WooCommerce Review

Date Established
2011
Location
South Africa

Overview

If you run a WordPress site (and who doesn’t?) chances are good you’re wondering how to monetize it. There are a few options available to you, but the most popular among them is WooCommerce.

WooCommerce is a free, open source shopping cart plugin that works expressly with WordPress sites. Since its founding in September of 2001, the WooCommerce plugin has been downloaded over 28 million times. To date, WooCommerce claims to run 1.7M active stores, a staggering 41% of all eCommerce sites, according to stats from BuiltWith. You could say people like it.

Although WooCommerce is free to download, it is not totally free to actually operate a WooCommerce store. You can expect to spend a nice sum on web hosting and the extensions you’ll need to run advanced features.

Regardless, it’s clear why so many merchants trust WooCommerce with their online store; WooCommerce offers the features you need at a low price, and it integrates into a platform you’re probably already using.

Read on to see if WooCommerce is the shopping cart for your online store.

Pricing

WooCommerce is an open source WordPress plugin that’s free to download. It does not charge transaction fees; neither does it regulate bandwidth or storage (your site’s hosting will do that).

That doesn’t mean, however, that WooCommerce is free of all expenses. First, to maintain a WooCommerce site, you must purchase hosting for your WordPress.com site. And in order to get the best use out of the platform, you’ll have to spring for various add-ons and extensions, which range in price from free to hundreds of dollars.

However, because many of these extensions are one-time purchases, you’ll probably come out paying slightly less than you would with another popular option like Shopify.

Web-Hosted or Licensed

WooCommerce is a web-hosted WordPress plugin that can be used with any WordPress.com account.

Your WooCommerce site is self-hosted, so you have full ownership of all of your information. Check out hosting solutions for your WordPress site.

Specific Size of Business

WooCommerce is great for small to mid-size companies.

You should note, however, that if you’re expecting lots of traffic or plan to add thousands of products, you’ll need to find hosting that can keep up with your bandwidth usage. (WooCommerce gives a rather non-specific answer to how many products their platform can support.)

Hardware and Software Requirements

WooCommerce integrates into any WordPress.com site, although it works best when it’s paired with a WooTheme (more on this in Web Design). You should maintain a strong internet connection and an updated browser.

Server requirements are as follows:

  • PHP 5.6 or greater
  • MySQL 5.6 or greater
  • WooCommerce 2.5 requires WordPress 4.1+
  • WooCommerce 2.6 requires WordPress 4.4+
  • WP Memory limit of 64 MB or greater (128 MB or higher is preferred)

You’ll also need to meet WordPress’s minimum requirements.

Ease of Use

WooCommerce works seamlessly with WordPress, which is great for merchants already familiar with the über-popular blogging platform. In fact, since January, all WooCommerce users must have a WordPress.com account to log into the platform.

WooCommerce connects to your WordPress platform like any other WordPress plugin. Just click “Add New” on the plugins page and search for WooCommerce. Then, click “Install” and “Activate.”

Sounds simple, right? It is.

From there, a setup wizard will take you through the basic steps of getting started with WooCommerce. The setup wizard takes less than five minutes to go through and is simple enough, especially if you watch this video (which I wish I’d found before beginning).

From there, you can either purchase a premium WooTheme, or download the free Storefront theme, which WooCommerce highly recommends. You can do so on this web page or via your admin.

Then you can begin adding products. Honestly, I find the product editor a little strange (adding products looks just like writing a blog), but it works just fine. You can also categorize products and add attributes on this page.

WooCommerce Add Product

Click ‘publish’ and view your changes immediately.

Product Uploaded

Additionally, you can access pending orders, shipping settings, product information, and inventory tracking from your WordPress dashboard.

WooCommerce comes with pretty decent shipping functionality right out of the box. There are options for free shipping, flat rate shipping, local pickup, and local and overseas delivery. An automatic shipping calculator is built-in, and you can set different rates based on shipping zones. With a few add-ons, you can provide shipping estimates from major carriers like USPS, UPS, and FedEx.

