In this session we discuss the difference between Shopp and WP eStore in terms of design and implementation. We also discuss how Shopp and WP eStore deal with shipping and taxes. Use Shopp if you have programming skills because it uses templates for customizing the look and functionality. Shopp uses a good customer management facility that WP eStore doesn’t have which tracks transaction from purchase to delivery. Use WP eStore if custom shipping and custom taxes are not an issue because it is easier to use.
Rick: What’s your… tell me your question.
Member: Sure. So the question relates to ecommerce websites. I’m in the process of building one out for a client and I just had some questions. You have two… it would seem two ecommerce tutorials on your website. One using WP eStore, the other using Shopp.
Member: So I just wanted to check in to see which of those two or a different ecommerce plugin altogether would be the best to integrate with Thesis for a site that has maybe 10-15 products with multiple variations of each product.
Rick: And are the products physical or digital?
Member: Mostly physical. They will probably have one or two digital products planned like an ebook but they’re not ready yet. So I’d like to have that functionality there ready to go but we’ll launch the site with just physical products.
Rick: What kind of a product is it?
Member: They have t-shirts, bumper stickers, iPhone cases, coffee mugs, things like that.
Member: They’re promotional products for their organization.
Rick: And are they… and what kind of shipping do they want to do?
Member: US and Canada, that’s the primary location for their supporters and members.
Rick: So they want to be able to have next day shipping or shipping that is dependent upon the distance that somebody is from them?
Member: I don’t know that they’ve thought about that and I haven’t thought about it yet. Although, if there is a way, I would imagine that’s probably a profit center, some of the shipping cost. You know, if that can be worked in, great. Otherwise you know, standard shipping options are fine.
Rick: Well, the thing is that you know, there are a couple of different ways to deal with shipping. On simple products that are small, not bulky you know, you could just have a flat rate shipping. Or if you have free shipping then this doesn’t matter. But you could just have a flat rate shipping and then WP eStore would work fine. But if you are doing… if you are charging people for shipping and you want to charge somebody in Montreal a different price than you charge somebody in Bakersfield because the cost is different then you… WP eStore is not particularly good at that. And to the extent that you want to do it, you still have… you can only do it through PayPal and use PayPal’s shipping calculation system to calculate shipping.
Rick: So WP eStore… if you’re just going to call you know, if you’re just going to charge $2.95 for shipping and handling regardless of the product and if somebody buys 2 t-shirts and you’re going to charge them $2.95 twice then WP eStore is just fine for that.
Member: I think it’s probably best to do the custom shipping because you know, some of the products they may order may cause it to be a higher shipping count or cost. So I would say probably custom would be better.
Rick: Okay well then, at the moment, then Shopp is the right choice because WP eStore does not give you the ability to… I mean, you can set flat rate shipping. You can set shipping you know, so much shipping per product and you can set a shipping amount for each individual product. But none of that can be based on you know, destination. There’s no variable in destination.
Rick: And then if you use Shopp, what Shopp has the ability to do is it can integrate real time shipping provider costs. So if you’re going to use US Postal service because that’s the one I show configuring. You know, all you have to do is set up your account, your API account with the postal service by the US Postal Service module for Shopp and install it. And then you just enter your API number and which kinds of shipping you want to offer. You know, are you going to offer next day air or you know, what have you… so that the person can you know, say standard shipping is parcel post and expedited shipping is 2-day air. Well, you can have those two things set up and then the postal service will give you the shipping cost based on your location, that is, where you’re shipping from and the location of the purchaser. And then will provide you with… and the shipping cost can be calculated based on that. So you know, I’m in Bakersfield so I’m going to… and I want next day air. Make that choice and my shipping is whatever the US Postal Service says it is. Plus, you can add markup to that. So you can say it’s the US Postal Service rates plus 10% or plus $2 or whatever.
Rick: Now that is… that’s the most sophisticated way to provide shipping and that’s a way people are very familiar with. But Shopp is the only of those two plugins that will do that. The other consideration is taxes. Since you have physical product, there are… and the chances are, you’re shipping from some place in the US where there are sales tax on those products. And if you were in Washington State which is where I am and I’m selling to somebody in… out of Washington, you don’t have to charge them sales tax. If you’re inside of Washington, you do have to charge them sales tax because that’s where my place of business is. If I had a place of business in Washington and a place of business in California and somebody from California purchased then I would need to charge them sales tax from California as well as from Washington. The only thing that can accommodate that is Shopp.
Now you have this added complexity that if you’re in Canada and you’re shipping to Quebec, you’re obligated by law to separate the you know, the GST, I think is what they… or VAT plus Quebec’s GST and display those values differently. And it’s a non-issue if you’re selling to somebody in Quebec from the US but if you’re selling to somebody in Quebec in Alberta, it is an issue. And so again, the only one that I know of a connection to accommodate those kinds of things is Shopp.
