There are lots of great reasons to build an e-commerce website. Perhaps you are a small business owner with goods or services to sell. Maybe you are an author or musician who wants to sell documents, audio files, or other digital downloads. Whether as part of a business, or a hobby, running an e-commerce site can increase your sales, public profile, and your income.
In years past, building an e-commerce site required a vast amount of time, technical knowledge, and money. It meant hand-coding the site from scratch by hiring one or more developers, or purchasing a yearly license for a pre-built e-commerce solution. Surely there must be an easier way. For anyone who starts researching on how to create an online store, the myriad of options seem overwhelming at first. There are literally hundreds of pre-built e-commerce packages available, most of which promise to get the user "running in a matter of minutes". Unfortunately, they also promise to separate the shop owner from hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. On the other hand, one can also find a few free e-commerce platforms. While most of these are promising, the free cost platform often carries a high price tag in terms of greater complexity or time wasted in learning the ropes of a new platform.
This brings us to WordPress. Not only is it a popular package for building a standard website, but it can also serve as a powerful e-commerce platform with the addition of the WordPress (WP) e-Commerce plugin. Thousands of people have already chosen to use WordPress as the foundation for their online stores, and there are many reasons why you should as well. Yes, WordPress is free, and yes, it's easy to use, but it's also easy to modify and update. Extending the capabilities of WordPress is a breeze, and you certainly do not need a team of developers to get your store up and running.
As we will discover, WordPress is more than capable of handling an e-commerce site. This chapter provides the context for how WordPress fits into the puzzle of e-commerce website construction, what it can do, and why it's so good at what it does.
This chapter covers the following topics:
Reasons for enabling WordPress for e-commerce
Some business and website possibilities for the combination of WordPress and the e-Commerce plugin
What you sign up for when you decide to use WordPress for e-commerce
A basic overview of the features included in the WP e-Commerce plugin