Creating and managing an online store that sells regulated products is no easy task and the technology required can be different than a typical online store. Are you selling wine, spirits, crypto assets, hemp, cannabis, vape, ammo, or other regulated goods? Can your products only be sold to certain age groups or only into certain states and geographic regions? This article is for you.
Whether you’re building a site from the ground up or looking to optimize your store, a reliable “tech stack” can make or break your business. Our research found that the average WooCommerce site for regulated products has 49 plugins simultaneously activated to fulfill core functions — that’s a lot of decisions to make! The plugins you choose to use may be the difference between: a slow site and a fast site, whether you appear on Google or not, or whether you’re operating a legal business or one that will eventually attract the attention of a government agency.
We’ve pulled together a list of the top WooCommerce plugins in 2022 for E-Commerce businesses selling regulated goods based on the categories of payments, shipping & fulfillment, marketing & customer communication, tax & compliance, and site performance & infrastructure.
Priority #1 is collecting money — Credit cards, Crypto currency, Buy now - pay later, and more. You’ve got options to choose from. Most sites now offer multiple ways for customers to buy or finance their purchases. It all depends on what you’re selling and who your customers are.
- Glacier Payments - It’s hard to collect money for regulated products. Glacier Payments makes it easy - however, you do still need to work with their team to define the right plan. They pride themselves on building great relationships and work alongside their customers to create plans that are catered to their unique needs.
- Stripe - Stripe has become one of the biggest names in payments. It is easy to integrate and they’re constantly expanding capabilities, the types of products they support, and countries they can accept payment within.
- BTCPay for WooCommerce V2 Plugin - This list wouldn’t be complete in 2022 without a tool that allows you to easily accept bitcoin payments on WooCommerce. BTCPay for WooCommerce V2 Plugin allows you to do just that. And it just so happens to have a 5-star rating on WordPress.
- Sezzle - Need a checkout process that supports buy now and pay later? Sezzle empowers shoppers to purchase today, and make interest-free payments over a few weeks. It's a great way to increase your conversions, AOV and customer satisfaction.
Shipping & Fulfillment
Shipping costs usually account for 15-20% of eCommerce sales, so calculating shipping rates accurately is paramount to running a profitable online business. But there is more involved in getting a product to your customer’s doorstep than just calculating the right rates — shipping labels, order tracking, and pulling the right products from one or multiple warehouses in a timely manner are among a few of the essentials.
- ShipStation - ShipStation combines order processing, inventory management, and creation of shipping labels all into one interface that integrates with top carriers, marketplaces, and selling channels.
- Rocket Ship - Major carriers like FedEx and UPS have been winding down support for deliveries of regulated products like tobacco and vape products. Regulated businesses must rely on many diversified carriers and Rocket Ship specializes in getting regulated products to your customer door step.
- EasyShip - EasyShip allows you to manage orders, automate shipping, track shipments, and notify recipients. Also, one of their big differentiators is that they focus heavily on international shipments and orders.
- Shippo - Shippo streamlines fulfillment for businesses. They pride themselves in their ability to connect with many different carriers and they also allow you to connect fulfillment to multiple stores. Do you need to connect both brick-and-mortar orders with eCommerce orders? No problem with Shippo. They also have a 4.9 star rating and are a "Top Performer" on Capterra as of June, 2022.
Marketing & Customer Communication
Are you keeping loyal customers informed about upcoming deals? Do you have a chat bot tool that makes it easy for customers to contact you? Customer acquisition costs for regulated businesses are higher than normal ecommerce businesses — so it is important to keep your customers coming back again and again. You also need to keep your business growing with new customers. Here are some of the top tools of 2022 that can help:
- Yoast SEO - Yoast SEO offers different bundles and packages for making sure your site is easily discoverable. It’s trusted by 5+ million Wordpress sites. A premium version is also available that offers tools like URL Redirect Management and previews of how content will appear in Social Media posts.
- Klaviyo - Klaviyo is an email and marketing engine built for small ecommerce businesses. It handles forms, cart reminders, in-stock alerts, price drop alerts, and more.
