218 – ‘E’ is for eCommerce

‘A-Z of WordPress’ with Nathan Wrigley and David Waumsley

It’s another of our chats in the series called the ‘A-Z of WordPress’, where we attempt to cover all the major aspects to building and maintaining sites with WP.  Today is ‘E’ for…



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Ecommerce takes different forms in the WordPress space:

Personal Stories


I owe much to WordPress Ecommerce. If I had not run a WordPress shop for five years, I don’t think I would have had the experience with WordPress to build client sites. I don’t think I would have been able to have set up a part-time business that gave me the confidence to leave my primary job.

I don’t think most clients know what they are taking on when they first think about taking money online. They’ve likely not thought about email communication, refunds, data protection, accountancy, processing. They mostly just thought about money coming in (as we did)!


I am literally terrified of Ecommerce and all the hassles that it brings, which is why I simply don’t touch such sites any more. I know that the burden is easier in WordPress, but it’s just not something that I wish to be involved with these days. It’s curious that I have this level of anxiety about Ecommerce, but there you go. I’ll happily let others have that slice of the pie!

Points worth noting

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There are other open source ecommerce platforms (Magento and Open Cart) but none appear as easy as WordPress if you need something set up quickly and easily. In fact, platforms like Magento are a career all by themselves.

With open source software you can do things like change the checkout experience and change the entire shopping process. This might not be possible or incredibly expensive elsewhere when using non open source platforms.

You can keep all your accounts on one platform with WordPress too, but this ends up with a heavy database, but at least you’ve got all your eggs in one basket.

WordPress pricing has been erratic over the years. WooCommerce dropped the 50% discount and the bulk paying discounts. Easy Digital Downloads increased their prices on all extensions by 50-250% as an early Christmas present in 2016!

However, GPL gives us freedoms over budgets which proprietary systems will not. You don’t have to pay for support and updates. You just need to keep it maintained and well oiled.

There’s lots of responsibility with self hosted ecommerce. There’s the hosting itself, security, GDPR. The list goes on and on and you need to understand what you’re getting yourself into and make the time to keep up to date with any changes in legislation which might affect your website.

WordPress solutions are not created equally. What kind of knowledge do WordPress developers have before the setup? Most are fairly small companies. No consistency of quality in our industry and one site could be built ‘perfectly’ whilst another is just hanging on for dear life, just waiting to break on the next update.

But maybe those who feel safer with the likes of Shopify, Wix and Squarespace may like the GoDaddy deal with WooCommerce?

WordPress does not seem like the best fit for all industries. Hotel or multi room booking systems seem to be lacking. Appointment booking is also a little hard to navigate. That’s not to say that it cannot be done, more that it’s not as mature as a regular shop selling shoes or other widgets.

Ecommerce related

Plugins which offer simple payment options:

WP Simple Pay

Accept Stripe Payments

Gravity Forms / Ninja Forms / WP Forms / Fluent Forms

There’s a bunch of Stripe and Paypal addons for many other plugins – too many to mention them all here.

Extensions to build on top of other Ecommerce options:


There’s also many themes specifically built for WooCommerce:

Astra, GeneratePress, The Page Builder Framework, and most of the newer multipurpose themes have integrations with WooCommerce so that you don’t have to do much (if any) heavy lifting to get a decent shop off the ground.

Most of the modern themes, such as Blocksy, Kadence, Neve are supporting WooCommerce in their free versions (carts in the headers, easy ways to turn on and off WooCommerce features and rearrange things in the shop, archive and product pages, they even add in nice content such as security reassurances which are not in WooCommerce).

Flatsome has over 150K downloads!


WordPress has you well covered if you start with a regular generic site and later decide to take money online.

If you wanted a shop from the start or want to take money in a particular industry it is less clear if WordPress is the best solution. But you cannot argue that WordPress and Ecommerce are thriving and a healthy place to be right now.

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Transcript (if available)

These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.

