Not everyone who runs a WordPress blog wants to write. Indeed, more and more blogs are being modified with plugins that turn the basic platform into a more advanced content management system, well beyond the original purpose of WordPress.
One of the most popular ways in which a basic blog is enhanced is with e-commerce plugins. There are many of these currently available, each of which is designed to turn your blog into an online shop, or at least allow you to add a new page which will act as a store.
The following selection of e-commerce plugins can all be added to your site with the minimum of difficulty, although note that some configuration is required for setting up inventories and payment methods.
What You Should Look for in an E-Commerce Plugin
Before we take a look at the available e-commerce plugins for WordPress, there are a few things to consider.
A good e-commerce plugin will come with a degree of flexibility; if you don’t want this, or if the idea of a plugin seems like overkill for what you’re planning to sell, then you may prefer to look into the possibility of simply embedding a PayPal button or similar in your website.
If you’re planning on selling more than a couple of items, however, then you will need full inventory management features, the ability to add images, set a minimum limit on your inventory and enable customers to sign up, sign in and have an accessible shopping cart.
You will also need to be aware of any potential conflicts with other plugins, so check the FAQs and change logs of these plugins before installing.
One last thing – your blog will need good quality, fast hosting for you to be able to incorporate the following plugins. After all, you don’t want your customers left waiting around, do you?
Easily integrated into an existing WordPress site, WP e-Commerce is a feature-packed choice offering various PayPal payment options and Google Checkout along with easily modified templates offering complete control over the look of your new online store.
Compatible with other plugins and widgets, the plugin itself offers several widgets and a selection of template tags and shortcodes that can be used to integrate your store with the rest of your site.
Discounts, free shipping, bulk buy discounts and social sharing are all present, as is integration with the popular All in One SEO plugin.
This plugin is a great choice for any new or existing online store running on WordPress, and can be downloaded from the WordPress plugins site.
Providing support to pay by PayPal, cash or cheque, this plugin offers basic stock control features, a configurable “out of stock” message, shipping options that can be adjusted based on quantity and weight, and various options for listing products.
With a customer login and cart, compatibility with WPMU and inclusion of additional but unsupported payment options Authorize.net, Payson, eProcessingNetwork, Webtopay, iDEAL, the eShop plugin can also be used as a pure catalogue with the sales options disabled.
Full details and installation instructions for the eShop plugin can be found at the WordPress plugins site.
Offering a free version and a more feature-packed premium release, Cart66 enables you to sell both physical and digital products and even services.
International currencies, postage options and various PayPal payment choices (along with several other solutions such as eWay, Payment and Stripe) are available, as are multiple shipping options, custom fields and customizable email receipts.
You’ll find the full set of options and a download link at http://cart66.com.
A slightly different approach that takes the pressure of hosting an online store on your website away is Wazala. This plugin connects your blog to a remotely hosted online marketplace, which comes with a free 15 day trial (before switching to one of the packages which start from $9.95 a month).
Wazala enables you to manage a database of inventory and hosts all of your online store in the cloud, reducing the load on your blog’s server and appearing in a theme-independent pop-up when your visitors decide they want to go shopping. It’s a great approach, one that should suit any blog owner with concerns over speed and the financial implications of moving to a faster server.
The Right Choice Makes Money!
The above plugins are all perfectly competent and in the majority of cases are interchangeable. While you might not be able to swap data between them, their basic features are largely identical, as are many of their extended functions.
But as always, there is going to be one particular plugin that suits you more than others. As a result you should spend some time with the plugin before making it “live” on your site. To this end, most of these plugins will offer sample “dummy” data that you can play around with; also don’t forget to check that your online store doesn’t upset the layout of your blog, and that access to the plugin is restricted to the appropriate contributors on your WordPress site.
If you are still not convinced that WordPress can be turned into a top-notch eCommerce solution, then RichWP wholeheartedly recommends: Shopify, the no-hassle eCommerce Solution!