WooCommerce is the most popular shopping cart system in the world. And yet, I don’t think that title does WooCommerce justice because it’s not just a shopping cart. WooCommerce is a full-featured eCommerce platform. Let me explain.
Unlike traditional shopping carts, WooCommerce does a whole lot more than sell physical products. You can use WooCommerce to sell anything from your website.
Here are the four categories of products and services you can sell with WooCommerce:
1. Sell physical products. Like any other web shopping cart, WooCommerce can be used to sell physical products online. WooCommerce will help you maintain your product catalog, price your products, manage order status, and calculate shipping and sales tax. You can even create coupons to offer customers incentive to buy from your store.
Those are all standard features of any shopping cart system. But WooCommerce is more flexible than other shopping carts.
If you have some special business requirement, there are hundreds of WooCommerce extensions to help you fine-tune your store without having to hire a programmer. Like WordPress itself, WooCommerce offers a solid core of features made even more valuable by an ecosystem of add-ons that provide the ultimate in flexibility and extensibility.
2. Sell digital products. In addition to physical products, WooCommerce can sell digital products. A digital product is anything that can be downloaded — from an ebook to a feature length film.
This is where things start to get interesting. Once you set up shop, WooCommerce runs the store for you: processing payments and providing customers with access to their purchases. WooCommerce also protects your download links, ensuring that only paying customers get access to your digital products.
3. Sell your time WooCommerce isn’t just for traditional eCommerce merchants. Consultants and professionals can use it to sell their services online.
There are a couple of different ways to sell your time with WooCommerce. You can either sell your service as a product (“estate planning,” for example), in which case you would charge a flat rate for the service offered. Or sell your time by the hour (“book 10 hours of my time @ $150/hour”).
Either way, your service is just another WooCommerce product. The key difference is that you check the “virtual” box on the product setup page. That tells WooCommerce that the product isn’t shippable.
One advantage of selling your time online is that you can offer your clients flexible payment options. For example, you can accept credit cards for immediate payment, or Cash On Delivery (COD) if you’d prefer to let your customers pay you when your service is rendered.
You don’t even need a special extension to sell your services with WooCommerce. The free plugin supports virtual products out of the box.
With the WooCommerce Bookings extension, you can take things to the next level by letting your customers book specific blocks of time. This can also be used to reserve and charge for time-based resources (for example studio time, personal trainers, yoga lessons, or any resource that requires booking in advance).
4. Sell membership access to your website This is a great option for highly skilled professionals willing to share their specialized knowledge. If your website is packed with high-value content, a membership website can turn your readers into customers.
This is a slight twist on digital products. A membership system turns your website into a product. Depending on your business model, you can either charge a one-time fee or a recurring subscription. WooCommerce provides you with the flexibility to do either.
You’ll need at least one commercial extensions to create your membership website with WooCommerce. Groups for WooCommerce is the easiest to setup. If you need more features consider using Membership for WooCommerce.
If you plan to offer subscriptions with recurring payments, you’ll also need WooCommerce Subscriptions.
Of the four types product types sellable with WooCommerce, membership sites are the only one that requires at least one paid add-on. I should point out that nearly all WordPress membership plugins charge an annual fee for updates and support.
One advantage of WooCommerce is that it’s flexible enough to support multiple product types on the same site (selling membership access and offering consulting packages, for example). That’s not something that’s easily accomplished with other plugins.
What Will You Sell with WooCommerce?
There are hundreds of WordPress eCommerce plugins to choose from, but only WooCommerce is powerful enough to support these four product types.
It is possible to sell anything from your WooCommerce website.