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Update: The Exchange WordPress eCommerce Plugin is NOW Ninja Shop

In this article, I’ll share some insights and behind the scenes details about the soon to be rebranded and rereleased ExchangeWP eCommerce plugin for WordPress!

This article is an update to a previous article I wrote about the first failed take over of the former iThemes Exchange plugin.

Shortly after writing my original article, I got an email, this one was from James Laws, the Co-Founder of Ninja Forms!

Alright alright alright, so it was an email blast that I was a part of…

Anyway. This email was yet another notice of takeover. Laws was informing the Exchange or ExchangeWP plugin license holders that he and his company would be taking over the project!

So this means no more open source project as mentioned in my previous article.

But more importantly, it means potential! A huge opportunity for this WordPress ecommerce plugin to become what I believe it has the potential to be!

The Potential of the now Ninja Shop eCommerce Plugin

The initial email announcement got me really excited!

The potential, in my opinion, for this plugin to really compete with WooCommerce is an actual possibility with the Ninja Forms team now driving the ship!

Let’s look at their track record.

These guys launched a forms plugin in a very crowded space with huge competition like Gravity Forms who had been out in front for a couple of years already.

I’ll be honest, I’ve been using Gravity Forms since version 1, and I didn’t see much future for Ninja Forms back when they first launched, but today, in reputation and market awareness they are parallel with Gravity Forms.

When people talk about or recommend form plugins, 90 percent of the time I hear Gravity Forms and Ninja Forms mentioned side by side.

That is a huge accomplishment and Laws and Stover deserve huge credit for what they’ve accomplished in such a short time!

I’m confident that if they can have that kind of success in a crowded space, they can have a huge impact in the ecommerce plugin space which is short on options and currently dominated by WooCommerce.

My Conversation with the Ninja Forms Founders

In my excitement I reached out to Laws hoping that I might find an opportunity to be part of the transformation of Exchange to Ninja Shop.

Fortunately we were able to connect and discuss a bit about their plans and roadmap for the new commerce plugin.

First Steps

Right now they are working on a complete audit of the ExchangeWP plugin. Which means developers are going through the code of the core plugin and all the add ons to find issues (bugs and/or conflicts) that need to be resolved and rebranding everything to Ninja Shop before they relaunch the plugin.

In their first release as Ninja Shop, existing users won’t notice much of a change outside of the branding. If you’ve never used the plugin you’ll love its simplicity!

The Competition

We talked a little about the WordPress ecommerce plugin space and there positioning.

As I’ve already mentioned when I discussed the potential of Ninja Shop, there isn’t much competition in the space, however WooCommerce does currently dominate the space.

Fortunately they’ve had experience going up agains some big competition in the plugin space and I’m sure they’ll nail it with this one too!

There is one other very popular ecommerce plugin for WordPress called Easy Digital Downloads EDD. This is a pretty robust plugin as well. And despite the name, does allow you to sell physical products! I think the name/branding may have stunted their growth in the market but they are a serious competitor.

Business Model

In our conversation we discussed their business model and plans for how they will deliver the plugin to the market.

Previously, Exchange was a “freemium” model, much like WooCommerce and EDD are. Which means, the core plugin is free but if you need more features or function you have to pay for an “addon license”.

My expectation is they will continue this model. Especially since that is how they have built the business of Ninja Forms. However, there have not been any final decisions made in regards to the business model they will deploy.

Maintaining Simplicity

We all agreed that maintaining the simplicity of the plugin is absolutely required. In my opinion, simplicity,  is what will give them the biggest competitive advantage over WooCommerce.

Here is a quick demo showing off the simplicity of the ExchangeWP plugin as it is today (pre Ninja Shop release).

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The Future of WordPress eCommerce Plugins is in Ninja Shop!

You may ask why I’m going all in on Ninja Shop and why I would spend so much time thinking about and evaluating this plugin, it’s potential, the business, etc…

The simple answer, I understand business. I understand that in a space as big as WordPress, with so few options in the commerce segment, there is huge opportunity. I just want to get in on the ground flow and hopefully ride to the top with it.

The longer answer comes from my frustration with the complexity and difficulty of building online stores with WooCommerce. Not to mention the cost of using WooCommerce extensions, and the potential cost of needing to hire a developer to set it up for you, again because of the complexity.

Even though the business model and pricing is undetermined at this point, I feel really good about the possibilities here and confident that the Ninja team behind Ninja Forms can make it happen!

Besides that, I just really like to geek out on business!

The Wrap Up

Whatever my role or place in this doesn’t matter (I have no official role, BTW). What happens in the next few months with the plugin does.

If you’re a developer or even just a website owner, maybe you’re using WooCommerce, maybe your using a solution like Shopify, either way, I would encourage you to give Ninja Shop a test run!

You may also want to read my article one The Real Cost of eCommerce Websites to fully understand why I might be so excited about this new plugin!

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