SaaS (software as a service) platforms are very popular for businesses running online stores. But, while these solutions excel at transactions and customer support, they lack the customization and content marketing power of WordPress.
Marketers who prioritize blogging efforts are 13x more likely to experience a positive ROI (return on investment.) So, choosing a platform that supports blogging and other content marketing activities seems like a no brainer.
Not to mention, there are powerful WordPress ecommerce plugins that allow you to easily harness the same features and benefits of any SaaS platform. And thousands of additional plugins to support any customization you could possibly dream up. Whether you’re looking to improve your site speed, manage email marketing, sell products online, or integrate with CRM tools to grow your business, plugins have got you covered.
One of the greatest advantages of using WordPress for your store is the ability to seamlessly incorporate content marketing into your site. But, if your content isn’t engaged with and shared, then it’s not helping you drive awareness and conversions.
In fact, the sheer number of plugins to choose between can seem daunting to anyone setting up a new ecommerce store. Which is why we’ve gone through and selected the ten best WordPress plugins for your online store.
Roughly 50% of your visitors will abandon your website if pages don’t load in under 3 seconds. Which is why site and page speed are so critical for any successful ecommerce business. Fortunately, Autoptimize makes optimizing your ecommerce site a piece of cake.
This plugin concatenates all of your website and product scripts and styles as well as minifies and compresses them. It also adds expires headers, caches them, and moves styles to the page head, and scripts (optionally) to the footer. Plus, it minifies your HTML code itself.
In a nutshell, all that technical jargon means is that Autoptimize focuses on making your pages really lightweight, which in turn increases speed (and Google rankings). I personally set up my own website with Bluehost basic hosting, but by leveraging Autoptimize, I was able to get my site to load in under 1 second. For best results, combine this tool with a content delivery network (CDN) and caching plugin such as W3 Total Cache (covered below.)
BigCommerce is one of the top SaaS platforms for ecommerce stores. Yet, in 2018, the company realized it couldn’t offer the same level of customization that is available through WordPress. So it launched it’s own WordPress plugin, providing its customers with the best of both worlds.
This is possibly the most robust ecommerce solution on the market, and significantly more all-encompassing that its WordPress competitor: WooCommerce. The BigCommerce plugin was designed to provide all of the out of the box functionality that is attractive in a SaaS solution, but with the customization ability of a WordPress solution.
In fact, one of the biggest attractions of BigCommerce is that the backend of your site is still run off the company’s SaaS platform. This means you can build and manage huge catalogs and large sales volumes without compromising WordPress site speed.
With 91% of consumers more likely to buy from brands they trust, BigCommerce takes care of security, PCI compliance, and payment processing so that you don’t have to. And you can create multiple WordPress sites, but access and update them all from one centralized dashboard. This feature comes in handy if you want separate stores for different countries or target markets.
A vital component of any ecommerce site is its customer support. If you’re selling products or services, you will inevitably have people with questions and concerns. Maybe they want a refund or simply want to know more about shipping costs. Either way, being able to answer these queries efficiently can make the difference between a loyal customer and an unhappy one.
Freshdesk is a customer service software designed to help you keep track of user requests, communicate with customers, and deal with any other customer support related issues. Not only can it help you manage queries and questions on your website, but it also works for social media sites and other platforms.
So, let’s say a customer asks you about your return policy on your website. Then, the same customer brings it up again two months later on Twitter. Freshdesk will be able to link these two conversations together and allow you to see and manage the end-to-end interaction better. A bonus tip is to integrate Freshdesk with a CRM or sales software to upsell customers and increase your close rate by 28% on average.
With the WP Freshdesk plugin, you are able to connect your WordPress store with your Freshdesk account, to enable single sign-on and make customer support even easier. The plugin fetches customer tickets from Freshdesk and displays them within your WordPress dashboard so you can quickly see what is outstanding and if there is anything you need to deal with.
MailChimp is an email service that allows you to automate email campaigns and newsletters. Whether you’re looking to spread awareness about an upcoming product launch, offer a discount, conduct a customer survey, or just started a blog and want to share your content,, MailChimp helps you do it.
Plus, MailChimp tracks opens and clicks so you can see which emails are the most successful.
Do you have very distinct buying segments or customer personas? If so, you can use MailChimp, in combination with any powerful grammar tool, to write and send custom copy to each segment.
The MailChimp for WordPress plugin also helps you grow your email list. Once installed, you can create customized, mobile-friendly opt-in forms for any page on your site. You can also integrate MailChimp with existing forms on your site. Either way, as customers fill in their information, it’s automatically stored in your MailChimp account.
Google Analytics is a powerhouse for understanding your ecommerce site performance, traffic, customer data, and more. It may be the strongest free analytics tool on the market. But for people unfamiliar with it, Google Analytics can seem confusing and difficult to set up. Plus, you have to view it outside of WordPress.
The solution to both of these problems comes in the form of the Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin for WordPress created by MonsterInsights. This plugin lets you quickly integrate your WordPress site with Google Analytics with minimal set-up. In fact, you can enable all the advanced analytics tracking features with just a few clicks.
This plugin also allows you to view important Google Analytics reports as well as custom MonsterInsights reports right from your WordPress dashboard. These custom reports include:
- Audience Report. Which country your visitors are from, what they are interested in, which device they are using, their age, gender, and more.
