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How to choose ecommerce plugin for your WordPress website #WordPress #Blogging

A guest post from Anita Hunt

Taking the leap – first it was scary, but oh so worth it!

For the last few months I have been working on a new website for my personalised cards and gift business. At first it was so daunting that there were several moments where I wondered what on earth I was doing and questioned whether I should have stayed with the familiar, but unexciting, website platform that I was using.

Sarah has helped me hugely when I crossed over from a free WordPress blog to a fully hosted one for my business a couple of years ago. This was a big step for me as I began to understand the importance of SEO, and how I should be blogging to gain customers.

In the summer I decided that I wanted to completely move to WordPress for my online shop. I began what was a very long process of choosing hosting options, themes, ecommerce plugin and transferring my content and products, while trying to read as much as I could on how I could make the process go as smoothly as possible. I was very aware that if anything went wrong, I could lose customers.

It was important for me to take as much time as possible, as there is more space for error if you do things in a rush, so I took a deep breath and took the leap, like a bird trying to fly for the first time…

 Task one – Finding a theme

Finding a feminine theme that suited my business was very hard to find! I couldn’t tell you how many websites and blogs I visited, gradually getting more and more disillusioned with the whole process. Yes, there were some themes aimed at the women’s and craft market, but not nearly enough – there is a big hole that needs to be filled. Note to self: must learn coding at some point!

The other very important element was choosing a compatible theme and ecommerce plugin as that was the whole point of my great move.

There are some great ecommerce themes out there that incorporate what is needed to run an online shop, but getting the correct balance for my business objectives was important; I needed to consider my target audience, and also bear in mind that I needed a theme that would suit a large number of images.

Here are some themes to consider:

Finding a great theme

 In the end I opted for Elegant Themes

There is something about the style of Elegant Themes that I love. I decided after a lot of research that the Boutique Theme would provide a great backdrop for my products, and enjoyed the creative process of being able to choose appropriate colours and fonts etc… This theme enabled me to choose from a selection of ecommerce plugins depending on what I wanted. Knowing that the plugins would work seamlessly with the theme was a huge bonus for me.

Task two – Choosing an ecommerce plugin

 With my chosen theme, I could choose from:

  •  Wp ecommerce
  • Shopp
  • eShop
  • Cart 66
  • Simple PayPal shopping cart

Some are free; some are premium with a variety of options which can be added to your plugin package.

In the end I chose eShop as I liked the structure; the readily available information on how to set it up was well laid out. I read many reviews of happy customers, there were also some negative reviews too, but they all do. It’s important to not only consider the reviews, but also look at the overall effects that you hope to gain from using a particular plugin, and look into how compatible they will be with your chosen theme and other applied plugins.

Task three – Setting it up

 Add as a usual plugin and then go into settings to choose what you want.

 Eshop has a number of options-

  •  You can add to posts or pages,
  • You can sell physical products and / or downloads
  • Provides shipping options from weight to overall price, selected counties to countries.
  • It also provides a coupon code option, useful if you want to provide a discount (this is a good option, but hoping it will be developed further as it’s limited at the moment).
  • Discounts option e.g. spend over a certain amount to gain free shipping
  • The order process allows you to set various options for how you want to be paid and automatic emails that will be sent to a customer when you sell an item.
  • You can also choose to get a daily reminder to your nominated email address, if there is anything in your orders that haven’t been moved from pending – active – shipped.

The Merchant gateways accepted are:

  •  PayPal
  • Payson
  • iDeal Light
  • eProcessing Network
  • Cash for offline payments
  • Bank wire transfer
  • Webtopay
  • Authorize.Net
  • Ogone

I have always used PayPal but may look at the other options at a later date.

Since going live with my botanical card and gift boutique, I have also been working on another blog, using an Elegant Theme; but this time, my chosen theme for this blog isn’t specific for ecommerce. I thought I would try it out, and compare the differences for this post.

Even though the look is different, the set up is still easy, and short codes can be applied to change various elements – so overall I am pleased with it and will continue to use it on my blog.

 WordPress and ecommerce

 Through my research I saw many comments on various blogs and forums from business owners, who were not sure that WordPress would be suitable as a website platform, particularly for ecommerce, as WordPress is still mainly seen as a just a blogging facility. Well, I have to say that I am very happy overall with the transition. I have to do a lot of work on my SEO as targeted traffic has dropped a little, due to concentrating on the product set up, but I have my wealth of fabulous information from Sarah and other professionals to read through over Christmas, in between eating another minced pie and sipping mulled wine. I will be applying their tips in the New Year.

Happy?

I am very pleased that I chose eShop as my ecommerce plugin, and will continue to use it. I think the process has highlighted to me the importance of choosing a theme and plugin carefully to ensure a seamless process.

So I recommend that if you are considering using WordPress for ecommerce, then spending time on researching the right theme and plugin is essential – it will be worth it in the end and don’t forget, with the new EU cookie law you need to consider how your website will be compliant.

What ecommerce plugin do you use?

 Anita

Anita loves nature, botanical photography and designing cards. If you can’t find her, you will probably find her in a garden or a wooded glen, somewhere in her beloved Dorset, with her flowery wellies, camera, and her little dog Brinkley. Her blog gives an insight into some of the most beautiful gardens to visit.

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Sarah Arrow

Sarah Arrow started blogging to save a business and it worked! She created her first blogging challenge back in 2007. She's been internationally recognised as a top content marketer, Forbes and MSN list her websites as top ones, and she's the author of many quick start marketing guides. You can find her books on Amazon.

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