So you’re dead set on creating an online store with WooCommerce—that’s great! I guess you already have your road-map ready by now and you’re all set to go. But did you get the chance to create a budget for the additional expenses?
You heard that right.
Apart from setting up a WordPress website and downloading the free WooCommerce plugin, there’s more on the shopping list. Plugins, themes, hosting, domain name,.. the list is big. Of course, if you’re planning to just have a business website, WooCommerce would do just fine. But if setting up an eCommerce website is the final idea, you need these additional resources. WooCommerce is everything it claims to be but there are limitations to its capabilities. It’s not like any SaaS-based eCommerce platform where you get everything bundled in the package.
With that in mind, I suggest you take this guide as a reference and plan your budget ahead of time to avoid any surprises later on. In this guide, I’ll provide you with a checklist which will help you with the construction of your eCommerce website. This list should suffice your requirements. And as we move on, feel free to customize it to meet your needs.
Dividing the list
Since there’s a lot that comes to the list, it’s better to categorize the items separately.
- Domain name, Web hosting, and SSL certificate
- Theme and website design
- Payment plugins
- WooCommerce shipping plugins
- Website performance plugins
Domain name, Web hosting, and SSL certificate
The first obvious work you need to do is host your website. For that, you have to choose a unique domain name, set up the web hosting, and get an SSL certificate for your website.
There are many different hosting service providers that offer these things in a bundle; Bluehost is one of them. They are well-known for their hosting plans that are designed especially for WooCommerce websites. The plans they offer are,
These plans are very welcoming to new users and it’s a breeze to get by. You get all the essential requirements like choosing the domain name, selecting the web hosting, getting an SSL certificate, a dedicated IP Address, and much more. The setup process hardly takes any time and your website will be up and running in minutes.
I recommend you go with the Plus plan if you’re just starting out. It has all the basic features along with some advanced features which you could make use of when you’re website is matured.
Theme and website design
Although Bluehost lets you choose and install a theme from their in-built theme store, I don’t recommend you go that way. Rather, I would request you to visit a theme store. Themify and Elegant Themes are gaining a lot of traction lately and they offer some really good themes.
You need to be careful when selecting the theme for your website. The themes that look beautiful usually take longer to load. So it’s better to go with a theme that glides smoothly and looks decent as well. And also, you should avoid trying out themes that have been just released. Chances are they contain a few bugs and minor CSS issues which could prove to be really bad for your business.
You can also go with the themes provided by WooCommerce. They are well-tested and usually go well with the eCommerce design. On the other hand, you could also install any one of the free WooCommerce themes. The good thing about free themes is you can download a bunch of them and test it on your website before going live. Some of the free themes also have a version which you can upgrade to if you find it suitable.
Price: Free; Premium usually ranges from $50 to $100
WooCommerce comes along with the necessary payment gateways and you don’t have to pay any money in order to use them. But you need to consider the fact that your payment processing fees will add up after some time. And this additional fees could really affect your business on the financial level.
In general, payment processing fees vary depending on the payment service you have chosen to go with. For instance, when using Stripe payments, you need to pay 2.9% + .30 for every transaction made on your online store.
Now if you decide to go with the common bank payments then your fees may be lower but the difference is less. Plus traditional merchant accounts use a third party payment gateways like Authorize.net (another monthly fee). And depending on what you sell and who you sell it to, you can expect some (quite a few, actually) additional processing fees to pop up on your merchant account statement every month. For a small business just starting out, these fees can eat up a significant portion of your monthly revenue.
This is why I recommend Stripe for new businesses. Their flat-rate pricing and no monthly fees mean you’ll keep more from every sale.
Price: Free, expect the usual payment processing fees. Please refer to the processing schemes prescribed by the payment service companies.
WooCommerce shipping plugins
You may look further out of WooCommerce Shipping plugins by PluginHive if you need additional or advanced features for all your shipping needs. That’s because WooCommerce alone is capable of handling basic shipping options. However, there are a few good plugins offered but they simply aren’t good enough.
