There are hundreds of thousands of plug-ins for WooCommercefor every conceivable purpose. It is not easy to assess the quality of the extensions. We present the most important WooCommerce plugins that you need for common shop projects. But also free alternatives.
The variety of plugins for WordPress and WooCommerce is a great advantage. This means you don't have to hire developers or an agency for every special function in your shop. In many cases, existing solutions can be adapted with relatively little effort so that they meet your specific needs.
But whether an extension is actually of high quality or even represents a security risk sometimes only becomes apparent at second glance. This is especially true if it is offered free of charge, for example on the biggest marketplace WordPress.org. Because despite many a free solution that works well and stably, support is not available to the same extent as it should be with paid plugins.
Help with WooCommerce
You can spot high-quality plugins by looking out for these signs:
- Number and type of ratings on WordPress.org or trading places like codecanyon.net
- Response time and quality of responses in the developer's support forums (or also on WordPress.org)
- Number of downloads
- Support in your language, ideally from a local support team
- How quickly are updates rolled out after a WordPress or WooCommerce update?
- Frequency of plugin updates
- Have there been critical security vulnerabilities in the past and how quickly were these fixed?
You can also ask in specialist groups for WooCommerce what experiences other users have had with a particular extension. For example, on Facebook. See our sources and community tips.
You can find the in-house extensions of WooCommerce on the portal of the provider Automattic. Among them are also free tools. For example, for the simple connection of PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Pay or Google Analytics.
In the following, I will introduce you to some well-known premium plugins and their free alternatives. These supplement WooCommerce with functions that experience has shown to be in particularly high demand. From shop operators but also from agencies.
If you sell memberships instead of physical items, or only sell your goods exclusively to selected customers, then WooCommerce Memberships is worth a look. With the extension, you can implement membership sites, closed customer areas, premium content shops and much more (Image: © WooCommerce):
The options range from limited access to products and special content areas to free trial memberships. Create different offerings like "Silver", "Gold" or "Platinum" subscriptions.
Members can be rewarded with certain special offers and vouchers. In conjunction with WooCommerce subscriptions (more on this in a moment), they can also upgrade or downgrade their memberships.
With Mailchimp you can send newsletters and automate your marketing emails. The extension for WooCommerce integrates your online shop into this workflow. Include your newsletter at various points in the checkout. But this is just the beginning. With an extended integration, the following use cases can be realized:
- Synchronize your customers' email addresses with existing lists
- Segment your customers by the products in their shopping cart or by frequency of purchases
- Evaluate the performance figures of your product and marketing emails in detail
- Have integrated ad campaigns from Facebook and Instagram
- Send product recommendations or vouchers based on previous purchases
- Send email reminders to customers who still have items in their shopping cart
Check legal certainty
Some of the functions above are not legally permitted in some countries, or only under certain conditions. In Germany, for example, you usually need explicit consent to send emails (Double-Opt-In). You should also be careful with customer segmentation. Clarify these points with your law firm.
By the way, similar extensions are also available for MailPoet, the newsletter plugin for WordPress. Although not quite as comprehensive.
Selling products in a subscription model is possible with WooCommerce Subscriptions. Because in the standard version of WooCommerce it is not possible to automatically collect recurring payments. You need such payments if you sell software with monthly fees, other services or regular deliveries. The plugin enables you to, among other things:
- Flexible payment periods per product
- Integration of payment services such as PayPal, Stripe or Amazon Pay to make the payments
- Creation of corresponding invoices per cycle
- Your customers can switch between different subscription models or take out several subscriptions at the same time.
- Reminders to renew subscriptions by email, or even discounted subscriptions or free trial periods
You always have an overview of when and how many subscriptions have been taken out, their expiration and how much revenue you're generating now or are set to generate in the future. Based on these figures, you can plan appropriate marketing campaigns and new models.
Your business model is based in whole or in part on the sale of events, training, rentals, consulting, vacation, health and wellness offers, webinars, etc.? WooCommerce Bookings extends the shop system with functions for appointment-based services. Including modules for event planning (Image: © WooCommerce):
Your clients can specify preferred dates, while you specify free and blocked slots. Bookings are made by the day, hour or even minute. You can book individual sessions or group appointments and limit the minimum or maximum number of participants.
Offer discounts for teams, for early bookings and for specific target groups. Or charge higher prices on weekends or at certain busy times. The plugin even supports different time zones if your customers book from abroad. You define how bookings are confirmed or whether and how reservations can be canceled. Reminders for appointments can be sent automatically by email.
WooCommerce supports the creation of so-called grouped products in order to map simple product packages ("bundles"). However, the standard functionality does not include a deeper product logic. For example, grouped products allow your customers to place only some of the products in the shopping basket.
If you want to offer product packages that contain a price advantage, or that only make sense together, you have gained nothing. Furthermore, logical conditions like "Product A excludes Product B" or "Product A may only be included x times" are not possible in the basic function. For all these cases WooCommerce has designed the paid extension Product Bundles.
Further highlights of the plugin: Increase your cross-selling sales with functions such as "frequently bought together". You know these from shopping giants like Amazon.
Add additional products to the bundles that can be optionally added to the shopping basket. For example, care products for clothing or cables and accessories for technical goods. You define how the sub-products are to be displayed in the shopping cart, in the checkout and in the order emails (grouped or individually).
