Interview: Developer of WordPress Secret E-Commerce Weapon

Instinct Entertainment makes E-Commerce plugin software for WordPress

Here with me is Dan Milward, CEO of Instinct Entertainment LTD – makers of the E-Commerce plugin for WordPress. Thank you for taking the time.

1 – What made you decide to go out and write an E-Commerce plugin for WordPress?

Years ago I wrote a WordPress wish list on my blog. One of those wishes was for a Shopping Cart plugin – months later when a client asked me to build them a shopping cart application for WordPress I positively jumped at the opportunity. The only other option at the time was EzStatic Micro Shop and that was not a plugin – i.e. too hard for me.

2 – There are lots of good WordPress themes out there, but I haven’t seen a lot of them that are geared for E-Commerce sites specifically. What is your favorite WordPress template for E-Commerce?

At present K2 because it is easy to use – even then though it has its quirks and a lot of my developers find it difficult to customize I still like it because it is quite powerful as far as themes go – especially when coupled with the modules plugin (which extends the widgets functionality).

I think the simpler the theme the better – people want to be able to customize their sites as much as possible which is why it makes sense for us to make as many widgets and tag includes for WP e-Commerce as possible.

Back to the point though. I don’t think that there are any really good themes designed specifically with e-Commerce in mind. This is something we have recognized and it is something we’re working on – we’re especially excited about the next generation of DropShop that we are working on with Nick La from n design studio – here is a sneak preview:

Buy it Now

Dropshop 2.0

3 – Looks like you guys have been rolling out some nice new features (for those of you that haven’t tried out the drag and drop shopping module, try it out here). Care to tell the audience about any upcoming features?

Well if you like the live search feature in the Apple.com website then you’ll like the new enhanced search form coming soon. DropShop is about to get another visual overhaul, product tags are on the way in, product zooming is being planned, and future versions will be heavily optimized and we know that the next version of WP e-Commerce will load more then 70% faster then before.

4 – Are you taking appropriate steps are to make sure that your E-Commerce system is SEO ready?

Of course. This is very important to us and we have already integrated WordPress Permalinks with WP e-Commerce to make URLs more human readable and search engine friendly – plus we are about to release the new product tags feature.

I’m not sure if this is the right place to mention it but the ‘share this’ social networking feature is also integrated with WP e-Commerce and we have RSS feeds for all products and product categories.

5 – I’m under the impression that blogs are overtaking the web by force. They are indexed by search engines faster, can be a news authority, have most all of the features that a content management system (CMS) has, and now they also have the ability to do E-Commerce. How to you envision the future of blogging?

Funnily enough I was thinking about this today.

You see I use WordPress for everything, there is not much that it can’t do (and if you can think of something it can’t do then I’m sure you can make a plugin to make it do it) and so it struck me that I haven’t refereed to or even thought of WordPress as an actual “blogging tool” in years – so although you are right in that blogs are taking the web by force (I think that they always have been) I think that in some funny way the word blog is becoming synonymous with the word website. Strange huh…

But you asked about the future of blogs not WordPress. Blogs are here to stay. It is as simple as that.

Here’s a thought. When I was studying New Media one of our tutors told us that the porn industry drove website design and technology I think that now possibly it is blogs and blog developers that are changing the face of the internet. We are the new driving force…

6 – Since your E-Commerce software is a plugin, are there things that you think you will never want it to do as compared with a full scale E-Commerce system?

WP e-Commerce is becoming more and more full scaled all the time – we have OS Commerce, Zen Cart users, and e-Junkie users migrating to us all the time. I think this is because the first two pieces of software are legacy (old school) and e-Junkie users would prefer an all in one WordPress experience.

To be totally honest I believe that the only missing features in WP e-Commerce that would stop it from being called a “full scalle” solution would be UPS / Fedex shipping integration. And these are in the planning stages now. In fact if there are any readers reading this now who have experience integrating UPS etc that would care to lend a hand we would love to hear from you!

However I also think that for the average e-commerce user this does not matter – especially if you are in the business of digital downloads then it does not matter at all.

[Editors note:  more product info for the E-Commerce Plugin can be found on Instinct’s Wiki located here.]

18 Comments

  1. I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with this plugin. I give it a much higher rating than osCommerce in almost every imaginable aspect.

  2. @dan: have to agree with you there. Only thing is that it isn’t as robust as other e-commerce packages that have been around longer (i.e. UPS integration and other customizations) but I’m sure it will improve with time.

  3. Brialliant idea, there are loads of people selling things like consultancy or training products from blogs.

  4. yes, this plugin is *awesome*. re search engine friendliness, i must say that existential(!) features like individual title tags for products and categories seem to be unsupported at the moment. in my opinion, this should have higher priority than permalinks. the world should be grateful to Dan (I am!) for developing and sharing wp e-commerce. seo issues is all that keeps me from using it at this point.

  5. I’m very impressed, and I’m convinced this plugin will outscore OSCommerce, Joomla + VitueMart and Zen Cart. The SEO capabilities are excellent, and that is certainly very important. Thank your for sharing it.

    Best wishes

  6. I think the UPS integration is crucial. I also find the documentation lacking. That said this is a great tool and it’s awesome to have a good e-Commerce solution for WP.

  7. Thanks for the post Brian, and thank you to all the commenter’s!!! We really appreciate all the positive feedback.

    We are gearing up to launch the next full 3.6 version. It will come with basic USPS integration… actually that said the current Beta has this too.

    Ciao,

    Dan

    dan milward’s last blog post..WordPress Social Network: BuddyPress

  8. as someone who purchased the ‘gold cart’plugin – dont. The code was all messed up and required modification to get basic things like the buy now button to show, and the support was non-existant – 5 months later and Im still waiting for access to the forums.

  9. Hi Kellie,

    I’m sorry you’ve had a bad experience. Nobody has to ‘wait’ to access the forums, they are free and, here is a link to the register page for our forums: http://instinct.co.nz/blogshop/wp-login.php?action=register

    I can’t understand why the buy now buttons would not work. All I can say is that we’ve tested this feature and it works on our testing environments. I also suspect you may have been using an older version. If you email me I’ll make sure you get looked after this time and are sent all the latest files.

    Regards,

    Dan

  10. Kellie,

    As Dan said, the buy now should not be an issue…and the forums are free. I’m on there quite a bit and also offer support for this plugin. You can always contact me at my site if you have questions or need help.

    http://www.stasticdesigns.com

    Thanks!

    shaynes last blog post..Top 5 WordPress Ecommerce Tips

  11. Brian, I keep coming across your blog posts in Google. I am looking for a good WP e-commerce template that I can customize for a client. Your post was on the first page for “WordPress e-Commerce themes”. Since you are obviously aware of the plug-in, do you know of any good themes that are out there?

  12. Thanks Brian ~ I downloaded the Craft Cart theme and spent the last couple of hours tweaking it. I think that it is considerably easier to learn and customize than Zen Cart.

  13. @Ryan: agreed, it’s much easier to ramp up, especially for those already familiar with WordPress.

  14. I have been looking for wordpress ecommerce templates, but only found the Crafty ones… not many offered templates available…

    noorazas last blog post..Elevator Pitch for Your Blog

  15. I never heard of the plugin but I will try it for sure, it seems easy.

  16. I will surely try this E-Commerce plugin on my blog site. For Dan, thank you for sharing this and I know this will help me a lot. I hope I could get some free template that is compatible with this.