WP Online Store Plugin


WP Online Store Plugin Review

WP Online Store Plugin: The FREE WordPress e-commerce plugin integrating the osCommerce online store system with a WordPress website. WP Online Store is the WordPress integration of the Open Source osCommerce e-commerce platform.

WP Online Store PluginThe WP Online Store Plugin brings a full featured osCommerce site into a WordPress website framework. The plugin is not theme dependent like so many other WordPress e-commerce solutions. Some of the other solutions only work properly with themes specially designed for the plugin/system.  This feature allows a store owner to create a great looking website for their online store.

WP Online Store Site Optimisation

The excellent SEO aspect of WordPress allows for a very strong website. E-commerce website are notoriously hard to get rated by search engines. With Google so content driven, any site needs a lot of good content. Short product descriptions and so on are not Google friendly. Strong, original product features however can be content rich, exactly what Google looks for.

While highly detailed content may added to an osCommerce store, too much of this makes the shopping experience somewhat clumsy. In my opinion, a well written and optimised page describing a product, winked to the product in the store catalogue is an ideal, if work intensive, option. Product descriptions in the store catalogue can be concise and to the point, a brief overview of the main features and the most important specifications, with links to the description page for more detailed information.

WP Online Store for Large Catalogues

The WP Online Store Plugin integration of osCommerce is ideally suited to large product  catalogues. In the case of my store, a comprehensive range of computer products will be available aimed at Southern African buyers. The structure of the WP Online Store osCommerce solution permits products to be categorised by type e.g. motherboards, graphic cards and so on, placed in sub categories within these categories, as well as by manufacturer. Further Product Attributes (providing product options) can also be used, e.g. differentiating between different motherboard CPU sockets and chip-sets.

For a store builder only wanting to offer a small range of products, there are other e-commerce solutions that may need less work to get the most out of a site. Where WP Online Store comes into its own is with its ready to run setup, where all the mentioned product cataloguing features are already available,  just needing the information added to the store for the products and categories.

Customising WP Online Store

The osCommerce WP Online Store can be customised via the admin console. Fortunately for me, it perfectly matches the image I had in mind for the site. The silver/grey fits in perfectly with the Mystique theme used for the site. Users are not limited to this layout, or to the silver/grey store theme though. Layout changes are possible using the admin layout tools.

A built in banner manager adds a useful feature to store. The default static banner can be removed or changed to provide your own banding (although a credit to wponlinestore.com would be nice to add to the site – These guys are really working within the GPL concept).

WP Online Store Support

Several levels of support are available, ranging from basic free support via a bug ticketing system and a community forum, to comprehensive paid for priority support.

I must mention the free support offered. It is good. I had an issue (see below) after installing the plugin and opened a ticket. Readers should note my opening statement was to the effect “I am not looking for support for this bug, I just want to notify you..” Garfield (from wponlinestore.com) responded by e-mail acknowledging receipt of the ticket within a few hours (note the time difference between my location and theirs). Mark, also from wponlinestore.com also sent me an e-mail recently inquiring if I had sorted out the problem. Good follow-up, and looks promising for the future of their enterprise.

(They have a good-looking website too)

WP Online Store Business Functions

Of course any online shop is about customers.  WP Online Store has a full set of reporting tools, ranging from the store dashboard charts giving a quick overview of revenue and customers, to more detailed reporting of sales, stock levels and all the information a store owner requires.

WP Online Store admin charts

The plugin website has a full list of features for the WP Online Store Plugin

About osCommerce

osCommerce has attracted a a community of more than 256,700 store owners, developers, service providers, and enthusiasts. Over 6,700 add-ons are available for free to customise the e-commerce solution

osCommerce is an Open Source e-commerce solution available for free with a feature rich set of out-of-the-box online shopping cart functions allowing store owners to set up, run, and maintain online stores with minimum effort and with no costs, fees, or limitations involved.

My WP Online Store Setup

WP Online Store - Otgaar Computer TechnologyI used the plugin until recently on my online store Otgaar Computers & Technology and really liked the features of this e-commerce system. (I was forced to change sytems as the site was having problems with Google indexing the products. This very occasional problem has baffled the plugin development and support team, my hosting company server techs and myself. For now I have moved e-store to a development domain to try to solve the mystery)

At first the site wasn’t cached, as I prefer to work on a site without caching. However, even without caching, the site loaded quickly. The theme, Mystique) is used in its ‘flexible’ width mode, and the store part of the site also shrinks and expands in width when the browser window is re-sized.

