Shopp — Shopping Cart Plugin Review
Reviewed by Sameer Borate
The first thing that strikes you as a Shopp plugin user is its professionalism. Aside from minor bugs here and there, everything about this plugin is made with high quality and care. If you are a developer and peek inside the Shopp code, you will see that it is built with good design principles and object oriented methods, making Shopp easy to extend and modify.
If you are looking for a light ecommerce system that can take payments through the web using PayPal, Google CheckOut then give Shopp a try. There are enough options to sell physical as well as digital products successfully online; in the league of ecommerce WordPress plugins, Shopp definitely is a standout.
Shopp is also great if you want to build a large ecommerce store with robust shipping and tax and promotions management capabilities. It also has one of the widest range of support for payment gateways and shipping carriers.
However, you may not want to use Shopp if you just want to sell digital goods or if you’re not willing to invest in customizing the appearance of your store, since Shopp doesn’t include any good pre-built themes. And customizing the appearance will take some effort.
Overall, it’s one fine piece of a shopping cart plugin for WordPress!
Once you make the payment, you’ll be sent a download link via email. After downloading and installing the plugin, you’ll have to enter your license key and perform the initial settings, like setting the location of your store, target countries, your email, etc. It’s all pretty smooth and easy with Shopp and its professional user interface. You can also re-download the plugin from your ‘Account->My Downloads’ section of the Shopp site.
All Shopp customers get access to the help desk. The current response time is any where from 21 hours to 4 days. If you’re not happy with that, you can buy priority support (jump the queue, $49), or escalated support (one-on-one with the lead developer, $199). As always, terms and conditions apply. Note that according to the support policy, regular support is â€œnot guaranteedâ€.
You may not have to use the ticket system with Shopp since there are plenty of community resources and documentation. The community support forum, which is only available to paid members, is active and helpful. You can also submit feature requests as a paid Shopp member. But note that many questions in the community forum go unanswered.
The documentation of the plugin is also reserved for paid members, but I can tell you that it’s comprehensive. The goal of Shopp team is to reduce support requests as much as possible by creating comprehensive documentation. They even provide advanced tutorials and examples for customizing Shopp. There are also great videos that can be accessed from within the plugin so that you can learn efficiently as you go. You can also get help from various Shopp community professionals.
On activation Shopp creates 11 new tables in the WordPress database. Products are created as WordPress posts and make use WordPress custom post types and custom taxonomies. However, the product price data is stored in Shopp’s custom tables. Shopp seamlessly integrates into WordPress; from the administration to the public website, Shopp development follows WordPress theme and plugin guidelines to make it as compatible as it can be. In the latest version (1.2.1) WordPress integration has been enhanced by utilizing more WordPress API functions.
Unlike other ecommerce plugins, Shopp includes two built-in storage engines for product images and downloadable files, database and File System storage. Each has benefits and drawbacks that should be considered when determining which to use. By default, Shopp is set up to store both product images and digital product downloads in the database using the database Storage engine.
For small files database storage can be somewhat secure, as you do not get easy access to the database as you might to the filesystem. However if you plan to upload files larger than 2 MB, it would be better to use the File System storage engine; you do not want to store large file in your database, these can impact your database performance considerably. This is an issue you should consider carefully during your initial store setup. More information on both of these methods and their pro and cons can be found in the relevant Shopp documentation.
The first thing you need to do after setting up Shopp is build your product catalog. All products in Shopp are stored in the WordPress â€˜wp_posts’ table and makes good use of WordPress custom post types and custom taxonomies. However, as mentioned earlier, the product prices, purchase details, product variations are stored in the custom Shopp tables. Each product has its own SEO friendly URL. Editing and deleting products is extremely easy using Shopp’s Product Manager.
Product inventory in Shopp is as good as any other ecommerce plugin. However, inventory tracking is only available for Shipped and Virtual products. Note that you must enable the â€˜Track Inventory’ option in the â€˜Shipping’ settings before Shopp can automatically deduct the inventory after a purchase.
Shoppâ€˜s ability to handle product variations is above and beyond all other shopping cart plugins. It creates different versions of the same product depending on how many variations you have for it. You can create as many product variations as you want, and specify a price, inventory count, sale price, and shipping fee for each variation. The Shopp admin provides an inline variant editor so that you can enter products with a completely uninterrupted workflow. If you still want the advantages of setting up your variant attribute sets ahead of time to speed up data entry, you can do that using category template.
One of the useful and time saving features of variants is â€˜Linking’. Linking variants makes your workflow faster by allowing you to more rapidly enter pricing information for lots of similar variants. When you make changes to a variant price editor that is linked to other variants, the changes are copied to all of the other linked variants at the same time. This is helpful when editing a product with a large amount of variants.
In addition to variations, you can also specify products with add-ons in Shopp. Add-ons are extra customization and configurations that are made-to-order.
Shopp uses it own comprehensive customer management system, different from that of WordPress. Shopp supports three modes of customer management:
1. No Accounts:
Customer records and orders are tracked, but no login to the store is created for the customer.
2. Enable Account Logins:
A customer login is created (associated with the email address of the customer) to login to their account dashboard to access past orders and downloads, and to make future checkouts faster and easier.
3. Enable Account Logins integrated with WordPress Users:
A WordPress user is created when the order is finalized, and it is associated with a Shopp customer to track their purchases. During checkout, customers set both a login name and a password to access their account. The login name they set is used as the WordPress user login name when the account is created. Customers can then login to their account on the store’s account page with their WordPress user name and their specified password.
