The growth in eCommerce withing the small business community is massive. Leading the charge is Woocommerce, a popular WordPress shopping cart plugin that in a few short years has overtaken heavyweights like Magento, Opencart, Prestashop and others….
Web designers have few issues setting up a WordPress site, but often struggle with eCommerce. Yes, installing the cart plugin is a breeze compared with others. Customising the look, adding products, prices and descriptions is easy too. But other areas can confuse, delay the site going live as well as increase business risks. This is where a web designer really needs the help of a web developer to complete the cart project.
Our functionality/performance checklist for WooCommerce
- Shipping – The normal US shipping tools from UPS etc don’t work well here. Can WooCommerce shipping be setup to work with local costs and courier companies?
- SEO – This needs special consideration for carts. Adding an SEO plugin isn’t enough. Migrating a shop from another cart system is a hidden nightmare too, the new WooCommerce site generating hundreds of crawl errors. Your Google ranking will plummet, taking 6 months to recover traffic – The opposite of what was expected when moving from say an old Zencat (or similar) to WooCommerce.
- Email – Notifications from the site to advise of customers and store owners of orders needs to be reliable. Spam filters have become increasingly aggressive in recent times. You can’t have site emails and receipts going into peoples spam folders!
- Product variations – This is perhaps the weakest area of WooCommerce, compared with most other carts. It can work well, but not always easy to setup correctly.
- Banking gateways – Please look beyond Paypal, which has excessive use of payment reversals that annoy sellers. Yet many alternatives like DPS are costly, slow and difficult to configure. There are now better gateway options for small businesses.
- Invoices – The default Woocommerce system of generating and managing invoicing is very basic and far from ideal for NZ Setting up GST, generating accountant-friendly invoices, downloadable PDF copies, packing slips etc is missing.
- Wishlists, rewards, abandoned carts, mobile apps – These are popular addons in other high-end carts. Can WooCommerce provide these options? Yes.
- Membership, booking, eLearning – WooCommerce has the ability to work in with selected membership. booking and other plugins. Immense opportunities if done right.
- Slow speed – Did you know that 58% of eCommerce site visitors will click away if waiting more than 3 seconds? Most WooCommerce sites are double this, which is especially annoying to mobile visitors. Check your speed at www.webpagetest.org
- Security – Hacked sites and stolen data are becoming commonplace with DIY eCommerce sites. Site security hardening, security certificates and backups are the forgotten children to most eCommerce builds. It’s too important to ignore.
Put simply, more focus is needed on ‘how it works‘, as opposed to ‘how it looks‘. Too often there is only a budget allocated to getting it looking nice, none for anything else. Most people wrongly assume the rest [how it works] is just ‘taken care of’ as part of the ‘design’. No. Making it work in terms of traffic and sales performance is additional.
So, if you’re one of those struggling with the intricacies of WooCommerce, please give us a call. We can often fix in a few hours or days what can take designers weeks/months of trial and error. We can help get your WooCommerce site working as it should.
All this just reminds us that a good, successful website requires good planning and is more work than the creation of a traditional sales brochure site designers are used to. Focusing only upon beautiful visuals and the message is like buying a car without checking it has an engine. People naturally assume it’s all included. In the web world, looks and functionality are often two separate products, purchased separately.
Kevin Trye, Senior Web Developer firstname.lastname@example.org