If you’re looking to build an eCommerce store, there are plenty of platforms around to choose from. However, one of the most popular is WooCommerce by WordPress. WooCommerce is WordPress’ dedicated eCommerce platform, and it’s popular for a lot of reasons.
WooCommerce developers always recommend using this platform if you already have an established WordPress website. Naturally, WooCommerce integrates into WordPress websites seamlessly, so it’s incredibly user-friendly to get started.
Whether you already have a WordPress site or you’d like to start from scratch, this handy guide will help you start your eCommerce journey. If you’ve already got a WordPress site, you can skip ahead to step 3!
1. Choose a domain and hosting provider
Firstly, you’ll need to pick a domain name. This is basically your website address, so the domain name should reflect that. If your business name is already taken, consider using a different extension such as .org or .biz. There are plenty of domain hosting services out there, and honestly. they’re all much the same.
When it comes to hosting, you may want to be a little more careful in who you choose. There are also a lot of hosting companies out there, so we recommend doing some online research to find the most reputable. One of the key things to look for is great support, especially if you’re new to creating websites. The website host essentially allocates your little piece of the internet, and offers other features like extra security and additional email addresses.
2. Install WordPress
Next up, you’ll need to attach WordPress to your hosting service. Most of the better ones allow you to do this easily through your control panel. Installing WordPress is easy with the right provider. Just choose a user name, enter your details, and your WordPress account and hosting service will be linked. You can also do this manually, however we recommend finding a hosting provider that allows a simple ‘one-click install’. It will save you a lot of time and headaches.
Once this is done, all future work you do on your website is done on WordPress. Your site is automatically published, and unless you run into problems you won’t need much involvement with your hosting provider.
3. Install and Configure WooCommerce
The beauty of WooCommerce is that it’s simply a WordPress plugin. That means no complicated signup, setup or installation. Just install the plugin, enter your relevant details and you’re ready to go. You’ve got almost instant eCommerce functionality on your website! To break down the process even more, these are the main steps you’ll follow:
- Go to ‘Plugins’ on your WordPress dashboard, search for WooCommerce, and hit ‘install’.
- Add your business details
- Enter payment details. This is how you intend to accept payment, and more can be added if you set them up later. PayPal and Stripe are two popular integrations.
- Enter shipping/delivery options. WooCommerce automatically chooses your zone, so you just need to set your rates. You may need a WooCommerce developer for assistance, but you can also incorporate certain carriers such as Australia Post or Sendle. This gives your customers real-time, accurate shipping costs based on their location.
- Choose plugins. WooCommerce recommends a few, so you can choose what you want. We’ll touch more on additional plugins later.
- Activate JetPack. This is basically another plugin that allows payment setup and tax calculation.
It’s as easy as that!
4. Set up your website basics – no WooCommerce developer required!
Every website has a few basic things you should set up. You can choose from a range of optimisation for either customer experience, look and feel and also SEO. The list below isn’t exhaustive, but if you need more guidance, check out our basic guide to setting up a WordPress website for more detailed information. Here’s what you need to set up:
- Title and tagline
- Time zone
5. Choose a theme – design your site without a WooCommerce developer
The theme is basically the design of your website. WordPress provides thousands of templates to choose from. Many of them are free, but some you will need to pay for. There’s no right or wrong way to choose a theme, because it’s all about how you want your website to look. When selecting, just make sure your theme is suited to eCommerce.
The process is very intuitive, as all themes can be accessed and installed from the ‘Appearance’ tab on your WordPress dashboard. If you want a more customised design, and also for premium theme installation, you may need to consult a WooCommerce developer. This is one part of the site you need to get right.
6. Start adding your products
Perhaps the best thing about WooCommerce is the ease of adding products. Simply click on ‘Products’ in your WordPress dashboard, and you’ll be taken to the ‘Add Product’ screen. The basic information you need to add for each product includes:
- Product name
- Main product image
- Additional images (if desired)
- Long product description
- Short description
The category is important as it helps with grouping your products intelligently as your site grows. Customer experience is improved dramatically when they can search confidently for product types.
You’ll also need to determine what kind of product you’re selling, and there are 6 main types. You can choose from:
- Variable (products with different colour or size options)
Make sure you choose the right type of product, because that will determine what additional information you need to include.
Overall, it takes a bit of time adding a lot of products, but the interface is extremely intuitive and user friendly. Simply enter all the required information, and optimise accordingly.
7. Get some additional plugins set up
You’ve already installed WooCommerce, which is a plugin itself. You also may have added some recommended ones during set up. However, there are thousands of plugins out there to help improve your website. Here are some of the main categories of plugin you should consider.
Features: Images, slider galleries, site reviews, forms. There’s so much out there, but be careful not to overload your site with features your customers don’t need.
Security: You’ll definitely want a security plugin, and with an eCommerce store you might need to pay for it. When payments and payment details are involved, you want to give your site some extra protection so your customers can shop safely.
Optimisation: The most popular SEO optimisation plugin is Yoast, but there are plenty of others. These plugins guide you through the process of making your website more appealing to search engines.
Design: If you’re not a WooCommerce developer, you may not be comfortable editing your site using code. Luckily, there’s plenty of plugins to give you a more user-friendly web design experience
8. Make your site public
Finally, it’s time to bring your website to life! You can click the ‘Preview’ button at the top of your WordPress screen and thoroughly check that you’re happy with all your pages. Once you’ve done that, go to ‘Settings’, then ‘Privacy’. Change your site to ‘Public’, and you’re all done!
Do I need an expert WooCommerce developer??
A WooCommerce developer has particular skills when it comes to the design and functionality of your site. While WooCommerce makes it extremely easy to set up the basics, you may need some adding additional features. Website development isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, so you may benefit from just handing it over to the professionals.
If you do, choose developers with a strong focus on business improvement, not just web design. If they understand your goals and your business, they’ll deliver better results. Contact us today, and we’d be happy to discuss your eCommerce website needs.