For our second ZenMasters blog we’ve looked into the advantages of selling on WooCommerce, a free ecommerce plugin built to integrate with WordPress. It’s a popular selling platform for online sellers due to its flexibility, easy customisation and a wide range of plugins. We’ve asked successful Zenstores users for their expert advice about how to get started with WooCommerce:
1. How does WooCommerce compare to your other selling platforms?
Scott MacDonald runs Sandy Leaf Farm, which sells high quality make at home kits: “WooCommerce is a very flexible platform, and integrates with numerous plugins. We've tried both Magento and OpenCart in the past, but have become frustrated at the lack of customisation that is possible. It is also really easy to use, especially if you have run a website on wordpress before.”
"It’s a great tool for a quickly growing company"
Imran Iqbal runs online group buying business, CrowdZap, which allows users to join together to get discounts on products and services: “It’s a great tool for a quickly growing company. Further down the line we will be building something more bespoke and managed by a third party, but it fits our needs perfectly at this stage of growth. The great thing is you can install plugins (for a small fee), which allow you to feed your products quickly to Amazon and Ebay. As Ebay/Amazon charge fees for sales, you can easily then put a percentage on to cover this.”
2. Anything it's particularly good at?
Scott MacDonald: “WooCommerce is great at SEO and combining ecommerce with other features such as a blog. We’re able to blog about our products and embed the 'add to basket' links in directly.”
Imran Iqbal: “WooCommerce has the member and groups functionality to allow you to offer a bespoke service like CrowdZap.com, which isn’t available with Shopify, Volusion etc. However, you do have to constantly monitor for updates and compatibility checks, so there are no security leaks, which isn’t necessary with other platforms.”
3. What WordPress plugins, apart from WooCommerce, couldn't you live without?
Scott MacDonald: “The one plugin we couldn't live without is the Stripe Payment plugin. It allows customers to pay without leaving our website or going through a service such as paypal. We have found that it has increased checkout completion significantly.”
Imran Iqbal: “The key ones have to be the Paypal Payments plugin and the MailChimp for Wordpress plugin.
“The Paypal plugin allows seamless installation of my paypal account. We found a 37% reduction in sales when experimenting with removal of the paypal option and forcing users to use credit cards only. Although the cost is perhaps a percent or so higher, it is well worth having Paypal, particularly for new stores, as it gives your site some real credibility.
“The Mailchimp plugin is essential for effective re-marketing to CrowdZap members and also to CrowdZap customers. It allows us to capture their email details in a compliant and consensual way, and auto uploads the email address to our Mailchimp list, ready for our next email campaign. Sales can therefore work much quicker through the lifecycle, through to delivery.”
4. What advice would you give to someone thinking about setting up a WooCommerce shop?
Scott MacDonald: “I would advise anyone thinking about setting up a WooCommerce store to get a well designed premium theme. We purchased our theme from www.themeforest.com, where they have a huge selection at a really reasonable price. I don't know much about web design, but the theme we purchased for under £50 makes the website look great.”
Imran Iqbal: “If it’s a simple store, I would suggest that a managed service such as Shopify may be a better initial option, particularly for someone who is a novice at building websites. You don’t even need a server with those, and all payment options are integrated. But definitely for flexibility and sheer power, Woocommerce can mix it with the big boys.”
If you’re already using WooCommerce or thinking about using it, Zenstores will be integrating with WooCommerce in the next couple of weeks so it'll be simple to manage your orders and print shipping labels.