New ecommerce leads often ask us “How much does Woocommerce cost?”
They’re always flabbergasted when we reply with “Woocommerce is actually free!”
“No way. It can’t be. No wonder it’s so popular.”
We then go on to clarify:
Just like any website design project, even though the Woocommerce platform itself is free, there’s costs surrounding it.
It all depends on what you’re looking to do with it.
First, let’s take a look at some of the baseline costs that come with any Woocommerce project.
Base Woocommerce Pricing
There are several key things to consider when it comes to the cost of building a Woocommerce website.
First though, ask yourself the following questions to help gauge the size and scale of your Woocommerce website project;
- How much work are you happy to put in yourself?
- Is your brand identity in place to help guide the style of the website?
- How many products do you have?
- Do you have the photography ready?
- Which payment processors will you use, and are the accounts setup?
- How will you market your website to sell your products?
- Do you already have a domain name and web hosting?
Asking these questions from the outset should help you picture the size of a Woocommerce web design project.
From there, you can see where the cost is going to come from.
But Isn’t Woocommerce Free?
Absolutely. 100% completely free.
Woocommerce is a plugin that plugs into the WordPress platform, on which you then build your website.
And to do that, you have two options;
- Build your own website
- Engage with a design agency that offer web design services to build it for you
Let’s explore each of these directions.
Building Your Own Woocommerce Website
Before you consider building your own website, ask yourself;
- Have you ever built a website before, how did it turn out?
- Could your time be better spent doing something else?
- Does your entire business revolve around your website?
- If your website is broken, what impact will it have on your business?
- How are you going to market the website? Do you know anything about SEO?
If you’re not a web designer or developer by trade, building a website yourself is a huge challenge. Attempting to build your own ecommerce website is insane.
You can do it, but you’ll spend so long learning key skills such as HTML, CSS, PHP, WordPress, Hosting, FTP and more.
If the above looks like a whole load of junk and jargon to you, imagine what it’ll look like when you start digging in and trying to code your own site.
Sure, you could download and install a Premium Theme that costs around £50, but we’ve got strong feelings around using WordPress themes to build your own website.
And to be honest, you still need to have solid WordPress knowledge to setup a website using a pre-built theme.
Without a solid background in building websites, you’ll also spend the next 3 months stressed and pulling your hair out trying to cobble together your own website.
Working with a Design Agency to Build Your Woocommerce Website
A better option, is to work with an design agency that offer Woocommerce web design as a service.
A good design agency will walk you through the process, and ensure that you come out of it with a website that does your business goals justice.
Design agencies have people that specialise in certain areas, and can take you through anything you don’t understand.
If you already have an existing website, they should be able to integrate ecommerce functionality into that. Or, they can create something from scratch.
But how much does it cost to have a professional web design agency build a Woocommerce website for you?
We have a post detailing the costs of a website that goes into depth around the exact costs of a website.
So Woocommerce Isn’t Free?
The software itself is free, but the cost of building a Woocommerce website varies depending on what you decide.
If you do it yourself, the cost is probably around 3 months of stress and anguish, loss in the amount of hair you have, and ongoing issues for the foreseeable future.
If you hire an agency to work on it for you, you could pay anywhere from £5000 to £50,000 depending on your exact requirements.
Woocommerce is free, just like WordPress. It’s the build of the site that isn’t free.
Are There Any Hidden Costs with Woocommerce?
There are no hidden costs with Woocommerce, but there are additional costs depending on exactly what sort of website you have.
Woocommerce offer a lot of plugins to handle very specific functionality.
For example, three of their key additional plugins are as follows;
- Subscriptions: This plugin allows you to create subscription products on your Woocommerce website. A subscription product allows you to charge customers on a reoccuring basis. As an example, think Birchbox. The Shire Bakery uses this plugin for her Sprinkle Club box.
- Memberships: This plugin lets you create multi-tiered memberships for your website. So if you operate a website with a Bronze, Silver, and Gold tier membership system, this plugin is for you.
- Bookings: The bookings plugin lets you take bookings through your website. So if you’re a Dentist and you want to make an appointments calendar, then this is the plugin for you. Our client Snowjunkie uses this plugin to rent out snowsports clothing.
The premium plugins listed above come in at a range of prices. Typically, they cost between £150 and £200 per year.
This does however grant you access to updates and support for a 12 month period.
Your Woocommerce website might not need these plugins, but it is an additional extra to consider if you’re in the process of building or growing an ecommerce business.
How Does Woocommerce Compare to Other Ecommerce Platforms?
Cloudways have a great article about the market share of the world’s top ecommerce platforms.
- Woocommerce holds 21% of the market
- Shopify holds 18%
- Magento holds 13%
- Prestashop and Opencart are responsible for around 5% each
- And “Other” makes up the difference of 38%
So Woocommerce comes out on top as the most popular ecommerce platform in the world.
But how does it compare to others?
It’s hard to compare platforms, because you have to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.
As an avid supporter of the WordPress and Woocommerce platform, it would be a biased review if I compared Woocommerce to other platforms.
