This is the second episode in our series of how to launch an eCommerce website in a day. In this episode we will be talking about our choice of free plugins that we recommend for creating an eCommerce website in Wordpress. Missed the last episode? Read our introduction to the series.
Installing Free Plugins
Here is a quick video showing you how to install free Wordpress plugins which talks through the plugins we use. Keep reading below for more detailed information about each plugin.
Our 8 Favourite Free Wordpress Plugins for eCommerce Website
There are a number of different eCommerce plugins for Wordpress and some great articles about which eCommerce plugin you should choose. We won't get into that today - all I will say is that we decided to go with WooCommerce for all of our eCommerce sites. Some developers would choose a plugin based on the use case, but you are going to need to invest a lot of time into really getting to know your chosen platform. So I would say choose one and stick with it so you really know how it works.
We love WooCommerce for the following reasons:
- Their support are great and they have live chat for support tickets.
- If you stick with the paid plugins on WooCommerce.com or reputable plugin developers you have a really solid foundation for your site.
- We can manage our clients plugin licences by enabling developer account access.
- If you can't find what you need on woocommerce.com, then Yith themes have some great plugins, and many of them are free!
- WooCommerce is solid and will grow with you. As long as your hosting is good, it can handle your products and orders - no matter how big your product catalogue grows!
We've been doing a lot of work with our clients on GDPR compliance this year and iUbenda has been our go-to plugin to help with GDPR compliance. In fact we love it so much that we pay for a subscription for all of our clients and include in our Wordpress Care Plans.
Their cookie consent notification is great and can be set up to work with Google Tag Manager - more on that in another video!
If you want a super simple way to add the Google Analytics tracking code to your website, then look no further than this plugin. There are other plugins in the Wordpress repository but we like Monster Insights because it is simple, light weight and looks great.
There is a paid version available which add some extra features, but to be perfectly honest, we've never used it! If you need extra tracking features then we tend to move over to using Google Tag Manager instead...
The Google Tag Manager plugin is used to add the relevant data layer information in the Google Tag Manager code and integrated with WooCommerce via the plugin dashboard.
You'll still need to add the Google Tag Manager container code to your site (and we'll show you how to do that in another video).
Installing the plugin is easy, but you will need to be confident configuring Google Tag Manager to deploy the tracking code onto your website. Here is a great article which explains how Tag Manager works.
Just to be clear, you won't need both of these plugins - choose one or the other! If you want simple setup - choose Monster insights. If you want cheaper, harder to set up (or dare I say, more rewarding) - choose Google Tag Manager!
So you are probably going to want a contact form on your website and there are quite a few to choose from. If you need help choosing, you can find loads of articles debating the pro's and con's of each one - like this article. I'll just get to the point and tell you that we choose from 2 different plugins. We personally use Gravity Forms with our clients because we already have a developer licence, but it's not free so I'll not include it in this list (and we only use that one really because of the integrations).
For everything else there is Ninja Forms. Ninja forms is super easy to use and since the last major facelift it is really easy to set up. The biggest reason you are going to want to choose Ninja forms is for the GDPR compliance! They have added some nice features into their plugin, like disabling storing form submissions in the data and have even written an article showing you how to make your forms compliant! They have recently added loads of GDPR compliance features, way beyond what we've seen from other form developers!
So you've received your first order and want to print out a nice slip to put in the box when you ship your order. You can make this process a lot simpler by using a plugin to generate the invoices and packing slips for you. We like WooCommerce PDF Invoice and Packing Slips because their free version does everything that we need. Here are the main features:
- Automatically attach invoice PDF to WooCommerce emails
- Print invoice and packing slip from the order admin page
- Generate invoices and packings slips in bulk
- Customise your invoices and packing slips using HTML & CSS using templates
And if you are wasting time pressing print because you are getting loads of orders, there is a paid version that auto-magically sends your packing slips to the printer when your order comes through - how awesome is that!
No list of top Wordpress plugins would be complete without mentioning Yoast. This should be installed on every site. Period. It's just awesome.
- Want to optimise your page title and meta for SEO - use Yoast!
- Want to configure Social sharing cards etc - use Yoast!
- Want to check you blog article for readability - use Yoast!
- Want to improve the structure of your navigation by improving your breadcrumbs - use Yoast!
Oh, and there is a paid add-on for WooCommerce that you should also check out if you to add rich pins for Pinterest, which you will want to do!
Okay, so this one is not technically free, you'll need to sign up for an account, which starts at $4.99/month but I've included it because it is so awesome.
This plugin takes every image you upload to Wordpress and sends it to their servers to be optimised and then gives you a smaller version so your website loads faster. It can handle massive media libraries and just works brilliantly.
If you're angry that it's not free, then here is a free equivalent - it does the same job and they have a free plugin too, limited to a certain number of images. I just like Imagify so much more - so please don't shoot me!
So there you go - not some generic list of plugins that are cool, but the list of plugins that we install on all of our client sites. They can handle the job well and we trust running them on eCommerce sites with high traffic and revenue! Why not give them a try today!