IF YOU’RE LOOKING TO START AN ONLINE STORE, THE PLATFORM YOU CHOOSE IS ESSENTIAL.
While there are a wealth of options, making sure you pick the right one can smooth out the setup process, and ensure that you’re prepared no matter how large your e-commerce store grows.
WordPress has become a popular e-commerce platform, and it offers a number of key benefits for online store owners. We’ll talk about these in more detail later on. In a nutshell, however, the platform is scalable, secure, and flexible enough that it can handle practically any type of e-commerce site.
In this post, we’ll explain each of WordPress’ core benefits for online shops. We’ll also touch on some recent developments within WordPress that make it an even more attractive option. Let’s get started!
Deciding Whether to Jump Aboard the WordPress E-Commerce Bandwagon
It’s no secret that e-commerce is big business. Based on current projections, around one-quarter of the globe shops online, which is a very significant customer base. What’s more, those two billion people account for nearly 14% of global retail sales figures. In other words, there’s a lot of business conducted online, which is probably why you’re reading this post in the first place.
However, because there’s so much activity, there are also a lot of businesses vying for attention. E-commerce is a classic case of over-saturation, and it takes a well-planned strategy to cut through the noise and stand out enough to attract customers.
Therefore, if you’re deciding whether to open an e-commerce store, you’ll want to first consider the following:
- You’ll need to be able to invest a significant amount of time and energy in the process. E-commerce is not a get-rich-quick scheme.
- If you deal in ‘impulse’ products, selling online can be especially viable given the rise in mobile browsing.
- Appealing to every one of the two billion people we mentioned earlier isn’t necessary. Instead, targeting a very specific niche is almost always a more effective approach.
- Your customer’s security should be a primary concern, as it’s almost inevitable that your site will be attacked at some point.
If you do decide to take the leap, you’ll want to choose a platform that’s secure and well-optimized on mobile devices (at a minimum). Ideally, you’ll also want a solution that can keep up with a rise in traffic you’ll get once your marketing wheels begin turning. Fortunately, WordPress can do all of that and more.
Here Are Some Reasons Why You Should Choose WordPress for Your E-Commerce Site
When we talk about ‘scalability’, we’re referring to how well WordPress adapts to your site’s growth over time. As a full Content Management System (CMS), the platform is robust enough to either stay small or expand to whatever size and scale you need.
Of course, it’s worth noting that your web host has as big a role to play in your site’s scalability as its platform. For example, if you sign up to a small shared hosting plan in order to run a simple blog, it should run smoothly as long as your traffic numbers stay low. However, if your blog receives the dreaded ‘Reddit Hug of Death‘, those guarantees are thrown out the window.
Therefore, what you’ll want to do is combine a high-quality host with a platform that will fit whatever use you put it to. If you take a look at the WordPress Website Showcase, you’ll see that it’s packed with a number of very high-profile sites, such as The Village Voice and TechCrunch. This means that the platform has your back, whatever your goals happen to be. Dedicated WordPress E-commerce hosting is also a very smart way to ensure you have the proper engine under the hood.
Security is vital for any online store, and not just for your own sake. It’s also vital to protect your customers at all costs. Since WordPress houses just about all of the data you’ll need under one roof, malicious users who break their way in can cause a lot of damage.
To illustrate the point, consider the kinds of information the platform will hold once you begin running an e-commerce store. Your database will include customer login credentials, payment information, and other sensitive details. Letting any of that data be compromised would be a disaster for your store and its users. That means your site will need plenty of protection.
Thankfully, WordPress is built from the ground up to be inherently secure. The platform protects you deep down within its core code, and it’s easy to enhance your site’s security even further. For example, you can quickly set up a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate with your host. You can also install security-focused plugins, which we’ll talk more about in the next section.
WordPress has definitely had a hand in evolving the design of the internet as a whole. The ‘WordPress look’ was once obvious, and usually meant a big header with navigation, a sidebar full of ‘widgetized content‘, and a blog template focused on readability.
However, the platform has outgrown these early stylistic staples, and can now be thoroughly customized in terms of appearance and layout. This is made simple thanks to the vast number of themes and plugins that are available – many of them completely free. In short, a theme controls the look of your site, while plugins enable additional functionality.
It’s the latter that will serve you particularly well when creating an e-commerce site. For example, WooCommerce is the number one e-commerce plugin, offering immense power and control through a user-friendly interface. There are also a number of security plugins available, such as Wordfence, to help you protect your site even further.
What’s more, the code WordPress is built on is very developer-friendly. This means you can create or commission a custom design to meet your exact requirements. Plus, there are a multitude of ‘page builder’ plugins – drag-and-drop tools that let you slot the elements you need onto the page, and create your site without the need to know anything about code. Of course if you need help The Ninja’s are only a quick call away!
In fact, WordPress has just recently introduced its own native Block Editor, which offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to your content’s layout and features. Some plugins, such as the aforementioned WooCommerce, also offer ‘blocks’ for this editor, meaning that you can create highly-customized product pages with ease.
When you’re starting a new e-commerce store, you’re likely working with a minimal (or non-existent) budget. Fortunately, this platform is a very cost-effective solution. While running a shop based on WordPress isn’t completely free, you’ll need to spend a lot less than you would with many competing platforms.
Let’s check out the bare minimum requirements for setting up a website:
- A domain: Around $10–12 per year for the first year; usually $20-$20 per year afterwards.
- Web hosting: This can vary, but around $30/month; always best to pay a year up front for these kinds of prices.
- WordPress: The platform itself won’t cost you a cent, as it’s free to download and use.
- Creative (optional): If you choose to use a developer and a creative designer, like The Creative Ninja, those fees will vary of course.
That’s all you need to get your e-commerce website off the ground. Of course, there are other options you can spend some money on. If you want to bolster your security with further protection, for example, that may bump up the cost. You might also want to look into some premium e-commerce plugins, and consider picking up a dedicated e-commerce theme.
If you’d like to outsource the development of your site, that’s likely to push the cost up quite a bit. Unless you’re looking to do something particularly ambitious, however, chances are you can handle most things without outside help.
When it comes to e-commerce, WordPress is king. While there are plenty of dedicated platforms for selling your products, few can offer the same level of power, protection, and personalization. What’s more, with the free WooCommerce plugin you’ll have no excuses for creating a store that’s anything less than stellar.
To recap, the four primary benefits of WordPress as an e-commerce platform are:
- WordPress offers almost unlimited scalability and stability, and powers some of the largest sites on the web.
- Security is at the forefront of the platform and can be enhanced further with the right tools.
- There are thousands of themes and plugins that offer a unique look and custom functionality based on your requirements.
- The platform is a cost-effective solution, and you can get your store off the ground for a very minimal investment if you do it all yourself.