Cart66, formerly PHPurchase, has made more changes to their WordPress e-commerce plugin. Some of the changes, such as the release of a free “lite” version, were planned. Others were in response to some backlash to their previous restructuring and rebranding campaign from PHPurchase.
There were quite a few disgruntled customers that were not happy about various aspects of the restructuring. Our post announcing the change to Cart66 has nearly 80 comments from customers, onlookers, and responses from Cart66 employees.
Cart66 took the tough critiques from our community and their forum under consideration as they adjusted their model for better handling of existing PHPurchase customers and the Cart66 subscription plan.
They also shared with us more details about what they have in store moving forward.
Summary of initial model critiques
I contacted Lee Blue, founder of Cart66, for any comments he may have for this post regarding the backlash from customers:
All the trouble began when we naively assumed that the changes we had planned for Cart66 would be happily accepted by current customers. PHPurchase has been our first experience with such a wide user base and we simply had no idea how passionate people were going to be concerning the change. We clearly goofed by not communicating enough before the transition. We, especially me since I was leading this process, really have no excuse. It was a dumb mistake and something we have learned a great deal from. It certainly won’t happen again.
The majority of the critiques can be summarized in the following list:
- PHPurchase customers were not “grandfathered in” to Cart66.
- There was not a warning to recent buyers that the entire model would change with Cart66, meaning many people bought PHPurchase and the model unexpectedly changed shortly thereafter.
- Many of the existing PHPurchase customers had been waiting on upgrades that went in to Cart66, but not PHPurchase.
- PHPurchase was a single-payment plugin, and many customers balked at the subscription based model of Cart66. Some of this response was due to the fact that most customers are developers and can’t afford to keep a subscription when their client projects are single-payment models.
- As the PHPurchase website was initially taken offline and redirected to Cart66, many users felt the upgrade to cart66 was forced rather than optional, and didn’t know what to do for support.
Needless to say, many of the existing customers were quite passionate and upset. Others were supportive of the new model to help the developers create a product with more long term sustainability.
Changes to Cart66 in response to feedback
In response to the backlash, Cart66 is making the following changes. Some of these are gathered from different comments, and others are detailed by Lee’s email to WPCandy.
- PHPurchase Pro members were given 5 years of Cart66 membership.
- PHPurchase Standard customers were given a 1 year membership to Cart66.
- PHPurchase.com was brought back online.
- The subscription model was clarified to include membership and support benefits, but plugin functionality and updates are provided to all customers.
- Upgrades will be for life for all customers, not just members of the subscription service.
- A new level of membership, for a one time purchase and year of support, is being created. This way users can buy that option for single sites rather than having to opt-out of the subscription service.
In the WPCandy discussion, Lee commented on how difficult it has been to see all the criticism:
Thank you all for caring enough to leave a comment here. Even though some of these comments have been hard to read, without them we wouldn’t know what you were thinking and we wouldn’t be able to improve to meet your needs.
New products and promotions
In the midst of all of these changes, Cart66 is also attempting to move forward to further their product. As part of this effort, they announced an affiliate program. The program offers a 20% commission for all sales, and more details can be found on the affiliate page.
They have also released a free, lite version, of the Cart66 plugin, available for download from the WordPress.org plugin repository. I installed the lite version on my test blog and took it for a test drive.
It’s a full service e-commerce solution for basic needs. It has options for physical products with shipping needs or digital downloads. It has shipping options, product variation setup features, custom field options, receipts, promotion capability, and most other aspects of the paid version.
The free version doesn’t come with the order and account tracking features, subscription payment offerings, or premium support. It does seem to be a good way to see whether the plugin is fit for your needs, or as a full offering if your e-commerce requirements are limited to those features above.
If you do decide to buy the plugin, you can upgrade to multisite or unlimited licenses by paying the difference, rather than having to pay the full amount again.
As we reported in our last article, Cart66 is partnering with Page.ly to launch WP Stores, a fully hosted and managed WordPress e-commerce solution. They hope to launch WP Stores in early April, Lee shared.
We also asked Lee about some of their partnerships with theme shops, and how that will fit in with WP Stores and Cart66:
For the other partnerships we are working on, we are extremely excited about the work Jason Schuller is doing with Cart66 powered ecommerce theme development through Press75. He was the first theme designer we started talking to and we are really looking forward to his Cart66 powered themes.
We have also begun conversations with a few other theme developers including the folks at iThemes.com and MintThemes.com. The folks at MintThemes.com are already using Cart66 to sell their own themes and will soon have Cart66 powered ecommerce themes available for sale.
We are also exploring the idea of selling cart66 powered ecommerce themes on cart66.com. We are still working out the technical details of how to handle all the payments but we’re very excited about the way things are going.
Most WPCandy readers probably know about Press75 and iThemes. Mint Themes is a project by Adam Pickering and Phil Johnston. It just launched on the 28th, and we’ll be covering them as new themes start to roll out.
What do you think?
So what do you think about Cart66’s response to the criticisms? Is it enough for you, if you were affected the first time around?
Also, I’d love to hear your thoughts on their upcoming plans for WP Stores, and their partnerships with Page.ly, Press75, iThemes, and Mint Themes.