How Much Does WooCommerce Cost?

How much does WooCommerce cost?

WooCommerce is the most popular shopping cart system in the world, powering over 30% of all eCommerce websites. Best of all it’s free. Sort of.

While it’s certainly possible to set up shop and start selling online with only the free WooCommerce plugin, there are some limitations. Many store owners will end up purchasing commercial extensions to setup features that aren’t available in the free WooCommerce plugin. Depending on the type of shop you’re building, the price can add up quickly.

With that in mind, I suggest you start your eCommerce journey by creating a budget. A little planning now will save you surprise and heartache (and possibly hundreds of dollars) down the road.

In this post, I’ll construct a sample budget for a simple WooCommerce website. Since this is a planning exercise for business owners, I’ll look beyond WooCommerce to some other expenses that you’ll need to budget for. Feel free to use this budget as a template, customizing it to meet your needs.

Calculating the Real Price of WooCommerce

If you’re dead set on creating a shop without spending a dime on WooCommerce extensions, this is what you can accomplish with the free plugin:

  • Sell products: physical, digital, or virtual.
  • Calculate flat rate shipping.
  • Calculate taxes.
  • Accept PayPal payments.
  • Accept credit card payments using the Stripe gateway.
  • Customer account area. This is where your customers can see the status of their orders and download any digital products they’ve purchased.

That’s actually quite a lot for a free eCommerce plugin. This is that many businesses need.

Of course, there are still costs associated with running your online shop. Don’t overlook the costs associated with web hosting, an SSL certificate, and payment processing (more on those in a moment).

But for some business owners, the free WooCommerce plugin alone isn’t quite enough. Your business model may depend on features that require an additional extension (plugin), or you may want a more advanced version of the features that are built into the free plugin.

Some examples:

Here’s a sampling of the pricing for a few of the most popular WooCommerce extensions:

All prices are for one year of updates and support for a single WooCommerce site. Note that the WooCommerce pricing model has changed since the plugin was originally released. WooTheme’s lifetime and unlimited licenses were phased out in 2013. If you buy a premium WooCommerce extension you will need to pay an annual fee for updates.

Budget for Site Design

Don’t overlook the cost of your WordPress theme when budgeting for your eCommerce project.

There are several free WooCommerce themes. But, if you’re the sort of business owner who goes for high impact design, you’ll probably end up purchasing a commercial WooCommerce theme. Prices vary, but you can expect to spend between $50 and $100 depending on the theme.

If you do go the commercial route, budget on the high side. It’s not uncommon for site owners to purchase a theme only to decide it’s not quite right for their needs. In other words, plan to buy a couple of themes (I know that sounds crazy, but it’s a story I hear again and again from site owners). Even so, it’s still cheaper than hiring a designer to create a custom theme from scratch.

The Price of Payment Processing

At this point, it’s not uncommon for new business owners to complain about how expensive it is to build a store with “free” software.

Just remember, you’re building a business.

Let’s put things into perspective: Over the course of a year your payment processing fees will add up to far more than you spend on WooCommerce extensions. And choosing the wrong payment processor could add significantly to your costs.

Payment processing fees vary depending on which payment service you use. Stripe charges 2.9% + .30 per transaction. PayPal’s rates are similar.

If you opt to use a traditional bank merchant account your fees may be slightly lower. But you’ll also have some additional account-related fees charged on a monthly basis.

Plus traditional merchant accounts use third-party payment gateways like Authorize.net (another monthly fee). And depending on what you sell and who you sell it to, you can expect some (quite a few, actually) additional processing fees to pop up on your merchant account statement every month. For a small business just starting out, these fees can eat up a significant portion of your monthly revenue.

This is why recommend Stripe for new businesses. Their flat-rate pricing and no monthly fees mean you’ll keep more from every sale.

Don’t Forget These Related Costs

Don’t forget the costs associated with any WordPress website.

