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Setting up an online shop has never been easier – I should know, since I wrote our complete guide on the topic, and have developed a few of my own. So I often hear the question: “what’s the best eCommerce plugin for WordPress?” I think it’s only in the last year or so that a clear answer has emerged.

In my previous posts on 10 things to do when setting up an online shop 10 Things You Should Do When Starting An Online Store 10 Things You Should Do When Starting An Online Store Setting up a store on the Internet is ridiculously easy. Seriously, if somebody tries to charge you thousands for installing an eCommerce solution, just smack them. The hard part is getting search engines to care... Read More , picking a system was number 1, so let’s take a look at some of the top choices. This is by no means an extensive list, because I’m not in the business of wasting your time by telling you about new plugins that no one uses or cares about. I’m going to assume you actually want to get on with the business of starting a shop, and you’re arriving here perhaps with a few plugins in mind already from your own research. Before we do that though, it’s time for some universal truths.

1. Plugins are expensive

If you’re used to everything being free, you’re in for a shock. Though most WordPress eCommerce platforms are free and open source, the plugins for them are certainly not. In most cases, they range from about $50 anywhere up to $150 depending on the complexity of the features you want to add. If you’re strapped for cash, make a list of absolute bare minimum features you could get by with, and consider choosing a system that includes them by default. Personally, I’ve spent a few hundred dollars on additional features and the themes for my web shops.

2. The theme makes a big difference

Typically WordPress themes are just cosmetic changes – with eCommerce packages I’ve noticed that many premium themes add in a wide variety of complex additional features. When choosing between themes, don’t assume that something you see on one is standard to all themes for that system, because it probably isn’t.

3. It’s a lot harder to tweak

If you’ve worked with WordPress themes before, you’ll have become accustomed to a standard set of template files and very well documented set of functions. The same is not true of eCommerce plugins, and you may find yourself out of your depth when it comes to making even minor visual changes, led down a rabbit of hole of obscure PHP coding.

My advice: pick a theme that you like as it is, and don’t assume you’ll be able to fix little bits here and there.

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4. Problems are amplified

WordPress is reasonably simple to fix when it goes wrong, and if you’re self hosting a blog then you’ve probably come across this at some point before. Adding a layer of eCommerce on top of that increases the complexity, making problems more difficult to fix. Then there’s the issue of lost revenue: if you can’t afford to have a site offline for a few hours while you fix something or roll back the latest update, perhaps it’s worth looking at a premium hosted eCommerce platform like Shopify instead.

5. There’s not a lot of difference in features

All three major eCommerce platforms come with basic shop functionality: things like a PayPal payment gateway, shipping and tax options, support for difference currencies, and the ability to integrate into existing themes (albeit poorly). The difference is in the level of support, reliability, documentation, and themes available.

Remember that we’re only looking at WordPress plugins here – if you don’t actually want any WordPress functionality then there’s always the option of a dedicated open source eCommerce solution like Magento. If you’re looking for a more detailed review of every available eCommerce plugin for WordPress, check out SellWithWP.

On with the round-up then!

WP-eCommerce / GetShopped

For years, WP-eCommerce was the king – well, it was pretty much the only eCommerce platform for WordPress. At some point along the line, something went wrong. It was rebranded as GetShopped – I don’t know if it was ever any good, but reports of “it just doesn’t work” or “full of bugs” seem all too frequent in the support threads.


If you find one their listed features particularly appealing, then by all means try your luck. That seems unlikely though, since even the most basic of things like multiple product images are locked behind the $47 “gold cart upgrade”. I can’t find an awful lot of themes for this plugin, the number of premium upgrades is quite pathetic and, to be honest, the website strikes me as completely amateur. The showcase page is full of broken images, presumably from sites that began using their plugin and are no longer trading. It’s not exactly a good sell.

Avoid WP-eCommerce at all costs; I’ve included in this list as a warning only.



