Ecommerce online shops for artists and creative entrepreneurs are a necessity in a post-pandemic economy. Even a year after the major shutdown, some creatives have yet to launch online because of the struggles of learning and implementing an online store.
I’ve managed to ease into a new day job where online store management is a big portion of my day-to-day thus teaching me a few things about selling online. Over the years, I have worked with WooCommerce, Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify. I have designed and redesigned my website numerous times and learned the right and wrong things to do. I’ve even broken my site, had it hacked, and I even erased the entire thing.
My first successful online shop was created on WooCommerce on my WordPress site.
This post reviews the pros, cons, and my recommendation for artists and creative entrepreneurs who are looking to start or upgrade their online store to WooCommerce on their WordPress site or blog.
Pros of WooCommerce
It’s completely free to use and set up a WooCommerce shop on your WordPress website. This means, if you already have a site on WordPress, with a bit of work, you can easily add a shop component for no extra costs adding to your monthly overhead.
Please note, while WooCommerce is free to use, there are still fees involved if you are new to WordPress, the main ones are obviously paying for your domain and hosting. Other fees are applicable if you connect your WooCommerce to Paypal and process credit cards through that payment method you will likely incur a 2-3% service charge per transaction to use Paypal.
By using WooCommerce you can easily connect to supportive plugins like Facebook for WooCommerce, Mailchimp for WooCommerce, and more. You can also integrate your Google Analytics to track data.
One of the big connectivity perks is connecting to your Facebook page, thus building a Facebook shop. This allows you to be able to link the products you sell on your WooCommerce site to posts featuring your product on your Facebook page and Instagram account. Simple tagging features on Instagram and Facebook allow users to click and easily head over to your shop.
Other online shops like Shopify Lite need the upgraded version ($30 per month with full shop interface) to connect and promote through Facebook and Instagram shops.
Since WooCommerce can live within your blog or website, everything is located in one digital space. This oftentimes makes it easier to manage because updating your website, posting digital content, and processing orders are all located under the same login.
Like all WordPress sites, the customization is vast and wide. You are able to customize your WooCommerce shop as well through the use of themes for your online shop. However, with endless customization, this may be more difficult for the novice e-commerce shop manager.
Cons of WooCommerce
While WooCommerce is free, the themes, plugins, and upgrades are offered everywhere. Almost every plugin has a Pro version. Artists and entrepreneurs who have a difficult time sifting through the necessary options for operating versus add ons can easily mount up high monthly overhead costs. There is a tipping point where you can get a better user experience and functionality (POS, invoicing, hardware, and tech support) if you were to shop a different e-commerce platform.
There is a bit of a learning curve with WooCommerce. After downloading a bunch of plugins to get going, it can be hard to determine where exactly you start. Set up Paypal API to accept payments, and setting your view cart and check-out pages can be difficult settings for those who are new to e-commerce. You may need help with some of these features and this is where a consultation may be helpful.
You will need to download a number of plugins to manage your WooCommerce shop. The obvious one is WooCommerce itself, but as you add on to your shop capabilities, you will probably link to your social media, maybe integrate your email list, or more.
Being unable to clearly understand what all the plugins do on your site can lead to a number of issues:
- The overall ability for you to manage your site and shop
- Prevent business growth or sales
- Inability to properly service customers
- Poor user experience for you the user and customers
- Increased cost for plugins you pay for but don’t fully utilize
- Slow down your site speed
If something happens to your WordPress (hacked or security breach, erased content, locked out from password, etc.) the shop goes down too because they exist in the same place. Using other services that can connect to your WooCommerce such as Shopify Lite allows your inventory and customer data to live securely elsewhere rather than with WooCommerce.
While overall security for Woocommerce is not a big issue to be concerned about, there is a constant need to update plugins and your site to prevent security breaches. Failure to manage and update your site will allow your website to be available to hacks.
Limited Features for Expansion
While WooCommerce is a good place to start selling online with minimal investment and low-risks, there are limitations to using this for your sales platform. There are no invoicing or POS capabilities meaning point-of-sale or cash register capabilities. Most support is only offered by specific plugins for customers who are paying for the Pro version of their plugin.
Recommendation of WooCommerce
This online shop option will be easier for those who have mastered the ability to post, update and customize their WordPress site and less easy for those who already struggle with WordPress. For a low-risk investment, WooCommerce is a good place to start. But as your business grows, you might need to consider a transition to a sales platform with the additional features you need to operate and make sales.
For a budget benchmark, if you are willing to pay over $30 per month in plugins to make your WooCommerce shop function, then I would recommend heading over to my other post about the Pros & Cons of Shopify Lite, or looking at the Basic Shopify package too.