BlackCyber 2020

WooCommerce Pricing: How Much Does it Cost to Run a Store?

Written by Kathryn Marr on July 19, 2018 Blog.

WooCommerce and WordPress are both free, open source software. While this can represent considerable savings, when it comes to WooCommerce pricing, there are still some costs involved in launching a new store.

One of the reasons many people choose WooCommerce is because, like the software itself, costs are customizable — you have a lot more control over what you spend and when than with most other eCommerce platforms.

WooCommerce setup costs: hosting and domain fees

WooCommerce is a plugin, so you’ll need a WordPress site that can use plugins. The very first thing you’ll need to do is choose is a host for your store and buy a plan.

This is actually quite easy. WooCommerce and WordPress both recommend hosts like SiteGround, Bluehost, and Pressable. These hosts are great to start with, although if you’re migrating an eCommerce store, or will be running a large site, work with a host with specific WooCommerce expertise. WordPress.com also offers a Business plan, which allows sites to upload plugins.

Consider the following when choosing a host:

  1. How many sites are on your server? If using a shared hosting plan, resources are distributed between all of the other websites on the same server. Too many sites can slow things down, especially during peak times.
  2. Is there good customer service? If you ever have problems, are there customer service reps that are available 24/7 to help? Consider available support methods (phone call, live chat, forums, etc.) and whether they charge an additional support fee.
  3. What security features are provided? Look for automatic backups, malware prevention, and email spam filters.
  4. What is the server uptime? Uptime is the percentage of time servers (and your website!) are up and running. You want as high a percentage as possible.
  5. How does the host perform on speed? A fast site starts with your host. Read customer reviews to learn from their experiences and keep an eye out for SSD servers and high-level resource allocation (like RAM and CPU).
  6. Can you easily scale? As your site grows, make sure that you can upgrade your hosting plan without needing to migrate.

Read more about WooCommerce hosting options and the performance measures you should expect.

With WooCommerce, you have a lot more control over what you spend, and when you invest it, than with most other eCommerce platforms.

Hosting can be as little as $3.95 per month and as high as $5,000. Most hosts offer an initial free or low-cost period, with discounts when you buy hosting services for two or more years.

Top four recommended WooCommerce hosting options

The next cost is registering a domain, or site name. Like hosting, domain registration often comes at an inexpensive introductory price that rises over time, with discounts when you buy multiple years of service. Expect to pay about $15 per year for each domain name you use.

Many hosts offer free domain searches, so you can find out early on if the name you like is available, has been taken, or is for sale. You can purchase a domain name from your host, or from domain registrars like Godaddy.

Hosting costs: $120 per year (average)

Domain registration: $15 on average, but could be much more expensive if purchasing a domain from a private seller

eCommerce and WooCommerce themes: to pay or not to pay?

Now we’re getting into optional costs. The first one you’ll face will be your eCommerce website theme.

If you’ve used WordPress in the past, you know there are thousands of free themes, many of which have been optimized for WooCommerce.

Many new eCommerce businesses start out with WooCommerce’s official Storefront theme, which is both well-designed and simple. There are a variety of available child themes specifically designed for a variety of industries, and you can modify almost anything directly from the WordPress Customizer. If you run into trouble, WooCommerce provides excellent support. There are also numerous WordPress meetups and WordCamps where you can connect with experts who have volunteered to help solve problems.

Storefront is an intuitive & flexible, free WordPress theme offering deep integration with WooCommerce.

Storefront is an intuitive and flexible, free WordPress theme offering deep integration with WooCommerce.

If you’re leaning towards a free theme, choose one that is well-maintained and created by a developer with WooCommerce experience (e.g. has been updated recently and is compatible with the latest version of WooCommerce).

There are, of course, good reasons to buy a theme from a WooCommerce developer instead of using a free one:

  • Free themes tend to look similar, so your site won’t stand out as much.
  • Free themes have limited functions.
  • Paid themes provide customer service; at best, free ones offer a Q&A board.
  • Paid themes are regularly updated.

Paid WordPress and WooCommerce themes cost anywhere from $20 to $100 per year.

Theme cost: $0 – 100 per year

Store management costs

There are some essential functions that come with managing an online store, like shipping and payment gateways, each of which involve their own expenses. 

Shipping

Out of the box, WooCommerce provides options for flat rate shipping, free shipping, or local pickup. For many small businesses, these are the only choices needed.

The WooCommerce Shipping extension is a free option that connects to USPS and allows you to print shipping labels right from your WordPress dashboard and save money at the same time.

