Are you creating (or already have) an eCommerce site and are wondering how you can quickly and easily add a shopping cart to it, or do you just need a simple way to monetize a blog? Either way, the simplest solution is to use a WordPress shopping cart plugin.
Today, I will explain what WordPress shopping cart plugins are and why you need one. I will also suggest seven of the most popular that are currently available. Hopefully, all of that will help you make an informed decision when looking for the most suitable one for your site. So let’s jump straight in.
What Are WordPress Shopping Cart Plugins and Why Do You Need One?
Ecommerce has been around for several years now, so it is a well-developed concept. However, the problem is that newcomers can become overwhelmed by how big it has evolved and confused by the plethora of available platforms, plugins, themes, and the like, including shopping carts.
A WordPress shopping cart is precisely that – a virtual shopping trolley on your site where customers put their chosen products while they continue to browse. Once they have added everything they want, they can view the cart contents, amend if necessary, and pay. Therefore, the main benefit to your site visitors is convenience, as they can shop for lots of items but pay for them all together rather than individually.
Having a user-friendly shopping cart is of paramount importance. Online shoppers are an increasingly impatient bunch. Invariably, they demand the slickest, most efficient purchasing experience from the moment they enter your store right up to paying for the goods. Therefore, it makes sense if your shopping cart is simple, user-friendly, and offers customers plenty of payment options and the like.
What Are They Key Features You Should Look For in a Shopping Cart Plugin?
Putting a little thought now into what kind of shopping cart and checkout experience you want to offer will pay dividends later. Keeping customers happy with a good experience on your site will likely see them return in the future, and hopefully tell their friends about your store too. Therefore, when looking for a WordPress shopping cart plugin, consider the following:
Design and Customization Possibilities
Your cart needs to match the look and feel of your site, so customization options are highly desirable.
Customers prefer to have choices when it comes to payments. Furthermore, they want to know things are being handled securely in this regard, so your cart should have robust features that ensure that.
Your shopping cart needs to be an integral part of your overall business processes. Therefore, try to ensure it is compatible with your e-commerce plugin along with your marketing, reporting, CRM, accounting, and logistics requirements.
Responsive, fast support from the plugin developer to help with problems is essential. Imagine the impact an issue with your shopping cart will have on your business if it prevents customers from completing purchases. Look for plugins where the developers actively update and support their products.
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What Is the Best Shopping Cart for WordPress?
Sadly, it’s simply not feasible to say there is a single WordPress shopping cart plugin that is the only one you’ll ever need. While most have standard features, they all have their own unique identities also, and which you choose very much depends on your specific requirements.
Therefore, to help you choose, I have gathered seven of the most popular ones currently available and summarized their pros and cons. Kindly note that this list is not in any order of preference.
With over five million downloads from the WordPress plugin directory alone, it is no wonder that WooCommerce is the world’s most popular eCommerce plugin. It is a free, open-source platform that converts a WordPress site into a full-featured eCommerce store – considerably more than just a shopping cart. You can create virtually any type of store selling single or multiple physical or digital products with it.
- With such a massive following, WooCommerce has been thoroughly tried and tested.
- Highly customizable.
- Plenty of support is available from both the developer and the WordPress and WooCommerce communities. There are even regular WooCommerce meetups globally.
- The plugin integrates with most payment gateways, including credit cards, Stripe, Paypal, etc.
- The developer and third parties offer a bewildering array of free and premium addons to extend functionality, including, for example, cart upsells, abandoned cart recovery, and floating carts.
- The plugin is suitable for affiliate marketing applications, with various addons available for importing products directly from Amazon.
- Full suite of eCommerce tools.
- The massive choice of addons and features can be overwhelming, and you may find you don’t need much of the functionality, or conversely, you could add many extensions which can impact site performance.
- Best when used with themes optimized for use with WooCommerce.
- The platform is free, but you may need to purchase premium addons to get all the features you want.
WooCommerce is an excellent alternative to its main rival, Shopify, a bespoke, non-WordPress eCommerce platform. However, Shopify is far less customizable than a WordPress site running WooCommerce, plus it is not free, so WooCommerce wins my vote in this case.
