The Newcomer: Ready! Shopping Cart Review
Next up in our WordPress eCommerce guide, we review a plugin that somehow manages to fly under most people’s radar, despite having almost 500,000 downloads and a 4.7 star rating on WordPress.org. Ready! Shopping Cart is one of the newest WordPress eCommerce platforms to jump on the scene, as it’s been around for about 20 months. Bonus points for a free core plugin and a decent paid extension offering, but it seems that this is a plugin that needs some time to mature and work out some bugs before it can be a truly viable eCommerce solution.
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
- Ready! Shopping Cart Review Wrap-up
- Read More
Base and Ancillary Costs #
Ready! Shopping Cart is another free eCommerce plugin option, and is available from WordPress.org to download. Installation is easy, and taking some time to get used to product addition and options will prove valuable before committing to using it for your store. I would also check out the features list to see if it will address everything you need it to.
Ready! is advertised to work with any theme, and it did a pretty good job with the default WordPress themes we tested. However, it had some display issues with themes from other developers that you’ll need to iron out before launching. There are some official themes available if you’d prefer to use them over one of the standard WordPress themes. Some are free, and others can be purchased for $39. There are also official extensions available for purchase for $29 each, or you can get a license bundle for $49 to $199, which can include free extensions and/or multi-site licenses. For a payment processor and a couple helpful add-ons, you’ll probably need $60-$120 to get up and running.
Free core plugin, which is always great, and an estimated $130 for themes and extensions.
Overview and Usability #
Installation for Ready! Shopping Cart is easy and needed pages are automatically generated. Settings are extensive, and you have the ability to configure useful items such as forcing SSL upon checkout, setting terms and conditions, or allowing/disallowing backorders. However, the menu is a little bit strange to use at first since it’s different from the rest of the WordPress admin:
One setting I would change right away is under “currencies”. US dollars should be set up already, but you’ll want to change the way it’s displayed, since it’s displayed like a European currency. Change the dollar position to before the value, and change your decimal point to a period instead of a comma. This was a bit of a nuisance, since if US dollars is set by default, at least it should be set correctly.
There are some other settings you should play with, such as the ability to allow guest checkout, skip checkout confirmation if you want a one-page checkout, and the image sizing options. You’ll also want to look at product settings to determine how product data will be entered.
You can also change how product information is displayed, and include social buttons on product pages:
Tax options will meet the needs of most stores and are comparable to most other plugins. You can set several rates based on region, or in bands (such as standard and reduced rates). One bonus is the ability to apply tax only to certain categories, which is really helpful for stores selling both physical and digital goods (check out our Easy Digital Downloads Review for more on taxation of digital products). Make sure you label the name with “tax”, since this is what’s displayed to the customer.
Product addition for simple products is pretty easy, and products are created as WordPress custom post types. You can add simple, configurable/variable, and downloadable products. You can add a short description, which will be displayed on the shopping pages, and a full description. You can set the length of the short description display in settings, and I would recommend no more than 2 lines; otherwise, some of your buttons may become misaligned. You also have to ability to set categories, tags, and brands for each product. Brands were pretty helpful, and a page for brands is automatically created and updated, which you can use in your navigation (along with a similar page for categories, which also makes browsing easier).
You can manually set related products in the product editor, but they didn’t display anywhere on the product page, nor did it display in the related products widget. I also found that my related products occasionally reset themselves, so while I was happy about this being included, I wouldn’t call it a victory just yet. Creating a media gallery was also a bit of a pain, as you can’t select files you’ve uploaded to your WP media folder, and instead must add them from your computer or a URL.
Basic product data is also included so that you can set pricing, manage stock, and adjust weight or dimensions for shipping purposes. The ability to set products as featured or new is meant for use with the Featured Products or New Products widgets.
Variable Product addition is not nearly as easy as simple product addition. It seems there are two elements to the plugin meant to help with product variations; there are product parameters and a variation manager in the top right of the product editor page. I think parameters are meant more as product attributes, as they don’t change price (or, in a couple circumstances, did change it, but never to the correct amount despite playing with all settings), nor are they reflected when adding products to the cart (or again, were wrong). I also experience some parameters being overridden and being named as “array” with a price of $0 rather than the name and value I set. The documentation on parameters isn’t very helpful either, so these were a bust.
Since parameters are a bit unwieldy, I tried to use the variations manager instead. This was more in line with what I expected, as I was able to set variations for my tee shirt product, including stock and prices. However, there are a couple issues with this as well. First, you have to set all variations manually: for example, you can’t set attributes for size (Men’s Small, Men’s Medium, etc) and color (Gray, Black), then link them to produce all variation combinations (Men’s Small in Gray, Men’s Small in Black, etc). Instead, I had to set each variation individually, such as “Men’s Small, Gray” and “Men’s Small, Black”. Doing this manually just takes a bit more time, so it wasn’t a deal breaker.
However, pricing was a big issue. I wanted to set a higher price for a XXL tee shirt, so I set it in the variation manager. This price was never used or displayed, as only the default price for the product was used (the new pricing was never able to override the parent pricing). Stock for variations also didn’t matter, as only the stock set in the product data was referenced. When adding different variations to my cart, they were just merged into the default product. Essentially, this made setting variations for products useless for my store.
Note: Keep in mind that I test all plugins on a localhost with a new WordPress install using the TwentyTwelve theme, and I don’t have other plugins activated while testing. I only check for compatibility with a few other themes after I’ve put the plugin through its paces, so I have no idea how the issues with variations would arise other than issues within the plugin itself.
Shortcodes and Widgets
Ready! Shopping Cart includes several shortcodes to insert products into pages, display categories, and more. However, shortcodes are not terribly easy to use, and the built-in shortcode button (in the visual editor) doesn’t help for categories or individual products, as none of my categories or products appeared for me to select.
