Considering WordPress ecommerce options
First published on TalkingWeb.co.uk in November 2012.
The company I work for have used WP-Ecommerce on a few WordPress sites now, but were wondering if it’s time for a change.
In the past we’ve chosen WP-Ecommerce because it’s featured packed. I don’t think anyone has asked me for something it can’t do. It’s free, but we often buy the Gold package that’s about £35 because it gives you things like a grid view and multiple images per product which people love.
But we’ve known it to have some bugs… just little things like missing images for related items and an annoying tendancy to show duplicates of items after a client re-orders them. That one’s caused me a lot of MySQL de-duplicating! I’m also not convinced the software clears baskets after an hour like I think it’s supposed to – so if someone adds something to their basket, and then leaves the site, that product doesn’t become available again and so it could appear out of stock for a customer later in the day. But these are all things which might be fixed now and the main client we’ve had who’s had issues with these things is a very quiet / hobby shop – if you were using your shop everyday you’d probably notice pending baskets more or realise how to avoid the duplication bug.
I was still wondering what else was out there though, and an artice on the Design Superhero caught my eye. Which led me to wonder about woocommerce. I’ve got a friend over at veloist and half baked brand - new cycling apparel start ups – who uses woocommerce and so I thought I’d ask him what he has to say on it!
“For both veloist and HBB I use woocommerce, which I must say I’m very impressed with, however in equal measure I’ve a couple of online stores with WP E commerce running (well sort of), I’m not as familiar with this, but in my limited experience it certainly seems to be more flexible in terms of them compatibility. Woocommerce is typically at its best running with a woocommerce woo theme… It is supposed to be compatible with other WordPress designed commerce themes, it does work, but tends to throw various elements out of place etc.
I would highly recommend woocommerce with a woocommerce wootheme. Very very easy to use, intuitive simple design front the back end. I bought some extra plugins to allow me to export orders and customer details etc, so there are other expenses to get the full benefits from woocommerce, on the other hand there are a large number of extensions and compatible plugins. One thing I wanted to do was auto multi buy discounts in the future, i.e. buy a jersey and shorts save £10, which I’d want to auto discount when both items are added to the shopping cart, it’s not a standard feature, but without too much looking I found an extension that would take care of things, $45 I think.
WP e-commerce does appear to have loads of stuff available to, and going forward I’m likely to use it more often, but I wouldn’t move away from Woo for HBB and veloist. My reason is as follows. I have two templates that I very much like for those two sites and woocommerce is excellent. For flexibility though going forward it’ll be wp e-commerce because of the variety of themes available that can look great without too much customising, which I no very little about… This wouldn’t be the case for you guys, so I’d definitely recommend Woo to you, from a novice point of view the backend is so easy to use.
It’s easy to create variable products and manage stock, paypal and google checkout are raring to go, easily add commerce functionality to multiple pages.“
A key piece of information for me here is that woocommerce works best with woothemes – which makes sense as they’re made by the same company. But doesn’t suit our bespoke themes. Something I read in the Design Superhero’s article is that whilst woocommerce is free, by the time you’ve added all of your plugins/extensions – which you have to pay for – it can add up a bit. But they’re obviously optional so you just need to browse their site first to decide what you really need so you don’t get any surprise costs.
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