Getting started with WooCommerce was not as easy as I had expected or hoped, though it’s hard to say exactly why. I think part of the difficulty had to do with the integration of WordPress and WooCommerce. I’m used to dealing with WordPress, and I’m used to managing eCommerce admins, but I was thrown off by an eCommerce admin that looks like WordPress.

I highly recommend using WooCommerce’s tutorial videos to guide you through the beginning stages of setting up your WooCommerce store (I wish I had found them earlier).

Features

WooCommerce offers features in a Core+Extensions model. The platform comes with all the core features you need right out-of-the-box. It’s possible to start selling immediately with the basic WooCommerce package. However, if your business requires more advanced shipping or checkout features, you are going to have to drop some money on add-ons.

WooCommerce has recently released a major update of their software: WooCommerce 3.0. Most of the changes in this update are on the developer side, but the release does include some improved product gallery features. Take a look at everything the update entails.

Here are some of the features you get free with every WooCommerce download:

  • Mobile friendly design: Both your storefront and your admin work great on mobile devices. Your customers can shop on the go, and you can manage their orders from anywhere.
  • Sell digital and physical products: Just check a box to show that your digital products don’t require shipping.
  • Geo-location support: Geo-location detects your customers’ addresses in order to streamline shipping and tax calculations.
  • Smooth purchasing: WooCommerce comes with one-page checkout to aid conversion. Also, WooCommerce uses AJAX for their “add to cart” buttons, so pages don’t need to reload when a customer adds a new product.
  • Organize your products: Group your products by category, add variations to each product, and sell affiliate products.
  • Inventory management: Use WooCommerce’s built-in inventory management to track your stock level, hold stock if an order is canceled, and hide out-of-stock items from your storefront.
  • Shipping options: Offer a shipping calculator on the shopping cart page, so there are no surprises at checkout. Provide separate options for customers’ shipping and billing addresses.
  • Search Engine Optimization: Benefit from WordPress’s built-in SEO best practices.
  • Create coupons and discounts: Make your discounts apply to only one item or all of them.
  • Checkout options: Allow your customers to create an account on your site or check out as guests.
  • Enable product reviews: Let customers post reviews of your products. You can even ensure that those comments come only from verified customers.
  • Analytics: Use WooCommerce reports to monitor your profits and track orders, traffic, and growth trends. Integrate Google Analytics (also free) for more in-depth analytics.

There are more features available with WooCommerce. These are just the few I deem most important. You can view the full list if you’re interested in more information.

Web Design

Although WooCommerce can technically be integrated into any WordPress.com theme, I recommend using a WooTheme for a couple of reasons: First, using a WooTheme reduces headaches involved with applying WooCommerce updates to your store. Second, WooCommerce’s web ticket support only applies to Woo products. Read WooCommerce’s Support Policy to learn more.

WooThemes provides their free Storefront theme to all users. They also offer 14 child themes, which are typically priced at $39. While Storefront is not the most exciting template I’ve ever seen, it’s all right for a free theme that works smoothly with all WooCommerce updates.

Last year, WooCommerce introduced a new Storefront Powerpack extension. This extension includes all of the tools that were included in the previous packages: Storefront Designer, Storefront WooCommerce Customizer, and Storefront Checkout Customizer. Storefront Powerpack gives you the ability to make changes to the look and feel of your Storefront site without touching any code.

If you’d prefer even more control over the look of your store, you can always add child themes or edit the HTML and CSS stylesheets. Because WooCommerce is open source, there are no limits to the customizations you can make to your platform, though you should be aware that you’re less likely to benefit from WooCommerce’s web ticket support if you customize your store.

Integrations and Add-Ons

As I’ve said before, WooCommerce takes a Core+Extensions approach to their platform. Any advanced features you may need come via extensions, typically at a price.

WooCommerce’s app store features over 300 extensions. I recommend researching extensions in the same way you’re currently researching eCommerce shopping carts. Take your time and find out what you need. Then, read lots of product reviews and comparisons to find out what will serve your company best.

(Note: I’ve compiled my own list of the Top 10 WooCommerce Extensions.)

Take a look at the full list of WooCommerce’s extensions. I’m listing a few of my favorite third-party extensions below:

Keep in mind that WooCommerce also comes with a REST API and lots of documentation. If you can’t find what you need, you can always pay someone to build the connection for you.