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Nathan Wrigley: [00:00:00] Welcome to the WP builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Welcome your hosts, David Waumsley, Nathan Wrigley.
Hello there and welcome to the WP Build's podcast. Once again, this is episode number 218 entitled E is for e-commerce. It was published on Thursday, the 25th of February, 2021, my name's Nathan Wrigley, and a few bits and pieces just before we begin, if you like WordPress content, we produce a fair amount each and every week we do a podcast episode.
That's what you're listening to now on a. Thursday. We also do a, this week in WordPress live version of the WordPress news. That's on a Monday. And then we put that out every Tuesday as a video and audio podcast with associated show notes. If you want to keep in touch with all the things that we're doing, head over to WP builds.com forward slash subscribe.
That's a page with some forms. There's some lists on there, which you can subscribe to and we'll be able to keep in touch. There's also links to podcast players so that you can get your RSS feed sucked into your podcast player and listen to it on autopilot. Plus there's our very friendly Facebook group of over 2,800 very polite and friendly WordPress's.
So if you fancy a bit of that, WP builds.com forward slash subscribe. Another page to mention is WP builds.com forward slash deals. It's a bit like black Friday, but every day of the week, it's there all year, 365 days of the year. Those deals never go away. And so there's a significant amount of some notable work.
Yes, products and services. So if you're in the market for something this week, check WP bills.com forward slash deals and last, but my no means least I always mentioned the advertising page because if you have a product or service that you would like to put in front of a WordPress specific audience, WP builds may very well be a good fit that's WP builds.com forward slash advertise to find out more, a bit like AB split tested.
Do you want to set up your AB split test in record time? Like in a couple of minutes, use your existing pages and test anything against anything else. Buttons, images, headers, rows, anything. And the best part is that it works with element or BeaverBuilder and the WordPress block editor. Check it out and get a free [email protected].
Okay, let's get stuck into the main podcast. Shall we episode 218 E is for e-commerce each and every week at the moment, David and I are going through a series and that series takes us through one letter of the alphabet in order. So we're now made it to E and E is for e-commerce. Now this is a subject that I'm not that familiar with because I decided many years ago after doing some e-commerce websites, that all of the pressure and stress was a bit much for me, but it's not the case for David's.
Put many WooCommerce websites together. In fact, he claims that without WooCommerce, his journey in WordPress would have been cut very much shorter. So what are the options in WordPress for doing e-commerce? It's not all about WooCommerce. There's loads of different options. Absolutely. Tons of.
Different plugins that you can try. So we go through a whole list of those things that we've heard of things that we've tried, things that work well with those plugins. So for example, themes and things like that, and it's a lovely episode, I commend it to you and I hope that you enjoy it.
David Waumsley: [00:03:38] Hello. It's another of our chats in our series called the a to Z of WordPress, where we attempt to cover all the major aspects of building and maintaining sites with WordPress.
And today is the letter E four E by Gump. It's e-commerce I did that for you, Nate. Thank you.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:03:55] Yes. Being the auction and that I am that that's deeply offensive,
David Waumsley: [00:04:02] I looked that up the other day e-bike gum. I didn't actually know what it was, but it's really a polite way of saying, Oh my God.
Really? Yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:04:10] Oh yeah. It's a, it's just an exclamation of Ooh. Gosh, but nobody says it. I literally have never heard any body in Yorkshire say it would be just be so like typical, you'd have to have a cloth cap on and be stood next to a whip hit. All of this will be lost on our international listeners, who haven't the faintest idea of what we're on about, but it's called stereotyping.
David Waumsley: [00:04:35] Anyway, didn't mean to take us there. Let's talk about e-commerce then. So it takes different forms, doesn't it in WordPress. So we'll probably end up talking a lot about the kind of main players, things that create shops like we've commerce, of course, and we've got easy digital downloads, but there are a number of other things which we use vaguely too.
Allow people to purchase from our sites like Stripe and PayPal integrations that you find with forms. And then we've got other kind of industry specific plugins, such as learning management systems and messages, memberships, even appointments, which we talked about actually in our eight didn't we, when we're looking at appointments then so we've got probably quite a bit to cover.
Where do we want to start?
Nathan Wrigley: [00:05:21] Should we start with the personal stories about what we make or the e-commerce and how we've deployed it or used it or in my case, tried to stay away from it.
David Waumsley: [00:05:30] Yeah. For me, I was saying this to you earlier. I don't think I've been doing what I'm doing now, which is making clients sites.
If it wasn't for. WordPress e-commerce and this is actually before will commerce came along. I set up a site, which we've run for five years, which we converted to woo commerce. And I think without that experience, I wouldn't know enough about WordPress to be doing what I'm doing now. So it's played a key part, but like you it's something where I have a strange relationship with it, where I often see if it's e-commerce maybe.
Yeah, with press isn't the right place for you.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:06:08] Does that mean to say that when you first came across WordPress, it was because of an e-commerce website that you were setting up. For example, it might have been woo commerce or what have you. And that was what led you down the path of exploring what WordPress was made up of and how it was built and ultimately made it your career.
David Waumsley: [00:06:26] It's just one of those strange things. Started using WordPress just because I was interested in. Making websites anyway. And then I found, Oh, this is, this could work when it was still a blogging platform, really as a content management system to create this intranet that did.
So I learned a bit then, and then suddenly we had this idea that we'd have a little side income through a shop. And because I started with WordPress, I thought. Cause I wasn't gonna spend any money on this experiment. So I stopped, I started doing that and it worked and got me where I needed to, but I guess if I had bigger ambitions for this thing, maybe I wouldn't have started with it.
