Starting your WooCommerce store is a thrilling experience. We know that heaps of hard work goes into each launch, whether you’re selling a single subscription service or hundreds of unique items sourced globally.
With so much to consider during setup, from payment gateways to promotional opportunities, it’s not unusual to worry about costs. You certainly don’t want to break the bank before you’ve even sold a single product.
As you likely already know, part of the beauty of WooCommerce is that it gives you a free platform that can be added and expanded upon with nearly endless extensions. In the interest of getting you up and running quickly — and saving you money — we’ve collected ten solutions you should try when you first start your store.
From plugins to monitor your traffic to add-ons that will improve your emails, here are some of our favorite free WooCommerce extensions for new shop owners.
Keep a close eye on your store’s growth
A new store needs your close attention so any possible problems — or potential opportunities — can be nipped right in the bud. Here are two tools you can use to track your growth in depth as you go from zero to hero.
1. Use Google Analytics to track pageviews, purchases, & more
Google Analytics is a universally trusted (and free!) resource for website owners who want to keep track of pageviews, clickthroughs, conversions, and more. But it can be a bit tricky to set it up for eCommerce.
Enter this free Google Analytics integration for WooCommerce, which allows you to nearly instantly hook your GA account into your Woo-powered store. Simply enter your Analytics ID, set up the tracking code, and boom — you’re all set to see your store on the GA dashboard.
If you’re not yet familiar with Google Analytics and don’t know the benefits, it’s infinitely useful for tracking not just the shoppers who do purchase, but also the ones who don’t. You can learn quite a bit from the data available and use it to improve your store.
Since both GA and the extension are free, it’s worth setting up simply to play around with. Stuck? Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics is a fantastic way to get educated on the potential sitting at your fingertips.
2. Try Jetpack’s built-in stats to see traffic right on your dashboard
Jetpack is a resource-packed WordPress plugin that allows you to do everything from enhance your security to customize your theme’s appearance. But where it has huge potential for new WooCommerce store owners is in its Site Stats feature.
While Google Analytics allows you to take a deep dive into every data segment possible, Jetpack keeps it simple, offering up traffic stats right from your WordPress dashboard. It’s a good way to see your growth at a glimpse. (And, of course, Jetpack has plenty of other possibilities!)
Keep everyone in the loop as orders progress
Customers are crucial to your store’s success, and return customers are necessary for long-term growth. Here are some extensions you can rely on to ensure pleasing, effective communication that will keep shoppers happy and coming back for more.
3. Create stylish, informative order receipts
An order receipt email is an often boring, yet necessary, part of a customer’s experience with you. But what if you could turn that experience into a sales opportunity?
Enter Conversio. Conversio’s free plan allows you to transform your WooCommerce email receipts into fully customized conversion machines. Not only can you customize the look and feel of your emails, but you can also add in links to sign up for your newsletter, follow your social networks, and more. Anything you want to ask your customer to do, you can do.
Interested in taking your strategy to the next level? With a paid plan, you can expand Conversio to do even more, including sending emails to shoppers who abandoned their carts.
4. Make tracking numbers available (and clickable)
Some new store owners find that it’s a bit of a struggle to communicate tracking information to their customers. Luckily, there are a few options to help you with this, including one free extension.
Aftership is a solution that, as you might guess from the name, keeps track of everything that happens after your orders ship. With support for over 200 shipping carriers, the extension allows store owners to input tracking numbers and watch their progress as they move from origin to destination.
With Aftership enabled on your WooCommerce store, customers will be able to log into their account and see their tracking information when you’ve made it available. The tracking numbers can be clicked to provide real-time updates with UPS, USPS, or your local carrier of your choice.
Additionally, if you choose to upgrade to a paid plan, you can send the tracking information out via email. What’s not to love?
5. Allow customers to subscribe to your email list on checkout
Here’s a two-for-one special. MailPoet is a free plugin that allows any WordPress user to create and send beautiful email marketing campaigns in just a few minutes. And if you end up using MailPoet, there’s a WooCommerce extension that will hook the service right into your checkout.
