In this series, we've been taking a look at how we can setup an online store using iThemes Exchange. We've reviewed an introduction to the plugin as well as some advanced features. In this article, we're going to take a look at some of the free add ons that ship with Exchange, what they do, and how to use them.
Exchange comes with a very lightweight core that is extensible through the use of add-ons. Some add-ons ship directly with Exchange, others have to be installed in the standard WordPress way.
To access the Exchange add-ons page, go to the WordPress dashboard, click Exchange and then click Add-ons. You will now see a screen with a list of add-ons and some tabs at the top which allow you to filter them slightly, these are "All (default)," "Enabled," "Disabled," and "Get More." It's worth noting that "Get More" is essentially a sales page for premium add-ons currently.
Some of the add-ons on this screen may already be enabled based on the choices you made in your basic setup. If the add-on has any settings then they can be accessed by clicking the cog icon next to the add-on on the add-ons page.
Exchange ships with the following add-ons:
Basic Reporting Dashboard Widget
This is enabled by default and shows sales today, transactions today, sales this month, transactions this month and your most recent sales all on the WordPress dashboard.
This allows you to capture a separate billing address at checkout. This add-on has no additional settings - simple enable and forget about it.
This adds a product type for selling digital downloads. Once enabled, the new product type will appear under the Exchange tab in the WordPress dashboard. This add-on has one simple setting which is "Require users to log in before downloading their products?" which is checked by default.
This particular feature will allow you to clone a product. This is especially handy if you sell a lot of products with similar features. Once enabled, to duplicate a product head over to the All Products section of Exchange, hover over the product that you would like to duplicate and then click the "Duplicate" link.
Enabling this allows customers to checkout without having to sign up for your site. This add-on has three simple options:
- Make guest checkout the default method? (default yes)
- Show log in link? (default yes)
- Show registration link? (default yes)
Everybody likes coupon codes, right? This add-on allows you to generate basic coupons for use on your site. Once enabled, a "Coupons" link appears under the Exchange tab in the WordPress dashboard. Clicking this link takes you to the coupon page which lists all of your coupons and allows you to edit, delete or add new coupons. Look out for more about coupons later in the series.
Allows customers to purchase multiple items in a single transaction. A must have if you are selling physical products. No other settings are required for this add-on.
A payment option that allows you to process transactions offline (e.g. cash, cheque or postal order).
WordPress Page Templates
Enabling this add-on allows you to select different page templates that are available in your theme. This option appears in the advanced settings when editing a product, and not in the usual column that they appear in for pages.
PayPal Standard Basic/Secure
This add-on enables the PayPal payment gateway. Payment gateways are discussed in further detail later in the series.
This allows you to sell physical products in your store. There are no further settings for this add-on.
This add-on is very similar to "Physical Products" but does not include shipping. Great for intangible goods that do not require a download. For example, a web developer selling SSL certificates.
With "Simple Shipping" enabled, you can introduce flat rate and free shipping for your physical products. Part four of the series goes in to more detail about this add-on.
Switch Product Types
Allows you to change a product type after the product has been created. Want to switch your physical book to an eBook? No problem. Once enabled, head over to the product that you want to change and click edit. Under the advanced tab you should now see a Product Type heading. Once selected all of the available product types will appear with a radio button, select the desired product type and remember to hit Publish. After publishing the relevant fields for your new product type will be displayed.
This add-on gives you the ability to add default tax rate to sales.
Product Categories adds a category taxonomy for Exchange products. This is particularly useful when you sell more than one type of product and you want to give customers a choice between which type of product they view. As an example, a web hosting company may have a category for "Shared Hosting Packages" and another for "Dedicated Hosting Packages".
Enabling the product tags add-on gives you a tag taxonomy for your Exchange products. Tags give you an easy way of being able to filter products, perhaps at a different level to that of a category. Using the example of a web hosting company again: They could use tags of "managed" and "unmanaged" to describe their hosting packages.
There's no hard and fast rule between using categories or tags. I personally prefer to use categories for what I would consider top level groups of products and tags to make smaller groups of products within categories.
There We Have It
That's all of the core plugins that ship with Exchange. In the rest of the series, we will look closer at shipping, coupons, payment gateways and taxes as well as adding products and some basic theming.