Today we’re launching a fully functioning ecommerce site using iThemes Exchange – enter iThemesSwag.com. This is a fun project site where you can purchase swag, something we’ve been asked for years, and really see iThemes Exchange in action.
The purpose and goal of iThemesSwag.com is to:
- Use iThemes Exchange to sell things, something we ask our customers to do.
- Offer a way for our community to get swag in between times we aren’t giving it away.
“We wanted to drink our own Kool-Aid with Exchange. What better way than to have a live physical products aka swag store running on it.” – Cory Miller, iThemes Founder and CEO.
I’ve never been a part of building an ecommerce store from the ground up, until now. After a quick meeting with Cory, I immediately started planning what products we would have in the store. Later that week the site designer, Cody and I had an initial design meeting. I showed him my drawings of how I envisioned the pages. These drawings included specific content, buttons and widget placement. Cody and I talked out our options and what we wanted the site to do.
We were in constant communication. Cody let me know when questions popped up and vice versa. Using the Madison theme with customization as framework for the site I was then able to build physical products in iThemes Exchange using the physical products add-on as well as the Product Variants add-on to allow for multiple shirt sizes (which is pre-loaded in the add-on). I gradually added each product into the store and then fine-tuned the copy and Cody got all the images squared away.
It was awesome to use the Easy U.S. Sales Tax add-on to not have to worry about figuring tax rates. Something that is really valuable to me keeping track of all the inventory is the Inventory Tracking in the Product Variants add-on.
It’s so easy to track and it helped me to remember to put inventory in each size offered. You can also assign an image to your variants – I didn’t need it for this site but I played with it. I then worked through the supporting features like Coupons and MailChimp.
Notes from Cody, the Designer
I started by spinning up a brand new installation of WordPress on my local development environment, and downloading/installing several of our products (listed below). By working locally, I could test things and make changes without worrying about anyone “accidentally” stumbling onto the site as a work in progress. (NOTE: You can develop on the server and install a maintenance mode plugin while you develop; I just chose to develop locally.)
We discussed designing and developing a new theme, but ultimately decided to use one of our recent Builder Theme releases, Madison, and customize it as we saw fit.
I tweaked a few lines of CSS to swap out the color scheme, and also used minimum CSS/HTML to build an email signup form. By far, the longest part of the process was creating product mockups/templates for our shirts and other items, and entering the actual product information. But with Exchange, this was still super simple and made our lives easy.
After we were mostly happy with the way things looked and functioned, we needed to migrate the site over to our hosting provider of choice, SiteGround. Again, BackupBuddy made this simple. A few clicks and I was done.
What We Learned
We went through all the normal questions like “will we need an SSL even though we’re using Stripe…” (Pro tip: don’t install SSL when the dev is migrating the site.) I talked through our SSL options with SiteGround’s Chat Support. Super quick and easy. This was the inspiration for the WordPress ecommerce SSL post I wrote a few weeks ago.
This project site was something Cody and I worked on between several other things. Getting the site launch ready took about three weeks while working on our other tasks. Lesson – sometimes things take longer than planned.
Here’s a list of everything we used
- SiteGround hosting/SSL
- Builder – Madison Theme
- iThemes Security Pro
- Gravity Forms
- iThemes Exchange
- iThemes Exchange – Easy U.S. Sales Taxes
- iThemes Exchange – MailChimp Add-on
- iThemes Exchange – Product Variants
- iThemes Exchange – Stripe Add-on
- iThemes Sync
- WordPress SEO
- Image Widget
All-in-all the experience of building the site as a two-person team was great – we were always on chat helping each other brainstorm and make decisions. We hope that you find some awesome swag for purchase, and if you haven’t already, check out the site!