This site uses cookies. Read privacy policy. Click exit to agree×

eShop WordPress plugin review

eShop WordPress Plugin - Review

EShop is designed with the small business in mind. By what we can learn on the plugin’s WordPress page it:

  • Utilises WordPress pages or posts and is compatible with custom post types for creating products
  • Customers can sign up to your site (settable option)
  • Various methods available for listing products
  • Products can have multiple options
  • Upload downloadable products
  • Basic Statistics
  • Download sales data
  • Various shipping options, including by weight
  • Admin has access to an Order handling section
  • Automatic emails on successful purchase
  • User configurable email templates
  • Configurable Out of Stock message
  • Basic Stock Control
  • Google Based Data creation
  • Uninstall available within the plugin
  • Various discount options
  • WPMU, Multisite compatible
  • Merchant gateways: Authorize.net, Paypal, Payson, eProcessingNetwork, Webtopay, iDEAL and Cash/Cheque!
  • Now compatible with WP Affiliate for affiliates
  • able to be used as a product catalogue with no sales

On the eShop homepage you can find documentation along with a forum about the plugin. Unfortunately, the documentation is very simple and not up-to-date. You can view screencasts showing you how to set up your basic shop, but they are not very detailed and don’t cover many things that I found unclear while working with the plugin. Unfortunately there is no other, more detailed tutorial than that.

Building the shop

We can add vital for an internet shop elements like: cart, product search etc. using widgets (image with eShop widgets). This solution doesn’t require any knowledge of coding and can really quicken the process of setting the shop up.

We can create products using either posts or pages – eShop adds to them input fields that can be used to, for example, set the price, weight, SKU code, etc. You can build product categories – here called departments – using either categories, pages (hierarchy is determined by parent-child relation) or tags. Unfortunately, none of these options are perfect.

To create departments using pages you need to add to them shortcodes. Departments produced in this way can display standard product lists as well as special ones, such as ‘latest’, ‘featured’, ‘random products’, etc. All of them list product teasers with price tags and add-to-cart buttons. Unfortunately, by choosing pages as the base you won’t be able to assign products to more than one standard department.

As opposed to pages, categories let us create whatever departments we want and add to them whatever products we want. Unfortunately, they don’t recognize shortcodes making the product list display only standard WordPress blog list elements like name, excerpt and image of a product. To have prices and add-to-cart button displayed next to your post you should go to eShop settings > General and tick “Show add to cart forms on WordPress post listings”. Unfortunately, they are visible only if in your loop the content of a post is displayed using “the_content()” instead of “the_excerpt()”.

Setting products

Before we can start adding products we have to set our currency, tax rates and product options, which we would like to be visible on the product page. All of it can be done in eShop settings section.

Due to the fact that the default currency is dollars, the currency tag is always displayed before the numerical value. While it can be changed with a bit of code I consider the lack of the appropriate option in the admin panel a nuisance for less tech savvy users.

The way taxing is handled was – in my view – designed with US customers and international sellers in mind and is the most frustrating element of the whole plugin. The amount of tax depends on shipping zones and is not added to the purchase until checkout. While this is nothing new in the US, adding tax on checkout isn’t practised in other countries and might be considered a cheat. It cannot be changed even if we deal in one zone only and can even make customers pull back from purchase.

If you want to sell internationally or in the US you can assign different tax rates (here called tax bands) to the different zones (states or countries) that you deal in. Unfortunately, on the product creation page tax rates are still referred to as “tax bands” giving us no insight as to what value they represent.

This gets even more confusing for our customers who instead of nicely displayed tax rates see something like that on the product page.

The only way customers can check what tax they would have to pay (before going to checkout) is to go to the special “tax rates” page and look for the appropriate information in the table. Unluckily, even here tax rates are ordered according to ‘zones’. To make the table understandable we need to write a legend explaining which ‘zone’ represents each country.

