In my last post, I took a long look at the real costs associated with running a WooCommerce-powered store.
While it’s certainly possible to set up shop and start selling online with the free plugin alone, there are certain limitations. Most business owners will end up purchasing one or more commercial extensions to get the most out of WooCommerce.
Depending on which extensions you purchase you may spend anywhere from $29 to $249 (per extension, per year) for updates and support. Needless to say, the cost of setting up your site can add up quickly.
Here are some tips for lowering the cost of running your WooCommerce store:
1. Don’t use extensions you don’t need. This advice sounds stupidly simple, and it is. While it’s tempting to jump in and buy a bunch of extensions when setting up a new WooCommerce site, the cost adds up quickly. First, be sure you have a good grasp of how WooCommerce works. Once you know how to take full advantage of the free plugin, you may find you don’t need a pricey extension to achieve your business goals. A little WooCommerce training goes a long way.
2. Use free alternatives If the price of WooTheme’s official Stripe extension is too much for you, consider using a free plugin instead. The free Striper plugin may be just what you’re looking for. A word of warning: most free plugins come with zero support and no guarantee of updates. So, this bargain bin approach may backfire at some point in the future. Still, for some business owners, the savings might be the difference between launching or not launching a new business. And you can always upgrade to the official WooThemes plugin in the future — after your business takes off and you’re generating real revenue.
3. Use lower cost alternatives While WooThemes may be the official source of WooCommerce extensions; it is by no means the only source. For example, on CodeCanyon you’ll find this Stripe extension. At $29 it’s a $50 savings over the “official” Stripe extension. Similarly, Booking System PRO is $200 less than WooTheme’s Bookings extension. Keep in mind that these lower priced alternatives may not include as many features as their WooTheme’s counterparts. In fact, they may be nothing at all alike. In other words, do your research and proceed with caution or you just might end up spending money on a plugin you don’t need and won’t use (see tip #1).
4. Take advantage of WooTheme’s 30 day refund period. Unfortunately, WooThemes does not offer a trial period for plugins. That makes it quite risky to experiment with a plugin that might be important to your business (or might be a very bad fit, depending on your needs). Not so bad when it’s a $49 plugin, but very risky when it’s a $249 plugin (or two). Fortunately, WooThemes offers a 30-day refund policy for plugins and themes. If you do buy a WooCommerce extension from WooThemes, use this 30 day refund period to determine if the plugin is a good fit for your business. And don’t be shy about returning a plugin that isn’t quite what you need.
5. Prepay Your Web Hosting Fees. Not all eCommerce costs are associated with WooCommerce. Most web hosting companies offer a significant discount when you pay for a year of hosting in advance. If you’re using a managed WordPress web host like WP Engine, this can add up to significant savings.
One final piece of advice: start simple. This gets back to my first suggestion. You may have a grand vision of creating the next Amazon. That’s fine if you have Amazon’s development budget, but most new businesses are starting on a shoestring budget. You’ll do well to launch a simplified version of your business as a proof of concept, then add features over time. In the process, you may find that certain “must have” features aren’t as important as you originally thought. And you’ll save some cash in the process.