Of all the information on Quickshop plugin page one thing is nowhere to be found – mission statement – information telling what can be accomplished with this ecommerce plugin and what businesses it is aimed at. This review is to answer these and probably other questions that you might have when looking for an internet shop solution.
On the already mentioned plugin page instead of mission statement we get many, hardly related to one another, pieces of information. First, we learn that the plugin requires PHP5 along with a theme supporting widgets and that we can style it using CSS – information that would be more suitable for “installation” section. Next, we see the features list of the plugin that you can also see below.
- Inventory listing tied in to TinyMCE
- Integrates automatically with CFormsII (and uses CFormsII API so you can edit it easily yourself)
- Full range of formatting for widget layout in Admin -> Options -> Quick Shop
- Shopping cart Widget
- Checkout page
- Ability to create different product options in a drop-down
- WordPress MU compatible
At the end of the page we can read the history of the plugin along with few possible features that might be added in the future. This however seems very unlikely since the last update was over a year ago – on 29.01.2010.
Installing and setting up Quickshop
Even though Quickshop supports WordPress up to versions 2.9.2 I installed it without any problems on 3.1. What is interesting, on the checkout(!) page we are prompted to install CformsII plugin which is used to display checkout forms.
After required installations it is time to delve deeper into the plugin’s settings. There aren’t very many of them although some might be puzzling. Unfortunately, tutorials and documentation are simply non-existent so after installation we are on our own. In settings, among other things, we can change the currency symbol, set where it will be displayed (before or after the numerical value) and define decimal point and thousands separators. These are very much sought after elements for those dealing in other than English speaking countries.
Creating categories and adding products
Quickshop lets us sell only physical products (no downloads). To add them to our shop we first need to define their names, prices, shipping costs and variants in tools > QuickShop.
Later, this information can be imported into posts or pages using a special button in visual editor. When such a page is published it will display – along with description and images – product info and add-to-cart button. It needs to be noted, that due to the fact that these elements do not belong to the usual page/post content they will not be visible on category listings. To make them appear we need to alter the Loop and change the_excerpt() into the_content() where necessary.
Even though the possibilities the plugin gives us seem may seem sufficient for small time businesses we should be aware of its limitations:
- You cannot define tax rates
- Each of the products can have only one type of variants, e.g. colour, size, weight, etc.
- Different product variants cannot have different prices
- You cannot set stock quantity
- You cannot mark the product with an SKU code
Calculating shipping costs
In Quickshop there is only one method of calculating shipping costs that depends on the number of products in the cart. We can set default shipping cost of the first product and the cost of each of the following. These can be overwritten when defining product details. Or at least should be. Unfortunately, instead of overwriting, the price is added to the default cost. It wouldn’t have been a problem if the shipping prices were correctly displayed in product options, but they’re not. No serious seller would allow situations when the displayed shipping price is $2 and after adding the product to the cart is changed to e.g. $12. The only workaround that I have found was to set the default price at 0.000001 (you cannot set it to “0”) and choose shipping prices individually for each product.
After confirming the cart’s content we go to checkout. It consists of only one page and includes the most important elements that one might want to find there. Unfortunately, because of its simplicity the plugin allows us to use only one payment processor – paypal. Lack of other payment gateways or even simpler options like money transfer and direct payment in a shop is a big weakness.
Checkout form fields remember the text that was inserted in them and validate the email. Other fields don’t validate their content but only check if they have been filled. Even though the number of available checkout fields is not big, they can be added in checkout.php after line “// Need help? See your /wp-admin/admin.php?page=cforms/cforms-help.php”. For those who are interested I inform, that if you don’t want to make a certain field “required” you simply get rid of it by changing the code in checkout.php from e.g. “array(‘Phone number’,'textfield’,0,1,0,0,0)” to “…0,0,0,0,0…”.
Another surprise awaits us when we confirm out purchase. After the page reloads we will see almost identical checkout page as before the confirmation. The only difference is a hardly visible text thanking us for sending the comment! Fortunately, the text can be changed in cformsII settings. Still, due to the fact that it is almost invisible customers can be disoriented and try to fill in the form and buy items one more time. Additionally, owing to the lack of user accounts, viewing order history is impossible and can contribute to even bigger frustration.
After the system has accepted the order it will send the seller an email informing that the purchase has been made. Unfortunately, there is no indication of it in the admin panel so we need to keep track of all of our emails.
Modifications and adjustements
Quickshop can be localised by translating language.php file in the plugin folder. Titles of checkout fields can be changed in checkout.php (once again after “// Need help? See your /wp-admin/admin.php?page=cforms/cforms-help.php”) and the name “required” in CFormsII settings > tab “Messages, Text and Button Label”.
Suggestion. If you have translated the plugin but some of the letters are displayed incorrectly you might want to convert your translated files to UTF-8 without BOM. It can be done using, e.g. free Notepad++. To do it just open the file, click “format”> “Conwert to UTF-8 without BOM” and save it.