For many non-WordPress users, the impression of WordPress is that it is a platform for blogs and magazines. Many people hardly know that WordPress is the Jack-of-all-Trades which can flexibly handle any type of website one would want to build.
Especially for e-commerce, WordPress can help you create an exceptionally good online business website. However, there is pretty much a controversial conversation regarding this statement. Through this article, I’ll give you some points of view so you can have the answer for the question: Is WordPress a good platform for e-commerce?
We’ll jump through these parts:
- Why WordPress is not good for e-commerce websites
- In defense of WordPress weaknesses as an e-commerce platform
- Why WordPress is good for e-commerce websites
- Tips to create a successful WordPress e-commerce website
Why WordPress is not good for e-commerce websites
WordPress is easily vulnerable to security attacks
As WordPress has been increasing its popularity, it also has become a target for many security attacks. According to statistics in 2013, more than 70% of WordPress installations were vulnerable to hacker attacks. The truth is, there have always been plenty of exploits for WordPress because of its dominance.
As stated in the infographic which covers the report of WordPress 2013 states, most of the holes for hackers to sneak through come from WordPress themes and plugins. Badly-coded themes, poorly developed plugins, using cheap hosting, and using weak passwords are the main reasons that lead to WordPress hacking.
For e-commerce websites which store a large amount of consumers’ personal information, it will be a big problem if the website gets hacked and all that precious information is stolen. The business will have to face a great loss in consumer trust and financial income.
WordPress updates suck
Using WordPress not only means that you will have to live with the constant threat of being attacked anytime, but it also requires you to update things frequently if you want everything run smoothly.
One problem is that, WordPress core, WordPress themes and plugins are frequently updated. This job is not so difficult but will take you time to keep things up-to-date with the latest version. In a bad case, the new versions might not compatible with each other and might crash your site. Not to mention that some customizations you made might be overwritten and lost if you don’t have a backup.
If you’re running an e-commerce website with huge traffic each day, then it will be a big minus for your reputation if the site is not available for visitors to view or purchase your products.
WordPress can’t handle heavy traffic and a complicated system
The scalability of an e-commerce website is important when it comes to a big website with intensive traffic every second and a giant database. Popular e-commerce websites will have to be able to deal with a large amount of data every second. This is where platforms like Magento beat WordPress.
Many people believe that WordPress was not born for large-scale operations. So, it’s impossible for WordPress to outweigh other born-for-ecommerce platforms. Plus, it’s reasonable to think that features of an online store like shipping, online payment checkout, tax calculation, CRM, rewards for customers, 3rd party integrations, APIs, etc. would be better in a native e-commerce platform than using plugins or addons for each feature.
In defense of WordPress weaknesses as an e-commerce platform
WordPress is easily vulnerable. Which platform is not vulnerable to security attack?
If you are concerned about a website’s security so much, you should never live with the illusion that there is any website, or software, or anything else on the internet, that is absolutely secure.
WordPress gets higher attack counts because it’s has been the most popular CMS, with way more users as well as installations, than other platforms, not because it’s easy to hack WordPress. Get your facts straight.
Besides, you should practice good habits like paying attention to choosing and installing WordPress themes or plugins, or hardening your WordPress security by following these tips:
There are too many updates to WordPress?
Updates are natural part of any platform, be it WordPress, or Joomla, or Magento. If you’re running too many sites at one time with many of the same plugins or themes, you can try WordPress multisite. Using a multisite system needs only one click to update all of the sites.
If you fear that installing updates can break your website, I’d suggest you to follow this best practice: test the new components on your localhost first before uploading them to your live site, if you’re nervous. However, the thought of installing updates making a site crash is quite backwards. It’s very unlikely for this to happen.
Comparing Magento or Prestashop, their updates are like a horror story but seems like their users are not as many as WordPress users so the complaints seem fewer (You don’t believe me? Spend some minutes researching Google for the pain).