Payment Processing

WooCommerce comes with five built-in payment gateways, but if that isn’t enough for you (and if you experience any significant growth, it won’t be), additional payment gateways are available as extensions.

Here are WooCommerce’s out-of-the-box payment capabilities:

Add-on payment gateways include the following popular options:

At the request of their users, WooCommerce has also recently added Apple Pay as a payment option. Apple Pay payments are processed through Stripe.

See the full list of payment processors to see if your favorite is available.

Customer Service and Technical Support

As in the case with most free, open source options, WooCommerce comes with limited personal support. You won’t be able to get help through social media, email, live chat, or phone, though you can submit a web ticket. Usually, WooCommerce replies within 48 hours.

Support options are further limited if you choose to customize your site with lots of non-Woo products. WooCommerce will ask you to disable those third-party products before they can provide any aid. Take a look at WooThemes’s support policy.

Although personal support is limited, WooCommerce lets you access lots of self-help options. These tools include:

Remember that while WooCommerce integrates with WordPress, the two are not the same. If you have any questions regarding WordPress, be sure to contact WordPress Help instead of WooCommerce.

Negative Reviews and Complaints

Because WooCommerce is the force behind so many online stores, there are plenty of customer reviews available online. As a whole, those reviews tend to be positive, but there are still things even the most enthusiastic WooCommerce user would like to see improved. The following are a few of the most popular complaints:

  • Extensions can add up: WooCommerce comes absolutely free, but its extensions do not. Some extensions are priced as one-time purchases; others are monthly subscriptions. Do your research.
  • Limited support: You must purchase a product from WooThemes in order to access both the knowledge base and the user forums. Response to web tickets is reportedly quite slow.
  • Less theme flexibility: While theoretically you can use any WordPress theme, you probably shouldn’t. WooThemes work best with WooCommerce.
  • Steep learning curve: Some disagree with this one, but personally, I found it to be true. I had a hard time figuring out how to begin.

Others less common complaints mention:

  • Limited documentation: While some say there’s plenty of documentation available, a few customers claim there isn’t enough.
  • Difficulties with product updates: Non-Woo themes have a hard time with Woo updates. Get a WooTheme, people!
  • Messy code: (According to some developers.)
  • Difficulty incorporating extensions: One customer says it’s difficult to make extensions work with the platform and with each other.

Positive Reviews and Testimonials

There are lots of customers singing WooCommerce’s praises. Here’s what they discuss most often:

  • Attractive themes: WooThemes offers 14 mobile responsive options, and they’re all clean and image-focused.
  • One-page checkout: One-page checkout is often considered an advanced feature. It’s nice that it’s included with every WooCommerce platform.
  • Scalable: WooCommerce can grow with you.
  • Excellent selection of extensions: With almost 400 available, you’re bound to find the add-ons you need to run your store the way you planned.
  • WordPress community: When you download WooCommerce, you join a large community of shop owners who help each other find solutions to technical issues. Furthermore, because WooCommerce is such a popular open source option, you can expect developers to be constantly adding to the pool of features and extensions.
  • Free: Free is a very good price.

Here are a few less common positive reviews of WooCommerce:

  • Updates: Updates occur often, and customers report that the new versions of the platform are consistently better than the old.
  • Tutorials and videos: These step-by-step guides answer the most common technical questions.

Security

Because WooCommerce is self-hosted, your site’s security rests largely upon your shoulders. Sure, WordPress comes with some built-in security features, and third-party payment gateways reduce some of your personal risk—but you’re still in charge of guarding your site against security breaches. Check out WooCommerce’s advice on security.

Final Verdict

Are DIY projects right up your alley? If so, WooCommerce might be your kind of platform.

WooCommerce is a low price solution (assuming you keep your extensions reasonably priced), and it does an excellent job of harnessing WordPress’s SEO and functionality for your benefit. And, if you’re willing to work through technical issues with only some guides and forums to lean on, WooCommerce could be the right option for you.

Ready to join the WooCommerce community? Click the link below.