At a base price of $75 per site license, shopp can be off-putting for most. Shopp does however integrate fairly easily with existing themes – albeit in a basic fashion. See the demo here.


Here’s a full review of the shopp system if you’re interested – I haven’t tried the system myself, because frankly I’m not prepared to pay for something I can get for free elsewhere. The one included featured I haven’t seen elsewhere is Google Checkout, in addition to the typical PayPal gateway.


At $25/month, Cart66 certainly isn’t cheap, and wouldn’t be a good match if you’re just testing the water for your product. It is however unique in it’s a cloud-hosted checkout service – removing the need for SSL certificates and PCI-compliance if you’re handling credit card payments, providing peace of mind and rock solid security.


Other than that, it’s strengths appear to be with membership based sites, like the ability to drip digital content. Products are placed within the confines of regular WordPress posts, as opposed to a new custom post types; so it’s perfect if you just have a few products you want interspersed with your blog. Cart66 themselves have written a great summary of the main differences and similarities to WooCommerce on their blog. You will be more limited in terms of customising shop functionality, but you’ll still have the WordPress backbone.


I’ve recommended JigoShop in the past, but times have changed. JigoShop began as a fork of the WooCommerce code a few years ago: that means some of the developers weren’t happy with the direction things were taking, so they took the code and started to make it their own. Functionally it’s therefore quite similar to WooCommerce – the same basic template files and core features etc – but plugins are not compatible. Though not particularly flawed – I’ve never come across any major bugs – Jigoshop is let down by an ageing interface and lack of documentation. There’s a reasonable variety of third party plugins, but the level of support for those varies.


SkyVerge offers a comparative review of JigoShop vs WooCommerce and comes to the same conclusion as I have: just use WooCommerce. JigoShop isn’t inherently bad or broken: it’s just not as good as WooCommerce is now.

My Choice: WooCommerce

Though it has grown to be rather a complex beast – in many ways as complex as WordPress itself – WooCommerce has a thriving developer community and therefore a lot of support behind it. Maybe this is just personal preference, but the admin interface seems like the most polished of any I’ve tried – and, as yet, I haven’t come across any major bugs.


On the front end, WooCommerce comes with an awful lot of “out of the box” bang for your (free) buck, such as a choice of sidebar widgets like top rated products, recently viewed and a price filter. With the backing of WooThemes, premium plugin support is also top-class and the documentation is far superior in my experience. The company has a lot of experience building their WooFramework, plugins and themes – so you know you’re in good hands.

WooCommerce has extensive documentation and community support
WooCommerce has extensive documentation and community support

ThemeForest has more themes listed for WooCommerce than any other WordPress-based eCommerce platform by a factor of 10, so there’s a good chance you’ll find something to your liking. Although most of these systems will integrate with existing themes, to get the best style you do really need to go for something custom built with eCommerce in mind.

This also seems like a strong indication to me that the community at large has settled on WooCommerce as the standard for WordPress eCommerce. While there may be newer plugins that come along with shiny new features, WooCommerce is established, supported, and solidly reliable. The only downside to WooCommerce is that the extensions are quite pricey (they come with 1 year of updates and support) – with all the included features, you probably won’t need that many though.

My WooCommerce site -, with Arduino starter kits and sensors.
My WooCommerce site –, with Arduino starter kits and sensors.

Choice is always nice, but sometimes you just want something that will work. If you’re happy with my WooCommerce recommendation, I can walk you through the complete process of setting up shop on MediaTemple Grid Service hosting, in my free guide to starting an online business, available to read online or download. It covers everything from installation, adding products, optimisation and SEO considerations.

I’m not affiliated with WooCommerce in any way: I simply choose to use them for my own shops, and like the system.

