Cart66 is a little different from other WordPress e-commerce plugins because you get a suite of hosted services that take e-commerce beyond what you can do with a plugin alone. Here are a few things to know to get started.
- You host your entire WordPress site wherever you want – just like normal
- Use the Cart66 Cloud WordPress plugin to place product forms / add to cart buttons on your site
- You get a PCI compliant, secure hosted payment page. (You don’t need your own SSL certificate)
All of the design, layout, and content management is entirely in WordPress – just like all the other WordPress e-commerce plugins. The difference is Cart66 also provides:
- 100+ payment gateway integrations
- Built-in recurring billing for all 100+ gateways
- PCI compliant hosted payment page
- Tons of awesome e-commerce features
Let’s dive in to see how it all works together.
Install the Cart66 Cloud WordPress Ecommerce Plugin
The Cart66 Cloud WordPress ecommerce plugin is free and available in the official WordPress.org plugin repository. You install it just like any other plugin.
Log in to your WordPress admin and go to Plugins > Add New and search for Cart66 Cloud.
Click the Install Now button next to Cart66 Cloud :: Ecommerce With Security.
Create Your Cart66 Cloud Account
Next, create your Cart66 Cloud account. It’s free to try.
Now, copy / paste the Secret Key from your Cart66 Cloud dashboard into the Cart66 Cloud settings in your WordPress admin.
Now you’re all setup!
Developing Locally? No Problem.
Ideally, your WordPress website is online and can be reached over the internet by your Cart66 Cloud account. But, if you are developing locally (like with MAMP on your own computer that does not have a live domain name – such as http://localhost) you can still do almost everything. The few things you have to have a live site for are:
- Verifying your WordPress plugin
- Slurping your WordPress theme to design you hosted payment page
- Automatic product page creation / send to WordPress feature
You can still create product pages, add products to your cart, and checkout. So, feel free to get started working locally to build your site. Once your site is live online, you can slurp to skin your secure hosted payment page with your WordPress theme. Customizing your secure checkout page is a one-click process and just takes a couple mins while all your WordPress design files are uploaded and secured.
The Cart66 Methodology
The main principle behind the entire design of Cart66 is to use WordPress for everything it is great at doing. Then, add Cart66 to provide e-commerce functionality. In other words, use WordPress to design your site. Use Cart66 to add e-commerce features. This is a fairly big difference between Cart66 and other WordPress ecommerce plugins. While you can enable the advanced features of Cart66 to use custom page templates, the best way to use Cart66 is to rely on your theme for all the design and layout, then place Add To Cart buttons and / or product forms on the page.
This frees you up to use any additional plugins you want. For example, if you are selling photos, you may want to install a photo gallery plugin. There are already great plugins for that. Maybe you want to showcase your products with image sliders. There are great plugins for that too. For SEO, maybe you want to use Yoast SEO or maybe All In One SEO. Cart66 sticks with e-commerce features so you can use any other plugins to enhance your site.
Creating Product Pages
As we just discussed, Cart66 enables e-commerce features for any page or post in your WordPress site. So, creating a product page literally is the same as creating any other page or post, then adding your Add To Cart button or product form to the page.
Any Page Can Be A Product Page
Cart66 is designed to work cleanly with virtually all WordPress themes – including the theme you are already using. Designing a product page is literally the same as designing any other WordPress page. You can even use other plugins (like gallery plugins) to help decorate your page. Here is a quick demonstration of how to turn any page into a product page.
Cart66 Product Pages
Cart66 also provides a built-in Products custom post type for products. It defines a default layout and includes a built-in image gallery. If you like this layout, it makes creating a nice presentation for your product pages quick and easy. It also let’s you organize your products into product categories so you can easily display a list of all the products in a certain category – or group of categories – as we will see in just a moment.
If you are using the Products custom post type for your products you can organize your products into product categories, just like you would organize your blog posts into categories. Once you have assigned your products to categories, you can place shortcodes on your site to display your product categories.
In the same way that we set up Product Categories we can also set up Featured Products. We simply create a product category called “Featured Products” then assign the products you want to feature to that category. Products can be assigned to multiple product categories. Here is a quick demonstration on how to use featured products.
Subscriptions and Memberships
In Cart66, the difference between subscriptions and memberships is this:
Subscriptions: Automatically charge your customer’s credit card on a recurring basis.
