Today I spent some time looking at plug-ins for WordPress that allow you to set up a shop on this platform. What a sad state of affairs this is!
There are quite a few shopping basket tools, but that is only part of the puzzle. If you want to sell knitting patterns, for instance, you can use the shopping basket api that Ravelry uses – they offer it to members to use for free. But if you are interested in selling shippable products, or something other than downloads, or you have many items you want to sell, or you want something even mildly sophisticated, you have to look further.
I looked at 4 different plug-ins, reading info on their sites and also looking up reviews that others have posted online. There’s a pretty good review already written HERE so I won’t bother re-writing it. It basically states everything I found.
It appears that Shopp is the best of the bunch, but it seems far from ideal. There are plenty of people who absolutely hate it and wish they’d never tried it or started with it. And there are others who like it and find it acceptable. In either case, both sides state that support is either minimal or abysmal, apathetic or even hostile to users. You have to be able to either tinker happily in the guts of WP code, or pay someone to do that, if you want to really use Shopp well. And it’s full of bugs. And can break your site if you aren’t careful. Sheesh.
I was looking up this stuff for a friend who wants to set up a shop. I also looked at complete package deals like Strato, where I used to have my web shop hosted. It’s a lot more expensive to go this route, but the time saved and headaches saved might be worth it. These packaged sites are professional and trustworthy (at least the ones I know). You have a lot less flexibility regarding look and feel (you must use their templates, but can change colors and background and header images, but the structure is theirs).
It seems that small companies are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to e-commerce. They can’t afford an IT team to create custom sites. They are probably not IT savvy enough to look at code and see what’s going on with a WordPress problem, and even if they were is that what they should be spending their time doing? So they turn to all-in e-commerce solutions that are meant for small companies and they all look pretty much the same – cookie cutter sites.
For myself, I’m going to be trying my best to set up a shopping basket on this site in the near future. I want to start selling some patterns from here, as well as from Ravelry. Even if everyone I know is on Ravelry, it seems the professional thing to do to offer patterns on my own site too. And it keeps my IT skills sharp (or my frustration level high, however you want to look at it).
Stay tuned for upcoming site changes…..