Mr Proficient: MarketPress Lite Review
Next up in our eCommerce guide is the WPMU DEV eCommerce offering: MarketPress eCommerce (Lite version). While MarketPress is billed as the best platform for use with BuddyPress or WordPress multisite (see this also), we’ll be taking a look at these topics later, and will focus for now on its use for a single site eCommerce store. MarketPress Lite is pretty minimalist when compared to its premium counterpart, so we’ll give you some comparisons between the two and different features each offers, but our testing was done with the Lite version of the plugin. That’s what we’ll be referring to unless otherwise noted.
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
- MarketPress Lite Review Wrap-up
- Read More
Base and Ancillary Costs #
MarketPress Lite is a free WordPress.org plugin, so downloading and installing can give you a good idea if you’d like to use it or upgrade to the premium version. If you’re looking for some extra functionality (such as multi-site compatibility, which we’ll discuss in a later post 🙂 ), styling, and payment/shipping options, you’ll want to take a look at MarketPress Pro, which can be purchased by itself for $19 (includes one month of support and updates). However, WMPU DEV also offers a membership subscription for about $40 per month (sale price – retail is $99 per month), which gives you access to all plugins, themes, and premium support.
If you don’t want to go down the membership route, then you can still purchase other plugins and themes a la carte. As for themes, there are some good free ones, such as Frame Market, or paid themes, which have $19 individual price tags. All themes are also part of the membership if you purchase it, but you don’t necessarily need a MarketPress theme, as it seems to work well with any of the themes we tested.
Overall costs can vary. You can choose from the free core plugin or the Pro version for $19 if you only want the eCommerce platform. You can also choose the $40 per month subscription for access to all plugins, themes, and support. In this case, costs are determined by your needs more than anything. I’d personally go with the $40 per month for the access to other plugins and support, since I am going to be making a livelihood using this store after all, and probably want to spend more time selling than troubleshooting.
Overview and Usability #
Installation and setup of MarketPress Lite is simple and just like any other WordPress plugin. You can find some stats and order information in the WordPress dashboard, but all configuration is done from Products > Store Settings, where you’ll first be asked to set basic store information. If you need help, you can click the “Help” tab at the top right, and you’ll have built-in docs at your disposal, which is super helpful. After entering my basic store info, I took a look at the Presentation Settings, which are pretty average for the Lite plugin:
You can upgrade to the Pro version of the plugin in order to change a lot of presentation settings, such as how the store pages are displayed, as well as being able to set products up in a grid view instead of a list view. The Pro version also includes more built-in style, and a lot of other features, which you’ll see as you browse through your settings. Personally, I think the the $19 investment for the Pro version makes sense for the grid view alone, which is less than the cost of some plugins that add this functionality to other platforms.
One setting you’ll want to check out if you’ve already created a store on another platform is the Importers tab. MarketPress includes a built-in CSV importer, as well as a WP eCommerce plugin importer to make store setup easy.
Tax options for your store are pretty basic, and enable you to set a flat rate (no bands, reduced rates, or multiple rates to be had). However, you can set special tax rates based on product, which will be very helpful if you sell both physical and virtual products.
Product creation is very simple and similar to many plugins in that products are created as custom post types. You can add simple, configurable/variable, downloadable, and affiliate products using MarketPress, and there a couple cool features that you don’t see in many plugins, such as the ability to allow personalization of products (only in the Pro version). However, there are also negatives, such as the fact that you can only upload one image per product, as opposed to using an image gallery. This means that, especially for variable products, you’ll have to create your own gallery in the description if needed. Otherwise, product creation and editing is straight-forward using the product editor:
If you want to add variable products, you’re going to have a slightly more difficult time. You have to add all variations manually, as you can’t link any attributes together (for example, you can’t create values for the “size” attribute, then colors, and link all possibilities for the variations – you’ll enter every possibility yourself). This is tedious if you’re selling a lot of variable products, such as apparel, and is done the same way in the Pro version of the plugin (which is a bit of a let down). I think it’s easier for customers to select (for example) size, then color, or other attributes, then having to scroll through an entire list to get the variation they want.
Shortcodes and Widgets
One of things I really appreciated about MarketPress is that there’s a shortcode reference included in the Store Settings:
This makes shortcode addition super easy, as you can just have your reference open in a different tab. There’s no shortcode button in the visual editor, but with the reference handy, I don’t think it’s really needed. I liked being able to display products by category or tag, which allowed me to display “featured” and “new” products using a tag, as these are not automatically created as taxonomies (which would have been helpful, but isn’t necessary). The shortcodes also allow for some basic display options:
Some widgets are also included with MarketPress, and are pretty useful. I found the shopping cart and product list widgets to be my favorites, and you can also include a tag cloud or product categories widget. The product list widget is something else I used to create a “featured” product list, so it helped to make up for the fact that this isn’t an included taxonomy (remember, you can also do this with a shortcode if you prefer). You can set whether you want to filter products based on a category or tag, so you can create a “featured” category or tag, and use this widget to display your products.
Customer Experience #
The customer experience with the Lite plugin isn’t bad, but leaves a little bit to be desired. The default store page provides an overview of the eCommerce side of the site, but you’ll want to take a look at styling this yourself or setting up your own store page. For example, I’d prefer to just display products first, and ask questions about sorting / filtering later (or put options at the top of the page) so that there are less steps between my customers and shopping or purchasing.
