5 Types of Must-Have WordPress Ecommerce Plugins

10 min read

Is your ecommerce business built around a WordPress website?

If your answer is yes, then you may be overwhelmed by the more than 50,000 WordPress website plugins that are currently available. But for most ecommerce businesses, choosing the right WordPress plugins to use is essential for keeping existing customers happy and bringing in new ones.

So, how do you choose the right ecommerce solution for your beloved WordPress site? Let’s take some time to discuss key features to look for in a plugin, and provide you with a list of some of the most trusted ecommerce plugins out there. Ones that will help make your ecommerce site the best it can be.

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Optimize Your Website First

It won’t matter how many useful plugins you have available if you can’t keep customers on your site. Load speed is one of the most crucial ways to keep your site engaging for customers. Since plugins are known to slow sites, you should take all possible steps to optimize site performance before adding a plugin. And you should always read reviews by other users who may have already commented on a plugin’s speed effects.

It is also essential that you always use the most current version of WordPress and all plugins. Not only does this help optimize performance, but it will help defend against the millions of WordPress-specific cyberattacks that occur each year.

Choosing Your Plugin

First, let’s define what a plugin is. It is a piece of software that contains a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. Plugins can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress site.

Which plugins are best for you depends on the nature of your ecommerce business and your specific functional needs. Ecommerce stores that sell physical products, for instance, need different features than those with purely digital products. That being said, there are several broadly applicable plugin categories, including payments, customer management, security and backups.

Plugin cost is an obvious consideration for many ecommerce businesses. There are many “free” WordPress plugins available, but sometimes costs are unavoidable. You should do cost-benefit analyses of plugins before making any decision, particularly when it comes to mission-critical plugins like security-related ones.

Shopping and Payments

Online ordering and payments are the lifeblood of any ecommerce business. So shopping and payments platforms are naturally the plugins business owners spend the most time thinking about. When you’re on the hunt for the right plugin, pay extra attention to features like store size, integrated website builders, mobile access, and the ability to scale as your business grows, among others. These will help you choose a solution that is right for your business both now and in the future.

Ecwid E-commerce is a full-fledged ecommerce platform that can also operate as a plugin that integrates with WordPress (as well as many other website builders).

 

Ecwid offers a broad range of pricing plans for any size ecommerce business, including our Forever Free plan, which provides accessibility to fledging businesses looking to get their feet wet without breaking the bank. In addition to the features mentioned above, Ecwid allows you to add your store to your social network sites such as Facebook and Instagram.

Ecwid also includes inventory tracking and integrated marketing features. And importantly, Ecwid considers issues that many ecommerce business owners may not even be aware of, from compliance with data privacy laws to using and storing customer data.

While some more difficult WordPress e-commerce plugins don’t offer any customer support at all, Ecwid provides customer support by email, chat, and phone.

Download Ecwid Ecommerce Shopping Cart plugin to add an online store to your WordPress website.

Get the Ecwid Plugin
Once installed, the plugin automatically creates a Store page where your customers can shop with you. You can set up and manage your online store right from your WordPress back-end. The Ecwid admin area is built in there, so you can manage your entire e-commerce website from one place.

You should also consider how your shopping and payments plugins interface with backend business applications. Some accounting programs like FreshBooks offer WordPress plugins with integrated online payment options that automatically update your books upon receipt of payment. And they can also integrate with your primary shopping platforms like Ecwid E-commerce.

Customer Management

Any ecommerce business needs to manage existing customer data and use its site to develop new customers. Plugins like OptinMonster allow you to add features to your existing site that drive subscriptions, expanding your potential customer base. It also includes robust analytical features to assess conversion rates, so you can tell how effective your site is.

Another approach for customer management is to create site memberships. Plugins like MemberPress make it simple to set up, track and monetize site memberships. Keeping in touch with existing and potential customers is also vital. Consider plugins like Constant Contact to build email campaigns for regularly engaging your customer base.

Note: If you’ve added an online store to your WordPress site with Ecwid, you have access to various email marketing tools. For example, you can collect emails from your website visitors, send abandoned cart recovery emails and other automated marketing emails.

An example of an Ecwid store added to a WordPress website (Source)

Also: Top 15 Free WordPress Themes For Your E-commerce Website

Security Plugins

While many ecommerce businesses focus primarily on the look and feel of the shopping experience, they need to apply just as much attention to backend issues. In other words, the security of your WordPress site needs to be at the forefront of your mind.

Just last year, in one 24-hour period, a single attack attempted to access more than 1.3 million WordPress sites. If you lose customer data to a cyber attack, you may also lose your customers when you inform them of the breach. Indeed, estimates suggest that 60% of small businesses close within six months of suffering a cyber attack.

The Sucuri WordPress plugin is one of the most well-regarded WordPress security plugins. In addition to features such as integrity checks on core WordPress files, malware scanning and post-hack remediation measures, Sucuri offers integration of a firewall for an even higher degree of protection. While Sucuri is not a free plugin, it is far less than the costs of dealing with a successful attack.

Another strong security plugin contender is WordFence. Like Sucuri, Wordfence has core file integrity checks and offers a firewall. Sucuri, however, has more advanced features, such as distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack protection. WordFence is also a paid plugin.

In addition to using security plugins, you should also adopt strong WordPress cybersecurity practices, including keeping WordPress and all plugins updated, requiring strong passwords and having an SSL certificate.

As an online seller, you also need to think about the security of your customers’ data. Ecwid offers bank-level security. It is PCI DSS Level 1 certified, which is the gold standard for ecommerce solutions worldwide (or in our case, web-wide).

Backup

Backing up your WordPress site is another important task that many WordPress users unintentionally neglect while focusing on general usability features. But backups can help you quickly recover from various problems, including cyberattacks, minimizing downtime and inconvenience to your customers.

Popular WordPress backup plugins include BackupBuddy, UpDraftPlus and Jetpacks Backup, which each offer scheduled backups and simple restoration capabilities. BackupBuddy and Jetpacks also have advanced plans with real-time backups. As with most other plugins, the more features you wish to use, the higher the price.

Marketing

The ecommerce world is highly competitive, with current estimates at up to 24 million ecommerce websites worldwide. Setting your business apart can be a challenge. E-commerce businesses must be familiar with search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure their sites appear high in search results.

But with tools like Yoast SEO, you can continually optimize both your site and your marketing efforts. Yoast SEO is a robust set of SEO tools that make SEO painless and straightforward.

With Ecwid E-commerce, you have access to dozens of marketing tools such as abandoned cart recovery, email campaigns, discount coupons, reward programs and more.

Putting It All Together

Building a comprehensive, fully functional and secure WordPress ecommerce website need not be a daunting task. Spend a little bit of time (and yes, maybe a little money) on adding the right plugins to your site, and you will improve your customer experience, helping you to drive future business.

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About the author

Nahla Davies is a software developer and tech writer. Before devoting her work full time to technical writing, she managed—among other intriguing things—to serve as a lead programmer at an Inc. 5,000 experiential branding organization whose clients include Samsung, Time Warner, Netflix, and Sony.

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