Are you considering launching an ecommerce site and want to use WordPress but you cannot decide which ecommerce plugin is best for building and managing the storefront part of your WordPress powered online store? If so, the you should take a serious look at one of the most popular ecommerce plugins built for WordPress: namely WooCommerce. According to BuiltWith, WooCommerce powers a whopping 40% of all ecommerce websites on the Internet. Yes that’s right, 40% of all ecommerce websites!
It’s not that surprising as WooCommerce offers a multitude of pros ranging from top-of-the-line ecommerce features to powerful extendibility, you have 100% control over your data, it’s free and is powered by WordPress and so much more.
But get this: A must-have for your WooCommerce store that you need to consider early on is the absolute need for a good web host that can hold up the WooCommerce plugin for you.
The web host you decide to use can make or break your WooCommerce store.
Keep reading to get a better understanding of what WooCommerce really is, why it would make an excellent choice for your online store, and what web hosting you should consider using.
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What Is WooCommerce?
To say WooCommerce is just another WordPress ecommerce plugin is a gross understatement.
After all, there’s a reason why WooCommerce sees the most installs (numbering over 16 million plugin downloads) and WooCommerce outranks not only other WordPress ecommerce plugins. But it also outranks popular self-hosted ecommerce software platforms like Shopify, Magento and Bigcommerce.
What makes WooCommerce so popular? This plugin offers several benefits (free installation, easy setup, huge flexibility, etc.) that finding another plugin with the same level of performance is
perhaps next to impossible. A huge part of the plugin’s success can be attributed to its original developers. Who created WooCommerce? Although currently owned by Automattic, which is the corporate arm of WordPress, WooCommerce was originally created back in 2011 by WooThemes. A household name for those in the WordPress community, the team of talented experts at WooThemes are widely known for their vast collection of superb WordPress themes, extensions, and plugins. And when they initially launched WooCommerce, it was no exception.
Designed to work exclusively with WordPress, WooCommerce is a free, open source plugin, which in addition to being user friendly, places no limitations to the customizations you want to make on your platform. What’s more, WooCommerce allows for a variety of integrations and add-ons that leave plenty of room for growth or added site functionality.
Therefore, with WooCommerce, you’ll be able to create a professional and profitable online store whether you have a large or small business.
Why Use WooCommerce?
Although WooCommerce is not a dedicated self-hosted ecommerce software like Shopify, Volusion, BigCommerce (among many others), it functions just like one. Featuring zero installation fees, this plugin offers all the core features you would need to run an online store. As a result, with WooCommerce you will be able to:
- Create a beautiful online store using available mobile friendly themes
- Sell both digital and physical goods
- Manage inventory
- Organize your products as you like
- Offer shipping services
- Create coupons and discounts
- Offer secure checkout options
- Benefit from built-in analytics and SEO tools
- Enable customers to post product reviews
Another huge selling point of this ecommerce plugin is that it’s extremely flexible in the sense that it can be upgraded with one or more of the hundreds of available premium WooCommerce add-ons and extensions.
Thanks to this flexibility, there’s no limit to how much you can expand the already comprehensive list of WooCommerce’s core features. Therefore, whether you’re looking to add a shop to your existing WordPress website or build an online store using WordPress, WooCommerce would make a good alternative to a managed ecommerce software.
This is because WooCommerces offers everything needed to create a beautiful and professional online store without the fuss and high costs associated with other premium ecommerce web applications. But WooCommerce requires one thing to bring out the best in your online store, and that’s solid web hosting, but we’ll get to that a bit later on.
Is WooCommerce Good?
A good ecommerce application can be summed up as one that enables you create an online store that works for your business, represents your brand well, and gives you all the tools needed to run an online store. That is exactly what you get with WooCommerce.
Who uses WooCommerce? Here are some companies that use WooCommerce to power their ecommerce. WooCommerce allows you to populate your web shop with products and sell them via a secure and simple checkout page. You can even expand the functionality of your store with the help of premium add-ons. The fact that almost 40% of all online stores on the Internet use this shopping cart just goes to show how reliable it can be.
