WordPress Ecommerce: What to look out for?

WordPress has come a long way since its early days as a GPL fork of b2/Cafelog. Nowadays it powers 18.9% of all websites in the world, and it’s bound to grow even more. How about Ecommerce WordPress? Is WordPress good enough for ecommerce stores? And what choices do we have in WordPress as compared to native ecommerce platforms like Magento, Prestashop and Opencart?

Read more after the break.

1) WordPress Ecommerce : Good enough for ecommerce?

a) WordPress Security

Is WordPress secure? WP Engine wrote an interesting piece of article on the security of WordPress. You can find it here. In short, most of the time, WordPress gets hacked because they got neglected and weren’t updated. At other times, there weren’t any measures taken to lock down the login page, making it easy for bots to keep trying by brute force.

But WordPress is as secure as it could be. Due to the quantum of users, its even more secure than majority of the standalone ecommerce platforms out there

Also, with Vaultpress, WordPress users have the option to

b) WordPress Performance

That came into mind when we were looking at running an online store via WordPress. Would WordPress be fast enough, especially if we’ve thousands of products and thousands of customers? Looking at the fact that WordPress is now powering even 15% of the top 10k websites, it’s safe to say with properly configured host (hint: NginX and Varnish), you can go places with WordPress.

And if you’re too busy, why not get WPEngine, the leading managed WordPress hosting solution? In fact, we tried running a site on WPEngine, over it’s lowest price range, and configured a dedicated server with 4GB RAM, NginX and Varnish, here in Malaysia, and it surprised us that the one on WPEngine outperformed our dedicated server by loading 50% faster!

c) WordPress Scalability

If WordPress scalable? We’ve yet to see a WP site with a million pages or a million products, but it’s safe to say again, with a proper managed host, WordPress can go places.

2) WordPress Ecommerce Choices

a) What are the choices?
By looking at the trends on Google, we find WooCommerce is currently leading. And for a good reason. Being a much larger company than JigoWatt, Woothemes was able to pour in the money and resources to grow WooCommerce and the various extensions with it. Dan Milward of WP e-Commerce and Dan Thornton of Jigoshop definitely felt Adii had played them out. Understandable.

Jigoshop and WP e-Commerce are behind, together with cart66 and the various WordPress Ecommerce plugins.

However, I believe WooCommerce’s decision to change their licensing terms for all new purchase to yearly renewals has opened the door for everyone else. After all, who’s willing to pay thousands of USD every year to renew the extensions needed?

It’ll also be a barrier for those who plan to start their own store with WooCommerce. Are they willing to invest the money? For those who’ve invested in many extensions and spent a lot of time on our stores, we’ve to stay with WooCommerce. But the security of knowing WooCommerce will be in there for the long haul is something reassuring =)

WP e-Commerce needs to shed its tag of being hard to use and having a messed up coding. Perhaps more PR. iThemes is a project I’m personally keen on. It has the potential to go further than WooCommerce, having learnt and observed WooCommerce for a number of years and having the resources due to the success of Builder and BackupBuddy.

Our bet:
Market leader : WooCommerce
Able to spring something out : Jigoshop and WP e-Commerce.
Dark Horse : iThemes’ Exchange
Limited, but good for small shops : Cart66 & Marketpress

3) WordPress Ecommerce Compared To The Rest?

Builtwith gave us a very interesting view, as WooCommerce continue to gain traction among the top 100k and 1 million sites worldwide. Here’s our thoughts on WooCommerce and it’s competitors, something iThemes, Jigoshop and WP e-Commerce would like to consider

a) Magento
Heavy resource hog. Upgrading is a long drawn process compared to WordPress and can be very expensive.

b) OpenCart
Fast and lightweight. Very good backend. However, extensions have a tendency to not be updated nor curated. Only 30% of the current ten thousand extensions work with the latest version of OpenCart. A big problem if you need certain functionalities that the extension provides and there is no updates.

c) Prestashop
Very innovative with a lot of features. But try updating and you might just lose all your data or parts of it (the last time we tried the auto update). Also, similar to Opencart, out of the 2000 odd extensions, only about 300 work with the latest version of Prestashop. Not good.

d) OSCommerce & ZenCart
Do not touch. Either you’ll spend hours coding or you’ll need someone to help you. Very old codes.

e) Shopify & BigCommerce
Good if you’re new to the ecommerce industry. However, I wouldn’t go near them as it’ll cost up to USD 30k/year for the options we need. Too expensive in the long run.

WordPress Ecommerce : The Conclusion

For us, we’ll continue on with WordPress as our main platform, mainly for
a) Security – if it powers 20% of total websites in the world without a problem, it can’t be wrong
b) VaultPress – Only WordPress gives you a live backup of your site, and unlimited images for USD 15/month. That’s very cheap =)
c) Plugins – Plugins adds functionality to our store that would need tens of thousands of dollars in programming.
d) SEO – the abundance of great SEO plugins like All-in-One and Yoast ensures WordPress sites are easily found.
e) Themes – Unlike some other platforms, WordPress is easily themable and it’s quite affordable to buy a well made theme, rather than hiring a digital agency to do one for you.

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Leo Koo
I run a small agency building and maintaining turnkey and bespoke WordPress sites. I also review WordPress plugins and digital marketing tools while running this site and the WPStarters Facebook Group. Do swing by and say hi :)
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