WordPress is a tremendously flexible platform, with a various array of capabilities. One of the most admired (and growing) uses of WordPress is operation of a eCommerce website. Thanks to some extremely bright plugins it’s achievable to set up a online shop at a fairly low cost at the same time as it still achieving specialized design and functionality.
In this editorial I will demonstrate five of the best WordPress shopping cart plugins, including their front-end design and most significant features. Each plugin has its own strengths and weaknesses, so you will find pros and cons for each one of them.

1. WooCommerce
WooCommerce Demo

http://www.woothemes.com/woocommerce/WooCommerce is by far the most popular eCommerce plugin for WordPress. It has absolutely taken its position as a wonderful alternative to Magento, which is considered the present leader in open source eCommerce script.

Initially a fork of Jigoshop, WooCommerce is a free plugin developed by WooThemes a very trendy WordPress themes shop with lots of marketing authority behind it. Popularity is one of the reasons for WooCommerce’s success, but being hot gets you nowhere in the long run. What’s more essential is that WooThemes has put some severe attempt into its product development, mostly depending on it to keep the business running. WooCommerce is also supported by a large and active developer community, as well as it’s own dedicated developer and shop owner symposium.

And it shows, WooCommerce has many great features which make it a very worthy competitor in this list. It includes essential tools to start your online shop out of the box right away (still it’s foundation theme is pretty finicky). But ultimately you’ll desire to expand the default feature set, and that’s where a main drawback of WooCommerce comes in: pricing.

WooCommerce relies deeply on extensions. If you want to use table rate shipping, you will need to pay $199 for a single-site license. The same goes for subscriptions. Wish to add one or more payment or shipping gateways? Add an extra $79 for each gateway. And these are 1-year licenses. You could easily run into $100s of subscriptions for each year, making it not so free of charge any longer.

These are the prices for WooThemes backed plugins. There are some self-determining developers, but since WooThemes makes it very smart to sell through them at once, you won’t find several.

WooCommerce Pros
– Easy to use, you can have your store set up out of the box within an hour.
– Built and actively maintained by one of the leaders in the WordPress community.
– WooCommerce provides a mobile app to manage your store.

WooCommerce Cons
– Danger of vendor lock-in, with both the product and its extensions run by one company.
– Very pricey extensions for sometimes basic functionality.
– Not every theme works with WooCommerce, so check this out first.

2. WP eCommerce
WP eCommerce Demo

wpecommerceFormerly the most popular eCommerce plugin (now surpassed by WooCommerce), WP eCommerce (WPEC) offers tons of features and is actively maintained by a large group of developers.

It is more community driven than WooCommerce, to an extent that’s it is not even clear who you are paying when you decide to buy premium plugins or support. But if you are a developer yourself, WPEC may be less limiting than WooCommerce is.

WPEC offers tons of features, but not all of them are very well implemented. Coupons are a good instance: you can use them but only on cart level and with limited set up (which makes tracking harder, and allows for abuse).

There is the an option to pay for premium support, but it is fairly expensive at $47 for one support ticket. They also offer a Gold Cart Plugin ($47). This one comes with a few basic options which should have been included (like Grid View), but also opens up a lot of new payment gateways (some of them unknown or very specific). It also comes with one support token, and offers great value.

WP eCommerce Pros
– Built-in table rate shipping with a good number of integrated shipping companies.
– Many free or low-priced add-ons.
– Works almost perfectly with any theme or plugin.

WP eCommerce Cons
– Limited payment gateways (basically only PayPal).
– Rich in features, but not so much in feature details.
– Lots of small bugs which can take some time to be fixed.

3. Cart66
Cart66 Demo

Cart66Cart66 comes in two different flavours: Cart66 Pro (the WordPress plugin) and Cart66 Cloud (the hosted version, based on the plugin but modified in many ways). I will talk about the WordPress plugin.