Is WooCommerce Free?
While there is no shortage of ecommerce plugins, most of them come at a price. This puts WooCommerce far ahead of its competition as this WordPress plugin is free to install. The best part is that despite being free, WooCommerce comes with many extensive features including several free themes right out of the box.
So, if you run a small store, you’ll be able to use WooCommerce to sell your products/services soon after installing it. Bigger stores, however, will need to purchase several add-ons and extensions to further customize and manage their online stores. Luckily, most of WooCommerce’s extensions come at affordable prices (ranging from free to hundreds of dollars) with some only requiring one-time purchases. So whether you use WooCommerce in its raw state or spring for extensions, you’ll end up spending far less than you would with other WordPress shopping cart options.
Is WooCommerce Secure?
It goes without saying that security is one of the most sought out features of ecommerce software. Unfortunately, WooCommerce still has some room for improvement in this area. The ecommerce plugin is not exactly big on security since it’s simply a shopping cart solution that powers the ecommerce part of your website. The plugin’s security starts and ends with a safe code. This, however, does not mean that your WooCommerce powered store will be a gold mine for malicious hackers. You can still enjoy a high level of security by choosing a secure web host for your online store. Remember that the developers have made WooCommerce as secure as they can, and the onus is on you to further ensure your site is as “unhackable” as possible.
So, be sure to choose a reliable web host, lock down your WordPress site by doing the recommended hardening, and even employ the use of complicated passwords – all very basic cyber security stuff. As mentioned earlier, secure hosting is your first line of defense in making your WooCommerce powered online store impenetrable. And fortunately, the market is filled with a ton of secure WordPress compatible web hosts that offer everything from SSL certificates to PCI compliance to enabling the generation of backups.
We list some of the most recommended web hosts for WooCommerce here below, so keep on reading. So, finding a secure host that meets your needs will not be difficult. There are also a few other measures you can take to further secure your WooCommerce store. These include regularly updating your plugins, implementing a 2-factor authentication system, and so on.
How Many Products Can WooCommerce Handle?
Since WooCommerce is designed with the flexibility to add an unlimited number of add-ons and extensions. Hence, there’s basically no limit to the number of products that you can add to your online store. However, WooCommerce does not regulate bandwidth or storage. Therefore, the amount of products that your WooCommerce powered online store will be able to handle will come down to the web host you are using and the specifications behind your server. Again, it comes down to the web host you use for hosting the WooCommerce plugin. If you plan to add thousands of products to your WooCommerce store and expect lots of traffic, it’s essential that you choose a web host that offers scalable hosting plans.
Best WooCommerce Web Hosts
Now that you know what WooCommerce is and the unique advantages it offers over other shopping cart applications. The next step that follows is choosing a good web host that supports this fantastic ecommerce WordPress plugin.
When it comes to running a WooCommerce web shop, the hosting requirements are a little different compared to what is needed for a simple WordPress site. You need to consider a few factors in order to choose a good WooCommerce host. To begin with, it’s important to select a web host that can provide secure checkouts.
Good web hosts provide SSL encryption for this purpose. SSL creates a secure connection between the server where your web shop is hosted and the user’s browser. Some web hosts offer SSL encryption while others don’t. The latter case can be inconveniencing since you will need to sign up with a third party provider. In either case, it is vital to ensure that your SSL issuer complies with PCI (Payment Card Industry) standards so that customer data is protected during transactions.
In addition, your chosen web-hosting provider should be able to allocate a dedicated IP address. A dedicated IP is necessary when install your SSL certificate plus it is less likely to be blacklisted, a common occurrence for sites hosted on shared IPs used by spammers. Other important aspects to consider when choosing a good WooCommerce host include:
Good Uptime And Performance
Don’t just settle for any host that claims to offer over 99% uptime. Do your homework to find out whether there are site owners that vouch for any particular host. This will ensure that your online store runs fast and won’t lose traffic due to downtime or poor performance.
