WooConf Debrief and a Member Discussion

For two days store owners and WordPress developers interested in growing their knowledge of WooCommerce gathered in Austin for workshops and networking.

WooCommerce Ninjas shared tips and tricks with developers,and store owners had the opportunity to learn how to use the software to its full potential from eCommerce experts and other successful store owners.

Joshua Shipsey and Adrienne shared their impressions and take-aways from their WooConf experience. Joshua shared his impressions from a developer’s perspective and Adrienne talked about what she learbed as a  store owner who uses WooCommerce.

The last half of the meetup was a lively member discussion about what topics we would like the WooConference meetup to address during the next several months and if there any local WooCommerce presenters they would like the organizers to approach for talks or Workshops. We have a white board full of suggestions and will be posting the upcoming meeting agendas as soon as we can organize them and tap our targeted presenters.

Here are the links from Joshua’s slide deck:

WooConf site: https://wooconf.com/

Link to Peep Laja’s website and free ebook

Link to an eBook by WP Engine, Crowd Favorite, and Chirs Lema distributed at WooConf



eCommerce for Your WordPress Site

This entry is part 5 of 9 in the series Meetup Meeting Notes

This month’s Austin WordPress sessions for beginners — An  Introduction to eCommerce — understanding the basics of adding eCommerce to your WordPress site.
WordPress Developer and Trainer, Nick Batik will reviewed the eCommerce process — SSLs, shopping carts, merchant accounts, and what else you need to know before, and after, you install an eCommerce solution.
This was focused on eCommerce at a beginner’s level  — how to accept  donations for your non-profit, selling digital download products,  as well as some tools and processes to set up an online store.
Nick discussed discuss payment gateways, the most popular eCommerce plugins plugins, and some common issues new eCommerce site owners face. The business principles required to be successful IRL (in real life) are still applicable when developing an eCommerce business model —  you need products to sell, a place to sell them, and a marketing strategy to attract customers. Additionally, you’ll also need a strategy for actually delivering the goods you sell.
WordPress and eCommerce – How it works

There are five major components of eCommerce:
•    Merchant Account
•    Shopping System
•    Payment Gateway (for real-time-processing)
•    Hosting Service
•    Security System

Before you chose your WordPress eCommerce plugin you need to decide how you are going to process orders and how you are going to accept payments.

Processing orders.
•    Simple non-secure order form sent to your email.
•    Secure order form sent to your email.
•    Shopping Cart System with database (Recommended)
•    Using a 3rd party Shopping Cart Service. (NOT RECOMMENDED)

Accepting Payments
•    Checks, COD’s and Bank Drafts only. (Don’t expect a lot of orders)
•    Manual Credit Card processing.
•    Real Time Credit Card Authorizations (Recommended)
•    Third Party Merchant Account (e.g PayPal / Googlr Checkout)

Depending on what you decide, you are going to need different tools to set up your Order Processing and Payment System.

1. The Merchant Account
Unless you choose to go through a third party solution like PayPal, Google Checkout or ClickBank, the first step in setting up eCommerce requires a Merchant Account. Some third party options can require a larger percentage of your sales to process your orders for you. PayPal and Google Checkout are the least expansive of all the third party options.

A merchant account is an account that enables merchants to accept credit card payments. They can be obtained through a bank, a credit card company or other payment processor. Any merchant who wants to take credit card orders must establish a merchant account.

A merchant account is established under an agreement between an acceptor and a merchant bank for the settlement of payment card transactions. In some cases a payment processor, independent sales organiza- tion, or merchant service provider is also a party to the merchant agreement. When a merchant enters into a merchant agreement directly with a bank or through an aggregator, the agreement contractually binds the merchant to obey the operating regulations established by the card associations.