In WooCommerce, you can set different prices for different product variants. The "blue" t-shirt, for example, could be cheaper than the "red" one. The voucher function of the shop system is also quite sophisticated. Discounts can be controlled by the minimum order value. Or certain products must be included in the shopping cart for the discount to take effect.
For complex discounts directly on the product itself, however, you need the additional pluginDynamic Pricing. It implements the following scenarios, among others:
- Grant a five percent discount on a product if it is placed in the shopping cart a certain amount of times (bulk prices)
- Increase this discount to ten percent for certain WordPress user roles, for example "Gold Members"
- Discount a product when your customers add another product from the same category.
- Add a special discount for a certain number of products from the same category
These actions can also be partly linked to each other. An example: "Discount for Category A if Gold Members purchase X number of Category B products". Used correctly, the Dynamic Pricing extension is a powerful marketing tool.
Observe competition law
In some countries, only some of these discounts are allowed while others may be subject to competition law. Please check this before you choose a plugin like Dynamic Pricing.
The sale of individualized goods is on the rise. It doesn't matter if it's shoes in your favorite colors, muesli you put together yourself or jewelry with engraving. With the Product Add-ons extension from WooCommerce , you have the option of having your customers customize product data before they click on the "Buy" button.
The plugin extends the product display with the necessary input fields and checkboxes. Individual prices for special requests can be implemented as well as the uploading of graphics, building instructions, samples and sketches. You can even offer additional services. For example, gift wrapping, a special delivery or a dedication or signature for works of art.
WooCommerce & Gravity Forms
Gravity Forms Product Add-ons goes in a similar direction. It extends the popular and very comprehensive solution for contact forms Gravity Forms for WordPress to implement a product configurator. The tool is especially suitable if you already use the associated mainPlugin .
In addition to the two paid extensions, there are free tools such as the Personalized Product Option Manager (PPOM for WooCommerce). This is not quite as extensive, but you can also use it to add further modules to your product pages. For example, text and selection fields, checkboxes, date or number fields:
You can try out the plugin to gain experience with individual products. If the range of functions is not sufficient, you can always switch to a professional plugin. However, the product data entered by your customers up to that point cannot be transferred.
You can use the so-called "shipping classes" settings in WooCommerce to determine very precisely what shipping costs need to be paid for by which customers, in which scenarios and for which products. The setup of these classes looks rather complicated at first. But after some playing around on your test system, you'll quickly understand the principle behind it.
In some cases, however, the standard solution just isn't enough. Especially if any of the following apply:
- You need to further subdivide the shipping classes, for example by regions that are not represented in WooCommerce.
- The shipping costs should depend on weight
- The number of goods in the shopping cart plays a role
- The shipping costs should vary according to the order value
Then you should take a look at the Table Rate Shipping extension.
In addition to the original WooCommerce Table Rate Shipping plugin, there are many imitators of the same name available. These may be cheaper but you should check first whether they offer the same range of features and support. My advice is to purchase the original plugin.
Advanced Flat Rat Shippinge ("Flat Rate Shipping Plugin For WooCommerce") is another free option. With it you can also set special shipping costs per product, or for individual categories and countries.
You just want to link the option "free shipping" in WooCommerce to certain conditions? For example, depending on the products, the quantity, the weight, the dimensions, the shopping cart total or the WordPress user role? Then WooCommerce Advanced Free Shipping could be the right thing for you.
The plugin can help if some customers order very bulky or heavy goods, while you normally do not charge shipping fees. However, make sure there is an updated version of the plugin that has been tested with your version of WordPress. Otherwise, this plugin can quickly become a security risk for your online shop. See our tips for choosing plugins for WordPress and WooCommerce.
In the European Union, there are numerous legal requirements you need to consider for WooCommerce, particularly in Germany and Austria. One wrong setting and you face the quite realistic risk of a legal warning - from competitors, competition associations or authorities. This applies especially if:
- The registered office for your online shop is in the EU
- If you sell from your shop to EU countries
In both cases, you cannot operate WooCommerce as standard. This also applies to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Fortunately, there are several plugins and service providers that can help you with the topic of legal security for WooCommerce. You can find out more about these extensions in our article legally secure WooCommerce.
In addition to the well-known extensions, there are numerous little helpers that make your life with WooCommerce easier. This saves you time-consuming individual development. But be careful: too many plugins installed at the same time can slow down your WordPress system. Or the extensions can paralyze each other. If you are unsure, ask a service provider.
It is therefore all the more important that you check each plugin detail on a separate test system before releasing it in your live shop. The same applies to updates of WordPress, WooCommerce and third-party plugins.
Equally important is a high-performance WordPress hosting that is completely geared towards WooCommerce. This is the only way to cope with the many processes that your visitors carry out in the shop at the same time. See our article 4 factors for WooCommerce hosting. Do You develop online shop projects for your customers? Then take advantage of our free hosting for WooCommerce in the development phase.
You can find more tips on WooCommerce in our 70+ sites strong e-book WooCommerce for professionals: Online shops with WordPress . It is aimed at freelancers, agencies, WP professionals, but also at beginners.
Your questions about WooCommerce
Contributed photo: Todd Quackenbush