WooCommerce is one of the most popular e-commerce plugins for online business owners. This plugin leads other e-commerce platforms like Magento and Shopify, powering over 22% of the top 1 million e-commerce websites globally. But, is it free to use?
In this guide, we’ll examine the truth about WooCommerce’s pricing. We’ll also look deeper into what it costs to run a WooCommerce store, and how you can work around some costs.
- 1 What is WooCommerce?
- 2 How WooCommerce Works
- 3 WooCommerce Pricing
- 3.1 1. Web Hosting
- 3.2 2. Domain Registration
- 3.3 3. WooCommerce Themes
- 3.4 4. Page Builder
- 3.5 5. Graphics
- 3.6 6. WooCommerce Store Management
- 3.7 Other Running Costs
- 4 Smart Ways of Keeping Your WooCommerce Spending Low
- 5 WooCommerce Pros and Cons
- 6 WooCommerce vs. Shopify
- 7 WooCommerce vs. Magento
- 8 WooCommerce FAQs
- 9 Conclusion
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is an open-source e-commerce software built on WordPress. The product allows you to create storefronts to sell both digital and physical products.
The platform is a popular e-commerce builder on WordPress. According to BuiltWith, there are over 3 million websites powered by WooCommerce.
The plugin is easy to use, quick to set up, and quite reliable as a whole. It integrates seamlessly with essential e-commerce services, such as Paypal, Stripe, Square, Facebook, Fulfillment by Amazon, and others.
James Koster and Mike Jolley created the platform. They initially worked to rejigger an existing e-commerce plugin called Jigoshop, but their work led them to the development of WooCommerce. WooCommerce released the inaugural version in 2011.
Eventually, WooCommerce – as well as its WooThemes subsidiary – got purchased in 2015 by Automattic, the same company behind WordPress.
How WooCommerce Works
WooCommerce is a plugin built on top of WordPress. So, it’s not a site builder on its own. Instead of signing up for one encompassing platform, WooCommerce provides a third-party integration with WordPress.
To get started, you need to purchase hosting services from a reputable web hosting provider. There are many out there, so feel free to choose whichever you would like. After that, you will configure WordPress on your host.
After customizing your design using the theme of choice, you’ll install the WooCommerce plugin to handle all of the site’s e-commerce functionalities.
So, WooCommerce works as the software that expands your site’s e-commerce functionality. Users can also purchase pre-built WooCommerce-enabled websites, thus making the platform an encompassing e-commerce platform developer.
WooCommerce is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms on WordPress. One of the reasons for its popularity is the fact that it’s free. All you have to do is install it, and you’re ready.
We’ve established that WooCommerce in itself is free. However, you will need to get several addons to run your e-commerce site. These addons aren’t free, but are worth the cost.
To start with, keep in mind that WooCommerce is a plugin. So, you will need to have a WordPress site that is compatible with plugins.
1. Web Hosting
Then, there’s the fact that you will also need a web hosting platform. Web hosting in itself costs money, and there are some significant factors that you need to consider when selecting a hosting site. These include:
- Server uptime
- Customer service
There are hundreds of hosting services available. All of these will have their features and costs, so you have your pick of the litter. Hosting costs start from as little as $5 per month and can go as high as $5,000.
Some of the popular web hosting services for WooCommerce stores are Bluehost and SiteGround. The basic plan on Bluehost starts at $3.95 per month for the first year, then $7.99 per month in subsequent years. For SiteGround, you also pay $3.95 per month for the first year. However, the following years will cost you $11.95 monthly.
Bluehost and SiteGround are some of the most affordable hosting services in the market. If you’re looking for the top-shelf stuff, you want to check out Kinsta – a product that charges $1,500 per month and $15,000 per year. Note as well that Kinsta’s lowest plan is $30 per month.
2. Domain Registration
There’s also the cost of registering a domain. The domain registration is usually inexpensive, but the cost can rise over time. Domain registration and hosting are quite intertwined, since most web hosting services allow you to search for domains and see if you’re looking to pick an option.
3. WooCommerce Themes
If you go with the official WooCommerce Storefront theme, you’ll get free themes but run the risk of having a bland-looking store. Most store owners have a pre-determined style for how their online stores should look. So, they often set aside funds to purchase premium themes.
The WooCommerce Storefront provides about 20 free themes. Depending on how high your taste is or your target audience, you might be better off buying a premium theme and hiring a designer to customize it. Premium themes will usually cost between $39 and $79.
