WooCommerce: The Advantages & Disadvantages of the Popular Shop Plugin

Tino Werner Last updated on 20.10.2020
5 Min.
WooCommerce advantages
Last updated on 20.10.2020

WooCommerce is the leading and free eCommerce shop system for the WordPress universe. With a single click, this plugin turns your WordPress blog into a fully equipped online shop. WooCommerce stands out above all through its simplicity and versatility.

The history of the popular eCommerce plugin

Similar to WordPress, WooCommerce offers its own complete range of plugins and themes. Its simple modular design is also impressive. The fast-paced history of WooCommerce began in 2011 when WooThemes developed WooCommerce in addition to its well-known themes and plugins. WooCommerce emerged from the then very popular plugin Jigoshop and became the most successful WordPress shop system within the same year.

eBook: Online shop with WooCommerce

Do you want to build an online shop using WooCommerce? You can find tips on how to do it in our 70+ page ebook WooCommerce for Professionals: Online Shops with WordPress. This book is aimed at freelancers, agencies, WordPress professionals as well as beginners.

As a logical consequence, WooCommerce was bought up in 2015 by Automattic, the company behind wordpress.com, and gradually integrated into the WordPress economy. Today, according to BuiltWith, more than 3.3 million websites use the popular WordPress plugin.

WooCommerce - the basis for your online shop

Technically speaking, WooCommerce only provides the basis for a successful shop. On WooCommerce.com , you'll find a wide range of free and premium plugins, including plugins for the payment service providers Stripe, Amazon Pay and Klarna. These plugins allow you to expand your shop according to your needs.

In addition to the standard WordPress theme "Twenty Nineteen" there's now also the standard theme "Storefront", which was developed explicitly for the use of WooCommerce. The basic theme is very simple and offers an excellent basis for the development of a shop. The features of Storefront are all exclusively geared towards eCommerce.

The features of Storefront are:

  • Specially optimized for WooCommerce
  • Fully responsive design
  • Basic setting options via the theme customizer
  • Many child themes and plugins to extend the theme

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Storefront today has a lot of Premium and free child themes. This means everyone can customize the theme to their own tastes. If you want to invest a little more, the popular WooCommerce theme "Flatsome" is worth considering.

Is WooCommerce suitable for your shop?

WooCommerce is ideal for small and medium-sized companies who manage their shop and internet presence independently with a limited budget.

WooCommerce allows a huge number of shop types to be built with, for example:

  • physical products (e.g. jam or home-knitted scarves)
  • digital products (e.g. own books or patterns)
  • Tickets (e.g. for concerts, seminars or congresses)
  • protected member areas (e.g. for online training)
  • even external products (e.g. Amazon affiliates)

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Advantages of WooCommerce

Compared to other shop systems available on the market, WooCommerce has the following advantages:

  • High scalability and low shop costs compared to other shop systems
  • Quick setup via the WooCommerce wizard, knowledge of HTML and CSS is usually not required
  • With WordPress the use of a full-fledged content management system (CMS)
  • An almost endless variety of free and paid plugins & themes:
    - free WooCommerce plugins you will find in the official WordPress plugin directory.
    - chargeable WooCommerce extensions are available e.g. on WooCommerce.com , Codecanyon.

    - Here is a list of the most important Plugins for WooCommerce.
    - you can find free WooCommerce themes in WordPress theme directory.
    - premium WooCommerce themes are available, for example, from ThemeForest.
  • A completely own "WooCommerce economy", which has developed alongside WordPress. This almost guarantees that WooCommerce will be developed further.
  • There is a huge, international WooCommerce community with which you can exchange ideas:
    - in the WordPress Support forum 
    - in the Facebook group "WooCommerce Help & Share"
    - in the Facebook group "Advanced WooCommerce"
  • The European market for WooCommerce has just begun to grow.
  • It's usually still cheaper to use WooCommerce premium plugins than other shop systems.
  • For WooCommerce, there are numerous connections to accounting systems, POS systems and warehouse management systems, such as Lexoffice, Billbee , Sevdesk.

