Building WooCommerce Plugins with Scott DeLuzio from Amplify Plugins

Do the Woo - WooCommerce Podcast, Community and News
Do the Woo - WooCommerce Podcast, Community and News
Building WooCommerce Plugins with Scott DeLuzio from Amplify Plugins

Scott shares his own journey in the eCommerce space and how he moved to WooCommerce along the way. Not unlike a lot of guests we have had, he created a product first off to scratch his own itch and then decided to sell it publicly.

In episode 36 of our podcast, Brad Williams and I interview Scott DeLuzio from Amplify Plugins and we chat about:

After the first product, Scott continued adding plugins and focused on the product side of things. Recently, he has turned his focus to eCommerce- related products and shares his reasons for that move as compared to selling a mix of different plugins.

Brad chooses one of his products, Quick Checkout Plugins and digs deeper into that with Scott, asking him if a single page checkout is still a plus in the shopping experience. I ask him how that plugin and his Conditional Checkout plugin play into the mix.

It’s interesting to hear Scott’s comparison of the two.

Lastly, since Scott has both sold and bought plugins, I ask him which is more challenging and he gives us some great insights into the process if you are ever considering selling one yourself.

Woo News

Where you can find Scott

Posts we have written here about Scott’s plugins

Brad: Welcome back to another episode of Do the Woo. I'm half of the Woo recipe of the show. Brad Williams. I'm joined by the other half of the Woo pie, if you will, BobWP. Bob, how's it going?

Bob: Hey, I'm doing good. I like that. Woo pie. That's a new one. Yeah, this is good. I'm all for this one. So now we know, we know the direction of this whole show, pie.

Brad: Yup. Just start at the bottom and it can only get better. So speaking of getting better, we brought on a great guest today. Mr. Scott, DeLucio joins us. Welcome to the show, Scott.

Scott: Hey, thanks for having me.

Brad: And for all of our listeners, why don't you give us just a quick background on yourself, what you do and how it relates to WooCommerce?

Scott: Like I said, my name is Scott de Lucio. I own a company called Amplify plugins. And the focus of the company is building plugins and supporting plugins for a WooCommerce, EDD and basically e-commerce focused products. That's what I do with WooCommerce.

Brad: Very cool. So I'm just digging in there. How did you end up in the eCommerce in the space of WordPress? There's a lot of products out there, a lot of premium products. Most people lean towards the broader audience of just a product or a plugin that would work with just WordPress in general, but you're focusing specifically on eCommerce products.

Scott: I actually got started in eCommerce in general, I want to say around 2011. I ran an eCommerce store that sold travel products, like a travel size toiletries and things like that. So it was a very niche type of site. And the company started right around the same time that WooCommerce was first released. So I actually use a different eCommerce platform called OpenCart at that point. I didn't even use WordPress for my shop, but I did use it for the company blog. I did have a WordPress running there.

So yeah, I've been doing that for quite awhile. Also around that time I started running a charity golf tournament where we collected the registrations online using just PayPal buy now buttons. You know the little buttons that you get from PayPal. And it was a nightmare. Because when we did it that way, we had no idea who really was registering. If one person bought four tickets to the golf tournament, we didn't know who all four of those people were. We knew that one person, but we didn't know all four. So it was of a pain to go back and forth with the person to try to figure out who they paying for. It was a nightmare.

Then the next year, or maybe the year after, I finally heard of WooCommerce and started using that to collect the registrations. We were selling other things too, like t-shirts, that type of stuff on the website. And that's how I built one of my first commercial plugins which is conditional checkout fields. Since I needed to collect the names of the golfers who were registering I set it up so that it would put a field on the checkout page only if they're buying the golf registration products. It would put a field to fill in the names of the golfers that you're paying for. And I didn't make that a commercial product right away. It was just more for my own purposes. But that was my stepping stone into using WooCommerce and how I started doing what I'm doing today.

Brad: All right, very cool. I think that's a common story we hear right Bob where someone builds a product out of necessity for themselves or you know, for a client or something. And realize they have a good idea and it's a good product and what they built other people could probably benefit from and you know, it snowballs into one product and then multiple products from there. The next thing you know, you're a product company which I think is really cool. It's of a win-win path to getting something out there to sell, right? Because you're doing it because you needed it. You had a necessity to build it for your own purposes.