Customer information can also be exported in a variety of formats with any number of available customer data columns needed. This can be useful if you need to use the data in some other program, e.g for sending flyers or emails.
Shopp currently supports the following export formats:
c. Microsoft Excel.xls
For Tab-separated, comma-separated and Microsoft Excel file formats you can select the columns to include for each record in the export.
Shopp takes the prize for one of the best shipping and tax management support in a WordPress shopping cart. For shipping, Shopp can do flat rate or calculate shipping based on customer location, order amount, item quantity, and order weight. Shopp also offers extra modules to calculate shipping live with FedEx, UPS, USPS, AusPost, Canada Post, Shipwire, each costing $25.
For tax management, you can specify a tax rate for each country or region you ship to, as well as a default rate. You can choose whether shipping fees are included in tax calculation or you can choose not to charge any tax at all.
Shopp utilizes the WordPress admin UI, and is clean and professionally designed. The interface looks just like the familiar WordPress UI, making it easier to navigate around it. The primary menus around which everything is categorized are: Shopp, Catalog and Setup.
Shopp supports the following payment gateways out of the box: PayPal Express, PayPal Standard, Google Checkout, 2Checkout, and offline payments (phone, check, etc).
Additional payment gateways are also available for $25 each: Authorize.Net, CyberSource, eWay, Beanstream, FirstData, and more.
Handling downloadable products isn’t Shoppâ€˜s strong suit. I couldn’t get it to consistently upload files as the upload mechanism is buggy. The alternative is that you upload the product yourself, via FTP, and protect the upload directory using your web-server administration mojo. However, once you are done with the uploading part, which most people will probably do less frequently, Shopp provides various options to control the download. From the ‘Store Preferences’ section you can set how many times the buyer can download the product after purchase, and the expiry time for the download. You can also restrict the buyer to download the product only from the IP from which it was purchased.
The discounts feature is called ‘Promotions’ in Shopp and is very thoughtfully designed. You can set 4 types of discounts: percentage, fixed amount, free shipping, and ‘Buy X Get Y Free’ type. You can select to apply the discount to a catalog item, shopping cart subtotal or to each cart item.
Furthermore, you can set a bunch of rules on when the discount could be applied. This is where the discount feature really shines. You can set a variety of rules, e.g. only apply a particular discount when the ‘Cart Total’ exceeds $150 and the ‘Total quantity’ in the cart is larger than 10.
The discount feature also allows you to set the promotion dates, which will enable you to create a number of promotions in advance that will automatically start and end at the specified date.
Shopp has many useful sidebar widgets that allow you to add dynamic features to your online store.
Product related widgets
Shopp Cart > adds a summarized shopping cart to a widget area providing at a glance reminder of the current contents of the customer’s shopping cart. By default it shows the number of items in the cart and the total cost of the items.
Shopp Product > this widget allows you to display products in the sidebar by category, or simply by bestselling, highest (or lowest) price, newest (or oldest), or randomly. You can also specify the number of products to display.
Shopp Categories > this widget displays a list of the categories and subcategories in your store. It is highly customizable.
Shopp Category Section > like the Shopp Categories widget, displays a navigational menu of category links for all categories related to the current category by sharing a common base category.
Shopp Faceted Menu > when a customer is viewing a custom product category that has faceted menus enabled, this widget will display a drill-down navigation menu for filtering products by shared product attributes. Setting this up requires editing Shopp templates.
Site related widgets
Shopp Account > this is for account login and management capabilities. This widget is only visible if you enable ‘Account Logins’ from your Shopp ‘Store Preferences’ settings.
Shopp Search > as the name implies, this allows your customers to search through your online store.
Shopp Tag Cloud > adds a weighted list of links for the most frequently used product tags.
Shopp Recent Shoppers > Adds a configurable listing of your most recent customers to a widget area.
There’s a lack of pre-built themes for Shopp. The only theme I could find that was built for Shopp is Flexx by iThemes.
Shopp works pretty well with any standards-compliant WordPress theme. But you’ll most likely want to customize the appearance of your online store, in which case you’ll have to rely on Shopp’s own templating system. It’s a new skill to learn, but the process is well documented.
Shopp lacks affiliate management capability. However, the good folks at Tips and Tricks HQ have outlined instructions for integrating their popular affiliate’s management plugin with Shopp. It is not free though, and costs $49.95.
Shopp supports most of the popular languages and translation files are available free for download. The current available languages include: Nederlands (Dutch), Svenska (Swedish), Polski (Polish), Italiano (Italian), Suomalainen (Finnish), Franćais (French), العربيّة (Arabic), Deutsch (German), Español (Spanish), Romanian, and Magyar (Hungarian).
Translation files for Shopp use the same translation system as WordPress, so no integration problems should arise. Many more languages are being added. Here’s the complete list.
Shopp is licensed under GPL v3, and comes in 2 licenses:
Single Site Access ($55) This license entitles you to download the core Shopp plugin and use it on a single site with auto-update and online support for that one site. Online documentation and community forums are available but not the developer forums.
Additional add-ons purchased can, however, be used as many times as you like. Auto-updates for add-ons will only be provided for sites with valid, activated keys.
Developer Access ($299) This license entitles you to download the core Shopp plugin and use it on any number of sites with auto-update and online support available for all the sites. Online documentation and community forums are available along with the developer forums.
Single Site Upgrade ($259) You can also upgrade your Single Site license to the Developer license.
Ingenesis Limited, the creators of Shopp, provide a full refund for requests posted to their Support Help Desk within the first 45-days of purchase. Check out their refund policy for more details.