With WordPress. Yeah. I don't know really what kind of set me off, but it's just Oh, this seemed to be the new thing getting into e-commerce when we did
Nathan Wrigley: [00:07:12] it. I wonder if that's a fairly typical story. Actually. I wonder how many people have straight into WordPress, just because they've got a need for a shop, especially now, we're recording this in the middle of a global pandemic where a lot of businesses have gone online and you would have thought that.
Significant proportion of those will have chosen some form of woo commerce or while certainly a WordPress way of doing it. Just because it can host everything onto one website, your e-commerce plus your media blogging initiative and all of that kind of stuff. Yeah. I bet that's quite typical.
It definitely wasn't the case for me. In that I, I was using Drupal and Magento and at the time, and I'm sure that this is now no longer the case. Maybe it is. I don't know. At the time I was using something called Uber cart, which came, which is a Drupal module, which then became Drupal commerce. And actually it was really good.
I'm sure. In many ways it was a. A worthy competitor of WooCommerce on the Drupal platform. It came with its problems and you had to configure it quite a lot to make it work, but it worked with PayPal and it worked with Stripe and it did all the things that it needed to do. But the third party infrastructure, the third party options were far smaller because Drupal itself is smaller.
And then there was the Magento side of things. And if you've not used Magento, it's a fabulous tool for creating a an online e-commerce presence. But it also is. At least it was, and I have no conception, whether this still stands, it was a nightmare to make it look nice. And to configure that is to say that if you wanted it to in any way, stray from its default form, you had to spend a lot of time.
Learning how w Magento page was built and all these different template files. So many template files, and, you'd move something and the whole thing would break and you'd have to figure it all out. And there was poor documentation and I actually got a bit. Ticked off with e-commerce at that point, not only was it just ridiculously hard to do in it, not hard.
That's the wrong word. It was just massively time consuming, but it also coincided with me. I had. I had a few clients that were a bit needy and I hadn't really worked out at that point, my relationship with my clients and I allowed them to be needy. And so I ended up equating e-commerce with all the problems in my business.
So I made a decision many years ago now that I wasn't going to do. E-commerce basically ever again. And whilst that's not. 100% true. It is largely true. I've decided it's not going to be a part of my life going forward. So I'd just rather build normal websites with normal in air quotes, functionality. So everything that I say today is going to be really asking you questions and deciding what my opinions are based upon what you've got to say.
David Waumsley: [00:10:20] Yeah. And you know what, we didn't talk about this earlier, but if I'm casting my mind back to when I started doing that, there really wasn't. That much in WordPress, like there is now. So it's hard to conceive of if you've come into WordPress recently and the work really wasn't something like the competitors that there are out there and Squarespace and obviously Shopify being the big one, that kind of stuff.
But there was, I don't even know if it's still around, but there was WP e-commerce. I think it was called or WP commerce as a plugin out there. And You, it was a lot of work had gone into that, but it was so terribly buggy. I didn't start with that. I worked with it and it was really causing me so many problems before, we'd gone live that I switched over to a theme that.
That pretty much did what I wanted to do, but, it's early days I never had expected really. We were doing this as a side project because a friend of mine had set up shop and they were having some troubles would they, it wasn't on WordPress. And I thought I can do the same surely with WordPress and it's the early days.
And it's really hard to tie up when I started with. The options that you've got around now that you know, how big WooCommerce has become and how much is available for it just wasn't there in the early days. And no one, I think we had it back then really WordPress still was thought of as this blogging platform, which, you know, with aspirations.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:11:44] Yeah, I think some of my earliest forays not into using WordPress, but exploring whether WordPress could be a part of my life and business were around the time when. Woo themes were creating what became WooCommerce. And I remember reading blog posts. I think the guy was called, was it Addy P now, does that ring a bell?
Yeah, that's right by him as he and his team tried to create a viable e-commerce system within WordPress. And I remember. Reading, some posts where he was, apologizing is the right way to say apologizing for the delay in the expectation of the project. Sorry, the delivery date of the project, because the, they had expected it to be easier to build a viable e-commerce solution into WordPress.
And it wasn't, it was difficult and it was fraught with. Problems along the way. And so I think whatever they were hoping to deliver for their customers was taking a long time. But, so I came into WordPress at the time when. Existing solutions were fairly mature on other platforms, but WooCommerce was just starting to take off.
And there were certainly a lot of interest in it. I don't know at what point it got bought by automatic, but I know that at some point between then and now it was, and is now under the umbrella of automatic and all of the, all of that, that entails. Yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:13:08] Yeah. And that whole company the themes company came with it didn't they?
And it was about maybe three or four years after it was out in the wild. But yeah, it's a, it's really funny looking back because my friend who inspired it, me to try and look into e-commerce he had to pay, which seemed like a lot, maybe just over two years ago, maybe 12 years ago. About 2000 pounds and all the goal was very simple.
Site and somebody had added in this kind of PHP e-commerce script on it. It couldn't really do much. You could just basically buy and sell stuff. You couldn't put stuff in the cart. You have to add each thing in D Oh, you could in the cart, but you couldn't really look at your car to the end until you got to the checkout.
It didn't have a fully functional set up. So even then we, back in that time, not many people thought they could afford to do their own. Can it e-commerce shops. So that's, I guess what inspired me to do this and now
Nathan Wrigley: [00:14:05] yeah, there was all the difficulties as well. Oh, sorry. You carry on.