WordPress is not for big websites
The scalability of WordPress is not the root of why your site is running slow. Scalability depends greatly on the server you’re using. Besides, WordPress itself scales very well. Need proof? Look at WordPress.com – this is a multisite system which is running nearly 10 million websites perfectly.
For e-commerce websites running on WordPress, you can take WooThemes for example. It’s a solid e-commerce website that has nearly 500 products with more than 100,000 paying customers, with 10,000 visitors every day. The WordPress they’re using scales just fine.
My advice is that you should choose a really good host to handle your server well enough for your website to run smoothly.
Why WordPress is good for e-commerce website
You’ve read through the gossip about WordPress weaknesses as an e-commerce platform and I also explained why it’s not always right for you.
Now let’s dig into the part where you’ll find why WordPress should be your choice for your e-commerce website.
WordPress has a large number of themes made for e-commerce
Browsing through the Themeforest or WordPress theme repository, you’ll see that there are an unbelievably large number of e-commerce themes. If you are the type that goes for eye-pleasing themes with unlimited options for customizization as well as being packed with different functionality, then you can choose a theme from Themeforest.
If you are for simplicity and have the mindset of a plugin’s functionality rather than a theme’s functionality, you can look for your favorite themes on WordPress.org or WordPress.com.
The large number of available themes for e-commerce websites allows you to easily pick a theme that helps your website stand out from the crowd.
WordPress has many powerful plugins for e-commerce
There are many free of charge plugins out there (and they are really good) for you to build your WordPress website. WordPress plugins have enough to satisfy all your needs to run your online store successfully, from a review system and ratings, to live chat support, social integration, payment gateways, affiliate system, cart system, etc.
The most popular WordPress e-commerce extensions are from WooCommerce. Check out our list of 10 best WooCommerce extensions and add-ons for WordPress.
So is WordPress a good solution for e-commerce websites?
Everything has two sides, and so does WordPress. And although initially WordPress was designed for blogging, it has evolved very well for e-commerce purposes.
for me, all the ingredients for a great meal are ready-made. All it needs is your skill to put everything together into your website and make things work for you. My answer to the question is: “Yes, go for it”.
Helpful tips to make your WordPress e-commerce website perfect
Introduce product videos and quicktour videos on your product page.
Videos play an important role in advertising the benefits of your product as well as your message to your potential customers. It gives them a better, clearer look at what you’re selling.
Using Vine for your product’s videos is also a good and creative idea if you know how to utilize it. Take a look at these 13 ways to use Vine for e-commerce.
Optimize your large website’s speed.
Even if you’re selling good products and your marketing strategy is brilliant, if the site takes minutes to load then all the effort will be blown out of the water.
So, make sure to optimize your site’s speed by choosing a good web host, checking your site’s performance with tools like Pingdom or Google web developer tool, optimizing your database, using plugin-caching, etc., to ensure nothing will have a negative effect on the website’s loading speed.
SEO optimize your website.
Not only should you use SEO plugins like Yoast SEO, you should also pay attention to creating a SEO-friendly name for your product titles, as well as page titles, blog post titles, etc.
The better rank you have on search-engine result pages, the more likely you are to be found and get more potential customers.
Make the registration and check-out process as simple as possible.
Any form on your website – be it a contact form, registration form, or billing form – should ask for as little information as possible. For example, a Subscribe to Newsletter form should require email address only. Then you can email them and tell them to update their profile with name, age, or job later.
And nothing can discourage a purchase more than a long checkout form – for example, let’s say it lasts 5 pages. Are you selling or not?
Oh, if you want to read more, here I give you the 5 most common mistakes on WordPress e-commerce websites to avoid.
If you are thinking about upgrading your e-commerce website, I think WordPress deserves a chance. Building a good e-commerce website is not only quick but easy. Plus, there are many advantages I told you about in this article.
Are you convinced yet? Share your thoughts with me and feel free to share this article with your friends who are interested in WordPress!
Images’ credit: WooRockets.com
Blog was written and published on WR on Sept 2014.