If you do need more advanced choices, choose between shipping extensions like Table Rate Shipping ($99), ShipStation Integration (starting at $9/month), and Distance Rate Shipping ($79). See a full list of available shipping extensions.

Payment gateways

Payment gateways allow you to safely and securely accept payments online. Each one varies in cost and structure and WooCommerce integrates with all the major options.

The best option is to use WooCommerce Payments, which allows you to manage payments directly in your WooCommerce Dashboard.

WooCommerce Payments has no setup charge and no monthly fees. You pay 2.9% + $0.30 for each transaction made with U.S.-issued credit or debit cards. For cards issued outside the U.S., there’s an additional 1% fee.

Another choice is to use Paypal. With a basic Paypal account, you won’t need to pay a monthly fee, but will pay 2.9% + 0.30 cents per sale to Paypal. This will direct your customers to Paypal’s site, where they can pay with their account or credit card.

If you want to accept credit card payments directly on your site, you can upgrade to Paypal Pro, which costs an additional $30.00 per month. Other options include Stripe (2.9% and 0.30 cents per transaction with no additional fees) and Authorize.net (2.9% and 0.30 cents per transaction + $25/month.) View all payment gateway options.

Shipping costs: $0 – $108 per year on average

Payment gateway costs: 2.9% + .30 cents per sale plus a monthly fee of $0 – $30 per month on average

WooCommerce running costs: communications, SEO, and security

WooCommerce itself offers a lot of free tools — many borrowed from WordPress and adapted for WooCommerce. Extensions act like plugins for WooCommerce, allowing you to add functionality to your checkout, payment gateways, shipping, and more. Here’s a list of ten free extensions directly from WooCommerce.WooCommerce extension library, providing unlimited functionality

There are two services I can’t imagine overlooking for an eCommerce store:

  • Customer communications. With email marketing, reach out to customers to encourage repeat purchases, recover abandoned carts, or thank them for orders. WooCommerce integrates with a variety of email marketing tools, like MailChimp, which offers both free and paid plans (starting at $9.99 a month), and Jilt, which starts at $29 a month.With seamless WooCommerce integration, you can sync customers and products, encourage upsells, and track everything from email opens to conversions.  View all available email marketing extensions for WooCommerce.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) tools like Yoast and All In One SEO provide suggestions and functionality to improve your site’s search engine rankings. Both offer free options, with paid plan upgrades.

It’s always advisable to strengthen site security just in case. The vast majority of hosts are very security-conscious, but there’s no harm in adding an extra layer. Services to check out include Sucuri and SiteLock. Sucuri costs $25/month (but bills annually; you’ll be charged $300). SiteLock has different plans but doesn’t publish them, so you’ll have to contact them for details. They offer a free security tool to Bluehost customers, and will heavily discount upgrades as well.

Bluehost also recommends Jetpack, which offers a free plan with basic security functions, like brute force attack prevention and automatic updates. Its paid services includes additional security — automated malware scanning and security fixes, as well as daily or real-time backups. Jetpack’s Premium package costs $99/year and includes many other website tools that help with everything from performance and design to marketing and management.

It’s also important to factor an SSL certificate into the costs of running an eCommerce site. SSL certificates encrypt sensitive information, like credit card data, between a customer’s browser and your server. It’s critical for online stores and, in most cases, is provided for free by your host. If your host doesn’t provide a free option, the cost varies between $8/year to $65/year. 

Communications: free to $348 per year

SEO: free to $79 per year

Security: free to $300 per year

SSL certificate: typically free but could cost up to $65 per year

Additional spending: customer experience enhancement

If your budget allows you to do more with your website, the next area of focus should be enhancements that boost the customer experience and drive conversions. No matter your needs, WooCommerce offers both free extensions and paid solutions.

It’s possible to ‘overdo it’ with WooCommerce by adding too many bells and whistles. Using too many unnecessary extensions might slow down your website; even the smallest of delays could cost you a sale.

Ultimately, the amount you spend on your WooCommerce site is up to you! You have full control over budgeting and prioritizing the needs of your website and business.

What about hiring a developer?

You may be able to hire developers at an hourly rate to assist with elements of your site that are outside of your expertise. Developers’ fees will range dramatically from $10 to $100+ per hour. Or, you can hire a developer to design and build your entire site from scratch. This can also vary, but might cost anywhere from $1,000 to $15,000. 

WooCommerce provides a list of hand-selected, high-quality experts. They know both WordPress and WooCommerce extremely well and can get you up and running efficiently.

