And there she is.
We’ve gotten hints here and there that it would be coming soon and so late last night we received an early release version to try and test out (as well as the Stripe Add-on plugin).
I booted it up on a local installation and I really liked what I saw – it’s what you might expect from an eCommerce plugin but from first glance it appears to be so much less than what the other options provide.
Why? Because they’ve turned off many of the features that you can later turn-on that might cause too much confusion in your dashboard or navigation. Here’s the installation and first screens:
After installing you move right into the quick setup which naturally has your payment gateway information. I hooked into Paypal and also Stripe since they gave that to use to test.
I then headed to the Settings tab which had three to offer me: General, Email Settings, and Pages:
Then I went to look a bit further and found the Add-ons section which comes with many of the other features disabled by default.
I scratched my head for a moment here but realized that I liked the fact that most of them are turned off to begin with – this gives me the option to show them and to not be overwhelmed by a cluttered dashboard or new options that I have no idea what to do with:
Finally, there appears to be an Achievement section as well, which is very neat:
We’ll see how this pans out as more features are released.
After having a light chat with Cory Miller via email here are some of the things that he shared with us about this very large project:
This is the biggest launch at iThemes since BackupBuddy … and the biggest collaborative project we’ve ever taken on. Needless to say we’re SUPER excited.
We’re rolling out v.1 of iThemes Exchange to allow people to sell their digital products fast and free, to start. (Then membership, physical products and other types of ecommerce will come in the next few months.)
Ok, great. I’m excited that it’s free. But what’s your goal? Where are you headed?
Our singular goal from the beginning has been to make WordPress ecommerce easier and simpler.
We built a custom Add Product page … we decided to build it from the ground up rather than simply relying on the WordPress Post screen and slamming stuff in. That’s very deliberate and we expect some negative comments. But we did it because again, our goal is simplicity. Reviewing the plugins out there, it’s just flat out overwhelming to people just getting started with selling their stuff online.
Nice. So taking a look at what’s out there and iterating and making it better? I’ll take that. What are some obvious features?
Exchange Super Widget …. we built a very robust, versatile custom widget also from the ground up that we think people are going to love. It handles Buy Now, Add to Cart, Cart Summary, Registration, Log in, and Confirmation views depending on the situation. When you see it in action, you see the beauty of it for customers on the site.
Quick Setup — after installation, you get sent to a Quick Setup page which is essentially just the essentials for people to get started like accepting payments, settings current and emails for notifications … things we thought were often buried in a Settings page typically.
PayPal and Stripe — PayPal is a necessary evil and included for free by default … so people can sell their digital products for free, no purchase necessary with Exchange and PayPal. But we also will be rolling out with a Stripe Add-On from the beginning and making an incredible offer to launch this thing and get people on a good payment gateway.
When you use Stripe, as you know, it’s just an elegant, beautiful option for selling anything online. We’re crossing our fingers people will want Stripe. We’re also going to ask people to request and vote on which payment gateway we do next to make sure we’re offering relevant people. We’ve prioritized that.
Not bad. I assume that all of iThemes is “all in” on this new venture? It may become a “beast” of a project, right?
We’ve got two full-time WordPress developers on this project — Glenn Ansley and Lew Ayotte. As well as front-end dev Justin Kopesasah and our creative director / designer Brad Ulrich in addition to support team, documentation and training (Benjamin Bradley at WebDesign.com will do our 8th WP Developer Course in late July focusing on ecommerce).
Anything else to add?
We’re also offering 5 free 30-minute “Getting Started with Exchange” webinars for the WP community. https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/3458561455490142976
I’m excited to see iThemes come into this space strongly and I hope the progress continues to build. You can download the plugin here which is now available if you’d like.
Great work – I think this is only the beginning!
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