The ShipMaster: Shopp Review
Shopp is a paid WordPress plugin that is geared towards providing more functionality out of the box than most eCommerce plugins. It’s been around for several years, and has had time to mature (just like the WP eCommerce plugin), so you’ll benefit from the opportunities for tweaks and changes the developers have had. However, you’ll still need a few paid official add-ons or unofficial plugins to set up a fully operational store. A full list of features is provided to show you what you’ll get for a one-time payment.
For the most recent updates to this content, please see our Shopp 1.3 Review
Skip to section:
- Base and Ancillary Costs
- Overview and Usability
- Customer Experience
- Built-in Payment and Shipping Options
- Reporting and Inventory Management
- Other Features and Comments
- Shopp Review Wrap-up
- Read More
Base and Ancillary Costs #
Unlike many non-hosted WordPress eCommerce plugins, the core Shopp plugin is not free. However, the core plugin does include some extra features and functionality compared to most core plugins (like built-in subscriptions capability), with the potential for paid add-ons. If you want to check it out before purchasing, Shopp offers a free demo for potential users to try out before purchasing. For the core plugin, costs will be either $55 to download for a single site license or $299 for a developer license, which lets you install Shopp and get support for an unlimited number of sites. Both packages also include automatic updates and User Guides, while the developer version has more perks, such as an API guide.
Paid add-ons range $25 to 125 each, so we estimate add-on costs of $200 to 300 to get off the ground for some useful plugins and possibly a payment processor. There are official Shopp add-ons or unofficial plugins available for purchase, but it doesn’t seem there are other markets (like Code Canyon) for Shopp plugins, so you’ll have to search for others from developers if you’re looking for them.
There are some “Shopp-Ready” themes listed on the Shopp website as well; pricing ranges from free to about $80, but there aren’t many other themes available. However, compatibility seems good with general WordPress themes.
Base plugin cost will be $55 for a single site ($299 for a developer license), plus an estimated $200-$300 in add-ons, and about $50 for a theme. Total cost estimate: about $350
Overview and Usability #
Setup for the plugin is pretty basic. Page settings are included for the shopping pages, but you can only edit names and slugs for these pages, and are unable to customize any content. Image settings are also included, but are a bit awkward to deal with, as you have to set new image types yourself, then modify them. This probably could have been achieved with some preset image options where you can just enter sizes in a box instead for clarity.
You can use the Shopp demo site if you want to play around with these settings (or anything else in the plugin) before purchasing. Basic setup simply involves company information and entering your Shopp support key:
You’ll want to check out the presentation settings for how products will be displayed (including whether to display out-of-stock products). Shopp creates a catalog page automatically using the endpoint you set under page settings (so you can’t delete it); however, you need to add this page to your navigation manually to take advantage of it. You can also create your own catalog page with a shortcode if you’d like to customize the layout.
In order to be able to display products, you’ll have to add structure to your catalog. This will include setting parent and child categories for all products if you want to do anything other that simply display all of your products at once, or display one type at a time. Make sure to have an idea of what categories and subcategories you’ll need, since this will require some time. It’s not obvious, but within your category is the only place you can add “template” product details. Since these are very annoying to add, you’ll want to set these default product specs/details up for your categories when possible. More on this under “Products”.
Tax Options are included and can be added based on regions (by state in the US). Rates are pretty basic and straight-forward, but aren’t going to allow a lot of flexibility if needed. If you have formatted local tax lists, you can upload them as well to apply local tax rates in a region.
With Shopp, you can add simple, variable/configurable, downloadable, virtual, subscription, and donation products. You’ll have to set up your catalog with categories first, and will want to know what kind of templates (such as what details/specs will be included) you have in mind for each type of product because you can’t bulk edit product details. This does afford you a lot of flexibility in choosing what product details are included, but will require some time on your part.
Once the catalog is fully set up, product addition is fairly easy, and includes a name, description, and details/specifications. You’ll want to select the category for each product, and can add images, tags, variations, and more. You can also check a box on the right to have products included as feature products.
If you don’t have a “template” set up in your catalog categories, you’ll have to add product details and fill in the value for the detail manually. If you have a template set up, you just have to fill in values for each specification. You can also add product images to be displayed as a gallery on the product page.
Adding product variations is pretty simple. Check the “Variations” box on the right-hand side, and you’ll have the option to add all product variation in the same way that you add specifications. Pricing will change as you add all variations, and there’s a lot of documentation to help you with this process.
One of the greatest benefits to using Shopp is the fact that subscriptions products are built into the core plugin. With many other platforms, 2-3 paid extensions will be necessary to get this functionality. You can elect to have a trial period for your product and can set the recurring billing cycle in terms of days, weeks, months, or years.
One thing you should note is that you’ll have to manually include the subscription details on the product page since the subscriptions information, such as trial period and billing cycle, are not automatically displayed on the frontend:
Shortcodes and Widgets
Product collections and individual products are added to pages using shortcodes. You can use the Shopp button from the visual product editor for help on what shortcodes and attributes you can use:
Your shortcodes can display a category or an individual product. However, there are a lot of other shortcodes that you can use, such as those for featured or new products, that the shortcode button doesn’t include. If you read our Easy Digital Downloads Review, you know that this drives me nuts, since I feel that a shortcode reference should be linked to somewhere in the plugin so that people know which ones are accepted. Regardless, there is a full shortcode reference in the documentation if you want to explore this further.
You can display your shopping cart and category layout using widgets if desired to help with browsing as well:
Customer Experience #
The frontend leaves some styling to be desired, but at least it allows for a grid product layout. Other than that, you’ll have to do the styling yourself if you want to dive into it, or select a good theme and use the theme styling instead of built-in styling (though this is a personal preference).
