The WordPress Edmonton group met on Monday, January 19 for our second meetup since the hiatus. Our beginner’s topic speaker was Daelan Wood, website developer for Poppy Barley — one of Edmonton’s hottest new companies. Poppy Barley makes custom designer footwear, and Daelan’s talk focused on how the company uses WooCommerce to run their online store. In Daelen’s words, WooCommerce is the most “solid” of all the WordPress plugins made for eCommerce.
Daelan also noted that any WordPress plugin designed for eCommerce will have limitations when it comes to the type of sales that Poppy Barley does, because their products are custom and made-to-measure. Therefore, unlike most online retail business models, their business model has more in common with manufacturing than it does with straight-up product fulfillment.
So without further ado, Daelan’s WooCommerce pros:
- good payment integration, including Stripe, PayPal and many others
- integrates directly into WordPress, and you are ready to start selling (particularly with a standard product fulfillment business model) right away
- good basic inventory management options, though the base solution has limitations when it comes to inventory tracking from a manufacturing standpoint
- lots of add-ons available to meet the individuals needs of store owners
- uses the WordPress API, which makes theme customization easy and use fairly intuitive for those already familiar with using WordPress
Daelan’s WooCommerce cons:
- everything to do with the store — products, orders, etc — are stored as posts in the wp_posts table of the WordPress database, which is the same place where blog posts, site pages, comments and more are also stored. This approach is good for extensibility, but it can also result in increased database query times, as well as a lack of ability to generate incremental order IDs, since the table is being shared with other post types
- WooCommerce is geared toward fulfillment over manufacturing — it is easy to track whole product inventory, but when it comes to things like base materials inventory, patterns, returned custom stock or pre-made stock, this presented challenges which had to be addressed by incorporating custom solutions
- no support for customer history and tracking non-sales interactions with customers
Some of the things that Daelan mentioned in terms of the learning curve of running an online store:
- track everything you can — gather as much data as possible about user and customer behaviour on your website with Google Analytics and other tools
- do user testing to get an idea of how someone who is not a web developer would use your online store
- follow established eCommerce design patterns and follow through on the expectations these patterns have already instilled in your customers of how your site works
- “assume the customer won’t understand anything you’ve built”
- don’t be afraid to “break up” with difficult customers who are more trouble than they’re worth
- get a great web host with amazing tech support (he mentioned WP Engine, which specializes in WordPress hosting)
Thank you very much to Daelan for sharing his insights and experiences.
After that, we moved on to our second speaker for the evening, Joseph Luis CM, whose advanced topic talk focused on how to transfer a WordPress website from one server/host to another without the help of plugins or admin tools (in other words, how to do it the “ninja” way).
Tools and resources you will need before you begin:
- access to servers, including database servers — this usually means the login credentials for your new web host and your old web host
- FTP/SSH or File Manager to move files between servers and edit wp-config.php (the file containing WordPress database credentials)
- command line or phpMyAdmin access to your WordPress databases
The process works as follows:
- export your WordPress website database using command line access or phpMyAdmin
- get a copy of your WordPress website’s wp-content folder via FTP/SSH or File Manager. This is where all your website’s unique content outside of the WordPress core files is stored, such as your themes, plugins and uploads
- on your new web host or server, import your WordPress database using command line or phpMyAdmin
- transfer your wp-content folder via FTP/SSH or File Manager to your new web host or server
- edit the wp-config.php file in your website’s root WordPress directory with your updated database login credentials
- if necessary, change the main website URL and all the URLs inside post content, such as image paths and internal site links. The Velvet Blues Update URLs plugin is helpful if you have a lot of URLs to change.
After the speakers wrapped up, the group spent some time chatting and socializing as we usually like to do. Thanks to all who attended. Please join us for the next WordPress Edmonton Meetup on Monday, February 23, 2015 at 5:45 pm, once again hosted by Startup Edmonton HQ. Please note that although our meetups typically fall on the third Monday of every month, February 16 is Family Day, and the meetup has been moved to the following week.