Product pages are good with a standard theme, but a little unexciting. Using a MarketPress theme, upgrading to the Pro version to get more styling options, or changing styling around yourself will help with this. For example, I like to have product information next to the featured image or further up on the page so it’s easier to see and I can immediately start to sell customers on the product. I’d also recommended adding in product reviews; a good option is the WP Customer Reviews plugin. Aside from styling, you have a lot of freedom to adjust image sizes under the Presentation Settings, which is really nice to have.
After the browsing experience is done, customers will find the purchasing experience easy and intuitive. Cart pages and checkout pages work exactly as you’d expect them to, and customers can adjust quantity or view product details from the cart before checking out.
One thing people may end up disliking about MarketPress is the multi-step checkout. Simpler checkouts usually lead to more conversions as they provide fewer places for customers to abandon their orders, which is why many plugins use a one-page checkout.
Following the entry of shipping and billing information, you’ll have to review and confirm your order, which brings the checkout process up to three steps instead of one.
Built-in Payment and Shipping Options #
With MarketPress Lite, payment options are limited, while shipping options are fairly usable. However, upgrading to MarketPress Pro provides many other payment processing options, and will probably cover the needs of many businesses.
MarketPress Lite includes both manual payments and PayPal Express for payment processing. Upgrading to Pro again provides a ton of value by including other gateways integrations, such as Authorize.net, Stripe, PayPal Pro, and more. Purchasing one integration on other platforms can cost anywhere from $20 to $80, or more if you need to have a gateway integration developed, so including these in the Pro version provides good value and convenience if you decide to switch processors.
MarketPress offers shipping that is added on a per-order basis. You can set flat rates for regions (but cannot adjust these regions yourself), such as US rates for the lower 48 states, Alaska/Hawaii, Canada, and international shipping. You’ll need some custom development done if you want to break these regions up any more than that. You can also ship using weight tiers for the order, or by using table rate shipping (tiers by total price). If you upgrade to Pro, you can also use calculated shipping, with integrations such as USPS, UPS, FedEx, and more.
However, there’s also a little shipping gem hidden away on product pages. Using MarketPress, you have the ability to add a shipping surcharge for large or specially packaged items, which is pretty awesome:
Reporting and Inventory Management #
MarketPress Lite (and Pro, as far as I’m aware) includes zero built-in reporting features. You can track orders and see basica sales stats in your dashboard, but will have to export sales information for detailed reporting.
MarketPress does a great job of inventory management, and allows you to add inventory only for products you choose, which is great for store with both physical and digital products. While viewing all products, those with low stock or are out-of-stock will have inventory highlighted in yellow or red so that you can easily pick out which items are in need of reorder. You can also manage inventory for individual product variations.
If you join the WMPU DEV membership program ($40 per month currently), premium support is included in your membership, and is advertised as being 24/7/365. However, I haven’t tested this myself and can’t make any claims. I did contact them about other issues and received responses within 24 hours, so I’m sure that support is probably efficient as well. If the WordPress.org support forums for MarketPress Lite are evidence, they can probably back up the claims to lightening-fast support. As for other support, MarketPress includes some documentation built right into the plugin itself:
This documentation links to several video walkthroughs (specific to the Pro version), which are helpful for beginners and cover setup and configuration. However, there’s no detailed or developer documentation for extending the plugin or trouble-shooting, which is a concern some have voiced. There are also community forums for questions.
Other Features and Comments #
If you’re looking to create memberships to divide your site into free and paid content, you can use the Memberships Plugin, which lets you set which content will be for premium users, as well as configure subscriptions payments or recurring billing for your content. You can set different membership levels with access to different content, and choose whether to provide all content at once, or “drip” it out over the course of a membership.
You can also create an affiliate network using the Affiliates Plugin. This will allow you to manage leads from all of your affiliates with one simple plugin install.
Last cool plugin pick of the review: Check out the Chat Plugin, which allows you to set up public chat sessions, one-on-one chat session, chat sessions between users on your site, BuddyPress Group chats, BuddyPress Friend chats, and more.
MarketPress Lite Review Wrap-up #
Overall, MarketPress Lite provides a lightweight, easy-to-use WordPress plugin. However, its name is spot-on: functionality is on the light side (which is perfectly fine for the free offering). You’ll probably want to invest in the WMPU DEV membership to get the most out of other plugins, themes, and support so that you can gain access to the Pro version of the plugin and complementary plugins. Besides some of the benefits mentioned throughout this review (more payment and shipping options, product and store page styling, etc), the Pro version also allows you to integrate with Google Analytics, export orders to a CSV, includes BuddyPress and multisite compatibility (more on these later!), and more.
Some other positives include pretty extensive settings and good support. However, variations are a bit tedious to add, and I’d love to see an image gallery rather than a single featured image. I don’t believe this is included in the Pro version, but if I’ve made any mistakes, I’d love for someone to correct me :). Extensibility of the plugin is also good, but not great, and is something I hope expands with more plugin / add-on offerings in the future (currently, you really only have WMPU DEV add-ons available, and there are few options for store add-ons). In total, MarketPress delivers a solid eCommerce choice (more with the Pro version and for multisite users) that will meet the needs of many users, and will hopefully grow and become more extensible as the number of users grows.
Read more: #
- WP Mayor did a review, including videos, of MarketPress Pro.
- Chris Lema wrote a post on choosing an eCommerce plugin, which gives some highlights to using MarketPress Pro.
- The WordPress Chick wrote a MarketPress Review with a video walkthrough.
Like this MarketPress Lite Review? Check out the rest of our WordPress eCommerce Platforms Guide.
p class=”small”>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.