Individual product pages are bit better, as they give you the opportunity to provide a lot of product information, including an image gallery. Again, some styling may be needed or you should ensure your theme overrides this, as the default CSS is pretty standard.
Variable products are easy to understand for the customer, and options are clearly laid out. When you choose a variation, prices are also displayed in the list and updated on the product page once the customer has made a selection.
The cart page is simple, and allows the customer to not only change quantities, but also change which variation of a product they’ve selected:
Shopp boasts a one-page checkout, as many plugins do, which is proven to increase conversions. Customers have less chances to abandon their carts, so conversions are maximized. Guest checkout is allowed, and the checkout process is straight-forward in order to provide 0% frustration for the customer.
Built-in Payment and Shipping Options #
Shopp has very good basic shipping and payment options built in to the core plugin. By default, you can process payments using Google Checkout, PayPal Express or Standard, 2Checkout, and Manual/Offline payments. Shipping options are better than most basic shipping settings, as you can flat rate ship items, use free shipping, or use tiered shipping settings by weight, cost, or item quantity.
The standard payment options are great to get many stores off of the ground. However, if you need a different payment processor, there are paid add-ons for favorites such as Authorize.net, Braintree, FirstData, PayPal Advanced and PayPal Pro, SagePay.
Basic shipping options are pretty extensive, and will probably be able to handle the needs of most stores. You can set up free shipping options, but there are also flat rate and tiered options. The flat rate options can be based on a per item or order total basis, and can also be based on location. Tiered shipping can be set up based on item quantity, order amount, and order weight. You can also set tiers based on percentage rates.
Setting up rates is simple, and provides a lot of flexibility in setup:
Reporting and Inventory Management #
One downside to using Shopp is the lack of reporting available. You can view orders, but won’t get the detailed reporting you see in Easy Digital Downloads or WooCommerce. You’ll have no insight into sales per day/week/month, etc., and won’t find information on best/worst sellers unless you track them manually.
Shopp includes basic inventory tracking for your products, and you can view products that have low stock or are out of stock from your catalog page. I couldn’t find any settings for low stock notifications, so I don’t think Shopp supports these, and you’ll have to manually keep an eye stock levels. Backorders are not supported, so you can hide items until new stock is added.
Shopp states in their support policy that customers acknowledge that they shouldn’t use the support desk for issues that could result in a large loss of business if matters are not resolved to the desired effect. Many store owners are basing their livelihoods on their stores working as advertised, so many support issues may fall into this category, so this seemed a little odd to me.
I understand that this is basically protecting Shopp against the loss of revenues that could be incurred due to technical issues, but I’d be curious to see how this played out for complex support issues (which every plugin has at times), and if they have to be escalated to a top-level support ticket at $199. Anyone have experience with this?
For more basic issues, Shopp offers comprehensive documentation, a knowledge base, support help desk, and premium support tokens. Wait times with the support desk ranged from about 6 hours to two days on the occasions that I checked, so you may have to purchase a premium support token for $49 if that’s too long.
Other Features and Comments #
Shopp does support using related products, as well as displaying recently used products for customers. Details are in the features list.
One little oddity that I didn’t like was that I couldn’t trash products from the product editor, so if I found a product in my catalog I wanted to remove on the frontend, I can’t just click “Edit Product” and delete it. I’d have to go to the catalog, find it, then move it to the trash. Is this a big deal? Absolutely not, but I like being able to do it for all other WordPress post types. Or maybe I’m just crazy 🙂
Shopp Review Wrap-up #
The Shopp plugin for WordPress functions as an all-in-one eCommerce solution. Highlights include detailed standard shipping options, and the ability to set flat rates per item or order provides a lot of flexibility for stores. Tiered shipping options are also a great standard option. Payment options are good, and the ability to add donation or subscription products in the core plugin is great (though adding donations probably could have been a free extension to lighten the core offering since many businesses won’t need this).
Downsides are the the lack of built-in CSS. While theme compatibility is good, styling on shopping pages and intensive setup in the product catalog and shopping pages will be required for generic themes. The UI is a bit clunky, though it does afford the ability to customize product details. The lack of reporting also takes down the viability of Shopp as a standalone solution a bit, as you’ll need to integrate with an accounting system (though larger stores should be doing this regardless).
I also would have liked to see the ability to add memberships as products since subscriptions are supported, as not having memberships eliminates Shopp as an option for sites that provide premium content.
For the estimated $325 or so in set up, Shopp is a mid-level contender in the eCommerce platform arena. There are a lot of standard features (again, subscription inclusion is great and easy to use), but the plugin doesn’t have a lot of add-ons yet, and catalog organization and product addition were a bit difficult, though they do provide flexibility. Overall, Shopp seems to be a good option for the typical eCommerce store, but I’d love to see more options in terms of ready-made extensibility.
Read more: #
- LunarLog wrote a WP eStore vs Shopp Comparison that gives you a list of upsides/downsides for each.
- Vandelay Design’s 10 top WordPress eCommerce Plugins has a very brief review with highlights of each platform.
- Mashable’s Top 4 eCommerce Tools for WordPress is a bit outdated but has a good overview of some top plugins.
Like this Shopp Review? Check out the rest of our WordPress eCommerce Platforms Guide.
Please Note: I did not test all of the paid upgrades/plugins that I reference in this article; If I didn’t test it, I’m basing my information on reading user reviews or other articles.
Full Disclosure: The author of this article also works for SkyVerge, who develops WooCommerce extensions. Despite this fact, every effort was made to be impartial and write this review from a neutral perspective.