And then why not take it the extra step of getting it ready for release. I understand that when I say extra step, I'm not trying to minimalize it because a product you build for yourself versus one you release and sell. There's a pretty big gap in difference between those two. But you know, you get the function out of there, right? So now it's just packaged up and you need to get it ready to sell to the masses. It sounds like that's your first step. You got your product and you think, hey, this is a good idea. Let me start selling this. And it must've worked because now you have multiple products.

Scott: So yeah, that was a good entry into the market. Figuring out how to sell these types of WooCommerce products. And, to be honest, when I first started selling it, it wasn't really my core focus at the time because I was building websites for clients. I was doing well with that and I didn't really need it in terms of income, as far as selling those plugins. It was just one of those things where I, I figured, I might as well see if some people might be interested in purchasing it. And it turns out they were.

And so as time went on, it started doing better and better, organically, on its own without too much marketing effort on my part. I decided this is something that I actually enjoy doing more than building the client websites. So, I'm going to focus more on that. And then I introduced new products and I've acquired other products from other developers along the way and I grew the company that way.

Bob: One of the things I'm interested in, and I know we had this conversation back at WordCampUS the end of last year, is I know now you are wanting to focus more on the eCommerce products and you've had some other plugins in your arsenal. What made that decision happen? I mean, was it obvious, like, Hey, this is where things are going. Or was there some point along the way that it really clicked and you said I need to really narrow things down more in the eCommerce space?

Scott: Yeah, it's, it's a couple of things. When I look at any company and you have a bunch of products that are disconnected from each other, you focus your energy on getting customers to buy this one product. But they are not the same. The target market for product B, C, D, E and F. It's hard to sell those products if they're not the target market for it. My thought process with refocusing the company is I'm having customers who are interested in WooCommerce products to improve their store, to solve a problem on their store. Why am I going to fight it and sell them something or upsell them on something that is not related at all to their WooCommerce store. It seems like a difficult battle to be fighting.

It's not an impossible one, but the other plugins that I had were not as focused on eCommerce. I wanted to shift my attention and give the eCommerce side more focus than to the other products. I had a few products that were not eCommerce related. One I sold to another company over the summer. And I have two others that I still have that I'm actually in the process of trying to negotiate and see if we can move those to other new owners right now so that the company can be 100% focused on eCommerce related products.

Brad: Yeah I'm over here to checking out your Quick Checkout plugin, which I think is an interesting topic because the goal of the plugin is to make it quick for someone to buy something on one page, whether it's a lightbox or a single checkout page. I'm curious. Clearly I would imagine you are a fan of the one page checkout. That's why you have a product around it. I remember working at an eCommerce store when I was a director, years ago. We had a four or five page checkout and then read the articles and trends and learned with every step you're going to lose people. As we started looking at the data, that was absolutely true. Every page of the checkout process we could see the drop rate of who didn't finish. And that was 15 years ago. I'm curious about your thoughts on that or any data you might have. Is that still true? Are people still more likely to buy on a one page checkout process versus a two or three page?

Scott: Yeah, I mean, just take a look at it. If you want to of see what some of the trends are, look at what Amazon is doing, right. They have the add to cart button and then right below it's the buy now button and it pops up a light box and you basically just confirm your shipping address and you click buy now, and the order is complete for you. That's essentially what this does in WooCommerce so that you can have that sort of functionality on your site, where, if someone's logged into your website, all of their shipping information, billing information is stored on the site and will be pre-filled into the checkout page.

So it makes it so much easier for them to check out. And when you reduce the amount of time that it takes for someone to actually checkout it's going to increase conversions for your site because, someone might be sitting on the checkout page starting to fill out the billing and shipping information and then their kids are calling from the other room and they have to go and figure out what's going on with that. They forgot to check out and you've lost a sale. Whereas if it's nice and easy and it's a site that people buy from frequently, they're already logged into their account, add the stuff to their cart, buy now, and they're done. It speeds things along. So yeah, it definitely increases conversions and makes things a lot easier for the customer. Which in turn increases the conversions for the store owner.