Adding and viewing products

When creating a product the number of options at hand is on par with some of the more serious e-commerce solutions. Thanks to additional input fields in posts and pages we can enter product’s SKU code, price, weight, set product variations, stock quantity as well as choose a file to download (we can sell two kinds of products – normal and downloadable). If we want some of this data to be invisible to the customer we can hide them using one of the options in eShop settings. Additionally, each product can be marked as “featured” or “on sale” which automatically adds it to a given department (applies only to hierarchy build on pages). There is only one thing that can be confusing. When I first saw my newly created product I was a bit puzzled – the add-to-cart button was nowhere to be found. Soon I found out that if you don’t check your stock as availabile in the product’s admin panel your customers won’t see the add-to-cart button even if the product is in stock.

Apart from this small stumble (and tax handling as explained in the previous section) creating products can be fast and easy.

Cart and Checkout

Cart displays all the important information we would expect to find in a cart. It allows us to change the quantity of given items or completely delete them from the cart. If we are happy with our choices we go to checkout.

Eshop uses a one page checkout in which we can leave our address, choose shipping and payment method, enter discount coupon as well as register (more on that later). Fields are validated. If the form validation finds errors in our data and the page reloads we won’t have to write everything from scratch – fields remember the last entered text.

On the less positive side, there is no way we can add new fields to the checkout forms. We can only hide existing ones using a few different techniques. This, in some cases, can be a crucial element when picking an e-commerce solution. I don’t know about other countries but when selling goods in Poland you need to give more company info on the invoice. Lack of fields to enter them renders the plugin useless for polish users. Before using this plugin in your WordPress installation I would advise you to take a look at input fields in the eShop checkout form.

In the same checkout we can also choose payment gateways. Apart from the usual paypal, money transfer and cash, we can use Payson, iDeal lite, eProcessing Network, WebToPay, Authorize.net and Ogone. There is no possibility to add other gateways.

I liked the nice user registration method. Instead of making the user register before making the purchase eShop lets users fill in all the shipping data and register by checking a checkbox at its end. If the user confirms the order an email with all the necessary login information is sent to his inbox. I consider this nifty feature very usable and can only hope others will utilize this solution. Nevertheless, my review stumbles here, since due to problems with emails I couldn’t check how user accounts work.

Present and past purchases can be reviewed in the “Orders” section of the admin panel. We also get a quick peek at the most important information considering orders in the WordPress dashboard.

Adjustments and modification

Eshop adds one CSS file to the header of the document. The stylesheet can be used to adjust the look and feel of the shop to the rest of the site. Plugin’s author gave us quite a few classes and ids to make this job easier. Unfortunately there is no way to modify the HTML. Those who don’t like unnecessary markup will have to bite the bullet. On the positive side, if you chose pages to build your site you will be able to modify shortcodes using attribuites.

The plugin can be translated into your native tongue using the eShop.pot translation file. Learn how to translate it.

Final words

Eshop doesn’t maybe aspire to be the most feature-rich e-commerce plugin, but it offers all the elements that one might need for a simple internet shop. Regrettably, some of these elements (taxes, changing currencies and adding fields to checkout) need rethinking. On top of that, there are no proper tutorials; or well developed, updated documentation that could aid confused users.

All in all I can recommend this plugin only to small-scale merchandisers who deal in the US and who don’t need any more fields in the checkout. There is a potential here, but at this stage of development it is really difficult to create a shop that won’t make customers confused (tax bands, lack of fields in checkout) or even leave the shop (taxes added during checkout).

  • Rich Pedley

    If every feature was settable, the already extensive settings would be too much – and I already think they are too cumbersome.

    Checkout fields can be added via an extra plugin easily, however you do need a bit of coding knowledge to code them on your own. Again adding that in to be used within the plugin itself would be a ridiculous amount of code for a limited number of users. By making things extensible you can add these via an extra plugin, allowing the core plugin to be updateable easily. I even provide a free example plugin for anyone that wants to do this themselves.

