Commercial gains are one of the motivating factors behind the growth of the Web. eCommerce provided endless choices for consumers in search for the product or service they want, no matter where they are, or what time it is. For online retailers, eCommerce gave them the opportunity to showcase their product and services to the entire world with just a web address. Now, in order for a successful eCommerce transaction to take place, as an online store owner, we need to ensure that we have done our due diligence and that our online shop is ready to handle the customers and take their purchase order.
For online stores running on the WordPress platform, we are blessed with the convenience of plugins that we can implement for our daily sale activities. Today, on this article, we look at 7 free eCommerce WordPress plugins that can help to shape and develop our online business successfully.
1. WP eCommerce
WP eCommerce is a powerful plugin that has all the features you need to setup up an online store quickly. It contains features for you to manage inventory and prices, shopping cart, checkouts, and comes complete with shipping tools already integrated with popular couriers. Store owners can manage inventory and input information like price, sale price, SKU, weight, categories, stock level, etc. For payment gateways, the plugin offers many for ready integration. If you are concerned about customization, you will be pleased that you can further customize the features/layouts/settings using CSS and HTML to make it look consistent with your storefront theme.
What I like about the eCommerce plugin in particular, is that you have the option of providing the use of discount coupon codes, and offering extra “upgrade options” during their purchase. Upgrade options are add-ons that you can offer to your customers when they are purchasing the main item. E.g wrapping paper, an extra set of cleaning kit, etc
WooCommerce is a highly rated and very popular WordPress plugin that many bloggers use. It integrates perfectly with WordPress, and one of the reason for it’s continued popularity is that there are many other plugins created to work together with WooCommerce. The plugin is not limited to just selling digital and physical products. With premium extensions (read: paid products), you can also offer bookings, memberships and recurring subscriptions. As with most eCommerce plugins, WooCommerce offers highly configurable shipping and payment options.
What I like about the plugin is the convenience to view our online store’s sales report within WordPress dashboard. It gives you access to useful information such as sales within a defined period, average daily sales, items purchased, orders placed, and more. Also, you will be spoiled for choices when looking for eCommerce WordPress plugins related to WooCommerce. Find out more about WooCommerce here.
3. WooCommerce PDF Invoices & Packing Slips
When it comes to online sales, what’s important other than the actual sales and shipping? Most people hate administrative and documents, but it’s essential that we keep proper records, and provides necessary documentation and invoices for ourselves and customers.
PDF Invoices & Packing Slips is an extension created specifically for WooCommerce. It keeps you organized and saves time by automatically adding a PDF invoice to the email confirmations that are being sent to your customers. Packing slips can also be generated quickly to speed up your shipping processes. What I like about the plugin is the options when it comes to customizing the PDF invoice. We get to embed our own company logo/banner, choose our template, determine what kind of information we want on the footer, and more.
4. Sprout Invoices – Client Invoicing & Estimates
For online store owners not using WooCommerce, Sprout Invoices may be your solution to handle invoicing and payment matters. Sprout Invoices specializes in reducing time spent on project estimates and administrative matters, by automating and streamlining the processes. Other than assisting you on invoices and estimates, the plugin offers your customers payment options seamlessly (e.g. cheque, Paypal)
What I like about Sprout Invoices, is the sheer amount of control that you can have when creating and managing your invoices. From the the plugin’s dashboard, you can edit or view each and every invoice’s status to reflect as pending, outstanding balance, paid, or even written off. For record keeping, you can export all these data in ether CSV, Excel or PDF. Last but not least, it provides summary and breakdown of your payment statuses over period of time (e.g last 7 days, last 30 days, etc), as well as presenting your invoices and payment status graphically.
5. Leaflet Maps Marker
Leaflet Maps Maker is not really a commonly used eCommerce WordPress plugins since not every online shop needs a mapping plugin. However, for eCommerce stores that have an offline presence, having a map is useful to show the location of their shop(s). It can provide location services and information to your customers who want to collect or purchase your goods directly from your nearest shop. With the plugin, you can also pin useful places (near your shop) to show your customers. Useful places can be the nearest carpark, the nearest restaurant, petrol station, or ATMs, etc.
What I like about Leaflet Maps Maker is the variety of mapping solutions provided. The almost 5-stars plugin offer mapping for users on Google Maps, OpenStreetMap and Bing Maps. Another WordPress plugin you can consider for your mapping requirements is WP Google Maps.
6. The Events Calendar
You don’t find many online stores displaying a calendar on their website. However, depending on the industry you are in, using a calendar to show events may actually help to improve sales. Using a calendar plugin, you can include both online events (e.g. promotions, pre-sale launches, new product launches) and offline events to create awareness among your visitors and customers. For example, if there is an upcoming book festival, you may want to hold a promotion to encourage early bulk sales, or offer your visitors an option to register themselves for an “event” to get autographs from their favorite authors, and so on.
The WordPress plugin Events Calendar is really so good, you may find yourself asking why is it free. Although there are premium features that you need to pay to use, the basic and free features are more than enough for most bloggers. Even on the free version, you get to customize event information such as:
- event categories,
- event date & time,
- option to show Google Maps & link,
- organizer contact details,
- URL of event organizer
- event cost
What I like about the Events Calendar is the easy setup (less than 5 mins) and the high level of customization it provides. If you think out of the box, using activities and events can provide you with an unexpected boost in sales.
7. Help Desk
Every eCommerce store needs to provide support – either pre or after sales. This is one of the must-have eCommerce WordPress plugins you need to install for your online store. You cannot run away from it, unless you are not keen about doing long term business. Having a channel or department to handle customers’ questions, doubts or technical issues is part and parcel of business. Having a ticket system in place to support your customers makes your online business more organized, and your customers or prospects have more confidence in you. The free WordPress plugin Awesome Support, is a solid and stable ticketing system that integrates perfectly with almost all other plugins and themes. It has all the necessary features such as giving you option to assign who to reply to the customer, file uploads (attachments), and email notifications upon actions taken.
What I like about the plugin Awesome Support is the feature that let us tag the support tickets for easy and quick reference. By grouping our tickets using the tags, we can do future reference when replying to common raised questions or issues.
If you are using any other eCommerce WordPress plugins that are worth mentioning, please give us the heads up by commenting below. We will love to hear from you! For more recommendations on how to make your blog better, why not take a look at our list for the top 50 best WordPress plugins here.
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