Shopping for a Shopping App 1

First off as an update on Aisuru: my offering a hardback is looking more and more like a possibility, though it may not be available on the 27th with the rest (due more to IngramSpark’s turn around times than anything else).  I’m also happy to see that I should be able to have it pretty reasonably priced, in the $19.99-24.99 range.  At least for US shoppers.  I did conversions for other countries, but honestly I have no idea what “normal” prices are so I just did it based off the US price and keeping the earnings per copy roughly equal.  

Meanwhile, seriously, is there not a decent eCommerce app (preferably hosted) that can:

  • handle digital and physical goods
  • do tax and shipping calculations
  • has some semblance of a decent appearance
  • preferably has a way to do coupon codes
  • doesn’t cost some ridiculous amount a month for a small shop

I’ve looked at SO many at this point my poor brain is numb! The WordPress plug ins are not playing nice with my theme and most of them are just too convoluted to deal with.  I’ve tried both WooCommerce (twice) and WP eCommerce, and right now I’m noping on both.  WordPress just isn’t made to be a store front too – it really isn’t.  Combined with all of the highest rated plugins being “free” unless you actually want features, then they are hundreds of dollars for add-ons.  At that point, might as well just throw on a full blown cart in a subfolder of the site and not bother with the WP integration.

For the preferred option, a hosted solution, I’ve looked at well over 3 dozen at this point 😯  (yes, seriously!).  The top ones in terms of frequent recommendations, I mostly gave a test run:

  • Gumroad doesn’t do physical goods except by “preapproval” and even then you still have to upload something for them to give customers – no way; that would be insanely confusing.  I’m also not going to only list the eBooks on my site, it would be silly.  If anything I’d do just print and link off to the eBook places instead.
  • Selz seemed really promising, but it converts all payments from Australian dollars (even though they also say they have a US division); it’s also one of several where it’s “free”, but then it’s $4.99/mth for a real shopping cart, $4.99/mth to have PayPal as a payment option, $3.49/mth if you want actually customize receipts, and on and on and on…
  • Shopify was another one that looked very nice, but it’s $29/mth; way too much for me to justify at this point when I’m already now over $2k in the hole for just getting Aisuru out; maybe down the line if I have a steady stream of sales each month I could do it, but not now; it did have the nice benefit of coming with a POS for in-person sales (though not likely to do many of those)
  • Volusion is only $15/mth, but again, it’s just too much for me to justify on the first book and expected initial low volume sales
  • PrestaShop – wasn’t too bad looking, but it was way too complex for my needs; if you are doing a lot of products or a real store, I’d recommend looking at them
  • Etsy apparently will now let you sell your books there, but from the threads in their forums, it isn’t ideal for that sort of stuff and gets very low traffic
  • Ecwid – was actually fairly promising, especially with no transaction fees and a free version if you have fewer than 10 products, but the free lacked key features and thus again, $15/mth is just too much to add on right now
  • Square Up – wanted my private home address and similar personal details (that no other place wanted even when collecting for the 1099s – they were all fine with my business details) to “verify” my identity – um, no
  • E-junkie, has a starting plan of $5/mth that goes up in reasonable amounts based on the number of products you have,  they can support digital and physical goods, discount codes, etc.  $5/mth I could tolerate, especially as thus far I didn’t find any “add ons” that tack on to the price…but their site looks so dated the web snob in me shudders!  Still, I tried it and yeah, the back end is not any more modern and it’s really no better than me just making my own PayPal buttons.

So yeah…no store yet, but I’m still working on it….

Meanwhile, during all that hunting, I kept hitting on more and more notes about the VAT changes in Europe.  From what I’ve read so far, the short of it is that my direct sales store will likely not have eBooks as an option, at least for buyers in areas affected by this, unless I find a solution that handles it for me.  😥  Please note, either way I will still offer the print books anywhere in the world the US government allows me too, it’s just that for affected areas that the eBook sales might have to go through Amazon, Kobo, etc instead so they can deal with the VAT stuff.

Fortunately, the new rules doesn’t extent to physical goods so I will still be able to offer those without such headaches!