It’s rare that anyone brings up any other platform than Shopify when we talk about Woocommerce.
And we’re always asked our thoughts on Shopify, so, listed below, are the main problems we have with the platform.
However, if you want a more technical breakdown, check out our post, The Battle of the Ecommerce Giants: Woocommerce vs Shopify.
The Problem with Shopify
The main problem I have with Shopify, is that it always belongs to someone else.
When you run an ecommerce store on Woocommerce, it lives on your servers, on your money, and it lives and dies with you.
Shopify is the opposite. It’s cheaper, but it lives on their servers. But that means if there’s an outage, Shopify gets sold, they go under, then your site goes with it.
You wouldn’t build a house on rented ground. So why build a website on a plot that’s not yours?
And, because it’s rented ground, they lock off areas of the code and some site customisations are impossible. Afterall, they don’t want you tweaking their code too much.
Sure, it’s easy to use, but so is Woocommerce.
Sure, it appears cheap from the outset, but don’t you worry.
Once you have everything in your site that you need, it would’ve probably been cheaper to pay for an agency to build you a Woocommerce site.
Shopify appeals to people entering the ecommerce world for the first time, because it’s popular, and their marketing has raised their public profile.
But it’s not the right way to start building your own website.
You don’t want to be at the mercy of another company.
/end Shopify rant
The Ongoing Cost of Woocommerce (or Any Ecommerce Website)
So far, we’ve established two routes forward to building your Woocommerce website.
- Build it yourself
- Hire a design agency
If you decide to build it yourself, so far you’ve accrued no costs. If you hire a design agency, you’re probably into the upper end of four figures or even into the five figure arena.
Now that the build of the website is taken care of, what do the ongoing costs of doing business online look like?
Woocommerce websites need good hosting. And that’s just a fact.
There’s no point in spending all that money on the build of a shiny new Woocommerce site, only to host it on a cheap hosting platform like GoDaddy or TSOHost.
To be perfectly honest, you couldn’t pay me to host my website with either of those companies anyway, but ecommerce? No chance!
If you’re serious about doing business online, then you need to invest in good website hosting.
With Woocommerce as your ecommerce platform, you should be looking into WordPress dedicated hosting solutions.
At Canny, we use Flywheel for our hosting. And we can’t say enough about them! (And no, that’s not an affiliate link.)
We’ve also used WPEngine in the past, and their platform is great too.
Dedicated WordPress and Woocommerce hosting is geared towards making sure your new ecommerce website gets the most out of the server.
They’re constantly changing and tweaking things to optimise performance.
Packages from both Flywheel and WPEngine tend to start around the £20 a month mark, scaling to £250+ as your business grows and your needs change.
That little padlock or green tick at the top of your browser when you’re shopping online, is an SSL certificate.
Not to bore you with the details, but…
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It is a protocol which creates a secure connection between a client and the server over which to send information.
Essentially, it notifies your customers that your website is safe and secure.
When running a Woocommerce website, you take card payments. And to do that, you need to make sure you have your SSL in place.
You can get a Simple SSL certificate for free with most quality website hosting companies.
And as usual, there’s the option to upgrade depending on your requirements.
Product Photography and Uploading Products
Photography sells products. People are always attracted to professional photographs, that really capture your product.
If you’re going to be running a small Woocommerce website with less than 100 products, hiring a professional photographer shouldn’t break the bank.
But it will make a difference!
Obviously if you have hundreds and hundreds of products, you’re going to want to look into a solution for taking your own photos.
I’m not going to go into details around choosing the perfect camera, or how to take the photos in this post. If you want tips on that, check out Peter Mckinnon on Youtube.
Essentially, you want a good DSLR camera, some lights, and a backdrop.
Amazon sell a range of photography setups. Ranging from backdrops that are large enough to shoot furniture against, to smaller setups ideal for shooting food or jewellery products.
How you handle the photography of your products is your choice, but professional photos are always a solid investment.
If you expect your product line to grow and change on a regular basis, learning to take your own photos is worth your time.
If it’s going to stay fairly static with new additions happening on a less frequent basis, then go the professional photo route.
I’d expect a photo setup to cost around the £150 mark, plus your camera.
If you’re going for the professional shoot, it depends what you want out of it, but the last time we had 10 products shot against a white background, it cost us around £100.
Marketing Your Website
Now that you have the basic requirements for your new Woocommerce website in place, let’s talk about advertising your business.
There are a whole range of digital marketing strategies, and having a digital marketing plan for your business is vital.
But just to touch on some of the basics;
A lot of people treat SEO (search engine optimisation) as a magic bullet that will fix all of their problems.
And it’s not that at all.
Good SEO practises should be put in place from the start if you’re working with a professional design agency.
SEO techniques and strategies on their own are unlikely to help you make more sales.
They need to be combined with great content to give your new venture the best chance of success.
The creation of good content is the foundation for business success in this day and age.
Without it, you’ve got nothing to hook your customers in.
