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Lesson 2 – Part 1 – Choosing the Right Shopping Cart Plugin – Start with a Plan

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Good morning everybody and welcome to lesson 2 of our class in How to Sell Digital Products with WP eStore which is part of our WordPress eCommerce Seminar series. In the first lesson we created a simple online store in WP eStore but today we’re going to be creating the larger store that sells lots of different products online.

What I want you to do is imagine a site like BYOBWebsite except that all of the content is sold as individual courses, eBooks and plugins, sort of a BYOBWebsite à la carte. That’s the concept of the store that we’re going to be creating today so it’s reasonably complicated.

Create an Online Store with Multilevel Catalog

It’s a large store with potentially hundreds of products, it has a multilevel catalog. And that means, it’s going to have categories of products and then subcategories under that. It will end up having a custom product display and all of the content for the store will be delivered via digital downloads. Again, we’re not going to be talking about shipping and things like that because the store just delivers all of its content via digital downloads.

This class presupposes that you’ve already been through How to Choose the Right Shopping Cart. I’m going to be referring to that routinely. In fact, we’re going to follow the process outlined in this seminar, How to Choose the Right WordPress Shopping Cart. We will be following this system using the plan and the checklist. We did this last week for lesson 1 and we’ll do it with each store that we create. We’ll come back to this original seminar and ask ourselves what our requirements are for our shopping cart plugin and why we are choosing the plugin that we’re choosing.

Criteria for Choosing the Right Shopping Cart

In order to choose the right shopping cart you have to start with a plan and you probably recall that I gave you a sample plan time that goes through a set of criteria. The first set of criteria really is what type of store it is and we’ve just discussed that but the next set of the criteria are the product definitions and we have a number of products in this case.

Products and Product Definitions

Some of our products are digital and those are PDF eBooks and eBooks in the form of eReaders. So the same PDF books will have kindle books and iBooks and so on. We will sell downloadable videos and an entire video series may be downloadable. And we will also be selling plugins and skins.

So we have eBooks, videos and plugins and skins, all of which are different types of digital downloadable products. We’re going to have a couple of other kinds of products as well like consulting by the hour, similar to what I do here, and consulting packages. We’ll be selling those in this store as well and be listing those in the store.

In terms of the rest of the product definitions that I laid out in this first lesson, there won’t be any need to collect customer input when the things are purchased. We are going to have variations on the products and those variations are going to essentially be the various eBook formats. That means if you’re buying one of the eBooks, you can get it either in PDF or in kindle or in iBook or whatever.

We will have no free products but in two weeks when we do the email component, we will add free products into the mix. But as of today, our store has no free products.

Developing a Product Catalog

Unlike last week, our store has very extensive product catalog display. In fact, we’re going to spend almost all of our time today talking about how to develop a product catalog and what the different facilities are for doing that. But in this case, what we’ll be doing is creating department pages which if you can imagine a clothing store, a department page would be men’s clothing, women’s clothing, children’s clothing, teen’s clothing, those would be departments.

Inside of those department pages, there will be product category pages and the product categories again, in that example might be suites and casual wear and shoes and accessories. Those could all be different subcategories of the department.

Then there will be individual product pages which is fairly obvious. You have a product and it’ll have its own page. So this is quite a bit different from the very simple site that we set up and there’s going to be a lot of work involved in setting up department and product category pages.

Order Fulfillment Criteria

The order fulfillment will be essentially the same as it was last week. That is, we’re going to deliver via Amazon S3, it needs to be automatic, the links need to be encrypted and expiring, we want to return our users to a download page and we want to also send them the downloads links in the email. So order fulfillment is very similar to what we’ve already done.

Organizing a Large Online Store

We need to really get a handle on how this site is going to get organized because really one of the cruxes of this conversation is, how you organize a big site like this. I see people struggle with this routinely when they start thinking about doing something other than a handful of products. The issue is how to organize those products into rational groups.

So part of understanding how to organize your products rationally is understanding what the subject matter is that we’re going to be selling here. In this case here what we’re going to do is sell information on WordPress and Thesis and Genesis and WP eStore, WP eMember, WooCommerce, MarketPress and SimplePress form. This is the subject matter of all of the materials that we’ll be teaching on the site.

Product Organization

Having an understanding of the kinds of products that we’ve just talked about and the subject matter of some of those products, now we’re going to come to this question of how do we organize the site. And you really have to start off by looking at your products as a whole and looking for an organizing principle.

