It all started innocently enough. With a desire to show you, the reader, how easy and fun it is to turn a regular WordPress site into an e-commerce machine. After all, every single Cart, plugin, or widget I looked at said EASY in huge flashing letters. So, how hard could it be? Then the plot thickens.
As you may recall, at one time I had a smooth, fast demo shopping cart on my site. You would think the choice would be clear. But oh no.
I thought it would be interesting to have WordPress itself do the heavy lifting, or at least a good portion of it. So I dumped the current test cart and sifted through all the various options of adding eCommerce to WordPress. I landed on Cart66. Great name, flexible and powerful. Had a whole bunch of cool state of the art features like One Click Facebook and Twitter Buy Now Links. And it seemed like a good idea to use their new PCI compliance system called Mijireh.
The first rule of good eCommerce is DO NOT STORE CLIENT DATA on my server. Ever. Period.
So I spent 2 hours on Mijreh site setting up stuff. Then an hour plus setting up some test items and the basic settings of Cart66. Then a call to PayPal to try and figure out what I needed from them to get all this other stuff to work together. (while on that call, I addressed an unrelated issue with PayPal which they solved super quickly)
All because I wanted WordPress to handle all the product input and organization. (still chasing that digital dream of one login to rule them all) Well, turns out Cart66 is like the only cart on the planet that does not have built in Category Pages for products. Digital SNAKEBITE! At its finest. Well, I do not plan to have many items so OK, I got past that. Sort of.
All these shenanigans were partly so I could avoid the $30/month charge that a REAL Payment Gateway always required. Plus all the various fees. And if you think getting a passport is a butt pain, then you have never tried to apply for an eCommerce Gateway. They want your DNA.
This particular snake bit me twice. It jumped up and bit me right on Time, and then had a quick second bite on Money. 5 or 8 hours I will never get back and yep, you guessed it, $66 dollars I will never get back. Ouch twice. (it is possible that I will put Cart66 to work in the future, alleviating some pain)
So, here is an important lesson: If you plan to have a real, serious, full time eCommerce website that has a large number of sales each week/month, get a real Payment Gateway right off the bat. Yes, it is a bit of a pain, but worth it. Authorize.net is good. PayPal Pro is good, and there are many others. If you have a physical store that already takes credit cards, then you already have a Gateway.
Important lesson part two: Although quite capable of basic eCommerce, WordPress may not be the best choice for a LARGE e-commerce site. And you know I do not like to admit that, but the truth hurts sometimes. Along those lines, the state of WordPress and e-commerce is constantly changing.
I really had hopes for Cart66. It is well supported. Seemed to have the right features. But not easy to work with. Or it could have been me. Sometimes the time is simply not right. I will revisit it in the future. Time changes things.
By the time you read this, I will have used the ECWID cart to setup some actual items on my site. Yes, by having them handle the setup of products and many other settings on their server, one gives up the level of control we have come to expect from WordPress, but the payback is well worth it.
Ease of use. Really. PCI compliance, choice of gateways. And oh yes, for up to 10 items, FREE. It really is a totally new breed of cart. And it plays well with Facebook. Very well. For a serious eCommerce business, that one feature alone can be invaluable.
So although my 15 years of web/Internet experience did not keep me from the wicked digital snakebite, maybe it helped prevent you, the all important reader/client, from the abyss that is eCommerce shopping carts. And ultimately, I hope it made me a better WordPress web site builder.
You may visit www.capewp.com/store to test out the cart. One thing that is not as smooth as I would like is that when using PayPal to checkout it takes you away from my site. Which, although totally secure, is not the way I want it. But to have it be “correct” is over $30 per month even if there are no sales. So I am going to wait on that.
One thing for sure, CapeWP never has and never will store your sensitive information on the server. PayPal is as secure as it gets, and you can even use your credit card without having a PayPal account.
This subject will be revisited from time to time.
See the new Premium Ad Space to the right! You may need to scroll up. How exciting! CapeWP’s first PAID advertising! I TOLD you this was going to be a year of BIG CHANGE!
A full WordPress web site is on the way, but for now all the info you need to get your truck lettered is there. Call Joe today!
CBO (Chief Blogger Officer)