What is WooCommerce? Why you should (& should not!) use it

Panna Kemenes

WooCommerce is a plugin you can use to build an eCommerce store on WordPress. In a nutshell, it takes your WordPress site and converts it into a store so you can receive online payments.

With over 5,100,000 live websites using WooCommerce, it’s the leading eCommerce platform and has 23.43% worldwide market share.¹

WooCommerce is best for business owners looking for a free online store to sell their products.

Receive eCommerce payments
with Wise Business

In this article:

What is WooCommerce used for?

WooCommerce provides you with a customizable platform to design an online store on WordPress.

WordPress is the foundation that supports an online store, and WooCommerce is what turns your website into a marketplace.

What is WooCommerce in WordPress?

WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin you can download for free, and use to set up your store within minutes. It goes beyond enabling product sales. You can access shipping options, secure payments, and choose from various payment models.

You can manage your WooCommerce store from anywhere, too, using the mobile app to track sales and configure the site.

What is a WooCommerce plugin?

A WooCommerce plugin is a WordPress installation you can activate for online store functionality.

Is WooCommerce the same as Shopify?

While both WooCommerce and Shopify both offer the same thing, eCommerce functionality, they go about it in different ways.

Whereas WooCommerce is a free open-source plugin, Shopify is a premium all-in-one eCommerce platform.

While you can start using WooCommerce immediately at no cost, there is a learning curve. As an open-source plugin, the platform requires technical know-how and core knowledge of coding.

Shopify offers three paid subscription options, but is available to complete beginners.

Open-source plugin for WordPress sitesAll-in-one eCommerce platform
Free to downloadOffers 3 paid subscription plans
Requires coding knowledge to set upSupports beginners
Unlimited customization based on coding70 paid themes you can apply to your store
Sales features available as paid extensions or pluginsIncludes 100+ payment options and related features
No transaction feesCharges per transaction (unless payment is through Shopify Payments)

As you can see, WooCommerce provides an eCommerce store that’s free up front, but can incur extra costs down the road. It also assumes a basic knowledge of coding as this is required to unlock more advanced features and customize.

Shopify requires a monthly subscription to use, but for the recurring fee you get support setting up your store and selling from it. You also have access to many themes and sales features from the start, though transactions incur fees.

What are the benefits of using WooCommerce?

If you’re wondering if WooCommerce would be a good fit for your business, here are some of the main benefits it offers:

Free to use

WooCommerce is completely free as an open-source plugin. While you may have to pay for extra extensions and plugins to access certain sales features, there’s no start-up or monthly fee.

What’s more, unlike other platforms such as Shopify, WooCommerce doesn’t charge transaction fees.

Quick setup

Provided you have some basic coding knowledge, you can set up your store and customize it to your needs quickly. This can be helpful if you need to get up and running as soon as possible.

Access to analytics

WooCommerce Analytics is a tool you can use to measure everything from gross sales to order quantities. With access to all your sales information in real time, you can adjust your resources or inventory accordingly.

Why should you not use WooCommerce?

WooCommerce isn’t all upsides, though, so here are a few ways it might not be the best option for some:

It’s tied to WordPress

Only business owners who already own a WordPress site can use WooCommerce. As such, if you don’t host your website on WordPress, it’s not a viable option for you.

Functionality is limited without coding

Whereas other eCommerce platforms like Shopify provide many built-in features, WooCommerce only offers the skeleton of an online store. It’s down to you, and your coding skills, to customize the store and build it to your requirements.

Not built for scalability

While you certainly can scale your business with WooCommerce, it can be tricky with its infrastructure. Handling large volume orders isn’t as easy as it would be with a more comprehensive eCommerce platform.

How to set up WooCommerce

WooCommerce may require some coding knowledge if you’re to get the most out of it, but you can get started with assistance.

There are five steps you’ll need to take to start hosting your online store with WooCommerce. The only prerequisite is that you have a WordPress site for your business.

  • Choose a hosting site from Bluehost, SiteGround, Pressable, and WordPress.com
  • Sign up for an account on the WooCommerce website, and either use a pre-installed solution with one of the previously-stated hosts, auto-install it through your WordPress site, or download the zip file
  • Next, download the WooCommerce plugin and install/activate it through WordPress. You can find it by navigating to ‘dashboard’, ‘plugins’, ‘add new’, ‘search plugins’
  • Now you can follow the setup wizard which will guide you through the installation process
  • Choose a theme for your store to get started. You can go back and change this at a later date if you wish

Once you’re all set up with WooCommerce, you can start to flesh out your online store. With extensions, you can pay for extra functionality.

Features include everything from managing subscriptions and booking to adding payment gateways or shipping options.

Each extension is billed as an annual subscription which will provide support and product updates over time.

Is WooCommerce right for your business?

Now you know what WooCommerce is, it’s time to decide if it’s the right choice for you.

The truth is that it depends on your business. For SMBs, for example, WooCommerce is an excellent option as it’s largely free to use.

If you’re looking to set up an eCommerce store, it’s worth considering all your options so you can pick the one that best suits your needs.

Whichever option you choose, you’ll need a way to receive payments once you’ve set up your eCommerce store. Wise Business is a great account for businesses of any size looking to go global.



  1. 22 Amazing WooCommerce Statistics for 2022 | WP Swings

All sources checked August 26, 2022.

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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