Starting an online business is more appealing than ever.
Consumers are increasingly shopping online. Retail eCommerce sales worldwide are projected to reach a staggering $6.5 trillion dollars by 2023.
Online shopping is clearly booming.
The good news is you don’t need a massive budget to sell online. Platforms like Shopify make it easy for anyone to create an online store — no technical experience or coding necessary.
ECommerce platforms also include everything you need to customize your store and manage customer orders. But as your business grows, you may need extra features.
That’s where plugins come in. These are add-ons you can install on your site to extend the functionality of your store. But with tens of thousands of plugins in the WordPress plugin repository alone, it can be difficult to pick the best plugins.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the most essential eCommerce plugins as well as how to use them to boost your sales.
1. ECommerce Plugin
WordPress is an excellent content management system — it offers a user-friendly interface and many web host providers now offer one-click installations.
One downside is that WordPress is primarily a blogging platform. That means out of the box you can’t add products, configure shipping options or process orders.
Fortunately, there are a number of eCommerce plugins you can install that let you turn any WordPress site into an online store. WooCommerce is one of the more popular options.
WooCommerce offers a ton of functionality out of the box. Manage your products and accept payments from major gateways like PayPal, Stripe, Square, and more.
The plugin is also completely free, making it one of the most economical ways to start an eCommerce business. All you need is a custom domain and a hosting provider.
Install and activate the plugin. Simply follow the steps in the setup wizard to get your store running.
Then you’ll be able to add products and manage orders. There are free and paid extensions available in the WooCommerce Marketplace that allow you to extend the functionality of your store even further.
Just like WooCommerce, you can also use Elementor for creating your online store. It is an easy to use WordPress website builder. However, there are some Elementor Pros and Cons that you should be aware of.
Easy Digital Downloads is another plugin you can consider if you sell digital goods, such as ebooks, videos, or graphics.
Just like with WooCommerce, you can use the plugin to build an online store to sell digital products. It also works with any WordPress theme, but Easy Digital Downloads has a range of free and paid themes that are designed specifically for its plugin.
2. Lead Generation Tools
Collecting leads is essential for any online business. It allows you to reach more customers and drive more sales. Depending on your business, a great way to generate leads is by offering a quote for service-based products.
For example, True Blue Life Insurance is able to collect customers’ emails by offering free, no-strings-attached quotes.
Another way to collect leads is to integrate online quizzes. Here’s an example of how Joy Organics uses quizzes on its homepage for lead generation:
Add lead capture forms that make it easy to collect contact information. Fortunately, there are a number of WordPress plugins you can install to help with lead generation.
One popular solution is OptinMonster, a lead generation software that lets you create popups and signup forms to your site. You can also use their drag-and-drop builder to build your own.
WPForms is another WordPress plugin that lets you easily create and integrate contact forms on your site. With instant notifications, you can quickly respond to leads.
Sales order forms are essential for B2B eCommerce. Automating the sales order process will streamline your eCommerce processes.
Instead of getting bogged down by manual processes, your sales team can focus on more productive work.
3. Pricing Table
If you offer a range of similar products with different features, you’ll want to include pricing tables. These allow visitors to compare products side-by-side.
If you’re offering a free version of your product, adding a pricing table is a great way to showcase the different features available. Here’s an example of a pricing table that Reply.io uses for its LinkedIn email finder:
Visitors can easily compare the different features available and make an informed decision.
WP Table Manager offers a simple solution for creating and adding tables to your product pages. You can choose from any of their pre-designed themes or build your own with their visual editor.
4. SEO Optimization Tools
SEO or search engine optimization is simply a must. More than 50% of shoppers use Google to discover or find new brands. If your store isn’t ranking for your target keywords, your audience will purchase from competing sites instead.
Yoast SEO is one of the most popular SEO plugins and for good reason — it offers a robust set of features for optimizing your site for search engines.
The plugin lets you easily optimize your page titles and meta descriptions. It even generates a sitemap for search engines to crawl and index your pages. The content analysis feature displays optimization recommendations based on a target keyword you enter.
Rank Math is another popular SEO plugin. It offers Google Search Console integration and even lets you track your rankings.
If writing is not your strong suit, it’s definitely worth investing in high-quality SEO copywriting to create website copy that sells.
5. Live Chat
Providing quality customer service is key to retaining customers and growing your eCommerce business. If customers aren’t happy with your level of customer service, they’ll likely look for other alternatives instead.
Live chat allows visitors on your site to connect with your business and quickly get support whether they’re shopping from their computer or mobile device.
Zendesk is a live chat software that enables visitors on your website to connect with a customer service representative and chat in real-time. Prospective customers can click on the chat icon from any page and reach out with any questions they have.
GiliSports warns their customers that they will receive an answer within a few hours.
Having a live chat on your website is a great way to save your customer support team time answering tickets. In this example, Preply provides a search box that customers can use to try to find answers to their questions while waiting for support.
6. Product Videos
More consumers are watching video than ever before. An estimated 85% of online users in the US watched online video from any device. Adding videos to your product pages can help sell more of your products. Don’t forget to have a video marketing strategy in place.
Consider adding a plugin like TubePress. The plugin lets you add a responsive video gallery to your site from any source, such as YouTube and Vimeo.
LFA Capsule Fillers, a supplier of capsule filling machines, utilizes videos on its product pages to help potential buyers make an informed decision.
Shopping online isn’t the same as shopping at a store. You can’t physically hold a product in your hand. Include a product demo video on your pages to showcase your products in action.
7. Behavior Analytics
Behavior analytics is all about analyzing what visitors are doing on site and using that insight to drive conversions.
Hotjar is a robust analytics and heatmap tool that helps you understand how visitors are interacting with your pages. It uses a heat spectrum to show you which parts of a page are getting the most attention.
Parts of your site that visitors are paying attention to are highlighted in red, while less engaging sections are displayed in cooler colors. Hotjar offers different heatmap views, so you can hone in on different behaviors like scrolling and clicking.
Savvy Sleeper uses Hotjar to measure how their visitors interact with their site. They use those insights to make UX improvements based on actual data and not just “hunches.”
Another example of using behavioral analytics is to make suggestions. For example, a visitor who views a product on your site has indicated interest. In that case, you could display related products to generate more sales.
Here’s an example of how A Gift Personalized displays related products:
Visitors on these product pages can then click through to the products that interest them most and make a purchase.
An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate allows customers to securely shop from your online store. It creates an encrypted connection, which protects their sensitive information.
Really Simple SSL is another must-have eCommerce plugin. The plugin automatically detects and configures your site to run over HTTPS — a web protocol that encrypts data transfers between a web browser and a server.
Visitors want to be sure that their information is secure before shopping online. You’ll lose customers if you don’t have an SSL certificate on your site.
Configuring SSL on your site instills confidence as visitors can see a lock icon in the address bar as shown below from Medical Alert Buyers Guide:
Follow these steps to get started:
- Purchase an SSL certificate
- Install and activate the plugin
- Go into your settings and enable SSL
Many hosting services will offer you free SSL certificates with your hosting package.
There is no shortage of eCommerce plugins. Some of the plugins on this list are free, while others have paid options. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it offers a great starting point to really take your store to the next level.
About the Author
Brad is the CEO at Wordable.io and the Founder of Codeless (a content production agency). His content has been highlighted by The New York Times, Business Insider, The Next Web, and thousands more.