Today you can buy almost anything you want online.  The need for traditional stores is dwindling rapidly as the number of websites that sell products is increasing faster and faster.  These days anyone can get into ecommerce because there are numerous software programs that make selling online as easy as you want.

WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems in use today, and the reason for this is because of its versatility. Until very recently, once of the most difficult things about using WordPress was its lack of shopping cart capability.  However, options are popping up and becoming stronger all the time.

Many of the WordPress ecommerce plugins that are available are free and open source.  Those that aren’t free tend to be far less expensive than other shopping cart options.  The only bad thing about using WordPress for ecommerce is that it really can’t handle a heavy load of queries to the database.  This means that it’s not a good idea for sites that have a high number of sales.

Here are some of the most popular eCommerce plugins:

Cart66 Pro

Cart66 Pro was originally known as PHPurchase, and under the original name, it does claim to be PCI compliant.  The plugin will integrate with numerous other popular marketing and management software and plugins like:

  • Gravity Forms
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Zen Desk
  • Constant Contact
  • iDevDirect
  • MailChimp

The plugin enables you to not only sell products, but also memberships, web hosting, digital downloads, and even legal services.  Cart66 Pro supports payments through PayPal, Authorize.net, Quantum Gateway, eProcessing Network, and manual checkout.  It works with any WordPress theme and supports both custom and live shipping options, including UPS and USPS.  Customers can receive live rate quotes from more than one shipper at a time.

You have the option to choose from the professional and free versions of Cart66.  Of course Cart66 Pro is the professional version and covers all the bases, unlike the free version, which does have some major limitations.

Cart66 is very easy to install, and it integrates with all the latest plugins and ecommerce software, which certainly makes it a great choice.  It also utilizes any WordPress theme, which adds to the list of benefits.  Website owners can utilize any language they want on their website, but the back end of the plugin is offered only in English.  Automattic, the company that manages WordPress itself, actually uses Cart66 on its WordPress Swag Store.  The only serious drawback for this plugin is that it can’t really handle retailers with a huge catalogue of products for sale.

However, at the time we reviewed the software (late 2011, early 2012), we found two major negatives, and those are:

  • Inability to show the customer sales tax in the order review process.  The way the system works is that when the customer gets to do the final review of the order, sales tax is not displayed (U.S. state sales tax).  But the customer is charged this additional tax when they submit the order, but they do not see it until they get the final invoice via email.  In my opinion, this is a huge negative and can cause some customers to think that you’re adding hidden costs into their orders.  NOTE: If you are selling digital goods, or otherwise do not charge sales tax, then you don’t have to worry about this.
  • License is only good for one year.  We paid $179 for a 5-site license.  We did not use these all within the first year.  After the year was up, we tried to use our license on a new site and could not. We were told we would have to renew the license for another year before being able to build a new site.

Click here to visit the Cart66 Website


WP E-commerce

WP E-commerce has been downloaded almost 2 million times.  Although the site does not answer the question of PCI compliance on its own website, some users do report that their websites have passed PCI compliance checks, while others say that they failed.  But know that you can fail a PCI compliance check for many reasons than just the shopping cart software, so these users having failed the PCI check very well may not have anything to do with the shopping cart software.

The plugin has plenty of online documentation for support, as well as video tutorials and both premium and free community forums to get additional help.  This plugin even offers multi-lingual support.  The company also offers free updates for life.

WP E-commerce integrates with numerous other popular marketing and management software and plugins like:

  • Most major Google plugins
  • WordPress SEO
  • All in One SEO
  • Campaign Monitor
  • Intense Debate

With WP E-commerce, you have the ability to sell digital downloads as well as actual products.   Customers can also purchase customizable products, and donations are also supported.  However, it does not allow for the sale of membership or subscription services.

WP E-commerce supports payments through Paypal, Google Checkout, Chronopay, Authorize.net, FirstData/LinkPoint, eWay, IDeAL, BluePay, DPS, Paystation, and SagePay, as well as manual payments.  In addition, the company will supply the necessary information for those who want to write their own payment gateway.  Just keep in mind that some of these payment options come with an additional fee if you wish to utilize them on your site.

This plugin works with any WordPress theme that is standards compliant.  It’s integrated for live shipping rates with USPS, UPS, ShipWire, and Australia Post and comes with built-in shipping calculators for both global and domestic shipping.  It also offers flat, table, and weight rate shipping.

The biggest problem users seem to have with WP E-commerce is the lack of any real support.  There are forums and online documentation, but it seems rather difficult to get anyone on the phone.  However, experienced website developers shouldn’t have much difficulty in integrating this plugin.  The sheer number of features this ecommerce plugin has makes it one of the most versatile on the market, but it also can create a headache for an amateur website developer.  Even retailers with thousands of products can use this plugin.

