6 Best WooCommerce Alternatives for WordPress
One of my favorite things about WordPress is when you find a reliable theme or plugin developer, and then you realize that the search for high-quality website-building tools is over. The only thing I worry about with these sorts of WordPress relationships, however, is that you never really know who you’re dealing with. Or how truly reliable they’ll be in the long run.
So, totally hypothetical situation here: let’s say you put all your eggs into one eCommerce plugin basket. Then you hear through the grapevine that the plugin developer changed their pricing model without notifying customers. You’re pretty sure you can’t reasonably afford that jump in price, but you feel stuck with the plugin because it’s the one you built your online store with. What are you supposed to do? Start all over again?
If that scenario above sounds familiar, it’s because this is what recently happened with WooCommerce. Oh, you haven’t heard about it yet? Well, you and probably the majority of their customers are going to find out about this major (and truly unfortunate) change very soon.
What the Heck Is Going on with WooCommerce?
As of writing this article, WooCommerce powers over two million websites around the web, making it the most used eCommerce technology in 2017. In all honesty, WooCommerce has been a pretty big deal since it was launched in 2010. Then when Autommatic purchased WooThemes and WooCommerce in 2015, well, you can imagine what sort of impact that had on the eCommerce plugin’s reputation.
Fast forward to today, and web developers and other users of the plugin are, to put it bluntly, pissed off. WooCommerce recently and very quietly announced that they were terminating the 50% discount that members receive with each year’s renewal of the plugin. They have effectively doubled the cost of using WooCommerce.
While this may not be a big deal for customers that are brand new to WooCommerce, this is a major source of contention with long-standing and loyal customers. And it rightfully should be. Why was there no notice given to current customers? Why was there no grandfathered pricing agreement made in order to keep long-standing customers happy? Does WooCommerce really believe that their plugin is so good and users so dependent on it that they won’t have any choice but to pay double the fees once it comes time to re-up their license?
This actually isn’t the first inconsiderate move the people behind WooCommerce have made. About four years ago, WooCommerce changed their pricing structure, without any warning and without any special treatment for long-standing, existing customers. Instead, they swiftly removed one of their more popular pricing tiers nor would they grandfather in those pre-existing pricing terms for customers. Needless to say, this move generated a lot of anger.
WooCommerce tried to justify the move by saying it would help the company cover the cost of support. However, based on their history, customers claimed they rarely needed support from WooCommerce and, when they did ask for it, that it sucked. WooCommerce ignored this backlash and instead focused on the bright side of the situation. Funny enough, they touted the 50% discount members received on yearly renewals as the silver lining, believing those annual cost savings would soften the blow of the pricing changes they had just made.
Now, in 2017, WooCommerce is taking that 50% renewal price away.
WooCommerce hasn’t publicly made the announcement yet, so customers likely won’t find out about it until it’s time for them to renew for next year. And then what do they do? WooCommerce knows their users are basically locked into the platform. Having to rebuild a basic WordPress site for a small, service-based business is one thing. Having to rebuild an entire store with hundreds or thousands of products is a nightmare.
So, where does this leave you if you’re currently running your online shop with WooCommerce, but have had enough of the clear disrespect they have for their long-time customers? If your yearly costs are doubling and profit margins are tight, you’ll either need to raise prices on your customers and potentially hurt the goodwill you’ve established with them or you’ll need to find a new eCommerce plugin. Customers probably won’t take too kindly to this, so let’s explore other options.
6 WooCommerce Alternatives
If you’re concerned that cheaper eCommerce plugins just won’t fit the bill, then let’s settle this once and for all today. I’m going to review six of the top eCmmerce plugins and see if we can find something that’s worth making the switch for.
The MarketPress e-commerce plugin from WPMU DEV is the quick and comprehensive solution for building (or re-building) your e-commerce store in WordPress. Unlike other plugins, there are no extensions necessary in order to tap into the full functionality needed to run an e-commerce site. It comes with everything you need.
