Exchange is the brand new (and totally free) e-commerce plugin created by iThemes for selling digital goods via your WordPress website. We’re going to walk you through how to use the plugin, and just maybe convince a few of you to try it out. Have a look at our video overview, or if you’d prefer, just read through the text below.
Installation & Setup
Exchange is a plugin – just grab it from the plugin repository and install it right from your dashboard. Or you can download the zip file off the iThemes website and upload it by selecting “Add New” under Plugins on your dashboard, click upload, and select the zip. Easy!
It’s time to get your store setup. Click on the “Quick Setup” button in the notification bar at the top of your dashboard. If you don’t have the notification bar, go to Plugins > Installed Plugins and find “iThemes Exchange.” Double check that you’ve activated the plugin, then click on the “Quick Setup” link to open the setup wizard.
Exchange has made this easy. Just select the payment method your store will be using. Choose from offline (checks or cash), PayPal or Stripe. Make sure you’ve already signed up for PayPal or Stripe if you’re going to use one of these two options, and to use Stripe there is a required add-on (but you can purchase this for the introductory price of just $10 – wich will be going up to $97, so I suggest getting it now if you think this might be the method you’ll use). If you choose to use offline payments, there is a section you can complete with further payment instructions for customers (such as where to send payment). Then update your notification email address if you don’t want to use the admin’s email by default, select your currency and save your changes.
You can add a bit more information by clicking on this menu item within Exchange.
The first tab covers your basic company info. Name, tax ID, main email, and address. You’re also able to choose a currency symbol, it’s position, and the separators for your currency (e.g. in the US we use a decimal point between dollars and change, but many Latin countries use a comma instead – Exchange let’s you add your currency as it should be). Lastly on this tab, you can select how you want users to register (using Exchange to sign up through the plugin or by using the core WordPress function to sign up through your website itself).
On the second tab you’re able to customize the email you receive when you make sales, as well as the email customers receive as a receipt for their purchase. Using the iThemes Exchange shortcodes you can add information like the customer’s username, the date of purchase or the total purchase amount to the email. Add information you think is relevant to you and/or your customers.
The third and final tab let’s you organize your online store how you want it. For the various store related pages (such as the store page, customer registration, customer shopping cart, purchase confirmation, etc.) you can choose to use the default Exchange page, to use shortcodes to embed the related information into a WordPress page, or disable the page altogether. This is also where you can add custom page titles and slugs.
From here you can double check that you’ve got all the features activated that you want, and disable any you don’t. Some of the options included are a dashboard reporting widget product categories or tags, and the option for multi-item carts.
After purchase, you will also see the Stripe Add-On or any other premium add-ons you have access to.
To add products go to Exchange > Add Product.
Give your product a name, price, and description. You can upload as many product images as you’d like as well as upload digital files themselves (double check that the Digital Downloads Add-On is enabled by navigating to Exchange > Add-ons). There are also advanced options such as an extended description, categories, tags, product specific purchase message, availability dates or quantity, and limit per person. Make sure to publish your product and it will be instantly added to your store.
Who doesn’t love a good deal? With Exchange you can create all kinds of coupons for your clientele. Go to Exchange > Add-ons and make sure that the Coupons Add-On is activated. Once active, the Coupons menu item should appear within the Exchange menu in your WordPress Dashboard. Now go to Exchange > Coupons. Give your coupon a name (such as Grand Opening), add a coupon code (such as 10OFF or random), set the amount (such as 10 dollars, or 10 percent) and add the use period. With the coupons you can run a variety of holiday or user specific sales, email campaigns, or even hold giveaways.
Have a look at what your customers have purchased. Navigate to Exchange > Payments; you can see each and every one of your store’s transactions here. To see who bought what, just hover on a transaction and click on the “Payment Details” link.
View Customer Information
On the “Payment Details” for a transaction you’ll see a link to “View Customer Data.” This will take you to a screen that displays a specific customer’s purchase history, a list of all transactions (a useful tab if you ever need to issue a refund or resend a confirmation email), and a section where you can make notes about the customer (perhaps billing info, or a record of coupons you issued them).
Exchange also includes a great dashboard widget to give you a snapshot of how your online store is doing. To enable the add-on go to Exchange > Add-ons and activate the Basic Reporting Dashboard Widget.
From now on, when you login to website you’ll see a summary for today, this month, and a list of recent transactions. This is a quick and easy way to see if your products are selling, and if your daily sales are on track.
Help & Documentation
For more information about all of Exchange’s features click on the Help item in the menu, or have a look at the awesome documentation on the iThemes website. It covers each and every feature of Exchange often with helpful images so you can better understand how the plugin works. There are also a bunch of great video tutorials if ours didn’t provide you with enough information on a particular Exchange topic.
Overall this is a great plugin that you should certainly have a look at, or even take it for a test drive on your localhost like we did. It’s super easy to use, quick to setup, and has all the key features any e-commerce plugin should. But if you can think of anything that Exchange is missing, just fill out the Feature Request form on iThemes. They’re open to suggestions and want some feedback!
Let us know what you think of Exchange, or what your suggestions for the plugin are, in the comments section below!
More About iThemes
We love iThemes, and couldn’t be more excited with their recent free plugin release. Home to the renowned BackupBuddy plugin and the all powerful Builder WordPress Theme Framework, you know that anything coming from iThemes is sure to be high quality code with awesome features and support. If you want to have a look at some of iThemes other great products, just click on the button.