Memberships: Do not automatically charge you customer’s credit card but still assign a length of time where the membership is active.
Both memberships and subscriptions can be used to sell access to content on your site. If you want to sell access to content on your site, you will want to install the free Cart66 Cloud Members plugin.
An example of a subscription might be if you wanted to sell web hosting with Cart66. You could set up a product for the hosting account and charge $25 / month. Every month your customer’s credit card will be charged $25 until he cancels his account.
You can also use subscriptions to sell products on a payment plan. For example, you could set up a product that costs $500 and sell it in 5 monthly installments of $100. That is a subscription where you set a fixed number of billing cycles.
A common way to sell premium WordPress plugins and themes is to pay a price and get a year of support and updates. At the end of the year you can choose to renew, but you are not automatically charged again. In Cart66 you can set up a membership for any length of time ( a month, year, etc. ) and the membership will be considered “active” during that time. You can then use this membership to sell access to premium content on your site.
Examples of Subscriptions and Memberships
You can use either memberships or subscriptions to sell access to premium content on your WordPress site. This could be access to streaming videos, news stories, a support forum, etc.
Online Magazine: Here is a quick demonstration of how to use Cart66 to run an online Magazine. These same concepts can be applied to any other scenario where you want to sell access to certain areas of your WordPress site.
If you also sell physical magazines, you could also set up a subscription for mailing out physical copies of your magazine as well.
Accept donations: Another way you can use subscriptions is to accept monthly (recurring) donations. Here is a demonstration of how to accept donations online.
Payment plans: You can sell products in monthly installments using Cart66 subscriptions as well. You can set a fixed number of billing cycles for the subscription. So, rather than billing your customer every month until the subscription is canceled, you can just bill the customer 5 times, for example. After the final payment the subscription stops and you customer stops being billed. Here is a demonstration of using Cart66 to sell products on an installment plan.
Both subscriptions and memberships can be used to sell access to premium content on your site. Subscriptions will automatically rebill your customers while memberships will not. You may want to use subscriptions for selling things other than access to your site’s content such as retainers, advertising on your site, web hosting, payment plans, or even shipping physical products like paper, printer ink or vitamins on a recurring basis.
Your Secure Hosted Payment Page
Perhaps the biggest difference between Cart66 and all other WordPress ecommerce plugins is that Cart66 makes your online store PCI compliant right out of the box. You get your own slice of our secure PCI compliant cloud server to host your payment page.
- You don’t need your own SSL certificate
- 100+ payment gateways built-in
- Recurring billing works with all built-in gateways (no add-ons needed)
- It looks exactly like the rest of your WordPress site
Your WordPress site has to be available on the internet so your Cart66 Cloud account can reach it to import your WordPress theme. Let’s take a quick look at how it work.
Things You Don’t Have To Worry About
We just looked at the most important thing you don’t have to worry about – PCI compliance. Your secure hosted payment page and your secure Cart66 Cloud account keep your customers and your ecommerce data safe. Cart66 also takes care of other things that you might not have considered yet.
Security: In addition to your hosted payment page, Cart66 also secures ALL of your ecommerce data. This includes all of your product definitions and prices, all of your orders, your customer data, and even the shopping cart contents. So, even if your WordPress site gets hacked, none of the sensitive e-commerce data is ever exposed. Simply restore your WordPress site and you’re back in business.
Customer accounts: You have the option to allow your customers to enter a password on the checkout page to create an account with your store. This will allow your customer to return to your site and view their order history as well as managed saved billing and shipping information for fast and easy checkouts in the future. Of course, all of this is safely hosted in your secure Cart66 Cloud account.
Digital file storage: When you are selling digital products, you want to make sure you store them in a way that is secure, fast to download, and won’t slow down your WordPress site. When you upload a digital file into your Cart66 Cloud account, we securely store and deliver your digital products on a content delivery network powered by Amazon. You can control who downloads your products and how many times they can be downloaded.
Email delivery: By default, WordPress will send all your email, like customer receipts, using the mail server on your web server. This is generally a bad idea because your emails are likely to be flagged as spam and not delivered to your customer’s inbox. Cart66 sends all your email through a business class, verified, authentic SMTP server to make sure your emails are delivered as fast and reliably as possible.
In addition to sending email receipts, you can set up some really advanced sales follow up emails. Here’s a quick demonstration of how that works.
If you have any questions, just let us know how we can help.