Image Credits: Quinn Dombrowski Via Flickr

  1. Lee Blue
    June 13, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    I am the founder of Cart66 and we've been making a bunch of updates and improvements lately. One of the big updates is the introduction of a lower priced option that includes everything you need to start selling for $9.99/mo - including support for 100+ different payment gateways and all the security so you don't even need an SSL certificate. So, hopefully Cart66 is now one of the best values for people just "testing the waters" as you said. It would be awesome if you could update the post to mention the lower pricing.

    If anybody has any questions or if there's anything I can do to help, please let me know.

    • Becky
      August 18, 2016 at 7:00 am

      Woo commerce is all great until you come to the checkout pages...these have terrible layout that is very difficult to change. I've now had to start from scratch because I simply cannot get a clean professional layout for the shopping cart pages. These pages ARE the most important of the entire site, yet Woo have let themselves down here...I'm not willing to do coding and sit there fixing it all day long...very disappointed.

  2. Jonathan Heuer
    February 29, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    Thanks for this solid write-up James. My company provides a range of services for customers. I'd like to develop a shopping like experience in which they could select from a range of services (akin to products), and then request an estimate from us for those services. I could do this with a form plug-in like Gravity, but would really like to include the visuals and filterable categories of a shopping experience. Any suggestions?

    • James
      March 1, 2016 at 7:54 am

      WooCommerce could certainly handle this (perhaps using the virtual products option), but you'd need to massively overhaul the user interface of the theme - things like not displaying a price on products, changing "add to cart" to "add to estimate", changing the checkout process process so it was more like "request information on this package", removing the payment step completely. It's a quirky use case - certainly doable, but you'd need to hire someone to make those modifications. I'd expect to pay around $1k for those kind of changes to an existing theme; much more if you're going to asking someone to design the template from scratch.

      • Jonathan Heuer
        March 1, 2016 at 6:06 pm

        Thanks- appreciate your feedback!

  3. Carlos
    January 19, 2016 at 3:12 am

    I have Woo Commerce with Avada theme in our store but we are having a lot issues every time a plugin update. Do you know if the Avada theme is fully comparable with woo Commerce?
    We are interviewing several web developer for our site problems but one of them said that Avada is the issue and recommended us to move to Porto theme.
    I'm really frustrated because I don't have a lot knowledge and i'm afraid that people are taking advantage of me. HELP!

    • James Bruce
      January 19, 2016 at 9:30 pm

      Hi Carlos, I'm afraid I haven't heard of either those - it's been a while since I've been theme shopping - but from a coding perspective there are easier themes to work with and more difficult themes. Some use the correct WooCommerce code, and some just hack it in place so it works, usually until the next update. A good developer should be able to work with either, but it is ultimately easier to work with a theme that has been using the proper framework.

      Is Avada on ThemeForest too? Checking through the comments and the developer response is usually a good way to judge if a theme has serious issues or not. Buying directly from an agency obscures that. Porto must be popular for a reason.

  4. Zakir Hosen
    November 5, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    Actually its really difficult to tell in a word but few of the above really has some cool features. Previously we used to have our site on woocommerce plugin but when we redesign it then we go with magento instead of WP. If you have small products and not much more visitors then WP is ok and this article really could help others to get some good idea which plugin they should use. Thanks #James for writing such nice article with very clean and step by steps.

  5. isabella
    May 2, 2015 at 4:52 am

    I would love to use WooCommerce in my website.It is really easy to use. All it's themes and extensions are great. WooCommerce designs are really attractive .

    • Becky
      August 18, 2016 at 7:05 am

      Yeah, until you get to the checkout pages...and can't change anything - then you realise you're going to have to fork out for more plugins to override the template, then find it makes a hash of it, then you need a developer...and it costs $250+ on Fiverr...all you want is a simple, clean layout...nope, not with Woo.

    • Becky
      August 18, 2016 at 7:16 am

      until...:)...good luck!

  6. Laurie Williams
    May 24, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Hi James

    Thank you for a well considered and well written article, and all the time and thought that you have put into it and your replies to people's comments and questions.

