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How to Select the Right e-Commerce Plugin for a WordPress Site

Here are four great WordPress plugins that can help you build your e-commerce site: Cart66, WooCommerce, WP e-Commerce, and Shopp. Each plugin differs in the way the store gets built and each is good for different purposes.

Cart66

Cart66 is an easy-to-use e-commerce solution that plugs into an existing WordPress theme with minimal tweaking required to get it to display correctly. You can sell physical or digital products, manage orders, sell subscriptions for members-only websites, and manage affiliates. This plugin isn’t free; you must purchase and download it from the Cart66 website, and pricing starts at $89. The Cart66 plugin requires manual installation via FTP.

This jewelry website, halliefriedman.com, uses Cart66.

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With Cart66, follow these steps to create a store:

  1. Install and activate the Cart66 plugin via FTP.

  2. Configure the settings on the Cart66 Options page on your Dashboard (choose Cart66→Settings) for your preferred shipping, payment, and shop management.

  3. Add products, including project images and prices, in the Products interface (choose Cart66→Products).

  4. Create a new post or page in WordPress about your product.

  5. Add the product info from the shop to your post by using the Add Product feature that Cart66 has added to the post editor.

WooCommerce

The WooCommerce plugin is a toolkit for WordPress that helps you sell anything on your website. The primary WooCommerce plugin is free to download, and after you have it installed, you can browse a full selection of extensions to add specific features to the WooCommerce plugin, such as

  • Accounting extensions

  • Marketing extensions

  • Payment gateway extensions

  • Reporting extensions

  • Shipping extensions

You can either download the WooCommerce plugin from the WooCommerce website or install it via the Plugins page on your WordPress Dashboard. The extensions, however, aren’t free — they must be purchased and downloaded via the WooCommerce website.

This plugin works well with a multisite setup in WordPress (which allows multiple sites to be created in a single installation of WordPress) and with the BuddyPress social community plugin. WooCommerce also makes it easy to spotlight different areas of your store, or individual products, with shop-specific widgets and short codes.

WP e-Commerce

The WP e-Commerce plugin is freely available on the Plugin Directory page. You can use the free version to sell products, manage sales and inventory, and run a full shop on your website; however, Instinct Entertainment, the developers behind the plugin, also have commercial upgrades available for purchase in their shop. The upgrades address further needs, as described in the following list:

  • Gold Cart: Extends the WP e-Commerce plugin by providing additional features, such as galleries, store searches, multiple image uploads, and additional payment gateway providers. Cost: $47.00.

  • Affiliate Plugin: Helps manage affiliates for your product sales. Cost: $47.00.

  • DropShop: Creates a beautiful drag-and-drop shopping interface where visitors can simply click and drag a product to the shopping cart for purchase. Cost: $117.00.

The WP e-Commerce plugin is a bit more challenging when integrating the shop and product pages into your existing WordPress theme, because it has its own set of templates that need to be configured and styled to coordinate well with your existing website design.

The dvDepot website sells DVD- and video-recording equipment via the WP e-Commerce plugin.

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Shopp

Shopp adds a feature-rich online store to your WordPress website with the installation of its plugin. Shopp costs $55 for single-user access and $299 for developer access. Shopp also has several upgrades you can purchase for $25 each for various payment gateways, shipping add-ons, storage engine add-ons, and priority support credits.

The Shopp plugin website states that the plugin works out of the box with no theme adjustments necessary; however, theme adjustments are required in most cases. Other features include

  • Theme widgets for shop-related items, such as featured and random products and product categories

  • Multiple product images

  • Product categorization, allowing you to create multiple category levels for your products (as you’d do for your posts on a WordPress blog)

  • Product searches

  • And more…

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