Behind the Scenes: My New eCommerce Plugin

eCommerce has been something that I’ve wanted to focus a lot of my energy on. I’ve been running eCommerce sites for the last 5 years. In an inbound or content marketing perspective, I understand the pre-sale side of eCommerce and am always looking at tools that can help earn a sale quicker and with the least amount of cost.

For some people that know this about me, it wasn’t a surprise when the news broke that I would acquire Exchange from iThemes. ExchangeWP is a simple eCommerce plugin for site and store owners that are looking for an easy-to-use solution to sell their products online.

I think it caught some people off guard because I work for a web host, and some thought that I was acquiring the suite of plugins for the host. Others, thought it was a bit odd to acquire the plugin because of other giants like WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads.

Why I Acquired Exchange

This might surprise you. Selling online in WordPress is hard for beginners. During my client service days, I saw numerous clients struggle to wrap their head around WooCommerce and even Easy Digital Downloads. It’s not their fault. These are plugins that have a lot of integrations and can pose complications if you don’t have a developer or super tech savvy person always helping you out with your site.

Seeing people struggle to sell online, and give up on WordPress and eCommerce, choosing to go to Gumroad and Wix, because it is hard. It’s hard for the brand of WordPress, I’ve seen grow over the last decade of being involved with such an awesome community.

That’s when I realized there was a problem. And a problem I wanted to build a solution for.

I don’t want to say that WordPress is the solution for everything (though my close circle of friends would beg to differ). But I know many sites running WordPress that also do eCommerce. When it’s done right, when things are configured right, when you are using the right series of plugins, you can be successful. And you can do that without needing a developer or team to run your site.

“I want to help micro and small businesses succeed in building an eCommerce site with WordPress.”

The funny thing is that I still maintain 10 small client sites and they were all running Exchange. It’s perfect for them. It doesn’t require them to have the technological knowledge to run an eCommerce store. I’m not saying that they aren’t smart. I’m just saying that when it came to looking at alternatives of Exchange, the options were WooCommerce or EDD.

That’s when I realized there was still a market.

The Acquisition

What started out as a conversation between Matt Danner (iThemes COO) and myself while on a walk to a coffee shop at Pressnomics last year, turned into an inquiry that took much of the summer to finalize.

Matt and I were chatting about projects they were working on and what was in store for iThemes for the coming year and with little mention of Exchange, I decided to dig a little deeper into it. Over the course of a couple of days, I was able to find out that they were quietly looking for someone to acquire Exchange.

With further conversations between Matt, Cory (their CEO) and myself, I became more attracted to the idea of acquiring Exchange.

A big side note here. I love building products and finding product-market fit for them. So it would come as no surprise that while I do this for a living at my day job, I wanted a side hustle and was thinking this was right up my alley.

We announce that I would be acquiring Exchange in July, with a timeline of support and development transition through the rest of the summer. It took a little longer than we both had hoped to make the transition, but today, we sit here with a new company, ExchangeWP, pushing forward.

What’s Next?

Our work is just getting started with ExchangeWP. We’ve been pushing hard to get the transition finalized, code updated for WordPress, PHP 7.2, and existing customers transferred over.

During the holiday season, I spent some time putting together our marketing plan as we begin to reshape the audience we believe needs this product.

We’ve been working on some new add-ons that we’ve wanted to see available for some time as well as overall code improvement and changes to just make sure we’re running smoothly.

One of the biggest unknowns right now, is if it’s going to work. It’s a little scary not only to put our plans down on paper and get things setup for them, but now we have money behind them. And that’s scary. Is our plan going to work? Do we understand the audience we’re going after? Have we found a product-market fit?

These are all exciting questions we’ll be looking forward to answering over the next couple of months. We are going to be doing constant analysis as we continue to bootstrap this company and see it into the future.

If you want to keep up to date with everything ExchangeWP related, or have feedback and thoughts about where we’re going, please let me know. I love to get feedback to better understand how we can do better and improve.

Our full launch will be at the end of January. Make sure to get on our list now before we officially launch! You’ll get exclusive access to a number of our launch activities, including discounts!


AJ Morris

I help creators and small businesses connect and automate digital marketing tools to give them back time in their day.

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