Brad: Yeah, I definitely like it. I mean especially in a world of mobile you have to understand what you're against when you're trying to buy something in terms of the information they're requesting. There's obvious stuff like address, shipping address, billing address, payment info, but is there going to be more? And sometimes you don't even know until you get onto page three and it's like, oh, I don't have this stuff ready, depending on what you're buying. I just think it's easier and less intimidating and it's all right there. This is what you need. And at the very bottom as a buy. Ready to go, right. So you can get through it very quickly. Bob, you have a thoughts about one page verse multipage checkout.

Bob: You know, I've written about a few of these including Scotts., When I'm going through them, it's really interesting to see how each one of plays into it and how they let you get quite elaborate with their pages. They have one page checkout, but you can add a lot of stuff to it. And I know it's going to depend on the experience of what you're selling. Personally I like them as it speeds things up. Other ones, I only wonder if it will every end.

Scott: Right. And sometimes when you're checking out and you have all these long pages and you click next and next, next and you're on the third page already, then you start to think, do I really need this thing? Do I really need to buy this? Not like we're trying to promote overspending or anything like that. But it's not going help your conversions if you give your customer way too much time to think about it. Think about a traditional brick and mortar store and you have a long line that's going out the door and the people are all standing there waiting to check out. If it takes them a half hour to check out, well, they're probably going to put the stuff down and walk out because it's just taking too long and they decide I don't really need it that bad.

Bob: I think the overall experience is much better. I'm curious with your other checkout plugin, the Conditional Checkout Fields, which obviously uses conditional logic, which I'm a huge fan of. I'm guessing with your clients, do a lot of them use both? They really go hand in hand depending on your needs of course.

Scott: They do sort of go hand in hand and I feel like one of them makes the checkout process a little bit longer and the other one makes it quicker. They're a yin and yang of the checkout experience. But the the conditional checkout fields makes it easier for not only the customer, but also the store owner to collect the information that they need in order to fulfill the order. Going back to the golf tournament example. When I wasn't getting that information with each each registration, I had to go and do a followup with them . Send them an email and wait for their response to figure out who they're paying for. It just took that much more time and then it's an extra step that they have to do later. And they don't necessarily want to have to think about that later.

It's like, I want to click register and be done with it and just not have to think about it anymore. But we have people who use this for things like summer camps. They'll collect information about allergies that the kids might have who are going to the camps and other information that they might need. Emergency contact information and that type of stuff. You don't want to have to go and follow up with 500 people who just signed up for your summer camp to try to figure all that out. So so it does make things easier even though it adds a couple of questions to the checkout page. It makes things easier in the long run. By putting it all in one place, they fill out all the information, they submit their order, pay for it and it's done. Couple that with a quick checkout and it just makes it that much easier. By putting everything on the one checkout page you don't have to mess around with followups.

Bob: One of the things I wanted to also touch on, and this steps away from these specific products, is that you've mentioned in your intro that you are selling a couple plugins now. I've had you on my other podcast talking about the process of when you purchase a plugin. So you've been on both sides now. You've bought them and you're selling them. Maybe there's an obvious answer to this, but which one have you found the most challenging, selling or buying?

Scott: Selling I think was probably the most challenging in that I had a number of accounts the payment processing accounts, the analytics account, the social media accounts and that you don't really think about. You have them, they're sitting there and you don't think about them. Then when I have to transfer some of that information over to a new owner, I have to go and collect all that information, figure out where it all is. But more than that, it's the actual process of figuring out how to transfer some of these accounts to the the owner of the product. And some of them, as I was going through the process, I didn't realize it at the time, but they don't allow you to transfer ownership of them.

So PayPal, for example, I was using for payments on the website and they don't allow you to change the owner of the account. If Bob was selling or buying something from me, I can't go and just put Bob's name in the account. It doesn't allow me to do that. So that was a big hurdle and it just took way more time than I thought it was going to take. The other plugins that I bought from the other companies, they didn't have recurring transactions or recurring revenue set up on their end. So I was able to just set up my own PayPal or Stripe accounts and I didn't have to worry about any of that stuff.