David Waumsley: [00:14:09] No, it's just that. Yeah. Comparing it. Now you can go along and you can find most of the new themes. We'll probably have some starter sites with e-commerce installed with some already mocked products in there and you can be up and running very quickly now.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:14:24] Yeah. And then of course there's all the anciliary stuff like the payment.
The ways of paying, notable examples being, striping PayPal, although PayPal's a different beast, Stripe just really revolutionized everything I think. And also, the ease now of getting things like SSL certificates, whereas once that was difficult and you had to make sure it was integrated and largely your SSL certificate probably only was enforced on the actual payment page.
And the website itself was probably not. Under SSL, just those kinds of things have become so trivially easy now that the barrier to entry is so significantly lower, by just by using Stripe, you basically remove just about every piece of litigation that you can undergo in terms of payments and yeah.
But what back when I was building Magento sites, there wasn't that there was still significant problems, which you could face. If it wasn't implemented correctly and if the SSL certificate didn't work and remember, we use things like Sage pay and things like that. And we had to purchase all these things party out on spot for Magento, and it was difficult to bolt together.
So yes, significantly easier now than it ever has been. In fact so much so that I would say I could put a novice in front of a computer. And, let's bypass the installing WordPress bit. I think they could probably have an e-commerce website done with WordPress selling two or three products with a couple of variations in a morning.
David Waumsley: [00:15:57] Yes. And you're right. I think with let's encrypt with free SS L certificates made a big difference as Stripe, because remember writing a book post, I think still on my blog about this, trying to point out all the things that somebody needed to think about before. They got into kind of e-commerce this complexity that was there before and that's just stripped that way.
Now somebody can just get up and running. But yeah, my friend, it was a big deal. You had to get some. They had to be a bank that had to be as merchants. So we could take money online. And there was such a palava that, all of
Nathan Wrigley: [00:16:32] that. Yeah. Not forgot the technical side. Yeah. You needed a merchant bank account in your, a special type of bank account.
Whereas now you can literally go into Stripe and type in your eight digit account number and sort code as we use in the UK. And that's it. You're done.
David Waumsley: [00:16:48] Yeah. Yeah. So much easier, but it's not
Nathan Wrigley: [00:16:50] blue commerce, is it? There's more there's others.
David Waumsley: [00:16:53] Yeah, because you avoid these things, but you're quite happy to use something like easy digital downloads on it.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:16:59] Do you know what? I think it is literally e-commerce shops that, that wouldn't worry me and I'm, I know that's irrational, but it's just, I figured that. I'm not really, I haven't really thought about this, a great deal, but I think this is how my brain is playing it. That the multiple different options that you can have in an e-commerce shop, let's say, for example, you're selling, I dunno, t-shirts each one has got various different options, sizes, colors, fabrics, and all of that.
Each one could come in, a different pricing regimes, depending upon where it's being dispatched to and all of that kind of stuff. But what I'm trying to say is the complexity of e-commerce is. It's so easy to just heap upon itself. You suddenly got an e-commerce shop. WooCommerce can handle all of these things.
And so you do them, you, yeah. I'll put all the color variations on there. Yes. We'll have a table rates thing for shipping so that we can price differently at different times of the year into different destinations in on the globe, depending on the tax regime, where it lands and finally ships to and all of this and all of a sudden.
That just strips away the joy of it for me, that I just got fed up with doing that, all that boring stuff. And I actually just like building websites and the e-commerce side of things, just ground me down. Didn't enjoy it. It created anxiety. I was running my own servers at the time. So that was another level of stress because some of the sites that I built with w with I'm sorry, Magento, they could handle.
And they weren't handling, especially around the Christmas time many tens of thousands of pounds in a week, and sometimes in a day. And I could feel that anxiety. If it goes down, that's my fault. And of course it isn't my fault and I should have built the relationship up so that it wasn't my fault, but I felt it whereas like easy digital downloads, it just feels like it's a super stripped down version.
Usually it's, I don't know, it might be a PDF or a song or whatever it might be, but it's something digital. There's no shipping involved. There's not much in the way of variations. It's just. Easier. And yeah, maybe if somebody came to me and said, I've got a, I've got a requirement to build a WooCommerce shop, but I only have three products and there's no variations.
Probably have less anxiety and be happy to do that. Whereas. The typical WooCommerce shop and the expectations of customers require there to be permutations for everything means that I'm just pushing that work away whenever it comes my way, I suggest other alternatives which we'll get to.
Yes, I think it's because things are easy. Digital downloads, just deal with an easier set of things. I know it's capable of doing tremendously complicated things, but I haven't used it for that. But I also think,
David Waumsley: [00:19:43] That you probably get the same headaches as well. If you're looking at other systems that take payments, like your learning management system, so your management setups again, they can be really complex things which the client will depend on.
So they worry me just as much as say, using woo commerce. Does.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:20:03] I think another thing that worries me is the updating process. So a really good example of that would be an update to WooCommerce. Now, I'm sure we'll get onto your stories of real dilemmas and problems with WooCommerce updates over the years, but with a regular website or even something where you've downloaded a few PDFs or songs or whatever it might be that's fairly trivial to roll back.
A backup on, whereas something like an e-commerce shop that's had typically, I dunno, it might be 3000 transactions since yesterday. I know that is probably quite extreme in most cases, but it's possible that's much more difficult and it felt like somebody like me, an individual is not, I can't really wear that.
A team of WooCommerce experts. Yeah, of course. But it just didn't feel like the right fit for me.
David Waumsley: [00:20:55] Yeah, mobile. I go through the same thing. So perhaps, we're better serving less successful sites.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:21:01] Yes. That's it. What we need is a raft of really unsuccessful WooCommerce sites so that we can sleep at night.
