Now that we’ve covered the various ways to sell your products online, we’ll move on to the advantages of using WordPress to sell your products.
WordPress is Inexpensive
There are some advantages to using WordPress for your eCommerce. One of the big advantages is that WordPress is inexpensive, right? There’s never any kind of a monthly fee for selling something via WordPress. I mean you’ve got hosting fees and you may pay some kind of fees for your payment gateway and stuff like that but you’d still be paying fees for payment gateways.
There’s really no additional cost, there’s no percent of sale for example, right? You’re never going to have to pay a percentage of your sales to some other outside service if you’re selling inside of WordPress and of course, plugins are cheap or at least a relatively cheap.
Compare Prices of WordPress Plugins
This is a comparison chart that I’m getting ready that we will be using next week for us to compare the cost of various systems side by side. WP eStore costs $49.95 plus there are some extensions you can purchase. MarketPress costs $19.95. You see MarketPress has a free version and then it’s got a supporter version that costs $19.95 a month but you can always just do it for one month and then never pay for it again.
WooCommerce is actually free but a substantial amount of a functionality you may need or want requires you to purchase extensions and really as such, probably WooCommerce is the most expensive even though the software itself is free. By the time you string two or three extensions together, you have spent more on WooCommerce than you will have for any other plugins.
Shopp costs $55 for a site and it also has a number of extensions. You can end up spending $100, $150 at Shopp for the software.
Then Cart66 is $89 and some of its functionality can be had if you’re using gravity forms and so that’s an extension you might add to Cart66. So probably at the most you would be doing something like with WooCommerce where you might spend as much as $250 or something like that.
Why Not Use a Free System?
In the grand scheme of things, it’s very inexpensive. So you have these purchase prices but of course, there are entirely free systems out there. I’m not talking about any of them because I don’t really believe that people who are serious about developing or selling their products online really need a free system.
What they really need is a system that’s going to be well-supported, it’s going to last a long time and it’s going to do the job for them. I don’t think there’s any real defensible argument for the economic viability of a plugin that is free. If it’s free, it doesn’t really have in my mind economic viability which means it’s not likely to have longevity which means it’s not likely a suitable candidate for a real business. It might be suitable for something in emerging markets where $19.95 is a bunch of money but for most of us, it’s not.
WordPress is Relatively “Easy” DIY
WordPress is relatively “easy” for DIYers. Now, I say relatively because that’s relative to other solutions. eCommerce in WordPress is not easy, it’s more complicated than WordPress itself. It’s probably one of the most complicated elements of using WordPress and so all by its lonesome, it’s not really easy but it’s certainly relatively easy
It’s far simpler than trying to do it using Magento or osCommerce. It’s relatively easy compared to setting up some other types of eCommerce systems. It’s certainly doable by a regular lay person, it doesn’t generally speaking, require a programmer for this kind of thing so it is relatively easy.
Choosing a Solution that Matches Your Goals
I just want to say something else about “easy”. One of the reasons why it’s easy is because you can choose a solution that matches the condition. You don’t need to learn a complex system in order to do something simple.
So if we’re going to sell a single product and you’re going to do that with Magento or osCommerce or even one of the other embedded systems, then you’re going to have to go to a lot of effort to learn something just to do that one simple thing. But in WordPress, you can choose a solution that is very simple to match your very simple need rather than picking up full-blown, full-featured eCommerce system to do just one very simple thing.
Good Learning Resources
The other thing it has is that it has good learning resources, right? Now, my website is of course the best but nevertheless, even if you’re not a member of my site, there are plenty of other learning resources out there for people to learn how to use these plugins and learn how to set them up. So there’s plenty of good learning resources.
Maintain Control Over Your Site with WordPress
One of the benefits of maintaining control is that you’re not dependent upon say, the vendor changing their prices or going out of business. Right now who knows, maybe Volusion is here is to stay, maybe those guys have a successful business model and maybe their $15 a month is a price that they’re never going to raise but you don’t really know and you’re not going to stay in control of it.
These things have a way of changing over time, both in price increases and everything else and if you’d had a website with companies like Bluehost for a long time, you notice that even though you signed up at a really cheap price way back when, the prices themselves keep creeping up. You can see people can still get your original cheap price but you can’t anymore because you’re already an established customer.
These kinds of things have a way of getting more expensive over time and it can be difficult for you to decide to cut the ties with a proprietary system like that. You also don’t run the risk of the vendor shutting your store down. There are plenty of horror stories out there about people who are selling something and then somebody made a complaint and the vendor shut the store or the product down.
I have a good friend and client who actually didn’t have that specific situation happen but she certainly had a big potential conflict with her host because somebody accused her of plagiarism. It wasn’t true but it didn’t really matter, it was an accusation and so the host went to shut her site down.
That’s the kind of thing that can happen if you’re not in control of your store and you generally don’t have full control over the look and feel of your site when you are using some of the other systems.
So in my mind, probably the largest advantage of using WordPress to sell your products is that you get to maintain control over the store, over what it sells and you don’t really have to worry about something happening outside of your control.
WordPress is Everywhere
Another advantage of using WordPress of course is that WordPress is ubiquitous, it’s everywhere which means that there’s lots of opportunity for support, right?
Many Opportunities for Support
You don’t just have to ask a question in my forum, you could ask a question in the plugin forum, you can ask questions on other kinds of forums. You can Google Search for problems or solutions to problems and because WordPress is everywhere, it’s not really that difficult to solve problems yourself by looking around for answers.
Lots of Innovation
That also means that there’s lots of innovation; eCommerce has exploded over the last couple of years. When I first started teaching eCommerce, there was a fairly limited number of eCommerce choices that work very well and WooCommerce didn’t even exist.
WooCommerce is one of the biggest players now but it didn’t exist 2 years ago and so there’s an awful lot of innovation that’s happening in WordPress and in WordPress plugins that make working inside of WordPress advantageous.
Easy to Find Consultants
It’s also easy to find consultants to work for you. When you start going off in the more specialized or separate eCommerce systems, your pool of candidates to choose from is quite a bit smaller which means that it can cost you more to get help, for example with Magento or osCommerce.
WordPress is very highly customizable and it’s customizable in a bunch of different ways. One of the reasons, of course, is that you have very simple access to styles and stylesheets so you can make lots of changes to the appearance of a store simply with CSS.
Most of the plugins have some kind of style options that don’t require you to do anything other than just click a button and choose something from a dropdown list in order to change the style of the store or aspects of the store.
Most plugins will allow you to create custom templates for different aspects of a store so if you want to add things or subtract things from certain store pages, most of the time the worst case is that you just have to create a custom template for that.
I know that’s not something that a beginner can do but nevertheless for regular WordPress developers it’s quite simple and in that regard, most plugins have APIs that will allow a web developer to extend them
If you look at any of the boxes that I’ve created from MarketPress, for example, you may not notice it but those boxes were created using MarketPress’ API and so their API is created for you to be able to extend it.
One of the plugins that I wrote for Shopp is based on Shopp’s API and is intended to extend the power of Shopp onto Thesis. Again, it’s not a beginner’s task but nevertheless, it’s not a task that’s outside of our own possibility or is not particularly difficult to do for a real programmer or developer.
Of course finally, there are a lot of prête-à-porter solutions, a lot of ready-to-wear solutions. So even though things may be highly customizable, actually, there are plenty of cases where you don’t really even need to bother with customization, where you could take something off the shelf.
In fact, each of the things we’ll talk about over the next few weeks has its own off-the-shelf solution for what a site looks like and how the site is set up which can make setting it up, customizing it, configuring it much simpler than with the other options.
And those are some of the advantages of using WordPress.