Advice on Shopping Carts

Web Shopping carts are a very complex system, but basically you have two options here: one is completely free and not very elegant, and one that integrates with WordPress much better but will cost some money. Let me describe the free version here first, then I’ll explain the advantages of a shopping cart system.

Bear with me… The first solution CAN be used with, the second solution requires you to have a self-hosted site (like at WP Hosting).

The Free Option

Sign up at for a free account, then setup your basic website explaining your service. You can choose to use a blog, or not – it’s up to you. Once you’ve written the content, sign up for a free PayPal account – if you already have that in place, even better.

PayPal allow you to place code to what they call Custom Buttons. It involves knowledge of HTML and how to navigate within PayPal (believe me, I forget EVERY time I’m in that interface). What you’re looking for is under Merchant Services – Sell Single Items on the first tab. Here you can create the code for a unique BUY NOW button, complete with graphic and price. You can create as many as you need or even create variations to your products.



At the end this button is saved and hosted by PayPal, ready for you to embed into your website. It looks a bit like this:

I know… it looks complicated. Copy all that code, then head over to your website to the post or page where you’d like that button to appear. Choose the HTML option to paste it – don’t use the visual editor here. You don’t have to use WordPress of course, but I’ll use us as an example here.

Now find the spot in the existing code where you want your button to appear, say in between to text paragraphs. I’ve prepared this here in the middle of some Lorem Ipsum sample text. Here’s what this would look like:

Now hit publish and your button will be right where it should be. If someone clicks on it, they are directed to PayPal and make the payment. At the end, they are re-directed to your website.

Please note that you don’t have stock control as such, and you’ll have to go through this every time you add a new product. You won’t be able to sell to or more products in the same checkout, and you won’t be able to sell downloadable products either. Which is why most people opt for a shopping cart system.

The much more elegant option

A Shopping Cart (within WordPress) is a plugin which handles all this coding for you. It also adds the benefit of stock control, downloadable products and customisable emails to your customers to the mix. All you do is specify a product, how much it costs, add a picture or two of what it looks like, then add a shortcode to your post and you’re good to go. The costs for such a system varies – there are even free solutions on the WordPress repository (but I don’t recommend those, believe me I’ve tried them).

I can install a premium shopping cart on your hosted website for a one-off payment of £100 plus VAT, which will require a self-hosted version of WordPress. Please contact me if this is of interest to you.