Some WordPress e-commerce and shopping cart solutions I have reviewed include:
- WP e-commerce
- Shopp Plugin
- Market Theme
- WordPress Shopping Cart Plugin
- WordPress Simple Paypal Shopping Cart Plugin
- Yak for WordPress
- ArtPal – Paypal shopping cart for artists
- eshop – utilizes posts and pages to create products
- ShopperPress – theme and shopping cart all in one
Comparing these is like comparing apples to oranges with Magento being a full robust solution and Market Theme being a simple solution for a very basic store. A big difference between these solutions is whether or not the solution is really a full-featured store software that has reporting, gift certificates, cross selling, and other options. Which you choose will depend on your e-commerce needs.
For the most part, NONE of the WordPress plugins are full featured e-commerce solutions. They are simplified applicaitons with some of them having more features than others. When comparing WordPress solutions, they fall into five categories:
- Store products based on WordPress posts and pages. In other words, you create posts within a certain category, and these posts make up the products in your store.
- Store products managed in separate database table that is managed via the plugin interface. I prefer these solutions, because my clients have many products, and I don’t want to deal with the products in the WordPress Posts area as I want to keep my blog very separate from my store products.
- Theme based solutions. These work similarly to the post-based products, and perhaps are a good solution for someone who has very basic needs and doesn’t have to have customize a lot.
- Simply PayPal add to cart buttons that can be created on the fly. This would be for a site with just a few simple products.
- Full featured online shopping cart (not a WordPress plugin), like Magento, that could be hooked up with WordPress, so that WordPress could handle the overall look of the site while Magento takes care of all the shopping aspects.
Market Theme while touted as being a really great product is too simple for most of my client’s needs. It’s missing a lot of functionality with its lack of variations choices, pricing and shipping options for different variations, integrated shipping, checkout options, and payment gateways.
The Shopp Plugin is very nicely formatted out of the box. The templates can be copied to your local theme file and modified to your heart’s content. I like the way the user is taken to a checkout page after adding an item to the cart and being able to “continue shopping.” It has variations templates that can be used for different product categories and shipping options based on weight or price. However, I don’t like that notes cannot be added per product or that the checkout screen cannot be customized to add more fields. It also doesn’t have reporting. I will be testing this plugin with the integrated UPS module and Paypal Payments Pro and hope that Paypal can provide the reporting we need.
I recently installed the Shopp Plugin at http://www.brigittemars.com if you want to check out her Books/DVD section. Customizing the templates and CSS was easy enough, though I encountered some limitations with not being able to display products within a certain category on a given catalog page.
WP e-commerce has been a source of frustration for me as it is buggy with the variations for downloadable files and generally doesn’t look that great out of the box, particularly the way the checkout “box” is formatted and displayed. I do like that you can customize the checkout page with your own fields. It also has some nice, basic reporting.
Magento is kick ass but may not work well in a shared hosting environment. I did see that someone developed a Magento extension to integrate with WordPress. Smashing magazine reviewed many great templates for Magento recently.
I’m quite interested in Drupal using Ubercart as a great CMS, blogging, and integrated e-commerce solution, but I haven’t had a chance to play with it. I just purchased O’Reilly Media’s Using Drupal book which I’m very eager to read. It provides the first printed documentation of Ubercart with step-by-step instructions.
Many of my clients would like the ability to sell Gift Certificates redeemable in the cart. This is hit and miss with all of these solutions, with Magento most likely to handle correctly now and Ubercart developers working hard to get their GC module working properly. However, with Paypal, we can always sell Paypal Gift Certificates, but users must be logged in with their Paypal account when purchasing in order to redeem.
Generally, I am currently look for low-cost solutions that allow users to take advantage of the great easy-to-use WordPress interface and not necessarily have to leave the site to go shopping. Your feedback, comments, and experiences would be great appreciated.
Here’s another list of 10 e-commerce plugins: http://speckyboy.com/2008/10/23/10-powerful-shoppingecommerce-plugin-solutions-for-wordpress/
Here’s a nice site for e-commerce tips and choosing a good shopping cart: http://www.practicalecommerce.com/