Member: Okay so I think what you’re saying is you know, Shopp.
Rick: I am saying that… I’m just going to say one other thing and that is right now on my site, I teach two different systems. I teach a very simple system that a beginner can use and I teach a very complicated system that really wants somebody with programming skills to use. And WP eStore is a very simple system and Shopp is a very complicated system. And Shopp is intended to be used by programmers who want to completely customize their user experience. So…
Member: When you say that, you mean not actually upkeep of the Shopp, of the store? You mean design and implementation, correct?
Rick: That’s right. That’s what I mean, right.
Member: Yeah, that’s fine.
Rick: I believe that there’s a need for a third choice for people who you know, want to develop their own online store. They do have complicated shipping and taxing but they don’t want to have to manage code in order to make it work. And I don’t have any courses in that yet. I expect that either WooCommerce or Cart66 will be the plugin that I use to teach for that but I don’t have any experience with either of them. I’ve heard on the Thesis forums that some people have made WooCommerce work. I know from my members that Cart66 works. I have a couple of members in particular that you know, were considering Shopp, considering WP eStore and considering Cart66. They both chose to use Cart66 in their circumstances and Cart66 seems to have worked fine for them. And so the chances are, I’m going to end up with a series sometime this year on one of those two.
Rick: And I believe that will end up being a middle ground. Now to the extent that you have sort of rudimentary programming skills and that you want to make your shopping cart completely unique and you want their shopping experience to be completely unique, I think Shopp is probably the best choice. But if you don’t have programming skills then you have to… but you want to use Shopp, you’re going to have to be willing to live with a relatively vanilla shopping experience because in order to get past that, it requires the comfort of… a fairly high degree of comfort with HTML and CSS at the very least.
Member: I’m very comfortable with both of those.
Rick: Okay, so Shopp’s a good choice. Because the way… the thing is that Shopp uses templates for customizing everything. And so you can completely change… I mean, you use these templates for its sidebar widgets so you could completely change just by rearranging HTML, adding your own HTML, your own CSS classes, you’re styling your own CSS. You can completely change the way stuff lays out and looks and Shopp’s the only system that I know of that works that way where it’s baked in, absolutely planned on. It’s giving you a vanilla set of templates and it gives you the tools to be able to change those templates to your heart’s content.
Member: Okay, great.
Rick: And that system works quite nicely with Thesis now.
Member: Great. But aside from… you’re saying if the custom shipping is going to be an issue then WP eStore is automatically out.
Rick: Absolutely. It’s automatically out. It’s not a choice, yeah.
Member: So let me ask a maybe more pointed question then. If custom shipping wasn’t an option, would choose WP eStore over Shopp?
Rick: If custom shipping wasn’t an issue then I would choose WP eStore over Shopp, yeah.
Rick: Because it’s just so simple. If custom shipping and custom taxes wasn’t the issue then that’s what I would choose. Now Shopp has some really nice customer management facilities that WP eStore does not have. So it’s got a nice system for it where you can track the transaction, so from purchase to delivery, right? You can… somebody can purchase something. You can put it on back order. You can… from inside that dashboard, send them an email saying, “Well, okay this is on back order until such and such a time. We’ll ship it out when it gets ready. But we’re going to ship you the rest of your product now.” You know… and you can go into the customer dashboard and say, “Okay, which of my products are on back order? Which of them are waiting authorization? Which of them are you know, which of them have been shipped? Who’s seen an email that says your product has been shipped?” All that kind of stuff is very nicely managed in Shopp and WP eStore doesn’t have any of that. So that’s the other thing you know, if you want to be able to manage the inside of… comfortably manage inside of a dashboard of a sales delivery process that has steps in it then Shopp is the choice again because you have that ability to sort of… you know, if you’re using… some payment providers process the transaction but don’t validate the money at first. So for some people, if they’re with authorize.net, authorize.net will tell you that the product… the transaction has been authorized but you can have it set so that it will also tell you when the money clears and that can be the thing that triggers you to ship and all that complexibility exists inside of Shopp but does not exist inside of WP eStore.
Rick: So as far as WP eStore is concerned, as soon as the payment gateway tells you that the payment is processed, it responds. So… I mean, it does have some rudimentary things where it’s been… with PayPal, PayPal has this system of fraud prevention and WP eStore will tell you, “Well, you made a sale but it’s been flagged so you know, wait until we tell you that it’s a real transaction.” So it does have that but it’s not really… you don’t really see it on a dashboard. You just get it via email from them. Does that make sense?
Member: Yeah, it does.
Member: Yeah, that answers everything I had. I appreciate it.
Rick: Great. Okay well, thanks for joining us.
Member: Absolutely. I appreciate it. Thanks.
Rick: You betcha. Bye.