E-commerce with WordPress: Pros and Cons

We know how complex it is to create an inviting and functional e-commerce, but also that this tool has now become truly indispensable for having an active business, capable of selling online.

We also know that a much simpler system than many others, even for creating an ecommerce site, is the versatile WordPress, the first-in-mind content management platform (CMS) used to create and manage websites, portfolios, news sites, etc.

In questo articolo, però, quello che vogliamo portare alla luce, non sono solo i fantastici ed evidenti ‘pro’ di WordPress, ma anche i suoi contro. Perché dobbiamo considerare anche questi, ricordandoci che WordPress non nasce come piattaforma per e-commerce.

What is WordPress and what are its advantages

Very briefly, just a few words to frame our great guest today: WordPress.

WordPress is based on the PHP programming language and uses a MySQL database to manage website content.

The nice part of this software starts with its very intuitive interface, easy to use even for those who understand little or nothing website developing.

WordPress also gives us a really appreciable gift when it provides us with all its fantasticfree plugins and themes with which to expand the functionality of the site and change its graphic appearance.

And from here we slide into the other great advantage of WordPress: the high level of customization it owes to its open source architecture. This feature allows developers and designers to create new plugins, themes and features for the platform.

Plugins and themes to create an e-commerce with WordPress

Among the plugins that can be used to create an e-commerce on WordPress, there are several. WooCommerce is one of them.

WooCommerce is a free and open source plugin, therefore also customizable, that allows you to turn a simple website into a real online store.

In fact, with this plugin, you can manage and customize product cards, orders, payment and shipping methods, create coupons and discounts, generate analytics and sales reports, among other things. With plugins you can also change designs and styles for shopping carts, prices, product categories, etc.

Of course, many other extensions can be integrated for a fee, should you want to use more advanced features.

Other plugins are essential for an e-commerce. First of all, the theme chosen to give a graphic look to the store, which should be responsive and optimized for SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

WordPress allows you to use themes with page builders, or tools for creating and customizing website design without the need to know code, Among the most popular are Divi, Beaver Builder and Elementor.

Theme choice plays a major role on two levels: UX level (i.e., User Experience or user experience, which is enhanced by a well-done site) and SEO (because a responsive and code-side optimized site is rewarded by search engines for enhancing user experience).

Pay attention to the loading speed of an e-commerce page, which may suffer from weighting down due to everything that is inserted on the pages, from text to images, product sheets, call-to-action buttons, contact forms, etc.

Just in this regard, another advantage of eCommerce on WordPress concerns some aspects: page loading speed, optimization of product titles, URLs, etc.

It’s not the place, here, to make a “shopping list” of plugins needed, because we would go off topic. It is enough to have understood the concept: WordPress offers a very wide range of plugins, both free and paid, but it is still good to start with a clear plan in order not to get indigestion from unnecessary plugins.

That’s why first of all, we need to start with a strategy and set KPIs, possibly, to get a sense of what we are doing.

Short digression: What are KPIs and why are they important

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are key performance indicators, metrics, for evaluating the progress of an activity or project, measuring its results quantitatively, and monitoring progress toward set goals.

KPIs may vary depending on the specific industry or objective. For example, the most common KPIs for an e-commerce business might relate to the number of visits to the website, the conversion rate of visits into purchases, the average value of orders, and the retention rate of customers.

KPIs are important because they make it possible to identify areas where improvements can be made and, based on these findings, to identify actions to be taken to achieve goals.

The cons of WordPress for creating an e-commerce

Here we come to the downside of WordPress: its cons.

It was not born as an e-commerce platform

It becomes so because of plugins, but WordPress was born as a platform for blogs. So, another disadvantage, if you will, is precisely that it turns into an e-commerce platform by relying on plugins to integrate the necessary functionality. Each plugin performs a function.

This feature differentiates it from other e-commerce solutions such as Magento, Prestashop, Shopify, Shopware, Squarespace or BigCommerce, which were born precisely to manage an online commerce store.

Plugin compatibility issues

While it is true that there are several plugins on WordPress to make it an e-commerce, it is also true that using some of them simultaneously can create compatibility problems with WooCommerce.

In addition to speed problems, which could be generated precisely by the surplus of plugins, you may run into those of incompatibility.

To solve problems of this kind, it is advisable to leave the helm to an experienced professional who can evaluate all plugins to be inserted and test their operation.

Security issues

Another drawback of WordPress concerns vulnerability to external attacks, so let’s talk about security. The topic is really hot today, with more and more hacker attacks managing to “breach” sites of even large organizations and businesses worldwide.

Data is too important a resource to leave security to chance or to care for it only on the surface.

WordPress is a great deal in so many respects, but to consider that its open source nature hides a dark side, the classic “other side of the coin”: increased vulnerability to cyber attacks.

We can turn the open source nature of WordPress in our favor by intervening with stronger security measures.

Also, it is good to monitor plugin updates; an outdated plugin is a great viaticum for malware and viruses.

Obviously, for security there are other precautions to be observed, such as the SSL certificate, the security protocol that encrypts all sensitive data and information exchanged between the website and visitors, to make it inaccessible to external third parties and protect it from hackers and external attacks.

Concluding, e-commerce with WordPress has advantages and disadvantages that need to be evaluated very carefully. The platform offers manyfeatures and customizations, but it was not born to create e-commerce.

The use of plugins requires prudence in testing for possible incompatibilities, constant updates, and increased efforts to safeguard security.