In this article, we’ll take a look at all of the platforms that are built on top of WordPress.
In general, the platforms that are built on WordPress are fully-featured eCommerce platforms.
Native platforms include;
- user management,
- multiple payment gateways,
- live shipping quotes,
- digital product delivery,
- and a ton of other features.
If you want to build a fully-featured online store the platforms built on WordPress are a great choice.
Many WordPress plugins are open-source and GPL licensed. That means that you can take the code and do just about anything with it.
If you don’t like how the products are displayed you can change the code.
If you don’t like the order management system you can rip out that code and replace it with whatever you want.
Open-source platforms give you the most flexibility.
Freemium Business Model
Most WordPress plugins, use the freemium model.
They allow you to create an entire store for free. Advanced or niche functionality is usually a paid add-on.
Because WordPress is open-source, anyone could write some code that modifies one of these platforms.
There are official extensions sold on the developer’s site, and there are unofficial ones offered elsewhere.
Feel free to look for alternatives, but don’t let price be the deciding factor. eCommerce is complex, and the software needs to be updated constantly. Trust should be your most important factor.
The chart above (builtwith.com eCommerce Usage Distribution in the Top 1 million sites) shows the most popular eCommerce platforms.
WooCommerce is currently the most popular platform in eCommerce space.
It was originally created by WooThemes a very reputable company in the WordPress space, and now WooCommerce is run by Automattic the company behind wordpress.com.
If you’re looking for an all-round platform that can handle anything, WooCommerce is the way to go. Because of their popularity, they’ll have the most integrations with other services.
Easy Digital Downloads (EDD)
Easy Digital Downloads or EDD, is great for an eCommerce platform that only handles digital goods.
If you want to sell digital goods, especially software, it is built for that and can handle it better than a platform like WooCommerce that’s good at everything.
EDD is built by Pippin Williamson, one of the most respected developers in the WordPress community.
The last platform is WP eCommerce which was one of the first, if not the first, eCommerce platform built on WordPress.
A lot of internal WordPress APIs weren’t built when they made this plugin.
What that means is that once WordPress supported custom post types they had to spend a lot of effort rewriting the plugin.
We haven’t personally used this system but it’s been out for several years and works really well for some users.
You may have noticed that we put a lot of emphasis on who makes the plugin.
That’s because eCommerce is incredibly complex, and you need to make sure you’re keeping your system up-to-date.
And to do that you need to have a great team behind that system.
Using third-party platforms
The platforms built on top of WordPress offer you a lot of power.
These platforms are built directly into WordPress, which makes everything work really nicely together.
But sometimes, you want something that lives outside of WordPress.
Maybe you want one store for multiple websites, or maybe you want to use WordPress for content Marketing, and you want a different system for your eCommerce.
There are tons of platforms out there that you can add to your WordPress site that aren’t a plugin.
The first platform that’s well-known for its beautiful user experience is Gumroad. They’re primarily used for people selling digital products, like video courses, books, or music.
To use Gumroad with WordPress, you’ll create your products in Gumroad and then link to the product page on your site.
The purchase page is entirely controlled by Gumroad, and with a link, can be accessed on any site. You can upload a banner and change the description.
This is also an opportunity to mention that Gumroad supports free distribution. An item can be sold for zero dollars, which allows people to get it for free, or donate money if they like. Gumroad has an interesting pricing model.
For $10 a month, you get very similar pricing as to any other platform out there. They charge 3.5% plus 30 cents, instead of 2.9% plus 30 cents. Since you don’t have to pay any other fees, and since there are no premium add-ons, this is one of the cheapest options out there.
A solution similar to Gumroad is ClickBank. They handle all the payments just like Gumroad.
You create the product in their system and then write about it in WordPress or some other site, and direct users to the link for purchase.
They have an interesting feature built into the product, affiliate payments.
You can work with other websites to write about your product, generate sales, and in return, they’ll receive a commission.
Best of all, ClickBank automatically pays them, so you don’t have to worry about doing any of that.
If you know an affiliate that will promote your product, this may be an option for you. Similar to Gumroad, they have a slightly more expensive service.
They also charge $50 per product when you create it. These fees are pretty high, so you have to maximise that affiliate system.
A fully-featured eCommerce platform is Shopify.
They’re well-known and respected in the eCommerce sphere. Shopify is a complete eCommerce system. You don’t even need WordPress to use a Shopify site.
Every page on the site is controlled by Shopify. Shopify charges a monthly fee to use their service, and they’re a bit tricky to integrate with WordPress.
Many people simply set up a subdomain for eCommerce. Your main domain could be ActiveSport.co.uk, and your store could be live at Shop.ActiveSport.co.uk.
The whole Shop domain is directly controlled by Shopify. Shopify is pretty powerful because there’s very little that can go wrong. If there’s any critical error in their system, they’ll patch it behind the scenes, and likely will fix it before you notice.
BigCommerce is another fully-featured eCommerce platform.
BigCommerce has very similar features to WooCommerce. You probably wouldn’t have a BigCommerce store and a WordPress eCommerce plugin.
You might use BigCommerce for all of your commerce on a subdomain, like Shop.YourWebsite.co.uk.
The advantage of using a fully-featured eCommerce platform like Shopify or BigCommerce is that you can use your WordPress site solely for content creation and marketing.
It’s completely your choice if you want to use a platform that has a WordPress plugin, or if you want to use a separate service like one of the ones we mentioned here.
E-commerce is rapidly evolving and businesses are trying to adapt to these changes. If you are a business owner and selling products or services online, you should keep these legal aspects of eCommerce in mind.
Caroline brings over 15 years as a Designer and Developer; featured in .NET magazine, the only woman in the UK accredited for Google Mobile Sites. A business mentor with Enterprise Nation, STEM Ambassador and Google Women Techmaker Ambassador Previous client projects include Blackberry, FIAT, Clark Shoes and Sky.