WordPress with WooCommerce – the disadvantages

Unfortunately, there are also a few disadvantages you should be aware of when using WooCommerce. I'll explain these disadvantages below:

1. WooCommerce is not made in Europe

WooCommerce was developed in the USA and is therefore not optimized for the European market. If want to sell your products on the European market therefore, you need another plugin such as the free WordPress plugin Germanized or the premium plugin German Market.

Both plugins make your shop legally secure in Europe. They complement your WooCommerce shop with a variety of additional functions, such as an invoice PDF, delivery note, VAT output in the right places, calculation of unit price, strike price, legally compliant checkout, etc.

2. Legal texts are not included

WooCommerce doesn't include legal texts such as general terms and conditions, data protection declaration, revocation regulations, shipping regulations, procedure directory, etc as standard. The plugins or legal text providers mentioned in point 1 can help you here, including the IT Law Firm, Händlerbund , Protectedshops. For more general information, read our article how to make WooCommerce legally compliant.

3. Manageable European WooCommerce community

Non english-speaking WooCommerce communities can be very small and users can encounter problems when looking for help in their language. For these cases, I recommend the following points of contact:

You'll find more helpful resources on:

  • Woo Expert - here you can also find online training courses on the topic WooCommerce
  • MarketPress blog - very good entry-level articles for WooCommerce

4. Focus on the US market

The focus of the development of WooCommerce is on the US market, which unfortunately leads to problems from time to time with feature requests or adjustments to the current legal situation. The two plugins above-mentioned or the legal text providers can help here. It should therefore be particularly looked at in the event of major legal changes (such as the GDPR) whether WooCommerce or other extensions will make adjustments here. It is therefore always worth taking a look at the Make Blog from WooCommerce. There you can make current adjustments to the WooCommerce plugin...beta versions, release candidates, and so on.

5. Test first, then update!

The main disadvantage, however, is the update policy and its dependence on the other plugins and the shop theme. This means: If WooCommerce makes an update, you should not click on Update immediately, but test your shop thoroughly in a closed test environment. Because due to the multitude of other plugins there can be enormous problems with the shop. The reason is that most plugin and theme developers are not so fast with their updates.

By the way, RAIDBOXES has its own staging system. You can test all your updates beforehand in this staging environment with the peace of mind that you'll not be affecting your live site. Wondering how this works? We explain in our Help Center article on staging exactly how to use our RAIDBOXES staging feature.

Technical requirements

After you have considered the advantages and disadvantages of WooCommerce, it is also important to find the optimal web hosting for your shop. Because WooCommerce usually requires a lot of resources, such as 128 MB WordPress memory limit. If you then also have such plugins WooCommerce Subscriptions you will quickly reach the limit with standard hosters. You might want to read our Articles about WooCommerce hosting in which we describe the four most important factors for your shop hosting in detail.

The current system requirements of WooCommerce:

  • PHP version 7 or greater
  • MySQL version 5.6 or greater or MariaDB version 10.0 or greater
  • WordPress memory limit of at least 128 MB or greater
  • SSL certificate
By the way

Our PRO plan is optimized to meet the particular demands of a WooCommerce shop. Try it yourself and test our WooCommerceHosting for free and with no obligations.

Conclusion: is WooCommerce right for your shop?

Just like any other shop system, WooCommerce has some disadvantages. Nevertheless, we believe the strong advantages WooCommerce has, for example its cost factor and growing ecosystem and community, ultimately outweigh any disadvantages.

WooCommerce is therefore the best choice for small to medium-sized shops in particular. With just a few clicks, you can transform your WordPress site into a cost-effective and professional online shop. For more information, check out our e-book WooCommerce for Professionals: Online Shops with WordPress.

What do you think about WooCommerce? Do you already have experience with the WooCommerce plugin or other shop systems? I look forward to your comments, tips and feedback!

Tino has been working with WordPress and WooCommerce for over 15 years. His personal focus is frontend development, WooCommerce, and loading time optimization. Tino's roles at RAIDBOXES include second level support and managing cooperations.

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