Throughout this series, we're going to be taking a look at iThemes Exchange. Specifically, we're going to look at what it is, how it can be used, how to install it, and how to setup the basics.
What Is iThemes Exchange?
iThemes Exchange is a young but growing e-commerce platform for WordPress. iThemes themselves describe Exchange as:
Simple ecommerce for WordPress
And it really is just that. It ships with the basic features to get you started, but is easily extensible through the use of plugins (both free and premium).
What Can I Use Exchange For?
Exchange has support for physical, digital (no download), and digital product downloads. Personally, I think Exchange really excels with websites that want to sell a handful of products quickly and easily.
If you already have a WordPress website but want to branch out in to selling products then Exchange may well be the perfect platform to get you started. In particular, I think Exchange will be useful for selling:
- eBooks that compliment your blog or a small eBook store
- Premium WordPress themes and plugins
- Gift vouchers to spend in your retail store
- Allow customers to buy fixed price services e.g. web design company selling SSL certificates
Exchange is an open source plugin and resides in the official WordPress repository. It can be installed in the usual WordPress ways; the easiest is through the WordPress dashboard itself.
- Log in to the WordPress dashboard
- Go to Plugins > Add New
- Search for “ithemes exchange”
- Click Install Now - this may take a minute or so
- Once installation has completed click Activate Plugin
Basic Setup of Exchange
Once you have activated the plugin you will be presented with the Exchange setup page. It asks just five simple questions in order to get you started. Don’t worry - if you make a mistake at this stage as the options can all be changed later.
What Are You Going to Sell?
You have three options here:
- Digital Downloads which are purely digital products that require a file to be downloaded (e.g. eBooks, WordPress plugins etc)
- Physical Products are products that you plan to ship or intangible products that do not require a file to be downloaded.
- Membership which products or services that require a subscription.
If you are planning on selling a mixture of physical and digital then you can choose both product types. Membership is a premium plugin for Exchange and thus I will not be covering this aspect of the plugin.
With digital downloads, there are no extra configuration options at this stage. For physical products another option will be shown asking “How will you ship your products?”. You have two options here; either Flat Rate or Free Shipping.
How Will You Accept Payments?
- Exchange comes with a few built-in payment gateways, with more available using plugins. The standard options available are:
- Offline Payments
- PayPal Standard Basic
- PayPal Standard Secure
You can choose more than one gateway at this stage if you need to. Once clicking the relevant payment gateway you will be asked to input your details for that gateway. If you haven’t decided on a payment gateway when you come to set up or don’t know your details then I would recommend clicking “offline payments” for now with the default options. Later in the series we look at the payment gateway configuration in more detail.
The last section of the basic configuration has three simple questions:
- Email address is the email address that you want to receive store notifications (sales etc.).
- Get email updates about iThemes Exchange - this is ticked by default, untick to not be put on the iThemes mailing list.
- Currency (Exchange does not currently support multiple currencies).
Once you are all done be sure to hit the “Save Settings” button.
Wrapping It Up
This wraps up the first part of this small series about iThemes Exchange. By completing this tutorial you will now have a basic Exchange setup, ready for further configuration and adding products.
In the next part of the series, we will look at the more advanced settings that exchange has to offer, add-ons and some basic theming.
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