For me, it was a clean break and I was able to just of set things up and start running from there. Whereas when I sold the plugin, it just took a little bit more effort than I thought it was going to take. But, I'm aware of the logistical issues now, so going forward I'm able to of mitigate some of that stuff and go through the right steps in order to transfer all of those assets.

Brad: It's probably good advice for anyone getting into products is on day one, track that stuff. Even if you have no intention of ever selling or doing anything with it, track what accounts you've created for what products. Even as simple text doc that just outlines that stuff so you have a list of these five different services I'm using for this one product that I built. Maybe it's social media accounts, maybe Gmail account domains, all that stuff, you know, cause it's something new. Like you said, most people don't think about it. Most people probably don't think about ever selling when they first started building a product or plugin. It doesn't mean it won't happen.

Scott: The other important thing too is if you have multiple products that you're selling on your site, for example, if you had your personal website, say or or whatever, and you're selling your plugins on those sites or themes or any products, all of the customer information, all the payment information, it all gets lumped into one bulk massive information and it makes it harder to separate those things out.

It's not impossible, but it's harder to make a clean break and transfer all of the the products, or just one of the products to somebody else. So separate that from all of the rest of your products. Especially if you're using the same payment processor, you're not able to transfer your Stripe account to somebody else because you're also collecting payments for all your other products. That's a bit of a tricky situation if you've already got it set up if you're selling multiple products on the same site. It's not necessarily a problem if you ever intend on selling them and you're selling them as a package deal.

But but I would definitely suggest having a separate site set up for all of your products and not use a personal site to sell those because it's going to be a heck of a lot harder to sell that website to somebody else if you're ever trying to exit out of selling those products. Whereas if you have a more descriptive domain, you know whatever your product name is .com or something like that, it'd be a heck of a lot easier to sell that to somebody else.

Brad: So I think that highlights some of the strategy behind why most of your products have their own domain.

Scott: Exactly. Yeah, it's really forward looking. Not that I'm planning on exiting any of them and I wasn't planning on it when I first started, but it does make it easier going forward to if I wanted to releasee a plugin and that's not getting any traction or I was way off on the target market and decided it's not worth any more time or effort to do that. I could just take the site down and as if it was never there. It doesn't doesn't hurt anything really. But by having everything on their own separate site, it gives you a lot more options than you have if everything lumped into one.

Brad: That's what you need, Bob, more websites.

Bob: Yeah. I was just thinking this gives me the perfect excuse. Now when somebody says, why don't you have products on your site, I'm going to say, because Scott told me I shouldn't. That's just what I'm going to say anymore. Because I've always had to explain this to everybody. I mean, this gives me a headache just thinking about this. It's enough with my site as it is. Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. There has been a few times I thought of products because everybody's always telling me to do a product. So I thought, well, okay, I'll create this site. And then I'm thinking, okay, I have to create another side, I have to start traffic there. I'm glad you said that because now I feel confident that I don't need a product.

Scott: You had talked about it back at WordCampUS. You had talked about the potential of one.

Bob: Ah, you know, I was hoping nobody would've remembered that because I did bring that up. I did another podcast where I said, yeah, by the end of the year I will have a product to sell. Needless to say, those two products that I was thinking about dissolved in a mannerly fashion throughout December. I was just going to say heck with it, I'll just sell the BobWP Gutenberg blocks. I was going to buy a bunch of wooden, physical blocks and write the name of the blocks on them and just put them on my site and sell them. Here's a product block, right? Here's the image gallery and have a bunch of photos stuck to the wooden block, glued on the side and just sell those. I could say hey everyone, that's it. I've done blocks, the BobWP blocks, but those didn't transpire either.

Brad: Bob blocks. Come on man. I got the marketing covered, everybody needs some Bob blocks.

Bob: I had an idea for a lot of them, how I could sell them and do some nice photo shoots of the product and everything. But, heck, you never know. It may still happen. But I'm not giving any more dates about product releases, that's for sure.

Well I think let's go ahead and pop into a couple items as far as news. There's the WooCommerce 3.9 release. I would say it's going to be out by the time this show airs, but I said that two or three weeks ago and everybody's sitting there waiting for Bob to actually make a correct prediction. So it could be or could not be. Let's just leave that at that and we'll talk about it later.