What you’ll need:

  • A domain name (annual): $8-15 depending on your domain name registrar.
  • Web hosting (monthly): Avoid those $5/mo. hosting companies. Plan on spending at least $30 a month for a managed WordPress host. It’s worth spending the extra money for speed, security, and responsive support.
  • An SSL certificate (annual): $49-$300 depending on your certificate authority and the type of certificate.

Putting the Numbers Together

Here’s a sample budget for a simple WooCommerce site selling physical merchandise and accepting payments through Stripe. I’m assuming this business owner is happy with WooCommerce’s standard flat rate shipping.

Extensions and Site Related Costs

ItemCost
Stripe for WooCommerce$0
Domain Name$15
SSL Certificate$149
Total$164

Monthly Ongoing Costs

ItemCost
Web Hosting$29

Annual cost

This table aggregates the above data for long-term planning. Remember, WooTheme’s licenses are sold on an annual basis, so you’ll need to pay every year to keep getting support and updates.

ItemCost
Extensions & Site Related$164
Web Hosting$348
Total:$512

In my next post, I’ll provide some tips on how to lower the cost of running a WooCommerce website.

Updated 5/7/18 to reflect the latest WooCommerce pricing.

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26 thoughts on “How Much Does WooCommerce Cost?”

    1. I realize this was a long post, but I did answer the question. Perhaps in too much detail. The TL;DR version is: WooCommerce is free, but the WooCommerce plugin is only one part of opening a shop online. When you’re running a business you need to factor in all of the other related costs. Then I detail those costs with specific examples.

      Is that better?

      1. Great post, thanks Kirk.

        Perhaps the information “But for some business owners, the free WooCommerce plugin alone isn’t quite enough.” could be introduced prior to the eighth paragraph. That is the information I was looking for. After navigating a few pages on the WooCommerce website, I was unable to find any information that states WooCommerce is a subscription-free service, which is what I needed to know. Considering the title of this post “How Much Does WooCommerce Cost?”, it might be worthwhile introducing that information earlier.

        In any case, thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience. It’s appreciated.

        Cheers,

        1. Thanks for the feedback, Jake. I tried to address that in paragraph two.

          I agree that the pricing model can be a bit confusing to new users. Hence this post. I’ll give some thought to streamlining this a bit.

  1. Thank you for the information. A couple of notes regarding payments. Stripe is a great service and all, but their price is by no means low. They are quite expensive compared to many of the major processors, but you are correct that their billing is much simpler and possibly a better option for smaller/new businesses. That being said many of the major processors have started moving away from FEES in most ways (not all but most of the good ones). Also, one other note is that many of the good processors have their own gateways, rather than 3rd party, and Stripe is, in fact, also a 3rd party gateway that uses Wells Fargo as their processor (I think it they used to use Chase). This is also why their price is higher. Just some FYI notes. Keep up the great work.

    1. Thanks for the additional input Mike!

      Payment processing fees depend on a number of factors: your sales volume, the type of transaction, the location of the customer (foreign exchange fees, etc.). My personal experience with a traditional merchant account (Wells Fargo) and payment gateway (Authorize.net) was not good. In the early days of my business, I had monthly sales volume in the mid four figures. Most months my combined fees were in the 6-8% range. When you’re just starting out and sales are relatively low, that really hurts! Switching to Stripe was a no brainer. At some point, I’ll have to reconsider my payment processor, but for now, I’m happy with Stripe.

      1. I agree with you Kirk…
        I found the same higher fees with my major bank, and know what my fees will be: 2.9% and 30 cents per transaction with Stripe, no surprises which is what I like!
        Simplicity is a good thing 🙂

  2. Hi. Very Useful info.
    Agree, stripe sounds like the best way to start for an initial payment processor.
    I was looking for an affiliate programme (UK based) but Stripe do not offer this. Any suggestions?

  3. This article seemed to fear monger a bit. My SSL certificate was free along with the domain with my hosting package which was all under $15 for the whole first year, and then less than 10 dollars a month next year.