Then with the MailPoet Checkout Subscription extension for WooCommerce, you can ask customers to sign up for your MailPoet email list right before they make a purchase. Then you can use your list to send out coupons or simply keep shoppers updated on new products — the choice is yours.
Trying out MailPoet? Have a look at these guides and tips to get you started off on the right foot.
Nudge your shoppers to spread the word
A new store needs publicity, and without a PR specialist or marketing department to lean on, you’ll need to ask your shoppers to spread the word for you. Here are a few ways you can nudge them into sharing your store… without being a pain.
6. Add sharing buttons to your product pages
A great way to promote your store is through social media. Social sharing buttons on your product pages give your customers the ability to spread the word in just a few clicks, but they can be a bit tricky to install. And what about tracking their usage?
AddShoppers allows your shoppers to instantly share your products on popular social networks. Here’s how it works:
The free version of the extension gives you the power to toggle which buttons appear on your product pages, as well as track the clicks and ROI on each one. With an upgraded plan, you can explore additional possibilities, including retargeting and social media contests. Woo!
7. … and to your other content
Of course, your products might not be the only thing your customers are interested in sharing. If you have blog posts, guides, or other forms of content, you’ll want them to share those, too.
Subscribe & Connect, a plugin developed by us here at WooThemes, adds share buttons of your choice to posts and pages. You can quickly add as many social profile links as you need, and also style the buttons to match your store’s theme.
Don’t limit your sharing just to your products — sometimes it’s your content that can most effectively spread the word of your store!
8. Ask for reviews (that you can turn into ads!)
Customer reviews have a ton of benefits: they make you look trustworthy, they can be shared to show how great your products are, and they add content to your store. You might have known all this, but did you know that you can even turn them into opportunities to make more money?
Yotpo powers up your store’s reviews and turns them into sharable bits of content that customers can share or you can use for ads, along with plenty of other amazing features that will beautify your boring product pages.
Yotpo’s biggest draw is the review feature: once installed, the extension automatically contacts customers post-purchase to ask for their feedback on a product. But it has a ton of other benefits, including the ability to enable product Q&A, create a gallery of submitted photos, and incentivize reviews with coupons or special offers.
And Yotpo claims that ads created with reviews are the key to success: they’ve seen a clickthrough rate increase of 300% from putting customer feedback in an ad instead of marketing copy. Who said opinions weren’t powerful?
Make instant suggestions that improve the shopping experience
This final category is all about improving the shopping experience. While A/B testing and CRO might still be a little bit out of your league, these free extensions will help you instantly give your customers what they need… and all without you doing any extra legwork.
9. Steer searching shoppers in the right direction
The built-in search on your store is a powerful one indeed, but there’s a way to make it even more powerful — for free. InstantSearch+ is an extension that uses the power of stored suggestions to instantly complete your customers’ search queries.
This both saves shoppers time by finishing their queries and offers up fast, accurate previews of what is available in your store. And for store owners, you’ll be able to use the extension’s reporting to see what is being searched for, how often, and where you can improve your product pages to better serve customers.
10. Trigger coupon messages with hidden shortcodes
Coupons and discounts can definitely nudge more customers into buying, but at such an early stage, you might not want to publicize codes on an external site. That’s where Coupon Shortcodes can help.
With this extension, you can use criteria like the current value of items in a customer’s cart to trigger messages about what coupons are available (or will become available with additional actions). The messages can be customized to your liking, and you can add shortcodes for as many coupons as you wish.
Here’s some sample code:
You qualify for a discount!
Use the coupon code [coupon_code] to take advantage of this great discount : [coupon_discount]
If you’re up for suggesting a coupon or two based on the actions of your shoppers, this extension is exactly what you need to get started.
Building a successful store doesn’t have to cost a fortune
Many new store owners are just as strapped for cash as they are for time, which means finding cost-effective ways to improve their shops, reach their customers, and spread the word about their offerings is crucial.
With any of the ten free WooCommerce extensions we’ve highlighted above, you won’t just be able to save money — you’ll be able to open your store with the knowledge that you’ve got a great sales solution on hand.
Which of these ten free WooCommerce extensions is your favorite? If you’ve got the time, we’d love to hear your thoughts or questions in the comments below.