January 20, 2016

The Impact WordPress has had on the E-Commerce Industry

If you are a web developer, webmaster or you are writing and publishing front end content, you undoubtedly have used or at least considered using WordPress.  Starting out as a simple blogging software, WordPress has become the preferred open source platform for nearly a quarter of websites around the world.

Rarely does a tool spark so much debate between experienced webmasters, designers, and programmers.  We’ve heard everything from powerful and simple to frustratingly complex and bloated. Opinions around this ‘all in one’ platform solution are varied, from one extreme to the other.

So what exactly is WordPress?

WordPress is an open source blogging software and content management system (CMS). Designed and launched in 2003 by Mike Little and Matt Mullenweg, it is based on the framework for the b2 blogging software.  Since then, WordPress has grown to become a full feature solution. Used for websites of nearly every page amount and depth, including those of fortune 500 companies, WordPress has introduced a new way to launch and manage websites.

Is WordPress good for those of us in the e-commerce industry?

Early e-commerce sites chose a dedicated focus, requiring dedicated resources to get up and running. Many companies simply were not willing to create an e-commerce website because of their high ticket and maintenance expense.

But over time, there was a rise in simple website creation tools. Tumblr, Blogger, WIX, and WordPress, were all created with the intention of allowing individuals and SMB’s the ability to create their own websites.

These types of systems were a direct catalyst for the explosion in websites, by removing the required HTML, CSS, and PHP skills to manage a site, and replacing them with a simplified plug and play solution. More and more quality websites were launching from people who wouldn’t be your traditional webmasters.

Even with the expansion of front end website, there remained challenges with payment integration, whether with a payment solution such as Authorize.net or with a payment processor such as CCBill. To accept payments on your site, you either had to implement the processing yourself or find an available plugin.

Occasionally, plugins were available, but they were few and far between.  If you could locate a plugin payment solution, it most likely was a ‘pay to use.’   And believe or not, even those ‘pay to use’ plugins, which could run as much as $100 or more, came with minimal support, adding another layer of challenges. If you were lucky enough to get someone to respond to your question, in most cases, you were still left on your own to stitch together a solution using inadequate code.

As people realized the substantial revenue opportunities online, we saw a rise in the e-commerce plugins available. Modules soon began to be added faster than ever before, and for nearly any purpose you could imagine.

Today, it is nearly impossible to name even a handful of the available e-commerce plugins, but a few we offer our Merchants include WooCommerce, WP eCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, and Jigoshop. Each day, more and more plugins are being added to help manage every aspect of an e-commerce site.

With online ecommerce competition so stiff, you need to set yourself apart from the pack.  Don’t do it alone.  Partnering with a payment processor like CCBill, is a good way for you to compete.

How can you use WordPress and CCBill?

First, the simplest way is to use one of the CCBill WordPress modules available on CCBill’s Partner Integration page at ccbill.com/integrations.

WooCommerce works exceptionally well if you are building a store based website. CCBill’s WooCommerce module was designed by CCBill, and offers you the assistance of our 24/7 Merchant Support Department to assist with getting it set up and running orders and sales.

If you are looking to do a membership based website, we recommend either the Magic Members or the aMember plugins. Both were developed to work specifically with CCBill, and are used widely since their release.

The fabulous thing about WordPress is that you are not required to use a plugin. Though a plugin can  simplify the build of a website, it may come with specific restrictions that don’t line up with your business  or end-user needs. In these cases a custom solution may be your best option.

Something else to consider as a low-cost solution, is using our CCBill User Management System. This htaccess authentication system is offered at no extra charge to CCBill accounts.  A simple service, once a user signs up to be a member of your website or program, CCBill automatically adds the user to your authentication system. Including expiration functionality, when that user’s membership has ended, the system automatically removes that user’s access, by removing them from the authentication system. This automated user management is low cost, yet provides a high-touch and seamless user experience.

Looking for more control?  Choose one of the many available CCBill APIs. The most common setup used is the Webhooks system (a version of instant payment notification) to manage users. Once a transaction takes place, the CCBill system sends out a webhook that can be captured by a script that adds the user to your authentication system. When that user’s access should be revoked, the system will send an additional webhook, which notifies your authentication system to remove the user’s access.

Other options include our Datalink system, to query a user’s access level, adding or removing them, as necessary; or our CCBill upgrade system, to offer multiple ‘tiered’ level access, such as a bronze, silver, and gold access. By automating the multiple levels of access, your website becomes more attractive to a potential buyers.

With this level of simple and flexible customization, with the multiple themes available, the variety and wide breath of plugins, and your ability to use and choose from lots of different APIs, CCBill helps to make WordPress much more than just ‘a blogging software.’

If you are thinking about starting a new project, consider WordPress and see if it is the right platform for you.

Ray Kelsey
CCBill Sales Engineer