iThemes Exchange is billed as a simple ecommerce system for WordPress. It’s a solution that has been created for anyone who wants to build and manage their own online shop, without having to turn to a hosted option with monthly recurring fees.
Whether you are planning on building a fully-fledged online store, or you just want the ability to sell a single product from your WordPress blog, iThemes Exchange could be just what you are looking for.
While there are many ecommerce solutions for WordPress, Exchange aims to differentiate itself from the competition by enabling you to get your store online in a matter of minutes. The core plugin – which is free to use – can be extended by a selection of add-ons. This gives you the ability to grow the features of your store, in line with your inventory and revenue.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at how you can go about setting up your own online store with iThemes Exchange to help you decide if this is the best choice for your needs.
How to Sell Physical and Digital Products Online with iThemes Exchange and WordPress
The core iThemes Exchange plugin is free to use and is hosted in the WordPress.org Plugin Repository. This means you can install the plugin directly from your WordPress admin area, and get building your store right away.
Setting Up iThemes Exchange
After installing the plugin, the setup wizard is displayed to help walk you through the process of selling products online. This means the whole process of getting started is very easy and the first question to answer is: what are you going to sell?
The options covering what you can sell includes digital downloads such as ebooks, music, or other files; and physical products, such as clothes or gadgets. There is a further option which is to sell access to your website and its content in the form of a membership site.
To enable this option you will need to install the premium membership add-on. The add-on is available on its own, or as part of the Pro Pack – a selection of other useful add-ons, as well as any that are released in the future.
However, if you are simply planning on selling physical or digital products from your WordPress website, you can choose the appropriate option to proceed to the next step.
The next question to answer is: how will you accept payments? iThemes Exchange does give you the option of accepting offline payments, but it’s also just as easy to configure your store for accepting payments via PayPal.
While you do get the option of using PayPal Secure, using the PayPal Standard option is the quickest way to proceed. To start accepting payments through PayPal it’s just a case entering your PayPal email address and choosing a currency.
There is also a free add-on for collecting payments through Stripe if you would like to give your customers that option too. However, it’s highly recommended that you read up on the differences between the available options to help you establish which one is the best choice for your online store.
Adding Your First Product
iThemes Exchange includes a sample product to help you quickly become familiar with the interface for adding product listings to your website.
However, the product listing creation process is very easy to get to grips with. While anyone who has created content in WordPress before will have an advantage over those who haven’t, new users should have no problems filling in the self-explanatory boxes to create their first product listing.
As well as the product title, description, and price, you also get the opportunity to upload a selection of images, as well as writing an extended product description. When configuring your product listing, you can enable inventory tracking, set an availability period for the product, and a whole lot more. This all ensures you can sell your items in the way that best meets your requirements.
If you are selling digital downloads on your website, as opposed to, or as well as physical products, then you can upload any files for the product. As this all takes place through the WordPress media library, it’s simply a case of dragging and dropping those files into your website and giving them a name.
Once your product listing is starting to take shape, you can preview it to see how it will look to your potential customers.
When you are happy with its appearance, you can publish the product listing to set it live on your website. In just a few mouse clicks and minutes of your time. you now have product listed online. This comes complete with the ability to collect payments and automatically distribute digital downloads, or manually ship out physical products.
Managing Your Online Store Pages
Now you’ve got at least one product online, it’s time to take a look at the pages of your store. This includes the product listing page, custom account and profiles pages, and purchase information pages. Thankfully iThemes Exchange creates these essential pages for you and gives you a way to manage them.
These pages can all be managed from the plugin settings. You can also customize any of them as you would a regular WordPress page. It’s a good idea to add some of these pages to the navigation areas of your site, such as the widget areas or main menus.
Now your visitors can find your products and navigate their way around your store with ease.
Customizing and Upgrading Your Online Store
iThemes Exchange doesn’t stop there though. There is also a settings page that you should definitely take a look at. Through the settings you can enter your store information and your tax ID, as well as defining how you handle customer registrations, and all the other important aspects of running a successful online store.
If you want to add more features to your store, a selection of add-ons is available. The Pro Pack of premium upgrades includes features such as the ability to send out invoices, add product variants, accept recurring payments, and a whole lot more.
Now that you’ve listed your first product and configured your store, all that’s left to do is to choose a suitable WordPress ecommerce theme.
As you can see iThemes Exchange does in fact make it very easy to add products to your WordPress website which your visitors can then purchase. By using PayPal to collect payments, iThemes Exchange includes everything you need to create an online store with WordPress for free.
Of course, there is much more to setting up an online store than adding the ability to list and sell products from your website.
Choosing an appropriate theme and plugin as well as creating your product listings is where the adventure starts. After that it’s time for you to focus on getting visitors to your store, managing customer expectations, and most importantly of all, handling your customer details in a responsible, safe, and secure manner. This is in addition to ensuring you are familiar with the tax rules for each of the geographical locations your products are available in, not to mention getting to grips with the technical skills required to resolve any issues that may arise.
WordPress and iThemes Exchange does make it very easy to list items for sale and collect payments from your customers via a payment processor such as PayPal – just make sure you are fully prepared before entering the exciting world of ecommerce.