Reliable Technical Support
The most reliable web hosts offer a wide range of support methods, such as live chat, phone, and email. Be on the lookout for web hosts known to offer fast response times.
One-click WordPress Installation
As previously mentioned you need WordPress to use WooCommerce. Web hosts that offer one-click WordPress installation can help you make the setup process simple. Better yet, some web hosts even offer plans with WordPress pre-installed. You sign up and WordPress is ready to go.
Lastly, it only makes sense to host your online store on secure servers. Look for hosts that offer firewall protection, site backups, anti-virus software and other security features that will offer protection against hackers, systems crashes, malware and accidental data loss.
Let’s have closer look at some of the best web hosts for WooCommerce. To help you choose reliable WooCommerce hosting, the following guide will compare five of the best web hosts that support this WordPress plugin. Read on to learn how each web host stacks up against the competition while keeping in mind the factors mentioned earlier.
Bluehost offers a variety of hosting plans at various price points. It’s worth noting that they’re the only hosting company listed here that is recommended by WordPress.org itself. So, if you’re looking for WordPress plus WooCommerce hosting, then you’ll be in good hands with Bluehost. Here’s a quick review on Bluehost and its WooCommerce offerings for those who want to launch a Woocommerce powered online store.
Bluehost WooCommerce Hosting Features
While Bluehost offers a wide range of hosting packages, the best plans for an ecommerce store belong to the optimized WordPress category. All hosting plans in this category offer a dedicated IP address and run on a VPS server environment to support fast site performance. However, only the WP Premium and WP Ultimate plans come with SSL encryption. The latter plan is suitable if you want a server that can support an unlimited number of visitors without crashing. It offers servers featuring up to 8GB RAM and 240GB storage. Servers on the WP Premium Plan offer 6GB memory, 120GB hard drive space and high performance for sites that receive up to 600 million monthly visits. As an added bonus, every Optimized WordPress plan that BlueHost offers comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. For better access and performance, your online store will be cached on Bluehost’s CDN network.
As previously mentioned, higher tier optimized WordPress hosting packages from Bluehost are the only options that offer SSL encryption. Depending on the type of hosting plan you choose, Bluehost secures WooCommerce powered websites with a positive or positive wildcard SSL certificate. To assist online entrepreneurs, this hosting provider also supports PCI compliance on all accounts. As a result, WooCommerce stores hosted by Bluehost are very much capable of offering secure checkout pages. Bluehost secures all their servers with their proprietary SiteLock service. This service performs a variety of vulnerability scans to check whether your website is infected with malicious programs or if it is being spammed or blocked. Furthermore, WooCommerce stores running on the Optimized WordPress plans receive automated backups to prevent loss of data.
Help and Support
When running an online store, the last thing you want is a web host that’s hard to contact should the need for technical support arise. Bluehost provides 24/7 access to their dedicated WordPress experts. You can get in touch with the technical staff via email, live chat or phone. The Bluehost support portal also contains a wealth of helpful material for customers who want to learn more about this Bluehost’s WordPress WooCommerce integration. Beginners, in particular, can learn a lot with the help of FAQ articles, video tutorials and how-to guides.
- Low cost WooCommerce hosting
- Good support for ecommerce stores with features such as SSL certificate, Dedicated IPs and a server security monitoring service
- WordPress comes pre-installed on Optimized WordPress plans
- 24 x 7 support for all plans
- Officially endorsed by WordPress.org
- Offers a free phone consultation
- SSL encryption is only included in the price for top tier Optimized WordPress plans
- The Quality VPS servers used to host Optimized WordPress sites intended for WooCommerce sites can be a bit expensive
- Bluehost charges an added fee for migrating an existing online store to their servers
A2 hosting is another viable option for those in search of reliable WooCommerce hosting services. This web-host is known for providing high-speed performance thanks to the use of SSD (solid state) drives and the SwiftServer platform. A2 Hosting provides several Managed WordPress hosting solutions, but it gets better than that. You can also sign up for WooCommerce optimized hosting plans. Here is a quick review of what to expect from A2 Hosting’s WordPress + WooCommerce solution.