    1. No fear mongering Michael. These are very reasonable estimates for a functional ecomerce site. Your free SSL certificate does not verify your identity. For that you’ll need to pay a fee to a certificate authority. Why would you do that? It’s one of many things that contributes to consumer trust.

      Your $15 hosting account will not scale. It’s fine if you don’t plan on making many sales. Then there are the issues of speed and security.

      If you are running a hobby site you’ll be fine with your setup, but it’s not what I would recommend to anyone setting out to start a viable long term business.

      1. > Then there are the issues of speed and security.

        I would love to hear more about the security issues related around these hosts.

    2. To the author’s point.

      Cheap hosting is not appropriate for a real business, period.

      Use a pro host like WPengine – it is well worth the money for great support and a free SSL certificate. $30 a month like in the article.

      Robert

  4. Thanks for the info. I’m going to use it. I want to start an affiliate website do I don’t think my costs will be as high since I won’t be using any form of checkout.

    1. Yes, that’s right Bill. You won’t need any additional premium extensions for WooCommerce. Affiliate products are built into the standard plugin. It’s very easy to set up a nice shop full of affiliate goods.

  5. I am keen to start as an affiliate, after reading your advice I am going with wordpress.com . But If still want to have my own domain name, can I choose wordpress.org,

    1. Yes, Ameer. You can easily move from WordPress.com to a self-hosted WordPress site. Just use Tools -> Export to export your WP.com content. You can import that to a fresh install on your own web server.

  6. Great article.
    As I was working through the set up screens, I was informed that my theme didn’t support all of WooCommerce’s requirements and that they would deactivate my theme and substitute their theme. For the whole site or just the WooCommerce page(s)? I’m developing this site for a client and a lot of design work has already been done.
    Thanks

    1. Hey David,

      Yes, the theme change affects the whole site. Only one WordPress theme can be active at a time.

      Since you’re developing a custom theme, you’ll want to make a few additions/changes to your theme to ensure compatibility with WooCommerce. And you’ll probably want to customize some defaults so it looks more like part of your site. See this post for some pointers: http://www.wpexplorer.com/woocommerce-compatible-theme/

    1. Shopify is not a bad option for beginners. But you should keep in mind that some of these costs apply to Shopify too. For example, the basic Shopify hosting plan is $29, which is the same as my sample WooCommerce budget. Shopify now offers a free SSL certificate, but that’s also becoming more common with many web hosts. Additionally, depending on your business model, you may require additional add-ons to run your Shopify store (for membership, recurring billing, etc.)

  7. If I am a Computer illiterate and am willing to invest $300.00 to $600.00 to start up, following your step by step. What would be a reasonable expectation of net for the first year? I am dedicated to learning and growing as I go. I just want a relatively close idea.
    Thank You

    1. This is a great question, Mark. I should probably write a follow-up article addressing this issue. The answer is… it entirely depends. What are you selling? How are you marketing your shop? Do you have a budget to advertise? If not, how will you reach new customers?

      An eCommerce shop is just like any other business. It’s easy to set up shop, but that’s not the end of the story. You have to actually do some more work to reach customers and make sales. Nothing is automatic. Well, payment processing is close to automatic. But getting the customers to open their wallets and enter their card number into your checkout page requires some effort.

      Work on your business model first, then build your eCommerce site.

  8. Don’t forget that Woo Commerce technical support ISN’T FREE.

    If you have any issues with Woo Commerce setup, they CHARGE YOU for a YEARLY support subscription in order to receive any assistance whatsoever.

    Deeply regretting my decision to go with Woo and am looking for alternatives.

  9. All this is still super cheap to run a business! Just think of how much you’d have to come up with to start a traditional brick-and-mortar business??

    On another note, I’m switching one of my shops from Shopify to Woocommerce now. Shopify has all the fees mentioned above, and their extras and plugins are monthly (many of the Woocommerce plugins are annual), which in many cases can quadruple those costs, and Shopify also has a monthly fee (granted, the hosting for WordPress makes that a wash but you have more options and freedom with WordPress)

    Thank you for the write-up…this just confirms my decision!

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