What my client wanted was reasonable: Select any X flavors from a selection of Y available flavors.
If you’ve worked with this before, it’s about setting variables. Some Ecommerce platforms do this better than others. Regardless, for clients this is how they buy yogurt at Target, select candy on Valentine’s Day, and order ice cream cones for the family in summer.
But I made a mistake and here is how I lost 99% of my credibility with a $49 extension. Ready to hear my story?
My Mistake: Most Ecommerce plugin sites state that connecting to gateways such as Authorize.net or PayPal is a matter of purchasing an extension/plugin and installing it.
As such, I focused time on making sure I could set up the type of variable product selection the client requested.
The following saga excludes the extensive use of the 3 C’s this project entailed. Diet Coke, Cursing, and Chocolate.
April 3 submitted a support request. April 5 quick question back. April 8 taken to task a bit because they need time for their families; I was pushing due to knowing 5 days is forever for my client. Gave Woo breathing room. April 19, sorry for the delays, they see I have uninstalled and requested a refund.
Received full refund immediately and would try again if I had more time. My question is still an issue being tossed around by others; however, I could not survive a 16-day response time.
2. WP e-Commerce
April 11, spent $96 including a premium support token for $47. Gave up, requested a refund, and did hear back April 21. Still no response to support question posted 10 days earlier; however, “I apologize that I can’t grant your refund request. Our products are non-refundable as you’ve agreed upon purchase (in the T&C section).”
No problems with the Ecommerce plugin. However, the $49 extension to connect to the client’s Authorize account led me to determine for all eternity that:
MVPs are great for businesses and have no place in Ecommerce code.
I have to say I became the poster child for them too; the insistent customer. I purchased their $39/month premium support and although there were a few stalls in responses there were as many faster than expected responses. I still have concerns over why some things seemed new to their product, why some issues were not obvious, and why it took sooo long to get it working properly.
However, I would use their product again because they wanted it to work as much as I did.
Of course, my client did not understand any of the above because they offer a small selection of products that already include sales tax and shipping in their price. I don’t remember spending more time on something, and yet, if they could my client would boo me off the stage.
In the end, my expectation should have meshed with what the plugin said it would do; connect Jigoshop to Authorize.net . Instead, weeks passed along with a ridiculous amount of unpaid time.
But here’s what I learned…
1. WP’s text tab strips html code that may be needed for selling products. As such, plugins are the way to go.
2. Leave time and money for the last step, connecting the Ecommerce plugin to the payment gateway. Don’t assume you’ve done this a thousand times and it will be quick. Assume your client won’t know enough about the gateway merchant account to debug; it may be that something unexpected stops things.
One of the issues I had was that the product name was more characters than Authorize.net was expecting and, as such, it rejected the product. This change needed to be made in Authorize. Other changes were made in the plugin.
3. No coding any changes to your payment gateway plugin. I’m not sure if it’s because gateways are leery of fraud and change their requirements or if because plugin/extension developers are more focused on the connection from one plugin to another rather than to the gateway; however, I do know if I purchase a plugin that says it does a great job of “x” I should not be coding it to do so. Or potentially breaking it somewhere else in the process.
4. In my case the client had an established Authorized.net account. If you are helping a client get started for the first time, know that currently approval is a time and document consuming process. Recommend the company/client gets started on this immediately; you’re looking at a 1-2 week process minimum.
5. Set up a blog and experiment with selling a few things and becoming proficient in a payment gateway merchant account. I believe there are great opportunities in WP and Ecommerce and practice is needed beyond our WP experience (I had set up hundreds of WP blogs too). I wondered why Jigoshop’s primary marketing statement is, “a WordPress eCommerce plugin that works.” I don’t wonder any longer.
Going forward: WP developers and users, please consider this as a heads-up on planning time for the last stage of connecting your WP Ecommerce plugin to a gateway rather than as a review of the plugins I used for this particular client. WP plugin and extension developers, please consider this as a peek into how clients and their customers expect more and more from web and mobile WP Ecommerce; especially products that process, charge, and track every transaction.
For me, I am happy to pay higher premium support to deliver that much needed consistency.
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