Best eCommerce and Tipping Platforms

Shopify is the best eCommerce platform I’ve ever encountered. It’s very easy to set up shop and has a lot of features to get you started. There are tons of apps to meet whatever your shop needs. However, just like WordPress plugins, it can jack up the overall cost, so be wary and use only the ones that are really needed. As a web developer, one of my favorites is the free Advanced Custom Fields, very useful for customizations. The online shop comes with blogging features and email marketing, but is limited.

For startups, Shopify Lite is ideal. It costs just $9/month but without the online shopping feature. No problem, you can add products to a WordPress website or to any website using the Buy Button. To easily add products in WordPress, you may try WPShopify.

To spare you the trouble, take advantage of drop shipping. They have an extensive post about it here. Personally, I like Spocket. They source products from the US and EU. Don’t ruin your business by selling cheap but low-quality products.

In this time of the pandemic, they have offered pause plans, which is a big help for owners. One of my clients is an event organizer that hosts seasonal events, so the Pause and Pause and Build plans come in handy for them. The Pause plan completely pauses your online site, including any admin work, for 3 months at zero cost. After that, it is automatically upgraded to Pause and Build, which charges just $9/month. In this plan, the online store is still not available, but you can do backend admin tasks.

Shopify also offers POS, both as a mobile app and an in-store terminal.

As a web developer, I also create custom-built apps for clients. To do so, register for a Shopify Partner account. It comes with a free online shop you can experiment with. It’s not live, of course.

The easiest way to create an app is to use an Ajax call to an external service hosting the files that process these requests. To prevent any cross-domain issues, use the built-in Application Proxy App extension. Here is a cheat sheet and Liquid examples.

Some of the useful Shopify apps are Better ReportsConnected Inventory (syncs inventory of variants), and LockSmith(locks content).

For any problem that’s difficult to resolve, contact Shopify Support. They’re friendly.

UCraft is a drag and drop builder that comes with an online shop, albeit not at the same level of flexibility. SquareUp is a good alternative. Ecwid is cheap. and allows you to sell 10 products for free. Plus, they have a widget you can integrate on your site without a need for a plugin or extension. SnipCart is similar to Shopify’s Buy Button.

To easily add a PayPal cart in WordPress, take a look at Simple PayPal Shopping Cart.

In the world of WordPress, WooCommerce(WC) is king. It is free but they charge hefty amounts for add-ons. There are free plugins though, such as Beeketing for WooCommerce and Kadence WooCommerce Email Designer are some of my favorites. Decorator and Email Customizer for WooCommerce are other options worth trying.

Tipping is a form of gratuity, a recognition or appreciation of something like a useful content or online service, a helpful video, an exemplary piece of music, etc. When you like a post or photo on Facebook, you click the “Like” button, but in tipping you back it up by paying a micro amount(usually in cents) called a tip to the content or service provider.

Sites like Flattr and Tipeee cater to tipping. However, they use PayPal for payment processing, and I have a very nasty experience with PayPal. I avoid it like a plague.

If you’re a supporter of the Buy Me A Coffee type of tipping, check out Ko-fi and Buy Me A Coffee.

AddThis offers a Donate Button that supports Amazon Smile, Cash.Me, Patreon and Venmo.

Since tipping involves micropayments, I think Bitcoin is better suited for this purpose. With Bitcoin, it is hassle-free to send tiny amounts and doesn’t entail any deductions or fees. Plus, it doesn’t require any integration of third party buttons or links on your website, you just need to show your bitcoin address to start receiving tips.

Wish to make donations count? Donate to Angat Buhay, it is a NGO that harness partners, volunteers and supporters to empower the marginalized Filipino communities. It is spearheaded by former Vice President Leni Robredo, a person gifted with the purest heart to serve the people.

For non-profit organizations that need to integrate donation forms, Every.Org and DonorBox are platforms that supports  many different payment methods.

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