A website. With stuff on it.
October 15th, 2007 at 12:18 pm
Posted By: Jay
Posted in: Rambling

So, as the title possibly hints, I’ve been looking for a plugin for WordPress that allows you to display all or parts of your aStore along with posts or pages. The idea is for another site of mine, and what I’m looking to do is add a ‘further reading and resources’ section that’s relavent to the posts. So far, I haven’t found anything that will let me do this, which is kind of surprising, really, given that it’s a really good way to monetize your blog or site with relavent content that isn’t tacky!

So I’m thinking of writing the plugin myself. Assuming I do, I figure I may as well release it for anyone else looking to do the same. So, I’m going to kind of spew my ideas here and ask a couple of questions. If you’re looking for a plugin to do this, maybe you could contribute to the comments? If you already know of a plugin that will basically do what I outline here, please let me know! I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, especially since I’ve never written a WordPress plugin before, and will have to learn that first! :p

By the way, I am aware of various Amazon associate plugins, which for the most part seem to relate to the individual product link method of presenting your product content. I’m also aware of at least one plugin that will randomly pull in links from Amazon without any user interaction. These are great, but I want to make use of the aStore option specifically, and target my audience with my own carefully chosen products.

So here’s my thinking on the nature and features of this as yet fictitious plugin:

Firstly, whilst the Amazon aStore gives you a link to your main store when you do ‘get link’, it also shows a permalink to any given category in the category management view. You can use this link to display only a subsection of your store. Now given that you can embed an aStore right into your page/theme using their slightly awkward iframe code, this suddenly gives us some really cool options… which is precisely what I’m looking to exploit.

So as I briefly outlined above, what I initially conceptualised is that you would set up links to various categories at your aStore to tally with your categories on your blog. So that every time you post about, say, Cheese, it then lists a bunch of books about Cheese beneath the post, which neatly links to your aStore checkout etc.

That’s pretty neat, and incredibly simple, especially since it basically requires no user interaction, but it has limitations. Firstly, it only allows for one aStore category to link up with one WordPress category. Oh, sure, you could give the user space to put in more than one and randomly link them, but how many slots do you supply per category? Two? Three? Ten? I dunno! Also, it would mean that, at least with a default WordPress install where pages (as opposed to posts) don’t have categories, you couldn’t utilise it on a page.

So then I started thinking that category based is maybe not the way to go at all. Maybe the better way is to just allow people to have as many aStore categories as they wanted listed, and probably a drop down box on the post and page write/edit screen to select which bit of your aStore you wanted to display.

There are other advantages to this, too. Firstly, aStore is not all that configurable in terms of layout. As far as I can see, you can only present your aStore in a 3-across format, displaying all of your products in that category. Which kind of sucks, because you’re going to end up with a huge long page of products which entails endless scrolling at the bottom of your pages and posts. And that’s sure to annoy your visitors, if nothing else.

So my thinking is that you would divide your aStore up into more manageable pieces, utilising the categories to chunk up your content into the specific items you want to include with a post or set of posts. So if you’re still blogging about cheese, you can link directly to a subcategory that contains only 3 or 6 cheese related items, rather than spew dozens of products into every post. You will then potentially have 3 or 4 or even more Cheese related categories, and you can use these for variety and to maximise your sales potential on different posts and pages.

A further thought is that you (well, at least, I) don’t really want to display US based Amazon products to viewers in other countries. I’ve already implemented IP2Nation on my WordPress install so that I can make an educated guess at the geographic location of the user. I figure, once I sign up to be an Amazon Associate in the UK and possibly other countries, it’d be much better to present products they can actually buy! This ought to be fairly simple to do – your plugin admin page would allow you to enter alternative URLs for different countries based on the two letter country code, and display the correct link based on the viewers location.

That, I think, will certainly work for my needs, and I think is a very neat solution to easily monetizing your blog with useful products that your viewer just might be interested in, rather than spewing vaguely related Adsense ads into every page. The beauty of utilising aStore is that it’s very easily configured and set up… far, far less work than using the individual product link alternatives, and therefore the available plugins that cater for this.

So anyone have any input? Category based or not? Some hybrid of the two? With the advent of tags in WordPress 2.3, maybe tag based instead? That way you can utilise it for both pages and posts. But then how do you determine which  is more relavent? Display an aStore chunk for the first tag only? Allow user selection?

Can you think of a better implementation altogether? Or features it should have? Want to write the plugin? Comment below!

1 Comment
  1. […] Amazon aStore plugin for WordPress? […]

    Pingback by wibwobweb.com » Blog Archive » More on Amazon aStore and WordPress… — October 15, 2007 @ 1:40 pm

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