One component of building business websites that freaked me out for a long time – far more so than creating the sites themselves – was e-commerce. Specifically, the process of actually setting up a nice shopping cart that makes it easy for customers to do business with me.
I’m not going to claim that I’ve become an e-commerce expert. No even close! Those fancy full-fledged carts, with SSL encryption, merchants accounts etc etc still terrify me. I’m not a technically gifted guy, so the thought of actually trying to set up and configure something like that on my own is horrifying!
Initially, my solution simply involved putting basic Paypal buttons on my site (was only attempting e-commerce on one site at the time). This is a relatively straight-forward process (although certainly not enjoyable) that involves logging in to your Paypal account, selecting “Merchant Services”, selecting “Buy Now Button”, then filling out the pertinent information, copying the code, and then adding it to my site (I realize that for some, even that will seem like “Greek”!)…for every single product.
As if that wasn’t enough of a pain – but I then also had to go in and get a new set of codes every time I wanted to change pricing (for sales etc)!
Thankfully, I eventually discovered “Tips ‘N’ Tricks Headquarters“, and my life got a LOT easier!
As you can see on the little banner, WP e-Store is primarily intended for digital goods, but I’ve been using it to sell physical products as well. The key (as always) has been to go with a K.I.S.S. approach. If you can work out a price that includes shipping, or at least a consistent shipping price for your entire shipping range, e-Store is a great option (with lots of additional functionality we’ll talk more about in a minute). But if you need to calculate shipping based on geographic location, and/or it’s vitally important to calculate specific taxation rates (again based on the location of your customer), you may want to go with something a bit more robust.
Cool Features of WP e-Store
- Allows you to set up (and modify) many products very quickly (SO MUCH easier than the Paypal button route)
- Can keep things simple with basic buttons or get a bit fancier, with drop-down menus, images etc etc
- Includes a very versatile coupon creation system
- Will automatically send out confirmation emails to customers (can modify specifically for each product)
- Can automatically add customers to your e-mail list (if you use one of the supported providers, such as Aweber or MailChimp)
- Can choose from various payment gateways (I use Paypal and 2Checkout)
- Integrates beautifully with all the other Tips ‘N’ Tricks plugins (as you might imagine) such as their affiliate program platform
- Can be used on as many of your websites as you want
- Very well supported (excellent support forum) + plus excellent tutorials on how to set up and use
I should mention that these guys also have a (free) basic Paypal shopping cart plugin. I’ve been meaning to test it out to see how the functionality compares to WP e-Store but have not yet done so. Just based on the quality of the products these guys create, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s pretty solid as well (something you might try out first if you are on a tight budget).
Originally I was thinking I’d put together one or more tutorials on how to use WP e-Store, but then it suddenly dawned on me that the folks at Tips ‘N’ Tricks have already created some excellent documentation for all of their plugins – so I recommend checking those out if you want to learn more (don’t hesitate to drop me a line if you have any specific questions though).