Are you wanting to break into e-commerce? If so, you’re joining nearly 24 million e-commerce businesses that have already decided to take advantage of this lucrative business model. And the good news is that if you’ve got products you’re burning to sell, you’re already one step ahead.
But similar to the feelings you get when you visit your neighborhood ice cream shop, paralysis of analysis becomes an unwelcome visitor in your mind. Which ice cream flavor (aka e-commerce platform) should you use? Sure, if you choose the wrong ice cream flavor, it’s not a big deal. The stakes are a bit higher though when choosing an e-commerce platform. So, planning properly is key.
This is why we LOVE recommending WooCommerce to our clients.
But, just knowing WooCommerce is a viable option isn’t enough. It can be difficult (and confusing) to figure out how much it will cost to set up and manage your e-commerce store, especially if you don’t even have a domain name picked out yet. Keeping your budget low (and quality high) as you set up your new store is key so you reduce your risk.
What Is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is a free WordPress open-source plug-in. Yes, we said free. It’s also one of the most widely used e-commerce solutions with 25% usage in the top one million websites.
Now, before you get excited about spending zero dollars on your store, there’s something to keep in mind: WooCommerce is free out of the box (the basic version), but it will require some dough to get it up and running with the features you need.
Having said that, it will be a much more affordable option (at least in the beginning) than using a third-party platform such as BigCommerce or Shopify, which charges a monthly fee to run and maintain.
More good news is that with WooCommerce, you also have more control over your budget because you can pick and choose from extensions, depending on your store’s needs. Spend money only on what you need instead of the bells and whistles third-party websites make you pay for that you may never use.
How Much Will Setting Up a WooCommerce Store Actually Cost You?
In this article, we’ll go through the costs of setting up, designing, and launching and managing the functionality of your store.
Note that we will assume you already have your WordPress site set up since WooCommerce is a WordPress plug-in. If you do not have WordPress set up, go here for more information or contact us today and we will be happy to help you out.
Costs to Set Up and Install a WooCommerce store
So, you downloaded WooCommerce and you’re ready to set it up. Not so fast…
Since you aren’t going with an all-in-one third-party platform, you will need to set up your own hosting and purchase a domain. If you already have a domain and hosting, disregard this section.
Domain Purchase ($10 – $15 / year)
Your website needs a domain name (e.g., viralsolutions.net), so this is the first step of the process.
Domain names average around $10-$15 a year depending on the registrar. Some domains are more popular and may cost more if you would like to purchase it from an existing owner.
GoDaddy often promotes domain deals for the first year for new purchases.
You’ll need web hosting and an SSL certificate on which to host your domain. If you already have a WordPress website, you should have hosting set up. You will need an SSL certificate as well if you don’t already have one.
Web-hosting costs vary depending on the package you choose. The fewer people on the same hosting server as your website (more privacy, fewer security risks), the higher the price. Higher-priced hosting packages also include other options such as backups, increased storage, dedicated IP, and more.
When starting out with your e-commerce store, the advanced features aren’t as important. But as you grow, you may need to increase your hosting costs.
WooCommerce also offers some of its recommended hosting solutions here.
One of WooCommerce’s recommended hosting providers, Bluehost, starts its shared hosting packages at $3.95 / month (special price for the first term) for WooCommerce users, including a free domain and SSL certificate (Note: SSL certificates need to be renewed ongoing).
WooCommerce hosting costs will run you anywhere from $4 to $60 / year.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates make your website secure, which is vital to protect your customers’ data. SSL certificates encrypt your customers’ sensitive data (credit card numbers, addresses, etc.) so third-party hackers cannot read and access it. Your customers will also expect this level of security; otherwise they will not feel comfortable shopping with you.
The price of SSL certificates varies, as some are complementary with hosting packages and others are offered at a discount. Generally, they start at around $50/year and can go to a few hundred dollars or more.