Internet merchant accounts tend to charge a higher transaction rate and are used when credit cards can- not be physically swiped. Merchants with internet merchant accounts use a payment gateway to process credit card payments. On WordPress sites, these payment gateways can are now included with most shopping cart plugins.
It is important to choose the right type of merchant account and payment processor for the kind of busi- ness you will be conducting. While there are many payment service providers out there, it’s a good idea to read their terms of service very carefully, as many of them charge exorbitant fees and have strict rules regarding transactions. If anything sounds questionable, ask for specifics and do some research before agreeing to, or signing anything.
A merchant account comes with a merchant identification number. This number is required by gateway systems such as Authorize.net.

2. The Shopping System
If you are selling just one or two items on your site you won’t have much need for a shopping cart. A WordPress site with a variety of products should use the shopping cart system because it’s the easiest way for your customers to shop. The easier it is to shop, the more they will spend while scanning through your website. But how do shopping carts work with your merchant account and the all-important pay-ment gateway system?

Using a shopping cart plugin, as soon as the customer hits the submit button, your incoming orders can be automatically processed. But to facilitate this procedure, you will need “real time” processing with a gateway account. Automated processing frees you to focus on your core business — fulfilling the customer’s order.
There are many choices when selecting a WordPress Shopping Cart but some of the most important should be functionality, does it do what you need it to do, easily and is compatible with the other site plugins.

We have installed and configured both WP e-commerce http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/ wp-e-commerce/ and woocommerce http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/woocommerce/ and can recommend either for specific install requirements.

3. SSL Certificate
A SSL Site Certificate provides security for the credit card information from the user’s browser through your website and then into the Gateway.

Although some Hosting providers offer SSL Certificates, we suggest you purchase a site certificate in order to keep the SSL with-in your domain.

Once you have a SSL Certificates you will mote the addition of the “s” on the end of https in tour URL. This addition is usually one way to insure the page is secured. The other way is the indication of a Lock in
the lower part of your browser which will look something like this    .
A site certificate usually ranges from USD $33.00 to $800.00 depending on the vendor and level of se-curity and must be renewed every year. Certificates can be purchased from companies like GeoTrust, VeriSign and a handful of others. Please note; a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is not an absolute requirement since everything will work without it, however many people will not purchase from websites that do not have SSL. You also run the risk of data-jacking if you do not have a Site Certificate installed, data-jacking is when a hacker actually intercepts the data while it is being transferred.

4. Gateway Account
We mentioned the Gateway many times in the above article and here’s how it works. Once the user sends his order it is transferred from his machine (or more specifically, his browser) to the Shopping Cart and is protected by the Secure Socket Layer (SSL), the server then hands off the data to the Payment Gateway. Gateways are services like Authorize.netTM, CyberCashTM, iBillTM and a host of others and is the actual link between your website and the banking networks. These services usually offer both the Gateway and the Processor.

The Gateway is simply the door into the ATM banking network, and the Processor is what actually handles the Financial data and must be able to communicate with your Shopping Cart. The processor accepts the data from the shop-cart and brings it in to the ATM network, where it is now just like any other credit card transaction.
Once in the ATM network, it connects to the Customers Credit Card Issuer, it then submits the data and waits for a Yes or No answer as to whether the transaction is approved or declined. After this, the whole process starts again in reverse order to give the user feedback as to the status of their transaction.

If the order is accepted, it will then charge the order amount to the customer’s account and sends the Gateway an authorization code. The Customers Bank will then settle the remainder of the transaction at a later time when they do their batch settlement processing, this is usually at the end of each business day. But for now, the user has his authorization and you have your order.

When the bank performs it settlements, the sale amount will then be deposit into your bank account, minus any fees that that may apply to the sale. For this reason, the funds may not show up in your ac- count for 24 – 48 hours after the actually sale has been completed. All that is required of you, is to fulfill the customer’s order
Payment Diagram
1.    Consumer places an order with the merchant through any number of sales channels: Web Site, Call Center, Retail, Wireless or Broadband.

2.    Authorize.Net detects an order has been placed, securely encrypts and forwards the Authorization Request to the Consumer’s Credit Card Issuer to verify the consumer’s credit card account and funds availability.

3.    The Authorization (or Decline) Response is returned via Authorize.Net to the Merchant. Round trip this process averages less than 3 seconds.