    I'm setting up a WordPress website to sell sheet music by download. I'm trying to work out which is likely to be the best ecommerce option to use.


    buyer identification stamps on all pages of all files sold (WP PDF Stamper can do this, but works with only a small number of ecommerce plugins, and WooCommerce has a stamper);

    ability to sell copy licences, which simply means that if people would like to make more copies than the number permitted with each sheet music file they buy they just buy as many extra licences as they need, but I can't see how to achieve this with any of these plugins, since a copy licence is neither a physical item nor an individual download;

    shopping cart so people don't need to pay for everything individually.

    I have been experimenting with Gumroad, which on the surface seems to have a very nice setup and has an impressively fast system, but is seriously lacking in many ways, eg

    it can do PDF stamping, but only on the first page of each PDF, the stamp is hideous, it goes top right which means that page content needs to be structured around it, and the degradation to the page content is far beyond acceptable;

    it insists on putting Facebook and Twitter links in every download link email it sends, and those things are not able to be switched off - not something I will tolerate (I have a good reason for that);

    it has no cart system, so every item bought through it must be paid for individually;

    it has no way to sell various numbers of copy licences, other than to require buyers to multiply individual licence cost by the number they need and put the total into a price box (same would apply to many WP ecommerce plugins, I guess);

    after 7 months of discussing these things with Gumroad people and making some good practical suggestions I've received very little discussion, several dismissive responses and zero action (even on that serious PDF degradation problem, which was denied and ignored).

    Very likely many others are wondering how best to sell sheet music using WordPress. Not an easy exercise, it seems, although the needs seem simple enough.

    What can you suggest?

    Thanks again - keep up the good work.

    Laurie Williams

    • James Bruce
      May 24, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      Hi Laurie - WooCommerce provides the option to set products as "virtual", which is different from "downloadable" and could feasibly be used to sell sheet music licences. One simple way to solve this would be setup a single product as the downloadable (stamped) PDF, and have another product which is virtual and simply called "additional licences". Would that work?

  7. Richie
    May 3, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    Hi, I chose woocommerce after reading this and other reports, however I am finding that their management of shipping is very restrictive and after hours of searching I cannot find a solution. All I would like to do is add the price of shipping to each product individually but am unable to do so. This is very easy in WP e-commerce which you don't like. I might have to go to it never the less as it is much easier for me to achieve what I want to do.

  8. Brent Mitchell
    May 2, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    Would you recommend eCommerce for an affiliate site? I'm an affiliate for real estate schools and just want to present the details of the sale on my site before pushing the customer over to the school. Please let me know your thoughts or if there is a specific platform for this...thanks!

  9. Mike
    April 29, 2014 at 9:35 am

    Thanks for that James.

    Yep - tried that. No response from them at all.

    Really don't have time to chase them - pretty poor response from them.

  10. Mike
    April 28, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Tried a LOT of these plugins - couldn't get Woocommerce to work - incapable of actually showing any products.

    Shopp just breaks my installation - as do quite a few others.

    Most seem to look OK - but as soon as you need something useful -££££££

    Calling these plugins 'free' is common when they are clearly not. Paying is fine, but be honest about it.

    Ecwid seems very nice - free is limited to 10 products - but you get a very nice cart and backend: very simply to setup. 100 products is around $12 a month - not to bad - larger shops are catered for. The only thing missing for the free and £12 a month is coupons - which is a shame. However, a nice product - works and doesn't break WordPress - very transparent in their dealings - refreshing in itself.

    For simple digital downloads - Easy Digital Downloads is nice - although to get multiple images costs around $40-50 - a bit steep for a core, in my opinion, feature.

    Anyway there are my thoughts.



    • James B
      April 29, 2014 at 8:12 am

      I would suggest trying to work through your issues with WooCommerce, it is by far the best with active developers and community behind it. Integrating into an existing them is a little more difficult though, which it sounds like you were trying to do.