It's got nothing to do with the customer. It's all about us and being able to sleep at night.
David Waumsley: [00:21:14] Yeah. What I got, I think from maybe four years of running WooCommerce on our own shop was a bit of an understanding about the fact that you couldn't do many changes and see that they would stay in place on the update.
So I realized pretty quickly that if you wanted to extend upon what you had, you probably best off doing it through extensions and you would need to pay a certain amount for that. And without going through that experience myself, I don't think I would have been in a very good place with. Clients and recommending it because I would have probably done my first tweaks.
So things they know are they looked around for snippets. So something very simple things I've done over the years when somebody says, they want say that title on that, on the shop page and that they've got an image of the product and they've got the title. The title is by default, I think, below the image and they wanted it above it.
Yeah, that would be an easy thing to do. You'd find a snippet. You would put it in place in your child theme and then next update find it would be broken because there would be some, so many changes to it. And it's constantly that kind of simple thing that you would need to make changes on that I quickly concluded that the only way to work with WooCommerce was to buy the extension.
So that's somebody else worry about those changes.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:22:33] Yeah. So obviously again, from a position of ignorance, you hear a lot of people talking about things, breaking when WooCommerce updates, but if, is it true to say that if you simply had a vanilla install of WooCommerce over the years, would the updates have broken Anon?
Tampered with version of WooCommerce. D was there anything in the history of WooCommerce updating, which literally destroyed normal websites that hadn't amended things? Or is it just the case that you had gone in made some minor altar alterations, which in most cases I suspect what to do with the visual way.
The site looked, the button up there instead of down there and the image to the right instead of the left, that kind of thing. And you'd gone about it in a way, which. You didn't know, would be broken on a future update. Is it which one of those is it?
David Waumsley: [00:23:25] I think it's very reliable.
I've never experienced it breaking stuff that is in there by default. It's only when I've used. The commonly shared snippets out there that they no longer apply any longer. You want to move things around with things that I really shouldn't mess around with. Cause I don't understand well enough, using the actions and filters to change things around that's, what's broken.
There is a good side to this these days. You can, it's fairly rare with the, even the. Free themes that are out there. Now, most of them have got pretty good integration for the kind of things that I would want to move around. So something like wanted to move the title would be just something that we'd find in many of the themes now.
And that would be up to the themes to update and change things as we changed. So I guess. Techno technology sorting that out. But yeah, reliability, I think was there for the core plugin itself, the issues come when you try to tamper with it or make your own customizations.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:24:23] Yeah. So you're entirely happy with the way the core updates.
And also sounds like the ecosystem has really. Played along and develop new. Let's say themes for want of a better word. Cause I guess that's what we're dealing with. That, that you can adapt and modify the way your cart pages look and whatever pages that might be in WooCommerce. You can adapt those inside the theme settings, perhaps in a visual like Wiziwig, like the customizer or something like that.
And all of that is done trivially. And do you find yourself. Straying outside of those things anymore. Do you even use a theme that does that or do you just know they exist?
David Waumsley: [00:25:01] Yeah, I use a theme that works well with commerce anyways. So most of the things that I need, think what, maybe this is the problem we both have with it sometimes is that you never know quite where you're going to go when somebody has a shop, if a shop starts to do well.
Yeah. It's like one of my clients very happy and they were fine with the default core plugin. It got them started and their business was doing so much better, but as they've gone along, they keep finding things that then that they need as they have a little bit more success and it starts to really stretch what you can do.
And I think that's. The bit that gets me with stuff. So the client that I've been working with is really quite smart, but, he's realized that he could speed up his process by you recently, we are adding in some additions to his checkout page, so he could allow people to select the time when things were delivered, which was particularly handy to them.
And then they wanted a much. That's a way to be able to ship stuff out. So they needed this on another platform and these things keep going on and on with this, the checkout page, which generally you can't do many changes where if you'll go to some third party solution out there without paying a lot more, you can do in WooCommerce, but it leads you down to areas where you think, gosh, I didn't know I was taking on this kind of, all these extra responsibilities.
It worries me that I can put things in place. With different, ad-ons but they can, that's where you start to get issues, I think with WooCommerce, because you can get conflicts between independently created extensions for WooCommerce. Yeah, I
Nathan Wrigley: [00:26:39] think this is why I just stay away from it all because I would definitely be in the realms of trying out different third party solutions.
And then all of a sudden I'm into the domain of trusting that they will update before we, that they're doing their due diligence so that if we've commerce has a change, which may break something in that third party plugin, the developer of that third party plugin will have taken the time in advance to fix it, update it, such that.
It's okay. I know. And it's just more reliance upon people who are not me. And as there's only me, that becomes a stretch. If there's a team of people and you've built this stuff yourself and develop unique solutions, I'm sure this would work. But our audience, I think is very much made up of a lot of freelancers, as well as some people working for agencies.
And perhaps they can understand where I'm coming from as well. I
David Waumsley: [00:27:27] think this conversation is quite good for anyone who has been working with WordPress, but it hasn't yet got someone. It hasn't built a shop with WordPress to know what the kind of thing that comes up and. In terms of the client, the other week actually asked me to restrict the amount of characters that someone could put in on the checkout, whether it's the little blocks box that says notes on the delivery and they wanted to restrict that.