A2 Hosting WooCommerce Features
Most web hosting providers that offer managed WordPress plans usually pre-install the content management system. A2 Hosting takes convenience to the next level by also pre-installing WooCommerce. All you have to do is activate the plugin with a single click using Softaculous in your admin panel. Since the WooCommerce hosting plans run on shared server environments, A2 hosting does not place a limit on storage or bandwidth. If you want the best performance, the Turbo option is the best option since it optimizes servers to be 20 times faster. As far as server options go, A2 Hosting offers three WooCommerce hosting plans. Regardless of the plan you choose, all servers operate on solid-state drives (SSDs) for fast performance. The SwiftServer platform combines http/2 network protocol along with CloudLinux and CloudFlare caching service to enhance site speeds without compromising on security.
When it comes to securing online stores that run on WooCommerce, A2 Hosting does not disappoint. Users have the option to purchase a variety of SSL certificates that secure websites with up to 256-bit keys, which is the highest encryption standard in the industry. These include, Single Site SSL, Wildcard SSL for encrypting multiple-sub domains, and the Advanced Security Certificate for top-level business protection. Other security measures that A2 Hosting takes to keep their servers safe include a free HackScan service, brute force defense, firewall protection, and kernel updates.
Help and Support
A2 Hosting lets interested users and customers contact the support team through a variety of methods. Live chat, email ticket service (for technical assistance) and phone support are all available 24 hours 7 days a week. In addition, the A2 Hosting knowledgebase provides a wealth of useful help articles, which provide answers to common problems as well as guides for using various hosting tools, including WooCommerce.
- Pre-installed WooCommerce and WordPress
- Affordable hosting options
- Wide selection of SSL certificates to help different online stores with PCI compliance
- Dedicated IPs sold separately
- A2 Hosting WooCommerce plans run on a shared server environment
Inmotion is an alternative provider that is worth considering when it comes to ecommerce hosting solutions. Much like A2 hosting, they run servers with SSDs and offer optimized solutions for ecommerce stores. If you are looking to start a WooCommerce web shop with InMotion, discover what to expect by reading this quick review.
InMotion WooCommerce Hosting Features
Launching a WooCommerce store with InMotion is easy since new users can take advantage of 1-click installation of the shopping cart and WordPress. You don’t even have to install WordPress on the Managed hosting plans since WordPress comes pre-installed. Although InMotion advertises their managed WordPress hosting plans as ecommerce ready, the options aren’t that impressive. The reason for this is that these cheap shared-hosting plans lack dedicated IPs and share SSL encryption. On the flip side, the VPS plans that InMotion offers are ideal for hosting WooCommerce sites. The tradeoff, however, is that VPS plans typically cost more compared to those provided on shared servers. InMotion VPS server specs are also quite impressive, with RAM starting from 4GB going all the way to 8GB and storage allocation ranging between 60GB and 200GB depending on your chosen plan. Such server specs are scalable and more than capable of handling ecommerce operations. Still at this level, SSL encryption is sold separately, but you get multiple IPs that can be used to run more than one online store.
When you purchase an SSL certificate with InMotion, it will remain valid for 1 year. Additional security measures provided include remote backups and a free Sucuri security plugin for protection against malware and other security threats.
Help and Support
InMotion Hosting offers several ways to get support. For those who prefer DIY troubleshooting, the online support center has several WooCommerce help articles covering common topics that relate to the shopping cart. In case of problems that need technical assistance, you can get in touch with the support team via phone, live chat or the email ticket system.
- Multiple IP address allocations with InMotion VPS plans allow users to run several web shops
- SSL encryption provided but at an added cost
- 24/7 support for all hosting plans
- WordPress comes pre-installed
- Managed WordPress hosting plans that would be great to use with WooCommerce run on a shared server environment
WP Engine offers managed WordPress hosting exclusively. So, with WPEngine, your managed WordPress site will be optimized for automatic plugin updates, security backups and faster load times right off the bat. But is this web host a good option for online merchants looking to launch a e-store? Find out in this quick review.
