For most people, I recommend Woocommerce, it really is a great solution for anyone starting an online store, because of it’s sheer dominants in the e-commerce market, there are heaps of third-party developers, it’s really simple to use and quick to set up, but one of the aspects of Woocommerce that seems to confuse a lot of people is the pricing structure of Woocommerce.
Yes, Woocommerce is free to use, however, there are paid plugins that are available to increase its features. Woocommerce is a plugin that gives WordPress e-commerce functionality, while both are free to use, you will need to purchase hosting to make your WordPress website available on the internet.
The free version of Woocommerce should have enough features for most businesses, some business models who have specific requirements may need to look in some paid plugins.
Woocommerce is a pay for what you use a business model, while other e-commerce solutions make you pay for every feature with high monthly payments. With Woocommerce, it’s more of a pick and mix.
What I recommend for most people starting out is to use the free version as long as possible and as your business starts to generate revenue, you can reinvest that into your online store with premium plugins to increase the features.
Woocommerce is open source software, which gives you a lot more control over your store, other e-commerce solutions reserve the right to terminate your store if they don’t like how you’re operating. While for most people this won’t be an issue, for me personally, I don’t like to leave the fate of my business up to someone else.
One of the biggest reasons I really like WordPress and Woocommerce that I’m surprised no one really talks about is decentralization. When you build a WordPress website, you get your hosting, then install WordPress, install Woocommerce, add your theme and choose your page builder. If my hosting company becomes slow, I can easily change my host within an hour, if I find a better e-commerce plugin than Woocommerce I can change it out within an afternoon, there is so much you can adjust and customize with your WordPress site to make it the very best website possible. But with other content management systems who have their own hosting servers, you’re locked in, there is nothing you can change.
Woocommerce itself is not an e-commerce website, it does require WordPress to function. WordPress is a free open source content management system that allows to build websites without having to do any coding or requires any technical abilities.
While Woocommerce and WordPress are free to use and are perfect to help you build your online store, you will need to pay for hosting.
A host is a server where your website is stored and is made accessible on the internet, having a host is essential if you want to run an online store.
If you want to run a Woocommerce store, you’ll also need an SSL certificate, an SSL certificate is provided by your host and it encrypts data being transferred over your website such as credit card information. Some hosts will provide you an SSL certificate for free and some can charge hundreds per year, if you want a list of hosting companies that offer free SSL certificates and are perfect for e-commerce, you check it out here.
Hosting companies can start at $3.95 a month, this will be the bulk of your expenses when you’re getting started.
As your company grows and you start to generate more traffic, you may need to look for a premium hosting company which tend to cost a lot more but their servers are better suited to websites with higher traffic demands.
The next thing that can cost a lot of money when you’re starting is your WordPress theme.
Your theme is what structures the appearance of your WordPress website, there are a range of themes available that are free and paid and some themes are built with specific purposes in mind such as blogging or e-commerce.
To begin with, most people want a free theme, I discuss free themes in more detail my article the best free Woocommerce theme, one thing you need to know with free themes is that there is no financial incentive for the developers to keep the theme updated which can leave it vulnerable to security risks.
This is why I recommend Storefront theme, the Storefront theme is built by Woocommerce to be perfectly integrated with Woocommerce. Plus it receives plenty of updates which will help reduce the security risks of your e-commerce site.
So while Woocommerce is free as well as WordPress and Storefront theme, you will have to pay for hosting, as mentioned earlier this will be the biggest expense when starting your online store, however, $3.95 a month is significantly cheaper than other e-commerce solutions.