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Choosing the RIGHT eCommerce Plugin for LearnDash

    Tahseen Kazi
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ecommerce-site-creatorLast week I posted an article on setting up an eLearning website with LearnDash. Here I decided to skip the getting started guide as the makers of LearnDash have covered that well in their documentation. Instead, I decided to focus my attention towards something else. Based on our fair share of experience with LearnDash users we have noticed there are some questions that keep coming up time and again and that’s precisely what I covered in my previous post.

Moving on from the core plugin let’s take the game a notch higher. Today I’ll help you choose an eCommerce plugin for your website. (Of Course assuming that you want to sell the courses on your website 🙂 )

eCommerce Plugins for LearnDash

Up until now LearnDash has been integrated with WooCommerce, JigoShop, iThemes Exchange and Easy Digital Downloads. So your choice of an eCommerce plugin is mostly between the four which makes the uphill task of choosing an eCommerce plugin much easier.

That certainly does not mean that you cannot use any other eCommerce plugin. But it would just mean a lot of INTEGRATION HASSLE, which you are better off without. Besides all the plugins that have been integrated with LearnDash pretty much cover all your eCommerce needs for your eLearning store. So ideally you shouldn’t have to look outside of these four plugins.

Now between these four you must consider the followings aspects while evaluating an eCommerce plugin for LearnDash.

  • Does the free plugin meet most of my requirements?
  • Does the plugin support my choice of payment gateway?
  • Does the plugin support various marketing aspects?
  • Is it user-friendly?
  • Does it fit in my budget?
  • Is the plugin supported well?

Does the Free Plugin Meet Most of My Requirements?

ecommerce-plugin-for-learndash-requirementsAs an end user, the natural tendency is to search for cost effective options. So if you are pondering over the feasibility of the free version of the plugins I mentioned earlier then you are only right in doing so.

Let’s take a look at the free versions of WooCommerce, JigoShop, iThemes Exchange and Easy Digital Downloads and how they will fit into the changing user requirements. All the plugins provide the basic option of adding products and selling them from your website. Further, they have all been integrated with PayPal which means you have at least one payment option in the core plugin. There is an option in each plugin to view the orders that have been placed by customers and the payments against the orders.

The free plugin that has an upper hand though is JigoShop. Let’s take a look why.

  • The free plugin provides an admin with an option to suggest related products on product pages. Which means if you have a course – ‘WordPress for Beginners’ – on your LearnDash website then you might want to suggest other courses related to ‘WordPress for Beginners’ to prospective students. This makes sense as this gives you an option to increase enrollments to courses. As for prospective students, it makes the process of searching courses easier.
  • Another winner feature which you will get for free and will save you a hell lot of time is the option to import products from a CSV file into the product page of the plugin.
  • For potential students to purchase products online it is important they trust you. A good way of building that trust would be to allow them to review courses on your website and allowing all website visitors view these ratings. A review can often make the all the difference between a potential student and an enrollment. JigoShop provides the Product Review feature for free. But then so does WooCommerce.
  • A feature that might be important for you if you are based in Europe and catering to students there then the Vat ID Collection feature might be of interest to you and is available for free with the JigoShop plugin.
  • An option JigoShop and WooCommerce provide in the core plugin and that often comes in as handy is the option to create Manual Purchases from the back end. This feature is especially useful for an admin’s testing purposes.
  • Lastly, if WorldPay or Skrill happen to be your choice of payment processors then JigoShop gives you the integration for free.

That was about JigoShop! But it does not mean that the other plugins do not provide these features. They do… all of them barring iThemes Exchange. The only difference here is that they are paid.

As for the iThemes Exchange plugin, I have my reservations. With the absence of basic features such as ‘Import Products from CSV’ and ‘Related Product’ I am worried customization costs might run into big numbers and the development timeline will be more spread out than you might expect.

And on that note I’m eliminating iThemes Exchange from my choice of an eCommerce plugin for LearnDash.

Does the Plugin Support My Choice of Payment Gateway?

ecommerce-plugin-for-learndash-payment-gatewayEven though I have eliminated iThemes Exchange plugin, we still have 3 more plugins left to go with. And the decision to go between one of the three is not going to be just as simple.

The key here is to remain focused and approach the issue objectively.  Agreed JigoShop was a clear winner in terms of the free version. But it might not necessarily remain the same. You might have to change your decision in more ways than you can think of.

The next point of attack will be the payment gateway you choose to go with. If PayPal is going to suffice your requirement then this point doesn’t hold much value as you are good to go with the free version of the plugin you have chosen.

However, if you have a specific payment gateway in mind then it would be important to know if your choice of payment gateway has been integrated the eCommerce plugin. While most major payment gateways have been integrated with all the three plugins there are some exceptions. So if your preference falls under any of the following then get ready to either change your eCommerce plugin or your choice of payment gateway.

  • There isn’t any Easy Digital Downloads add-on available for Amazon Payments and Google Checkout.
  • As for JigoShop, there isn’t any add-on available for the FirstData payment technology.
  • WooCommerce somehow seems to have it all. So if you know of any Payment Gateway not supported by WooCommerce just put it here in the comments sections and I am sure some WooNinja somewhere will be put on the task immediately 😉

And hey, if you happen to be one of those still confused about which payment gateway to choose then this post on ‘How to Choose a Payment Gateway for Your eCommerce Store’ should surely put your thoughts into perspective.

I am beginning to get the writer’s wrist, (Not sure if that term exists at all 😛 ) so I am going to bring this post to a close. But that definitely doesn’t mean this discussion is over just as yet. I’ll go heal my wrist while you mull over the above points and do your own research. In  the next post, I will be evaluating the points remaining. And by then I promise you’ll be making an informed decision on an eCommerce plugin for your LearnDash website.

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Tahseen Kazi

Tahseen Kazi

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