WP Engine WooCommerce Hosting Features
Compared to similar web hosts such as InMotion, the standard shared hosting plans that WP Engine offers are more on the expensive side. You can either choose to create your ecommerce store on a shared or dedicated server environment when using WPEngine hosting services. The latter option can be quite expensive. In fact, WPEngine requires interested customers to call for a quote when looking to set up an ecommerce site on the Premium and Enterprise plans that run on dedicated servers. The good thing about WPEngine is that the cost of SSL encryption is fully disclosed with every hosting plan. So, there are no surprises with the final amount quoted in your bill when selecting one of the hosting plans featuring a standard price. WPEngine’s offers geo-location IP feature for all hosting accounts using the highest tier shared plan and above. This functionality can serve up filtered content based on a visitor’s location. For instance, an international WooCommerce site can charge different tax or shipping rates depending on where visitors are shopping from when making purchases.
Besides SSL encryption, ecommerce websites hosted on WPEngine servers will receive additional security features to keep hackers and other common threats at bay. These include malware scans, firewall protection, daily backups as well as automatic updates for WordPress and its plugins.
Help and Support
There are many ways to contact customer support when using WPEngine hosting services. The email ticketing system is available 24 hours a day. Alternatively, there’s the option to use live chat or call the toll free phone number, but these methods are only available during limited business working hours.
- Unlike Bluehost, WPEngine offers a free site migration service
- GeoIP enabled hosting plans provide the ability to customize site data based on a given demographic
- Customers get assistance to acquire SSL encryption without third party providers
- WooCommerce stores will run on fully managed WordPress hosting accounts
- CDN optimization for fast site performance
- Live chat and phone support available only during business working hours
- The fully managed hosting plans on offer are more on the expensive end, even for options that run on a shared server environment
Instead of opting for traditional web hosting services, why not host your ecommerce store on a cloud? With Cloudways, your online store will be hosted on the Click&Go cloud, a platform that is configured with advanced caching tools to boost site speeds and performance. The best part about using CloudWays to run a web shop powered by WordPress is that they offer a fully managed WooCommerce hosting solution.
Cloudways WooCommerce Hosting Features
With over 20 global datacenter locations, Cloudways provides easy access to affordable Digital Ocean servers from all over the globe. You can choose to host your WooCommerce store on a data center that is closer to the geographical location of your target market to reduce load latency for your web shop. For a super-fast setup process, Cloudways have designed a simple 1-click installation of WooCommerce with active W3 Total Cache. In addition, the ‘team collaboration’ feature lets you control access to your online store data. With this function, it’s possible to restrict sales staff from accessing sensitive financial information. Other than deploying ecommerce stores through multiple active cloud servers, Cloudways uses SSDs on all their hosting plans to enhance speed. What’s more, their hosting plans support easy SSL integration. In fact, since Cloudways partnered with Let’s Encrypt, they now offer free security certificates for TLS (Transport Layer Security) encryption via an automated process.
Besides offering encryption services, Cloudways will install a platform level firewall on the server hosting your WooCommerce store. They also keep their servers up to date by installing the latest security patches, thus ensuring that hackers have no vulnerabilities to exploit.
Help and Support
The best web hosts for WooCommerce are known to offer multiple customer support channels via phone calls, email and live chat. In addition to these communication methods, Cloudways have gone a step further to include a call back service where you can fill out a form online and request a call from the company. Their online support center also offers a wealth of support materials as well through how-to guides, FAQs and extensive knowledgebase articles.
- WooCommerce comes pre-installed
- Easy SSL integration
- 24 / 7 customer support
- Robust cloud network ensures ecommerce stores never experience downtime
- Free migration when moving your first site to Cloudways
- 14-day free trial
- Some of the cloud providers that Cloudways partners with (e.g. Amazon, Google and KYUP) charge high costs for hosting. On the plus side, you can get more affordable hosting by choosing cloud providers such as Digital Ocean and Vultr.
