Cart66 has been at the heart of WordPress ecommerce since 2008. It all started when I was found some noise reduction headphones that I wanted to sell online. I started to hand-roll another e-commerce site when I thought maybe I could build an ecommerce site on WordPress. At the time, there were only about three WordPress ecommerce plugins available. This is the story behind Cart66 and the unique approach we have taken to WordPress ecommerce.
The Beginning of WordPress Ecommerce
In the beginning, Cart66 was a stand-alone WordPress ecommerce plugin, just like all the other ecommerce plugins like WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, etc. Of course, neither of those plugins were around when Cart66 was first created. The only two WordPress ecommerce plugins at the time were Shopp and WP E-commerce.
Before I created the first Cart66 ecommerce plugin I tried to use the plugins that were available. I especially tried to get things working with Shopp because that seemed to be a really nice, good looking, plugin for creating an online store. The problem I had was that all the ecommerce plugins out there were assuming that I was building the next Amazon.com. They had all sorts of built-in features for product catalogs, sorting products by price, organizing products by category, etc. I only had one product that came in two different colors. The main purpose of my site was to educate people about my product so they would understand how my noise canceling headphones worked.
Just Sell The Product
The bottom line was, I just wanted an easy way to put a product on the page and sell it. I wanted to use all the awesome publishing power that WordPress brings to the table so I could create really rich content about headphones. I also wanted to be able to put my little product order form – basically an Add To Cart button with a drop down for color – on the page. If the page was long, I wanted to be able to put the product in a couple different, strategic locations on the page. Sometimes I wanted to link an eye-catching “Buy Now” image to the checkout page.
In other words, my primary concern was the information about the product, not all the features for managing a store with hundreds of different products. This is how Cart66 was born.
Problems With Using WordPress For Ecommerce
Two things happened at the same time that really began to highlight some problems with using WordPress for ecommerce. With more and more people selling things online it became obvious that there were some features that were very hard to configure – especially for a beginning WordPress user. The second problem was the growing concern of ecommerce security and PCI compliance.
WordPress Features vs Ecommerce Features
When it comes to publishing your content, WordPress comes with a ton of powerful features right out of the box. Embedding video, audio, photo galleries, slide shows, and blogging are all built-in. If you want to get carried away, there are powerful slider and gallery plugins available for showing off your products. But, when it comes to ecommerce, WordPress doesn’t have anything built-in for that. Ecommerce introduces a bunch of needs and requirements that are really hard – and sometimes impossible – to achieve with just a plugin.
For example, here are three types of ecommerce features that are a challenge to implement into WordPress are:
- Sending email
- Securing digital products
- Secure payments
Sending email is a problem because, by default, WordPress doesn’t have access to an SMTP server for sending email. This isn’t the fault of WordPress, it’s just a fact of how the internet works. WordPress runs on a web server and email is sent through an email server. The solution is to hook up your WordPress installation to an SMTP server. There are some great plugins for doing this like WP Mail SMTP which let’s you connect your WordPress site to any SMTP server. If things get really exciting for you, you can connect up to a transactional email service like SendGrid.
The problem is setting up that stuff takes some technical knowledge and costs money. A lot of people just want to have stuff work so they can focus on selling and growing their business.
Here’s a quick demo of how you can customize your email receipts. Further down this article, there’s another video about sending sales follow up emails.
Selling digital products is another example of a challenge with using WordPress for ecommerce. If you sell digital products there are a few things you probably want to control:
- Making sure people can’t download your product without paying
- Making sure the download is successful
- Controlling how many times a product can be downloaded
The temptation is to just upload your digital product into WordPress and putting it in the Media Library or some other folder that WordPress can put files in. The problem with that is that if people figure out where the file is stored, they can just directly link to it and download it without paying. There are ways to secure a folder so files can’t be linked to, but again, that takes some technical knowledge to configure.
Another issue is making sure the download are successful. To protect your digital products and to control the number of times they are downloaded, PHP streams the files down to the customer. This stalls out your site and can even cause broken or incomplete downloads if you are selling large files. To solve this, people tend to store their files on Amazon S3. But again, this requires some technical knowledge and setup.
Here are a few examples of selling digital products with Cart66.
Secure payments are the big issue when it comes to using WordPress ecommerce plugins. PCI compliance and payment security have become really important. There’s nothing you can do with a stand-alone WordPress ecommerce plugin to solve the problem of PCI compliance because those security measures involve server configuration requirements which are outside of what you can do with a WordPress plugin.
Using Cart66 For WordPress Ecommerce
The thing that makes Cart66 different from all of the other WordPress ecommerce plugins is our suite of secure hosted services. These services go beyond what you can do with a plugin alone and deliver a level of security and simplicity that you can’t achieve with any of the other WordPress ecommerce solutions.
We often say, “It’s better together.” We have brought together the three things you really need in ecommerce platform for WordPress – features, security, and support.
Cart66 is the only e-commerce plugin that includes secure, connected services to provide features that go beyond what you can do with a plugin alone. The most important thing Cart66 gives you with the secure connected services is security and PCI compliance. You get a hosted payment page that looks exactly like the rest of your WordPress site. The hosted payment page is hosted securely on your Cart66 Cloud account but it still uses your WordPress theme so it looks exactly like all the other pages of your site.
Cart66 also provides a PCI compliant, secure customer portal for your customers to view their order history and manage their account information. This is especially helpful if you sell subscriptions or want your customers to be able to store their billing information for faster checkouts in the future.
Another really nice built-in feature is the powerful customer notification center. This let’s you send timed follow up emails to your customers based on what they buy from your store.
All of the emails (customer receipts, sales follow up emails, etc.) sent by Cart66 are sent using a business class SMTP mail server. This dramatically improves the speed and reliability of your emails so that they don’t get flagged as spam.
Security for WordPress Ecommerce
Security is one of those things you can’t solve with a plugin alone. A plugin can’t make your site PCI compliant. It’s also not true that all you need is an SSL certificate.
If ecommerce security is too boring for you, we understand. You don’t have to worry about it with Cart66 because we handle all of those details for you. If you’re curious about PCI compliance, here’s a quick video that goes over the details.
The important thing is that you care about security and want your customers to feel safe and confident buying from you. So, we’ve developed the Cart66 security seal so you can show your customers that you’re serious about WordPress ecommerce security.
Support For Your Online Business
Support is a really important thing. Cart66 was one of the first WordPress ecommerce plugins and has been powering online businesses since 2008. We provide very in-depth support and are available to help you get your site online.
We offer a LaunchPack product where one of our WordPress developers will install Cart66 for you and make sure everything is working properly. We’ll even set up an example product that you can use as a reference for building out your store.
Here’s a quick list of the things we can help you with:
- Connect your WordPress site to your Cart66 account
- Set up your secure hosted payment page to use your WordPress them
- Fix any CSS conflicts between Cart66 and your WordPress theme
- Make sure your secure payment page has the secure SSL lock in the browser
- Create an example product in your store
- Adding view cart and checkout links to your site’s navigation
- Optimizing Cart66 setting for the types of products you’re selling
Cart66 For WordPress Ecommerce
If you’re looking to get your business online, Cart66 brings everything you need together. You get all the features developed in-house so everything works together seamlessly. You get the most secure platform for WordPress ecommerce including services that go beyond what you can do with just a plugin. You also get the best support. We’re available to help answer your questions and provide hands-on help to get your business online and running smoothly.