And they actually gave me the script, which was a bit of a JavaScript way of doing this, which I knew would work, but I thought I'll go and look at the word commerce solution. And I found a blog post, which was creative within the year. By somebody who's always sharing snippets on the word commerce, but again, that didn't work.
And I think that's what I've always found right up to the present date that anything that's shared for doing your own customizations pro you can't rely on that. Yeah, that is something you have to take on, I think with would commerce. And if you don't tell a client that's their expectation with it then I think.
It becomes quite tricky and certainly I've always made sure that when it comes to taking on woo commerce, it's. Their shop. They've decided to go with full information that it's, WordPress, I'm not taking on the kind of responsibilities of WordPress and the changes that might be made. I'm just there to support them as somebody who uses WordPress and can look after their sites in terms of hosting and updating things.
Yeah. Yeah. So I that's how I've got out of it. Most of the time with this just saying, it's their shop.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:29:01] This is fully the mistake that I made, which is the reason I dislike e-commerce though. I just, hadn't got to the maturity in my own mind of realizing at that point that I could say, okay, I've built this.
And although you're paying for hosting. And you are paying probably in most cases it was actually just hosting. I just hadn't made the mental leap to, to figure out that I could tell them that, if they were breaking changes to third-party plugins, that was just something that either have to pay for, or get onto a website care plan, website care plans.
Weren't even a thing in my brain at that point. And yeah. I totally took on the responsibility when it went wrong as if I had caused the problem. And yeah, there's the mistake that I made. And I hope that if you're building e-commerce solutions for people, you don't make the same mistake, make sure that you've figured out at the beginning where the boundaries lie, what your responsibility is and what their expectations are.
And if something breaks that is outside of the boundaries of what you've set up. You can feel comfortable going to the client and saying you're either going to pay me or you're going to live with the breakage that has happened because it wasn't me. You'll need to have it fixed, but you'll need to pay me to do it.
And you'll need to just wait until such times as I'm free or have them on your care plan. And, they can give you a retainer and have some of your time and guarantee that you can fix things within whatever your contract says. Yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:30:29] Do you not think that perhaps automatic as a company are already, if you like force in it being a personal relationship with them when it comes to these extensions because they dropped That kind of bulk extension, the discount that you could get if you bought multiple extensions for clients, and they've also got some kind of partnership with GoDaddy as well, where they provide them, do not feel that automatic in some ways that not particularly encouraging of us taking on the responsibility of using this software for clients.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:31:04] it's interesting because before we started this recording, we had our usual chatting occurred to me that there really are two sides to this. There's the WordPress side. And then there's the woo commerce side. And for me, the WordPress side is all about the code, the GPL the fact that it's built by a community, or at least, largely built by community.
And it's all freely available. And. Do what you like with it and so on. And I feel that there's a difference, and I know that WooCommerce is available under the GPL and so on and so forth, but it does fail it, that arm of things is a for-profit bit. Whereas the WooCommerce, sorry, the wordpress.org side of things really isn't, that's much more open and false if you like, but it feels to me.
Yeah. That will us, perhaps isn't, it, its intention is to make you money and in return for that it expects money, but it is a difficult one, when they take away things that you've become accustomed to like bulk discounts and possibly, change the way that you pay for things or the the way that your subscription works, your 50% off doesn't exist anymore.
If you're renewing. Yeah. It causes. It causes anxiety, doesn't it? And it causes people to question whether they should be using these things. But I guess you could come at it from both sides. It, the WordPress thing is a false thing. And the WooCommerce thing is about making money. And I guess like working from the mantra charge, what the market can bear, and I'm guessing that even amongst all these changes, it's still a very profitable bit of automatic WooCommerce that is.
David Waumsley: [00:32:39] Yeah, I was disappointed, I guess when I thought it was good news when I heard the automatic had bought WooThemes and inhabited were commerce. Cause what I expected actually was because of the mantra for WordPress been about democratizing publishing, I thought what it would try and do is.
Find a position where encouraged more people to just start up, even if they weren't going to be profitable in using e-commerce. And actually it's gone the opposite. In fact, it's much more expensive now the prices have gone up anyway for the extensions, but also they dropped overnight. The 50% discount used to get for the kind of loyalty being with them.
I thought, wow, this has gone the absolute opposite to what I would have expected. They would have done with it because I would have thought that the only platform that could perhaps go that route. So when I started and it was just an experiment to see if we could set up a shop. If there was any money I'd have to outlay in the first place, I probably just wouldn't have even done it.
So even though it's quite cheap to go with something like Shopify, it's going to $25 a month. It's probably going to take me the whole year before I'd get the shop up and running. So I wouldn't want that to bear that cost, but I might experiment with setting up my shop and see how it went. If it was all free, I guess you could still do that.
The basic stuff is there for free.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:34:01] Yeah, I think that kind of segues quite nicely into the whole debate about whether you would advise people to use WooCommerce or a WordPress based solution, no matter what no matter what it is, whether it's downloading digital products or having a full blown shop with delivery of physical goods and so on, because.
The reason I say maybe a nice segue is because, if the pricing changes over time and it frustrates the user base, and if the code in this case is modified in such a way that your, excuse me, your snippets break, are they. Are they in effect pushing you into the open arms of these third-party platforms, the Shopify guys, and the other different solutions that you can find big commerce and so on, you wonder with price increases in the Wu space and so on.