Getting Started with WooCommerce: A Quick Guide
To start using WooCommerce, there are 3 things that you will need. You’ll need:
- Self-hosted WordPress site (we’ve reviewed 5 WooCommerce web host here above)
- WooCommerce compatible WordPress theme (free or premium theme)
- Install & activate the WooCommerce plugin (free download)
Setting up your WordPress site
Most web hosting providers nowadays make it very easy for you to install WordPress on their web server. You will find that many hosts offer a “one-click WordPress” installation process. Some web hosts go the extra step to make it even easier for you by pre-installing WordPress and WooCommerce for you (for example, Bluehost, A2 Hosting and Cloudways). WordPress is completely free to use as long as you can pay for hosting. In addition, you will need to buy a domain name, which is the URL or address people visit to find your WordPress site. Once all of these aspects have been taken care of, the next step that follows is choosing a theme for your website.
Choosing a WooCommerce compatible WordPress theme
Although WordPress has hundreds of themes, not all are compatible for use with WooCommerce. The theme you choose should therefore be able to support the unique features that WooCommerce offers. Storefront is the official WooCommerce theme, it’s an intuitive, flexible and free WordPress theme that integrates perfectly with WooCommerce. Storefront and its child themes is a great choice for web shops that use this WordPress plugin. It is completely free to install. But with that said, if Storefront does not meet the color scheme expectations for your online store, there are many other premium templates that work great with WooCommerce.
After selecting a theme for your WordPress site, you can proceed with the WooCommerce plugin installation.
- Log in to your WordPress site and search for the WooCommerce plugin from within your WordPress site’s dashboard. This can be done by going to Dashboard -> Plugins -> Add New -> Search Plugins and typing “WooCommerce’”to begin the search. Finally, click “install now’”button and activate the plugin.
- Alternatively, you can download the WooCommerce plugin to your computers. Log in to your WordPress site then go to Dashboard -> Plugins -> Add New -> Upload and choose the downloaded plugin to install and activate it.
The great thing about WooCommerce is that beginners can use this tool without getting lost. As soon as the activation process is complete, an on-boarding wizard takes you through some of the key WooCommerce settings. The plugin will add a bunch of extra menu options into the WordPress admin panel, therefore, it is important to learn how to use these new functions. WooCommerce menu options let you add new products with a title, image and description. You can make entries such as product SKU, price, or choose to offer a download button for digital material from the General tab under Product Data menu.
Setting up the payment gateway
Once your online store is up and running, the final thing to do is set up a payment gateway. WordPress makes it very easy to setup payment processors with WooCommerce.
All you have to do is configure Inspire Commerce Gateway settings from the ‘Payment Gateways’ tab. WooCommerce supports PayPal payments by default. You can also sign up for a CyberSource or Authorize.net merchant account to start accepting card payments. Once customers have payment methods setup for them, WooCommerce does everything from tracking orders, to updating stock levels to recording transactions at checkout.
If you are a WordPress user but an ecommerce newbie and want to start an online store, then WooCommerce is your best option. Period! WooCommerce is the most popular WordPress ecommerce plugin and is suited for all types of ecommerce sites, regardless of size or niche, and WooCommerce can easily grow with you as your online store and products expand.
Customizing your WooCommerce store is a breeze thanks to tons of both free and premium themes and extensions, which integrate beautifully with the plugin. But. To get the most out of your WooCommerce store you need to invest in quality WooCommerce hosting to ensure that your online store is kept secure, up and running 24×7 and loads as fast as possible. Getting started with WooCommerce is easy. Some web hosts make it even easier. WordPress + WooCommerce come preinstalled on your hosting account with:
- Bluehost WooCommerce Hosting (30-day money-back guarantee)
- A2 Hosting WooCommerce Hosting (anytime money-back guarantee)
- Cloudways WooCommerce Hosting (14-day free trial)
Also see: WooCommerce official site