4. Page Builder
Moving on, you could incur this cost through the drag-and-drop page builder to help you build your shop and design it as you would like.
Using a page builder is optional, not compulsory. Having a page builder makes it easy to edit your shop pages with ease without touching a single line of code. There are some top page builder options:
- Divi Builder: Starts at $89
- Elementor: Starts at $49 for a single site
- Beaver Builder: Starts at $99 for unlimited sites
- WPBakers: Starts at $46 for a single site
- SiteOrigin: Free
- Themify Builder: Free core plugin. $39 for the full bundle
- Thrive Architect: Starts at $67 for single-use and $19 per month for Thrive membership.
The graphics package will be required to help improve your site’s aesthetic. The graphics package includes a logo, images of the products, and more.
WooThemes, of course, comes free. You could also get a page builder or hire a web designer if you like. The cost depends on what you choose.
6. WooCommerce Store Management
The best stores run on their own without your help. On WooCommerce, the highest costs you will need to consider are shipping and payment gateways.
WooCommerce provides options for free shipping, flat-rate shipping, and local pickup. You can also access the WooCommerce Shipping extension, which is free and will help you connect to the United States Postal Service (USPS). With the WooCommerce Shipping extension, you can print shipping labels from your WordPress dashboard.
However, most store owners also tend to go for some advanced choices. Several options are available, including ShipStation Integration ($9 per month) and Table Rate Shipping ($99). There’s also ShippingEasy, which is free and provides up to 50 packages a month.
WooCommerce gives merchants the freedom to choose the payment provider suitable to their business.
WooCommerce provides a custom option called WooCommerce Payments. The product allows you to manage payments through the dashboard directly for a small fee. WooCommerce charges 2.9 percent + $0.30 for every transaction on an American debit or credit card. Transactions using cards issued outside the United States attracts an additional 1 percent charge.
As for the other top options, you the following:
- PayPal: Charges 2.9 percent + $0.30
- PayPal Pro: Charges PayPal charge + $30 per month
- Stripe: Charges 2.9 percent +$0.30
- Square: Charges 2.6 percent +$0.10
- Authorize.net: Charges 2.9 percent + $0.30 + $25 per month
There are several other payment processors available per feature and country. You can find their costs on WooCommerce’s payment processing page.
To optimize your store, you will need to gather practical information about your users, top-selling products, and other important metrics. The e-commerce sites that convert the most are those that can gather valuable statistics and make use of them.
Thankfully, you can access a Google Analytics tool for WooCommerce.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is a must-have for anyone at this point. If you’re running a business, you need a social media presence and a strategy to turn followers into buyers.
With WooCommerce, the primary objective is to integrate your online store with social media platforms. This way, people who go to your page on any platform will be able to see product details, availability, and a clear link to the product on your page. That level of customization is where you will want to invest. Here are some tools that can help you:
- Pinterest for WooCommerce: The Pinterest tool will list your product catalog on the platform and link it back to your site. It costs $79.00
- Facebook for WooCommerce: With the tool, you can connect your Facebook shop to your site. It allows you to track listings, market to the audience, and optimize your listings. For a single site, it’s free.
- Instagram for WooCommerce: The tool allows you to import your Instagram product images to your site. It starts at $29.00.
Other Running Costs
In truth, WooComemrce does offer a lot of free tools. You can find several free extensions and plugins on the platform. However, there are three significant running costs you will still incur:
Marketing and Communications
You need to engage with your customers if you hope to optimize your sales and make as much money as possible. WooCommece integrates with MailChimp, one of the top email marketing platforms on the Internet.
MailChimp offers paid and free plans, which start at $9.99 per month. It allows you to sync products and customers, optimize upsells, and track your Email marketing campaign conversions.
You can also take advantage of Privy, which allows you to set up Email pop-ups and gather Email subscribers. Privy is free, and it provides a great way of building an email list.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
WooCommerce also provides integration with several top SEO tools, including Yoast and All in One SEO. They provide seamless content optimization and will help your site to rank high on search engines.
Since you’re running an e-commerce site, you want to ensure that everything is secure. WooCommerce provides integrations with some of WordPress’ top security tools. You can check out Sucuri, which costs $25 a month (and $300 annually). SiteLock is another significant option, although you will need to contact them for their pricing.
Note that you will have to factor in an SSL certificate in terms of security. These certificates encrypt sensitive information, such as credit card data, between the customer and your server.
Smart Ways of Keeping Your WooCommerce Spending Low
1. Understand the basics
WooCommerce is great for several reasons. For one, you can customize your store to your taste. This control means you decide how much you want to spend not a third-party.
