WordPress is a web software that was originally developed for blogging purposes. However today, it has really evolved into a content management system for websites and it powers a very significant of websites on the World Wide Web today. It is not only used for general-purpose websites, but also for niche-specific areas such as e-commerce.
Today, several websites are using WordPress for e-commerce and they are doing pretty well. Several plugins (i.e. third party software) exist in the market today that can easily turn a WordPress website into an e-commerce site. Some of the most popular of such plugins include WooCommerce, Shopify, Jigoshop, etc.
So with WordPress, you can run a full-fledged e-commerce website with payment gateways and the basic features that comes with trading online. However, there’s always a debate about using WordPress for e-commerce as compared to native e-commerce web software such as Magento, OpenCart, Prestashop, LemonStand, etc. These have been specifically developed for e-commerce purposes and do have more features to support its purpose than WordPress which is more or less being adopted for e-commerce purposes.
From the experience of the writer, having developed several e-commerce websites, some with WordPress using some of the plugins mentioned earlier and some others with native e-commerce platforms such as Magento, OpenCart, etc, there’s is no clear-cut right or wrong answer about this. The major factor to consider seems to be based on issues such as the size of the online shop; in terms of the number of products, the traffic to the online store, the unique customisations required for the online store, etc. These seem to be the most important things to think about and consider in the evaluation of the platform to build an e-commerce site on.
I will say that if the e-commerce site is meant to be small/moderately sized in terms of products and traffic, then WordPress can be used; bearing in mind the high level of flexibility and ease of use of the platform, in which case will come in handy as an advantage.
However, if the e-commerce store is quite large or should grow to be come large pretty soon, then your best bet is using a native e-commerce platform. The native e-commerce platforms such as the ones referred to earlier on are all nice and the choice could be down to preference, but under same circumstances, I feel confident to say that Magento stands shoulder high than the other ones.