It’s no secret that online shopping has soared astronomically in recent years. People are spending more online than ever before – with ecommerce accounting for more than 25% of all retail sales in May 2022.

So, if your website isn’t fully functioning or your pages are slow to load, customers may miss out on sales opportunities and you may miss out on customers. One of the best ways to elevate your WordPress site is to install the top compatible WordPress plugins.

What are WordPress plugins?

As the name suggests, a WordPress plugin is a bit of code or software that ‘plugs into’ your WordPress website, adding new functionality or extending existing features. Plugins can add relatively minor features (such as productivity tools or design choices) or they can completely transform your website, such as by giving you the tools you need to build an online store. 

If you’re hoping to create an ecommerce website, you’ll likely need an ecommerce plugin to give you the features you need, including product page templates, checkout pages, payment processing and more. But with so many WordPress ecommerce plugins to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow down your search.

What to consider when choosing an ecommerce plugin

Before you get started with your plugin search, there are several things you need to check and consider. By going through this list, you’ll improve your chances of finding the right plugin for your ecommerce site.

1. WordPress updates

There are constantly new versions of WordPress being released, which can create compatibility issues for plugins that aren’t consistently updated too. Luckily, most popular plugins have teams of developers working on them, which means there are regular updates and fixes. Always check if a plugin has been updated within the last couple of years – this will tell you if the developers are active or not. It’s best to avoid plugins that aren’t regularly updated.

2. Security

The security of your ecommerce website is extremely important. After all, your customers will need to input their payment details, so it’s vital that they feel safe from hackers on your site. When searching for new plugins, always check their security features and read their reviews to ensure you’re only downloading secure software. You should also focus on the security of your website, such as by choosing a reputable hosting provider and installing an SSL certificate.

3. Digital and physical sales

Will you be selling digital or physical products on your site – or both? Not all ecommerce plugins will support both types of sales, so make sure you check this before you click ‘download’. You can also find plugins that support dropshipping if you’re interested in this kind of business model.

4. Location

Does your chosen ecommerce plugin support international sales? You may not be thinking too much about this if you’re currently only selling within your home country, but as your business grows, you may decide to expand internationally. In this case, you’ll need a plugin that supports multinational payment gateways like PayPal.

5. Page speed

Always check plugin reviews to see if other users have experienced a decrease in page loading speeds following a download. While most popular plugins shouldn’t cause a problem, some plugins can actually slow down your site, which can have a negative impact on traffic and conversions.

Even if you only download plugins with good reviews, you could still end up decreasing your page speeds if you aren’t careful. Having too many plugins is a major cause of slow speeds, so make sure you’re picky about the plugins you install. Only install plugins with features you’ll actually use, and if there’s a plugin that combines the features of two or three others, this may be a better option for you.

6. Support

Popular plugins are often the best choice, especially if you’re a beginner who needs plenty of support. The plugins with the most downloads tend to have lots of support forums and reviews dedicated to them, which will help you learn how to use them and solve any problems that arise. Plus, plugins with an active developer team can often provide more support. For the highest level of customer support, you may need to opt for a premium plugin rather than a free one.

The best WordPress plugins for ecommerce

Choosing an ecommerce plugin can be an even tougher decision than finding other types of plugins. This is because ecommerce plugins need to process sensitive information (like customer payment details), so it’s vital that your chosen plugin is secure, fast, reliable and intuitive. With the wrong plugin, potential customers could become frustrated with your slow or unresponsive payment methods, or in the worst case scenario, they may be concerned about how secure your website actually is.

Struggling to find the right ecommerce plugin? We’ve compiled a helpful list of secure, fast and reliable plugins to aid your search. Let’s take a look at what WordPress plugins are out there…

1. WooCommerce

  • Free (optional paid add-ons up to £85)

WooCommerce is one of the most popular WordPress plugins for online stores, from small start-ups to larger businesses – and it's popular for good reason. The open-source ecommerce platform allows you to transform your website into an online shop front, making it easy and affordable to sell products on your site. The plugin itself and many of its themes are free, but you can choose add-ons to animate your site for an annual fee – and some are definitely worth paying the premium for, like Vastra, Treehouse, and ePentatonic.

