If you start reading up on the different features available for e-commerce websites, you might find that there are a lot more things you could be doing to draw customers to your website. Most e-commerce software packages are able to integrate with third-party plug-ins. These plug-ins can help you to optimize your website and interact more with your customers. At the same time, the more systems you are running on your website, the more admin there is to keep everything working properly. Let’s take some time to look at a few of the leading e-commerce plug-ins as well as the pros and cons of using them.
What Is an E-Commerce Plug-in?
A plug-in is essentially a set of software components that add specific functionalities to an existing and often larger software package. In other words, plug-ins can enhance your e=commerce website without you having to spend a fortune on customized design work. Plug-ins interface with the primary software and allow you to customize sections of your e-commerce site easily. Sometime people confuse plug-ins with extensions. Plug-ins are a simpler software format than extensions and have more limited capabilities. They remain, however, a firm favorite in terms of e-commerce website design.
Most Popular E-Commerce Plug-ins
If you do an online search, you will find that the two most popular plug-ins used on e-commerce websites today are designed using Joomla or WordPress. Interestingly enough, both of these software systems are open source and therefore free to download and use. For both Joomla and WordPress, there are a number of different applications that have been created using these platforms. The different applications offer customized plug-ins that you can use to enhance your e-commerce website. These vary from billing and invoicing programs to shopping carts, auction forums, e-commerce bridges, payment gateways, subscriptions and payment gateways.
Pros of Using an E-Commerce Plug-in
There are many advantages to using an e-commerce plug-in. As an example, WordPress has a reputation for being a very stable product. It has been around for a number of years and widely used by customers and shop owners worldwide. Constant improvements on the various programs have resulted in plug-ins that offer extensive customization without being overly complicated. Plug-ins are also relatively inexpensive, and many at an entry level are free. The plug-ins can interface with a wide variety of other software programs which makes the website and design process much easier. If you take a look at the Joomla e-commerce plug-ins which are available, chances are you will find one specific to your industry or the type of product you are selling.
The plug-ins use the expertise of those companies that have gone before you and provide you with a software package that can make your e-commerce site look both professional and user-friendly. Many of the e-commerce plug-ins have support forums where you can easily access expertise to help you solve a particular query or problem. A great advantage of plug-ins is that as more advanced features are created, the updates are made available as well. This can ensure that your e-commerce site is up-to-date with latest the technology.
Cons of E-Commerce Plug-ins
For those in the know, they will tell you that there are not many cons to e-commerce plug-ins. The fact that there are so many around is testimony of the usefulness and success of e-commerce plug-ins. However, for someone who is new to the e-commerce industry, the onslaught of technical terms and the wide number of different products can be overwhelming. Trying to sift through the different e-commerce options to find a product that is best suited to your needs can be become a bit of a challenge. The reason for this is not because there aren’t any good plug-ins out there; it is because there are so many. Finding the right one requires a certain level of expertise, and researching the reviews on the different products can be time-consuming. In the end, it’s likely that you will simply go with the product recommended by your web designer.
Another con of plug-ins is that they require a level of technical expertise in order to set them up and maintain them. In addition, the more different plug-ins you have on your e-commerce site, the wider the level of your expertise will need to be. Once you have plug-ins on your e-commerce site, you will also need to make sure they are properly maintained on a regular basis.