Customize your store; customize your budget

The ability to customize WooCommerce doesn’t just mean creating a unique look and functionality — that customization includes the costs associated with developing and running a store. If you’re on a really tight budget, it’s possible to create a fully-functioning store for the cost of a domain name and hosting plan (as low as $135 per year). Well-funded or established stores could spend thousands or more.

With some customization, most store owners can probably get started for around $1,000.

We’d love to hear from you in the comments how you set up your store.

We’re nearly at the end of this introductory series — tomorrow we cover how to set up a new WooCommerce store as the final piece.

12 Responses

  1. ApkBeasts
    July 19, 2018 at 10:02 pm #

    Thnx For This Detailed guide. For long time, i am planning to start Online Store 🙂 I think waiting for guide like this 😀

  2. McPace
    July 20, 2018 at 12:16 am #

    I’m a fan of woo, but this post makes me really excited to just go with shopify for $29/mo. This post reminds me that the most useful customizations of woo will cost me yearly $ for the extensions. Most of which are $80/year like if I want color swatches as my product variation selectors or a FedEx shipping calculator. Long term, it seems much easier to go to someone who bundles all those features in a monthly cost.

    • Cody Landefeld
      July 20, 2018 at 1:04 am #

      Sure, but it’s monthly additions for Shopify sites that have anything non-standard that will get you. Plus if you don’t have good negotiated rates on processing you still need to cut the cake with Shopify for processing.

  3. Mandi
    July 20, 2018 at 12:40 am #

    These prices are a bit outrageous, honestly. I would never be able to spend that much to start a site, as I’m on a limited budget as it is. My breakdown-

    Hosting- $5 a month.
    Domain- $9 year
    SSL Certificate- $0 (Hosting includes this)
    Theme- $0 (Storefront)
    Shopping- $0 (WooCommerce)
    Add-ons- $199 lifetime. (Elementor Pro)
    Customization for colors, theme, site, checkout, etc- $170.

    I really didn’t need to spend so much for customization, either. I had paid someone to do it for $70, not realizing they would be using WPBakery, which I hate. But they’d already done the work and it looked amazing, so I didn’t feel right asking for a refund.

    I contacted my host, explained the panic-inducing situation, and he and a designer that works with him on his site customization items hand-coded the theme how I wanted so it could be used with Elementor. They asked only for a donation, knowing how upset I was, so I sent $100 because they truly saved my sanity and that’s the highest I could afford.

    Grand total to start- $383.
    Ongoing costs monthly- Around $6.

    This isn’t including your products, of course, but since I’m an author and sell signed books, I just grab 10 to stock up on whenever I have a bit of spare cash at the end of the month. For my jewelry store, I’ve ran it since I was 15, and have stockpiled beads and things all these years. I’m 34 now. So I have a massive storage collection of findings, beads, chains, etc that didn’t incur any extra costs during this.

    All of my sites so far fit on the same $5 server, which saves money. Once they get bigger storage-wise, the next server size is $19 a month, which is still cheaper than Weebly to host so many sites, and by then, the Ecommerce portions of the site should be able to basically pay for themselves, so I will end up with a net profit instead of a loss.

    • anon
      July 20, 2018 at 9:11 pm #

      If you seriously can’t spend that much on an entire eCommerce store, you should not run a store at all.

    • Marina Pape
      July 25, 2018 at 8:06 am #

      It sounds like you managed to find a solution that worked for your business and budget, which is great, Mandi. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

    • SMH
      July 26, 2018 at 1:03 am #

      Gotta think a host who sells hosting for $5 and does custom themes for $100 won’t be in business long.

      Does he also sell steaks out of the back of his pickup truck?

  4. RedBox TV
    July 23, 2018 at 2:39 pm #

    There is no better E-commerce platform than Woocommmerce.

  5. Karen cole
    July 31, 2018 at 9:22 am #

    Nice post.

  6. newfignewton
    August 7, 2018 at 3:35 pm #

    Agree, “WooCommerce costs is that it really is flexible, and up to you.” Since the article is about cost to RUN a Woocommerce/eCommerce store, I think about the fact that part of the cost is how far do you want to go. Advertising your site has a lot to do with that. Perhaps a post on the subject of ‘Cost of Advertising Your eCommerce Website for Sucess…’ This is what many of my clents don’t plan for.

  7. Ron
    August 18, 2018 at 6:31 am #

    I’m about to start working on a client’s Ecommerce site and I need a plugin for WordPress/Woocommerce that allows wholesale clients to login and see the wholesale prices for items. The entire site is for wholesalers only, no retail buyers.

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