Due to its popularity, WooCommerce has become a strong competitor of other widely used ecommerce platforms like Shopify and Prestashop. WooCommerce offers a huge amount of customisation possibilities, integrates seamlessly with WordPress, and is free to download, which is why it’s the first choice for building an ecommerce site for many people.

Check out our WooCommerce Hosting!

2. BigCommerce

  • 15-day free trial
  • Standard: $29/month
  • Plus: $79/month
  • Pro: $299/month

Delivering scalable and innovative ecommerce WordPress solutions, BigCommerce is a headless commerce platform providing catalogue management, payment processing, and fulfilment logistics for all your back-end WordPress store needs. There are multiple pricing plans available to suit your budget (and needs). And you can bag yourself a free 15-day trial to test the waters before committing. A few of BigCommerce’s key features include checkout customisations, a no-code page builder, mobile-friendly themes, integrations, and more.

3. Shopify

  • £5/month

Cementing itself as a firm ecommerce favourite, the Shopify Buy Button is an easy add-on to your WordPress site in just a few clicks. The plugin allows you to add unlimited products to your website with over 100 payment gateways. Test the Shopify WordPress plugin for free for up to three days – and if you’re happy, it costs just $5 per month.

4. Easy Digital Downloads

  • Personal: $99.50/year
  • Extended: $199.50/year
  • Professional: $299.50/year
  • All Access Pass: $499.50/year

Over 50,000 website owners use Easy Digital Downloads to sell digital products online. With four pricing plans to choose from, you’ll have everything you need to launch and run your online business. Easy Digital Downloads can seamlessly integrate into your WordPress site with all-important features like a shopping cart, order management, detailed reporting, and customer management tools. Plus, the plugin provides access to actionable insights, customer profiles, and more.

5. WP EasyCart

  • Free: $0/forever
  • Pro: $69/year
  • Premium: $89/year

With more than 30 worldwide payment gateway options allowing multiple currencies, WP EasyCart is an easy-to-use ecommerce plugin. Plus, the plugin has a keen focus on security, encouraging PCI compliance and SSL certification. And what’s more, it’s free – but there are several upgrade options if you want more out of the platform.

6. Ecwid Ecommerce Shopping Cart

  • Free: £0/forever
  • Venture: £14.08/month
  • Business: £29.08/month
  • Unlimited £82.50/month

The Ecwid ecommerce plugin is very similar to WooCommerce, but the main difference is that this plugin can be used across multiple website platforms – not just WordPress. With the premium plan, you can even create Facebook and Instagram shops and expand the number of products you sell. With Ecwid, you can control everything from a single, centralised platform, making it super easy to keep track of orders and streamline the selling process.

7. MemberPress

  • Basic: $179.50/year
  • Plus: $299.50/year
  • Pro: $399.50/year
  • Elite: $499.50/year

Looking for something a bit different? MemberPress is a WordPress membership plugin, which means it allows you to monetise your website by turning it into a membership site. With a membership in place, you can easily control who views your content, sell online courses and downloads, and accept secure payments. This plugin is ideal for those hoping to sell digital products whilst also maintaining a sense of exclusivity to protect your brand. Unlike some of the other plugins on this list, MemberPress doesn’t have a free plan, but there are plenty of features included with its Basic plan.

WordPress hosting done right

Every website needs a host – and our WordPress Hosting platform is perfect for WooCommerce, packed with all the extras you’ll need to create a competitive ecommerce website. Even if you’re new to the game, you’ll be able to build a fully functional site without being a technical expert.

So, what are you waiting for? Get your site up and running in a flash with our setup wizard. Select a use case, and we’ll do the rest of the work for you, pre-installing recommended plugins and and WordPress themes. There are over 60,000 plugins to choose from, too!