WooCommerce scores 4.5/5.0 stars with WordPress users.
Easy Digital Downloads
As indicated by the name. Easy Digital Downloads is a plugin for selling digital products through your WordPress site. Best of all, it is free. Digital downloads are increasing in popularity, with people now purchasing a plethora of things such as photos and other images, ebooks, templates and patterns, music, software, etc., online.
Easy Digital Downloads is a popular plugin, with over 50k downloads from the WordPress plugin directory alone, where it scores 4.7/5.0 with users.
- Suited to any type of digital product.
- There is an extensive library of free and premium extensions to tailor the plugin to your precise needs, such as software licensing, reviews, recurring payments, etc.
- PayPal, Stripe, and Amazon payments integrations, plus adding other gateways via extensions (free and premium), is possible.
- Open source, developer-friendly code for deep customization and integration.
- Many languages are supported.
- Option to add a “Buy Now” button for instant purchases. This bypasses the cart and takes the customer directly to the payment page.
- Plenty of support is available through a globally distributed full-time support team, IRC chatroom, forums, online documentation, etc.
- Offering free downloads requires a premium extension ($49) to bypass the checkout process.
- Adding lots of premium extensions to get all the functions you need can work out expensive, possibly to the level where it would be cheaper to use an alternative plugin. However, subscriptions are available starting from $199.50 per year, which include bundles of extensions. These bundles can work out cheaper than buying them individually.
- Physical products are not supported, only digital.
Easy Digital Downloads is an excellent option if you want to create a store dedicated to selling digital products, or you just want to sell digital products alongside your blog.
WP Menu Cart
WP Menu Cart is a neat freemium plugin that will add a shopping cart button in the navigation bar of your WordPress site. The best thing about this WP Menu Cart is how quick it is to set up – less than a minute, in fact.
The free version allows the cart to be configured in various ways; for example, hide when empty or display its contents, prices, or both. However, the premium version – which costs from $29 for a single license – includes niceties like a choice of cart icons, custom CSS, compatibility with various eCommerce platforms, and more.
- The premium version is good value and adds some nice features such as multilingual integrations, CSS and shortcodes, developer support, and more.
- Compatible with WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, Eshop, WP-Ecommerce, and Jigoshop.
- Open source and developer-friendly for deep customization and integration.
- The plugin has excellent reviews and an impressive 5.0/5.0 star rating in the WordPress plugin directory.
- The free version is a little bare, but hey, it’s free!
- Limited support with the free version.
WP Menu Cart is a basic but helpful option for adding a shopping cart to your site, and the free version is a good starting point. Once you are happy with the free version, an upgrade to premium won’t break the bank, but it will give you many useful extras.
Incidentally, the developer also offers a very similar plugin specifically for WooCommerce stores.
WordPress Simple PayPal Shopping Cart
If you are looking for a nice, simple way to add a shopping cart to your site that links to PayPal, WordPress Simple PayPal Shopping Cart could be the plugin you need. Best of all, it’s completely free.
WordPress Simple PayPal Shopping Cart lets you embed an “Add to Cart” button on any page or post. Furthermore, you can display the cart itself in pages, posts, or sidebar, where customers can easily amend quantities or remove items.
- The plugin is device responsive when used with a responsive theme.
- Sell digital and physical products. Customers purchasing digital products will automatically receive an email containing the digital files.
- Lightweight and will have hardly any impact on site performance.
- Option to use the smart PayPal payment buttons.
- Create and process discount coupons.
- Online video tutorials to help configure the plugin.
- PayPal is a highly trusted payment gateway.
- Only supports PayPal
- Limited support.
While WordPress Simple PayPal Shopping Cart is minimalist, it does precisely what it is supposed to. Sure, it only works with PayPal, but that supports several payment methods and is trusted by millions worldwide.
More than 30k active downloads of this plugin are currently operating, and WordPress users rated it 4.5/5.0 stars.
WP EasyCart is a freemium option that, even in its free form, allows you to sell unlimited products on your site and capture payments through the PayPal Express, Square, and Stripe checkouts. Furthermore, you can use this plugin to sell physical or digital goods.
