Why We're Abandoning Support for Our WordPress Plugin

As most of you already know, we launched Snipcart a couple of months ago (6 to be exact). Last fall, while we were looking to build significant interest in our newly born product, we decided to develop a CMS-specific plugin that could easily be used by customers who had almost no programming skills whatsoever. By doing so we allowed almost anybody to integrate Snipcart into their WordPress website by following the basic instructions found in our initial blog post. So, yeah, the WordPress plugin was developed for obvious reasons; reasons that aligned with our launch goals.

Note: if you're 100% intent on finding an easy plug and play e-commerce solution with WP, you can check out Ecwid. And if you want to use Snipcart directly inside WordPress, check out this full WP integration tutorial on Scotch.io.

Did our strategy work? Yes, it did. Did we get ourselves some interested new users? Yes, we did. We received many requests and questions regarding the plugin.

But the question we really needed to ask ourselves is this one: Did this strategy manage to demonstrate Snipcart's true value? Nope, it didn’t. Now here’s why we’re dropping the support and maintenance of the plugin:

##1. Getting back to our mission

At its core, Snipcart was made for developers. We wanted to offer them a flexible and fully customizable e-commerce platform. The WP plugin, however, was directed at the non-developers that could manage to go through a rudimentary plugin installation so they could get an out-of-the-box shopping cart. Simply put, our aim with this tool was off target: we got a lot of questions about WordPress and basic HTML/JavaScript manipulations instead of specific, Snipcart-related technical questions. So we decided to iterate back to our roots.

We believe that if a user is looking for a simple, click-based e-commerce platform that could be set up by our grandmothers, he or she should check out a fully hosted solution like Shopify (or the dozens of e-commerce plugins WordPress already offers). Our main Snipcart user, on the other hand, is looking to offer a fast, flexible and powerful e-commerce solution over which he or she has full control through CSS/JS, APIs and webhooks. We’re not trying to play an across-the-board game here.

##2. Features update and continuous development

After releasing the plugin, it wasn’t long before we realized it could never be updated as quickly as the platform itself. Why? Because we’re a small, SWAT-like team continuously improving our core product, and there’s just no way we could keep up the maintenance of both projects at the same pace. “Why couldn’t you just keep the plugin then?”, you’ll ask. Well, it’s like we said: the lack of freshly available features generated many support requests. Users relying on the plugin were disappointed and, we must admit, sometimes left behind so we could focus on rolling out new Snipcart features that came from our core customers requests.

Moreover, integrating Snipcart into WordPress without using a plugin is fairly easy for a developer and it gives room for more flexibility and options (it also allows direct access to all the most recent features developed).

##3. Technology independence and scaling

Snipcart is solely CSS/JavaScript and HTML based: its aim is to be technology independent. The previous WordPress plugin tied us up to one technology more than another. In addition to attaching ourselves to a specific technology, the strategy behind the plugin creation was unscalable. Why? Because doing a WordPress plugin meant that we would eventually have to do the same with Tumblr, Umbraco, Drupal, Joomla, etc. It doesn't make any sense from a business perspective. Since we proudly claim that Snipcart can be integrated into any web technology and any CMS, we shouldn't privilege one CMS over the others.

Since our launch, we've witnessed tremendous enthusiasm from developers and agencies across the world. Those early adopters and customers have practically all opted for a native Snipcart integration; none of them has privileged the plugin that was too limited. In the end, its restricted nature didn't quite make things easier for online merchants!

We intend to focus on delivering a geek-centric platform that lets developers add e-commerce capabilities in the blink of an eye. And we know for sure these developers aren't looking to use a click-based plugin!

For all of the aforementioned reasons, we’re officially dropping the support and maintenance of the Snipcart WordPress plugin. We’ll be focusing on supporting the developers working with the native integration of Snipcart. However, note that the plugin code will remain on GitHub and that we will still be accepting pull requests. If anyone wishes to take over the ownership of the plugin, we'll be more than happy to help.

We will soon be publishing a blog post on how to directly integrate Snipcart into WordPress. Stay posted, and let us know what you think!

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