Also while this plugin is free, most website owners will have to purchase a few upgrades, which are priced around $50 each, so in reality, it’s not actually free.  However, if you’re looking for the plugin that will really allow you to take complete control over your website and your shopping cart, this is the one to use.

See WP eCommerce at WordPress.org


ShopperPress

ShopperPress is actually a WordPress theme which comes with a built-in shopping cart, which makes it one of the easiest carts to use.  This plugin is PCI compliant and comes with unlimited installations, which means once you purchase it, you can install it on as many of your shopping car websites as you like.  Each purchase comes with over 20 theme designs.  It also comes with free support and all future updates.  Users also have access to free community forums, theme manuals, and video tutorials.

It can be integrated with thousands of other popular marketing and management software and plugins. ShopperPress is ideal for every type of product, including physical items, downloadable products, and memberships or subscriptions.  Affiliate websites will also find this plugin to be extremely helpful.  In fact, many online companies that offer an affiliate option, like Amazon, Ebay, and Datafeedr recommend this plugin, which supports more than 100 different affiliate networks.

ShopperPress supports over 20 different payment gateways, including:

  • Paypal
  • Worldpay
  • Bank transfer
  • Google checkout
  • Authorize.net
  • Protx
  • CC Avenue
  • Money Bookers

The plugin does require that you use its store designs, but with more than 20 to choose from with each purchase, it’s not difficult to find what you want.  Live shipping quotes are not available through this plugin, but it does offer weight, state, country, per item, order total, or flat rate shipping.  There is even an option to offer free shipping on orders of certain amounts.

One of the best things about ShopperPress is its versatility.  It can be used with a catalogue, as an affiliate shopping cart, or with a credit or instant download system.  Users say that this plugin is extremely easy to install and work with when compared to other shopping cart plugins.  This is because each product is listed as a regular WordPress post, so anyone who knows how to post blogs or articles on WordPress can also post new products on the site.  New products also appear in the RSS feeds of your website.  You can also import products via a CSV form if you already have a long list of products.

Visit the Premium Press main website for more on ShopperPress


wpStoreCart

wpStoreCart is a free open source plugin that also comes with a paid professional option for additional usability.  The pro version of this plugin comes with a year of free business support and free upgrades for life.  The company does not answer the question of PCI compliance on its site and no information on this issue can be found one way or another.

The plugin works with any WordPress theme, and it doesn’t claim to integrate well with other WordPress plugins.  The website for this plugin doesn’t explain much, especially in terms of whether it integrates with other plugins.

However, users can opt to set up their shopping cart for digital downloads, physical products, or both.  It does not support membership or subscription purchases.  Payment gateways offered through wpStoreCart include:

  • PayPal
  • 2CheckOut
  • Authorize.net
  • Quickbooks/Intuit Merchant
  • Liberty Reserve.

Developers are also working to add additional payment gateways and will custom code any specific gateway you need for an additional fee.  Just remember that the free version only supports PayPal.  Customers can get live shipping quotes from USPS only, however, it also offers shipping rates according to product or flat rates.

There are a few drawbacks to using wpStoreCart.  For example, if you choose to offer downloadable products with this plugin, there’s no real way to protect those files.  Also the coupon code options is a bit strange.  You must have individual coupons for each product rather than offering a percentage or dollar amount off.  On the other hand, there is an add-on for affiliate retailers looking to use this plugin on their site.  Also users say that this plugin is very simple to install and implement on their site.

See wpStoreCart at WordPress.org


E-Shop

One of the easiest shopping cart plugins to use is E-Shop because like ShopperPress, it utilizes WordPress posts as the product list pages for each item.  However, users should keep in mind that this plugin is not PCI compliant.  Also the company says that it no longer offers free CSS support because of the increasing demand for it.  There are unlimited updates to the system as well.

The payment gateways supported by E-Shop are:

  • Authorize.net
  • Payson
  • PayPal
  • Webtopay
  • iDEAL
  • Cash or check
  • ePorcessingNetwork
  • Ogone

This is not an option for a larger retailer because it is very limited in terms of the number of products it can support on one website.  The plugin enables the user to calculate shipping according to delivery zone, class, and weight.  There are no live shipping quotes available through this plugin.  Their site also doesn’t address the issue of whether it will integrate with other popular marketing and management plugins.

One major drawback of E-Shop is that it won’t work well for those who have a lot of items for sale on their website.  Also so it’s hard to keep track of what you’re selling with this plugin.  However, it is a very basic shopping cart that provides only the essentials in ecommerce software at the lowest price possible—free.  Almost anyone can figure out how to use this plugin on their site, so if you aren’t experienced with website development, this might be the plugin for you.

See the eShop plugin at WordPress.org