WordPress is one of the most widely used open source blogging and content management systems on the internet and is available as a one click install on UK2’s Hosting platform. The flexibility of WordPress has led it to be used far beyond its origins as a blogging platform and it is frequently used as a content management system for all kinds of websites. A less well know fact is that WordPress can also be used to create a fully functional online shop allowing you to sell products along side your blog.
Turing your WordPress site into an online shop will require a plugin which will add the required ecommerce functionality. Your choice of plugin to manage your online shop will depend on a number of different factors including:
- Number of products you have for sale
- Payment methods you wish to take
- Natural of products e.g. physical or digital
- Ease of use
- Growth plans for the business
If you are just looking to sell the odd product, a very simple setup (such as using Buy Now PayPal buttons) will suffice. However, if you are planning to sell in high volumes, a more sophisticated setup will be required. Before you start you should make a list of all your requirements and compare these against the available plugins.
Simple online shops using PayPal
PayPal is the most popular online payment system and provides a secure, one stop shop for online payments. There are two ways in which PayPal can help WordPress users sell through their sites:
PayPal Buy Now
PayPal provides a number of ‘Buy Now’ buttons which can be easily inserted into a post or page and when pressed take the user to PayPal where they can make a specified payment. These buttons are super simple to set up though naturally you will need a PayPal account. Buy now buttons are suitable for people looking to sell a very limited number of items (less than 10).
For those looking to sell more products, PayPal’s Website Payments Standard product provides simple checkout functionality where users can add items to a cart and them pay for them at the end via PayPal. The WordPress Simple PayPal Shopping Cart plugin is an easy to use plugin which enables this system to be set up on a WordPress blog by inserting ‘Add to Cart’ buttons on any post, page or sidebar. The plugin provides a simple basket and for the checkout the user is directed to the PayPal site.
Whilst Website Payments Standard is free and easy to implement it is not very flexible and gives the merchant only very limited customisation of experience, look and feel. You are also limited to accepting PayPal as a payment method.
Fully featured ecommerce Plugins
If you are looking to move your business beyond selling a few products you will need a plugin which offers the following features:
- Inventory management
- Managing orders
- Accept multiple payment types e.g credit card, PayPal, Google Checkout
- Customisable design
- Multiple shipping options
- Confirmation emails
There are a number of plugins which can enable sellers to use WordPress as the backbone of a sophisticated online shop. The ones I recommend are Jigoshop, eShop and WP ecommerce. These plugins are available for free with paid for upgrades and this model allows you to try out a plugin in depth before parting with any money.
If you would rather have a fully Ecommerce hosting package, please see UK2’s Ecommerce Hosting here.
Guest Blogger: Trevor Ginn is an entrepreneur and blogger and you can follow him @trevorginn. For his day job he runs the internet baby shop Hello Baby and the ecommerce consultancy Vendlab
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