Have you ever wondered how to install a shopping cart for WordPress? It can seem like a daunting task with many considerations to setting up your online business. This is how we encourage you to think about it : installing the shopping cart is really the first step which provides the foundations on which you will later build. Our aim in this blog post is to be your guide through these decisions to ensure your online business can be a success.

The Right Tools for the Job

Best WordPress eCommerce Shopping Cart Plugins 2017

Fortunately, in the world of WordPress there is often a lot of choice as to how you do something. So first, let’s review some of the best WordPress shopping cart plugins for July 2017 and what features they include.

  • Woo Commerce is a very popular, free, open source shopping cart for WordPress. It also comes with some nice features and is particularly flexible, allowing you to categorise your products and give them independent attributes which may help your online store. It even supports “Downloadable Products”, so rather than the conventional ‘ship a physical product to you’ process, it allows people to pay to download files from your website which could a great way to sell your digital music, paintings and other digital artwork.
  • Ecwid eCommerce Shopping Cart – this plugin is geared more towards those who already have a website and are looking to add the shopping cart functionality. This differs quite a lot from the other eCommerce shopping carts in that, all others mentioned here should be installed before you set up your website. This system allows you to build catalogs of products and variants with many of the common features such as shipping rates. Ecwid can be used with a free plan, but some features such as mobile store app, digital goods downloads and marketplaces are available on the paid plans.

  • WordPress Simple Paypal Shopping Cart – as the name implies, this cart is simpler to use: it’s free and once installed, allows you to add a buy button to any page in your WordPress site. This shopping cart also allows product variations and can be used for digital downloads. Payment processing is with Paypal.

  • Cart 66 – Unlike many of the other shopping cart solutions, Cart 66 also comes with a series of online hosted services that assist with the purchasing process. For instance, because they handle all payments for you, you don’t need to worry about PCI compliance since you aren’t handling or storing any transactional information.

  • Selz eCommerce Shopping Cart  – much simpler than many of the others, this plugin is free, with some features available on one of the paid tiers also offered. This shopping cart plugin would be good for small businesses who need to be able to set up simple products quickly and at a relatively low cost.

This is not an exhaustive list, but gives you some idea of the richness of eCommerce plugins available for WordPress. While many features may be common between them, each has their own quirks and way of doing things.

We recommend you spend some time working out what you need from your online shop  (i.e. how many products do I have, for each of these, how many variants am I likely to have).

How do I take payments?

Separate from the web shop and shopping cart itself, you also need to enlist the help of a payment provider service. There are many good ones, each will have their own rules on how things work and will have different amounts they charge for each transaction. We recommend separately researching these and how your online business will operate to work out which are the best value and will do exactly what you need. Please also note, that not all shoppnig carts can work with all payment providers.

  • Stripe  accepts all major forms of payment such as Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, JCB and even Bitcoin for most major countries. Transactions themselves happen at Stripe’s server, which means your website doesn’t need to store any of the credit card information. You may still be logging personal and identifiable information (such as name and address). Stripe also includes a subscription model if you need to set up recurring transactions for subscriptions to services

  • Paypal is one of the longer-established payment providers and processors which most people know and trust. Paypal also accepts all major payment types for all major countries and process their own payments on their server as Stripe does, so you can also avoid storing credit card information with this provider.

  • Amazon Pay is another online brand that most people know and trust. You can be protected by Amazon’s proven Fraud Protection Policy (separate purchase) that might appeal to some businesses and you also get a number of goodies for your site (such as mobile-optimised widgets that work well with smartphones and tablets). Amazon Pay also supports the subscriptions model as Stripe does.

  • WorldPay is an affordable online payment solution, while not quite free as the others are (single sites starting from $79 (£61.95 at the time of writing) this site also handles payments on their own website, meaning you have less to worry about to protect your own website.

How Do I secure my online eCommerce webshop?

Naturally, if you run a online eCommerce cart or web shop using WordPress there are a number of things to take into account:

  • Firstly, (with the exception of Cart 66) you will need an SSL certificate and the website needs to use HTTPs. This helps ensure the connection is secure and nobody can ‘snoop’ on the connection between the user’s browser, allowing the collection of information such as credit card details.
    In fact, today, we would recommend that all websites should have an SSL and be using HTTPs.

  • Second, you should be aware of what data your website houses. Most of the payment providers we’ve detailed here will handle the payment for you – with no credit card information needing to be stored in your website’s database. But beware: if you do, you will need to be fully PCI Compliant to ensure the data is safe and that your business is protected should anything happen.

  • Even though some of these write-ups suggest you don’t need an SSL certificate, we strongly recommend all websites have one so they can provide HTTPs (a secure connection) that will prevent other things, such as the customers details being collected via ‘snooping’ between their browser and your web server.
  • Finally, be absolutely sure you are not running any insecure plugins. While your WordPress shopping cart has probably been well tested, but should you be running an insecure plugin that allows a potential attacker to obtain information from the website, it may well be possible for them to obtain any other information in your site, including any details of transactions stored in the site.  For this reason, we recommend vetting all your WordPress plugins before making your shop live and publicly available. Find out more about which WordPress plugins you should install

Generally, setting up a shopping cart is never a small task. In most cases, it will be like setting up a new website, except that this website will need extra special considerations around security, privacy and handling payments.

Most of the plugins we discuss here are really aimed at new builds – not something you can add to your existing site as in many cases it wouldn’t be this simple even if it may be technically possible in some cases.

The two possible exceptions here are the Ecwid eCommerce Shopping Cart and Cart 66 shopping cart plugins, we recommend planning these things carefully – start by looking at the needs of your business, how this extends to an online business and then ensure you have a solution that meets the needs.

If you are interested in more information or would like help setting up an ecommerce web shop, get in touch with us today to discuss the best solution for you!