How To Set Up E-Commerce on WPMU in Under 10 Minutes
There are a number of different avenues for enabling e-commerce within your WPMU blogging network. Today we’ll examine a plugin that has recently become a viable option for WPMU. If you want a shopping cart that is free, WPMU-compatible, and a completely WordPress-contained solution, check out the WP E-Commerce plugin develped by Instinct. It has a fantastic set of features that are very flexible within WordPress, easy to style if you know a bit of CSS and simple to set up. Best of all, a great deal has been done to make sure that it works well with WPMU and it’s been operating seamlessly for about the last three months. They have a sticky post on their forums for those of us who are interested in using this plugin with WPMU.
In this post we’re going to help you get a store, and even a network of stores, set up in under 10 minutes. Did you know e-commerce could be this simple?
1. Start with a working installation of WPMU.
2. Download the WP E-Commerce Plugin and drop it in your plugins directory. Grab the Development Version, if you like to live on the edge.
3. Activate the plugin sitewide.
4. Configure the settings for your store under Products >> Settings
5. Add a product! Products >> Products.
You should be operational! If you already know what kind of settings your store will require, then you can set your store up in under ten minutes. The plugin has a decently user-friendly interface. Paypal Website Payments Standard is probably the simplest payment gateway to set up. The gateways included with the free version are Chronopay, PayPal, PayPal – Express, Google Checkout, and manual payment (for cash or money orders).
Note: Your users may get a list of directories that are not writeable and the following notification: “You won’t be able to upload any images or files here. You will need to change the permissions on these directories to make them writable.” Just follow the instructions to make those directories writeable after you activate the plugin. I have found that you will not get this error if you add the plugin to your installation and then create new blog owners after the plugin has already been activated.
Please keep in mind that WP E-commerce is not perfect and people are continuing to work to make it operate more smoothly with WPMU. Support for this plugin is abysmal but you may get lucky and network with some people who are using it for projects and who can help you with issues you encounter. During certain times of the year, the support forums become a virtual ghost town. Documentation for the plugin is weak. Some payment gateways are not available except through a paid upgrade, but it’s a fairly nominal fee for what you’re getting. Each subdomain you run will need to pay for the premium upgrades if you choose to use them. There are other options for e-commerce with WPMU, but they do not all share the great number of features of this plugin.
Create Your Own Premium Hosted Network of Stores
If you activate WP E-commerce sitewide you will be able to build a community of networked stores, each with their own separate logins, products, payment gateways, and settings. With a little tweaking, you can use the main blog site as an aggregate of all of your stores with featured new products selected from among the stores in the same way that you might feature posts from different blogs. Combine this with paid membership and provide hosting and support, and you have a premium hosted store network website in operation. If you need support for this plugin, please contact Instinct on their free forums. The more WPMU users they hear from, the better this plugin will become for the WPMU environment.