Are they making it an easier job for us just to go actually don't use WordPress, just go to Shopify because to some extent that is my default position at the moment, if somebody comes and says, can I have a an e-commerce shop? I'm happy to forward that work onto other people, but if they're not fast either way, or if they won't work with anybody but me, I had somebody not very long ago, who definitely wanted somebody that they could see in the physical world when COVID is all over, they want a local person.
It's just easier for me to say, just get yourself a Shopify site, pay the $20 a month and just have no hassles with it. It'll just work. You'll be fine. And it does everything that you need.
David Waumsley: [00:35:29] Yeah, I think it's really hard for. For us, we wouldn't be trying to get clients and we need to make some money out of what we're doing.
I don't think they've made it very easy for us to do that because it does change all the time. And you probably going to need your clients to have that relationship directly with automatic through buying their own plugin. So I D it does lead you that way, but, I think there is still a type of person who.
It suits. We've always got the one thing and it still is, the license is always there. The cost of extensions is quite high for many who might just want to start, but just to start you've maybe don't need those extensions. So that's, it's perhaps a good way to get in. And if you've got the right type of person who understands and is quite interested, Like I was in, in trying stuff out and working with WordPress, then that's fine.
But I think the relationship with a client is very different to a regular site. Maybe you give them a page builder and show them how they can change their blog posts or a few bits of text on something on their site. That's different if they get into e-commerce, there's so much, they need to learn themselves.
Much more because just it's self training, somebody to go through the process of being able to do a refund on something like woo commerce. It's not. That easy to understand you. Can't just understand how that works itself. If you're doing something else, such as subscriptions, how they interact with your payment gateway and how you should go about refunding in those circumstances, how are new orders created for the next year?
It gets really complex. E-commerce really is only for people. I think who. And that I don't think most people understand that, prepared to put a little bit of work into it and understand. You know how the system works. Yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:37:14] Yeah. Especially on the WordPress side, there's great benefits to be had.
It is always amazing to me though. There's just a range of different options that we've touched on them at the very beginning, just the fact that you can have all these different types of e-commerce transactions in WordPress, you've got your, your. Store selling variants and shipping all over the place.
You can download goods. You could go for a, like a membership type of option where you could do bookings and appointments through it. All. You could set up a course with an LMS and, integrate third party systems like Shopify and. Big commerce and all of that kind of stuff. Like we said, at the top, for me, the most common use case I've got for any kind of e-commerce is just using something like gravity forms or in my case, I'm using fluent forms more now, or just having a PayPal or a Stripe integration, which comes with.
That and just having a field on there because that's most of what I'm doing. Sometimes I take money for a particular project often. I'll just do that and say, go to this form and fill it out. That kind of thing works for me mostly. And it just works a hundred percent effectively every time.
And it's e-commerce, but it's, there's just no headaches and no hassle setting it up. If you can create a form, you can do this.
David Waumsley: [00:38:27] Yeah. And in fact, I only really know gravity forms, but it's very easy to set up a kind of multi-step process. So it really feels like Keke almost. So if you've got simple products, I, I would have no fear about that kind of thing.
Putting everything through Stripe and just as a kind of simple form set up. Yep. Yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:38:47] And now I for a lot of the projects that I'm doing, my online bank now provides me with a customized home page. It's got the bank's name.com forward slash I can't remember what I've put, but let's say for example, it's Nathan Wrigley and you can go there and I can.
Append a number to that, like 250. And it will ask as soon as you arrive to pay 250 pounds and it'll go straight into my bank account. There's no Stripe fees. There's no nothing. And I'm starting to use that more and more because it's. Trivially easy to do the money arrives straight away. I get a notification on my phone to say that it's happened.
The paper trails all held by the bank, which ultimately is the custodian that I want to have. Looking after this, not some sort of database on a hosting company. And and I'm probably protected. I use the I'm not through other third party systems.
David Waumsley: [00:39:43] Yeah, exactly. One thing we didn't talk about earlier, but it's out there and you've had you interviewed, I think the guy from WP simple paid, they're not the only solution out there, but there are Stripe payment plugins.
Aren't there. Yeah. We'll
Nathan Wrigley: [00:39:57] work. Yeah. And it's like just one thing. And they do it simply is just to put up a form on your WordPress website. I would imagine that buying now the functionality of those plugins is far greater than literally putting a form up. But that is ostensibly what it started out to do.
And at the time, yeah, that was more difficult than it now is with plugins. I think a lot of that is now covered just by form plugins, but maybe there's more to it. Maybe they can set up recurring payments and things that perhaps form plugins can't. Yes.
David Waumsley: [00:40:28] I think they can now I think most, I think gravity forms can deal with that, but that is the interesting thing because now Stripe will allow you to do its own subscriptions through it.
And I think, the plugins that go with that, and I think the format ons as well allow for that as well, but set up. Yeah, so we're getting more out of WordPress core itself and onto our payment providers, Stripe are going to have such a monopoly over as
Nathan Wrigley: [00:40:52] well. It's interesting because in easy digital downloads now have their own payment system as well.
I can't remember what it's called. Maybe somebody listening to this can tell me, but I got a notification the other day that I was about to pay somebody through the Sandhills development payment network. And so now you can use that and it cuts all of that stuff out. I was just gonna flip through my emails, but that could be a horrible, burdensome process.