The other thing, not WooCommerce related. Google's at it again and I don't know if either of you had a chance to look at this article, but they've specifically designed a Google search to display clothing related queries. I'll put the link in. Essentially it's going to pull in whatever a shopper puts in, such as shirts, and then it's going to pull in a bunch from several different places. You can buy it or you can just of scroll through and choose one. Consumers are probably saying, yay, this sounds so easy now.

Brad, from an agency side, with clients that may sell clothing or something else, what are your initial thoughts looking at this?

Brad: I mean, it's cool. I'm not seeing it on my side yet, so I can only look at their examples. But when I searched the different things, I'm not getting these results. So it's a little bit hard to say by looking at a few screenshots as I can't see where in the results of a Google page, it sits. Is it sitting at the top position? Is it mid page? Is it towards the bottom. I think that's pretty important. I mean clearly any retailer is going to want to be a part of this. So anyone that's currently in it is probably going to have a leg up more than others. It looks cool, I'm just curious where it lands.

Bob: Did you try it on your mobile? I'm wondering if it's mobile only.

Brad: I did not. I'll try that right now.

I'm wondering if that's the case because that's where they're showing in their example. But I will put the link in the show notes. Any thoughts on that, Scott?

Scott: Yeah. In the article it does look like it's a mobile thing because all the screenshots that they have are mobile. So I don't know if maybe that's the issue. They did say that any store, as I was reading more about this, if their stuff is set up with the structured data, they should be included in the search results. So that is a good thing I think in terms of the barrier to entry. It's not like an application process that you need to get into to have your products showing up in these search results.

The one thing that I found interesting is how much that they insisted that being included in the search results is free. So on several Google pages, I've found something that said we don't charge sites to be part of the Google search index, participating retailers appear in this new feature for free. But the flip side to that is just like the Google search index is that the normal search pages eventually show a bunch of ads above the organic listings. So I'm curious to see how long it'll be before the ads start showing up above the organic results in this clothing related searches. I see making it easy to search for products is a good thing, but I'm also somewhat skeptical for how long the top organic results will actually remain at the top of the page.

Brad: Yeah, it looks like it is actually a mobile only right now. They do quickly mention it in one spot. I pulled it up on my phone and definitely am seeing results now. It's about halfway down the page. I'm searching running shoes. Then you can expand it to show more and you can filter it by men's, women's or different styles or different brands it looks like. It's a pretty cool feature and basically brings the whole Google product search out of the primary results and enhances it a bit. So I would say if you have products, you should be testing this and making sure you're showing up. If not, do some research and see why you aren’t on first page. Google is always going to produce some good results. It makes sense it's on mobile with the way it works. You want to be able to flip through and scroll through and find something quick, so totally makes sense.

Bob: Cool. Well, there isn't any other outstanding news. And again, I‘ll wait on baited breath for 3.9 Before we close out here, Scott, where can people find you on the web?

Scott: My personal site I dropped it a couple of times earlier. It's I'm on Twitter @ScottdeLucio and my company site where you can find all links to all the products is

Bob: Cool. And Brad, ] how's that book doing ?

Brad: The new version of the book, well, the first draft is done for Professional WordPress Plugin Development, second edition. If you want to create some premium plugins like Scott or up your plugin development game, this is definitely the book for you. It's the latest version, the first and only version came out nine years ago, if you can believe it. So it's pretty much an entirely new book, everything's changed. So the first draft is done, which is exciting. So now we're going through the editorial process and we're finalizing the cover and all that fun stuff. Now we're getting to the good stuff. That'll be out later this year, but excited about it. And you can follow me on Twitter @williamsba where I have been tweeting about it with some presale links and more information about the book if you're interested.

Bob: Cool. And I'm @BobWP on Twitter. Of course, you can always subscribe to this podcast. You can do that on your favorite pod app. You can go in and subscribe to our Woo news, which goes out every Saturday morning with a whole bunch of links to a lot of great content throughout the web. And if you want to support us, you can become a Friend of Do the Woo. That's it. So tell next week. Thanks everyone for listening in. Thanks, Scott for joining us. And Brad, always a pleasure.

Bob: Thanks for having me.