With some of the advances in technology, the accessibility of e-commerce has increased in recent years. Many people want to get started an build their online store selling their products and services directly to their customers but want to know how much its actually going to cost them, the goal of this article is to break down every cost you’re going to incur with your Woocommerce website.
Woocommerce is free to use, but there will be some other costs that you will incur when setting up your Woocommerce website. This includes hosting, domain name, SSL certificate, WordPress theme, and transaction fees. There are additional features that don’t come with the free version of Woocommerce that does cost extra such as weight-based shipping and subscriptions, the pricing will vary but most are one-off fees.
No doubt Woocommerce is one of the cheapest ways to build an online store since Woocommerce is a free WordPress plugin and WordPress is a free content management system, it is really affordable to get started with your own online store.
As your store grows, there may be some additional services such as inventory management systems and customer relationship management systems to help you scale your business which often has subscription payment methods.
The main expense you will find is hosting, a host is where your website is stored and is made available on the internet.
Not all hosts are created equally, there is a range of factors to look for such as server speed, support team, security and ease of use.
You want to make sure you choose a premium host, there are free hosts available, however, these free hosts are often plagued with security risks which could destroy your e-commerce business overnight, I would never recommend anyone to use a free host ever.
I do have a list of recommended hosting companies which you can read more about here.
Most hosts will offer discounts when you buy your plans in a 3-year block and can be rather affordable per month.
I recommend going for a host that offers WordPress one-click install which makes it easy to install WordPress which is required for Woocommerce.
If you choose Bluehost for your hosting (which is one of the worlds biggest hosting companies), selected their basic plan and pay for 3-years up from, it would cost you $2.95 US per month to host your online store.
Your domain name is the URL of your online store, for example, my domain name is okryan.blog.
There are a few variable costs that are associated with domain names.
The first is your top-level domain (TLD) which is the suffix of your domain name, the most popular TLD is “.com” but there is a wide range of TLD’s available, some are country specific such as “.com.au” or “.co.uk” which can give you an SEO boost in that specific country and others such as “.blog” which are universal but each TLD will vary in costs but they are generally bought in 1-year blocks.
Because the “.com” TLD is so popular, you may find it hard to find the perfect domain name. Some people will buy desirable “.com” domain names and resell them at a higher price. So you may have to pay a premium for that perfect business name or compromise and get an alternative TLD.
Most domain registries will offer your Whois privacy, this is up to you because your contact information that is associated with your domain name is accessible, what many web design agencies will do is contact owners of newly registered domains. What that means for you is for about 2 weeks after registering your domain name is your phone and email account will be flooded with web design offers. So for some people, purchasing domain privacy can be a great option to prevent the hassle.
If you get your hosting through Bluehost, you also receive a free domain name. Alternatively, on average you can purchase a domain name for around $10-$20 a year depending on TLD and registrar.
If you want to run an online store and accept payments online, you need an SSL certificate, this is non-negotiable. An SSL certificate encrypts data being transferred by your website such as credit card information.
You have a couple of options when it comes to SSL certificate.
Many hosting companies will offer you a free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt which is a great option.
But you can also purchase an SSL certificate starting at $50 – $299 US a year.
While the free version may be enough for many online stores, Let’s Encrypt offers no warranties which means if you have a security violation because of your SSL certificate you could be left empty-handed, while premium SSL certificates offer warranties that range from tens of thousands to millions.
Most premium SSL certificates will also provide you with a seal that could be a trust factor for your customers and help boost conversions.
Many people when they get started will go one of two ways when they pick a theme, they try to get a free theme or get a premium theme with all the bells and whistles.
The problem most free themes have is that there is no financial incentive for the developers to keep the theme updated, it’s not uncommon to see free themes that haven’t received an update in months or even years. An out of date theme can leave it vulnerable to security risks.
The problem with premium themes with all the bells and whistles is that these themes are often built with web designers in mind and in the hands of someone with web design skills, they can build an amazing looking website. However, the learning curve can often be too high for people who are building their first website what I often see is people use these themes with a high level of customizable features but end up with a terrible looking website, or they spend months tweaking things because it doesn’t look quite right.
Another issue some themes can have is that if they aren’t built with Woocommerce in mind you can have some integration issues, while most themes should work with Woocommerce, there can be some incompatibilities that can affect the way it looks.
There is one theme that is free to use that receives consistent updates, is beginner friendly and is perfectly integrated with Woocommerce and that theme is called Storefront. Storefront is built by the Woocommerce team to work perfectly with Woocommerce, it’s free to use but there are some additional add-ons that you can purchase to alter some aspects of its appearance, however, the free version is more than enough to get started.
While Woocommerce doesn’t charge any transaction fees, you will need a payment processor in order to accept payments and these payment processors will charge a transaction fee.
Most payment processors will charge 2.9% + $0.30 US per transaction which does vary between the country your business is based in and the country you’re selling too.
Because most payment processors charge the same amount, I would recommend checking out my article on Woocommerce transaction fees for more details on the features and benefits of each payment processor and how it could enhance your online store.
While the base version is enough for most stores to get started with, there are paid plugins available on the Woocommerce website that increase its functionality, most of these are one-off fees and they will add extra features to help improve your online store.
The main plugin most people buy is Table rate shipping, the Table rate shipping plugin gives you the ability to add advanced shipping rules for conditions such as weight and dimension. The free version of Woocommerce doesn’t include weight based shipping but uses per product based shipping. If you want more information on Woocommerce shipping and how you can emulate weight based shipping using the free version, check out my Woocommerce shipping article.
It has become more affordable and accessible than ever to build your online store.
Not long ago, it was almost impossible to build an online store without spending tens or hundreds of thousands on web developers.
The main costs are going to be Hosting, Domain name, SSL certificate, WordPress theme, transaction fees, and additional plugins if your business requires it.
However, using companies such as Bluehost, you can get started for low monthly hosting fees and receive a free domain name and SSL certificate as well as the Storefront WordPress theme, you can get started selling online for a small amount of upfront capital.