Get Started with WooCommerce

Liz Hull

Liz Hull

Liz is a recent college graduate living in Washington state. As of late, she can often be found haunting eCommerce forums and waiting on hold with customer service representatives. When she's free, Liz loves to rock climb, watch Spanish dramas, and read poorly-written young adult novels.
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17 Comments

    Paul

    It seems like woocommerce has been getting gradually worse over the years. I'm at the point now where I gave up on them. I'm now dumping thousands of dollars into developers pockets in order to switch to shopify.Some of my biggest pain points:1.) Little to no customer support2.) Broken payment gateway plugins with no sign of fixes. C'mon Mike Jolly. These are essential to run a business.3.) Slow loading cart and checkout page (due to AJAX technology). God the load time is SOOO Bad.4.) Woocommerce itself constantly breaks websites with every update5.) Extremely slow backend (woo dash, searching customers, ext.)6.) Extremely unreliable plugins. Nearly everyone of their plugins needs some type of modifying or tweaking in order to get it to work properly. NONE of their plugins work right out of the box.

    1

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Carol

    I purchased two extensions from Woo, but they came with very little documentation in regards to how to implement them and use them to customize my client's website. My support ticket went unanswered for more 6 days. I gave up and I decided to use their 30-day money back guarantee, which of course, requires you to fill out another support ticket. That, too has gone unanswered.

    1

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    K B

    I wish I had it all to do over again. WOO commerce is fine for you if you don't need much. If your business is growing and becoming more sophisticated and you are adding new products and are of high service and want to offer loyalty rewards, for example. it's not a good move to choose WOO. Each time you add a plugin, your site will go down. There are constant conflicts. WP updates your site will go down soon after. One of 18 plugins will suffer a conflict and it is YOU who has to figure out which. Today, Ignite WOO has taken my site down more than 45 times. NO notice. No obvious reason why. Nothing different, except a WP update in the last week or so, as far as I know. The thing that troubles me the most is a phone call, and emails have fallen on deaf ears. One of the calls was a few weeks ago. You just don't know what you are going to get every time you up your game in a WOO site. In the case of Ignite WOO, my developer tells me it was poorly coded. Totally unacceptable. It's like the wild-west. Anyone can hang out a marketing site and put only positive feedback up (read: that is a red flag!) and sell plug-ins. I strongly recommend an alternative if you are in a growing business. We are deep in and have spent so much time energy and money, we feel stuck. There are better alternatives today.

    2

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Greg Trobaugh

    As a new customer I am astonished by the lack of response to a ticket I initially put in the system over 24 hours ago. I Needed the Authorize DPM extension and only saw the Authorized AIM extension which I purchased thinking that the DPM version was included. I asked for an exchange but cannot afford waiting any longer. Worst support ever! I expect an immediate and full refund and we'll go with a competitor who my have more consideration for new customers.

    1

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Joseph

    I have now been using woocommerce for some time with multiple online stores.As an experienced and successful international retailer, with what I would call a very high all round online/tech knowledge I strongly recommend considering your ecommerce solution.Woocommerce is a great option for any startup small business with basic products that will never change.For anything else I have to recommend looking elsewhere. The support is by a country mile the worst I have ever received of any business, ever. Do not expect a response for a week, and the response will be almost guaranteed to be a pointless clarification, followed with another week's wait for response.. so on and so forth.. If & when your business grow's, expect your costs with the Woocommerce extensions to grow even more. EVERY basic feature you will need to give any customer satisfaction will cost you, the cost would be fair if they supplied any kind of after sales support.They don't.

    1

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Mike

    Just curious if this platform intergrates well with other api's like Google Merchant? I know this is an old article, but if you have any insights on api's I would appreciate it...Well covered topic!

    5

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Liz Hull

    Hi, Mike.

    It appears that WooCommerce does integrate with Google Merchant. There are a couple integrations that you can use (though the both come at a price). The Google Product Feed app (https://woocommerce.com/products/google-product-feed/) lets you upload your products to the Google Merchant Center. Woogle (https://woogleshopping.com/) can similar sync your WooCommerce platform to Google Shopping at a higher price. I recommend taking a look at both of them to see what best fits your needs.

    If you’re still looking for more of WooCommerce’s integrations, try their “Extensions” page (https://woocommerce.com/product-category/woocommerce-extensions/).

