lots of extensions are available for use with MemberPress. It also integrates with the WooCommerce store. Pricing for this plugin is available on an annual-only basis.
WP EasyCart Shopping Cart and e-commerce Store
If you’re looking for a small-scale solution for your company, WP Easy Cart may be the best solution. The WP EasyCart is a plugin that’s designed to meet the needs of small businesses. Beyond the basics, this e-commerce plugin offers flexibility and the power to create a beautiful online store no matter what your technical expertise might be. It also provides seamless integration with the standard business solutions like Quickbooks, ShipStation, MailChimp, and TaxCloud–all those tools that allow you to manage and process your marketing, payment, taxes quickly, and logistics.
If you’re looking for lots of features, WP e-commerce is a great e-commerce solution that allows you to integrate your store into dozens of payment gateways. While it’s not quite as popular as WooCommerce, the plugin allows you to quickly and easily build your store from scratch and the built-in marketing tools allow you to ramp up more quickly.
A drawback is the level of support and extensibility that’s possible with this plugin, but it’s been around since 2006, you can customize the plugin via CSS and HTML, and there’s a wealth of tutorials to get you up-to-speed. With SSL check-out, the additional modules, and built-in tools, WP e-commerce has more power and flexibility that most users give it credit for. As a more advanced user, you’d also have access to hundreds of hooks for even greater dev capabilities and power. In other words, you get out of it what you’re able to put in.
If you’re looking for a feature-rich development toolkit, the Shopp plugin supports a secure and streamlined checkout process with integration to more than 50 payment processing services. Built for power and performance, it’s also quick and easy to set up this e-commerce store. With the seamless integration of features and management solutions, Shopp allows you to customize your inventory creation and order processing.
The Best Alternative e-commerce Solutions for WordPress
If you’re not bound to WordPress plugins only, you can have a look at the following solutions.
If you’re looking for a great all-around e-commerce builder, Shopify is a popular e-commerce platform that allows you to set up a new store and sell across channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. 800,000 businesses use it. It’s famous as a high-quality inventory management system, with an inventory editor and bulk importer, that’s ideal for use by large and small companies. Shopify is also designed to support the needs of beginners as well as power users.
You can sell any product, whether it’s digital download or a physical product. Shopify supports limited payment processing via Stripe, with easy integration for sale across your social channels. You can also use alternative payment options with additional fee requirements from Shopify. With the low monthly fee, Shopify is a great e-commerce solution without the technical hiccups of some other plugins. It’s not a native WordPress solution, but it has an excellent connector plugin.
If you’re looking for a simple, yet intuitive e-commerce platform, Volusion works well as a highly customizable all-in-one solution. With a user base of 180,000 entrepreneurs, companies like Intel and 3M use it. So, it’s a popular and robust solution that’s been around since 1999. It’s secure, and it offers integration options with more than 50 payment gateways. The free themes also allow you to quickly and easily create an online store that supports multiple product types, both digital and physical. You can also promptly optimize site and product ranking with SEO tools. It’s also mobile friendly, and it’s got CRM functionality with features like a rewards program, affiliate options, newsletters, coupons, gift certificates, and more. There is a range of pricing options, so you can also select the option that works best for you and your specific needs. The support options are also tied to the plan you choose.
If you’re looking for an open-source solution, OpenCart is a free e-commerce platform that also seamlessly integrates as a plugin to your WordPress site. It’s completely free, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a powerful store management tool. While many of the free plugins are lacking in support, themes, and extensions, OpenCart prides itself on offering a large selection of modules and themes. So, you can more easily customize your store and tap into the functionality that will build your target audience, generate leads, and convert sales.
If you’re looking for flexibility combined with a wealth of built-in features, BigCommerce describes itself as the “most versatile e-commerce solution.” It’s a scalable SasS solution with the speed, dynamic adaptability, and security that you need. With omni-channel integrated capabilities, you can also connect your store with Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, eBay, Amazon, and Google. In other words, you can reach your customers on their preferred platform. Your store becomes an all-in-one hub of information and resources, whence you can reach out and sell virtually everywhere. You can then close the deal with the integrated point-of-sale solutions.
Since it’s separate from the rest of your WordPress site, the plugin is designed to be as maintenance free as possible. It also supports integration into payment gateways without transaction fees. It’s not yet a massive contender in the mobile app space, so on-the-go updates are a bit of a challenge. The power, performance, and security features allow you to grow your business without the worry. This plugin also continues to improve.
If you’re looking for a clean, easy-to-understand interface that allows you to build a store that showcases your products easily, PrestaShop is a turnkey, ready-made solution with automatic management solutions. The continually evolving UI/UX experience supports a flexible and dynamic configuration that’s dedicated to allowing you to optimize the presentation of your products. The goal is to create and sell digital products, but you can also control quantities, bundle your products, and control your product attributes. Your sales process and the ultimate conversion is critical. This plugin solution also continues to improve as well, as it migrates to the PHP Symfony framework to allow for more excellent stability.
The Long and Short of the Best e-Commerce Plugin or Solution for WordPress
E-Commerce solutions continue to evolve and improve, so the goal here is to determine the solutions that are currently available for use. Each solution has various pros and cons, but ultimately the right solution for you is an individual choice depending on the product you’re selling (digital or physical), the functionality you need, payment options, your design and customization requirements, and also how much you’re willing to pay on a monthly/yearly basis. You can tap into pretty much whatever you need if you know what you need.