- Pro upgrades are good value, costing $69 – $99 per year.
- The Pro version adds many more payment options, and the more expensive package includes several useful extensions, including QuickBooks and MailChimp integration.
- Pro allows you to sell products on Facebook and Instagram.
- Sell recurring digital products (Pro.)
- A free 14-day trial of Pro is available to ‘try before you buy.’
- The free version, while basic, could be ideal for simple sites selling just one or two products.
- Plenty of online documentation and support.
- The free version has limited payment options and features.
I like how the Pro version of WP EasyCart integrates with platforms like MailChimp and QuickBooks, as those can help automate your business, allowing you to better focus your efforts where they are needed. The free version is basic, but you can try the Pro version free for seven days to see if you need the extra functionality.
WP EasyCart has a 4.4/5.0 stars user rating and over 6k downloads from the WordPress download directory.
ECWID Ecommerce Shopping Cart
EWCID Ecommerce Shopping Cart is a powerful WordPress shopping cart plugin that converts your website to a sophisticated online store. A free but rather basic option is available, with limitations on features and the number of products you can sell. However, the free version may be perfectly adequate for some sites.
Where EWCID Ecommerce Shopping Cart excels is with the feature set of the premium plans. These are not particularly cheap, costing between $150 and $990 per year, but they add a ton of extra functions. For example, you can get automatic tax calculation, discount coupons, live chat support, inventory management, Facebook, Instagram stores, and more, depending on the chosen plan.
- Three premium plans mean you should find one matching your requirements.
- The premium plans bundle an impressive list of features.
- The highest premium plans allow you to sell on eBay and Amazon also.
- All plans, including the free one, create tax invoices.
- Premium plans enjoy plenty of support.
- The free version is somewhat limited feature-wise.
- To sell digital products, a premium plan is required
- Premium plans are relatively expensive compared to some other plugins, but they bring many extra features.
- There is no free trial or moneyback guarantee, so it is only possible to try the limited features of the free version before investing in a premium plan.
ECWID Ecommerce Shopping cart premium is an excellent option if you have some budget available. It’s not cheap, but it has plenty of features and is far more usable than the free one. However, I am not a fan of the free version being so minimal because it makes it hard to judge if a premium plan will be a good fit for you, especially given the lack of a free trial or moneyback guarantee on those.
ECWID Ecommerce Shopping Cart is a very popular plugin, with over 30k downloads from WordPress alone. Users have awarded it 4.5/5.0 stars which is rather impressive.
Easy PayPal Shopping Cart
Yup, you guessed it, Easy PayPal Shopping Cart allows you to do just that – easily add a PayPal shopping cart to your WordPress website! The plugin simply adds two buttons – one for putting items into the cart and the other to display its contents. However, it is possible to place the buttons anywhere you want them – perfect if you have a blog and wish to monetize it by selling a product or two in posts.
This WordPress shopping cart plugin is available in both free and Pro versions, the latter of which costs $39.99 to $149.99 depending on how many licenses you need.
- The cart is hosted by PayPal, which people trust.
- Works with any WordPress theme.
- Support for 25 currencies and 18 languages.
- Different PayPal button styles to choose from (Pro allows for button customization also)
- Choose how the PayPal window opens.
- Configurable shop, cancel payment, and successful payment URLs.
- The free version has good functionality. Pro version adds taxes, shipping methods, and discounts.
- Support availability and options are less than some other plugins in this list.
- Payments are limited to PayPal only.
Easy PayPal Shopping Cart will be just the ticket if you are after a simple but tidy way of collecting payments through PayPal.
What Is Your Favorite Shopping Cart Plugin?
A WordPress shopping cart plugin is a nice, easy way of monetizing a website, whether a simple blog or a full-blown eCommerce store selling many items. I hope this article has given you a flavor of what is available and will help you choose the shopping cart that is best suited to your site.
Are you already using a WordPress shopping cart plugin on your site? If so, which one and what do you like and dislike about it? Please let me know which your favorite cart plugin is in the comments section below.