There is a wide variety of WordPress ecommerce plugins available today and they each have different situations where they are best used. Let’s take a look at when Cart66 is a good fit for your ecommerce site and when you might want to choose a different plugin.
Just Sell The Product
Cart66 was designed to make it easy to put a product on a page and sell it. Back in 2008, I set up my first ecommerce site on WordPress. I had a partnership with a company that developed a new type of noise reduction headphones. Prior to my involvement, the company focused on selling their headphones through music catalogs. I got involved to help bring their product online. I wanted to use WordPress to manage the content and blog so I started looking for a way to add e-commerce to WordPress.
At the time there were two other e-commerce plugins: Shopp and WP Ecommerce. Both of those plugins were designed for people who had a large number of products to sell. The plugins presumed that you would have long lists of products organized into categories. There were features to sort products alphabetically or by price. There were lots of great features but the problem was I only had one product; these noise reduction headphones. I didn’t have product categories. Sorting alphabetically or by price didn’t make any sense for my situation. I just wanted to put my product on the page and sell it. In fact, I wanted to be able to sell the my product from lots of different pages of my website.
Put The Same Product On Many Pages
I organized my site into several sections. First, I had the home page that described how the headphones worked and displayed some high quality pictures of the headphones. I wanted to put an Add To Cart button on the home page in several location. I had a nice header section that summarized the main benefits alongside a detailed, studio image of the headphones. I wanted an Add To Cart button there. Then I had a more detailed description of how noise reduction works and why these headphones were so effective at blocking out noise. At the bottom of that description I wanted another Add To Cart button.
After the home page I built a demonstration page where I created some audio clips that showed how much noise reduction these headphones provided. One of the main audiences for these headphones was musicians who wanted to be able to sing and record their vocals without sound bleeding into the mic from the headphones. Keeping the sound in the headphones was just as important as keeping ambient noise out of the headphones. Of course, I wanted to let people buy the headphones from this page of the site too.
Then there was the blog part of the website. This is where I would regularly post articles on all sorts of things like what a decibel is, noise reduction vs noise cancellation, active vs passive noise reduction headphones, brand comparisons, etc. Sometimes I’d want to be able to put Add To Cart buttons on those pages too.
Not Using Product Pages
All this is to say that I had significantly different needs for my website compared to how the existing plugins were designed to work. That’s why I created Cart66. I wanted to use WordPress and normal, non-ecommerce themes, to build out my site. Then I wanted to place Add To Cart buttons wherever I wanted them. I didn’t have the traditional setup of product pages where you essentially have one page describing each product.
Secure Connected Services
As Cart66 matured and grew, we began to realize that there are some things you just can’t do with a WordPress plugin alone.
PCI Compliant Hosted Payments
For example payment security and PCI compliance were becoming a real challenge for people. So we introduced secure connected services to make it really easy to sell products on WordPress. With Cart66 Cloud, over 100 different payment gateways were built in so you didn’t have to worry with finding gateway add-ons. We also built in a secure hosted payment page system that takes care of all the security and PCI compliance requirements for processing credit card payments. In the same way that PayPal handles all the payment details, with Cart66 Cloud you can accept credit cards without even needing your own SSL certificate.
Business Class SMTP Server For Email
There are other things the go beyond what you can do with just a WordPress plugin. For example, sending email through a business class SMTP server so your receipts and customer communications don’t get blocked as spam. Another example is digital product security and delivery.
Content Delivery Network
With Cart66 you can sell both physical products and digital products. Selling digital products introduces the problem of how you securely host and reliably deliver the digital files. Cart66 hosts and delivers digital products for you using Amazon’s content delivery network. So, you don’t have to worry about how to host your digital products and they can’t be directly linked to and downloaded without paying first.
Built-In Recurring Billing
We also built in a recurring billing engine to make it easy to sell memberships and subscriptions. You can sell access to content on your WordPress site or you could sell a subscription to a physical product like printer ink, paper, or vitamins.
Combining Digital, Physical, and Subscription Products
All of these connected service and ecommerce features come together and can all be used at the same time. For example, you could sell a WordPress plugin (digital product), and provide a year’s worth a premium access to a support section of your WordPress site. Or you could sell a physical magazine subscription and a subscription to an online magazine. All of the tools for content restriction, recurring billing, and payments are all built in and work great together.
Product Catalogs and Featured Products
Cart66 also comes with tools to help you organize your products. You can create product categories and lists of featured products. It doesn’t depend on theme features either. So you can use any WordPress theme you want. You don’t have to look for a special ecommerce theme.
When Not To Use Cart66
Cart66 is designed for the types of people who might sell on Etsy and WooCommerce is intended for building out your own Amazon.com. In other words, if you have hundreds of different products you would be better off using WooCommerce. While we just took a look at setting up product catalogs and featured images in Cart66, Cart66 is not really intended to be a tool to build your own Amazon.com type store. Cart66 is really intended more for boutique stores where you want to provide a lot of information for a smaller number of products. There are no performance limitations to having lots and lots of products, but you will find that the overall design and workflow of Cart66 is better suited for people who have a few products and want to have maximum control over the layout and display.
There is a strong case to be made for not using an ecommerce theme because they can bog down your site and get in the way of your ability to design the layout of your product pages they way you want them. There are, however, times when an ecommerce theme along with a plugin like WooCommerce would be a good fit. Ecommerce themes tend to automate the creation of your product pages by giving you a predefined layout you can use for all your products. They also help with the categorization and organization of large lists of products.
If you have over 100 products and want your WordPress theme to help you categorized and organize your large list of products, Cart66 is probably not the best choice. If, on the other hand, you have a smaller number of products and you want maximum control over the layout of your content and products the Cart66 Would be a great choice. To wrap things up, here’a quick list of when Cart66 is a great choice and when you might want to look at other alternatives like WooCommerce.
Cart66 is good when:
- You have fewer than 100 products
- You want maximum control over the layout and design of your content
- You want security, PCI compliance, gateways, and other connected services taken care of for you
Cart66 may not be the best when:
- You have hundreds of products
- You want a solution that automates building product pages
- You want to handle security, PCI compliance, email services, content delivery networks, on your own.