Shopping Spree: Some Great WordPress Plugins for Building an Online Store

You’ve come up with an absolutely brilliant idea for an online store. Your WordPress site is up and running and looking sharp. Now you’re ready to start marketing your wares or services and realizing some money. What’s next? The right ecommerce plugin.

But which one to choose? What features do you need? Will you and your customers be able to use it seamlessly and easily? All important questions, especially considering that the right platform gives you the opportunity to grow and thrive, whereas the wrong one could keep you mired in mediocrity and struggling to build a client base.

Here’s a peek at five WordPress plugins for building and running an online store, each with different features, options and layouts and each a good fit for different types of virtual selling. From unique payment platforms to specific themes to the appropriate amount of backend support, consider carefully which will work best for your specific needs.

  • By far the most popular e-tail plugin is WooCommerce, designed and launched by the company behind WordPress itself. Loaded with themes and optional add-ons, you have tons of choices for customizing your site’s layout and design. Also, it’s versatile in that you can hawk both physical as well as digital goods (music, software, photos etc.); inventory management is made easy; and there’s built-in support for the most popular payment platforms. On the downside, having so many design options can be a bit daunting for newbies who have limited experience with building a site.
  • Easy Digital Downloads is great for people who want to exclusively sell material that (you guessed it) is downloadable. Easy to use, it’s equipped with lots of features to build an attractive online store, has hundreds of extensions and add-ons for payment gateways and additional services and comes with free support forums and a host of video tutorials. However, if you want to add an external product to your site, it will be necessary to install third-party plugins, which can be unreliable at times.
  • If you’re looking for a platform that supports the sale of both digital downloads and physical goods, iThemes Exchange is a good choice. It also supports the selling of memberships and subscriptions to your website and has a very intuitive user interface with some great free add-ons. But because the platform is sort of the new kid on the block there’s less online support than with other programs.
  • Shopp is based on a design that gives it faster performance in terms of page load and query searches, and it supports all physical, digital and virtual product sales. It also has the functionality for recurring payments without needing to add a separate extension and has built-in security features that some other platforms don’t. But there’s no free forum support and it doesn’t come with many themes designed specifically for the platform, which means you’ll have to choose one from the WordPress core.
  • Lastly, Shopify is a stand-alone platform that integrates beautifully with WordPress and is extremely easy to use, especially for beginners. The plugin takes care of everything from shipping to payments and supports both physical and digital sales. It also excels at inventory management and melds nicely with Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately, there’s a monthly fee to use the platform, and Shopify charges an additional fee if you use a payment service other than the one they provide with the program.

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