Shopp 1.3 was released on Friday, and the new release brings about some drastic changes to the plugin itself, as well as the entire revenue model for the plugin and developer Ingenesis Limited. If you want the list of what’s been updated, you can check out this list on the Shopp site or the announcement post.
Shopp 1.3 Changes
Let’s start with changes to the plugin itself. First, the entire admin backend was rethought in Shopp 1.3, and the result is a far smoother user experience. Admin menus have been simplified, so that three main menus have been condensed into two. System and Setup options have been moved under the Shopp menu, and navigation for these options is now tabbed at the top of the page instead of along the side as submenu items, which provides a more intuitive navigation structure. Menus have also been reworked and relabeled; for example, “Preferences” is now split up into relevant tabs, such as the new Checkout tab.
Help Menus have also been updated to provide as much help and documentation as possible.
Order management has been improved as part of the effort to improve the Shopp admin, and customer details can now be changed and orders can be reassigned (but not manually created). Compound taxes have also been added to the setup options to provide more flexibility and support for various store types. Promotions has also been renamed Discounts to clarify navigation for users, and Shopp now allows backorders for out-of-stock items instead of just displaying an “Out of Stock” message. This is huge, as WooCommerce and Jigoshop are the only serious competitors that offer this functionality (check out our comparison spreadsheet from our eCommerce platforms series).
One cool feature addition is the ability to “drill-down” categories with faceted menus to help customers find what they’re looking for. When creating a category, you can create some template details and optionally include them in a faceted menu (which can be displayed using a widget). This can include product details that would be helpful, such as men’s and women’s apparel (by including gender) rather than creating subcategories for “men’s” and “women’s” under apparel. As catalog customization was one of Shopp’s previous strengths, this update helps distinguish it even more.
Faceted menus can be automatically created as you update product details while editing and creating products, or you can create these faceted menus for a category manually. When you create a shopping page for that product category, the faceted menu widget will display the menu that’s been created to help customers narrow their product search:
The customer experience has also been improved in Shopp 1.3. While you can set the default catalog view, customers can now optionally select a list or grid view themselves to override the default view for a customized browsing experience. Shopp 1.3 has also been optimized for retina displays, and the result is a cleaner frontend experience.
Now on to the biggest change: Shopp 1.3 includes powerful built-in reporting features. Several reports are included, such as earnings reports, taxes, shipping, discounts, purchase locations, inventory levels, and more. You can view reports for various date ranges, including custom ranges, and can display the report by hour, day, week, or month. Even better, you can export reports in several formats, including CSV exports. Despite a couple kinks that need to be worked out, this upgrade is pretty great and will help small business owners that don’t use a comprehensive accounting and reporting system, and will provide valuable insights into store status. On a personal note, I think the location heat map for purchases is just pretty cool.
There are also some other under-the-hood improvements that users won’t see, such as API improvements to make Shopp easier to work with and more extensible, as well as stability and performance improvements.
Revenue Model Changes
Now on to arguably the largest change from these release: Shopp is now a free core plugin rather than a premium offering. Instead, the plugin will be monetized from official add-ons and support. Purchasing the plugin previously included ticketed support, and premium / expedited support could be purchased as well. Now, the core offering is free, but ticketed support is offered for the previous purchase price of the plugin. Users that had previously purchased the plugin will automatically be transferred to a support plan.
This move is definitely an interesting one, as it aligns Shopp’s business model with other eCommerce solutions for WordPress and follows along with the same model as Paid Memberships Pro. Moving to a “freemium” model will allow users to try to the product out and invest themselves in the ecosystem rather than passing on the core product since it required an initial purchase. I’m betting that this move results in increased adoption, which will then provide more opportunity for extending the plugin and offering paid support as the user base grows.
Upgrading to Shopp 1.3
As a reminder, don’t forget to update to Shopp 1.3 on a staging site before changing anything in your production environment. Ingenesis posted a checklist / advice for upgrading that I’d take a look at, as this upgrade is a pretty major one. There’s also a guide to template changes in Shopp 1.3 available to make the transition easier. However, I’d do it soon so you can start playing with all of the new features!
The upgrades in Shopp 1.3 are pretty substantial, and I think they move Shopp into a much stronger position to compete with other WordPress eCommerce platforms moving forward. The plugin is much improved in this release, some impressive features have been added, and performance is improved. Shopp has quickly moved from a premium offering, which limited user adoption, to one of the more robust free offerings available on the WordPress.org repo.
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