4.    Upon approval, the Merchant fulfills the consumer’s order.

5.    Authorize.Net sends the settlement request to the Merchant Account Provider.

6.    The Merchant Account Provider deposits transaction funds into the Merchant’s Checking Account.


The Shopping Cart keeps track of the user’s order while they are shopping. When they are done and are ready to pay for their merchandise, they submit their order. Once they submit their order it is handed to the Shopping Cart secured by the SSL and sent to the Gateway for Processing. As you can see the Shop- ping Cart plugin is only a small piece of the puzzle.

eCommerce can appear simple once you understand how all the components work together. A merchant account allows you to accept credit cards, your hosting company shows your website to the world, your shopping cart helps your customers shop and order more easily, the SSL certificate protects your user’s financial data and your liability and the Gateway allows real-time processing. All these independent components work together to make task of selling products easier and more profitable.

Nick’s Slide Deck, which includes the links discussed can be accessed here:

eCommerce Start to Finish

This entry is part 4 of 9 in the series Meetup Meeting Notes

Meetup Meeting Notes: eCommerce Start to Finish
Monday, September 8, 2014 7:00 PM
The Austin WordPress Meetup Group
HubAustin Coworking 706 W Ben White Blvd #202B

This month’s Deep Dive Discussion will examine the eCommerce process — SSLs, shopping carts, merchant accounts, and the other things you need to know before, and after, you install an eCommerce solution.

Toyin Akinmusuru, WordPress Developer, eCommerce Consultant, and founder of the HubAustin Coworking space will facilitate this month’s discussion. Just a reminder to Deep Dive attendees — this is not a typical ‘classroom-presentation’ format meet-up — DDD is dedicated to the exploration of a WordPress-related topic, driven by the questions and comments of the attendees.

Why is this topic important to you?  According to Forrester research, in 2013 U.S. eCommerce reached the $230B mark. As consumers increasingly move their shopping dollars online, this growth is poised to continue. WordPress site owners and managers need to think about how eCommerce options might help them grow their business.

3 takeaways from this meeting:

1) NEVER store credit cards

2) choose a secure password – long, and not a word found int he dictionary

3) you’re never finished with building your site

SLIDE 1 one time payments
amazon payments
authorize.net ( good for large payments)

SLIDE 2 – recurring payments
stripe – good w/ wp e.g., woo commerce
paypal – same as above

SLIDE 3- physical products
where are you shipping
what are you shipping
how are you shipping

SLIDE 4- shipping vendors
dhl – when going to Africa, handed to dHL even if you use fedex

private freight e.g,
also airline to airline – but w/ restrictions e.g, electronics, liquid

SLIDE 5 – where to you sell?
online only
one retail location
multiple locations
– important for inventory

SLIDE 6- hosted or self hosted?
(hosted options – all sas)
gum road – can do it in 10 minutes
shopify – think this one is best
big commerce – office in atx
volusion – office in atx
magenta co – larger, need more technical adept
(to say hello – it costs $20k / will integrate w/ FB, Google analytics)

SLIDE 7- Self-Hosted options
zen cart
virtue mart
w ecommerce

perl, ruby on rails, php, java –
php e-commerce is
woo commerce is big rival to magento
zen cart – is not as pretty
drupal or joomla – good options in their frameworks

SLIDE 8 – wordpress ecommerce plugins
market press
jigo shop
cart 66

woo commerce has a lot of themes, alot of people are using it
Q: re framework
woo has good documentation
started off w just themes, so good background for less technical
but good section on how to write your own plugins on top.
woocommerce easiest – because so many people using it
e.g, million download, 150+ k using it

should I store credit cards – NO
don’t be obviously stupid
let the payment processor worry about technology, security, etc.

worked at hosting company – amazed amount of ‘exploits’
you’re doing other things to take care of the site
exposing yourself to whole big area

when say international – we mean Europe
in SA, Asia, –
paypal is best for int’l

SLIDE 9- Product types

woo commerce is one plugin
but woo commerce also has plugins
e.g, billing times, shipping types
$49-$200 for each plugin
1x fees kind’ve, for 2 years – but have to pay again for upgrades
ones officially from them are better integrated
works better with their other stuff
when make big sweeping changes – don’t tell others till well after
so there’s work better

