Adding A Shopping Cart To Your Site

August 20, 2009  |  Articles

Hello All!

This article is part 3 in a series. The series so far contains the following articles:

  1. Looking More Professional – The Download Area
  2. Half Now, Half on Delivery – A Paypal solution

This was not done on purpose as I am just fumbling at this point trying to find a solution to several issues at the same time… and all related to improving my voice over business:

  • Provide my clients with a professional looking audio file delivery system
  • It must Look good, function well and be secure
  • It must (when applicable) allow me to add an audio file as a downloadable digital item which the client will need to pay for before receiving the download link.
  • It must integrate with Paypal or any other payment system without glitches.
  • It must if possible be for free

Today’s article will contain a few technical terms but I’ll try to simplify as much as I can.

Having mentioned that this article is part of a series.. I suggest that you scroll back up to the top of the article and click on the links of the other two articles and read them (if you haven’t done so already).

Continuing from the last article… Half Now, Half on Delivery… I decided to research ways that I can integrate a shopping cart system (ecommerce solution) to my existing website.

My website is built using wordpress as a content management system (that means that the server based program I use to organize my website’s files or backend if you will… is wordpress) Therefore the logical step from here is to look for an addon or a plugin that will integrate with WordPress to allow me to provide an integrated download system connected to paypal.

Fortunately the work of collecting information about all the viable e-commerce solutions has already be done (although I found the article after the fact… it can give you an excellent introduction to e-commerce plugins to add downloadable digital products to your website).

10 Powerful Shopping/Ecommerce Plugin Solutions For WordPress

I was able to also find a few other solutions that could be implemented if you are not using paypal as a CMS (content management system.)

PHP Easy Downloader Script by Paul Alger This is a simple drag and drop php script that can work great for setting up a simple download area for your clients on your site… but if you would like to integrate a digital payment system using this script it will only cost you $10 to buy the paypal module from Paul. Although the design isnt much to talk about … I was able to edit it to fit my needs and am happy enough with it.

There are other applications and solutions for setting up a shopping cart on your site… 2 of which were supplied for free by the hosting company I host with (bluehost).

One was called shopsite and the other called Agora Shopping Cart . These are a little more complex to setup but ultimatly they are still free.

Remember my budget for this whole project was $0 so as much as I wanted to pay the $10 for the easy download script I was bound by the criteria I set for myself. Ultimately if I don’t find a better solution I will go back and dish out whatever I find appropriate to improve my business.

That’s it for now… I don’t know if there will be another article in this series… if you have any questions or suggestions… please leave a comment.

Mahmoud Taji
Arabic VO Talent

Taji addition: I stumbled on this site after writing the article.. thought you could benefit from it click here


2 Comments


  1. Ahhh… the shopping cart challenge!

    Over the past few years I’ve often considered putting a shopping cart on our http://www.voiceacting.com site and I even considered that for http://www.voice2010.com. I’ve learned a lot about them. Although a 3rd party shopping cart might sound like a good idea, there are some definite draw-backs to it.

    1. Shopping carts are generally intended for products that have a static price. This could work if you always charge the same fee for your VO and studio services, but can become a challenge and a lot of extra work to create shopping cart items for different clients with different fees for different services and/or studio time.

    2. Most 3rd party shopping carts have at least one fee attached, either for purchase or maintenance. Although there are a few relatively inexpensive carts out there, if you’re going to accept credit card payment through your cart, you’ll often be faced with Merchant Services, gateway and other recurring fees on top of the cart fees.

    3. If you only accept payment via PayPal (which allows you to accept all credit cards as well), the PayPal shopping cart is free. True, it has limited customization in terms of the look and feel of the order processing, but the price is right! It’s also easy to add your own header to the processing pages so you can keep your branding somewhat intact. As with any other shopping cart, you’ll still need to create the item and order button on your web site. So, if you’re creating customized products and payment buttons, these can be built into your web site which keeps the look and feel of the order page consistent with your other branding.

    4. Most 3rd party shopping carts are designed to handle specific products. Some cannot accommodate downloadable file delivery. Most (like PayPal) can do a re-direct after the payment is processed, which makes it easy to send the purchaser to a dedicated web page where the client will find a link to download their file(s). We used to do this with our VoiceActing Academy tele-calls. After a call, we’d send an e-mail to all attendees with a link to our post-call page where they could download the file from a link on that page. This worked well, but required that the post-call page had to be modified after each call. Not a big problem, but we had limited control of the download process because we couldn’t protect the post-call page or the file being downloaded. Still, this was a LOT better than using FTP or YouSendIt because we sometimes had to deliver the file to more than 100 people.

    When we did VOICE 2008, we used an on-line service provider that included a shopping cart as part of their service. What we found was that dealing with the shopping cart transactions cost us a lot of money and necessitated duplicate effort in order to transfer the shopping cart transactions into our QuickBooks accounting software.

    As I mentioned in my reply to Taji’s first post on this thread, for VOICE 2010, we’re using a member site program that gives us complete control of file delivery. Although we have a separate Merchant Account for accepting credit cards direct, our payment portal for VOICE is PayPal. It’s extremely easy to create a specific “buy now” or “pay now” button for each item or service.

    In terms of using a shopping cart, PayPal has the huge benefits of being free (except for their transaction fee – which is comparable to most merchant accounts) and the ability to have product customization since you’re really only adding the payment button to an item on your web site.

    To the best of my knowledge, there is no $0 option for accepting payment and delivering files – unless your client pays by cash or check. If you want to accept payment over the Internet, there will be some costs involved. The challenge is to figure out which option works best for you.

  2. Thanks for that superb comment James.

    What I was actually thinking of with this is a little less complicated since I don’t run a voice coaching school or deal with large amounts of credit card payments. What I am proposing for the single voice over artist who wishes to ensure payment from a single client that he is not sure of (maybe a first time client) is to provide them with a link that will take them to a page where the finished product resides… For them to access the finished digital audio file they will first be redirected to paypal and be asked to pay the agreed upon amount before given access to the downloadable product.

    Since my website is built on the wordpress architecture I mainly concentrated on that. But during this series of articles I had to gradually come to the conclusion that it is best to:
    1. maintain branding to make the product page look more professional
    2. maintain security so that the client doesnt figure out he could just go directly to the download page and download the audio file without payment in case there are multiple files in the project.
    3. make it easy for me to remove that product and add another once the job is over.

    What you are talking about is a much more sophisticated and complex operation since you provide the coaching service as well as the booking service for the conference. These humble articles only tackle the needs of a small scale operation.

    But it does at least tell me that I should not write my articles with only me in mind 🙂

    taji