I’ve been developing WordPress sites for about 6 years now and have dealt with a variety of E-Commerce solutions. I’ve created websites for people that want to sell site memberships, t-shirts, jewelry, food, and much more. Ranging in size from 1 product to 3,000 products. I can honestly say that I’ve never just stuck with one solution because frankly I have yet to find a product that covers everything my customers need. Needless to say, with pretty much every product I’ve dealt with, there has always been a need to debug, hack, and heavily customize.
So I was presented with a challenge from a customer that needed to migrate from an old Cube Cart store to WP E-Commerce. After doing a good amount of research for “WordPress shopping carts” I saw that one of the very first listings comes from the folks at GetShopped.org. It’s a very popular product and there have been a series of mixed reviews.
I decided to check it out. There are tons of features listed under their page. I went ahead and installed the free version just to see how it operated. It was very simple for the most part and during my testing I was able to accomplish just about everything.
In order to fully test the product I had to purchase the Gold Cart license so I could utilize Authorize.net payments. Everything appeared to be working on a simple level.
Migration and Customization
Then came the need to migrate 2,500 products from Cube Cart to WPEC. I purchased the Product Importer Deluxe plugin from Visser Labs. I will say that Visser Labs is definitely the leader in WPEC related plugins and certainly offers the best solutions for this product.
The customer had lots of specific needs. Such as table rate pricing, whole sale pricing for certain users, real time UPS shipping rates, product SKU search, and more. Their biggest concern was the SKU search. You’d figure this is a very simple feature. Unfortunately WPEC does not have built-in support for SKU search. So right off the bat I had to find a workaround.
No SKU Search
Since the SKU is considered basic post metadata, the solution to fix this can be quite simple. There are 3rd party plugins like Search Everything that provide this functionality. Unfortunately it saddens me to have to install a plugin to give me something this simple. But it had to be done. At this point I’ve already invested countless hours in to testing WPEC and importing thousands of products.
Fuck-ton of plugins needed
As the development of the site continued, little by little I found that for just about every crucial feature my customer needed, I had to purchase a plugin, or add something to my functions.php file, and even in certain cases hack the WPEC core files to customize things like my packing slip.
To date, I have purchased or purchased the following plugins to make the site even come close to meeting my customer’s expectations.
- WP E-Commerce – Manual Ordering (Allows admins to place orders on behalf of customers)
- WP E-Commerce – Product Imported Deluxe (Let’s you import tons of products)
- WP E-Commerce – Store Exporter Deluxe (Exports all the products along with details. Why is this a separate purchase?)
- WP E-Commerce – Store Toolkit (Allows you to wipe out everything in the store. Good for initial testing)
- WP E-Commerce – Wholesale Pricing (Let’s you specify special pricing for special users)
- WP E-Commerce – Premium Shipping (Create manual shipping rates based on weight, total price, location, just about anything)
- WP E-Commerce – Related Product (Displays related products)
- WP Paginate (Gives you page numbers to browse categories with lots of products/posts)
- WordPress HTTPS (Secures a post or page with HTTPS
- Hierarchical Pages (Simple widget that displays categories from a custom post type. You can pick and choose what to display)
- Email Login (Allows users to login with their email address)
I think this is a good start. There are other plugins I use too of course for non-store related management. But the list of extra crap I had to install just made me upset. Everyday I made progress, I realized I needed functionality that WPEC simply doesn’t have already built-in.
The default packing slip is total garbage. You cannot customize it at all within the admin areas of WPEC. You must hack the shit out of the packing-slip.php file located in the core areas of the plugin files. And to top it off, there are these terrible functions like print_column_headers() that grab a huge array of product details rather than just specific bits of information. So you can’t just remove the shipping per item column without breaking the table. You can’t upload a logo for your company to be on the packing slip. The font is fucking huge and my packing slips came out 5 pages long for people that only ordered 15 products. You want to customize it? Just buy another plugin!
I didn’t expect the world when I purchased Gold Cart for WPEC. It’s very affordable. But I also didn’t expect the plethora of problems I experienced, the countless hours I’ve spent research issues, trying to communicate on the useless forums at GetShopped.org, or purchasing support tokens at $47.00 a pop. Numerous users have reported that despite paying for support, it can take weeks or months to get a resolution thanks to dealing with candid tips that everyone usually tries before submitting support requests.
No Product Sorting or Filtering
A big issue that you’ll notice is that there is absolutely NO SEARCH FILTERING OR SORTING. If you want a serious E-Commerce solution, you MUST have filtering and sorting. This allows customers to filter products based on price, category, or anything you can think of. Or else you’ll spend loads of time figuring out a custom solution. Nothing exists for this, so don’t even waste your time.
Checkout Page Loop
After updating WPEC and Gold Cart to one of their latest versions, I noticed that my checkout page totally broke for some reason. A user would click on the “Purchase” button to submit their payment and the page would simply reload without any error message. For days our customers lost thousands of dollars because people simply couldn’t check out. As it turns out this is because there’s a bug in the “shipping” module for WPEC. If you enable shipping, the checkout page for those using Authorize.net simply doesn’t work.
There have been countless reports of this problem, and since 2012 the issue hasn’t been fixed.
You can see reports here: http://getshopped.org/forums/topic/enabling-shipping-breaks-checkout-as-of-3-8-9/
And here: http://getshopped.org/forums/topic/checkout-looping/
Unfortunately the folks at GetShopped.org are not very helpful on their forums. They will quickly place blame on plugin conflicts, theme conflicts, java conflicts, or anything of the sort despite people reporting clean installs of WPEC and experiencing the same problem.
The only solution was to revert back to an older version of the plugin that actually worked.
I could write forever about the struggles I’ve had with this product. I decided to use it because it looked very promising from my own demos and testing. But I didn’t realize how much hell I would have to go through to realize this wasn’t the solution.
So here I am nearly one entire year of using this product and I’m still using a 3 year old version of the plugin. There have been no updates or response from their developers as to what issues are being fixed or any hope for new and improved versions.
Take some advice from me and just don’t waste your time with this. If you’re in need of a serious E-Commerce solution, I probably wouldn’t recommended anything for WordPress at all. I use WordPress because it makes it easy for my clients to manage content. But there’s just not a good E-Commerce solution yet. Just use something like Magento. It will cost you an arm and a leg, but you get what you pay for. A complete solution.
If you’re going to be selling products online for your business you must properly invest in your technology or else you will just waste time and eventually lose money in the process. It’s not much different than buying or leasing a physical retail store. The location has to be excellent, the inside has to look classy, and it must be easily accessible to customers of all sorts.
Hopefully one day I’ll migrate this whole monstrosity to Magento or WooCommerce. I’ve heard great things about both. But either way when dealing with a WordPress site, don’t expect just one plugin to handle everything you need. You will need to customize, hack, and install 3rd party plugins. If you don’t want to do that, then simply don’t use WordPress.
I hope this has been informative and I’d like to thank you for visiting.