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Beginners guide to building a WordPress website Part 3; Features to look out for when choosing an eCommerce Plugin for your WordPress website

The internet has matured to become one of the most fertile grounds on which most companies and enterprises are building their businesses and selling their products. This is because there are millions and billions of prospective buyers making purchases every hour on the internet, who have broken through the barriers of physical location in trading.

Most online merchants find it difficult to add and setup eCommerce functionalities into their websites, and when they do, it looks very daunting and shabby. You may not know where to begin from in setting up a shopping cart, and that is why we have listed the following WordPress eCommerce plug-ins to help you setup a shopping in less than 15 minutes:

  1. WooCommerce
  2. Easy Digital Downloads
  3. Ecwid
  4. Jigoshop
  5. iThemes Exchange
  6. Cart66 Lite
  7. WP eCommerce
  8. Marketpress

The above list is not exhaustive, but we want to quickly look at the characteristics and features that must be present in an eCommerce plugin before you would purchase it and use it to add shopping cart to your WordPress website. Here are the salient features.

  1. Support for physical and digital product offerings: Online stores that sell physical product may require eCommerce plugin with sound product pages, shipping costs calculators, tax calculators, and variant calculators. However, their counterparts whom market digital products or services require eCommerce plugins that have email features with downloadable links, plugins that retain customers profiles, and offers the owner autonomy over what to restrict or not. Hence, in choosing an eCommerce plugin, ensure that it can support both digital and physical product marketing.
  2. A beautiful shopping cart: This point can be argued to be relative to individuals, but the beauty of any shopping cart anchors on its simplicity. The first factor to observe is the checkout process – does the customer checkout on your website, or is he/she redirected to a third-party website for checkout? Another point to observe is the branding-is it customizable or not? Lastly, you need to ensure that the checkout page has no customer-distracting features like pop-ups or adverts.
  3. An extension library to expand the basic features: The major reason many people and enterprises are using WordPress is because it is an open-source community. This implies that you can employ any theme or plugin that expands or introduces any functionality to your WordPress website. Therefore, WordPress should fully support any plugin that you intend to use in setting up a shopping cart on your website before considering such plugin.
  4. Credible payment gateways: A payment gateway can be defined as a merchant service provided by an e-commerce application service provider that authorizes credit card or direct payments processing for e-businesses, online retailers, bricks and clicks, or traditional brick and mortar. Hence, your plugin must support some of the trusted and widely used payment online gateways in order to be acceptable.

The four features on this list are the must-have features of a user-friendly plugin, and only four of the above plugins we have listed possess these criteria (i.e. WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, Ecwid and iThemes Exchange). Hence, we recommend any of these four plugins for adding shopping cart on your WordPress website.

However, other features are necessary to lookout for when looking for an eCommerce plugin have been listed below, and they include:

  1. Themes built just for the plugin
  2. Advanced user capabilities (wish lists, saving a cart, making a profile)
  3. Integrations with multiple CMSs
  4. Marketing tools (like email marketing and affiliates
  5. Tools to Sell Subscriptions and Memberships
  6. Powerful customer management
  7. Discount codes and promotions:
  8. Advanced reporting
  9. Shipping and tax calculators

If you can spot all these features that we have discussed and listed on any plugins, then that plugin will be most suitable for adding a shopping cart to your website.

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