Launching Your WooCommerce Store (Design and Layout)
What will your store’s appearance look like? This will depend on the theme you choose.
WooCommerce offers free themes, but this comes with a disclaimer.
Using a free theme is a bit like trying to stand out in a crowd of people all wearing exactly the same thing. As you may imagine, a lot of WooCommerce stores will be using a free theme, so investing in a premium theme can help you stand out from the competition.
In addition, free themes don’t come with the same level of functionality, nor do they include the customer service you may need when issues arise.
Having said that, WooCommerce’s free themes are not all that bad; in fact, they are somewhat impressive. So, if you are pinching pennies and need a good place to start, a free theme is an option.
How much will a WooCommerce premium theme cost you? If you want to stand out and purchase a premium theme, the prices range from approximately $50 to $100.
- Choose a theme built specifically for a WooCommerce store so it functions properly.
- The most beautiful theme may not be the best theme. The more elements your site contains, the longer it takes to load, which could deter potential customers. Go for beauty, but keep it simple and clean.
- Look for a theme that has been on the market for a while. The longer a theme has been around, the more bugs and issues the theme developers have worked out.
- A good theme will have been updated more recently. If a theme hasn’t been updated in six months or more, the developers may not be keeping up with necessary updates. Note that this applies mostly to free extensions and themes.
In addition to a WooCommerce store theme, you may also want to invest in the following design elements to enhance your store:
- Landing pages
- Custom sales banners
- Custom email designs
- Professional product shots
- Social media graphics
If you are just starting out, all you may need is a logo. You can get one designed for anywhere from $50 to $1000+. Note that these numbers aren’t set in stone, as it will depend on the designer’s level of expertise. Here are some options to get you started with your logo plus other e-commerce graphics:
- Canva (DIY, $0 – $30 / month))
- Fiverr (Price dependent on freelancer experience)
- Upwork (Price dependent on freelancer experience)
- 99Designs (For $299, dozens of designers send you designs and you get to pick the best one.)
- Design agencies – If you have the budget, a professionally designed logo and/or graphics may be the best option.
You’re Live! Essential Costs to Run a WooCommerce Store
In this section, we will discuss the basic costs associated with managing your WooCommerce store, such as…
- Accepting payments
- Customer service
Most of these functions come with the basic WooCommerce store setup, but you will need to invest in a few extensions, which are plugins that allow you to add additional functionality to your store.
Payments and Shipping
You will need extensions to accept payments via your WooCommerce store (Paypal, Stripe, Amazon, etc.). Thankfully, most of the payment extensions are free. However, you are responsible for additional fees such as payment-processing fees for the payment gateway you choose. For example, Stripe charges 2.9% + 30¢ per successful credit card charge.
WooCommerce shipping basic functionality provides flat rate, free shipping, or local pickup. If you need additional options, it will cost you money.
Additional fees may also accompany…
- Sending invoices
- Printing shipping labels
- Getting multi-vendor shipping functionality
Some third-party shipping plugins include advanced features like the above with their purchase price, and they range from $59 to $89.
Marketing and Promotions
While some may argue that the following are nonessentials to running a WooCommerce store, we would disagree. While they are not as critical as accepting payment, without a marketing strategy, your potential customers won’t know you exist.
The key to marketing your WooCommerce store? Start slow and focus. Let your strategy be your guide when it comes to choosing tactics. Put some time into one marketing tactic and once you have it running consistently, move on to the next.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the discipline that helps marketers optimize their sites to get to the top of the search engine for specific keywords. So, for example, when a user searches with the query “Nike running shoes,” if your website that sells Nike running shoes is well optimized, it could appear near the top of the search engine for your product pages.
But, let’s slow down here… SEO is NOT a quick fix or growth hack. It takes some time and patience to execute. WordPress has a good plugin called SEO by Yoast that will help you with some of the on-site optimization of your WooCommerce store. Yoast’s plugin is $89 / year, but it does have a free version.