At Canny, we’ve managed to grow and scale a 6 figure business off the back of our content creation.
There are 3 ways people consume content. They are;
- Blog posts
So you need to bring those channels up to scratch if you want to market your business in the best way possible.
We wrote about utilising these channels when we shared our best Small Business Advertising Ideas.
Blog posts hook in both viewers and search engines. Podcasts hook in listeners, and can then be transcribed to bring in readers. Same with video.
Without great content, your new website will struggle.
“But I sell a product that is going to be hard to build content around.”
Here’s the deal:
People crave content. Look at the success of Reality TV. People are interested in the lives of others.
Let’s run through an example. Let’s say you run a Woocommerce website that sells a boring product.
For this example, let’s pretend it’s bin bags (or bin liners). The thing that goes in your bin, where you put your rubbish.
Off the top of my head, here’s 3 pieces of content you could create on Day 1.
- “Why Supermarket Bin Bags are Trash Compared to Ours”
- “10 Tips to Help You Throw Away Less Stuff”
- “What Happens When Your Bin Gets Emptied”
You have to blow open the whole product and really get into the psyche of potential customers.
You can create content around the subject, rather than always writing directly about the subject.
Content is key to the success of any new business. Spend some time sharing ideas, and you’ll be able to develop a content plan in no time!
Once you’ve got your content creation sorted, you need to get it out there.
And social media is the best way to do that.
Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat. You need to go where your customers are, and get in their feed.
Think of your social channels as the way to broadcast your content. It’s your own personal TV station.
And nobody wants to watch TV that’s full of adverts!
You want to go with the Gary Vaynerchuk method of Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.
Useful info, useful info, useful info, ask or the sale. Rinse. Repeat.
If more than 25% of your social channel is adverts or photos of your product, then you need to reevaluate your strategy.
There’s a place for adverts, but they shouldn’t take up 100% of your social feeds.
If you’re going to run paid advertising, you have a few great options.
Facebook adverts are cheap. And you can get really specific. So start there.
Instagram ads are the same. Same company, same advertising model as Facebook.
And then there’s always Google Adwords, however, you need to be really tight around your Adwords spend.
It’s often the case, that you could half your Adwords spend, invest it into good content, and promote it on Facebook or Instagram for better returns.
Paid advertising deserves a whole post on it’s own, and we’ll come to that in the near future.
The Advantages of Woocommerce
Now that we’ve talked about how much Woocommerce costs, let’s look at the advantages of using Woocommerce as your ecommerce solution.
Woocommerce is Powered by WordPress
As we’ve mentioned already, Woocommerce plugs into the WordPress platform. And it’s made by the same people!
WordPress powers over 30% of the websites on the internet, and has become the most popular CMS (content management system) in the World.
For a breakdown on different types of CMS, check out this post that compares the world’s most popular content management systems.
We love WordPress because it’s easy to develop for. Our clients love WordPress because it’s easy to use.
With Woocommerce plugging straight into it, you’re getting a great combination of projects that act as the backbone of your online business.
Ease of Use
Because Woocommerce is built on WordPress, it’s super easy to use!
If you can use Microsoft Word, then you can add products to your Woocommerce website.
It’s got a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor, allowing you to add bold and italic text, lists, links, pictures, and more.
A good design agency will take you through your site when it comes to the handover, and explain the nuances of handling product orders, returns etc.
But trust me, it’s really not difficult at all!
Flexible and Scalable
Woocommerce grows with your business. It can handle 1 product, or 100,000 products.
There’s no upper limit. Provided you have a good hosting solution in place, you’ll struggle to find an upper limit with Woocommerce.
We’ve put Woocommerce through it’s paces on several ecommerce projects we’ve worked on, and it’s coped with everything we’ve thrown at it.
Woocommerce address the issue of scalability on their own website better than we could here.
But essentially with Woocommerce, you’re getting a robust ecommerce platform that will stand the test of time.
WordPress and Woocommerce Has a Great Developer Community
Because WordPress and Woocommerce are Open Source projects (free), there’s a great developer community out there.
So if we ever get stuck with a particularly difficult piece of code, we can get help.
If you get stuck uploading products, a quick Google search will return thousands of results.
The open source community of WordPress and Woocommerce has helped us out on a number of occasions.
It’s also great to know that, if your web design agency are crooks and go MIA, then you can tap into the wide network of other developers out there!
With Woocommerce, you’ll never be left in the dark.
Conclusion: How Much Does Woocommerce Cost (and Why We Use It!)
Woocommerce is a great ecommerce platform to build your online business on top of, and it’s always getting better.
The great thing about Woocommerce, is that it doesn’t have to cost the earth, and it’s always growing and improving.
It’s also, 100% “yours.” You’re not building a website on borrowed land. You own it, you host it, it’s yours.
Working with an agency to build your Woocommerce website is the best solution, and I think you’ll find yourself surprised with the pricing options you have.
If you’re looking for an agency to work with, reach out to us.
Is your website built on Woocommerce? Are you looking to change? Let us know in the comments below.