WordPress is our go-to platform for giving solutions to our clients at Urban Moon, and many clients looking for an eCommerce solution often ask if it can be built on WordPress. So I decided to write a helpful article explaining whether you can build an eCommerce store on WordPress and whether you should.
Can I build an E-Commerce Site with WordPress? WordPress can be used to build powerful eCommerce sites by using an eCommerce plugin like WooCommerce or WP eCommerce. Although WordPress has a bit of a learning curve, so if you do not want to invest time to learn it or money to hire a web designer, you can rather go for a done-for-you eCommerce platform like Shopify.
There are lots of nuances in building an eCommerce site using WordPress, and choosing whether WordPress is the right platform for your eCommerce needs or not. Read on to understand all of that in detail.
WordPress, which started as a blogging platform is the most popular website builder in the world today, and you can build a variety of types of sites on WordPress. It is a powerful platform to build your eCommerce store and you can add various other functionality to your site as well, like a blog or landing pages to boost your business. If you have an existing WordPress site, you can either add an eCommerce store to it, or you can build your eCommerce website from scratch.
In order to build your eCommerce Website on WordPress, first you need to purchase your domain and hosting. Here, I share an overview of the steps involved in building your eCommerce site using WordPress. If you are interested in the detailed explanation of building your eCommerce site, you can watch the video at the end of this section.
At Urban Moon, the most preferred place to buy a domain is GoDaddy and that for hosting is Hostinger. You need to connect your domain with your hosting account by updating the DNS records. Next, you install WordPress on your website. Most popular hosting providers like Hostinger or Bluehost provide a one-click installation of WordPress from your hosting account. Alternatively, you can also download WordPress and install it manually on your site.
Now you have a WordPress website ready for you. In the back end of WordPress, you need to install an eCommerce plugin. WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce plugin and I use it most often. If for some reason you do not want to use WooCommerce, you can go for one of the alternatives here,
Once WooCommerce is installed, you can start adding products within the products section of your WordPress back end. You need to add the product name, the short description, the long description, the product pictures, and the price. You also need to add the number of units available in stock for each of the products. Finally, you need to select the theme for your website. The theme is nothing but the basic design of your site and it decides how your website looks. You should choose a theme that reflects your brand and works well for eCommerce functionality.
WordPress is a comprehensive website-building CMS and is not specialized for eCommerce. Thus the ideal situation in which you should go for WordPress is if you want to use other WordPress features as well in your business. In other words, if eCommerce is only one of the functionalities you need, but you also want to use a website for blogging, lead generation, and marketing to boost your business, then WooCommerce is perfectly suitable for you.
Also, as mentioned, since WordPress is more generic and does not specialize in eCommerce websites, it causes some problems if your eCommerce site grows too huge. If you are planning to have tens of thousands of products on your site or the nature of your business is such that your customers will buy hundreds of products in a single transaction, WordPress will not function very smoothly.
Another point to consider is, since WordPress has a bit of a learning curve and has too many moving parts, you might want to go through the hassle of learning and managing the site only if you have the extra time for it. Else you might need to outsource it to an agency that may charge you a few thousand dollars. Thus if you are just starting out and do not have the money or the time to invest, WordPress may not be ideal for you.
Big brands in general like to have their websites coded from scratch. They have the funds and can hire the best programmers from around the world. This is especially true if the brand is built around the eCommerce business itself.
However, there are a lot of popular brands that do in fact use WordPress as the engine for their websites. Etsy, which is the leading platform for creative products has a lot of pages like it’s a blog, that run on WordPress. Walmart, another big name in the eCommerce industry also uses WordPress. Walmart has a very clean and minimalist-looking website that is easy to use for customers. It is one example where a brand with a huge number of products is using WordPress.
Home Depot is another huge eCommerce brand that uses WordPress, not for its eCommerce site, but for its careers site. It has over 400,000 employees and it relies on WordPress for handling its biggest and most valuable asset. Ikea and Target are other big eCommerce websites that are powered by WordPress.
Both Shopify and WordPress have their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to eCommerce functionality. Shopify is an all-in-one, done-for-you platform that specializes in eCommerce. It is easy to get started and can be customized quickly as per your brand and your products. It’s virtually a ready-to-use eCommerce platform waiting for you to customize and put your name on it.
WordPress on the other hand is an end-to-end website builder and has a longer learning curve. It is a generic website-building platform and does not specialize in eCommerce, so if your business is based only on eCommerce and you do not need other functionalities, this may not be the best for you.
However, Shopify has its own limitations and can be limiting for your business in the long run if you want to diversify in other areas. Shopify is easy and quick to get started but in order to run a legitimate business in the long run, you might need a more powerful platform like WordPress.