WordPress Plugin: WP Mal’s Cart

Simple E-commerce Plugin

current version: 0.6

This wordpress plugin is the first development phase of a full-featured WordPress online commerce application using the third-party cart service Mal’s E-commerce (mals-e.com). Version 1 provides simple product buy buttons as a shortcode to include in your WordPress pages and posts. Clicking the button sends the customer to the shopping cart and adds the product to the cart.

I developed this plugin because I was asked by a friend to recommend an e-commerce plugin for WordPress. After looking through the options, I saw there was a need for just a simple e-commerce plugin.

The WP Mal’s Cart Plugin gives you an easy entry point for online commerce, with the critical tasks taken care of by the shopping cart so you don’t have to worry about bugs, security or upgrading, leaving WordPress to do what it does best: present content to your readers. I have used Mal’s E-Commerce for many years and have found it to be reliable, well supported and simple to set up.

This plugin represents what I think is the easiest and most foolproof way to begin selling products to your site’s visitors. It is a great way to get started with online commerce. It’s also designed to visually match the theme of your website without a lot of customization.

Installation and Use

Install the plugin in one of two ways–either automatically using the WordPress plugin installer, or by downloading the plugin. The best way is automatically: On your WordPress site, go to “Add New” under the plugin menu. Search for “Mals Cart” and install and activate using the link to the plugin.

If you use the download, download and unzip the file on your computer then upload the whole “wp-malscart” folder to the /wp-content/plugins/ directory. Then go to the plugins page in your WordPress admin and activate the plugin. You’ll find the settings page under the “Settings” menu.

To use this plugin, you must first establish an account with Mal’s E-Commerce. Your username (actually a number) and the cart server domain goes into the General Settings tab of this plugin. You will be provided with this information when you register your account at mals-e.com.

Using the Shortcodes

To use the shortcode, put something like this in your page or post:

[[buy_button product="The Product Name" price="25.00"]]

The two arguments, ‘product’ and ‘price’ are required. In addition to these two, you can set up a series of options for the product, such as color or size. For example:

[[buy_button product="Test Product" price="10.00" color="Product Color:Red,Light Blue,Hunter's Green" ]]

To add product options, add an argument to the shortcode with any name you want (though it can’t be ‘product’ or ‘price’ for obvious reasons and no spaces or punctuation) and then in quotes the display name of the option, a colon, and all the option names with commas in between each one. As you can see, things like space and some punctuation are allowed here.

In this version of the plugin, these ‘product attributes’ can’t affect the price. They are really just a way to put this extra information into the order so you know which one to send. When we get to version 2, we will add a product post type that will allow for much more complex pricing schemes as well as product management and display possibilities.

Setting Up Mal’s Cart

Properly setting up the cart can be a little complicated, and I suggest you give this aspect of setting up your store a lot of attention and testing. Getting it wrong can be a source of stress once you begin selling, so work through all the details before you let the customers in. Just a piece of advice from someone who has been there!

Mal’s E-Commerce has a very active and helpful community, so you won’t be without help in your questions.

Help and Support

Questions about the plugin can be emailed to me, Roland, at webdesign@xnau.com. If you need more extensive help setting up your store (as I have done for many others) I will want to invoice you for my time, but don’t think I’m going to break your bank there. I specialize in small-scale operations with limited budgets (not that my bookkeeper thinks this is smart!) and I know you mostly just want a little help and then be on your way.

Time permitting, I can also provide full-service online commerce development.

Future Development

The general development plan for the plugin is as follows:

  1. single-product buy button shortcodes
  2. product post type, multiple product ordering, product management and display
  3. advanced product attributes, images, pricing
  4. sales, discounts and specials, related products
  5. integrate with users, user role discounts (wholesale/retail)
  6. local sales records
  7. integrate cart screens with site

Some of the features will only be included in a premium version of the plugin.

Release History

0.6

  • initial release
  • buy button shortcodes
  • internationalization
  • admin settings page
  • help page

Acknowledgements

This project would not have been possible without knowledge gained from the following authors and sites:

and many others who have generously offered their expertise to the community.