13 years ago, I asked the students in my advertising class at UIndy how many of them shopped online. I was surprised when just a few students raised their hands. A year later, more than half the class responded affirmatively.

While I no longer teach that class, I am pretty sure today almost every student would admit to shopping online. (And if they share anything in common with Roundpeg’s Jenna Giles, the answer would be often.)

Shopping online has become the norm. Just check out a few of these recent headlines from Internet Retailer:

Online shopping isn’t just for traditional retailers. With the move to online shopping, businesses which never thought about accepting payments or selling products online are reconsidering the idea. This shift creates some interesting challenges for small web design companies like Roundpeg. We have historically avoided ecommerce because of the complexity involved in building shopping carts, the risks associated with  creating secure environments for credit card processing and the tedium involved in building out the catalog.

In the past, we have typically outsourced the shopping cart segment or the entire website to companies who specialized in ecommerce. Occasionally, we have built very small ecommerce sites using WordPress plugins like eShop and ECWid.   In both cases, I was glad the product catalog wasn’t that extensive. The tools were okay, but did not really create an ideal customer shopping experience.

But recently I was introduced to Woo Commerce, a simple ecommerce tool. With this plugin in our toolbox, we are ready to take on the task of building a modest ecommerce site. I still won’t take on thousands of elements, but 100 is no longer daunting. Why am I so excited about Woo Shop?

  • The setup was easy. Installing the plugin automatically creates all the pages (cart, customer information, master product pages, tracking information) that you will need to make the cart work
  • The robust product section allows you to add sizes, shapes, colors, related products and customer reviews
  • Inventory levels, shipping fees and descriptions can be added with just a few key strokes
  • Comprehensive customer account information, including previous orders and billing information, is convenient for shoppers. Nothing says “I don’t really care about you”  like a system which makes you reenter your profile information every time you shop
  • Woo Commerce already supports a wide variety of popular payment gateways including Paypal, Google Checkout, 2Checkout.com, Inspire Commerce and Authorize.net
  • Analytics tools help you track sales easily

This well-designed plugin integrates seamlessly with most current WordPress Themes. Of course, the developers at Woo Commerce have a whole library of custom ecommerce themes too, but you don’t have to use them. We have been playing with Woo Commerce and are excited to give it a try. Watch for updates as we roll out the cart on some of the sites we have in development.