- Slider Revolution - Need site banners? Slider Revolution is one of the most robust premium sliders made for WordPress. However, robustness isn’t for everyone - a free and lightweight option with fast load times is Soliloquy Slider. Lastly, some page builder systems that layer on top of WordPress such as Kadence and StudioPress have their own sliders available.
- Tidio - Tidio offers chatbots and livechat with WordPress in mind. While other chatbot tools treat WordPress and Woocommerce support as an afterthought, Tidio makes getting setup easy and they offer transparent pricing starting with a free plan.
One of the most underrated plugins can be having a good ole’ form. Looking to keep spam to a minimum? Maybe you need to sync your form entries into another system? Here are the top 3 form tools of 2022…
- Gravity Forms - Gravity Forms has been exclusively making forms for WordPress for 13 years and is one the most respected premium form plugins in the business. It was the first WordPress Form tool to offer an easy drag-and-drop interface and has more integrations available than any other form plugin. Plans start at $59 per year.
- Contact Form 7 - Contact Form 7 is a free open source form tool managed by Takayuki Miyoshi that has been a reliable tool on WordPress for almost a decade.
- Ninja Forms - Ninja Forms is a relatively new premium forms Plugin for WordPress that is rising in popularity and offers plans at $49 per year.
Tax & Compliance
Excise Taxes. Age Verification. Sales Tax. Depending on the type of regulated goods you’re selling, you may have a variety of other compliance requirements. Vape sales require PACT Act Reports. Firearm sales require 4473 Forms. Most of the reports that are required are linked to the sale with requirements for proving an audit trail on key pieces of data.
- Token of Trust - Token of Trust bundles Excise Taxes, Age Verification, and Reporting into a single compliance solution that reduces the hassle related to compliance for Woocommerce sites. It is the #1 rated Identity and Age Verification plugin for WordPress and Woocommerce. It is also the #1 "High Performer" on G2 Reviews for Identity and Age Verification for 2 years running.
- WooCommerce Tax - WooCommerce provides their own free extension for managing sales tax on products. However, I will caution you that YOU are responsible for adding and maintaining the tax rates. This is where a few other alternatives start to shine.
- TaxJar - With over 10,000 active installations, TaxJar is one of the most popular sales tax engines on WordPress. TaxJar helps manage product tax code, automatically calculates tax rates with precision, provides continuous monitoring of tax laws and regulations, and also handles filings and remittance.
- Sovos - Sovos offers sales tax solutions and they’re no stranger to regulated products. Over 80% of online wine companies use Sovos to manage their sales tax requirements. Sovos does require a custom integration to connect with Woocommerce.
- Age Checker - Age Checker provides age verification for US-based customers through pop-ups and age verification at checkout through a paid-for plugin.
Site Performance & Infrastructure
Nobody wants to risk losing customers because of page load times. But nobody wants a boring looking website either. Your curb appeal, reliability, and performance are incredibly important.
- W3 Total Cache - W3 Total Cache is a very popular cache plugin and one of its many benefits besides speeding up your site is that it works with most hosting providers — which can be a common snag with caching plugins. Caching is important because it reduces the load on your WordPress hosting servers and makes your website run faster.
- Kadence - Kadence is disrupting page builder plugins with a fast and beautiful set of tools based around the Kadence theme. There is a comprehensive ecosystem of blocks offering different functions, including no-code blocks for creating lightweight popups, sale banners, and slide-ins that connect site visitors to your offers.
- StudioPress - StudioPress is a premium ecosystem based around the Genesis theme. StudioPress is widely known for its quality performance and good looks. They were acquired by WP Engine in 2018 and are now streamlined as a part of WP Engine’s hosting solutions.
- EWWW Image Optimizer - Not sure how to export your images properly from Photoshop so they take up less room on your site and don’t slow down your load times? Ewww Image Optimizer can automatically optimize images you upload on the fly. And in bulk, too!
- WP Bakery Page Builder - WP Bakery is by far, the most popular page builder on the market. It is also the least expensive with the most comprehensive set of tools for adjusting how pages look and feel. If you want to allow your site admins to be able to customize everything and anything, and page load times are not as important of a priority - this is for you.
There are over 55,000 plugins in the Wordpress marketplace, so there are a lot of plugins that didn’t make this list. Is there a plugin or category that you think should be mentioned above and isn’t? Please feel free to contact us.