    Merchant gateways again can be added via extra plugins. I have seen a few people do this, but usually people come to myself and get a quotation for it.

    Tax was tried and tested, but it is still in it’s infancy. Until a couple of versions ago tax wasn’t even in eShop. Not every shop needs to add tax in separately, but you don’t have to use that if you don’t want to. Tax is still a work in progress. But I may have a solution for those that want tax included in the price but shown separately – keep an eye on future releases.

    You seem to think that changing currencies is a stumbling block, I think the myriad of users now using eShop would disagree. Extensive work has been done to try and make it compatible for as many different variations as possible. Yes to change the order about you do need to install and use a small extra plugin – but many many people have done that without an issue. In fact it is even used in the example on the wiki.

    Who says categories aren’t recognised in shortcodes? I suggest you go check what shortcodes are available, as not only can eShop handle categories, but it can handle tags as well.

    Setting up a shop is not easy, but I have tried to make eShop as easy as possible – and if people get stuck they are free to ask on our forums, where we give support freely.

    Unlike some other ecommerce plugins, eShop can be used with any theme.

    Documentation is always behind, and is updated when I get chance.

    So although your review covered some interesting points I think your recommendation is totally inaccurate.

    • Chris Planeta

      Hi Rich,

      Thank you for your comment and valuable insights. After checking things out I will update my review to make it more accurate.

      Regarding your points

      I tried a few shortcodes in categories but they didn’t work. I will check it one more time and correct the review.

      Before I set to writing the review I made a research concerning the plugin. I went through your blog and forum as well as “support” section in the WordPress.org. Among other things, I wanted to find a solution of how to add fields to checkout – to no avail. Google search also gave no satisfying results. That is why I wrote this and not different information in my review. I would gladly correct the review if you could tell me where I could find info on how to add them. It does not change the fact however, that this information should be at hand to any eShop users. I suggest adding a link directly in eShop admin panel. The same applies to adding merchant gateways. I couldn’t find any info on that apart from one of your older posts in WordPress “Support” saying, that you want to do this in the future.

      About my final recommendation

      While writing the review I tried to imagine the users group you are writing this plugin for. The fact that it can be translated and the currency can be changed told me that the plugin can be used by users from all around the world. Unfortunately, there were two things that prove to be major obstacles in its mission. One of them is the way taxes are handled. The fact that they are added at checkout makes the plugin unusbale in certain countries (Poland for example) where people are used to getting their prices with the tax allready included. Different policies are highly frowned upon. I realize that it is the only solution when dealing in more than one country, but the fact that it cannot be changed when somebody operates in only only one place is a big disadvantage. To tell you the truth, this small change would definitely influence my final verdict.

      Another thing that could be an obstacle for certain users is the already mentioned checkout. If the plugin is to be used by users from other countries than a fixed number of fields can be a big problem. Especially when they are no easily obtainable materials showing how to add them.

      That is why I stand by my words saying that although the plugin has got potential, the way the tax and checkout work mess everything up.

      P.S. I have noticed that you recently updated the plugin. I will look to it and change the review accordingly. I would be also grateful if you could send me a note when you make any changes to tax rates.

  • Rich Pedley

    and you have to LOL at this:

    difficult to create a shop that won’t make customers confused or even leave the shop.

    when you can’t even comment on here without validating your email address – anybody that asks me to do that goes into my auto ignore.

    • Chris Planeta

      and you have to LOL at this:

      I guess I argumented it well in the article and my previous response.

      when you can’t even comment on here without validating your email address – anybody that asks me to do that goes into my auto ignore.

      It is stated above the comment form that comments will be published after email verification. It is to prevent anonymous users from posting garbage on the site. More on the subject can be found on Yoast.

    • Zoc

      Whew! That’s a strong response, totally inadequate to the tone and conclusions of the review!

