Now that we’ve discussed product display part of the criteria for choosing an eCommerce plugin for WordPress, we’ll move on to order fulfillment or order processing criteria. One thing to consider for order processing is what payment gateways does your plugin support.
Payment Gateways for Order Processing
The big boys are PayPal Standard, PayPal Pro and Authorize.net but not all of those are supported by all of the plugins. Then you have some of the major players like Google Checkout and 2Checkout and Amazon payments.
In addition there are other potential payment gateways besides that. You may have payment gateways that are specific to certain countries like The Netherlands or Sweden or Australia or New Zealand, there are payment gateways that apply just to specific countries.
Restrictions on Kinds of Products or Where You Can Sell
There are payment gateways that allow you to sell adult products or tobacco products or alcohol products, if those are the kinds of things you’re going to sell. The reverse is also true; there are payment gateways that won’t let you sell those things so you have to look for a different payment gateway.
And then if you live in one of the emerging markets, there are payment gateways that specialize in those countries. So if you’re selling in Asia or if you are selling in Africa, you may need to use a payment process that works in emerging markets. So that can be a determiner for what plugin that you’re going to use.
Ways To Purchase Products
You also want to know if a shopping cart supports an “Add to Cart” button or perhaps more restrictively, does it support a “Buy Now” button.
Support for Add to Cart and Buy Now Buttons
“Add to Cart” button is probably supported everywhere but not everybody supports a “Buy Now” button. Generally speaking, the “Buy Now” button is going to streamline the checkout process which can increase your sales.
Support for HTML Link
Also, can you process an order via an HTML link. For example, you can have a “Buy Now” option that when they click on an HTML link, it goes in and processes the transaction. If you know anything about WP eStore, if you’ve been in any of my earlier classes, you may have been surprised to know that this is actually a link to a WP eStore transaction processor.
Because the HTML link is actually an link that’s embedded in this CSS form. WP eStore actually offers you the opportunity to sell things from an HTML link which will include selling them from an email.
Out of Stock Protection
Then we also want to know if you’re tracking inventory with your software, does it have out of stock protection to keep somebody from buying something that’s out of stock. Or trying to buy a quantity of 10 when you only have 5 left?
Will it calculate shipping directly on your site? There are a couple of plugins that will not, they’ll let you ship off to PayPal to calculate shipping. So you want to know if shipping is calculated within the plugin itself.
The same thing is true with taxes. Can taxes be calculated on your site or do you have to go outside of the site in order calculate taxes?
Number of Steps in the Buying Process
Then how many steps are there in the buying process? Every step in the buying process increases cart abandonment. So you want to choose a shopping cart that has the least number of steps necessary in order for somebody to actually make the purchase. And the more complex it is, the less likely people are going to fulfill it.
Order Fulfillment Criteria – Digital
Then you also have the order fulfillment criteria. When you’re fulfilling digital orders, it’s quite a bit different than when you’re fulfilling physical orders.
Support for Content Delivery Network
So if you’re fulfilling an order for digital products, does your plugin support Amazon S3 or some other content delivery network for storing the files so your web server doesn’t have to deliver the files?
Support for Expiring Download Links
Does your plugin support expiring download links so the download link is going to work for a while but then it will stop working after a short period of time.
Support Encrypted Download Links
Does it support encrypted download links so the download link can’t be shared across the internet. So that when one person gets a download link for the product, that no, it doesn’t expire but it doesn’t tell them where the real product is and so they can’t go try to find it later.
Deliver Download Links Via Email
Finally, can it deliver download links via email or will it automatically deliver download links via email?
Automatic Redirection to Download Page
Again, if you are fulfilling a digital sales, once the sale is complete, does the plugin provide you the opportunity for an automatic redirection to the download page? Since the sale is complete they should go right to a place where they can go ahead and make the download.
Support for Bundled Products
If you’ve got bundled products, does the fulfillment process give you the opportunity to have individual files for those bundled downloads? Really, the whole bundled process is significantly hampered if you can have bundled products but it can only be a single file.
It’s much easier to work with a plugin where if you’re going to sell digital products, if you say buy these 3 eBooks, that you can specify 3 different file locations and it generates 3 different download links rather than requiring you to zip all your files together and make them a single download link. And it’s also easier for the user because it’s surprising how many end users don’t know how to unzip files.
If you’re selling digital products, can it email license keys to the purchaser, if you’re selling license keys?
Will your plugin offer pay per view? So if you’ve got videos for example, can somebody watch your video once or 5 times or something like that?
And if you’re selling PDFs, will your plugin provide a security stamp on the PDF so if you find your copy of your PDF flooding around the internet, you can see who it was sold to. So that’s some order fulfillment criteria for digital products.
