Cart66 – A Premium WordPress E-commerce Solution

Shopping Cart Widget

You all know of my love affair with WordPress, one of the principle reasons for which is its incredible extensibility through the use of plugins. Perhaps one of the most common requests that people want to know if WordPress can handle is the ability to sell goods online. And as usual, the answer is yes. My personal preference for doing so is to use the premium Cart66 plugin.

Now, there are a few free e-commerce solutions for WordPress, however, they don’t tend to be as well thought out, or nearly as comprehensive or powerful as Cart66, at least, not without the purchase of premium add-ons.

Cart66 features

Cart66 has a lot of premium features that you either won’t find in other e-commerce plugins, or that will cost you extra. However, let’s start with the basics:

Product List

You can sell either digital products or physical products. I personally think it’s a bit over-the-top to buy Cart66 to sell just digital content – I would personally recommend something like Easy Digital Downloads instead. However, if you want to sell a combination of digital and physical products, then it’s nice that they have a good system for doing so.

You can also set multiple shipping options and configure tax options by state and/or country, to meet your own personal taxation requirements.

If you want to sell products with variable price options, you’re also covered: each product can be set with as many different price options as you need, if you have different sizes, numbers or types of the same product for instance.

To help promote your products, you can use coupons and promotions to give specific discounts on certain items, or combinations of items.

Shopping Cart WidgetThere’s also a number of other standard features that you would expect to find in any e-commerce plugin, like the ability to put products on any page or post with a shortcode, a shopping cart widget, the ability to add custom fields for products, the ability to sell internationally and customising your email receipts. But I want to move on to its more advanced features:

Advanced features

Where Cart66 excels is in its advanced feature set. It has built-in integration with a variety of services to make the most of your store.

For example, it has built-in connectivity with a variety of shippers (including UPS, USPS, FedEx, Canada Post ad Australia Post) to provide live shipping rates, contingent upon you entering weights for the items you’re selling. That way, you can offer the best and most reliable prices to your customers by charging the actual shipping cost instead of unnecessarily over-inflating it to cover yourself and make yourself uncompetitive.

If you want to provide support, or FAQs to your customers, you can integrate with the popular Zendesk to do so. You can also stay in touch with your customers with a number of mailing list providers, including Constant Contact and MailChimp.

If you have a license with iDevAffiliate, you can also integrate the two to provide an affiliate program for your members, enabling you to reward your members for selling your content or products to people in their own networks. Affiliate marketing is a huge tool in online sales and is sure to give people an incentive to recommend products and services that they already believe in.

You can also integrate with Amazon S3, to make delivering your digital content much easier, quicker and less burdensome on your own server; just enter your Amazon S3 credentials, and Cart66 will take care of the rest.

Product ViewIf you sell physical products, you can use the Cart66 plugin to track your inventory, warning you when supplies are low and disallowing customers from buying products that are out of stock.

What’s awesome is that Cart66 comes with all the payment gateways you could possibly need. Out of the box, it supports:

  • Stripe
  • Braintree
  • PayPal (all varieties)
  • Offline payments
  • Authorize.net
  • Quantum
  • Eprocessing Network
  • eWay
  • PayLeap
  • Merchant Warrior
  • Sage Pay

That should cover you, whether you already have an existing merchant account, or you’re looking to start one up.

Membership sites

You can also use Cart66 to create membership sites, reserving certain content for paid members and beyond that, allowing different levels of membership access to different amounts of content. It also has the ability to support free memberships and supports subscription memberships, where frequent payments continue to give a user access to the site. Furthermore, your customers have control over their own memberships and are able to upgrade, downgrade and extend their memberships through their own accounts.

Conclusion

You really have to see Cart66 in action to appreciate just how powerful it is. To be transparent, I should note an annoyance that I have with it; you can’t categorize your products and have them automatically display on your site. Unfortunately, Cart66 just allows you to enter the product information and then you need to create posts or pages to display your products on the site manually. So in my mind, that’s a bit fiddly, but once you get over that, it really is a great system to work with. There’s also a load of Cart66 specific themes to work with that help get the products displayed on your site in the way you want, so all is not lost.

All in all, it’s a wonderful e-commerce solution for WordPress and really worth with moderate initial investment. Also, I should note that if you want to give it a test-drive first, you can always download their Lite version to take it out for a spin, for free.