      I’ve been looking into WP e-Commerce plugins, and eShop was one of my favorites so far – until I’ve read the Rich’s response. Now I’m not sure. He’s not doing himself and his product a favor by demonstrating such impatience with the opinions of others. People might conclude that’s what awaits them with support if they bring up uncomfortable issues.

    • http://maisondehoa.com Charles Marriage

      I am finding it very difficult to set up eshop. The documentation is dreadful – truly awful. So far I’m finding it impossible to find out what works, and the scraps that make up the documentation are scattered all over the place – on youtube, in the “wiki” and in the forum. I can see that other people have similar difficulties to me (on the forum) which is surprising given the age of the product – simple changes to the product or to the documentation would reduce the workload of the support team to manageable proportions. So I’ve made a donation to support Eshop in the hope that improvements can be made (especially in the documentation), but it isn’t supporting me. I am very close to giving up.

  • http://ornitoringo.tumblr.com O. Star

    Ey there Chris, thanks for the detailed review!
    I’ve been playing around with some plugins, eShop included, and I found some aspects of the tax management a bit confusing, too.
    Anyway, in addition to this article, congratulations for your blog, truly useful content.
    Thanks and congrats again!

  • Damian

    Thank you for your time with these reviews. I’m currently trying to find the solution that will work for me… The options I’m looking at for myself so far are ZenCart, PrestaShop, and a WordPress/Shopping cart add-on solution.

    It really sounds like the add-on’s for WordPress, just aren’t there yet. Which is surprising since WP has been out for so long. Something full featured and easy to use hasn’t been developed yet? Though the tax restrictions with e-Shop don’t concern me so much, so perhaps it would work out. I don’t plan on opening a huge shop anyways. It may be an option.

    Though, not sure I like the author’s attitude so much, but agree with him that email verification for posting is going a bit far. There must be other captcha type solutions.

    Couple of questions…

    1) Do you have any experience with ZenCart vs PrestaShop? Which would you recommend for a relatively simple shop?
    2) What do you think of this plugin?
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wordpress-simple-paypal-shopping-cart/
    3) What do you consider the best WP cart plugin so far?
    4) I’m also looking at designing a site for a friend who requires a blog type site but w/subscription based content as well. (sports picks) Anything good for that? Looks like the full version of 66 would do the trick. Also looking at this plugin: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/s2member/ . That may do the trick without having to use a payed for solution. What do you think? Maybe a review of this and the “SimplePayPalShoppingCart” is in order if you’ve got the time!

    Cheers!

    • Chris Planeta

      Hi Damian,

      As far as ZenCart and Simple PayPal Plugin are considered I have never worked on them so I cannot tell you how they compare to other solutions. PrestaShop is a very nice and feature rich e-commerce CMS, but as far as I remember if you want to make your own template or heavily redesign an existing one you need the knowledge of Smarty PHP templating framework. If you just need a basic cart functionality WordPress plugin would do the trick.

      My personal choice here would be not very well known but surprisingly powerful TheCartPress. If I have enough time I will make a big review of it. If you couple it with Advanced Custom Fields and Relevanssi plugins you will get a really nice shop.

      As for your friend and subscription plugins I really cannot help you with this one.

  • http://www.melomania.co sebastian

    I dont speak too much english and i am not a professional programmer but i managed to get it running, it works like a charm! most of the issues i had were about the hosting configuration, not the plugin

    greetz

  • http://randomwalkdownearth.blogspot.com Simon

    Nice and insightful post – helped me a lot to improve my understanding of the plugin. Thank you.

    • Chris Planeta

      No problem:)

  • Joe L.

    How about Cashie Commerce? It seems really good and easy to use. The only downside is that you can’t create categories, but site says that they are working on that. It seems to be the most complete ecommerce solution, including shipping, tax, coupon codes. Adding categories would prob make it the best one yet.

  • usman

    Dear all
    im in Pakistan and want to know how i can add my country to eshop plugin.