Order Fulfillment Criteria – Intangible
For intangible products, you also have some things to consider. Will the plugin accurately handle subscription management? So if somebody subscribes to your site each month, what if that subscription is cancelled, does it communicate that information back to your website so their access can be cancelled?
One system in particular, Cart66, claims to be able to offer subscription management so they say you can take subscription payments but the funny thing is they’ve got a little double asterisks beside that and you’ll go hunting around and finally find that double asterisk and you’ll realize, it only takes subscription payment in one very narrow specific PayPal type of account.
It’s not the typical PayPal account so I consider that to not offer subscription payments from my standpoint. Since it’s in such a limited context that it does take the payment and if it’s something like a PDF voucher or a ticket or something like that, does it provide for delivery of that to the customer?
Order Fulfillment Criteria – Physical
Then if you’re talking about physical products, you have a whole other set of fulfillment criteria, right? In the first place, do you have status codes in your dashboard? We’ll talk about what those status codes are in a bit.
Detailed Fulfillment Management
But if you’ve got physical products and say somebody buys 3 different products from you and they need to be shipped separately for example, because one is big and heavy and two are small and light. You need to be able to manage that kind of thing inside your dashboard.
If you’ve got a busy store, you would want to know if you’ve shipped this out to the customer, if you’ve actually received the payment, if the customer’s been notified that there’s a problem with their shipping and if the entire transaction is completed, that sort of thing.
So it’s really nice to be able to have status codes associated with your transactions in your dashboard. Also does it provide for automatic status codes? so if you’re with Authorize.net, it first tells you that the sale is pending and then when authorize approves the sale based on the criteria they use, it sends you another code saying that the transaction has been processed.
So does it have those messages automatically added? Does it have the ability for you to manually set codes so when you go in to the site and say, this is not shipped, this is partially shipped or whoops, something is on backward, can you do that?
And then can you create custom codes for yourself so that you can make the status codes fit your own business model and your own fulfillment process? Can you handle status emails to your customers from inside of the dashboard that is, does it automatically send out a receipt?
Does it give you the opportunity to manually send out things like, “your order has been shipped” and here’s your tracking code or manually send out status notifications and that sort of thing?
Does it give you an opportunity to do the same thing with custom follow ups. Can you from inside the dashboard, compose an email and sent it to your customer either making sure that something is taken cared of or if it’s not clear, clearing up something that you’re not certain about?
And can that record of all those notices be contained inside of the dashboard so you have a single place for keeping track of your customer content. Essentially, does it contain detailed fulfillment management?
There are plenty of contexts in which this is irrelevant but with physical products especially large sorts of physical products, fulfillment management is significant and if the software does not provide detailed fulfillment management inside the dashboard then you want to know that before you make a choice.
How about shipping labels? Can you create shipping labels from inside your dashboard so that you can print out packing labels? Will it do those things for you? And then again, since you’ve got physical products, what kinds of shipping methods does it support?
Does it support free shipping? Now, I suppose by definition everything supports free shipping but you might want to have free shipping in specific contexts.
Does it support flat rate shipping? It could be that your products always fit in these US postal service flat rate boxes and so can you assign flat rate shipping to certain products so that you can take advantage of those flat rate boxes?
Does it handle tiered rate shipping or table rate shipping where you say, okay, if something weighs so much and it’s going in this direction, charge this. So, can you set up a tiered rate or table rate shipping with the system?
Then, does it have the potential for integrating with shipping services like for automatic calculation for US postal service, UPS or FedEx or Canada Post or Royal Mail in the UK or DHL in Europe? Does it have the ability to integrate with those services to automatically calculate shipping costs?
Then does it have inventory controls? Does it keep track of how much inventory you have for physical products and can that inventory be matched to variations?
And as we already talked about, can inventory be matched to bundled products? So if you’ve created a bundled product say of buy a book and a DVD together, when they buy that product bundle, can it adjust the inventory for each of those individual aspects of it? And if you don’t have sufficient inventory for one of them, can it show the product bundle as being out of stock?
Can it generate inventory reports so you can tell where your stock is without having to check individual products and can it send you email alerts when at certain stages of inventory when inventory may be getting low? So these are sorts of inventory controls you may be interested in.
In terms of customer input, say you are engraving something like a trophy and you’re giving them 3 lines of engraving. What if the first line has so many characters, second line has so many characters, third line has so many characters, do you have the ability to have that text input for each of those things in order for them to provide you with the information that you need to fulfill the product?
Can it do file uploads? So if you’re selling posters, can they upload a picture, if you’re selling business cards, can they upload a file? Whatever it happens to be, can it handle file uploads for order fulfillment?