I had a few issues with shortcodes overall that I’d love to see corrected:
- The documentation shortcode reference is a bit difficult to understand and needs to be updated.
- You can’t set a number of products per row in the grid layout to display, so I ended up having only two products in each row, which really doesn’t make the grid display that much more useful than a list.
- There’s no way to display featured or new products, even though you can label these in the product editor.
Widgets were a bit more useful than shortcodes, and there are a lot of built-in widgets. This is the only way to display featured or new products, and you can also include a search widget to narrow down items by price. I didn’t like that the widgets weren’t “smart” – product widgets were displayed on all pages instead of just product pages. For example, the related products widget (which didn’t actually work), was displayed on my home page, which is kind of useless.
Customer Experience #
The browsing experience is overall positive for the customer, as they can display all products, or sort by brand / category very easily. Products are laid out in a grid view by default (which is easier for browsing), and you can change this to a list view if you want to. However, one downside to the customer experience is that Ready! Shopping cart does not include coupons or discount codes (discounts can be added with an extension).
Product pages are in need of some styling changes, so be prepared to take that on if you use Ready! Shopping Cart (or don’t, but the layout is a bit all over the place and space can be used more effectively). While you’re at it, you will probably want to remove post information, such as the date and author, which probably shouldn’t be on product pages and is included by default. You also have to set default image sizes before you upload any products to ensure the images are consistent. The large product image is displayed with a title, then the information in the screenshot below. If you want to add reviews to your product pages, you can use the Product Ratings extension.
Customers can be sent to the cart page after product addition, or you can display an “added to cart” notification. The cart page is well-done and you can adjust product quantities before going to checkout.
Ready! Shopping Cart uses a multi-step checkout out of the box (a confirmation step is required before order submission). You can turn Ready! Shopping Cart into a one-page checkout by disabling the confirmation step, but be aware that you’ll want to change the button text if you do. The checkout page uses a “Next Step” button at the bottom of the page (to go to confirmation), which isn’t updated if you disable the confirmation step, and it actually submits the order. To avoid upsetting or confusing customers, you’ll want to update this button text if you change to a one-page checkout (such as “submit” or “place order” instead).
Built-in Payment and Shipping Options #
Basic shipping options work pretty well with Ready! Shopping Cart, but payment options are very limited in the core offering. The extension marketplace offers some good options for expanding these payment and shipping options.
Built-in payment processors include PayPal Standard, cash on delivery/pickup, and deposit account (not sure what this does, and documentation wasn’t helpful). However, there are extensions available to add popular processors such as Authorize.net AIM/SIM/DPM, Stripe, PayPal Express, PayPal Pro, First Data, and SagePay (among some others).
Basic flat rate shipping will allow you to set multiple rates for regions, essentially allowing you to create your own zones. The quantity discounts took a little bit of tweaking to make them work, but could be helpful. You can also set table rate shipping, using weight tiers for different zones. If you need exactly shipping rates, there are several integrations available, such as the USPS Shipping extension, FedEx Shipping extension, or the UPS Shipping extension (along with others).
Reporting and Inventory Management #
Ready! Shopping Cart has no built in reporting features.
You can enable inventory tracking, but there are no low or out-of-stock notifications. You can allow backorders using Ready! Shopping Cart, which is a big plus in my book. The customer will be notified that the item is not in stock when adding it to the cart, and then checkout proceeds as normal. The order is generated as a normal order, so you’ll have to keep track of backorders yourself, but the ability to do something with this is a plus. If you don’t want to allow backorders, you can set products with no stock as “Coming Soon!” instead.
Ready! Shopping Cart provides documentation for the core plugin, but they don’t necessarily contain explanations for the average user, and in some cases just restate the hints from the plugin itself. The docs are also incomplete for some topics and look as if they’re still in development. As the plugin developers are Russian, there are times where explanations (and spelling) are a bit choppy (Russian doesn’t use as many linking verbs/articles as English so it’s tough to translate), which makes understanding docs difficult in some cases. Responses to reviews at WordPress.org are prompt, but that doesn’t seem to carry over to the support forum, as there are several open threads. I brought up the issues I had with product variations in the support forum, but was unable to get a response.
However, this could be an issue with scaling as more people download the plugin (and personally, I would prioritize support for customers who’ve purchased extensions over free support for the free plugin). It seems that the plugin authors are committed to improving the core offering and soliciting as much feedback as possible based on responses to reviews. They’re also trying to provide resources such as the links to the FAQ within the plugin dashboard:
Other Features and Comments #
Ready! Shopping Cart is not very extensible at the moment, as it seems this is a young marketplace. A couple of promising extensions are the Invoice and Packing Printing extension, which allows customers to access/print invoices and packing slips from their accounts, and the Special Products, Gifts, and Coupons pack, which allows you to create discounts.
Ready! Shopping Cart Review Wrap-up #
Overall, Ready! Shopping Cart is a plugin that appears to need some time to mature before it becomes a serious eCommerce solution. The fact that it’s a free core plugin and that the developers seem serious about improvements and growth are upsides, but there are too many issues to actually depend on it to run a full-fledged store. Simple product addition works well, but I’m not really sure how it got so many five star reviews on WordPress.org with the major issues in adding product variations — it appears as though many five-star reviews are from users who have only ever used or reviewed this product and have no other activity. Other downsides include the need for some style/design updates, especially if using something other than a Ready! Cart or standard WordPress theme, and improvements to shortcodes and widgets.
Read more: #
- Ready! Shopping Cart is mentioned with some benefits in BlogVKP’s Top WordPress ECommerce Plugins For 2013.
Like this Ready! Shopping Cart 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.