    • Becky
      August 18, 2016 at 7:08 am

      I might try Ecwid...and look at their checkout pages first...sounds what I may be looking for. I want it on WordPress so I can set up my own hidden landing pages to do direct response marketing. So Shopify etc don't work for me as you can't add extra pages of your own...Thanks for your ideas....yeah, not easy and quite a rip off in the beginning.

  11. Dave Bowyer
    March 28, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    I'm the director of a web design studio based in Derbyshire, UK. We've advocated the use of WordPress for the last 5 years, having used WooCommerce for the last 2 years to support e-commerce for a handful of sites. Our most recent site has required a lot of customisation - loyalty points, variable products, rounding up visible prices to the pound without effecting the amount of VAT amongst other things.

    We have experienced problems which unfortunately are not acceptable and WooCommerce simply state that they are acceptable.

    We will be checking out OpenCart for future E-Commerce projects.

    Thanks for the information.

  12. Chris Banzet
    March 9, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Great article, and I am certainly hard-pressed to find a great e-commerce site. The unfortunate thing for a lot of today's online products is a simple "inline" informative layout doesn't work. I'm in the office equipment industry, and I need a full fledged e-commerce complete with multi-tab layout under the products basic display and details so that I can include things like: Features, Specifications, Supplies & Accessories, What's In The Box, Brochures & Manuals, Service & Support and finally "reviews"... If I laid that out in a linear fashion I'd have a mile long page to sell this product.

    There must be some people out there who have looked at some of these more "custom" e-commerce packages and realized their is a basic "theme" to them and created some type of a wizard frame theme...

    If you know of any plug-in e-commerce packages that handle tab based informative layouts, or if you know of a WooCommerce plugin that handles that type of specific detail, I would sure appreciate the info... Cost isn't as important as final result... :)

  13. sandeep
    February 14, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    woocommerce is the best i have used this on my site

  14. David Coveney
    February 3, 2014 at 11:43 am

    WooCommerce was a fork of Jigoshop, not the other way around!

    But well done for pointing out that setting up an ecommerce site is a big step up from a simple blog - it can really bite some people.

    • James B
      February 4, 2014 at 9:07 am

      Whoops, thanks David! Meh, it's still infinitely better ;)

  15. himagain
    January 28, 2014 at 6:38 am

    Hi James,
    Thanks for your comments!
    I was a bit amazed to find that OpenCart is a bigger user base than Ecommerce and Magento combined. AND they don't advertise.
    I'll give it a try and come back later. But what were you against with it?
    So, I'll go standalone with the OpenCart as suggested.
    And forget WPress.COM until I'm VERY large. Just calculated some costs with it! :-}
    It is extraordinary what you CAN add in to [wordpress dot org]

    Now all I need is a killer product or two..........

  16. himagain
    January 25, 2014 at 6:07 am

    Thank you - good non-nonsense info!
    I have found myself using more bits from MUO recently for that reason.
    My habit today is to look for few superlatives and the reasonable cautions of good reviewers, but to carefully read the Comments.
    (A bit like looking at any service company - go read their Forums and if they haven't got one ... go home.)
    I'm just looking into the setting up of new Site System and here is my current outline:
    1. At a minimum setup at least one copy Site.
    (Might not hurt to have a different attractive name?)
    2. Split the Site/s into separate entry ports.
    (Funnel to appropriate other programs: BB, merchanting)
    3. Backup weekly to a long way away. Out of Tsunami/accident range.
    4. As a well-setup sales system is vital to getting the odd dollar in, I'm currently most impressed for a low-cost (zero!) Shopping Cart by , with very reasonable cost add-ons for anything exotic you may want.
    5. AS always, I'll include PayPal as a key "quick closer".
    6. I think I like MailChimp as a Mail handler.

