The number of online shoppers around the world is at an all-time high, and more people than ever before are trying to capitalize on this trend by starting their very own ecommerce businesses. However, getting started can be expensive, to say the least. As such, many people turn to WooCommerce, a WordPress plugin that allows you to convert your WordPress-based website into an online store. Is WooCommerce free, or is there a catch?

The Real Cost of WooCommerce

Most of the time, when something is advertised as “free”, there’s a catch. The same can be said for WooCommerce, but the good news is that you get to control how much you pay for your store. WooCommerce itself is free, and you can download it via WordPress without even providing a credit card number. It gives you all the tools you need to get started, and it even provides you with easy-to-use templates that will help you customize your store. When your ecommerce venture is brand-new, this very well may be all you need.

As your business continues to grow, you will likely find that keeping track of orders, customer information, inventory, and more becomes a hassle. Data entry, especially, can take ages, and it can leave you feeling frustrated to say the least. At this point, you have some options. Because WooCommerce is an open-source platform, there are thousands of extensions you can get to make things simpler. Some of these are free, and some of them are not. Is WooCommerce free? It truly depends on the extensions you choose.

Free vs. Paid Extensions and Addons

Once you have installed WooCommerce, you will be able to browse thousands of addons and extensions designed to enhance your experience and give you the specific tools you need. Whether you need to sync your inventory, change the layout of your store, view shipping and order information in a single space, or even sync your WooCommerce shop to your accounting software, there is something out there to help you do it. Free extensions do exist, but many of them have limitations. For example, you may have access to a bare-bones extension to allow you to connect to your email marketing platform, but the best features – such as abandoned cart reminders – are only available in the paid version.

Paid extensions typically come with more robust features than their free counterparts, and they usually come with better support, as well. When it comes to billing, most will give you options depending on your needs. For example, a very basic version of an extension might only cost $20 a month, but the full version that allows you to connect multiple apps and stores could cost triple that. You might pay by the month, the year, or even for a lifetime – it all just depends on the provider.

WooCommerce vs. Other Ecommerce Platforms

When it comes to ecommerce, you have many options available. Other platforms like Magento and Shopify also exist, but these are not always free.

Magento – Magento has three different levels, and only the most basic of these is free. While many small ecommerce businesses can certainly make the basic level work, as you grow, you might find that paying for Magento becomes problematic. The Enterprise version, which offers the biggest and the best in terms of features, starts at $13,000 annually. What’s more, Magento can be difficult to use. Though there are extensions, these are not as diverse as WooCommerce.

Shopify – Shopify is another popular ecommerce platform, but it is not free. You can get a two-week trial on a subdomain, but you can’t sell anything during this time. In fact, the only way to start processing sales is to sign up for a paid subscription. There are different levels, including Shopify Lite ($9 monthly) that allows you to sell on Facebook and add products to your site. The Basic plan ($29 monthly) offers a few more features, and Advanced Shopify ($299 monthly) gives you access to all the features.

Wix – Wix is another popular website building tool that allows you to build an ecommerce shop via unique pages and extensions. Plans range from free (for the basics) to $24.90 a month. Unlike WooCommerce, you do not have the ability to add unlimited product attributes. In fact, all you can display in your shop is the product’s size and color, which can be quite limiting.

Is WooCommerce free? It is, but only at the most basic levels. It is possible to start an ecommerce shop and succeed without spending a dime, but only if you are not opposed to foregoing some of the paid extensions that can make things much easier by providing syncing, reporting, and automation. WooCommerce is by far a better option than the alternatives because it’s free, it’s customizable, and it grows with you, no matter how big your business gets.