However, since small business owners tend to have limited budgets, it’s easy to get carried away and spend funds on a host of features that you can’t afford and don’t need. To mitigate against this, make a list of the extensions you need to start with and kick off with them.
Here are some of the most important features to focus on:
- SEO: You want your site to rank high on search engines to attract customers. An SEO extension does that over time.
- Social media: The world is dominated by social media now. It’s almost impossible to succeed in e-commerce without a substantial, optimized social media presence.
- Email marketing: You want to keep your customers engaged on new products and changes to your store.
- Payments: This is quite peculiar. Apart from having effective payment options, you also need to have a wide array. So, you won’t be okay with just one or two. More options mean you can receive payments from different customers.
- Security: Considering that a lot of customer data– and money – will be flowing through your platform, you should have a robust security feature with all the bells and whistles.
The details listed are for a basic setup. You will likely need others, so feel free to research further for details that pertain to your needs.
2. Create a budget and stick to it
One way of keeping your costs within your control is by creating a budget. It’s best you first identify the bare necessities and the nice-to-haves. Bare necessities would include costs you can’t avoid like domain, web hosting, inventory (except you’re dropshipping with SaleHoo or Orbelo), payment processing. Other costs that are helpful but not required would include website designer, warehousing, business incorporation and others.
WooCommerce Pros and Cons
WooCommerce continues to be a reference point for online shop owners despite the growth of alternative platforms like Shopify and Magento. But, it has its drawbacks. We’ll take a look at the pros and cons of WooCommerce you should know.
Pros of using WooCommerce
- WooCommerce is free
- Effective control over your site
- Simple to operate
- All the tools you need
- Seamless WordPress integration
Cons of using WooCommerce
- Consistent maintenance
- Not too great for beginners
- Lagging customer service
WooCommerce vs. Shopify
WooCommerce and Shopify are two titans in the e-commerce space that allow website owners to effectively set up their platforms and make sales. While WooCommerce powers over 22% of the top 1 million e-commerce websites, Shopify provides its services to over 600,000 businesses.
In truth, they’re both quite powerful. However, the question of which is right for you will depend on your circumstance.
Users who need an all-in-one package will love what Shopify offers. The tool allows you to build and publish your store through its platform directly, with integration for effective apps and features to help you out.
WooCommerce, however, works better for people who already have websites. The plugin is entirely reliant on WordPress, and it will help to transform your website into an online marketplace.
Shopify will take all the complicated and technical aspects of running a website and replace them with simpler tools for you. Essentially, it allows you to set up and be running in a few minutes. However, WooCommerce provides more customization options. It’s a self-hosted software, thus allowing you to tap into its code and access different parts of your business. You can read further in our comparison review here.
WooCommerce vs. Magento
Magento is another platform that gets a lot of comparisons to WooCommerce. Both provide a wide array of effective features that can help your e-commerce site, and they’re quite popular.
However, while WooCommerce is a solid e-commerce package that helps to improve your store’s functionality, Magento is more tailored to professional web developers and medium-to-large online store platforms.
So, while WooCommerce is more of a community product that anyone can use, Magento is more targeted at companies and professionals. It’s worth noting that Magento has a Community Edition and an Enterprise Edition. However, if you’re a beginner with little to no experience, WooCommerce is a safer bet for you.
Is WooCommerce free to use?
In truth, WooCommerce is free to install. However, the plugin can’t work effectively for your store without adding some extra features. Installing these features cost money.
Can I use WooCommerce without WordPress?
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, so it’s impossible to use it without installing WordPress on your site.
Is WooCommerce good for SEO?
Coming out of the box, WooCommerce is SEO-friendly. It runs on WordPress – a content management system that’s easy to optimize. In addition, you can easily install SEO plugins like Yoast that allows for out-of-the-box customization of your online shopping pages.
What can I sell on WooCommerce?
WooCommerce can be used to sell both physical and digital products. It comes with a standard shopping cart system that is robust and flexible. You can also run a consulting business and a community on WooCommerce. This way, you can sell your consulting services and membership access to your community.
WooCommerce is a reliable platform that can markedly improve your e-commerce experience. It provides a myriad of opportunities for store owners, but it comes with a lengthy learning curve to deal with. Besides the advantages, you should also consider the extra costs that come with running a store on WooCommerce.
Every e-commerce store owner running on WooCommerce is the master of their universe. This means you’ll incur the total costs to get your site up and running. However, we believe you should be fine if you can manage your finances and spend only on essentials.