Monday, September 13, 2010

eCommerce with WordPress

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth and final installment in the “WordPress for Videographers” four-part series by guest author Heidi Mueller, of New Westminster, BC, Canada — an accomplished commercial video producer, website developer, editor and writer.

IN THE WORKS! Heidi will be developing and offering an up-to-date “how to” video that takes you through the necessary steps for developing a WordPress website using a “real world” project. Watch for the announcement here, and also on Twitter, Facebook, Videomaker Forums and DVProfessionals as well as the Video StoryTellers!™ Facebook Pages.

1. Overview of WordPress Article Series

So far in this article series we have explored WordPress as a possible website platform for a videographer or videography business. But what if you want to sell products on your website like DVDs, stock footage, movie posters, t-shirts and so on? Can this be done on your WordPress site? This is what we will discuss here.

2. Overview of eCommerce

Before we talk about the actual implementation, let’s do a quick review of what ecommerce is all about. In order to sell products over the Internet, you require essentially three components:

A Product Catalogue

This is essentially a list of all your products, typically stored in a database of some kind. For each product you would have at least a title, description, photo and price. You could also include additional optional information like size, colour, shipping, and so on, depending on the type of product.

A Shopping Cart

The shopping cart temporarily stores the information about products that a shopper has selected on your site. When the shopper is done selecting products, he or she can click the Checkout button to make the actual payment.

Payment Gateway

This is basically a system that allows a shopper to make a payment by providing the credit card information over a secure Internet connection. Commonly used systems include PayPal and Google Checkout.

While each of the ecommerce components are quite complex, with WordPress it is easy to add ecommerce capability to your website.

3. The Basic PayPal System

If you have only a few products to sell, say two DVDs, you can use the basic PayPal system. That way you don’t have to set up a product catalogue - all you need is a Products page in your website listing your DVDs. You then use PayPal’s shopping cart and buy now buttons.

I have set up a Our Products page and listed one (fictitious) DVD as shown below:

The Products Page with no ecommerce features

The next step is to log into your PayPal account (more on this later) and go to the Merchants section and select the Create Buy Now Button link as shown below:

The PayPal Merchant Page

Enter your first product details and click the Create Button Now button at the bottom of the page.

The PayPal product description page

PayPal will now create the button embed code. Select the code and copy to the clipboard.

The PayPal embed code

Back in your website, go to the Products page and, in the HTML editing window, past the button embed code close to your product area:

Pasting the code on Products page

And voila, you have a PayPal button!

Your Product page with PayPal buy now button

I have only done one DVD product. If you have several products, repeat the above steps to get a button for each product, and then finally to also get a Shopping Cart button.

Now when someone clicks the buy now button on your Products page, the product is added to the PayPal shopping cart. When the shopper checks out, PayPal manages the credit card transaction and you are informed by email and then you have to ship the product to the shopper. PayPal will transfer any monies in your account to your personal bank when you request it.

4. The PayPal Account

Whether you use the basic system that I have just described or a full ecommerce system, you will need a PayPal Account. There are many videos on YouTube that will take you through the steps of setting up your account, and PayPal has a useful Getting to Know PayPal help section.

5. Full eCommerce

The basic PayPal system described above can quickly become tedious when you have a large number of products, especially if some are products that need to be downloaded by the client (eg video clips). Fortunately there are several excellent plug-ins that will turn your WordPress site into a full-fledged ecommerce site. Perhaps the most popular plug-in is WP e-Commerce which, amazingly, is free!

These ecommerce systems are quite sophisticated and beyond the scope of a short article like this. I would recommend a new book "WordPress 2.9 e-Commerce" by Brian Bondari. He goes into how to set up and manage a WP e-Commerce site in great detail, and also discusses the other available plug-ins.

6. Conclusion

In this series of articles I have tried to show the WordPress is indeed a viable website platform for a videography business. It allows the videographer to easily create and maintain a professional website. The tools in WordPress allow you to showcase and market your products and services. In addition there is an extensive collection of plug-ins that allow you to add extra functionality, such as ecommerce as we discussed in this article, to your website as your business needs expand. The main benefit of using WordPress is that everything is fast and easy to implement, leaving you free to focus on your video production business.

“Easy” is of course relative. If you stick to the basics it is easy. But if you want to dig into the guts of WordPress, there is a learning curve. A final warning: there are so many fun things you can do in WordPress - it can become addictive.

WordPress is web software you can use to create a beautiful website or blog. We like to say that WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time.”

H Mueller Design

# 206 - 56 Merrivale Street

New Westminster, BC V3L 2P6



1 comment:

annaharris said...

I have Ecommerce Shopping Cart with Word Press and I get many futures better than other platform for my online business.