- Included in your WPMU DEV membership
- Works with Upfront
- Step-by-step quick setup wizard to help you get your store back up and running right away
- 15 built-in payment gateways
- Integrates with Google Analytics
- Various tax and VAT settings
- No extensions needed to access all the features
- Can build a single store or network of stores
- Sell digital or physical products
- Built-in gallery display for product images
If security is a major concern for your e-commerce store, then the Cart66 plugin is one you must look at. It comes chock-full of sales-enhancing features, all of which are protected by their PCI compliance, CDN, and secure hosted payment page.
One thing to note about Cart66, however, is that they offer two subscriptions. The first one comes with the standard highlights mentioned below. The second one costs significantly more, but offers more in the way of being able to manage the entire shopping experience from start to finish (like mailing labels, drip campaigns, etc.)
- PCI-compliant hosted payment portal
- Built-in CDN for additional security
- Includes over 100 payment gateways
- Sell digital or physical products
- Advanced shipping and tax rate calculator
- Coupon integration
- MailChimp integration
- One-click Buy Now links for your other marketing platforms (e.g. email, social)
One of the very few e-commerce plugins for WordPress that’s available for free, Easy Digital Downloads is a great option if your site is in the business of selling digital products like software, ebooks, and images and if you need a simple store setup. Anything beyond creating products and adding discount codes will require a paid extension or upgrade (but that should be expected with a free plugin anyway).
- It’s free
- Works with most major payment gateways, like PayPal and Amazon
- Create digital product pages the same way you’d create anything else in WordPress (which means it’s super intuitive)
- Discount code creation
- Built-in reporting system
This free e-commerce plugin is great for creating and managing a physical product catalog, which is made even more easy with its drag-and-drop catalog builder. Now, while you could spring for the premium extensions that give you access to things like quote forms, product reviews, and a shopping cart, you may be best off using this in conjunction with a safe and secure payment gateway instead.
- It’s free
- Drag-and-drop builder
- Customize your design or use pre-made templates
- Works with over 150 currencies and four price formats
- Build a catalog for up to 100,000 products
- Granular product catalog organization based on categories or tags
- Control shipping options
- SEO-friendly: includes metadata as well as separate catalog sitemap
- Includes breadcrumb functionality
The basic iThemes Exchange plugin is a simple and intuitive way to set up your products and get your store running in no time, so, if time is of the essence, this speedy solution may fit the bill. However, it is important to note that there’s a lot more you can do with this e-commerce plugin, but it requires extension activation (and payment) in order to tap into that advanced functionality.
- Unique but simple interface that streamlines product entry setup
- Sell digital and physical products
- Integrates with Stripe (their preferred payment gateway) as well as PayPal
- Add-ons available for reporting, tax calculations, multi-item shopping carts, product metadata, and more
- Pro Pack designed for membership websites and other recurring payment services
If you’re looking for something that is a step up from a free e-commerce plugin but not quite as robust as a premium one, you may be interested in the WP eCommerce plugin. They keep it simple in terms of setting up a new store, but have also built this plugin with the developer in mind, offering a number of APIs to extend the functionality of your online store.
- Integrates with reliable payment gateways like PayPal and Stripe
- Manage tax and shipping rates
- Coupon management options
- Configure for recurring billing, processing refunds, and more
- Includes on-page marketing options, like “Share This” and “User Who Bought This”
- Monitor sales from within the tool
Sadly, WooCommerce may still be seen by many to have a leg up on the competition, what with their long-standing presence as the top eCommerce plugin on the market. And for some of their customers, the price jump will simply be a drop in the bucket—but I’m sure those customers are far and few between.
For developers that don’t want to work with a plugin developer that doesn’t have their best interests at heart, just know that there are other options available that are just as (if not more so) reliable and feature-packaged. You don’t need to risk angering your own customers by raising your own prices in order to compensate for WooCommerce’s ever-shifting pricing structure. You also don’t need to work with a plugin that many customers have called out for lacking in support. Your business deserves a better partner than that.