The New Kid: WP EasyCart Review
WP EasyCart is one of the newest eCommerce solutions available for WordPress, as it was launched about six months ago. One of the benefits to using this platform is that all functionality is included in the one-time purchase price, such as coupon management, tiered pricing, and live shipping integrations. Check out the rest of the feature list from WP EasyCart for more of what’s included.
This review covers the Pro version of the service.
Update: The 2.1 plugin update provides some great features that are not included in this review:
- You can now build PayPal subscriptions for your products (magazine subscriptions, etc). You can see all the details of the subscription, including active status, sign-up dates, last payment dates, number payments completed, and other customer information in your admin console.
- Version 2.1 includes an additional shipping method that allows you now to build a rate table based on quantity of items in the shopping cart.
- DHL is now included as a shipping carrier and can return live shipping rates for customers using this option.
- You can now enter a global handling fee, which will be added to whatever shipping rates you use.
- There’s now a setting under the ‘Advanced Options’ to enable catalog-only mode to allow browsing, but not purchases.
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
- WP EasyCart Review Wrap-up
- Visual Comparison Chart
You can get the WP EasyCart free plugin from the WordPress.org repository, which lets you set up store options. However, you’ll also need to download a store Administration plugin to add or manage products or orders. This plugin is also free, but requires a sign-up to use the 14-day free trial or a license to use all features. The trial allows you to set up 5 products to take the platform for a test drive. If you find out that you like using WP EasyCart, then you can sign up for a $40 or $80 license (Lite or Pro) for the plugin.
Note that the Lite plugin has a product quantity limit and does not include some features. The Pro version or bundled plugin + theme versions include all functionality, but all paid versions include three months of support with purchase.
There are also some bundles that include the full plugin plus a WordPress theme for WP EasyCart. I tested the platform with the default TwentyTwelve theme and it worked well, but did not test it with any other third-party themes. However, the built-in styling options will help the plugin to blend in with many themes, so I don’t think theming will be an issue.
If you do want an official theme, the ones offered are reasonably priced at $40 and provide some great options. You can buy the standard plugin from WP EasyCart, a “themed” plugin, which styles the cart, catalog, and checkout pages, or the plugin with a complete WordPress theme. Pricing options are laid out here.
Though a plugin is available on the WordPress repo, this plugin does not actually add any store functionality to your website and only handles setup, so you’ll need the companion plugin and a license. Costs will range from a one-time purchase of $40 to $120 for the plugin alone or plugin and theme. Most stores will be able to operate effectively with the basic functionality included in that pricing.
As stated previously, full installation on your WordPress site will require two plugins and a WP EasyCart signup, so it’s a bit more involved than using other WordPress plugins. Once plugins are installed and you navigation to Store Administration, you’ll be asked to sign up for a trial or to purchase a license to use the store admin plugin for WordPress:
After starting the trial or registering, you’ll have full access to start playing with the plugin. Again, we’ll be reviewing the Pro version, which includes all functionality.
One of the things I found really useful about WP EasyCart is the ability to handle store administration using a desktop or tablet application in addition to your WordPress dashboard, which are other administrative options. This can be really handy for stores that have a warehouse manager, who could update store information or order status from the floor using the app on an iPad or tablet.
I didn’t play with separate applications for the sake of brevity, but this makes options for store management more expansive than other WordPress platforms since it can be managed directly from other apps rather than through the WordPress dashboard. Technically, you don’t even need to use WordPress to manage your store, which is an interesting way of handling administration.
Once installation is complete, you’ll want to check out some setup and catalog options before creating products. The EasyCart Admin is not styled like WordPress, so frequent WordPress users will want to go through all settings and options to get a feel for how it works. Though pages are not created automatically, adding store pages is super-easy and doesn’t even require leaving the settings menu, as clicking “Create Page” does this for you:
Basic settings will also help you adjust store layout, sorting and sharing options, and more. You can enable or disable guest checkout, which can help improve conversions when enabled by reducing barriers to purchase. Under Store Setup you’ll also find the “colorize” options, which allow you to change buttons, etc., to match your theme:
More color options are located under Advanced Options, in addition to fonts and responsive size points to match your theme.
Following setup, you’ll want to check out your Store Admin and customize some of the options there before setting up the rest of your store. There are also more settings under Store Admin that I would view before moving on to other options.
Once all settings are taken care of, I’d then go to the Rates section of the Store Admin to set up shipping rates, coupons, promotions, and taxes.
Tax options in WP EasyCart are flexible and will help international sellers, as duty or customs taxes can be added to international orders. VAT can also be enabled based on country if needed. Regional taxes can also be configured for your country so that several tax rates can be used simultaneously.
WP EasyCart will allow you to sell simple, variable / configurable, downloadable, and virtual products, which makes it an option for many retail stores.
