Selling with Wordpress

I've recently been working on a few different Wordpress commerce websites. What I have found is that it's not quite as simple as getting an eCommerce plugin installed and dropping in the payment details. There are a whole load of considerations that need to be thought of before a solution is even picked. Since I did the research to find out what was the best option, I thought it would be worth sharing.

You’re probably already aware Wordpress is a very versatile framework and offers a whole range of plugins and extras that allow it to be extended to cover almost any option of buying/selling. eCommerce is just the tip of the iceberg. Before I go into specific solutions I’d like to go over the key type of solutions available.

How to sell

Store

Users can buy your products/ services from your store. This is usually you selling to users, like a normal shop. When other vendors are on your store you’re looking at multi-vendor stores or marketplaces. Amazon or the apple store are good examples.

Multi Vendor stores / Marketplaces

Multiple vendors can sell products/ services and usually each vendor would get a store when they sign up (e.g. bob.store.com or store.com/shop/bob). The products can also be aggregated into a central store. The market operator usually takes a fee for signup and/or a commission on sales. etsy & redbubble & Amazon sellers are good examples.

Auctions

Users pay to list and/or pay a commission on the sale. Bidding and buy it now are the purchasing options. eBay is the obvious example here!

Classifieds

Like auctions in that users pay for a listing that lasts for a specific time, but there is no management of the final sale. This is like taking an advert out in a newspaper. The site takes a fee before a listing is posted. This could be one off or a subscription.

Blurred boundaries

Of course with the above examples there is some blurring of lines for example Amazon is an online store but it also has vendor stores. eBay is an online auction, but has marketplaces. They have a lot of programming resource! When dealing with Wordpress plugins, it’s best (for your sanity) to stick to one of the core types, that’s why planning what you actually want to achieve is essential before you pick a type.

As well as what you want to achieve, there is also the question of responsibility that you need to consider. When dealing with transactions you need to think how involved you would like to be. Auctions are famous for misrepresenting what’s being sold, so disputes over payment and products are an issue. With stores there are refunds to deal with. A classified is as simple as selling an ad/listing space and showing it for X amount of time, but it also has potentially less profitability. Your choice!

eCommerce solutions

With all the above said it’s time to cut to the actual plugin options. This is by no means a full list and is what I came up with while looking for a solution to an eCommerce project. * I haven’t tested all of these, but from my research these seem like the best options.

Stores

Multi vendor stores

Auctions

Classifieds

Classifieds WITH commissions

If your feeling clever and want to make payed shop listings with commission then I’d have a look at this blog post on creating a paid directory . I haven’t tested it myself but it looked like it has great potential. The plugins needed for the post are listed below 

  • Formidable Pro $50

  • Woo Commerce - $Free

  • Groups - $Free

  • Groups Pro for Woo $80

  • Total - $130

Notes

As a side note some of the selling options also have quite a lot of paid for add ons. These add payment gateways and extra features not in the core product. For example you can use add ons for software licensing that’ll allow you to sell software and keep only licensed users updated with new versions, or add other ways of paying that aren’t just PayPal!! I’ll go into that in a future post, but it’s worth doing some research on your intended selling platform in case you want/need to extend your offering in the future.

TL;DR

Plan out what you need now and in the future as much as possible. Checkout the support and extras for your shortlisted solutions. If you just pick a store plugin the chances are you'll be making problems for yourself down the line.

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