- Behavior Report. How people found your website, which keywords they searched for, who referred them, what they clicked on your site, and more.
- Content Report. Which content gets the most visits.
- Custom Dimensions Report. Who are your most popular authors, what are the best publication times, which are your most popular categories or tags, how well your keywords are performing, and more.
- Ecommerce Report. Total revenue, conversion rates, average order value, top referral sources, and more.
- Forms Report. Conversion stats for contact forms and lead forms on your site.
- Search Console Report. How your website is ranking in Google.
ShortPixel is an image compression and optimization plugin. It’s designed to compress images and PDF files. Plus, it’s compatible with any image slider, gallery, or ecommerce plugin you may be using on your WordPress site.
With this plugin, you can compress any images currently on your site with a single click. Then, new files will automatically be resized and optimized as you add them. The tool will compress any JPEG, PNG or GIF image, even animated ones. Plus, you can modify how it treats featured images and thumbnails if you don’t want them compressed.
Any ecommerce site is naturally going to have a lot of images. After all, your customers want to see what your products look like, sometimes from multiple angles. ShortPixel is key to making sure all these high-resolution, high-quality images don’t slow down your site and tank your users’ experiences.
7. W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache is the ultimate cache solution for your website. It works in concert with Autoptimize to ensure your site speed, SEO and user experience are top of the line. In fact, the plugin is reported to result in at least a 10x improvement in your overall site performance when fully configured.
This plugin is designed as a complete framework, meant to help remedy any performance-reducing aspects of your web site. Unlike some other cache plugins, W3 Total Cache goes beyond reducing CPU usage and bandwidth consumption for HTML pages.
With content types like high-res images and video marketing becoming dominant forces, you need to ensure your site is up to speed. Video files can easily slow down or even crash a website if they’re not optimized. And image optimization tools like ShortPixel don’t handle video. Fortunately, W3 Total Cache does. Plus, it’s the only plugin designed to optimize all hosting environments, large or small.
8. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO optimizes your website for search engines and helps you improve your site’s visibility to key audiences. If you want your products and pages to rank on the first page of search results, Yoast is a plugin you need to have. With it, you can be confident that every page, post, product title, and description is fully optimized for search engines.
Yoast SEO is the most complete SEO plugin that currently exists for WordPress. Once installed, it walks you through how to make sure each page is successfully optimized. Using a checklist that updates as you make changes, you can see what needs to be improved and what doesn’t.
Plus, the plugin will grade your pages and posts in an easy to read scorecard, based on the relevant keywords that you’ve identified. And, it will give you a preview of exactly how your product listings will show up in Google.
While Landbot isn’t a plugin, it is a valuable tool to add to your ecommerce site, which is why we’ve included it as a bonus. Landbot is a chat tool that enables you to set up both live chat and chatbots for your ecommerce store.
By embedding it into your WordPress site, you can automate both sales and customer support. For example, your chatbot can use FAQ data from Freshdesk to help answer customer queries. It can also help people find the product they’re looking for and offer similar product options.
Conversational marketing is key to wowing your customers. And Landbot is a solid solution for incorporating it into your WordPress store.
The AddThis WordPress Website Tools Plugin is designed to help you get more of your content shared online, grow your online following, and increase on-site engagement. Plus, the plugin is easy to install, add free to use.
Clearly, I’m a little biased about this one, but I believe AddThis is an essential plugin for any WordPress ecommerce store. And over 15 million happy users back this up!
While AddThis also offers separate plugins, I recommend the Website Tools plugin as it gives you convenient access to all their features within one consolidated dashboard. With this plugin you get the following:
- Share Buttons
- Follow Buttons
- Related Posts
- List Building
- Link Promotion
Plus, if you sign up for a free AddThis account, you also will receive analytics data on how your content is performing. This includes your top shared content, site page views, referring social networks, and more.
WordPress is the ideal platform for an ecommerce store, allowing you to seamlessly integrate sales and content marketing for the best results. And with these ten tools, you can quickly and easily customize your store for optimum results.
Ten tools may seem like a lot, but each one has an important job to do. And Autoptimize, ShortPixel, and W3 Total Cache will be hard at work to ensure your website speed is at peak performance. Plus, with the use of a password manager, you can easily manage and switch between the different tools as needed.
BigCommerce provides the base for your online store, allowing you to quickly set-up your catalogs, product pages, and shipping settings with ease. OptinMonster helps you capture customer info and grow your mailing list. MailChimp, Yoast SEO, and AddThis help you design, publish, and share engaging content.
Freshdesk and Landbot allow you to automate your customer support, relationship management, bookkeeping services, and sales process. And MonsterInsights provides the analytics to tell you where you can make improvements for even greater results.
Use these WordPress plugins in unison to create the fastest, most shareable and scalable ecommerce website built for the future.
Adam Enfroy is a writer, content marketing consultant, and strategic partnerships manager for BigCommerce. With 10+ years of digital marketing experience, he’s passionate about leveraging the right strategic partnerships, content, and software to scale digital growth. Adam lives in Austin, TX and writes about how to make money online by blogging like a CEO, not a writer at adamenfroy.com. You can connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Last modified: September 10th, 2020