Download Cart66

7 thoughts on “Cart66 – A Premium WordPress E-commerce Solution”

  1. Alan says:

    Hey Dave,

    I hope you are well,

    I currently have Dippsy Products installed on my site – it’s a free plugin which allows me to sell products and I use it to sell a particular e-book.

    One question – You wrote a post about some free software for selling digital products on 18th – which sounded like a really cool product & then this one for a premium product.

    If we’re just talking about selling digital products, which one would you recommend – isn’t the free one enough?

    cheers,
    Alan

    1. If you’re just selling Digital Products, I would recommend Easy Digital Downloads without a doubt. It’s an incredible plugin and does things the right way. Well worth a look.

  2. Have to disagree on Cart66. After purchasing it for a client, I found it could only handle very basic pricing structures, and found a number of complaints about that in the forums. (This shortcoming isn’t evident until after purchase, and the forums require a login which requires a purchase.) Most people take tiered pricing as a given with ecommerce plugins, but it’s missing from Cart66 – this is a *major* shortcoming for a paid plugin. Also missing:
    – discounts based on quantity and/or order value
    – free shipping if over order value
    – pricing for product bundles (also = quantity discount on mix of products)
    – temporary price settings (sale pricing, qty or bundle price, free shipping until x date)
    – temporary global price reductions as well as on a per-product basis (e.g., everything 20% off until January)
    – wholesale pricing & referrer-based pricing (foundation for affiliates) = discounted pricing based on set criteria (coupon code, referrer, logged-in member)
    – option-based price adjustments (black or wood or XXL costs $x more)

    Based on the release notes for the latest update, they’re adding in a lot of frills, integrations, and extras but aren’t really addressing this core shortcoming… and there’s little to no response to these complaints in the forums, at least not that I’ve seen. I would look elsewhere for a shopping cart – there are several credible alternatives.

    1. Brad,

      Very much appreciate your input. Obviously, it’s hard to know upfront whether a plugin has everything you need, until you try to do it and realise that it can’t be done, so I appreciate you letting everyone know where Cart66 falls short, so that they can make an informed decision.

      Cheers

    2. Nick Pearson says:

      I was about to take a Cart66 for test-drive until I read you valuable comments, Brent. Could you say which WP e-commerce plugin you’d recommend, it sounds like you’ve had experience with a few and have had to suffer their inherent limitations.

      I’ve used WP e-Commerce (which I understood to be the best) a couple of years ago but found that had several limitations too. It made me realise that there is a big difference between the WP e-commerce plugins and the “proper” e-commerce platforms (I’ve used Zen Cart and Interspire Shopping Cart).

      Having said that, I would still like to use a WP based e-commerce system for smaller projects – is there anything you can suggest?

      Thanks.

      (Thanks for the handy blog posts, Dave, I’m enjoying reading them.)

  3. I’m not so up-to-date on the various eCommerce plugins that I can give you a quick survey, but I’d be paying attention to WP e-commerce and WooCommerce. I haven’t used Shopp or Jigoshop myself, but may be worth an eval.

    My sense of WP ecommerce plugins at present is that there isn’t a good one-size-fits-all, so the “best” option for one site may not be right for another one, even if they do cover the same basic features. For example, some give you great flexibility in what the product page looks like (Cart66) but that can mean that setting up products can be tedious, so it won’t scale well past 100 products.

    Unfortunately right now, I’d say that there’s no category of WP plugin selection that takes more homework than getting the right shopping cart. For all but the simplest requirements, best advice is to carefully and fully understand what the site needs and how you want it to work first, then match that up with the available options. It may take a few hours to get to a selection this way, but that’s still a shorter/safer route than getting into it and having to jump to a different solution.

    btw, for the Cart66 site I did I ended up having to modify one core file to get it working how I wanted… but to be fair, WP e-commerce would have been the same.

  4. Jim McClure says:

    Thanks Brent,

    You saved me headaches and $$$ with your posts.
    Need a cart that handles price discounts based on quantity and was able to remove Cart66 from my list based on your comments. They are VERY VAGUE and HIDE this shortcoming from their website and It was difficult answering this question. I know WP-ecommerce handles this but I am not a fan of that plugin either. Looked at Marketpress and that too has no options for discounts based on quantity. Woo Commerce has a $99 add-on for this function.

    If interested I finally decided on Shopp as they have a really great set of discounts based on conditions.

    https://shopplugin.net/docs/promotions/conditions/

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