Q: any benefits to using a Woo theme to use w/ woo commerce
but many other good ones
mileage may vary

not so much on theme level, more on plugin theme
Q: Genesis –
A: works fine since no hooks into Woo commerce – and no plans to compete

Cart action – is not something you have in a normal in a theme, so woo commerce will fit
when there’s a version change, there may be blood

wpavengers – gpl – not technically themes but a plugin optin to woo commerce plugin
the day woo does a big release – do NOT upgrade

it’s up to expectations of customer – e/g, choose single unless customer wants something different

invoice – plug in
donations  – hasn’t done but probably a plug in
– nick- gravity forms may be best – can program a shopping cart
– convio may have one
– paypal gives you a code to drop on your page

can you automate different vendors?
good example is paypal or amazon –
create a sign up – change permission level to vendor
– payment can go to you or straight to vendor
docan is better multivendor
so official woo commerce is probably better

how to gather data –
google analytics – need a different code for each site, google does it so it knows what to index
mix panel – best analytics that you can buy, takes some software work to get the bang out of it
have clients have their own – or you become their gatekeeper
you can be set up as an authorized user –
have a chat w/ them or they will drive you crazy
GA runs on javascript, it drops in code – doesn’t work on duckduck, if java is turned off – just covers 80-90% of who’s on
GA lets you create a custom report
most want to know how many are on sites, how much is being made – e.g, with keywords
keyfactor to moing to mixpanel – if jumped over google analytics – give data in real time (e.g., 5 seconds – relies on session state; google drops in line of code which reports back to their servers

pro features – abandoned shopping cart

SLIDE 10 –  social media

SLIDE 11 – how to market
fb advertising
retargeting – my buys and adrolls will do this but take a % of price – hold cookie for 14 days or month
affiliates – pay people to sell your product, e.g, amazon gives 47% to affiliates
commision junction (cj.com), linkshare, rewardstyle, good cartel for mom’s e.g, for palmolive, proctor and gamble,

SLIDE 12 – advanced techniques
up sells/cross sells – single biggest increase to sales
abandoned cart – send email or retarget them,
drip campaigns –  thx for signing up, have you used product, like a super responder
faceted search – checkbox searching based on your parameters
woo doesn’t do it well built in, but there’s a plug in

do it because there’s increases to your bottomline – sometimes 10% but sometimes up to 70%
a little bit more is always good
you’re never finished with building your site

Q: in instagram, what is interaction there
A: put on instagram, if you have set of fans – will take you to link w/page
same as twitter
just another marketing channel
pic primes you more than text

Q: thoughts on testing VCI or PCI or BCi compliance
don’t store use credit card
only up aftet $18k in sales
use good long passwords – which a human can’t figure out (though computer can)
put on reputalbe web host e.g,  wp engine
almost all hosted ones will do a good job, self hosted – do the obvious stuff
i didn’t patch it, have credit cards in text files
not hard, but have to do all of them
search WP
OWLSP in town meets/ talks about best practices
level of scrutiny –
easiest  way is link to paypal esp for donations
let other defend your castle
a smart person fixes problems, a genius avoids them

have sign paper, but it’s paper
apple didn’t secure it to 3 chances –

if have wp – force secure password – link to username ,
limit bad passwords to 3 tries

sucuri.net – free plug in, takes a snapshot, takes  you if someone changes it, or someone
s truign to hack your
also bruteprotect, bought by Automattic, will block botnet’s to whoever is also using bruteprotect
a botnet might use hundreds of ip – but one or two will block
Karen –  ipsecurity plugin
good to use more than one – yes

check last months’ notes on security  http://handsonwp.com/knowledge-base/basic-wordpress-site-security-practices/
free at basic level

you can always use woo theme w/o woocommerce
only time it makes a difference is switching from one ecommerce to another