Once all setup has been completed, you’ll probably want to start adding products. However, I’d recommend setting up your catalog structure first, such as Manufacturers, as you’ll need to enter this information for all products (which is one thing I dislike about the platform). For example, you can’t leave the “Manufacturer” or SKU / model number blank for a product, so setting up structure prior to adding products will be a time-saver.
I added all Manufacturers and Categories for my products prior to setting up anything else in my catalog, which was fairly easy, as it simply requires name entry. However, some of you will also want to setup Option Sets for your products as well, which will require a bit more thought.
If you’re setting up simple products, such as stickers or mugs, then option sets may not be necessary for your store. However, more complex items, such as apparel, will make use of them, and they should be created prior to products if possible as well since they cannot be created while creating or editing products. Combo option sets will display a drop-down, while Swatches will display “swatches” / icons to select.
Once option sets are created, you can then add options, such as sizes or colors, to the set and will be able to manage inventory based on on these option sets. You can also have different options influence price or weight while creating the set. While this system would be great if you’re selling a lot of the same type of product, it may be a bit inflexible for store owners that sell unique products. For example, if different tee shirts come in different colors, then you’ll need to create separate option sets for each of these shirts if you only want the appropriate swatches to be displayed.
Product editing lacks bulk editing options for inventory adjustments, prices changes, etc., which is why I’d try to have as much structure as possible before creating and editing products. Now that the setup is done, product editing is fairly simple. Simply fill out all product information (you can’t leave anything blank, which is why I did all setup first) and insert the product into your catalog:
The price you’ve set will always be displayed. If you want this to become a “sale” price, you’ll have to set an original price to be crossed-out under advanced pricing options.
There are some other advanced options, such as allowing customer reviews, creating donation products, creating handling fees, setting B2B or wholesaler pricing, or setting tiered pricing based on quantity. You can set these if needed, or set cross-sells under “Featured Items” for your products. The available options for customizing pricing are pretty extensive, especially since they’re included in the core plugin.
After the product has been inserted, you can apply option sets, change inventory tracking based on option sets, or adjust images and add swatches for each option set.
Shortcodes and Widgets
WP EasyCart includes some great widgets and several shortcodes to use throughout your store, which gives you the opportunity to display your products in multiple ways. My favorite widget is the “Specials” widget, which lets you display specials, such as shipping promos, to customers.
An easy-to-use shortcode library is also included, and can be opened in the visual editor while creating or editing posts and pages.
One area in need of growth for WP EasyCart is order management. There are no bulk options for order management, which means you have to edit each order individually to update order statuses. Administrators are also unable to edit orders to update customer information or create orders. Order management does include the ability to add tracking information to send to the customer, which is a plus, but lacks update notes on what has been done or sent.
This introduces one problem with using WP EasyCart, as order management will not scale for stores processing hundreds or thousands of orders if statuses cannot be updated in bulk. Since the Store Admin panel is a flash integration that checks in with the WP EasyCart licensing system, it’s a tad sluggish to begin with. Manually editing every single order introduces a big time suck into the store workflow.
Frontend navigation is easy, clean, and responsive, and was one of platform highlights for me. The store looks modern to customers (no circa-1995 styling or buttons) and is easy-to-use.
Products can be displayed in a grid or list format on the frontend. I prefer a grid layout for stores with more than just a few products, as browsing is very easy and customers can view multiple products, product ratings, and change variable product colors (using swatches) at the same time. The only thing I would have liked to see would be the option to add items to the cart from the product catalog for simple products (no option sets), as this can help with conversions and makes shopping easy for customers that know exactly what they want.
The product catalog can also be sorted, and the sorting options can be changed under EasyCart Admin > Store Setup > Basic Settings.
WP EasyCart’s grid layout is responsive (another plus with theming) and provides a “Quick View” option that opens in a lightbox so that customers can view product details easily without leaving the catalog.
If customers view more information about a product, they’ll see all product images and can hover / cloud zoom over main product images (which is a built-in feature). Any option sets included for that product are also displayed. This product includes a basic combo option set:
Product pages can also display basic swatch option sets to allow users to choose which variation of a product they want to purchase by clicking the appropriate swatch.
You’ll also notice that all product pages can contain social sharing buttons, which is a great way to let customers do some marketing for you. You can choose which buttons to display under EasyCart Admin > Store Setup > Basic Settings.
Cart pages allow customers to remove products or update quantities before checking out, or proceed to the checkout page. WP EasyCart uses a multi-page checkout process (three pages total), which may introduce points at which the customer can desert the shopping cart. Customers enter their information, select shipping, then confirm charges.
WP EasyCart includes tons of payment and shipping options in the core plugin, and all are available with the purchase of the Pro version of the plugin. The Pro version also includes promotions for payments and shipping, as well as store coupons.
