Javier Carazo is the CEO and co-founder of Codection where he oversees the creation of a wide variety of WordPress and WooCommerce plugins. Codection has made a name for themselves by helping WordPress users get the most out of several uncommon payment gateways: RedSys and CECA. Javier took the time to answers my questions about his company and how they operate.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself, and your business, and how you became involved with WordPress?
Hi there. My name is Javier Carazo and the CEO of Codection.
I started working with WordPress a long time ago. In 2003, when I was 18, I started studying Computer Engineering. Together, with classmates, I founded Linux Hispano. Linux Hispano was a blog (and we didn’t know then that it was a blog) made with PHPNuke, an old CMS that introduce many people to the world of creating their own websites. Later, we migrated to Mambo. After awhile we moved from Mambo to Joomla and later to Drupal. Finally, we decided to use WordPress.
We found it easier to maintain and easier to work with. And yes, we had a blog, so WordPress was the best option. Since then we have never migrated again.
Some years later, I started working in a research institute as a software developer. I realized that WordPress was able to build many things other than blogs. I wrote a book about it. I think that it was the first WordPress book in the Spanish language and I started using WordPress as a CMS and also as an API for many kinds of projects.
In 2012, I founded Codection with a colleague and we started working on more technical projects with WordPress for customers all over the world.
How did you get involved with making WordPress plugins for payment gateways?
Before doing premium plugins for payment gateways we released free plugins. Some of them, like Import Users From CSV With Meta or Clean Login, have had very good success. We find it very interesting to build plugins. We are engineers, not designers, but we are competitive doing this.
We did many e-commerce projects for different customers and we found in many of them that they were favorable to paying for plugins related to the handling of payments. So we decided to do our own payment gateways for our customers and use this work to sell premium plugins in our own plugins shop on codection.com.
What are some of the harder challenges, technically speaking, with building plugins for these different payment gateways?
Payment gateways are a kind of plugin that suits really well to our technical profile. On the one hand, they have no graphic interface and everything is handled by the e-commerce plugin (WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads or any other). Having said that, they have different challenges.
Payment gateways is a piece of software that uses:
- Two different APIs. The one from the bank (or payment gateway) and the one from the
e-commerce solution you are using. You have to understand both and you have to know how to
make them understand each other.
- Communication among them has to be encrypted so you have to know how to interact with
- You have to fully understand the concepts of orders, order state, carts, etc.
- A payment gateway sometimes moves the customer from the website to the payment
gateway website, and then back to the e-commerce website. You have to know how to
manage sessions to make it possible.
- Finally, payments are communicated in a different thread from the payment gateway to
the website so you have to know how to manage a different HTTP requests to make sure the payment has been done or not.
How are you going about marketing these plugins? Do you reach out to the teams behind WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads or the other plugins you support? What has been the most successful marketing tactic so far?
We have never reached out to the teams behind WooCommerce or any other e-commerce WordPress plugin. We had some good blogs like Linux Hispano cover us and we also contacted other specialized bloggers in the e-commerce space to talk about our plugins. Thanks to all of this SEO work we are really well positioned in search engines like Google.
We have never paid for ads to promote our plugins. The only thing we have paid for are some promoted posts and some referrals from people who talked about our plugins.
What is the strategy behind pricing the various plugins you develop?
We have two types of prices:
- 34,95€ for all the plugins which deal with WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads
- 49,95€ for all the others
Why? Because the WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads have more competition so we try to have the best price with those plugins.
Now that you have built a bunch of these plugins that integrate with other services do you have one piece of advice you wish you had been told at the beginning?
My advice centers around pricing. When we started with all this we had a plugin for sale at 15,95€ (tax included) which was a really low price for us. We should have started at a higher price.
Also we should have had a recurring business model from the first day of operation. We didn’t think that things would be so successful and people would return to renew their license. Today, we are still not setup well for recurring revenue because we have too much technical debt.
The first sale is important but it is more important to keep all of these customers buying every year.
What’s the future hold for yourself and the business?
We are working hard in order to create new payment gateway solutions for less popular plugins that lack support for RedSys and Ceca (the two Spanish payment gateways we support). For example, some weeks ago we have released payment solutions for HotelWP HBook and also for GoodLayers Hotelmaster.
Moreover, we are working to create payment gateways solutions for plugins that are not related to e-commerce. We have done it for Contact Form 7 and soon we will have new plugins for Caldera Forms and Gravity Forms. Some customers only need to get paid infrequently and WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads are very heavy plugins for their needs so they choose other options.
We have to improve our membership system, our “customer area” and increase our recurring payments.
Finally, some free plugins like the import users one have a very big community around them and a premium version would be very appreciated. We need resources to do that and we are working slowly but surely on achieving that.
If you are from Spain, or you need any Spanish payment gateway support, I encourage you to have a look at all of our plugins at Codection, If not, please check out our free plugins and if you have some payment gateway supported needed do not hesitate to contact us.