The options at your fingertips for building an ecommerce website have come a long way. It wasn’t long ago that you had to choose between pure SaaS-based site builder platforms on the one hand and self-hosted solutions on the other. Neither approach was great, especially for the do-it-yourself set. Either you had too little control over the front end, or you had to hire a developer to set it all up in your own environment.
Today, thanks to the wide array of ecommerce software built specifically for WordPress, you can have the best of both worlds. You can use ecommerce SaaS to manage your product line, to process transactions and execute and track order fulfillment. And you can use WordPress to create and maintain a storefront to your liking, making it easy to integrate shopping experiences with immersive, informative media.
The space has matured to the point where even top Fortune 500 companies like Disney, Sony and Microsoft use WordPress. There’s nothing holding you back from joining them. But just like any use case of any tool, there’s a lot that can go wrong when using WordPress for ecommerce purposes – and there are many ways you can go about addressing these pitfalls.
So before you dive into building your ecommerce site on WordPress, here are five issues you’ll need to consider.
1. Not All Plugins and Themes Are Compatible
One of the best things about WordPress is that it’s so easy to customize. You can choose from thousands of different plugins and themes, but they aren’t all made equal. Because WordPress is open source, plugins and themes have been built by different developers with different approaches to source code.
Some themes aren’t mobile responsive or can cause your site to load frustratingly slowly. Other themes will break if you install certain plugins, so avoid setting your heart on a particular theme until you know that it works well even after you add the plugins you need. Often, each of your plugins works fine with your theme, but conflicts arise when certain combinations of plugins are installed together, leaving you with a complex process of trial and error to sort it all out.
What’s more, a new WordPress update has the power bring down your plugins and themes, especially themes that weren’t designed by WordPress itself. Installing them and then trying to update your site can be a recipe for disaster. Read the reviews and ratings on prospective plugins and themes carefully, to avoid poor performance and incompatibility.
2. WordPress is a Magnet for Hackers
Popularity isn’t always a blessing. Because so many millions of websites and blogs are on WordPress – an estimated 33.9% of all active web domains – hackers view it as a worthy target. WordPress is also vulnerable because of the way it’s built.
Your WordPress ecommerce site might use a number of different plugins, each from a different developer. Each one needs constant vigilance. It only takes one to develop a vulnerability for your entire site to be compromised, costing you money and reputation.
Make sure that you always install recommended security updates across all components of your site, and only use plugins that are supported with updates. Use strong passwords wherever necessary, keep tight control over user permissions, and take advantage of WordPress security plugins that implement firewalls, load balancing, CDN, anti-malware and spam monitoring tools. Store your most sensitive customer data in a siloed CRM so it can’t be breached.
3. You Need Appropriate Web Hosting
For the vast majority of websites using it, WordPress is self-hosted. This gives you the flexibility to choose your own preferred hosting service, but it also means that you have to find the right host for your ecommerce needs.
Perhaps more so than other types of sites, ecommerce shops need to load and respond quickly so that customers don’t leave in frustration. But they also include a lot of text, links, and high-resolution images. It’s important to find a host that can provide the bandwidth and storage that you need.
It’s equally crucial to choose a hosting company that prioritizes security. Shared hosting is too insecure for ecommerce sites, since they deal with confidential credit card information and customer details. Make sure to choose a plan that’s designed for ecommerce, ideally using VPS or dedicated servers. Don’t forget to find a host that provides an SSL certificate for increased site security.
4. There’s No Single Ecommerce Solution
Ecommerce sites require a lot of interwoven functions and features.
To run your online business successfully, you may need to integrate solutions for ERP, CRM, triggered transactional emails, inventory management, shipping coordination, analytics, SEO and marketing tools, accounting and financial apps and even a POS if you have a brick and mortar presence as well.
WordPress can deliver all that, but there’s no all-in-one solution that does it all just yet. You’ll need to make sure to find plugins that perform all these tasks, and then verify that they all integrate smoothly and are compatible with each other and your chosen theme.
5. The Relationship Between Content and Selling Is Tricky
Successful ecommerce sites rely heavily on good content marketing and awesome SEO. WordPress is a great way to combine rich content with an ecommerce engine, but that still leaves you with the job of knocking your content out the park.
It’s important to write original articles that engage your audience and deliver real value. But you also want to promote your products and direct visitors clearly to your shopping pages. WordPress makes this easier, but you still need to walk a fine line.
Promote your products, but don’t overdo it. Present your store in a positive light, but without compromising your credibility by being over-promotional. It might sound difficult, but with the right publishing and promotion strategy, along with the best WordPress plugins for SEO and marketing, you can attract and nurture an audience with your new ecommerce brand.
Successful Ecommerce on WordPress Requires Careful Thought
WordPress is rightly a popular and effective platform for ecommerce websites. When you consider these five issues ahead of time, you’ll be in the best position for success.