WordPress.com has new eCommerce options available to its users. Back in March of 2013, they partnered with ShopLocket for their Enterprise and VIP customers to be able to use the eCommerce tools on their WordPress websites. Now, they've added Ecwid and Shopify to the mix, and lowered the barrier to entry so that any user with the Business upgrade can use them.
What is the business upgrade?
WordPress.com pricing levels can be a bit confusing. VIP plans are $5,000 per month now (looks like it's had a price increase), and Enterprise is also expensive, starting at $500 per month. The Business upgrade is a measly (in comparison) $300 per year.
So, WordPress.com has significantly lowered the barrier to entry for eCommerce on their platform.
No native WordPress solution
To me, it's still a little disappointing that WordPress.com isn't offering a native WordPress eCommerce option, such as WP E-Commerce or WooCommerce. However, I”m sure that would have its challenges from a technical, implementation, and support point of view.
Still, I can't believe someone hasn't put together a full out hosted version of WooCommerce. It seems like a no-brainer Grade A opportunity to me. I told WooThemes' leadership as much when I met them last November. In my interview with Mark Forrester, WooThemes co-founder, he did hint that they had some form of SaaS WooCommerce solution in the cards, but was coy as to what it may be.
eCommerce for the rest of us
eCommerce is a beast to do right. That's just a statement of fact. There are relatively few truly booming huge marketplaces that offer a place for people to sell things; services like Ebay, Etsy, and Amazon.
However, eCommerce for small (keep in mind this could still mean millions of dollars) sellers and online complements to retail stores is booming. Enabling eCommerce options for a relatively low barrier to entry ($300 is nothing for the cost of a good eCommerce store) is a great move for Automattic and I look forward to seeing what kind of stores end up on WordPress.com.
The complete announcement is available on the WordPress.com blog.
Update: Chris Lema already took the WordPress.com eCommerce option for a spin, and has some great additional insight on the topic. My favorite point of his is that this requires yet another product to be wrangled into a website owner's life, further complicating things. His post is definitely a good one to check out on this topic.