    Good luck!

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    mark

    im new and have Genesis theme. I started woo and it does not like Genesis. Should I get the woo theme that works with woo well? But i would have to change themes is it worth the work of changing themes? Free is very necessary at this time. Or try a different catalog plugin? I tried ecwid limited to 10 products free.
    thanks
    mark

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Adam

    I had done some trials with WooCommerce back when I had my old business and have to say that it was probably the best plug-in of its kind that I could find available and that I had managed to test. I ended up jumping ship and working for another company so never got chance to see the plug-in implemented properly. I now work for a company called http://erowz.com/ and they work on a completely different level so unfortunately we have no place for the app. I have however recommended it to others and am a big advocate. The fact you can get the plug-in free but then pay if need be to add a whole range of different add-ons, makes this very useful software indeed. Maybe my one criticism is the slight delay in page loading when the app is running but that’s something that can’t really be helped and will improve with updates.

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Elaine

    Can anyone tell me why my Woo Is not aceoting people’s PayPal or cards and keeps saying “.Sorry we don’t accept money from your state. Please call us and arrange another form of payment.”
    The coupon not happening either but still I can not an order to complete payment.

    And it true there is no one to call
    Does anyone know how to fix this?
    I had people try to make a buy from 3 different states.
    One tried and MY account cart page came up. Showing all the other people information who tried to make a buy.
    Help??

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Tu Nguyen

    Great review, very valuable for someone trying to research into this.

    We’re in the process of trying to work out what would be the best software to use for our website. We currently run OSCommerce for the ecommerce side, alongside WordPress for the content side. We have a lot of experience with WordPress.

    We need a software that is super mobile friendly, and the best for SEO. May I ask what WooCommerce is like in these areas? Also we have around 50,000-60,000 products in your inventory, I heard that WooCommerce has difficulties handling databases of this size, is this true? Can anything be done about it?

    Thank you so much,

    Tu Nguyen

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Sharon

    Hey Amad, Really great review there. WooCommerce is what we prefer and recommend to our clients as it is very easy to use and understand. If you know your way around WordPress(which is also very easy) then using WooCommerce is no big deal. The interface is quite similar to wordpress dashboard and adding products is quite simple. The best part is that it is a extendible plugin and can be integrated easily with other plugins and themes thus offering lot more functionalities and options. The payment processing is also very hassle free. Overall, if you need a very flexible eCommerce solution then WooCommerce is your best bet.

    4

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Denise

    I really like your reviews; however, on this one I feel like I am left without the first step... what do I need to do to test woocommerce?? for other ecommerce sites I was able to set up an account and play with it. I have been searching the web for over 2 hrs now and even hit download woocommerce (went to a local file in my computer) and I can not figure out what to do. I am OK with computers and even some html... however, I have never created anything with Word Press. Can you shed any light?

    5

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Amad Ebrahimi

    Denise,

    In order to use WooCommerce you have to first setup WordPress, then you can add the Woocommerce plugin. Here’s a live demo…http://www.ccnow.com/resources/documentation/wordpress-woocommerce-payment-module-live-demo

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Fst Studio

    Thank you very much! I developed a lot of web sites with WordPress and i mostly use Magento to e-commerce. I was looking for a review like this to easily understand the power of this plugin. Thanks!

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Kelly Clover

    I recently discovered a very important bug in WooCommerce, their latest version in fact. If you don’t check the box to enable shipping calculations it causes the tax calculations at
    the checkout to malfunction. I wanted the system to calculate taxes only for Texas shipments because I don’t collect sales tax from out of state. Although I offer free shipping on USA orders I had to check the box to enable shipping calculation, or it automatically would not calculate taxes at checkout.
    Another concern I have is Google’s finding that several plugins including WooCommerce are causing my webpages to take too long to load. I don’t use coupons and I would like to remove that and other stuff from WooCommerce that isn’t relevant to what I’m doing.

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Electronic Transfer Woo Commerce

    Excellent article overall. I really like your 'cherry picked' plugins to extend the WooCommerce functionality. Of the most commonly requested gateway integration requests -- we would have to say this is it.

    5

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

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