    Any other suggestions are welcome as it will take me some experimenting to get a whole new setup established.
    Oh: One last hint I've learned: Don't play around with "faking" your Site, get it up realtime but put the entry page behind a password till real launch.

  17. himagain
    January 23, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    Thanks for the reviews! Certainly got me thinking.
    Found this one and it seems like a bit too good to be true out of the box AND its "addons" aren't that expensive either. (As you mentioned, these are often a tricky bit).
    (I will be trying this one for sure).
    ALSO, I don't think it is a good idea (from past bitter experience) to incorporate too much into WPress - it then runs like a dog and becomes unweildy to keep.
    I could be wrong, but I'm going to run as a front end and use url's to direct to specific other standalone programs:
    Forums 1&2, Shopping Cart, PayPal internally for "quickies/specials".
    I was also told recently to setup a blurg as a funnel to the others, as it generates attention across the network and doesn't. COULD THIS BE TRUE?


    • James B
      January 24, 2014 at 12:33 pm

      Opencart is fairly standard, but I certainly wouldn't recommend it.

      Creating a site on is worthless unless you want something that looks as generic as everything else; and you'll need to buy the premium service so you use your own domain anyway. Then expect issues when you inevitably outgrow the platform and need more customisation. Just - don't.

      WordPress isn't inherently slow with eCommerce, but it will be slow if you're running on shared hosting or you overload the site with plugins. Keep it lean!

  18. Oliver Nielsen / WebMatros
    January 18, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    I'd suggest Easy Digital Downloads as long as one isn't selling physical goods that needs shipping.

    EDD is lean and their support is good.

    For physical products, I mostly recommend Shopify – it's a lot smoother for the shop-owner to maintain, than a WordPress based shop. I say that as a web designer who have worked extensively with both.


  19. Sam B
    January 17, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    I have set up quite a few shopping carts myself. I have always used ZenCart and at some point, about 2 1/2 years ago was "forced" into using WordPress. After playing around with all the plugins you mentioned, I went with the Tribulant Shopping Cart plugin from Since my customer wanted tiered pricing, product variation options, multiple shipping options and many other things, Tribulant fit the bill. There were some minor bugs but the support was always there. I believe the license for the cart installation was $59. Last night I just upgraded the cart to their latest version.

  20. Vc N
    January 17, 2014 at 4:30 am

    Of the eCommerce plugins for WordPress, WooCommerce is probably the way to go but I say the begrudgingly. While the "free" core plugin works more or less I have had some odd issues with it. Most were just annoyances but I have had to uninstall and nuke it. Also, the add ons that add any really useful functions are RIDICULOUSLY over-priced and your purchase is only good for a year of updates.

    I've come to the conclusion after wasting a lot of time and money that if you really plan to sell on the internet you should use a stand-alone eCommerce platform. Many of them have ways of integrating into a WordPress site in some fashion and for the peace of mind they offer your customers it's worth any learning curves or expenses.

  21. Beka Rice (SellwithWP)
    January 16, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Hey James, Great review! I think Shopp has now become free on the repo, and they're charging for support instead (like Paid Memberships Pro), so it may be something you want to play around with out of curiosity. I found it interesting after being able to download it and poke around versus using their demo.

    These plugins are top contenders in WordPress eCommerce, and I think their long track records bode well for users. Thanks so much for including Sell with WP as well!

  22. Imajica
    January 16, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Another good point towards WooCommerce: is quite well supported by WPML (through a dedicated plugin), meaning that it's pretty easy to build a multi language, multi country and multi currency eCommerce (at least easy as much as WooCommerce is to configure :) ).

  23. Joel L
    January 16, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    For someone who does not have a site yet but may consider going into e-commerce, would you recommend going the WordPress+plugin route or a more standalone alternative?

    • James B
      January 16, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      WordPress I think. It gives you a lot more options than a dedicated site, especially for a beginner. It might be slightly limited in terms of pure e-commerce features, but its far more user friendly.

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