At the time of writing this article, I have only a handful of products on the site, and the site is not ready for trading. Once I open the site, the ugly page heading will be removed of course, and even the page title will not display on the page (CSS visibility rule – already used for the site front page).

The banner seen below the products visible at the moment will also be changed.

The combination of the silver/grey WP Online Store theme with the WordPress Mystique theme fits well with my business website graphicline.co.za yet is sufficiently different to be noticeably separate.

My e-store going ahead at last

I started the build of this e-commerce website back in December 2011. However an apparent “bug” brought the build to a standstill. I decided to suspend the take on of products and supporting content, wondering if the bug was fixable.

As I mentioned before, I submitted a bug report, but stated I did not need assistance at the time. (I like to sort out things myself – sucker for punishment, I know). The ‘bug’ (non-bug) only affected the admin panel, not the public site.

During this frustrating search for the fault, I came to a conclusion I might have to look for another solution, or another theme, then a last-ditch effort to find the fault produced results (I’m just one of those people who think man is master of the machine, and will often spend days or even months making machines do what I want). Of course I had looked for a problem with the plugin, or incompatibility with other plugins, or themes.

It turned out the bug had nothing to do with the plugin, but with the server (or something related to this), and a .htaccess file.

This problem has been positively identified as Apache security adding password protection to the WPOnlinestore admin folder, and is not a fault or bug with the plugin. The fix is quite simple; however, for security reasons the information is only available on request (it will not be published) from the developers or myself (use the contact form). NOTE: All other support requests should be made using the plugin developers support system – I only provide paid-for help for other problems with this plugin, or answer questions posted on the WordPress.org plugin forum!

me on google plus+Mike Otgaar

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About Mike

Web Developer and Techno-geek Saltwater fishing nut Blogger

Posted on January 6, 2012, in Product Review, REVIEWS, WordPress and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Hi Mike,
    Just wanted to say thanks for “REAL” info you preovided.
    I’m a newb and learning daily and I rely on true blue in the trenches folks like you for good advice…like I feel you just shared in this post.
    Wish me ‘bon chance’ on my about to begin ecommerce adventure. I’m re-vamping 2 websites of mine to become at least partially ecommerce sites to sell products I build and promote/re-sell. We build wine cellars and conversion room kits as well as solid wood furniture in both new and reclaimed wood.

    Thanks again and all the best with your ventures,
    Greg
    http://www.redridgewinecellars.com
    http://www.allreclaimedwoodfurniture.com

    • Greg – nice websites…
      WPOnline Store is a great system – with a few quirks. I really advise if you use it you splash out on the SEO module. And check if Google can index the products early on.
      Otherwise – good luck or should I say bon-voyage – e-commerce is an interesting journey.
      Also have a look at “CartPress” as well

  2. Glad you got that bug sorted out Mike. Your store is looking nice.

    Thanks for the great review. May i share it?

    Cheers,
    Garfield WP Online Store

    • Hi Mark

      Share it with pleasure.

      Thanks for the remarks RE the store – now the product listing can go ahead, and the supporting content. Lots of work – I need an assistant. LOL.

      Really have to thank you guys for the input. This non-bug caused a lot of head scratching. I sent a mail to my hosting service today asking them to confirm the cron run file generation thing. Will mail Mark with the info when they reply, probably tomorrow.

      I didn’t want to go into details about what I did to stop the problem in case my solution was a security risk, but as Mark has now confirmed the plugin does not require or use that .htaccess file, I can tell you now.

      First off the .htaccess file mentioned was deleted, however it gets generated again during cron. Leaving a blank .htaccess file in place with read only permissions (0444) prevents it from being overwritten and solves the problem. I also found another way; using an allow rule to permit access from the server IP also seems to work. Next will be trying something using a more specific ‘allow rule’ when time permits my trial and error approach. Even though it’s not needed, finding the various solutions is something of a personal challenge.

      How about an integration for OpenERP next, or osCommerce for Drupal!

      • OSC for Drupal!! (shudders) got our hands full with the WordPress integration Mate.

        But never say never. 😉

        Cheers
        Garfield

        • Should be a piece of cake for you – Ha ha…

          The developer doing the Open ERP integration for Drupal7 gave up I think!
          Some of the ‘7’ projects really seem to be a battle – lots of things are still in alpha or beta even though they were already in progress when 7 was released – and 8’s around the corner. Even some of the critical views plugin extensions options are still unstable – and other modules need the functions. And a white screen on a Drupal site is not a pretty thing to see.

          That’s why my business site has not gone much further in the past 3 months – waiting for some stable releases of a number of modules.

          Cheers

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