We support a ton of customers running WooCommerce on their sites and have seen an equal ton of WooCommerce extensions and plugins on those sites. Over the years we’ve noticed a few patterns and can safely say that we highly recommend using extensions purchased directly from WooCommerce.com over other third party marketplaces. Here’s why.
First off let’s explain what WooCommerce extensions (and plugins) are and why you’d use them…
WooCommerce extensions are little bits of functionality that extend what WooCommerce can do beyond its out-of-the-box capabilities. While WooCommerce is very powerful on its own, you’ll almost certainly need an extension or two depending on your needs.
Need USPS shipping rates? That’s an extension. Selling subscriptions? Extension. The list of extensions and functionality is long and continues to get better. It’s created a rich feature list, making WooCommerce one of the best e-commerce options for independent online sellers.
WooCommerce.com has a marketplace of hundreds of extensions. Some of them are their own they’ve created, but they also sell (and support) well-vetted third-party extensions and plugins.
You can also find many third-party extensions for WooCommerce. Searching the web for the feature you need will almost always result in numerous options for developers from around the world. A quick search of WooCommerce USPS shipping rates yielded quite a few options to look through and is a good example of the diversity.
So if there are so many options out there, why do we generally recommend going with extensions found on WooCommerce.com? Glad you asked…
Perhaps the most important reason to choose WooCommerce.com extensions is the support you’ll get. WooCommerce can be complex and daunting, especially when you’re dealing with your specific needs and site functionality. When something goes wrong you want to get it fixed quickly.
Since Automattic purchased WooCommerce in 2015 we’ve seen a steady improvement in the availability of support agents on WooCommerce.com. If you contact them during the day you’ll almost certainly reach a live agent via chat, and they’re friendly, helpful, and capable. More often then not they help solve your request on the spot and have been willing to log into sites temporarily to troubleshoot.
Note that support for certain extensions from third-party developers will send you directly to a ticket creation form rather than a live chat. I’ve found this true for WooCommerce Subscriptions particularly. An agent from SkyVerge replied within the next day, however. Not as nice as real-time, but the response time was adequate.
Updates and Active Development
When choosing an extension for a feature needed for your site, knowing that you’ll be able to rely on it working now and in the future is an important consideration. WooCommerce (and WordPress) are constantly being updated for security issues, bugs and feature improvements; plugins and extensions need to stay in sync with those changes so they can continue to function.
When we run an initial audit on new customers at Cinch, one of the biggest issues we find when a site is broken is that a plugin is out of date. Very often updating the plugin or extension will fix the site or restore functionality. But plugins also get abandoned, and when that happens there’s no updating, no fixing. The site owner is left to find and decide on a new way to fulfill the lost functionality.
WooCommerce.com extensions are run on an annual subscription basis, are in active development and active support. It’s one of the things you can trust in exchange for the subscription price.
As developers, we know and trust the developers behind WooCommerce and WooCommerce.com extensions. It’s a trust built over time, and experience using extensions that work better, last longer and function with the least amount of overhead possible. These extensions try their best to work within the WooCommerce and WordPress best practices in both code and user interface.
Along with the previous section trusted code, security is an important consideration. Extensions that are under active development are able to plug security holes that abandoned plugins clearly can’t. While no software is invulnerable to getting hacked, software that is closely monitored and under active development has a better chance of fixing security issues when they arise.
Yeah, but they cost more than other plugins…
If cost is your number one issue, then certainly take a look around at other solutions. WooCommerce.com extensions certainly do come at a premium. This is especially true for extensions that are not as mission-critical as say – managing subscriptions.
We’ve seen a lot of software extending the ability of WooCommerce. For all the headaches free or cheap software can bring, paying for a premium product from WooCommerce.com has been well worth the cost.