For example, WooCommerce FedEx plugin does not come with features like shipment tracking and printing shipping labels. Whereas our plugin, WooCommerce FedEx Shipping Plugin with Print Label, offers the above features along with a few additions like FedEx Freight and FedEx International services. You can compare them in this comparison article if you’d like.
Here are other amazing plugins for your WooCommerce if you are looking to explore shipping options. Some of these shipping plugins are carrier-specific while some of them are generic. Meaning, they can be used anywhere and does not depend upon the availability of a particular shipping carrier in your region.
- WooCommerce UPS Shipping Plugin with Print Label
- WooCommerce Canada Post Shipping Plugin with Print Label
- WooCommerce Royal Mail Shipping Plugin with Tracking
- WooCommerce Table Rate Shipping Pro
- WooCommerce Shipment Tracking Pro
- WooCommerce Estimated Delivery Date Plugin
- WooCommerce Multi-Carrier Shipping Plugin
Price: $69 first time payment, then 50% cost every year to receive regular updates and premium customers support.
Website performance plugins
You should not ignore this category; why you ask. For one, these plugins are free to download, and two, they will increase the overall performance of your WordPress-based website. Most of these plugins fall under the most downloaded WordPress plugins list and a lot of users and store owners use them. Let’s go through some of the important ones.
- Akismet: Akismet is a wonderful plugin that periodically checks new and old comments posted on your website. It goes through your contact form submissions and compares it from its database that stores in all the spam. If ever there’s a match, it alerts you and blocks that comment/contact form temporarily in order to prevent your website from damage.
- W3 Total Cache: One of the many reasons why you find websites like allblackshop.com quick and responsive is because they use plugins like W3 Total Cache. This plugin essentially increases your website’s performance drastically and reduces the download times by using a feature called the Content Delivery Network(CDN). Most users aren’t aware of this plugin or the features that it offers; they usually end up blaming their themes or certain plugins.
- Smush Image Compression: High-quality are generally big in size and thus occupy a lot of space on your website. Which means your webpage will obviously load slower, that can make your visitors wait for seconds or minutes, which is definitely not good. So in order to reduce the image size while maintaining the same quality level seems a good approach indeed. Sumsh Image Compression is one such plugin that can save you. It is a popular plugin developed by the famous plugin author, WPMU DEV, and offers some commendable image compression features.
- WordFence: A great many things come out of an eCommerce website— money, customers, brand value and awareness, and much more. But also has its fair share of risk and security concerns. Any average snooper or hacker can unmount your website within minutes. So probably the first thing you should be doing before doing any business is making sure you have your defenses ready. Wordfence is one such plugin that provides a powerful barricade around your website and monitors your website timely. It comes with features like WordPress Firewall and WordPress Security Scanner.
- Redirection: Redirection is one of the most popular link redirection plugins. With this plugin, you’ll be able to change the permalinks of certain pages or posts, and easily redirect your users to the current version of the page. This plugin is also useful when you’re migrating pages or posts from an older site. You can download the free version which offers more than enough features to handle most tasks.
Price: Free; plugins like WordFence have paid versions which starts from $99 for the single license.
For some business owners, the free WooCommerce plugin alone isn’t quite enough. Your business model may depend on features that require an additional plugin, or you may want a more advanced version of the features that are built into the free plugin. So, for example, if your business is offering bookings on services then you’ll need an extension for that. And the best one is the WooCommerce Bookings and Appointments.
I hope this article would have helped you figure out your budget for your WooCommerce website. As you can see, the overall initial and recurring (monthly) costs are quite low—that’s one good thing about Open Source platforms.
You can contact our customer support if you need any help with the WooCommerce Shipping plugins listed in the article. Our team will help you set up the plugins on your store and will also help you get started with shipping.
Let me know in the comments below how you feel about the article.