Now, some stores have clear models. So if you are selling antique auto parts then you can break your products down into perhaps make, model and year or something like that so you have a kind of a rationale already analogous type of organization that exists elsewhere. If you’re selling women’s clothing then you can sell casual wear, you can organize it by casual wear and sportswear and evening wear.

When you use an organizational structure like that, it will be rational and understandable by the person who’s coming to look at your store. For example, they won’t be looking for a tennis outfit under evening wear, right? However, what I seem to see most often is people who are developing an eCommerce site where the organizing principle is not as automatic, you don’t already have a well-established sort of a browsing pattern that your customer has and so you’ve got to figure it out.

Organizational Schemes

When you’re doing that, you need to look for your organizing principle. What is the central thing that characterizes your products and distinguishes one product from another? Because once you figure out what you’re organizing principle is, that will help you figure out what your product categories are and that kind of thing. And I’m going to propose a couple of different types of organizational schemes here for the BYOBWebsite à la carte site.

Organizing by Types of Products

Now, the first one is organizing it by types of products so you might be tempted to say, okay well, all my videos will be one type of product and all of my eBooks will be one type of product and all my plugins will be another and then my consulting will be another. So I’ve got four types of products that I’m selling and those are my four main categories. There may be a good reason for doing it this way.

I have seen publishers, people who have content that is published in a variety of formats, be inclined to do it this way. They sell their content by format as opposed to by topic. So if you’ve got a book that has an audio, an eBook, a print book all as versions of the same thing, rather than having those altogether in the same product category, those are all be spread across product categories because you’re categorizing them by their medium. So that’s one way you can do it.

Organizing by Topics of Products

Another way you can do it is to organize it by topics of products. So you could say, well, all of my products are about WordPress so that’s instruction, consulting and plugins would fit under one category and then Thesis and then Genesis and WP eStore. So you could choose to divide up your stuff via topic and if you have different consulting products those could be characterized under topics, that might also be a rational system.

Organizing System We’re Using

The system that we’re going to use is actually a hybrid of that. We’re going to use both types and topics for organization. However, it’s not using format for organization. What I’m suggesting as an organizational structure here is that we have 3 primary product categories or 3 main departments of instruction which could handle all the videos and eBooks altogether. Then plugins which would handle obviously the plugins and consulting which would handle the consulting. So you’re not considering delivery medium in this distinction, you are thinking about sort of the 3 main areas, the 3 things that distinguish each of these different things from each other.

Finding a Distinction in the Product Categories

We’ll start off with the big 3 categories and then when we look at Instruction, we break down Instruction by topic. So it’s WordPress Instruction, Thesis Instruction, Genesis Instruction and under WordPress instruction, there will be eBooks and videos and both of those things will be considered WordPress instruction.

Now, the rationale for this is I think fairly simple but may want a little bit of explanation. The rationale for doing it this way is that generally speaking, people probably aren’t coming to the site to find a video, they’re coming to the site to find an answer about something whether it’s WordPress or Thesis or Genesis. And they don’t care so much what the medium is, what they care is whether or not their question is being answered. In this case, rather than saying, here’s our list of videos, find the answer to your question here and then here’s our list of eBooks and find the answer to your question here.

Topic-Based Products

What you do is you say, okay, here’s all of our instruction associated with a WordPress. And if they know it’s a WordPress question, they can find an answer there and then purchase the product whether or not it’s an eBook or a video. So that’s the rationale for doing this that is, people are looking for specific information as opposed to looking for a specific medium so we provide them with the ability to browse our products by information. Then they can choose whether or not they’re happy with that medium once they’ve decided whether or not it solves their problem. Okay, so Instruction is being divided up by topic.

Application-Based Products

Plugins, are organized by where they are applicable. So you might have some plugins that are applicable only to WordPress or applicable to WordPress in general. Some plugins that only work in Thesis and some plugins that only work in Genesis. So while it’s not topic-based it is nevertheless application-based.

Again, if we use topics as our main separator or as our main category and then have like videos, eBooks and plugins as subcategories, you know it’s just as an irrational once you start adding things that are dissimilar to instruction so we have plugins and they’re divided up by their level of applicability.

Package-Based Products

Then we have consulting and rather than say, have consulting packages for Genesis and consulting packages for Thesis and consulting packages for various plugins, what we have is hourly consulting and package-based consulting. Rather than having the packages be tied to Thesis or Genesis or WordPress they are organized by package of consulting like a package of consulting for membership site or a package of consulting for designing a website.

So that’s the hybrid system that I’m proposing here and with that hybrid system firmly in mind, what we want to do here is take a look at the store plan.

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