Promotions are interesting and flexible, and allow you to set systems such as free shipping for a set order value. They’ll also allow you to create clearance sales on groups of products, such as seasonal products, which is great functionality to have.
Coupons are also well-done, and provide multiple options for set up. They can also be limited to manufacturers or certain products, but have no included usage limits (i.e., can only be used one-time, five times, for a certain customer, etc).
The list of built-in payment processing options for WP EasyCart is pretty extensive. Using the Pro version of the plugin, several integrations are included, such as First Data, Authorize.net, SagePay, PayPal, and Braintree. However, it is missing our favorite – Stripe – which we hope is on the roadmap, but still offers great options.
WP EasyCart offers several shipping options in the Pro plugin. Price Trigger systems allow you to set up tables for shipping based on order total. For example, you could set shipping rates for orders from $0 to $15, $15 to $50, and set free shipping for orders over $50 (you could also create a free shipping promotion to do this instead).
Weight Trigger systems also create tables, but based on total order weight rather than cost (basically, a table-rate method). Static shipping methods are like flat-rate systems; you can set store pickup, ground, air, and overnight rates, or use flat rates for FedEx, UPS, etc.
WP EasyCart also includes Live Shipping Integrations. If you ship using FedEx, UPS, USPS, or Australia Post, you can enter you account information and get calculated rates for your customers rather than store-determined rates. However, use this with caution, as some customers don’t know the real cost of shipping.
The first three shipping methods allow you to set an amount that can optionally be added to the order if the customer would like expedited shipping, and products also have the option to set a handling rate that can be added if needed as well.
Very basic reporting is included in the WP EasyCart dashboard. You can view total sales for completed orders per day, week, month, or year:
Inventory management is possible with WP EasyCart, but is named “Quantity”, and Tracking Quantity options are provided. Backorders are not possible for out-of-stock products, but inventory can be tracked for product options / variations, and not just the parent product. You can also view quantities from the product list, though no low-stock notifications are included, nor the possibility to bulk-update quantities.
Support is included with the purchase of the Pro version of the plugin for three months after purchase. Support tickets can be sent via email. I didn’t have an opportunity to use the support desk, but some of the WordPress.org Reviews mention good experiences with it. All users have access to community forums and plugin documentation. I did use the documentation a couple of times, and found it helpful for the issues I experienced.
One thing I disliked is that the WP EasyCart plugin on WordPress.org essentially doesn’t add any store functionality, as you need the store admin companion plugin and a license (or trial) from WP EasyCart to actually add or manage products.
While you can set up store options using the WP EasyCart plugin, the Administration plugin from WP EasyCart is what handles product creation, order management, and some other store settings. I found this a bit misleading while checking the plugin out on WordPress.org, as the copy seems to indicate that the plugin will add the eCommerce functionality to your site rather than integrate with the store admin plugin. Regardless, installing two separate plugins just to use one platform could also be off-putting for some users, and provides one more hurdle to setup.
However, there is an upside to using two plugins, as it does allow the platform to be used on other CMS’s (such as Drupal or Joomla) and allows for the extension of the store admin in tablet or desktop apps so you can manage your store without logging in to your WordPress admin. It does create a more involved setup process, but the goods news is that you probably won’t have to install anything else (extensions, add-ons, etc). I simply would have appreciated more clarity while reading about it on WordPress.org.
WP EasyCart has solid foundations for such a new platform, but does have room to grow. All functionality, such as payment and shipping integrations, is included in the purchase price of the plugin, which makes it a strong contender for retail stores and a low-cost option at $40-120 (I would just go with the Pro version rather than mess around with the Lite version for the nominal price difference).
However, the lack of easy / bulk management for product and orders limits the scalability of WP EasyCart at the moment and may eliminate it for stores with large product catalogs or those that process thousands of orders per week. There’s also no options (currently) for recurring billing or membership capabilities, which will eliminate WP EasyCart for some business models (though simple PayPal recurring billing is coming very soon, so stay tuned!). In addition, there are very few pre-made options for extensibility or customization at the moment since it’s such a new platform, though again, a lot of features are built-in.
I’ll be curious to see the growth of this plugin, as it does a good job of handling basic retail functionality. The workflow was a bit disjointed and difficutl at first, but following the steps I laid out for product creation made the it far smoother. The scalability will be one issue that I’m sure will be addressed moving forward, but aside from that, I think developers will like using this for clients, as they can give them basic instructions and clients will be able to use the store administration panel with minimal issues, and the platform is constantly growing and being updated.
Have questions about the plugin or some functionality we didn’t address? Let us know in the comments! Visual learner? Check out our eCommerce platforms comparison spreadsheet or this comparison chart of pros / cons:
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.
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