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Lesson 2 – Part 2 – Choosing the Right Shopping Cart Plugin – Compare Plugins

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As we just discussed, you need to create a store plan for your online store. This is a store plan outline that I proposed a month ago in that course on how to make a choice about shopping cart plugins.

Online Store Plan

The type of store we’re building is a large store with many digital products and consulting. We’ve already defined our products as being digital and other intangible products. The variations we’re going to want are variations in eBook format.

We are going to use an extensive display for the product catalog including both department pages and product category pages. We will be processing our orders again, as last week, through PayPal. We have the same order fulfillment criteria as we did last week and we’re not currently incorporating either a marketing component to it or customer management. For the time being, this is our plan.

Online Store Shopping Cart Checklist

In order to compare shopping cart plugins, we have a checklist. We’re going to come over and take a look at it here. So it’s essential that we have digital downloadable products. It is not important that we have physical products. It’s not important that we do subscriptions or serials and license keys or donations or tickets and vouchers but we do still need to do intangible products that is our consulting. We want product variations and we want it to affect price because maybe we’ll charge more for one thing or another.

We don’t care about inventory or shipping or having combined digital and physical since we don’t have any physical books but digital variations are essential. So then in terms of product categories, we want to be able to do product categories, it’d be nice to be able to have product subcategories. It would be nice to have product tags, it would be nice to have product taxonomies. It’s not necessarily the case that we have a plan for it at the moment but it would be nice to do these things. It’s not essential for the operation of the site to have them in our current plan.

Product attributes, we definitely want a long and full description and a short description. We want a product image, we do not need multiple product images, we don’t need customer buyer input and currently, let’s put down “Nice” for free products. Ultimately we will be including free products.

If we look at our product display, our site’s so large that we don’t really care about it and integrated main store page so I think we can say not important here. We do want to display products by category, it would be nice to be able to display them by tag and by custom taxonomies.

It would be nice to have featured products and sale products and popular products, it would be nice to sort by price and by popularity and by recency and by customer rating. It doesn’t matter at all that we limit the display by attribute. I think we aren’t going to display our product in grid format so that doesn’t matter but we are going to display our products in list format so we’ll go ahead and say that’s essential.

Having the product page being automatically created would be “Nice”. Automatic page layout would be “Nice”. Page layout easily customized without code would be “Nice”, page layout customized using code would be “Nice”. Display product images is essential although multiple product images is not and related products would be great and link products, we’re happy with having related products.

We don’t need digital previews in this case. In fact, the thing that will stand in for digital previews are free like free chapters or something like that that we’ll talk about in a couple of weeks. In terms of multi lingual support, we’re not going to worry about that here.

So then under payment gateway standards, we want PayPal Pro and none of the rest of the stuff matters. We do want “Buy Now” buttons, we don’t care about out of stock protection or shipping calculations or anything associated with that. In our situation, we don’t care about taxes either but that’s because where we are not necessarily because of where you are so it might be different for you.

Under digital products, this is essential to us, expiring, we want download limits, we want to deliver the link via email. We want automatic redirection to the download page, we want to be able to bundle our files or bundled products. We don’t care about pay per view because we’re not doing that on the site. It is important for us to be able to resend new download links.

We’re not going to use any sort of PDF stamping, we don’t have any physical products so we don’t care about, we also therefore we don’t have any inventory controls or product-specific customer input.

It would be nice to allow customer account creation. Although it doesn’t matter that they can save shipping info but it would be very nice to be able to save all purchase history and to display download links. This is not important one way or another and we are not going to require them to have a customer account to make a purchase.

At the moment, we’re not doing anything with marketing so we’ll just leave all of that blank. We want this currently to be compatible with Thesis 2 and with Genesis because we’re building this in both sites and so that’s our plugin checklist.

Shopping Cart Plugin Comparison

Now, if we come back over and look at our plugin comparison and just go down this here. You can see that WP eStore has digital downloads and intangibles that we care about and it turns out that everybody has that.

In terms of product variations, we’ve got variations that affect price, we don’t care about inventory or shipping. We do want digital variations and that limits us down to 3 potential options, WP eStore, WooCommerce and Shopp.

We don’t care about combined physical and digital. Under our product organization, we do want product subcategories. We said it would be nice to be able to have subcategories and you can’t do that with WP eStore. It would be nice to have tags and custom product taxonomies, that does not happen automatically in WP eStore. We have 3 with our organizational system for the online store so it would be nice but it’s not a deal killer so we can still use WP eStore or WooCommerce or Shopp.

We don’t care about free products today but as it turns out, the only one of these that can process free products is WP eStore.

Under our product catalog, we don’t care about a main integrated page so it doesn’t matter. We do want to display products by category which you can. We said it would be nice to do tag, custom taxonomy and featured products which WP eStore does not have out of the gate. It also doesn’t have sale products but it does have the potential for popular products. There is no sorting by any of these things.

We don’t care about the limiting attributes and we do want to display it in list format so WP eStore really still neck and neck with WooCommerce and Shopp here.

The place where it is going to be critical actually is down here under fulfillment because this is where they are very different. It does integrate with Amazon S3. It does have expiring download links, it has encrypted download links and WP eStore is the only plugin that does. Nobody else has encrypted download links in our list here.

It has download limits, it has automatic link delivery via email, it has automatic redirection to a download page which none of these guys have. It has bundled products as individual files which both WooCommerce and Shopp have but MarketPress does not.

Digital Order Fulfillment Critical for our Store

It has a built in easy facility for resending download links which nobody else has. And really, it’s this order fulfillment process that is almost the primary rationale why we’re using WP eStore rather than one of these other choices.

We don’t at the moment care about customer management or marketing but you’ll see later on that again for marketing purposes especially, WP eStore is a step above almost everybody else.

In terms of theme compatibility, WP eStore can be used with any of the themes so it’s not really a deal killer although it doesn’t have any child theme specific stuff for a Genesis. The only shopping cart that has that is WooCommerce.

In any case, what we have is a couple of rational choices right down until we get to the place where we are deciding about product delivery or product fulfillment, order fulfillment. And really, the simple method for re-sending encrypted download links and the ability to encrypted download links are really the primary drivers of the decision to use WP eStore rather than one of these other options. So we’ve chosen our plugin.

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