WordPress: Of Cart66 and categories

WordPress at its core is a blogging platform, but has one of the most intuitive management interfaces for CRMs, with Joomla being the other extreme: powerful but tough to learn. That being said, is WordPress a true CRM? With Custom Post Types, it is possible to use it that way. Let us not forget the maturity of third-party plugins, which extend the capabilities of WordPress by an infinite degree.

I recently began exploration into the use of WordPress as an ecommerce platform, and out of all the plugins used, Cart66 appeared to be the easiest to implement. It’s free with limited functions, so trying it out should not cost you anything.

I made the decision to buy Cart66 because I wanted to do a fuller evaluation (testing MailChimp integration), and also because it has a 60 day money back guarantee. If you are looking for a Cart66 refund, use this request refund form.

Adding a product

  • You first add the product into Cart66 (pricing mostly), then
  • Write a post and do the usual descriptions, images et cetera. All Cart66 requires is that you include a shortcode for the product, which gives the customer a button to add the product into his shopping cart.
  • Bingo, one product done.

Adding a few products is relatively easy, the real challenge comes when the number of products increase. Cart66’s drawback is the lack of built-in functionality for categorising products. It has a guide on using Custom Post Types to supplement this need, but this guide does not entirely solve the question. The guide shows how you could add items one by one into the top menu, but how does that work if you have a hundred products or more?

For example, how is one supposed to display all products easily on a single page without laboriously typing them all out? Shortcode functionality for displaying products based on category (or all categories) needs to be present. Ideally, I would like the products to have categories, and the navigation should be intuitively tied. This means if I’m adding Apple as a product under Fruits, I should not need to add Apple to the Fruits category in the navbar, it should be already present in the Fruits listing.

A query to support (comes with the plugin purchase) got me the following response:

We provide support for the Cart66 plugin, but not for any other plugin. Cart66 does not feature Custom Post Types or “Category” listings. The only thing we have available regarding Post Types is this document: http://docs.cart66.com/organize-your-products-with-custom-post-types/

Not very helpful.

Not a knock on the guy doing support, I’m sure he is only doing his job. The question is, what good is support for if Cart66 recommends the use of CPT but does not provide any assistance whatsoever on helping its customers with this?

It feels like they are kind of shooting themselves in the foot when they draw the line like this. It feels like the customers want Cart66 to work, but Cart66 is just throwing a few road blocks in the way even though the software is purchased, and at the same time saying “Go on, figure it out yourself.”

Another alternative is to buy their themes with built-in categories. It could be a good alternative if you like their templates, but I would prefer to retain the flexibility of using my own chosen theme without being locked in.

As you can see, this ticked me off a fair bit, simply because I’m of the opinion that such functionality is basic and should be built-in without the user getting their hands dirty and going on another learning curve.

Of course, everyone has a different take on the same thing. As Luke P puts it:

You can already easily do this kind of thing with WordPress it’s self with a custom post type, feature images, and categories. Building this functionality into Cart66 would be a waste of time and just replicate WordPress’s core functions. Cart66 strength is its flexibility to work with WordPress without adding allot of extra infrastructure.

We’ll just have to agree to disagree. I still think Cart66 is a good plugin nonetheless, and will continue to use it. Hopefully future versions will improve on this flaw (my opinion) and allow better user friendliness.

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