This is not a free plugin but it is probably the best plugin if you want to sell goods (either physical or downloadable digital items) from you WordPress website.
The plugin works, doesn’t cost too much and it does have some support from the authors, there is also a sort of forum. Unfortunately the plugin (in common I must say with all WordPress ecommerce plugins) suffers from some peculiarities that make it a bit uneasy to work with. Let’s see in this article how to make it work in a few easy steps. This walkthrough is intended for a basic use with Paypal. The plugin has many more options that I will not be covering here.
Installation is straightforward like any other WordPress plugin, with the difference that the plugin name is WP eStore and the installation directory for some reason becomes “wp-cart-for-digital-products “, this could be tricky to identify or remember if you have lots of plugins. Another annoying thing is that the plugin gets updated quite often but unfortunately the author does not email the customers, nor it does show up in WordPress, so you have to go visit the site every now and then to see if there is any update. How to find this is for me still a bit of a mystery, basically you must search for a page (try the forum) where there is a changelog and then you have to find another page where you create an update request and send this one out. Even more annoying, you also must indicate the Paypal transaction and the original email to prove that you are legitimate. All this takes time, in my case the last update took more than one hour because I could not find the Paypal transaction among my thousands of emails and I could not remember which of my email addresses I used to purchase the plugin. Once you manage to provide the necessary information you get an email with a time limited download link.
To use eStore once installed, go to WP eStore panel in the lower left of your WP Admin panel, there are nine options each with dozens of configurations panels, as said I will cover the basics. Click Settings and go to the General Settings. The important things here are all self explanatory, configure Shopping Cart Title, Currency, Add to Cart Button, Return URL (thank you page after the transaction), Hide Shopping Cart image (recommended), and Base Shipping Cost. The help here says “This amount is added to the total of the individual products shipping cost” but it actually adds a fixed amount whatever the number of items purchased. If you then indicate in the Add/Edit Products panel under Shipping an amount like .0001 for every item, you get a fixed shipping amount added to the shopping cart – which is a nice feature for many sellers. Keep scrolling (we’re assuming that you are not selling digital products) and check Use Automatic Post Payment Processing, Use WordPress Mailing System, Send Emails to Buyer After Purchase. Fill the From email address with your own and also edit Buyer Email Subject and Email Body. Notification Email Address once again is your own. The Seller Email details can be left alone. At the very bottom of this panel there is also an Enable Sandbox mode which is helpful to test a transaction with Paypal Sandbox (you need to open an account with Paypal for this).
Now go back at the top (still in Settings menu) and click the Payment Gateway Settings to check Use Paypal and enter your Paypal address. Nothing else to do there for the moment. All the other Settings options can also be left alone so we can click on Add/Edit Products. Enter Product Name and Price (important: with two decimals) and the Product Variations if any. Imagining we are selling shirts we could fill Variation 1 with Color|Red|Blue|Yellow, Variation 2 with Size|Small|Medium|Large and Variation 3 with Sleeves|Short|Long:20, this will add nothing to the price if the buyer chooses Short Sleeves and + if Long Sleeves. Neat feature.
Let’s leave all the other options alone because we are finished, we could actually sell our product already. So go to Manage Product where you will see a list of items, Shirts for example, with an ID number like 1. Just create a new post or page and place the shortcode [wp_eStore:product_id:1:end] on it, the plugin will do the rest.When editing or creating a Post/Page in visual mode you can also click the eStore icon and get all the shortcodes you may need, including the one to view the Shopping Cart (there is also a separate widget to display the Shopping Cart from the sidebar). Even more shortcodes are downloadable and show up in WordPress like another plugin.
If you need to customize things, that is a bit more difficult because eStore is a complex plugin with more than 170 files. I always have a really hard time modifying CSS and php files to change for example spacing, icons settings and so on, depending on the theme you use and how picky you are. Whatever you change keep a changelog yourself because as said the plugin is apparently updated often.
One last word about the very useful capability of selling digital products. This works really well and is definitely the best feature of the plugin. I recommend to configure it to send to the customer a download link via email after the purchase. This is done automatically and you can also choose duration of download link, number of downloads allows, and best of all the link is actually encrypted so the customer does not actually see the real link (you can save your digital product files anywhere on your site). This is done in Settings/General settings, where you set the main settings, and under Edit Product/Digital Content Details where you indicate (besides name, price etc. as before) the complete actual Url to the item and under that, remember to check Downloadable. As said the customer will not see this link.
As said the plugin does offer many more options, including Categories, Subscription Payments, Coupons/Discounts, and more. My favourite is the useful Stats, especially when selling digital products, it is nice to wake up in the morning and see how many products have been sold entirely on autopilot, nothing else left to do… the dream of every Internet Marketer.
About the Author. Luca Paradisi is an author with multiple interests, including creative Web design, SEO and e-commerce solutions, using WordPress as the CMS. He is also involved in affordable UNIX hosting, turnkey websites, auto-blogging and business opportunities. To learn more please visit http://ahead-design.com and http://ahead-hosting.com
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