Email marketing allows you to massage relationships with potential and repeat customers to build revenue for your store. Tactics such as personalized marketing, automated email series for customer retention, and email discounts and promotions are essential to driving attention and building growth.
To set up email with your WooCommerce store, you will need an email extension ($0 to $99 depending on complexity and features) and a subscription to an email program. We recommend Infusionsoft by Keap ($199 / month) or ActiveCampaign ($9 to $229 / month).
Social Media Marketing Tools
Instagram is a beast for e-commerce store owners because of the visual nature of its platform. Posting on Instagram is free, but not just any product pics will perform well. Instagram users love creative photos, so you may want to invest in some lifestyle photographs to showcase how a customer’s life would be enhanced by your product.
Here’s an example of a lifestyle photo. GoPro does them well.
Note that as you grow, you can leverage user-generated content (content your customers upload while using your products) on Instagram to save money and build customer loyalty.
In addition, use WooCommerce extensions to place social sharing buttons on your product images so users can easily share them on your social media. These WooCommerce social extensions are typically free, but premium plugins may include advanced features such as connecting your social accounts with your website (Price: $0 – $79).
Customer Service and Relationship Management
In the beginning, you can be the sole customer service agent. But as you grow, hire more people to keep your customers happy. Costs may include contractor rates ($10 – $25+ / hour depending on location and experience) and the adoption of a customer service management tool, which includes chatbot software (e.g., Zendesk: $5 – $199 per agent per month).
WooCommerce also offers these customer service extensions. Some free extensions will allow you to set up live chat so you don’t have to commit to a customer management system or invest in third-party live chat software.
Hackers LOVE WordPress, so keeping your site secure is critical. Keep your WordPress version updated as WordPress continually updates its software to ward off hackers. In addition, consider investing in a service that will monitor your website.
WooCommerce Store Customization
Your WooCommerce store (even if you installed a premium theme) may not look and function exactly the way you envisioned. And as you grow, you will want to customize the layout, design, colors, and other elements to keep up with trends and branding.
This will require the help of skilled developers. Developers will charge anywhere from $10 to $150+ / hour depending on their location and level of expertise. If you are just starting out, use Upwork to find a skilled developer who can help you customize your store. WooCommerce also recommends these developers.
How Much Does a WooCommerce Store Really Cost? What You Need to Know (Recap)
While we’ve done our best to summarize basic pricing for setting up and managing your WooCommerce store, the costs will vary greatly based on what you need and what type of providers you use. We’ve summarized the costs below for easy reference.
Setup and Installation
Domain: $10-$15 / year
Hosting: $4 – $60 / year
SSL Cert: $50 – $300+ / year
Design and Graphics
- WooCommerce theme: $0 to $50 – $100+
- Logo and/or graphics: $50 – $1000+
- Professional product photography: Varies
Payments and Shipping
- Accepting payments: Payment gateway fees vary: 2.9% + 30¢ per successful credit card charge (e.g., Stripe); they can also include monthly fees depending on solution.
- Optional shipping extensions: $59 – $89
Store Marketing and Management
- SEO: Yoast plug-in ($0 to $89 / year)
- Email marketing: ActiveCampaign ($9 to $229 / month), Infusionsoft by Keap ($199 / month); Email extensions ($0 to $99)
- Social media marketing: $0 – $79
- Security: $0 to $29 / month
- Customer service and relationship management: $10 – $25+ / hour; Zendesk ($5 – $199 per agent per month)
- Customizations: $10 – $150+ / hour for a developer
Need Help Setting Up Your WooCommerce Store?
WooCommerce can be difficult to set up and install if you’re not familiar with WordPress and its plugins. If you aren’t tech savvy, consider using a third party to install your WooCommerce store. Experts can set up your entire store, connect emails, add payment gateways, and get you up and running quickly, without the hassle.
We’d be happy to help you set up your WooCommerce store. Give us a call here and set up a free consultation now!