The word “e-commerce” gets thrown around a lot like it’s a product you just pull off the shelf and start using, but in our experience, it’s far from the case. We’ve done a number of different e-commerce websites, no two have been remotely the same, whether it’s what they sell, their features, or what they need to integrate with. At their core, they all do the normal e-commerce stuff of listing products, taking payments, and handling shipping, but each does it in their own special way. That’s why we’ve found that we need to approach each project with it’s own mindset, and have a platform that supports this without us needing to build a custom solution from scratch each time.
In comes Woocommerce, and e-commerce platform for WordPress, and we’re smitten to say the least. It’s both powerful and flexible, and we’ve yet to run into a situation where it won’t do something we need.
One of the sites we’ve worked on was upgrading and modernizing https://www.instantmusicnow.com. This site sells high quality professional stock audio music users can download and use in their own creations, as well as physical media they can purchase and have shipped to their home. When making this we needed to be able to process payments with a few different methods, allow users to download digital products after purchasing, and heavily modify how these items are being displayed on the site.
While Woocommerce handles digital and physical media out of the box really well, we wanted to feature a modern web media player that allowed users to preview audio files on the site and skip around like a desktop media browser. They also needed to be able to choose between various formats and durations to purchase. Using the various hooks and template overrides within Woo, we were able to do just that so we could integrate our custom templates and audio player without affecting the core aspects of the platform, and still allows us to perform upgrades with minimal work.
Another e-commerce site we worked on was with our friends at Newtwist https://www.newtwist.com. Newtwist sells high end jewelry both in their physical storefront, as well as online. With Newtwist, they wanted to be able to easily sync inventory between the point of sale (POS) system used in their physical store, and their online presence, as well as manage gift cards that work at both locations.
We were able to utilize an existing Lightspeed POS plugin to help with the integration with their Lightspeed POS system, as well as write our own plugin to extend it to allow the gift card integration. Again, the extensibility of Woocommerce allowed us to not only extend the core functionality but integrate with other plugins using their hook system to create the best solution for our clients.
The final one we’ll look at here is our latest e-commerce website https://www.xtracycle.com. With this, we stretched Woocommerce’s flexibility to the limit, and it handled it beautifully. To start with, we needed to integrate Woocommerce with several other services to handle sales tax, shipping, inventory management, accounting, fulfillment, customer service, and others. While most of these had plugins we could use that were meant to work with Woocommerce, we had to write the inventory integration with Unleashed Software from scratch using their public API and heavily modify the existing plugin to integrate with DCL fulfillment. Using Woocommerce’s hooks, we could hook into just about anywhere we wanted in the e-commerce process to allow our plugins to modify data or redirect a process. With this, we were able to take several separate processes and integrate and automate them to create a lot less overhead for Xtracycle.
We also wanted to create a great process for users to customize their purchased bikes, which you can play with at https://www.xtracycle.com/product/edgerunner/. We were able to leverage Woocommerce products and variations and modify templates to allow this interactive process where users can select the features of their bike and the image update to exactly what their bike will look like. We’re pretty darn proud of it.
The last main area dealt with shipping. We needed to customize shipping rules based on what products were in the cart, if a dealer was purchasing instead of a customer, etc. For example, dealers might get different pricing than standard customers, or if someone purchases a bike, depending on how close they’re located to an authorized dealer, they can ship it to the dealer for pickup instead of their house. Pretty cool right? We were able to accommodate all of this and give as much edibility as possible to Xtracycle so they can manage their store themselves with minimal help from us.
If you’re looking for an e-commerce site, no matter how customized it might be, let us know and we’ll talk with you about how we can set it up so that it’s flexible and easy to manage. Use the contact form below.
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