A new WordPress e-Commerce offering: is it right for you?

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WordPress.com introduces a new WordPress e-Commerce offering

Millions of people have blogs over at WordPress.com – all of them started for free. When you think about it, that's truly amazing.

Those of us in the WordPress community that work with customers using WordPress.org (the software, hosted elsewhere) can sometimes forget how big WordPress.com truly is.

Back in December, my daughter started a blog over there. And it's given me a chance over the last few months to re-engage WordPress.com after over a year away.

If you've not checked it out recently, you'll find that it does a really good job of helping people explore WordPress for the very first time.

But like the yearbook teacher I spoke with this past week said, the options to start paying for things appear quickly.

And today, there's a new option – an e-commerce store feature, if you pay for the $300 business package.

Is it right for you?

A visual walk-thru (of the 8 steps to add e-Commerce)

I tested the solution today, to see how it would work. After all, I get a lot of requests for simple and inexpensive e-commerce sites through my blog here at chrislema.com.

Before I answer that, let me walk you thru the steps I took.

1. Purchase the business upgrade for $300.

Now, like my friend Brian said today, $300 isn't a lot for an e-commerce site, so it seems like a good deal. But it's not the only expense in this game.

2. Pick your e-commerce solution.

You might have thought they were going to integrate with Easy Digital Downloads or Exchange (as they're both simple e-Commerce platforms). Or maybe WooThemes WooCommerce (as the one that has a really large market share). Or even WP e-Commerce (because they've been around the longest). But instead, they went with partners instead.

This is a benefit for them, as they can route most support issues to their partners. But it means you're now going to be dancing between two different vendors for different things. And it makes the integration inside of WordPress pretty shallow – to the point that this may only be good for you if you already have a shopify (or other supported) site.

ecommerce-options

3. Add your store url.

If you don't have a store, you'll have to go create one.

LinkShopify

4. Create your store at Shopify

Whereas the process on WordPress.com has been really easy to this point, a quick look at the options available on Shopify highlight why some people have left it. It promises to be easy but has more options than WooCommerce.

StartingShopifyStore5. Add products

This is where you realize how truly easy EDD & Exchange are. But I moved forward, creating a digital product.

AddProducts

6. It's time to pay. 

This is when you find out, if you didn't know already, that $300 isn't the last money you'll be spending. The basic plan will add another $360 to your bill.

PickAPlan7. Lastly, connect your store to WordPress.com

At this point I started wondering what GUI we'd find inside of WordPress after the fact. New places to create products? New places to edit store details?

Connect-StoresI went back to WordPress.com and mistakenly clicked on Store. It was top of mind. But all it did was offer me more upgrades (which, by the way, my new business upgrade made these less applicable now).

No-not-that-store

So I went to my “Add new post” page thinking I would get a new button that said product. But you can see, nothing changed here.

NoMagicButtonsForEcommerceThen I went back to Shopify to see if there was something there that was new.

Where-is-integration-hereBut where do you look? Can you guess?

did-you-guess-three-dotsIf you said the three dots at the very top, you were right. I don't think I would have found it unless I'd been curious. Nothing suggested it would be there. But I found it. And it gave me a new shortcode for my WordPress.com post.

ShortCodeSupport8. Add the shortcode to a post

There-it-isSo, is it right for Automattic?

Like I referenced above, my friend Brian suggested it was a good move for Automattic.

I'm not sure I agree. Though I understand why anyone would think it would be. After all, they have millions of customers and this drives lots of people to pay $300 up front to get e-commerce.

That's a faster way to earn money than on $10 upgrades, and it's also faster than SquareSpace, which charges you $10/month for their personal solution (which still includes e-commerce).

So from a business perspective, faster money is better money.

But the integration is to a third party solution. Which means they won't get as many support issues.

Wait, isn't that good? I know, you would think it was brilliant right – all the fast cash, none of the long-term pain.

But you also lose all the short term feedback that helps you learn about your customers and what they're trying to do.

And if you're not trying to learn from your customers, then it's likely you're not looking to improve and build it as a first class option.

And if it's just a complicated (8-step) way to put a “buy now” link on your page, Paypal handled that a while ago.

So I land on the side of wishing they'd pursued it as a way to learn and build a world-class hosted e-commerce option. Apparently, that will be left to others to do.

Is it right for you?

I'm sure, out of tens of millions of people, there will be some that say yes. I'm glad for that.

But none of the folks that I've interacted with (a tiny portion of the planet compared to those that interact with WordPress.com regularly) want two solutions for an e-commerce site. They don't want a blog that has a short code with a link to a different solution where a product is defined that has additional configuration.

There is nothing easy or simple about that.

So if you already have a shopify account, and already have a WordPress.com account, this may be good news for you.

But for everyone else, there are other options that may make more sense when it comes to

  • cost
  • ease of use
  • configuration

I wrote, a while ago, about picking an e-commerce cart. I'll have to circle back, as they all keep improving.

If you want to use WordPress and an e-commerce plugin (built for WordPress) these detailed reviews might help.

And if you're considering the costs of a custom WordPress Solution vs Shopify then you'll appreciate these spreadsheets.

Do you have a different take on it? I'd love to hear it.

About Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

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