I might even have deleted it. I think it might be called something like payouts service. Something like that. But it's made by Sandhills development. And I don't know if it's leveraging something like Stripe in the background. I've no idea, but you can use this instead of using Stripe. Yeah, you've got to imagine a company with so many accounts, like easy digital downloads, pulling something like this off seems like a bit of a no brainer.
They can do all of the the due diligence and get their code all checked out and make it a payment gateway payouts service is what it's called. I should explore that more before I talk about it, but it seems that it's like a way that you can pay through EDD and there are other products like affiliate WP, perhaps.
Totally. Obfuscating the, sorry, not obfuscating, removing the need to pay Stripe. The two point whatever percent it is. Maybe some tools development or getting it. I'm not sure.
David Waumsley: [00:42:18] I do think there's a bit of a weakness in WordPress when it comes to e-commerce for certain industries. I think I've mentioned this before.
If it comes to some kind of hotel or anything where you've got a multi-room booking system, there really isn't that. Th there isn't one product that you can say. Yeah, that's the product you can go with. It's going to take care of that in WordPress. Yeah. That's true. And I'm sure there are, yeah, there are other areas.
I'm sure there are other industries where that just isn't the solution. There. Isn't an e-commerce one we're looking for. Yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:42:48] We have a lot of local little hotels in my neck of the woods and it would seem that. Kind of payment system is really taken up by the third party systems.
Where you can get maps of your hotel and create occupancy, different rates at different times of the year. And it will work out if if a particular room is available at a particular rate on my particular day. And I don't think I've seen anything like that in WordPress. I bet you I'm wrong though.
I bet you, there is something that does it, but I don't know of it.
David Waumsley: [00:43:18] Yeah there are some that attempt to do. And they're probably very good. I don't know. But I think in fact, I bought one of them and I can't remember who they Moto press. I think they're lead in when it comes to the hotels, because they've got that ability to be able to search through your rooms.
And they've got that ability to be able to link up as well with other services. So you can most political. Appetite, but it's quite, I think it's quite cumbersome in WordPress and maybe WordPress. Isn't so great for it because has to do a lot of database query and to connect everything up within WordPress and I, so I'm not sure if everybody's covered really. Yeah. You're starting
Nathan Wrigley: [00:43:55] to raise my anxiety levels again. Now that you've mentioned all of the different things that need to happen from a WordPress database to make a successful transaction on a room at a rate on a date, suddenly I'm thinking, Oh, is this the right thing?
Is this the right place to put your hotel's business on a WordPress website? Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't.
David Waumsley: [00:44:15] Yeah, you're just, if you're for male point of view, people who are serving clients, you really definitely would want to put that responsibility. If you were testing this out, you would, I suggested this to a client before and it never really took off because she wanted to get off her payment system.
And I just said, we can do it, but, I just don't know how much I would trust any system to be reliable through this time. So they would have to go on the journey with me, yeah. But I, I think when it comes to. This is where I think WordPress does. If you want to experiment with starting up a shop, it's so easy now to get a free theme, which will work very well with WooCommerce.
The core plugin itself seems pretty reliable. And with many of these kind of templates or things that go with themes now where you can just one click and have a site there you could get started. Can you. Yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:45:07] And that's what it's all about. Really? Isn't it? Yeah. WordPress presses, I think often the place, the final destination, but it's, I would imagine in many situations, it's the starting destination and, it's where you begin perhaps your e-commerce journey and who knows you may stay with it, or you might go somewhere else.
Wow. So much to, e-commerce probably a bunch of things that we got wrong and also a bunch of things that we missed out. Do you think we're done.
David Waumsley: [00:45:31] I think we are. Oh, so are yeah. Next week. We're onto F aren't we, which I did write down it's for forms. Yes. I think you're
Nathan Wrigley: [00:45:40] going to say something rude at this point, but a word which Springs to mind, and it's the word forms F is for forms, right?
We'll tackle that in a fortnight as always put some comments down in the the section underneath the show notes on the website or go to the Facebook group, but nice chatting to you again, David.
David Waumsley: [00:45:59] Yes. Thank you. Bye bye.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:46:02] As always, it was an absolute pleasure chatting to David Wamsley. We do these discussions every other week, and then we intersperse those with interviews where I interview somebody in the WordPress space.
And so next week you will get an interview, but it was very nice talking about. E-commerce with Dave this week. If you've enjoyed the podcast and you'd like to subscribe, do so by going to WP builds.com forward slash subscribe, or just go and search for WP builds in Google or in your podcast player of choice.
Don't forget. We've got a Facebook group. WP builds.com forward slash Facebook where you can hang out with some very polite word pressers, and we will be back. Producing some more content for you next week. Like I said, a podcast next week on Monday, we have the live news that's WP builds.com forward slash live 2:00 PM.
UK time. I'll be joined by Paul Lacey and some other notable WordPress guests or guests for our this weekend WordPress show. We then put that out as a video and audio podcast. So we try to cover all the bases, but all of that's happening in the weeks to come. The WP build's podcast was brought to you today by AB split test.
Do you want to set up your AB split test in record time? The new AB split test plugin for WordPress. We'll have you up and running in a couple of minutes. Use your existing pages and test anything against anything else. Buttons, images, headers, rows, anything. And the best part is it works with elemental, Eva builder and the WordPress block editor.
You can check it out and get a free [email protected]. Okay. Like I said, we'll be back next week. I hope you have a good week. I hope you stay safe. I hope you do some fun WordPress things. During the course of this week, I'm going to fade in some cheesy music and say, bye-bye .

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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