Priced at /$149 for an unlimited site license, Cart66 is the most expensive plugin in this list. But it does offer both subscriptions and memberships, features for which the other plugins often charge a premium. It also comes with professional support. They spend a lot of time and effort in making the plugin as secure as can be, and really work out their features.

Cart66 beats the other plugins on payment and shipping gateways. It also bundled with a very superior coupon system which allows for custom newsletter links for example. You can even use your ‘Buy now’ buttons in various ways like on your social media accounts.

Combining extensive features with expert support is a golden recipe. The price is quite high, but particularly for store owners not that familiar with the technical side of things, Cart66 could be a very good choice.

Cart66 Pros
– Works with almost any WordPress theme and plugin.
– Professional support and useful payment/shipping gateways included.
– Rich and detailed feature set.

Cart66 Cons
– Pricing is pretty steep for a WordPress plugin.
– The company behind Cart66 is focusing more and more on their cloud based solution (but is fully supporting the plugin for now).
– Very confusing sales site, mixing the features of both the plugin and cloud version, while they are not always the same (but maybe that’s just me…).

4. Shopp
Shopp Demo

ShoppShopp takes the similar approach as WPEC, combining a free plugin with paid skilled support. Only in this case, there’s an identifiable company behind the plugin, which makes it a bit more certain who you are dealing with.

Shopp definitely has an outstanding sales page for their product, showing its tons of features in a expedient way. And these characteristics are actually worth presentation. every feature has been really thought from side to side. I like to use coupons as an example, since these can be compared quite easily for each plugin.

Shopp offers plenty of construction possibilities. Not only can you apply a discount to a product or the whole shopping cart, but also you can even offer ‘Buy X get Y free’ or for specific customer types (like wholesale). Same goes for shipping which has many ways of setting up, basically anyway you would need. And you can hook up quite a few large shipping companies (with paid add-ons) to allow for real time rates.

A bit of dissatisfaction is their integrated payment provider. By default, it has a few major providers, but its add-ons don’t allow for many more useful providers to be added. This limits your choices, which is odd given the high amount of flexibility the plugin offers for the other features.

Shopp Pros
– Very extensive and detailed feature set.
– Support is moderately priced at $75 a year per site.
– Decent pricing for add-ons.

Shopp Cons
– Limited amount of supported payment providers.
– Updates come with the support license, which needs to be renewed each year.
– Limited number of themes available.

5. MarketPress
MarketPress Demo

MarketPressMarketPress is presented by WPMU DEV, which is a inspiration when it comes to WordPress plugins and themes. At $19 for an unlimited site license it is quite a pinch, but for support and updates you require upgrading to a far more expensive monthly plan (which does open up the full library of WPMU DEV plugins).

One of its key features is the capability to run a store network. You can run several store yourself, allowing for combined checkout. You can even offer the option for third-party vendors to run a store on your very own network where you obtain a percentage of their sales, becoming rather like a ‘Mall-boss’.

MarketPress comes with a few cunning features, like stock notification for product variations and custom personalization fields. You can also track your coupon codes or indicate a maximum number of uses.

It works with whichever theme or plugin and has a decent number of eminent payment providers. But when it comes to shipping, it lacks flexibility and rates, as well as offering a very inadequate number of shipping gateways. Currently only UPS and USPS are supported, and they are working on adding FedEx.

MarketPress is certainly worth a try, and with the $19 price tag it also comes with one month of support. This is an even greater steal than the plugin alone.

MarketPress Pros
– Run your own network of stores, even like a mall.
– Low pricing with support included for one month.
– Clever features which sets the product apart.

MarketPress Cons
– Limited number of shipping providers.
– Extended support and updates require a pricey monthly license.
– No possibility to add functionality with add-ons.

Conclusion
Running an eCommerce store on WordPress can be prepared in several ways. Each plugin has a lots of universal features, but each one takes a different approach. You can try them all, even Cart66 which has a 30-days refund policy.

Please let me know in the comments which WordPress eCommerce plugin you prefer.

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