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.
- If your business is selling member access to a website, you’ll need an extension for that.
- Are you re-billing customers every month? If so, you’ll need the Subscriptions extension.
Here’s a sampling of the pricing for a few of the most popular WooCommerce extensions:
- Groups for WooCommerce: $79
- WooCommerce Subscriptions: $199
- WooCommerce Memberships: $149
- Stripe for WooCommerce: $79 This extension is now free
- Table rate shipping: $199
- Product Add-Ons: $49
- Bookings: $249
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.
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
|Stripe for WooCommerce||$0|
Monthly Ongoing Costs
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.
|Extensions & Site Related||$164|
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.